atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#145: Can't Beat This!

I was bored yesterday and ended up doing my perusal of Google Video for neat things. I saw many interesting things but two stuck out in my head.

Bottle Rockets!

The first was "Redneck Rocket Launcher". It was the gate to a chain-link fence, laid on the ground, with fuse taped to the fencing. Then the holes in the fencing were filled with bottle rockets...8,500 of them. One fuse lit the thing, and then it was like a war for about a minute and a half. Definitely a fun way to celebrate the 4th!

Engine Blow!

Next I saw a video of an "engine blow". At VW meets they like to take a worn-out air-cooled engine, block its throttle wide open, drain the oil, and run it until it blows up. They run a betting pool on how long it will run before grenading.

This engine started and ran quite well until flames began shooting out of one side. Even so it continued to run for at least a minute; finally the operator hit the kill switch and complained, "It wouldn't blow!" His assistant put out the flames, and the close-up examination revealed that the intake manifold for that bank of cylinders had blown out. There were two nice large holes in the intake manifold and the carbeurator was ruined, but the engine was otherwise intact.

They put a stock intake manifold and carb onto the thing and tried again. The engine ran up to redline, then began to surge, going back and forth between full speed and probably about 4,000 RPM. It ran this way for at least a minute and a half before smoke began to shoot out of the breather port, a sure sign that something had gone wrong in there. It ran more roughly then; it kept going, though, engine speed still oscillating, until--POW--something gave up the ghost. The engine kept running, very roughly but still running, until the operator shut it down.

It had thrown a rod; the rod cap had exited the engine casing through the bottom. This video shows why the air-cooled VW engines last so long when not abused. When you purposely try to make them blow up, it still takes some doing.

Rocket-Propelled Locomotive!

I also happened across a video of Department of Energy tests of shipping casks for radioactive waste. When you're shipping spent nuclear fuel you don't want accidents to spill the stuff, naturally, so the casks are very tough. The tests were meant to double- and triple-check this.

The video shows a variety of tests, but the one that impressed me was a test of the cask's ability to withstand a direct impact. A truck carrying a cask was "stalled" across a railroad track, and a diesel locomotive was allowed to strike it.

The diesel locomotive in question was an EMD GP-18 high-nose road switcher--a common locomotive in the late 1970s--and here is the best part:

It was rocket-propelled to a speed of 83 MPH.

The engineers at Sandia National Labs had it all covered there. They had big trucks, trains, and rockets!

They did another test with a cask on a rail car. This time the rail car was rocket-propelled and slammed into a giant concrete block at 80 MPH. And when that was done, they put the thing into a trough of jet fuel and set it on fire for an hour and a half.

So it was an entertaining time. Machines and fireworks! It doesn't get any better than that.
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