The Anonymous Widower

The Britons Who Played For The Moon

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article on page 15 of today’s copy of The Times.

This is two paragraphs – – .

The team was organised by John Hodge, who was born in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex and who had previously worked for Vickers Armstrong, which during the Second World War built the Supermarine Spitfire.

Mr. Hodge, now 90, would become a flight director at mission control – the one time that ‘Houston’ spoke with a British accent.

I’ve heard of John before.

Like me, John Hodge went to Minchenden Grammar School and one of our maths’ teachers; George Bullen,when I was doing Further Maths in the Sixth Form, told us the full story of one of his brightest students.

If John had a problem, it was that he couldn’t get a language O-level, which was needed to get to University in the late 1940s.

So he went to Northampton Engineering College, which is now the City University, where the qualification wasn’t needed.

I think George Bullen, with his John Arlott Hampshire accent, probably told us the story of John Hodge for motivation.

This is another paragraph in the article.

Peter Armitage, 90, who grew up in Hable-le-Rice, Hampshire, was also in the Avro group. In 1969 he oversaw the simulator that Neil Armstrong used to learn how to touch down on the moon.

As I remember it, the simulator was a hybrid digital-analogue computer using two PACE 231-R computers as the analogue half.

This picture shows the similar computer, that I worked on at ICI in Welwyn Garden City.

These machines could each solve up to a hundred simultaneous differential equations, in real time, so were ideal for calculating the dynamics of complex systems.

They were some beasts!

From what I read at the time, they were key in bringing the Apollo 13 astronauts home, as they could be quickly reprogrammed, if you were familiar with the dynamic model., as undoubtedly NASA’s engineers were.

 

 

July 17, 2019 Posted by | Computing | , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On eScooters!

Consider.

  • This article on the BBC is entitled Emily Hartridge: TV Presenter And YouTube Star Dies In Crash. It is an extremely sad tale and it has led to the inevitable call to ban electric scooters.
  • There is also this article on the BBC, which is entitled Iris Goldsmith: Teenage girl dies in ‘quad bike’ accident. This is another extremely sad tale and many are questioning, what a teenage girl was doing, riding a quadbike.
  • And then there’s this article on the BBC, Which is entitled Govia Thameslink Fined £1m Over Gatwick Express Window Death.

Young people and some older ones too, often do stupid things.

Many also crave danger and go mountaineering, riding on the tops of trains or jumping into rivers from a great height.

Doing things out of the ordinary is a natural reaction and is one of the reason, why humans are the most successful species on this planet.

I think the problem is the way we bring up children.

  • My parents let me do anything I wanted up to a point.
  • They also taught me lots of skills.
  • From about twelve, I used to cycle all over London.
  • I spent endless hours in my father’s print works doing things that would be frowned upon now, because they are too dangerous.

A couple of months ago, I was interviewed by a sixth-form girl student, in the volunteering I do at Barts Hospital in giving experience to prospective doctors.

She had lived in an over-protective environment and hardly left home on her own.

It was almost child abuse. She didn’t say, but I suspect she’d even been driven to and from school.

When it came to our own children, C and myself were fairly liberal and it was strange how, two became very street-wise and had the occasional scrapes, whereas the other was generally well-behaved.

Perhaps, we didn’t get everything right, but I like to think, we gave them a good appreciation of risk!

And that is one of the mot important things to learn in life, as often, those that ca’t assess risk, come to unfortunate ends.

I do feel my youngest son’s unhealthy lifestyle was a factor in his getting pancreatic cancer, especially if he was coeliac like me! But then he wouldn’t get tested!

His daughter though, seems to have a good appreciation of risk, but then if your father dies, you probably do!

To return to the eScooter, which is where this post started.

They Look Fun!

They certainly look fun and I constantly want to have a go on one.

Remember, I have crashed a twin-engined aeroplae and ridden horses in the Masai Mara.

At seventeen, I also sat on the back of a motorcycle, the wrong way round and went through the Mersey Tunnel.

Was I wearing a helmet? Of course not!

Are They Dangerous?

The risk depends on where they are used and how competent the rider is!

Ask any A & E doctor, what sport causes the most injuries and they’ll say something like rugby or horse-riding!

When A & E doctors start complaining about eScooters that will be the time for action.

