BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘engineering’

#365daysofbiking Nicely dovetailing

November 24th – On the way back from Chasewater to Brownhills on yet another dull, wet Sunday afternoon following a frankly disappointing winter fair at Chasewater, I wasn’t expecting to find much: But I found something fascinating that’s been staring me in the face for decades and I have never once noticed.

It’s fairly well known that when Abraham Darby bullt the Iron Bridge over the Severn at Coalbrookdale, iron was such a new material that many of the jointing techniques used were adapted from carpentery, as that was the understood skillset of the day.

I noticed for the first time today that the Ogley foorbridge over the cut off stub of the Lichfield branch of the Wyrley and Essington canal – recently refurbished – holds it’s guard sides together with a neat, well fitted dovetail joint in cast iron.

The bridge, dating from around 1850 is a listed structure, and I’m beginning to see why. The rails are constructed in two half-crescents with a dovetail centrally, held rigid by a bolted mating sleeve.

It’s utterly beautiful and means the bridge is thoroughly rigid.

I only noticed due to the rust bleed into the ageing paint.

You can always find something, no matter how grim the weather…

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#365daysofbiking Iron man

September 8th – Returning to Brownhills, I passed Morris, the Brownhills Miner, standing sentry as he has done for over a decade now.

I love Morris. I think most everyone does. It’s not the history for me so much as the technical achievement of his method of creation and the sheer skill in the metalwork.

A fine piece of art, and a tour de force of engineering for it’s creator, John McKenna.

And also, my beacon of home. This Iron Man is definitely a hometown hero.

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#365daysofbiking Spring has sprung:

September 13th – Spotted in a customer’s bike shed, and improvised, clever repair to a brake calliper with a broken return spring.

The return spring – present in some form in nearly every type of brake – forces the brake off once the lever is released.

Since the brake cable pulls the yoke awards the cable end stop to engage the disc brake fitted here, forcing the two apart will duplicate the effect of releasing the brake as performed normally by a return spring. The spring has clearly broken and instead of replacing the whole calliper, the owner has released the cable, threaded on a very stiff spring and re-assembled the cable. The cable retains the spring and the brake operates as normal.

Clever. I’m impressed.

#365daysofbiking The Crane life:

September 12th: My first trip to Telford in several weeks and the new station footbridge is making steady progress. The ring road is now closed under the bridge, and. a large crane is being assembled, presumably to lift the massive main deck into place from it’s construction point on an adjacent verge.

A queue of HGVs and machines lines up down the empty roadway. People discuss, Marshall and prepare. This is clearly to be one heck of an operation.

The rest of the project progresses: Brickwork is going up, lift machinery is taking form in the assembled bridge piers and lots of ancillary pathways and steelwork are moving into place or emerging.

This is going to be one to watch.

#365daysofbiking I dream of wires:

September 10th – Two things I thought I’d never see in my lifetime are the Chase Line Electrification and the creation of the pedestrian bridge to cross the tracks at Moors Gorse instead of the level crossing, but here I am, taking pictures of one from the other.

Interesting to see how far advanced the electrification of this busy passenger railway from Walsall to Rugeley now is – the catenaries are in, strainers all fitted and it seems here very close to functional.

I note the blue earth bonds to prevent the overheads going live while being worked on, and the curious block communing point on the track not yet connected to anything, but with the coil of bonding cable nearby ready. Wonder what that’s actually for? It looks like there’s some kind of sensor built into it.

Never seen those before and I’m curious.

#365daysofbiking Making a deposit

August 29th – I travelled home through Aldridge early in the afternoon after visiting the bank, and I had stuff to wait in for. On the way past the brickworks at Stubbers Green, just where the marlpit fence runs near the towpath, I noticed this curious instrument.

It’s a temporary placement, for gathering data about but deposition from the quarry and brickworks. It’s called – I kid you not – A frisbee deposition gauge, and it collects dust from the air and rain, which it collects in the vessel at the bottom of the tripod. There’s thin crosswires to stop birds landing on it, and a course foam pad to stop large debris like litter and leaves clogging it up.

Several of these instruments appear to be positioned around the site, presumably to test compliance with relevant pollution law.

It’s a fascinating area of environmental science and engineering and interesting to see it in use locally.

April 17th – The Telford footbridge construction project continues, and there’s a really interesting stage started now; partially build sections of the bridge have been delivered as steelwork skeletons, namely a couple of lattice piers and the over railway deck section. What’s interesting is that they have been fixed temporarily on spare ground, and other parts are being welded and added. The assembled sections will be completed on the ground, and then lifted into place.

I’ve never seen this done before and passing through on a grey, drizzly afternoon it was certainly interesting to watch the engineers at work while I waited for the train.

This is certainly going to confuse people trying to work out the final layout…

April 15th I cut over Clayhanger Common to the takeaway, and noted that the waters here had almost totally receded now. The lower meadow here is designed to flood, defending the village, and works well. The problem is the path has sunk over the years and is now submerged in times of the meadow doing it’s job.

Thing is now, you’d not really know what had happened. 

This really is a curious, well engineered landscape.

April 7th – Ogley Junction Footbridge is mystifying me a little. The bridge itself and deck were restored beautifully, to much local praise. The remainder of the work – the spit and polish, if you like, hats been patchy. 

The pathway off the bridge was originally remade badly, and now has been dug out and corrected, which is good to see. But the bit baffling me is the masonry.

The brickwork on the wing walls has been vary sparingly pointed, here and there. To me, it looks like it all could have done with doing, and bits still seem to be in a parlous state. I’m prepared to accept the work might be ongoing and not finished yet, but if it is a work in progress, there’s no logical pattern to completion whatsoever.

A bit of a conundrum.

March 26th – In Telford for a meeting, the footbridge project continues it’s bizarre stop-start behaviour, baffling to the uninitiated. Piles are bored and concreted now, sheet piling has appeared along the roadside, and a cavity there had been dug – maybe for a pier or lift-well. Steelwork has been driven into the earth and cut to varying lengths, and there a lot of noise and action. But no visible chap yet, and nothing on the Euston Way side of the station at all. 

I guess this is one of those puzzling projects that will just sudsy come together, but it’s very intriguing to watch.