Something Better: Microwaves

Cook thoroughly. Keep frozen. For food safety and quality, follow these cooking instructions. Microwave Oven (Time and temperature settings may vary due to differences in your particular oven or microwave. Always cook this product to 160 degrees F prior to serving): 1. Remove burrito from package. 2. Place in paper towel on a […]


What Ever Became of…Brads?

No doubt the object you see above is familiar to you, a vague recollection of elementary school projects involving construction paper and poking and bending and spinning. But since those early schoolhouse days, have you seen these things? According to the limited entry Wikipedia entry that has ‘some issues’, these are brass fasteners, […]


What Ever Became of…Reverse Polish?

When I was in jr. high school, I participated in some calculator skills type competitions. We got these weird HP calculators that used something called Reverse Polish notation. Although I imagine many of you are at least relatively familiar with the concept, here is the not at all confusing explanation from Wikipedia: […]


Vanishing History


A while back we had a couple posts about Oak Ridge, TN (here and here) and its role in the development of nuclear weapons in the US. The K-25 plant, the largest building by volume in the world at the time of it’s completion, was sort of the centerpiece of the Uranium enrichment activities at Oak Ridge. By 1964, however, the gaseous diffusion processes used in K-25 were no longer needed and the building was shut down.

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What Ever Became of…Exploding Biscuit Cans?

When I was a kid, every time helping to make the biscuits would be like this. Tensed up, holding my breath, waiting for that startling Pop! Worse that the pop thought, was the non-popper. You peel, and nothing happens. You twist the can and peel more, and still nothing happens. You peel the […]


Why Hasn’t Anyone Come Up With Something Better?

Welcome to the first weekend of the new year! As a little something new for the new year, I am going to try to use the first weekend of the month for something just a little different than the What Ever Became of posts that you all know and love to start your […]

Atomic Awesome, Big Complicated Machines, Technostalgia

Mesta Memories #24: Steam-Hydraulic Forging Presses


 The Mesta Machine Company made large, and I daresay even huge, hydraulic forging presses for a great many years while they were in operation, and were widely used in industry. A while back I wrote a post about the 50,000 ton Mesta hydraulic forging press The “Fifty”, which was built several decades after the dinky little 8,000 ton steam-hydraulic press pictured above. Back in the day, however, an 8,000 ton forging press was a pretty big tool, and the largest that Mesta made at the time (circa 1919) was “only” 15,000 tons.

These machines were the workhorses of many forges through the years as the most efficient way of producing large forgings. I think that they’re wonderful.

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What Ever Became of…Automatic Hi-Beam Dimmers?

Last week when I was writing up the question of the high beam floor switches, it occurred to me that there was another hi-beam innovation that seems to have gone away in modern times.  I once got a pretty good deal on a car out of the Auto Trader, a 1970 Lincoln Continental, […]


What Ever Became of…Floor Switches?

There used to be this old joke I liked, you ask someone “Did you hear that the state is changing the law and making car companies move the dimmer switch from a column lever back to being a floor switch?”  Invariably, your mark will say no, and then: “Yeah, because too many Aggies […]

Atomic Awesome, Big Complicated Machines, Technostalgia

Mesta Memories #23: Rope Drives and Flywheels


A large-ish rope drive wheel being turned on a pit lathe.

Following on to the last post about the giant frikkin’ gears that the Mesta Machine Co. used to make, this time we’ll take a quick look at their rope drives and flywheels which are also predictably huge.

As it states above, rope drives are used where quiet and smooth transmission of power is required and belts are either not strong enough or too cumbersome. A good example is the drive mechanisms used by most elevators used in buildings. Could you imagine riding a chain-driven elevator up to the 50th floor of a building? I can, unfortunately, and it makes me want to go outside and sit on the nice, safe gravel of my front yard.

Continue reading Mesta Memories #23: Rope Drives and Flywheels