1893 Grand Exhibition. The world's intro to PBR, hot dogs, ice cream cones and the Ferris Wheel.

1893 Grand Exhibition. The world's intro to PBR, hot dogs, ice cream cones and the Ferris Wheel.
A view through the wheel. The black, horizontal line is the axle, the single largest forging to that time.
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Monday, April 04, 2011

Pissyness and a Swarm of Hornets (Well... three)

I promised further pissyness and I'm not one to let you down.
Now I'm going to rail about our country's most idiotic entitlement program, our most misguidedly generous give-away.
That would be... military procurement.
Short version: Those folks don't give a shit how much money they spend, nor what they spend it on.
My own personal, modern example is the, oh-so-cool HUMVEE.
Ever since these things came into being I've thought they were nothing but a boondoggle. A giant 4X4 in a world full of such vehicles, available off-the-rack but it gets better.
My cynical belief is that it exists only to provide a raison d'etre for that pathetic auto manufacturer, American Motors.
Before I owned a Dodge Caravan, the worst car in my experience had been an AMC Hornet.
The photo shows the identical rig - right down to the color. Taken by someone who obviously feels better about the chunk 'o crap than I did. Before I finally managed to sell it ($200!!! I'd paid $500 but I was happy to get rid of it) I contemplated giving it to a guy at work who wanted a demo-derby car. All that stopped me was the realization that he probably had hopes of winning and this thing couldn't even crash right.
This rolling (some of the time) shitbox was built when Detroit was still figuring out how to make little cars.
For one thing, the Hornet used the identical rear-view mirror as the Matador and the Rebel even though they were half again as big. Seriously, the mirror looked to be about 1/4 the width of the entire windshield.
And it featured - in 1974 mind you - vacuum wipers. And shitty ones at that. My '59 Ford had vacuum wipers too and they kicked ass on these that were 15 years newer. Six months I enjoyed the pride of ownership of this abomination by which time the right rear door was the only one of four that opened.
This can all, of course be explained by the "birth" of AMC.
"Birth" isn't really accurate as the company was a Frankenstein's monster cobbled together by Mitt Romney's Dad out of some of the countries oldest and most respected car companies.
Studebaker (They built wagons that were used in the Great Western Migration), Packard, Nash and Hudson; they were all absorbed so that America could have yet another shitty product.
Take Hudson as the best example.

The Hudson Hornet (There's that word again. Damn you, Romney!) was the unit that dominated the Southern, stock car circuit in the early fifties - back when stock cars were stock... cars.
This was due to a couple of features: A lower center of gravity with the first (I think) uni-body construction.
Also the Hornets were powered by a high-compression, flathead, straight six displacing 308 cu in.
It was the "largest six-cylinder engine in the world" at the time and, with a two-barrel carburetor, produced 145 hp at 3800 rpm.
For the time, the thing was an ass-kicker. The Montana Highway Patrol used Hornets in the early fifties because in the land of wide-open spaces and no speed limit, they didn't like to be outrun.
Case in point: When I graduated in '72, they were using 440 magnum, Dodge Challengers with 120 gallons of gas on board.
Enter George Romney and the invisible hand of corporate stupidity and the legendary Hornet devolved in this sorry specimen:

Behold, the 1957 Hudson Hornet Hollywood. It's gonna take more than alliteration and the word "Hollywood" to give this turd any appeal.
Really clarifies why it's the Chevys of the period that get the attention.
Nice goin' George. Thanks.
Okay, George Romney was an idiot and American Motors produced shite.
But, what does this have to do with the Danny?
Back when I was in the Guard - '90 or '91 - I had occasion to sit for a few minutes in the suicide seat of one of these ridiculous vehicles (the "Hummer") and during such time my gaze settled on the hinges holding the windshield to the body.
Of course, everyone knows; tactical vehicles have to be easily transportable; ie lifting lugs, folding windshield, removable top, etc.These particular hinges (Let's be sympathetic to my age and failing memory) were attached very securely by means of five-yes-five-count-'em-five bolts on each leaf. Military "hardening"; gotcha.
These were graded bolts, specifically grade 8 bolts.
Again; "I'm an old man... I'm confused..."; attributed to: Uncle Leo so... don't be difficult.

Okay boy and girls, settle down. We need to do some arithmetic now. Sorry, but it's necessary.
A grade 8 bolt is made from a medium-carbon steel and is quenched and tempered.
They're rated for a tensile strength of 150,000 psi meaning - a one-inch-square bar of such could support - in tension - two Abrams tanks and all the really fat guys you may know - with some to spare.
Okay, buckle up. It's gonna get bumpy.
According to some folks living a bare 110 miles north on the I5 corridor, Portland Bolt; the shear strength of steel is roughly 60% of the tensile strength.
Okay, the hinges attachment bolts are obviously only going to be stressed in shear so we'll proceed from there.
A grade 8, 5/16" (The best I can recall of the size - see Uncle Leo above) bolt's "tensile stress area" (the cross section we're concerned with) is .0524 square inches.
Out of pure cussedness, and as a giant 'fuck you' to all the math teachers in my past, I'm not going to show my work.
You can calculate yourself. Not to worry. If I'm mistaken I'll correct myself and simply hate you forever as compensation.
150,000 multiplied by .60 (tensile to shear) then multiplied by the tensile stress area equals... wait for it.
4716 lbs per bolt.
Okay, the over-built unit sports twenty of these bad boys but we're only worrying about the half that matters; the ten bolts that would cause the windshield (God forbid!) and vehicle to part company.
It matters not.
An unarmored HUMVEE tips the scales at 5200 lbs.
Now, I've never run across a dead-horse I was unwilling to flog so, that means that just one of these peripheral fasteners could do most of the job of supporting the entire unit.
Okay, so just one of them's not entirely up to the task - but there's a built-in, ten-fold redundancy factor.
So, the taxpayers of America can rest, secure in the knowledge that the bolts securing this vital piece of gear to the vehicle could, if need be, support... what? Eight HUMVEES - by one windshield.
I recall thinking at the time: "If Paul Bunyan happened along and took a fancy, he could stick his fingers through the glass and swing said HUMVEE around his head - by its windshield frame."
So you say: "What's wrong with over-building?".
Nothing, our boys deserve the best but, and here's where all those austerity-hawk, taxpayer patriots need to call their Mommies into the room to explain to them that: Graded bolts cost over twice as much as grade 1.
But hey, again, aren't our boys worth it?
Well, being that grade 1 bolts have slightly less than half the tensile strength of grade 8, it would still mean that Mr. Bunyan, as illustrated in our metaphor above, could still do the identical thing - albeit with a somewhat greater chance of of failure.
Not a likely scenario in any case.
It's expense for its own sake and you can be sure that every single piece of hardware in that ridiculous vehicle is a designated "spare part" to be supplied (Happily I'm sure) by American General with just a "slight" markup.
Anyone recall the $5000 toilet seats?

Stop the presses!
Update - An intelligent treatise on why we, as a nation, keep doing such stupid shit.

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