Machine Design

Looking Back 7/8/2010

10 YEARS AGO — 2000
NASA puts car ignition in rocket engine: NASA engineers are using an automotive ignition system as part of a pulse-detonation rocket engine. Such engines use the explosive pressure of a detonation to push out exhaust gas and create thrust. A spark plug in an initiator tube ignites hydrogen and creates detonation waves. The 4-in.-long initiator tube connects to a larger, 3-ft-long, 2-in.-diameter primary tube where the main propellants burn. The engine will primarily demonstrate pulse-engine principles and serve as a testbed for studying engine performance.

30 YEARS AGO — 1980
Tests start on a new type of windmill: The Giromill, a new windmill design from McDonnell Douglas Corp., will begin converting wind power to electrical or mechanical energy at a Dept. of Energy test center. The prototype stands 126-ft high and consists of a 60-ft steel-tower structure, three 42-ft vertical blades, and an electric generator or gearbox. The blades rotate around a vertical shaft, turning on when wind speed reaches 10 mph. In high winds, the machine will release the blades for minimum loading to prevent damage. No operator is needed. The unit, expected to generate 40 kW, can generate enough electricity for 15 homes, or it can run deep-well irrigation pumps for hundreds of acres of farmland.

50 YEARS AGO — 1960
Weightlifting champion: Six cars or a dozen — this general-purpose forklift truck has no trouble moving them around. The Ranger 700, introduced by Clark Equipment Co., Battle Creek, Mich., is designed for heavy lifting work in steel mills and lumber yards and can lift 35 tons. For hot work areas, the driver’s cab is air conditioned and steel heat shields protect the 74-in. pneumatic tires. Because the loads Ranger can carry could obstruct the driver’s view forward, operators can swivel the bucket seat and drive in reverse, using a second set of controls.

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