Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cangarda cangarda cangarda cangarda

Blow a gasket is a beautiful idiom, rarely heard today. As, "if I come home late, the old lady will blow a gasket." You can visualize those old Looney Toons...Porky Pig, Wile E. Coyote, Daffy Duck, heads inflating, turning red and live steam issuing out of their ears. Of course, the idiom originates with to steam technology.

Of course today internal combustion engines have gaskets too, but they're generally pretty good, being precisely manufactured from high temperature polymers, and inset into perfectly machined grooves. It's rare to have a catastrophic failure. Oh, the occasional hopped up race car blows a head gasket spewing hot oil on the track, but it can only spews as much oil as is inside the engine...a few quarts. In contrast, the head gaskets on olde timey steam engines are comparatively weak, and fragile. And when one blows, the entire content of the external boiler erupts through the gap until the brave engineer can fight through the steam and shut it off. Yosemite Sam with 453 F steam whistling out of the top of his head.

In this picture you can just barely make out Chief Pete Jordan exercising the whistle Friday afternoon. He was warming up the boiler prior to a celebratory trial in the Channel planned for Saturday. Well, evidently they didn't drain a cylinder or something, because they blew a gasket and couldn't go. Makes you wonder though...blow a gasket racing your Porsche around town, you just call the tow truck. What happens at sea?

To all the Cangardaphiles who have bombarded me with questions as to why, for gods sake, is it not running yet, here is a picture of Henry I took today wiring up the automation panel. Maybe you can zoom in and check out what's inside that box (damn the resolution of this picture) -- there are hundreds of terminals for valves, senders, and gauges needed to control the steam plant and engine. Only about a third of them are hooked up. I'll take a closer picture tomorrow before he gets to work.

Here's a final note. My neighbor, Jeff Rutherford, who restored Cangarda, has a new webpage. Check it out.

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