Isambard Kingdom Brunel

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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Fri Jul 01, 2011 10:42 pm


Launch of SS Great Britain in July 1843.


SS Great Britain in dry dock at Bristol 2005.

Wiki:

SS Great Britain was an advanced passenger steamship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel for the Great Western Steamship Company's transatlantic service between Bristol and New York. While other ships had previously been built of iron or equipped with a screw propeller, Great Britain was the first to combine these features in a large ocean-going ship. She was the first screw steamer to cross the Atlantic, which she did in 1845, in the then-record time of 14 days (one day faster than the previous record holder, the SS Great Western).

When launched in 1843, Great Britain was by far the largest vessel afloat. However, her protracted construction and high cost had left her owners in a difficult financial position, and they were forced out of business in 1846 after the ship was stranded by a navigational error.

Sold for salvage and repaired, Great Britain carried thousands of immigrants to Australia until converted to sail in 1881. Three years later, the vessel was retired to the Falkland Islands where she was used as a warehouse, quarantine ship and coal hulk until scuttled in 1937.

In 1970, Great Britain was returned to the Bristol dry dock where she was first built. Now listed as part of the National Historic Fleet, Core Collection, the vessel is an award-winning visitor attraction and museum ship in Bristol Harbour, with between 150,000–170,000 visitors annually.


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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Sat Jul 02, 2011 12:12 am

BRUNEL's THEORY ABOUT STEAMSHIP CONSTRUCTION

Wiki:

It was widely disputed whether it would be commercially viable for a ship powered purely by steam to make such long [Transatlantic] journeys. Technological developments in the early 1830s—including the invention of the surface condenser, which allowed boilers to run on salt water without stopping to be cleaned—made longer journeys more possible, but it was generally thought that a ship would not be able to carry enough fuel for the trip and have room for a commercial cargo. Brunel formulated the theory that the amount a ship could carry increased as the cube of its dimensions, whereas the amount of resistance a ship experienced from the water as it travelled only increased by a square of its dimensions. This would mean that moving a larger ship would take proportionately less fuel than a smaller ship.

*********************************************************************************

Being an all-round clever clogs, his theory was subsequently vindicated.

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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Sat Jul 02, 2011 12:34 am

SS GREAT EASTERN


Sectional plan of Great Eastern.


On the deck of Great Eastern, 1857.

Wiki:

In the spring of 1854 work could at last begin. The first problem to arise was where the ship was to be built. Scott Russell’s contract stipulated that it was to be built in a dock, but Russell quoted a price of £8-10,000 to build the necessary dock and so this part of the scheme was abandoned, partly due to the cost and also to the difficulty of finding a suitable site for the dock. The idea of a normal stern first launch was also rejected because of the great length of the vessel, also because to provide the right launch angle the bow of the ship would have to be raised 40 feet (12 m) in the air. Eventually it was decided to build the ship sideways to the river and use a mechanical slip designed by Brunel for the launch. Later the mechanical design was dropped on the grounds of cost, although the sideways plan remained.

Having decided on a sideways launch, a suitable site had to be found, as Scott Russell's Millwall, London, yard was too small. The adjacent yard belonging to David Napier was empty, available and suitable, so it was leased and a railway line constructed between the two yards for moving materials. The site of the launch is still visible on the Isle of Dogs. Part of the slipway has been preserved on the waterfront, while at low tide, more of the slipway can be seen on the Thames foreshore.


Great Eastern shortly before launch in 1858.


Brunel at the launch of Great Eastern with John Scott Russell and Lord Derby.


SS Great Eastern's launch ramp at Millwall, London today.


SS Great Eastern at Heart's Content, July 1866.

Wiki:

Brunel had hoped to conduct the launch with a minimum of publicity but many thousands of spectators had heard of it and occupied vantage points all round the yard. He was also dismayed to discover that the Eastern Company's directors had sold 3,000 tickets for spectators to enter the shipyard.

As he was preparing for the launch some of the directors joined him on the rostrum with a list of names for the ship. On being asked which he preferred, Brunel replied "Call her Tom Thumb if you like". At 12:30 pm Henrietta (daughter of a major fundraiser for the ship, Henry Thomas Hope) christened the ship Leviathan much to everyone's surprise since she was commonly known as Great Eastern; her name subsequently changed back to Great Eastern in July 1858.

