Dead Metal

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klingon
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Re: Dead Metal

Post by klingon »

Yeah-case in point-take a "tweedie" to Glasgows Kelvingrove museum and show him the mummified,cobbled together remains of the Spitfire MK21 hanging from wires on the roof which cost the taxpayer a helluva lot of money never to fly again(or for the first time depending on your viewpoint on "data plate restorations")-then drag him outside by the elbow patches and fly a living breathing Spit over his head-then ask him what makes the hair on the back of his neck stand up!(or mebbe the hair on the palms of his hands!)-no brainer! :twisted:
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mtskull
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Re: Dead Metal

Post by mtskull »

Most people knew at the time and everybody knows now that the museological community got it wrong about Bluebird. However, just as they were wrong in applying mainstream museological thinking to Bluebird, might it not follow that it is equally wrong to assume that what is appropriate to Bluebird applies everywhere else? It is clear that when rebuilding Bluebird, every effort has been taken to ensure that nothing has been destroyed from which further information could possibly be gleaned in the future. In the unique set of circumstances surrounding Bluebird, this doesn't prevent her being made fit for purpose, however the BBP team do not have the CAA or the Railway Inspectorate breathing down their necks. A team returning a historic loco or aircraft to working order may not be given the option of sensitively conserveering every component, and believe me, wear and tear to locomotives and aircraft alike is a more complex issue than a few thou off a bearing here and there.

Furthermore, Bluebird is unique, whereas if Joe Public wants to see a non-airworthy but original Spitfire, he can go to the RAF museum but If he would rather see one flying, he can go to Duxford. Likewise if he wants to learn about our railway heritage he can go to the National Railway Museum and if he wants to see a working A4 Pacific he can go to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and buy a ticket to ride behind it. That doesn't mean to say that one approach is right and the other wrong; indeed, the fact that there are working examples of these machines only strengthens the argument for leaving the rest of them unmolested, at least for the time being.

If "what the public wants to see" becomes the sole criterion in deciding how all historic machines are preserved and exhibited, then all you achieve is to bring them down to the lowest common denominator of "big boy's toys". Preservation can mean many things but sometimes it just means saving something for later. Today's public do not own these treasures, they borrow them from future generations.
Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals.
quicksilver-wsr
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Re: Dead Metal

Post by quicksilver-wsr »

A quick addition to this debate ...

The cost of insurance must be borne in mind when considering the restoration of an aircraft to airworthy status, if long-term preservation in the flying state is to be the ultimate objective.

When new EU third-party liability rules came into force a few years back, the cost of insuring our Buccaneer aircraft - which was only fast-taxying, remember; not flying - hiked to a crippling £17,000 per annum. That was fun ... finding that kind of money every year, on top of fuel, hangarage and so forth.

Just sitting an aircraft like the Buccaneer on the tarmac outside at an international airport - because, let's face it, you can't operate that kind of plane from your local airstrip - can cost a wopping £1,000 per week. We got around that by keeping her in a private hangar: cost £320 per month. But if we had defaulted on payments to the hangar owner, the aircraft would have been wheeled outside and we'd have been left to the tender mercies of the airport accounts department. Fortunately, that never happened, because we just about kept up with all the costs on our aircraft adventure, but it was a constant worry and not recommended for those who have trouble sleeping at nights.

Insurance is actually our largest single cost in the budget projections we have for our water-speed record campaign, when the time finally comes.
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Renegadenemo
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Re: Dead Metal

Post by Renegadenemo »