Would Training Help?

Training isn’t the important thing.

However experience, especially that gained in a safe environment is important.

But to legislate that training should be mandatory will only have the reverse affect.

Conclusion

It’s a difficult problem, but we must teach everybody to appreciate risk.

When I joined ICI in 1969, I went on a formal Health and Safety course.

It has proven to be invaluable all my life an I haven’t worked on a chemical plant since 1970.

July 17, 2019 Posted by | Health, Transport, World | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Will We See A Phase Out Of Diesel-Mechanical And Diesel-Hydraulic Multiple Units?

After writing My First Ride In A Class 195 Train, I started to think about the future of diesel multiple units.

The Class 195 trains are powered by one MTU diesel engine, with a rating of 390 kW in each car, that drives the wheels through a ZF Ecolife transmission.

It is all very Twentieth Century!

  • Power comes from one diesel engine per car.
  • There is pollution and carbon-dioxide generated outside the train.
  • Noise is generated outside and inside the train.
  • Braking energy is not captured and used to power the train, or stored for reuse.

We can do so much better than this.

The MTU Hybrid PowerPack

MTU have now developed the MTU Hybrid PowerPack.

This page on the MTU web site, is a document, which describes the PowerPack.

It describes the PowerPack as the next generation of railcar drive.

It lists these benefits.

  • Saving fuel through braking energy recovery
  • Significantly reduced emissions through load point optimization
  • Optimizing travel times with the Boost Mode
  • Significant noise reduction
  • Flexible vehicle deployment and simple retrofitting

In some ways the last point is the most significant.

This is said in the document about deployment and retrofitting.

Naturally, rail vehicles with hybrid drive can also be powered
exclusively by the diesel engine. This also means great flexibility
for the operator: The trains can be deployed on both electrified
and non-electrified rail routes. In addition, upgrading to a trimodal*
power system – with an additional pantograph – is easy because
the system is already equipped with an electric motor. This gives
the operator considerable freedom with regard to deployment of
the vehicles – it‘s a big plus when they can respond flexibly in the
future to every route requirement or tender invitation.

It sounds like MTU have really done their thinking.

If you want to read more, there is this document on the Rolls-Royce web-site, which is entitled Hybrid Train Trials.

Note that Rolls-Royce are MTU’s parent company.

A Simple Trimodal Example

I will give one simple example of where the trimodal technology pf the MTU Hybrid PowerPack, could be used, to great advantage.

Southern have two routes, where they have to use diesel Class 171 trains

  • Eastbourne and Ashford International (42% electrified)
  • London Bridge and Uckfield (45% electrified)

Porterbrook are planning to fit MTU Hybrid PowerPacks to Class 170 trains, as I wrote about in Rolls-Royce And Porterbrook Launch First Hybrid Rail Project In The UK With MTU Hybrid PowerPacks.

As the Class 171 train is very similar to the Class 170 train, I would suspect that Class 171 trains can be converted to diesel hybrids using MTU Hybrid PowerPacks.

It would be very useful, if they could be converted into tri-mode trains, by the addition of third-rail shoe gear.

This would mean, that the two routes run by the Class 171 trains, could be run on electricity for st least 40-45 percent of the route.

I would also think, that adding third-rail shoe gear to a diesel multiple unit, like a Class 171 train, could be easier than adding a pantograph.

When you consider that Southern have twenty Class 171 trains, with a total of fifty-six cars and conversion would therefore need fifty-six MTU Hybrid PowerPacks, this would not be a trivial order for MTU, that could bring substantial benefit to Southern.

I suspect new bi-mode or battery/electric trains would be less good value, than converting trains with MTU Hybrid PowerPacks, in many applications.

Other Technologies

Already other companies and research organisations are getting involved in developing affordable solutions to convert redundant diesel multiple units into more environmentally-friendly and energy efficient trains.

We have also seen train operating companies in a wider sense, buying trains that can easily be updated to zero-carbon trains.

Benefits Of Conversion To Diesel-Hybrid

I believe that conversion to diesel hybrid trains, using MTU Hybrid PowerPacks or similar technologies,  could be advantageous in other ways, in addition to the obvious ones of less noise and pollution.

  • Train operating companies would not need to greatly change their support infrastructure.
  • Driver retraining would probably be a short conversion course.
  • More partially-electrified routes would be possible with efficient modern trains.

