In the days of steam, power was produced by huge machines. If you needed a more powerful machine, you just made it bigger. The huge wheels and pistons that resulted were most impressive. The Henry Ford has quite a selection of these old steam engines of various designs. The efficiency improved as they introduced multiple phases to the machines to recover more work from the output of the engine. The big beams and pistons remained a theme, though. The large brick structures and the associated metalwork have been nicely preserved and displayed.
I know a few of the regular readers of the blog are in to trains so I hope this one pleases them. The Henry Ford Museum covers all sorts of engineering endeavors including a selection of rail vehicles. This was one of the last things we saw before we left so I didn’t explore very much. However, there was one rather large steam locomotive on display. This thing was a beast and I imagine it was quite the sight when it was in regular usage. Our visit coincided with the running of Big Boy after restoration so something similar to this can been seen for real once again!
Engine supply is a bit of a problem for the big two airliner manufacturers at the moment. Rolls powered 787s are going through a drawn out program of rework and A320neos are sitting around awaiting both Pratt and CFM engines. Boeing is also short of CFM Leaps and the result is a lot of parked 737 Max jets at Renton and Boeing Field. Apparently, they are flying jets to Boeing Field and then trucking the engines back to Renton. As I flew over Boeing Field earlier in the week, the flightline did look full!
I wanted to see all of these parked jets so took a trip to Renton one weekend to see how things were. There were certainly plenty of jets around and quite a few had ballast weights attached to the pylons. Supposedly the backlog will not be sorted out until the fourth quarter (although some think that is a bit optimistic)!
The failure of an engine on a Southwest 737 that sadly resulted in the death of a passenger caused a major review of the fleet of 737s. Inspections were identified for the engines in the affected range and everyone was scrambling to find facilities in which to carry out the checks. ATS at Paine Field is one of Southwest’s suppliers and they took in a number of the jets. Towards the end of the fly day that Paine Field was having, three Southwest jets emerged from ATS’s facility. They were towed to the north end of the field.
Here they were started up and they took it in turns to taxi down to where we were and then depart. One of the jets was an 800 series and may not have bee affected by the inspection but could have been at ATS for other work. The 700s were quite possibly part of the inspection process. After a day of light traffic and warbirds, the appearance of three Southwest 737s and their subsequent departures made for a change of pace.
I was too young to see a Saturn V launch. My one and only space launch has been a shuttle flight and that was very impressive. I can only imagine how cool the Saturn V was to witness. Maybe when the new generation of heavy launchers comes into service I will get to see something similar. The power for the first stage was provided by the F1 engines, five of which were clustered together. We made a trip to the Kennedy Space Center a long time ago and a Saturn V is on display there lying on its side. You can get face to face with the engine nozzles.
More recently, we checked out the Apollo exhibit at the Museum of Flight, here in Seattle. They have a display of an F1 engine but this one is not looking so pristine. This is because it is a used engine. Not just used as in test firing used but used as in flew on a mission, free fell to the ocean, hit the sea at speed, sank to the bottom of the Atlantic and stayed there for decades. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, funded a project to recover the engines from Apollo 12.
The nozzle is gone which is no surprise given how thin it is as you can see in the pictures of the undamaged version. However, the combustion chamber and the turbopump seem to have come through the experience in remarkable shape. The injector plate is also on display and has been pulled out of the assembly to show it off more clearly. The F1 was quite a feat of engineering – 1.5 million lbs of thrust and the pinnacle of 60s technology.
Night photo shoots are becoming more popular these days. The Flying Heritage Combat Armor Museum (FHCAM) held one with the de Havilland Mosquito. The evening started out with the plane on the ramp when people were free to wander around the aircraft. I was shooting a lot of long exposures using the tripod which does a good job of removing the people provided they keep moving. However, a few people were hanging around for long periods so they show up in the shots. Others were using the flashes on their cameras or flashlights to look at stuff which made things blow out.
Once we were all cleared from the ramp, one of the FHCAM crew came out to talk about the aircraft. He was the one that would carry out the engine runs and he ran through the test procedures that would be followed for the engines. People had the chance to ask questions and get a good understanding of the plane and how it is operated.
Then came the fun. The engines were fired up in sequence. Then they were run through the test program. The blue flame from the exhaust stacks could be clearly seen in the very dark conditions. When the mag checks were carried out, the flames were even more conspicuous. I moved around a bit to get some different positions. I was quite surprised to see how blurred some of the shots were. The aircraft clearly moves a lot despite being chocked and so some of the shots were totally unusable. This was a lesson learned. In future I would focus on shortening the exposure times a lot to minimize this issue which I hadn’t anticipated.
I also shot a bunch of video while the runs were underway. The edited video is below. It was a fun evening and thanks to FHCAM for holding it. It would be fun to do on another type. It might be nice to have a touch more light on the ramp but the dark conditions did have some advantages. I discovered a bit about shooting in that environment which should hopefully help on future night shoots.
The SR-71 that is located in the Evergreen Aerospace Museum is configured to give some interesting views of the aircraft. One side of the aircraft is opened up to show the engine. The whole of the outer portion of the wing folds up to give access to the engine. I had no idea that was the way it operated until I saw this plane. It does show the engine configuration nicely. At the high supersonic speeds, there is a bypass process whereby a lot of the flow is taken around the core. The pipes for this can be clearly seen along the side of the engine.
Two versions of the Boeing 787 have been in service for a while. However, development activities continue. The 787-10 is still undergoing flight test but work also continues on the older jets. Some of this is also related to the Dash 10. I had a post on my first encounter with the 787-10 which I wrote about here. I have since come across another of the test aircraft. This one is plain white and doesn’t benefit from the nice house colors that Boeing has.
Meanwhile, one of the 787-8 test aircraft has recently been testing the newest version of the Rolls Royce Trent 1000. I saw this engine when it was being tested on Rolls’ testbed in Tucson and that was in this post. Now it has been fitted to its intended platform and is undergoing trials. These have included lengthy flights around the US including one in which they traced out the planform of the aircraft across multiple states. If you are going to go flying for 18 hours, you might as well find a way to have fun with it. The aircraft is carrying the same logo on the engine nacelle that was on the testbed. Hopefully, the delayed upgraded engine will soon be in service, not just on the Dash 10 but also on the other variants.
I’ve already shown the B-1s at Red Flag some love but here is a bit more about them because, well, why not? The four afterburning engines produce a lot of noise, light and, I guess, thrust. For a few of the departures, I focused the camera on the back end to try and show that energetic output. Daylight is not the best time to show up the afterburner plume – night works well for that as does being more directly behind the jet – but it still is possible to see the jet against the dark airframe. This is just something so impressive to see.
Grumpy got airborne using the Doolittle technique I posted about here. During the takeoff, there were some puffs of smoke from one of the engines. Initially I thought this might just be some oil blowing through but, as they climbed out, the output from the engine was clearly not as it should be and the one engine was clearly not healthy. They cut short the flight (although not as short as it could have been) and brought the plane back down. I saw Grumpy fly a few weeks later so I guess they dealt with whatever the issue was.