The launch, however, failed, as the steam winches and manual capstans used to haul the ship towards the water were not up to the job. Brunel made another attempt on the 19th and again on the 28th, this time using hydraulic rams to move the ship, but these too proved inadequate. The ship was finally launched at 1:42pm on 31 January 1858, using more powerful hydraulic rams supplied by the then-new Tangye company of Birmingham, the association with such a famous project giving a useful fillip to the fledgling company.

She was 211 m (692 ft) long, 25 m (83 ft) wide, with a draft of 6.1 m (20 ft) unloaded and 9.1 m (30 ft) fully laden, and displaced 32,000 tons fully loaded. In comparison, SS Persia, launched in 1856, was 119 m (390 ft) long with a 14 m (45 ft) beam.


SS Great Eastern berthed in New York, 1860.


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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Sat Jul 02, 2011 5:25 am

^

But there was a price to be paid for all this Victorian-era enterprise- and in an age where Health & Safety regulations didn't exist it was paid in men's lives:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fh0F41AvO_Q
Navigator- The Pogues.

Vid with great contemporary pix.


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Re: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Post  eddie on Sat Mar 03, 2012 11:53 pm

Railway engineering: the nuts and bolts of hidden beauty

From Network Rail to the National Gallery, a world of dazzling creativity eludes our attention

Sarah Bakewell

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 1 March 2012 22.00 GMT


The architectural drawing of Paddington station 'looks like a dome-shaped doodle, all exuberant sprays of ivy-like shoots'. Photograph: Network Rail

Once I saw merely bridges, tunnels and stations, and mostly I didn't even notice these, so busy was I rushing to get over or through them. Now, I see a delicate ecosystem of rivets, cleats, plates, gussets, joggles, spans, arches, ribs of attenuated iron and steel.

Scholars can already study railway archives in repositories all over the country, but Network Rail has just put part of its beautiful archive of Victorian and Edwardian infrastructure diagrams on the web. This amounts to an invitation to anyone, anywhere, to contemplate such images out of sheer curiosity and love of beauty. They give us plans of the high-level bridge at Newcastle upon Tyne, with its columns trailing down the screen like tall sepia waterfalls, and Bristol's neo-gothic Temple Meads station, in ethereal ink outline. The Forth bridge of 1890 appears side on, elongated and webby as if someone had pulled a string cat's cradle as far as it would go. Its vertical columns climb visibly week by week; target dates are marked at each level, like the tracking of a child's growth against a wall.

Maidenhead bridge, designed in brick by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1839, has two middle arches spanning the river in great cheetah leaps. They were lower and broader than anything previously constructed in brick, and the Great Western Railway's directors feared the bridge would collapse: they insisted on the bridge's temporary timber supports remaining even after it opened. Annoyed, Brunel secretly lowered the supports a bit so they did not actually support anything.

Engineering is a world of tall things, long things, record-breakingly huge things and well-made things – but also things that elude our attention. I often travel through Paddington station, but usually early in the morning with my head low from dejection at finding no decent coffee, so I have never looked up with sufficient awe at the ironwork on the roof. In the plans, a 1914 iron-and-glass end-screen looks like a dome-shaped doodle, all exuberant sprays of ivy-like shoots. Zoom in, and admire the hundreds of tiny, precise thoughts that went into it, with notes of widths, lengths, fastenings, joints. Beauty takes hard-won human knowledge, and it takes clips and bolts.

It had already struck me recently how easy it is not to see. Last week I was led by Secret London, Rachel Howard and Bill Nash's 2011 book, to find the Boris Anrep mosaics on the floor of the National Gallery. As Howard and Nash point out, almost everyone hurries obliviously over these on their way to other art, and I had done the same. The mosaics feature Greta Garbo, Winston Churchill, Virginia Woolf and others as muses and "modern virtues"; they are fun. They may be no oil painting – but how can anything so big be so invisible?

Is it a question of slowing one's pace, and gawping carefully at every little thing? Should we become flaneurs – the Parisian amblers famed for strolling all day through the arcades of 19th-century Paris – open to all sights and chance encounters?

But aimless drifting is not always enough. I have happily flaneured about in strange cities for hours, only to find out later that I missed seeing all the most interesting things. What I have seen I have probably misunderstood, or seen more dully for having no idea of how it came to be. I therefore sing the praises of those disregarded literary figures, the authors of guidebooks, archival catalogues and websites. Their reproductions and explications go with us on our travels, pointing out where things came from and why. They help us to experience the world as a profoundly humanised and engineered place – a place imbued with creativity and skill, and astonishingly rich in rivets.

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