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Closed a/c
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  • Location
    Milton Keynes, England
  • Interests
    Anything designed by Oliver Bullied
    BR corporate blue era
    Japanese railways
    Canada (particularly Ontario) railways
    Italian railways
    Pennsylvania RR

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  1. I think the idea of living in tower blocks was tarnished in this country by experiences of the tower blocks built in the 60's and 70's which were awful. In many other countries there is no such stigma and if people want to preserve green belts while accommodating large populations then tower blocks are ideal.
  2. One interesting opportunity of home working is that if taken to its logical conclusion it de-couples the link between where you live and where you work. Even if you need to go into the office a couple of days a week it may well be a good deal to pay for a train ticket and a hotel once a week and live where you want to rather than be stuck in the commuter belt or city. That assumes that people would want to work from home and also that home work is indeed homework. I have one colleague who lives in Australia and who visits the office once a year, that is a legacy arrangement but I must admit I've thought about the potential to move to somewhere like Singapore, Indonesia or Malaysia and work from "home" if things really do shift. If anything more of the people I have to deal with are in Asia than in Europe anyway with the exception of IMO meetings. And I think IMO meetings could be managed for me, not buying my season ticket would pay for a big slice of air fares.
  3. That's a fair point, but there is more to it than that. By working at home I am avoiding circa. £500/month in rail season ticket expenses, I'm not buying lunches in London, not spending money on soft drinks etc (well I am, but buying large packs from a supermarket for my own fridge is an awful lot cheaper), in poor weather I'm not driving to MKC station (I cycle when the weather is reasonable) and various other expenses. So for me if looking at things from a strictly monthly spend perspective I'm several hundred pounds a month ahead. That said, to be honest I still prefer being in the office to work.
  4. One of life's simple pleasures is walking down Whitehall and past Parliament to observe the protestors. My favourite was a fellow with some splendid placards about the evils of plastics enjoying a drink of bottled water, the bottle of course being plastic.
  5. In electricity it was getting a bit silly before electricity companies (in the UK anyway) decided coal was finished we were looking at ultra-supercritical boilers operating at 700-750C in which all the steam headers and tubes would have been made from highly expensive high nickel super-alloys which would have been a nightmare to maintain (welding of such alloys isn't that easy) and the thermal efficiency was still only projected to be about 44%. That is less than large marine diesels were achieving decades ago and pretty similar to what modern GTs achieve in open cycle but way way less than a CCGT plant will achieve even without being tied into a heating scheme. My former employer admits that the eco-warriors did them a huge favour by killing off Kingsnorth 5 & 6 a few years ago as it had gone ahead it would have been a hugely expensive white elephant. The Japanese have tried to promote "advanced" steam plants for marine use a few times but the improvements are pretty marginal and still lag diesels significantly, they still sell a few packages to the LNG carrier market where some operators still prefer steam power plant but it's a tiny niche.
  6. I think a modern turbine electric locomotive would look much more like a diesel locomotive than a Stephenson engine. Whether using an electric transmission or an alternative such as a hydraulic transmission it would use conventional type bogies rather than coupled drivers and a modern body design, driving environment etc. Any new build steam locomotive would use either a liquid or gas fuel (coal is now pretty much the equivalent of toxic sludge in much of the world) and the boiler firing and controls would all be controlled by PLCs and a platform management system.. However, if the idea was to try and make something genuinely useful using a turbine drive then it would make far more sense to use a gas turbine, which would be lighter, simpler and could be more efficient (modern GTs aren't that far being diesel engines depending on duty cycle). One of the problems with rankine steam cycle plants is that maximum efficiency calls for very high superheat temperatures and associated high pressure (the high pressure is more a result of the need for high superheat rather than the other way around) and that acts against flexibility. In my final days in electricity the conflict between efficiency and flexibility was becoming ever more problematic as the remaining steam plants had to be flexible to peak manage and balance renewables yet at the same time the industry was facing ever more demands to reduce emissions which meant high efficiency. You can design a rankine steam plant for maximum efficiency or to be flexible, but not both. A dead end intellectual exercise yes, but if I was a rich philanthropist I'd fund a project for graduates to design such a locomotive and for apprentices and craftspeople to build it as it'd be a great project for young people and provide a bit of employment doing something people could take a bit of pride in.