I don't advocate fixing and running everything in sight just for the sake of it. I'd not like, for example, to see Cutty Sark put back into sail, I reckon she'd need just a bit too much work and she'd lose too much of her old self in the process. Nor do I like the theme park they're making of her either, mind you. That was another thing... the musos bleated endlessly about 'respectful' displays then, in the same breath, turned a tea clipper into a wedding venue. SS Great Britain is a wedding venue too - lashed togther with Philips screws and MDF - the likes of which I.K. Brunel could only have dreamed of - but a nice job and a good way to sustain her.
On the other hand stuffing and mounting Turbinia in a conservatory in Newcastle is a damned crime against machinery. She should be rebuilt and thrashed up and down the Tyne for important occasions. I suggested this to the curator once and he looked at me like I'd arrived from a distant planet yet there's nothing fundamentally wrong with Turbinia. Everything is present and she only needs an overhaul and some reworking here and there. Quite a bit less, in point of fact, than PS Waverley needed when she was fully refitted and put back into service a few years back.
I know enough about steam trains to get by too, having recently been invited to crawl around the guts of one designing a repair scheme for the ends of the boiler pipes because someone gave it a blast of cold air through its innards when they weren't supposed to and the pipes all contracted and popped out of the tube-plates. Water everywhere! It was one heavy beast and wasn't going to wear out any time soon. As for borrowing these objects for the next generation - that smells very museological to me and, dare I say it, something of a cop-out for not being prepared to do anything brave or bold. If we have a lend of them then let's do what this generation fancies and leave it to the next to have their fun in a way that they approve of.
In general the public want to see things working and in general that's not what they get. Instead they're treated like idiots and given a biscuit and a pat on the head. The musos really went to town insulting people's intelligence at the Darlington Railway Museum with their 'traintastic, intertracktive' display but no one in the trade saw it coming. It was museologists who advised the HLF that running a gas turbine inside a museum might be noisy, produce fumes and possibly damage other objects! It was the same type who said anyone under forty would not be interested in K7 because they'd not remember while not ten miles away the lottery failure was spending millions digging Romans out of the Northumberland countryside! It's a joke. If the people want to see Mallard run or Turbinia afloat or Nomadic re-engined the musos and bureaucrats should be using their positions of responsibility to see what can be done, not telling us that they know best, now have another biscuit and a pat on the head...
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quicksilver-wsr
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Re: Dead Metal

Post by quicksilver-wsr »

Good stuff, Bill - and I thoroughly agree with you. There's a lot of lovely machinery that could be running, if only certain people would challenge their pre-conceived ideas.

One of my earliest memories was visiting Newcastle with my Dad - I spent the first five years of my life living nearby - and walking underneath the Turbinia and "coming up" too soon on the other side and banging my head on the hull. Yes, it was a static exhibit, but my Dad told me about the time it raced through the middle of the Royal Naval fleet faster than anything else afloat and caused uproar with the powers-that-be in the Admiralty, and that story made a deep impression on me.

Parsons, Turbinia's creator, had the brand of audacity and vision that we could do with more of in modern Britain.
malcolm uk
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Re: Dead Metal

Post by malcolm uk »

A bit closer to my heart is the return of a number of UK Super Saloon racing cars that are back to full working order. Lusty V8 engines in the odd body shape of DAF 55, VW saloon, Firenza, Jaguar XJ, Belmont, etc...... They fell from the circuit race tracks during the fuel crisis and whilst many were recycled back into the sports racing cars that they had come from, its good to see them make running displays, with the hope of some races a bit further on.
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mtskull
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Re: Dead Metal

Post by mtskull »

Mike Bull wrote:
mtskull wrote:Preservation can mean many things but sometimes it just means saving something for later.
So just when is this 'later' that things are 'saved' for, then..? :?
I feel as though I'm playing Devil's advocate, but here goes:

Who can say when that "later" is?

Maybe when (to paraphrase Bill's words from the the BBP diary from long ago) somebody invents an orgasmatron thingy that will look inside Bluebird's mended frame and determine what Leo had for breakfast, by studying at the broken welds.
Maybe, in Mallard's case, when Bittern and Union of South Africa and Sir Nigel Gresley cannot continue to run without replacing so many bits as to destroy their authenticity.
Maybe, as in the case of a certain WW2 German aircraft, when analysis of the pollen trapped in the tailcone can give an accurate idea of where it was based during the war. Oops, sorry; that has already been tried and every trace of pollen had been eradicated during a well-intentioned but excessively thorough "restoration" of the aircraft in question.

