Stanley steamer type 735 – 1922 – with a difference

Posted by jerry on August 27th, 2008 — Posted in Journal, Steam, Technology

David Nergaard’s 1922 Stanley steamer had lain abandoned for many years to decay until it was found in the 1950s. At that point a custom body was built for it and the steam plant installed. The car is regularly driven and David puts about 5000 miles per year on the clock.

Stanley steam car 1922

You can read more about steam cars in general, and Stanleys in particular at the Steam Car Club of Great Britain


Sydney travel – Powerhouse Museum – Digital age

Posted by jerry on August 21st, 2008 — Posted in History, Journal, Technology, Travel

The Powerhouse museum encompasses a massive collection of technology and design. One aspect of particular interest is the computer and telecommunications collection.

Before the Internet, there was the Victorian internet – the telegraph. One of the more sophisticated telegraph machines is this one – the Wheatstone 5-needle telegraph. It was a combination transmitter and receiver, and was used used on English railways. This one was made c. 1837 – 1842.

The needles were activated in pairs by electromagnets to point to the letters. Perhaps this was the sort of machine used by Abraham Lincoln when he checked his t-mail (telegraph mail)

Another radical development was the Apple computer – the first version was built in 1976 in Steve Wozniak’s garage along with Steve Jobs, later joined by Daniel Kottke, Randy Wigginton and others. They made 200 of them – but it was the start of a personal computer revolution.

Apple 1 computer

Each was handmade and users built them into a small case – bearing some resemblance to the ‘enigma’ encoding machine used by the Germans in WWII. Storage was by cassette audio tape, and a TV was the monitor. The machine used a MOS Technology 6502 motherboard with 8kb of RAM. The later ones used a Motorola 6800 board.

Then came telepresence in the form of virtual reality technology – remember the VR cafes of the 1990s? This was the start of truly immersive 3D environments. The accompanying data glove enabled the user to interact with the environment and fight dinosaurs and the like. When these were around I remember people complaining that the refresh rate was too slow and that the sense of disconnected movement gave people motion sickness. But it was a major step forward in immersive environment technology.

Virtual reality goggles and data glove

The Powerhouse is well worth a visit – check out the ‘Wedge’ 3D environment – one of the prototypes developed by the Australian National University.

It is open every day except Christmas day 10.00am-5.00pm, and is located at 500 Harris Street, Ultimo, Sydney NSW. There is an admission charge – you can find the details on their website.


Sydney travel – For the bookish

Posted by jerry on August 19th, 2008 — Posted in Journal, Writing

Feeling bookish? You want coffee and wifi with that? That spells Berkelouw’s on 19 Oxford Street, Paddington. It’s open 7 days a week, 9.00AM until late (around 11.00pm or midnight) . There are three storeys of books – second hand ones on the top floor and new, rare and antiquarian books for all tastes. It caters very well to the arts and social sciences, and the fiction is massive.

Berkelouw Books

And when you’ve shopped your feet off, the coffee is great at the Berkelouw cafe upstairs. Now, I’ll let you into a secret – the free wifi at the Palace Verona – the art cinema next door – can be picked up in the coffee shop, so you can send an email or blog about your book finds to your heart’s content. And the rhubarb and apple crumble is divine.

Verona Cinema

But for us the fun was among the books – as our haul will show… because as we found, Berkelouw has a secret. As we paid for our books, we chatted briefly with the assistant, who told us about a barn. And that barn lay just outside of Berrima on our way home to Canberra. And it holds Berkelouw’s …um… overflow second hand holdings – there must be at least 100,000 of them.

Berkelouw Berrima

So we had to make a small stop to add some ballast to the car…

Berkelouw Berrima

So by the time we got home, we found all these books had somehow followed us all the way home – can we keep them? The hole in our wallets says yes 🙂

Berkelouw Books

More soon on the Powerhouse museum coming up!


Sydney travel – encountering art works

Posted by jerry on August 17th, 2008 — Posted in Journal, Travel

As you walk around Sydney, it pays to be alert to the amazing art works that you can encounter. Here are three of them that I found yesterday, just by walking around.

Brett Whiteley’s matches – titled “Almost Once” – This sculptural work can be found at the Domain. While Whiteley is known more for his paintings and wall panels, such as the ‘American Dream’ – now in the Art Gallery of Western Australia – or his views of Sydney Harbour, he also made sculptures. The two matches – one unused, and one burnt set up a contrast between potential and extinguishment, life and death, future and hindsight. And all this can be viewed while eating your sandwiches and resting on the lawn. They were erected in 1991 behind the Art Gallery of New South Wales. They are made from blackbutt timber and fibreglass.

Brett Whiteley - "Once Almost"

Bert Flugelman’s sculpture is encountered almost by accident in a side street in the Rocks. He was famed for his stainless ball stack in Adelaide’s Rundle Mall, but this one mirrors in broken facets the surrounding chaotic high-rise development in Sydney. It is known colloquially as the “shish kebab” and was constructed in 1978. It was originally located in Martin Place, but has since been moved to its current location in Spring Street. Flugelman was born in Vienna in 1923, but moved to Australia before WWII.

Bert Flugelman steel sculpture

The third is a street mural in black and white of a laneway taken from a 1901 photograph. It was commissioned by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and was paited by Pierre Mol of Artempire. The scene is an image of Brown Bear Lane, later called Little Essex Street. It’s original name was taken from a pub of that name that existed on that site between 1804 and 1901. The pub was demolished the 1950s to make way for the City Circle railway and Cahill Expressway. As I took the photo a woman stepped into the frame about to cross the road – it looks as though she has just stepped out of the 1901 scene into modern Sydney!

street mural Sydney


Sydney travel – Some landmarks

Posted by jerry on August 16th, 2008 — Posted in History, Journal, Travel

The The Rocks and Sydney Observatory provide wonderful vantage point to see some of Sydney’s iconic constructions.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge – known locally as “the coat hanger” was completed in 1932. The single span bridge was completed in eight years – the £6.25m loan took a little longer, and was paid off only in 1988!

The arch spans 503m (1,650 feet) and supports the weight of the road and rail beds on steel cables.

Over 150,000 vehicles cross the bridge each day and if you’re feeling adventurous you can join one of the three hour climbs to the summit, led by specially trained guides.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Opera House, designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon, took 17 years to complete at a cost of $102m. A competition was announced in 1955 and won by Utzon’s design in 1957. But the design entailed novel building techniques and several controversial design compromises were made, resulting in Utzon resigning from the project in 1966. The building was completed by Australian designers. More recently, Utzon was brought back to help prepare a set of design principles to guide any future modifications.

The building is not a single opera house, but rather a series of performance spaces, including an opera theatre, a concert hall and a drama theatre, which are housed beneath its ten roof sails. The building covers 2-hectares and contains more than 1000 rooms. Check their website for what’s on and when.

Sydney Opera House

Luna Park – Sydney’s famous fun fair was built on the site of the workshops used to build the Harbour Bridge. It was modeled on New York’s Luna Park on Coney Island, and was built in South Australia and moved to its present site in 1935.

Its entrance – a giant laughing face – is flanked by twin art deco towers. Today’s face is the eighth in the series. The first four only lasted between 1935 and 1945. In 1977 a catastrophic fire in the ghost train killed seven people, leading to Luna Park’s eventual closure in 1988. The funfare was renovated in the 1990s and reopened in 1995.

Check the Luna Park website for opening hours and prices. Group discounts are available.

Luna Park Sydney