  7. I think the intellectual exercise bit is why I find it interesting. The premise of seeing what could be achieved if applying modern design tools, metallurgy and manufacturing to a steam locomotive is interesting to me. In some ways I'd go further and say it would be interesting to look beyond reciprocating engines and revisit the steam turbine, either with a mech drive or an e-drive, design it around the rankine cycle with condensing (the condenser is the great engine of steam performance and efficiency). It wouldn't be nostalgic, and it would be a dead end but it would at least be interesting and challenging. We already have lots of preserved steam engines which lets be honest are pretty much of a muchness and I can't really see the point of building copies of old designs that never made it to preservation when we have plenty of examples of very similar machines preserved.
  8. ÊUltimately the 5AT would be an exercise in futility insomuch as it would just confirm that if you designed and built a modern steam locomotive it would still be very inefficient and have high operating costs but it would still be interesting. Much more interesting than just building another facsimile of an old design.
  9. I don't know what it's like now, but when I worked in electricity generation NR ( or was it still Railtrack?) weren't particularly enthusiastic about extending rail even where potential biomass plants were adjacent to lines. More than once in preliminary discussions the response could be paraphrased as " we're happy to talk if you don't mind wasting everyone's time" so effort concentrated on road transport.
  10. It is a sad indictment that rail has a mature and fully commercialised zero emissions at the vehicle technology which has been in use for many decades but somehow this country managed to make unaffordable. Other transport sectors have faced major challenges to get to where rail was in the 1930's. That said, we will need alternatives to electrification and I think we will see some technology fragmentation. I think batteries and fuel cells will be suitable for many passenger services but for freight I think the internal combustion engine operating on low/zero carbon fuels is probably the best solution, perhaps with series/parallel battery hybrid systems. There is a lot of development of such fuels, ammonia seems to have a lot of advocacy just now. Personally I'm not too hot on biofuels, at least not the existing ones. That said, the big problem for freight in this country is geography. We live in a small country with population quite highly concentrated in a few clusters and with coal use in freefall. Rail is good for trunk intermodal flows but road distribution is still necessary to get boxes to the customer and in many cases those truck journeys can be as long as the rail segment.
  11. The Academy models were pretty good kits, the Cromwell being developed by Airfix should be excellent. There is a gap in the market for a good Crusader in 1/35, the old Italeri model (also sold by Tamiya) is past its sell by date I think. Although the Tamiya 1/48 Crusader is superb.
  12. Excellent news on the APT-E, should give those that missed out an opportunity to buy one without negotiating eBay.
  13. Airfix seemed to prefer 1/32, in fairness it wasn't a silly idea as 1/32 was a more popular toy soldiers scale (although now toy soldiers seem to have grown to 1/30). One of my pet hates is the co-existence of different scales that are pretty much in the same size range. For example 1/30, 1/32 & 1/35, and 1/43, 1/48, 1/50 and 1/72 & 1/76. I have very fond memories of the old Airfix 1/32 Crusader, Grant and Sdkfz 250.
  14. Splendid! On 1/35 kits do you know if the next Airfix models will be true Airfix models please? The entry of Airfix into 1/35 military subjects was great news and using Academy Minicraft tooling a good way to dip a toe into the water but it would be great to see Airfix do it properly. I think the newer generation Airfix kits are superb and as good as the best available. That said many of the old items stil have a certain charm and in most cases still make good replicas of the prototype and with a bit of effort can scrub up very well. And of course there is that classic box art, wonderful!
  15. I think the Valenta engine highlights the fundamental problem with model sound. People remember the high pitched scream of valenta engines and want that in a model, but that creates an incongruence between what is seen and heard as people want the sort of sound of a close up engine but the visual effect of a OO model is quite distant. Sound just doesn't scale in model form.
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