We have no way of knowing how much better future generations may be at gleaning information from old artifacts or what technology may one day exist to enable them to do so; neither can we be sure just what we may be destroying. No matter how much we enjoy seeing old machines in action (and I do), we should be prepared to accept that there may sometimes be people who know better than we do. Not every museological decision is taken out of cowardice!

PS, just to be perfectly clear, I am NOT a museologist.......
Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals.
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Renegadenemo
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Re: Dead Metal

Post by Renegadenemo »

PS, just to be perfectly clear, I am NOT a museologist.......
Nope... but I am.

Good, spirited debate is this... now someone tell me how those buggers justify hanging onto looted Nazi treasure, refusing to return the Lindisfarne Gospels to that museological flagsip of the north, Tyne & Wear Museums, and fobbing the Greeks off with cheap, tourist imitations of the Elgin Marbles?

Mind you, our wonderful Discovery Museum (that's where they stuffed and mounted Turbinia) currently has an object in the cellar that is of no local relevance, that they're not intending to display and which is desperately needed by another major museum to complete an exhibit, but will they hand it over? Not a chance. Silly sods - it's almost a national sport amongst the clowns.

And another thing... the legend goes that Charles Algernon Parsons went screaming through the Spithead Review in Turbinia uninvited and caused a proepr hoo-hah. In actual fact he had permission to demonstrate his new, fangled steam turbine gizmo to the admiralty. What caused the stir was the outrageous speed he managed. 39 knots, I think, with the stoker shovelling for all he was worth in the forced-draught boiler room and sparks whooshing from the funnel. Oh to see that thing go...
I'm only a plumber from Cannock...

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quicksilver-wsr
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Re: Dead Metal

Post by quicksilver-wsr »

Yes - you're right there, Bill. The story my Dad told me when I was a young lad was the story that has become embedded in popular lore, but in actual fact, as you say, Parsons got permission to pull his stunt.

The reason I know all this is that Andy Green, no less, when he was a speaker at one of our fund-raising dinners a while back, told the audience the tale of Parsons and the Turbinia - to keep to the theme of speed on water, although of course he also talked about driving ThrustSSC faster than sound.

Andy had downloaded some notes from the internet to help him improvise his speech and he left those notes with me, as I had mentioned the story of me and my Dad going to see Turbinia when I was young.

Andy's notes are still here in my house somewhere, but not close to hand, but I think the reason the Admiralty gave Parsons permission to run through the ranks was that this was the only way they could think of to demonstrate to the big-wigs who controlled the purse-strings that the new-fangled turbine technology had to be embraced, and quickly, as our naval fleet would soon become obsolete if someone else got their hands on it before we did.
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Renegadenemo
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Re: Dead Metal

Post by Renegadenemo »

Parsons permission to run through the ranks was that this was the only way they could think of to demonstrate to the big-wigs who controlled the purse-strings that the new-fangled turbine technology had to be embraced, and quickly, as our naval fleet would soon become obsolete if someone else got their hands on it before we did.
Parsons had kept the admiralty abreast of development with his exciting new propulsion system but had the devil's own job getting it to work. Cavitating propellors was his biggest problem. He had oodles of power but no means of getting it into the water. His original cavitation tunnel is in Newcastle University and when no one was looking I cranked the handle like mad to see if it still worked and it did. Probably wore out a bearing and ruined it for the next generation though...
Anyway - having sorted the matter by putting three propellors on each of the three shafts he was allowed to demonstrate his liitle boat but when he got loose he went a bit mad and raced up and down the lines with a picket boat trailing uselessly in his wake in lukewarm pursuit with orders to put a stop to Turbinia's antics. The admiralty just couldn't ignore what he had and the mighty Mauretania was launched only thirteen years later with steam turbines made by the Parsons Marine Turbine Co. Limited in Wallsend on Tyne. My home town.
Incidentally, the pic that Mike posted is one of Parson't own promotional shots from back in the day
I'm only a plumber from Cannock...

"As to reward, my profession is its own reward;" Sherlock Holmes.

'Sometimes you gotta be an S.O.B if you wanna make a dream reality' Mark Knopfler
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