"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

Ya ever seen my house?

Ya ever seen my house?
Neither have I Ted! You douchebag.
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Priority Cargo

Remember this guy? Stupid question; we saw the same pic a few weeks back.
The poor SOB, out in the cold but soldiering on, making sure the product got through in a timely manner.
But, what of the product - what item could have been so necessary to survival in wintertime Wisconsin that this guy had to leave his X-Box to go out and and deliver this load... in the dead of winter?
Based on the shadows, he's driving into the sun either in the morning or late afternoon. Hope it's morning. I wouldn't want to have to pilot the empty Nash back home through this snow especially given the headlight setup that the truck almost certainly ran with.
Which brings us to our mystery cargo: Bicycle lamps.
Like this one. It turns out; I've got one of these banging around the house somewhere. I recalled it while I was spouting off about the hapless lad's cargo earlier but it didn't register 'till later.
Anyway, it's not like buried treasure or anything, just a cool thing from back in the day.
First off; this is a big unit. This thing, which was meant to be clamped onto the handlebar with a handy clip and wing nut, stood taller than a 16 oz. can of your favorite frosty beverage and probably weighed about the same - once it had been fueled up for a night's cycling with sufficient calcium carbide and water.
This was a serious piece of engineering and cool in the extreme, partially due to the faceted lenses on each side which glow red on the left hand side and green on the right just like naval running lights.
What this was/is is a carbide lamp, a simple (very simple) acetylene gas generator.
The bulge you see on the right side in the above photo is the water tank. The other ingredient needed was a powder, put into the bottom compartment.
Calcium carbide is a compound that degrades into acetylene gas when in contact with water.
Pretty simple, a valve controls the flow of the drip of water onto the pile of  CaC2 and, hey presto! Acetylene gas.
They used to generate the gas for welding as well - on the spot.
Acetylene is unstable and, even now, welding tanks are filled with a porous... foam for lack of a better word - just to keep it calmed down.
The sailor at work here is gas-welding - with sources for both gases conveniently out of the picture. Welding shop, USS Prometheus, AR-3, circa 1919.
I'm guessing he's using the same, low-level technology but we won't disturb him to ask.

However, roughly concurrent to the intent welder, we find the above pictured:  Ford model TT truck.
That thing on the running board, just behind the driver's seat - looks like a thermos - that's the gas generator.

The lamps we were talking about initially, "the cargo" were manufactured by the Badger Brass Manufacturing Co. of Kenosha.
At the time of our urgent delivery - 1917 - the company employed 200 people with annual sales near $1 million on an annual production of 100,000 cycle/bicycle and 400,000 auto lamps... Shipments of lamps were also sent to England, Russia, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, India, Australia, New Zealand, Cuba and the West Indies.
Anyway, back to the poor driver and our wish for him to have been heading out in the frosty morning - pissed-off 'cause the sun's in his eyes. Plus, some dick is there with a camera.
As fucked as his situation may have been vis-a-vis "getting stuck" - which is to say: probably not much - I would think that it could compare to the difficulties inherent in keeping a tank of water dripping when it the temperature is below freezing.
It's not like he had a heater - or a cab and it'd be hard to navigate if you're having to cuddle the gas generator all the way home just to keep the lights on.
Maybe that's why we don't use acetylene lamps anymore.

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