Friday, 29 April 2011

The 1902 State Landau

Today is the day of the Royal Wedding of Prince William & Catherine Middleton. There will be lots of coverage of the people, Westminster Abbey and the wedding dress. So on first appearances there's not much to talk about from an engineering perspective.

However there are also 5 horse drawn carriages that will be in the procession back from the Abbey so I thought I'd research one of these, the 1902 State Landau. If it happens to be raining then you'll find that this carriage will have been swapped with the "Glass Coach" by Peters and Sons (1881).

Approximate dimensions:

Width: 2.2m
Lenght: 5.2m
Height: 2.4m

Model of the State Landau made by Peter G Smith, Photo thanks to David Carpenter of the Model Engineering Website
Model of the State Landau made by Peter G Smith, Photo thanks to David Carpenter of the Model Engineering Website, it took around 12 months to build this model. You can see Peter Smith at the Wargrave Local History Society in September.

According to Wikipedia, the landau is "lightweight and suspended on elliptical springs. It was invented in the 18th century (first noted in English in 1743 [2]) and was named after the German city of Landau in the Rhenish Palatinate where they were first produced. Lord, Hopkinson, coachmakers of Holborn, London, produced the first English landaus in the 1830s."

Dominic Lipinski/AFP/Getty Images
You can clearly see the elliptical springs on this photo by Dominic Lipinski.

The State Landau was built by high-class coach builders Hoopers and Co. for Edward VII's coronation.

Sketched Design

Established in 1807 by George Adams and George. N. Hooper, the firm gained its first Royal Warrant in 1830 with their appointment as a coach builder to King William IV. In 1833 Hooper help contribute to the Encyclopedia Britanica's article on carriages in particular listing a range of modern carriages and their origins.

Hoopers produced some inovations in carriage design including the introduction of the C-Spring suspension which won then a Prize Medal of the Great Exhibition of 1851.

Hoopers later moved into motor cars, building custom bodies for Rolls Royce and Daimler motor cars. During WWI they helped build the Sopwith Camels and then in WWII, Hoopers built wings, tailplanes, drop tanks for the DH 98 Mosquito by De Havilland Aircraft. Due to lack of demand for custom made car bodies and lack of skills they closed down in 1959.


Model Engineering Website (Royal Coaches)
Official Royal Wedding Blog
Guild of Model Wheelwrights
1:40 scale Corgi Model of the State Landau made for the Queen's Silver Jubilee
Emerites 24/7
Museum Victoria - Earlier State Landau also build by Hoopers
Graces Guide - 1862 London Exhibition: Catalogue: Class VI.: Hooper and Co
Rolls-Royce Enthusiast's Club
The Coach Builders

Thursday, 28 April 2011

TIG Welding Gloves

Up to now all my welding has been done using heavy welding gauntlets such as those you can get from the likes of B&Q or Machine Mart. So I was quite pleased when Ed from R-Tech welding sent me a couple of pairs of "Super Touch TIG Welding Gloves" to have a look at.

As you can see the main body of these are more like driving gloves with a heavy cuff similar to the cheaper gauntlets. N.B. Don't use driving gloves for welding as they typically have holes in them and the polish on them might be flamable. Around the thumb is a re-enforcing strip to reduce wear and heat from the torch. There is no lining to these gloves so they are not so suited to hot work such as casting or brazing.

I found the gloves comfortable to use and the thinner leather means that you can perform actions like adjusting the tungsten or grinding without needing to take off the gloves. Even picking up the filler rod is much much easier.

The gloves did a good job of protecting me from the welding heat and UV.

However, as I discovered you can't go around picking up red hot steel bar with them. There was a nasty smell and some equally nasty looking smoke. My fingers were protected from any harm but shortly after the gloves cracked so I won't be able to use those again as they are no-longer light tight. However I do have a second pair that I can use and will be more sensible with them. I believe this is an issue with all TIG gloves so like all tools it's a case of using them correctly. I'll let you know in a few months how they stand up to repeated use.

The gloves are good value for money and I'd recommend them to anyone getting started with TIG welding.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Little Spark Plugs

I was reading in the March edition of Engineering in Miniature about making mini spark plugs. Due to the small size of model IC engines it is not always possible to buy a plug of the right size. So the author described how you can build a composite solution with ceramic components for hottest part of the engine and PTFE for further out which forms a good seal. The article also has lots of detail on how to machine the metal outer.

Commercial plugs are available but this was the only supplier I could find online in the UK.
Mini Spark Plugs from Just Engines Online Ltd
Mini Spark Plugs from Just Engines Online Ltd

The author also mentioned the existance of machinable high temperature ceramics such as Macor and Duratec 750® for example.

In related news via Slashdot, researchers are looking into using lasers to replace spark plugs although I'm not sure how this would scale to a smaller size.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Scrap yards and motorway junctions

With the recent fire next to the M1 and the damage caused to motorway supports the highways agency are planning a risk review.

But this got me thinking as to why a scrap yard would be placed there in the first place. I don't know the M1 location but next to the North Circular there's also a yard tucked away under the road.

View Larger Map

Looking at the location it's right next to several roads and also a railway. These are all noisy and dusty, just like the yard itself. The space is also irregular and the light is blocked by the road. On the plus side, the location has good road links and no-one is going to mind a few heavy lorrys visiting.

I can see why no-one would want an office there and how a business like a scrap yard would not be bothered by the poor quality of this site.

So I expect the issues faced by the Highways Agency is going to be what to do with these sites if they don't use them for scrap yard and for the yards where else they can be sited whilst avoiding the inevitable complaints from Nimbys.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Workshop Measuring Tools

After finding David Riches website on Mathematical Instruments I was inspired to write a piece on the use of workshop measuring tools. However when I looked into this, I discovered that others had already done that for me. Ivan Law's workshop practice series #6 "Measuring and Marking Metals" describes the functionality and use of various measuring tools. He also looks at practical examples of using marking out on castings.

Steel ruler

My first purchase was a simple steel ruler followed shortly afterwards by some digital callipers. An alternative would have been vernier callipers but as far as I can tell the only advantage is that they don't use a battery. The digital callipers use so little power that they run from a watch battery which lasts ages, over 3 years intermittent use in my case.

Verniers are used on other items such as depth and surface gauges but again given the convenience and price digital gauges are taking over from them.

I've also purchased some cheap inside and outside callipers which can be used for transferring measurements between your ruler or drawings and your workpiece. These don't work well for me as when they are totally closed the tips don't properly align which makes measuring small items difficult. I think I should spend a bit more on some better made smaller callipers.

One tool that I don't currently have in my workshop is a micrometer. Typically these are though of as being more accurate than a calliper but at the moment I don't have anything that might need such accuracy. Anything that needs a close fit I'll take the old school approach of machining it based on the mating component as I don't make things that are interchangable.


I must also mention "how round is your circle" a great book by John Bryant and Chris Sangwin. This has a great section on verniers and how they work, it also has a whole chapter dedicated to "Building the worlds first ruler".


Thanks to David M Riches for the photographs of old instruments.

Andy Buffler - Using a Vernier Calliper
David M Riches - Maths Instruments
The Scientific Instrument Society
Digital Calipers
How Round Is Your Circle
Mikes Models - Digital Callipers vs Micrometer

Workshop Practice Series