News Brews – coffee with a geopolitical twist!

Posted by jerry on February 26th, 2009 — Posted in Journal, Technology

Coffee seems to be grown in just about all the world’s trouble spots – so why not taste your news with a blend from the countries making the news!

Introducing News Brews! Not just a new way to experience world events, but after hearing it you’ll need a brew! Okay, so it’s probably not going on the market just yet, but it sure is another way to think outside the box!

News brews

A great steampunk appliance from Benjamin Brown.


Barrett steam car – driven at last!

Posted by jerry on February 24th, 2009 — Posted in History, Journal, Steam, Technology

The Barrett steam car, auctioned on ebay one year ago from the estate of the late Peter Barrett, has been meticulously checked, tinkered, and using Barrett’s notebooks to understand the reasoning behind every component, and finally has been brought back to life. The car is a kit sports car with a modified VW engine converted to run on steam. Although built in the 1970s-80s it has a computer controlled steam generator that builds 1500 psi in a few minutes at 750F. When Barrett had it going it was capable of 80mph. A true modern steam car. I’m really pleased that Barrett’s work did not die with him. And the car is finally drivable as you will see here


Retromobile 2009 – a green veteran and vintage car exhibition in Paris

Posted by jerry on February 9th, 2009 — Posted in Journal, Steam, Technology, Travel

The 2009 Retromobile show in Paris is on 6-15 Feb and displays a range of European marques from veteran, vintage, classic and later. But this show has a twist – one of its key themes is green technology, so the show displays a number of cars from the turn of the 19-20 Century using alternative fuels, including electric, steam, hybrid, and compressed air vehicles from over 100 years ago.

Thanks to Charles Bremner of TimesOnline whose article inspired this one.


Victorian bushfires – biggest in history

Posted by jerry on February 8th, 2009 — Posted in History, Journal

The 12 fires burning in the State of Victoria, Australia – 26 blazes in total – are the biggest in recorded European history. More than 700 homes have been lost and more than 84 people have died with hundreds injured.

There is a google map showing the extent of the disaster

The news scenes bring back difficult memories of the Canberra bushfires in 2003. ABC news has provided a good overview of the extent of the fires.

My thoughts go with those affected by the fires.


London to Brighton rally – 1995

Posted by jerry on February 3rd, 2009 — Posted in Journal, Steam, Travel

Every year in the first weekend in November as the frost is settling over Hyde Park in London you can see about 200 unique cars dating from the 1890s up to 1904. They drive the 60 miles from London to Brighton to commemorate the repeal of the notorious ‘Red Flag Act’ (Locomotives on Highways Act (1865)) that had restricted motorised vehicles to 4mph in the country and 2mph in towns. The Act stipulated that vehicles needed a crew of three – the driver, a stoker and a man to walk 60 yards in front carrying a red flag or lantern to ensure that traffic (mostly traction engines) were kept to a walking pace. There must have been good money for fast joggers!

The Act was replaced in 1896 with the Locomotives on Highways Act (1896) which became known as the Emancipation Act – which defined a new category of vehicle: ‘light locomotives’, which were less than 3 tons unladen weight. These vehicles were exempt from the 3 crew member rule, and were subject to the higher 14 mph (22 km/h) speed limit. In celebration of this new law, Harry John Lawson – founder of Daimler Motor Company in Coventry – organised the first London to Brighton run on 14 November 1896.

Almost 100 years later, in 1995 I attended the start of the London to Brighton run – the following photos were taken at that time. Some are a bit shy of focus – I had a manual focus pentax K1000 camera and it wasn’t easy to catch these cars on the move!

This 1896 Whitney steam car was driven by Jeff Theobold, of the Steam Car Club of Great Britain – veteran of many runs – who told me the car made the run successfully each time he campaigned it, despite some burner problems near the start – a result of too much waiting around before the start, making parts of the engine too hot or too cold for efficient running, but after a few miles it sorted itself.

1896 Whitney

I also spotted this 1900 Gardner-Serpollet
1900 Gardner-Serpollet steam car

And then a succession of Locomobile/early Stanley steamers from 1900-1903

stanley steam car

stanley steam car

stanley steam car