Saturday, March 12, 2011

This goes without saying.

These signs are posted all over the coast of  Northern California, even in Crescent City.

Crescent City?

Yeah.  What happened there after the Japan quake was nothing, really.A couple years ago, in the concrete-bunker hallways of the Humboldt State University Marine Laboratory at Trinidad Head, I came across this nifty poster: Tsunamis and Crescent City.  Not being detail-oriented and having ADD, I didn't actually read it, just clicked and saved it for later... just kidding!  Actually, reading it helped me to understand why all the tsunami warning signs were everywhere.  You can read it too--full size, go here: *picture link*

Far be it from me to say that anyone should know better, but, really: how many people knew about the tsunami hazards before this recent Japanese earthquake?

It is sad that it seemingly takes tragedy to bring such anywhere near the forefront of our consciousnesses.  May we learn from it and do better.

EDIT: updated picture link

Monday, March 7, 2011

Turntable (rail)

I think that turntables are neat. They were once quite common on railroads, back when steam engines that needed to be turned to point the right direction were also common. Now, they are much more rare--rarer still to find one working. 

As a work of engineering, they are quite interesting: on the central pivot they have a bridge which must easily support the weight of a locomotive but be able to turn smoothly in the pit.   

This is a nifty style of turntable, either called an A-frame or a "gallows" turntable. A recently-constructed reproduction stands on the site of an 1867 turntable of the Sacramento Valley Railroad in downtown Folsom, California. In January, I visited the 5-inch scale, 15-inch gauge Redwood Valley Railway, in Tilden Park, Berkeley. They have a nice A-frame turntable, which exudes character with a mossy patina. It features an incomplete perimeter circle rail and pit wall--possible because the locomotive is balanced on the center while being spun. Also note the square "roundhouse". They actually use it, which is neat in-and-of-itself.

Simple, yet well-engineered, turntables are to me proof that not all railroad engineers just drive trains :-)