It seems years since I've had a close brush with IKB, one is usually left heartened and impressed by the experience and of course it was only a few months ago that I trundled over the Firth of Forth and enjoyed a good deep metaphorical lung-full of his genius in the shape of the Forth Rail Bridge. A recent visit to Bristol demanded a couple of hours therapy in the old Great Western dry dock, drooling over the SS Great Britain. Couldn't resist this shot of a pair of 8" nuts retaining one of the main bearing journals of the gargantuan inverted V4 1000HP low pressure steam engine. The ship has just had a pile of money spent on her in an effort to halt corrosion - a false water level has been built in glass with a couple of inches of water slopping around on top giving the impression that the ship is afloat. A staircase takes you down "underwater" where a massive de-humidifying plant keeps the atmospheric humidity below 20% - in these dry conditions the salts absorbed into the old iron plates and ribs are prevented from causing any more damage - very trick and worthwhile.
This shot of the single screw merits inclusion as its design came about, like so many wonders, via the IKB Trial&Error department. Apparently the first design failed to cope with the power and staggering torque of the engine and had to be re-developed. Brunel's approach to problem solving was incredibly brave, confident, considered and ingenious but it's the sheer forcefulness of his efforts, his ability to actually get these projects off the ground, raise finance, cope with sceptics and just keep going in the face of immense problems that impress me most. I've bought a ticket for the SS GB and sent it to No 10 in the hope that Gordon might learn something about what we need to be doing in this country. MORE ENGINEERING !