Retrotectacular: The Science of Derailing Trains

retrotechtacular-derailing-trains

Look closely above and you’ll see there’s a section of track missing. There are actually two, a section from each side has been plucked out with a pair of eight-ounce plastic explosive charges — and yet the train keeps barreling onward. The World War II era reel is demonstrating some military testing of the effect of damaged tracks on a train. The amount of missing track the train can stand up to came as quite a surprise for us!

The test setup itself is neat. An old derelict locomotive is used. It, as well as a number of trailing cars, is pushed by a functioning engine from behind. Once up to about 26 MPH the pusher stops and the rest keep going. There are many tests, starting with just a few inches of track missing from one side. This gap is increased, then gaps are added both sides, then the two sides are offset. Even a 5-foot gap is crossed easily by the locomotive. The weak link turns out to be the empty cars. We suppose their mass is small enough that they can’t rely on inertia to keep them on the straight path.

If you don’t appreciate the destructive nature of this Retrotechtacular installment, you can still get your train fix. There is another offering which shows off the modernization of a signaling system.

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Boom goes the dynamite – murals made with precision explosives

explosive_artwork

[Alexandre Farto] is known for some off the wall art displays, but his newest work takes the phrase literally. Using precisely placed explosive charges, he has been sculpting portraits and other murals on walls in various places around London.

The detail at which he is able to produce these images is incredible, considering he is blowing chunks of plaster and brick from walls to form them. We can only guess as to how much preparation time is required to finish even one of these images, let alone to amass the stunning portfolio he has put together.

He has also recently teamed up with musical artist [Orelha Negra] to produce a cool video of his work as it was being sculpted, which is certainly worth the three minutes it takes to watch. The video, embedded below, is chock full of slow-motion shots of the demolition/sculpting in progress.

If you have a few minutes, be sure to check out his site to take a look at some of his work, we think you will be impressed.

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High explosives PC case

ammo_casemod

[Ilias] let us know about his new HTPC case mod.  He took a surplus Ammo-case and with a bit of work turned it into a livingroom eye-sore masterpiece. His build has some nice touches, including a slot-fed DVD player, switch-based fan control, and key-and-button “nuclear launch” type power-on controls.

A few things to learn from this project: Cleanly cutting holes in a steel case for the connectors is tough.  You can see that [Ilias] did a pretty good job with it and in several cases used rubber gaskets to cover the rough edges. Secondly, the slot fed DVD had to be mounted upside-down.  We assume this will be fine, but we’d like to hear a follow-up after a few years of heavy use. Finally, the GFAF (girlfriend acceptance factor) ran very close to critical on this build as [Ilias] didn’t clean up the metal shavings on his porch and ended up with rust stains everywhere.

Case mods are an enjoyable hobby. We hope this will inspire you to take the leap.  If you do, don’t forget to send your completed project into our tip line.

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