I also feel, that if we can convert diesel-mechanical and diesel-hydraulic trains into trains with the ability to use either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification, this will open up possibilities to create new partially-electrified routes in places, where electrification is either too difficult, too expensive or is opposed by protests.

Trains That Could Be Converted

These trains are ones that can possibly be converted to diesel hybrid trains.

Turbostars

As I said earlier Porterbrook are already planning to convert some of their numerous Class 170 trains to diesel hybrid operation using MTU Hybrid PowerPacks.

Turbostars are a class of diesel trains.

The picture shows a Class 170 train in ScotRail livery, at Brough station, working a service for Northern.

  • They have a 100 mph top speed.
  • They come in two, three or four car sets.
  • They were built between 1996 and 2011.
  • They have a comfortable interior and passengers only complain, when say a Class 170 train is replaced by a Class 156 or even older train.
  • There are a total of 196 Turbostars in various classes.

This description from Wikip[edia, details their drive system.

Much of the design is derived from the Networker Turbo Class 165 and Class 166 trains built by British Rail Engineering Limited’s Holgate Road carriage works. Notable features shared are the aluminium alloy frame and two-speed Voith T211r hydrodynamic transmission system. The diesel engine has changed to an MTU 6R 183TD. A cardan shaft links the output of the gearbox to ZF final drives on the inner bogie of each vehicle. The engine and transmission are situated under the body; one bogie per car is powered, the other bogie unpowered.

It is simple system and well suited to replacement with the MTU Hybrid PowerPack.

As I said earlier, some Turbostars run over partially-electrified routes.

I also said that two of Southern’s routes are partially-electrified with the 750 VDC third-rail system, so could we see some examples making use of this to create a trimodal version.

On the other hand fitting a pantograph for 25 KVAC overhead electrification could be difficult. Although, all  British Rail designs and their derivatives were usually designed, so they could work with every type of K electrification.

Class 165 And Class 166 Trains

The Class 165 and Class 166 trains are the predecessors of the Turbostars, and the later trains share a lot of their features.

As with all British Rail train designs, they have Japanese Knotweed in their DNA and engineers continuously find profitable ways of not sending them to the scrapyard. So they’ll be around for a few years yet!

The owner of these trains; Angel Trains has started a development project to create the Class 165 Hydrive train, which I wrote about in Class 165 Trains To Go Hybrid.

Will we see another hundred or so diesel hydraulic trains in good condition converted to more environmentally-friendly diesel hybrid trains?

Class 195 And Class 196 Trains

The Class 195 and Class 196 trains are still in the process of being built and judging by my first experience of Northern’s Class 195 train, that I wrote about in My First Ride In A Class 195 Train, they would benefit from the fitting of a quieter hybrid drive, like an MTU Hybrid PowerPack.

I suspect that any follow on orders for CAF’s diesel trains could well be built as diesel hybrids.

  • The MTU Hybrid PowerPack could be used to replace the MTU engine and ZF Ecolife transmission.
  • A battery-electric transmission, perhaps even using bogies and traction motors from the Class 331 train, could be developed.

Consider.

  • Building the train around a hybrid transmission, will be probably no more difficult, than building one with a mechanical transmission.
  • The train would create less noise and pollution.
  • Hybrid trains would probably be more marketable to prospective purchasers. See Hybrid Selling.

As CAF are the only manufacturer of new diesel trains in the UK, I don’t think, they will be bothered.

Class 175 Trains

Transport for Wales have a fleet of eleven two-car and sixteen three-car Class 175 trains and they are scheduled to be replaced by a series of new trains starting in 2021.

I suspect the conversion to diesel hybrid will be possible, but even with a full interior refurbishment, will anybody have need for them, as there are already a lot of new 100 mph diesel trains on order, many of which could be delivered as diesel hybrids.

Class 180 Trains

There are fourteen five-car Class 180 trains.

They are 125 mph trains.

The fact that Hull Trains are replacing their Class 180 trains with new Class 802 trains, probably says a lot about the limitations of Class 180 trains.

Conclusion

We will be seeing a lot of hybrid trains, made by updating diesel-mechanichal and diesel-hydraulic trains.

July 17, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 5 Comments