Aviation museums tend to be full of airframes of various types but sometimes they have associated items that they work on. The Museum of Flight restoration facility at Paine Field has a fire truck that they have rebuilt. It is tiny compared to current fire trucks but it is a great example of a truck from a time long gone and it is in great shape after all of the work put in to it. I thought I would share it here since it probably won’t get a lot of attention from everyone other than those that worked on it.
Sitting in the lounge at Narita waiting for my flight home, this truck belonging to Delta was parked below us. It may be painted in Delta markings but it isn’t hard to see who originally bought it. I guess it isn’t the newest truck in the fleet and, unlike a lot of the vehicles on the ramp, this looks like it was built in the US.
Modern engines last a long time on the wing of an airliner but they do need to be changed. Older engines tend to need to be changed more often. Allegiant fly a bunch of MD-80s as part of their fleet and they use the older Pratt and Whitney JT-8D engines. I guess one of the planes was due for a change because, while I was at McCarran, this truck showed up on the ramp with a couple of engines on the trailer. I can’t say whether these were fresh engines about to be fitted or the ones that had come off due for overhaul but, judging by the direction he was heading, I am going to say that these were being delivered.
If you aren’t already bored with my quest for something definitive on the takeoff characteristics of the Boeing 777-300ER, here is something more on the topic. Rather than animation, this time it is a couple of still shots. The first is a 777-300ER rotating. The second is a 777F. You can clearly see that the truck is rigidly rotating on the 300ER while the freighter has all wheels firmly planted on the ground up into it gets airborne. Maybe I will call that it for now. I promise no more posts on this for a while!
When Boeing launched the 777-300ER, they took the stretched fuselage of the 777-300, a model that didn’t sell particularly well and married it to the updated wing that made use of the fuel capacity of the outboard portion of the wing that had been left when the original concept of a folding wing was contemplated. The increased the weights of the jet, added far more powerful engines and, with the increased fuel capacity, came up with a winning formula that has done a very effective job of killing off the 747.
One problem that they had to deal with during development was runway length requirements for takeoff. Even with the bigger engines, the long fuselage limited rotation angles at takeoff and meant a higher takeoff speed was required which meant a longer runway requirement. Boeing came up with an interesting solution (after dumping some slightly more curious ideas). The main gear on the 777 has a triple axle bogie. Previously this had rotated about the pin attaching it to the main gear leg. Boeing’s solution was to lock the bogie level during takeoff.
The result of this is to have the rotation of the jet at takeoff to take place around the rear wheels of the bogie rather than the gear leg pin. The slight aft movement of the rotation point allows the aircraft to rotate slightly more nose up and gain a greater angle of attack. This gives slightly more lift for a given speed. This means an earlier takeoff and a shorter runway requirement.
I have tried many times to witness this at work. First, it happens pretty quickly. Second, I am often in a poor position to see the rotation point. Recently I was at SFO to pick up some people. I was getting a few shots prior to their flight arriving and a Singapore 777-300ER was taking off. The rotation point is quite far away (although, if you are in the terminal, you might have a good view) and the heat haze is a problem. However, I decided to get a sequence of shots anyway. Now, how to use them.
Heat haze is crappy on stills but less of an issue with moving images so I decided to animate the sequence. I imported all of the shots into Photoshop as layers in a single document via Lightroom. The hardest part was aligning them. I started at the bottom layer and then progressively made each layer above visible. I then changed the latest top layer blend mode to difference. This makes aligning them a lot easier since everything is black unless it is different. I was focused on the gear so used that as the reference as the fuselage rotated. Once each layer was in place, I changed the blend mode back to normal and moved to the next layer up.
Once they were all aligned, I used the animation timeline to make frames from each layer (and reversed the order since every time I do this they seem to be the wrong way around). Then I could crop in to get the overall view I was after and save the file. A Save for Web allows the generation of the animated GIF and we are done. The image at the top is the final result. It does allow you to see a bit of what is going on if you look closely although it is still a bit hard given the distance, the angle to the ground and the heat haze. I guess I will have to find a location closer next time.
The number of bridges and underpasses in the city mean there are plenty of signs showing vehicles what the height restrictions are. As someone who drives cars that will fit anywhere, I don’t pay a huge amount of attention to these signs. I don’t even have a honking great SUV so there is never any problem. If I was a truck driver, I imagine I might be a bit more aware of these things. Then again, maybe you assume the height they post on the sign has a bit of wiggle room built in.
Whatever the story, someone got it wrong the other day near us. I was walking across the pedway to go to Michigan Avenue when I saw a guy getting a step ladder out and looking at the top of the truck – or at least what used to be the top of the truck. Half of it was gone and a few of the cross struts for the roof could be seen hanging down inside the vehicle. I guess they got it wrong. Either that or the sunny weather made them turn the truck into a convertible!
The other day while I was sitting at my desk, I happened to look out of the window and across the river. (Under no circumstances should you conclude that I was spending a large amount of time staring out of the window. There is no evidence to support such allegations!)
As I looked across to Wacker Drive, I saw a FedEx delivery truck that looked very unusual. It had a very aerodynamic looking front end and didn’t look anything like their normal trucks. A while later, I googled FedEx and delivery trucks to see if anything came up and, sure enough, there w a feature on their website about a number of new trucks that they are running trials on, some of which are here in Chicago.
The trials are for new designs that are either light weight conventional designs or alternative propulsion designs. They are trying the different concepts out on different routes to see which ones are best suited to which routes rather than having a one size fits all approach. Apparently, we have some electric vehicles here in the city.
I didn’t think much more about it until a few days later when I was out in the Loop. As I came down a back street, a came across one of the new trucks. It certainly has a very modern look about it. The driver was not around so I had a bit of time to look around it. Apparently, there is not a door to the outside on the cab. It seems you have to go back through the truck. There were some quite jazzy looking electronic access controls so it has all the bells and whistles fitted.
It will be interesting to see how the trials go and whether these become a regular sight. Given how many miles FedEx puts in, they must have plenty of scope to save cash!