Mixing ash with your garden soil?

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Technical & Discussion

Wood AshWhat to do with your wood stove ash?

Well I usually rake it into my garden as it seems a waste to throw in the black or brown bin. But this was only after a bit of trial and error. At first I didn’t mix it in and it then formed a grey lump which looked a bit like soft concrete. It turns out that this is caused by the calcium in the ash which usually makes up 25% of wood ash.

But I was reading a book last night which gave me a bit of a fright, it said that in general trees absorb heavy metals from polluted soils and these will remain in the ash after burning.  Understandably this led me to doing a bit of  extra research, and from this the main points of note are:

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Keep your wood stove burning hot

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Energy Conservation

Warm fire pictureMany people restrict the air flow into their stove to slow the burn rate and save fuel. Unfortunately this runs the risk of forming creosote in the flue and thus chimney fires. Another result of burning at low temperatures is that it releases significantly more dust particles up the chimney and thus increases pollution.  Looking at these two issues in more detail: Read more “Keep your wood stove burning hot”

Cycling to work in Dublin City

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Infrastructure

Geographically Dublin is well suited for people cycling to work, here are five main reasons:

  1. Topography

Dublin is relatively flat and while there are hills, they generally have quite gentle slopes. In addition, as the City Centre is the lowest point, commuting to work by bike is generally downhill in the morning/ or flat and uphill in the evening. This suits most people as it means the strenuous uphill section is left until after work on the way home. http://en-ie.topographic-map.com/places/Dublin-2520/

Topo map of Dublin

2. Wind

Ireland is a relatively windy country but Dublin is sheltered compared to the most of the country. The prevailing wind generally in Ireland is from the South West. But in Dublin the prevailing wind is more westerly as the southern portion is reduced by the sheltering effect of the Wicklow Mountains to the south of the City. Helpfully as the City Centre is on the eastern coast, for most people cycling into the city centre for work the wind will be with them in the morning and against them in the evening. Similar to topography above this is better than the reverse as the strenuous part of the cycle is on the way home. See wind rose below for various parts of Ireland including Dublin Airport (to the north of the city). Read more “Cycling to work in Dublin City”

Parteen Revisited – Water extraction from Parteen for Dublin

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Infrastructure

WaterSince I last wrote about Parteen Weir, see here, it has been in the news for two reasons:

The first is because it is the proposed location for a large water extraction project. It is planned to extract, treat and pipe water from here to Dublin, 160 km away. I was recently at a lecture given to the Irish Branch of the Institute of Structural Engineers by Irish Water where the scheme was outlined. Some of the main points of the presentation were as follows: Read more “Parteen Revisited – Water extraction from Parteen for Dublin”

From the 1980s – predicting the future

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In People & Media

Dan Dare - The Eagle ComicIn my early teens I loved the Eagle comic, it had a great mix of different stories from different time periods along with great artwork. Recently when cleaning out the attic I was delighted to find my old copies.

Among the pages of comic stories there was an interesting article detailing future technology and in particular predicting the use of flying drones as weapons platforms. Below is a copy of the page. It was a very good attempt at predicting the future by the comic almost 30 years ago. This particular comic is from June 1988.

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Irish Rail: Exposed hydraulic lines

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Infrastructure

Just wondering if anyone knows what the exposed hydraulic lines at the front of this type of Irish Rail commuter trains are for, see below.

Irish Rail commuter train without front guards

I am interested as they should be protected by front guards but are missing in this case. Without the guards the lines and the on/off handle seem to be exposed and ready to be damaged by debris catching on them while the train is traveling. Should we be worried? In any case the picture below shows the front with the protection guard in place.

Irish Rail commuter train with front guards
Irish Rail commuter train with front guards

The Worlds first ever fatal car accident, Birr, County Offaly

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Infrastructure

Route taken by car prior to accidentPeople might be surprised to read that the first fatal car accident occurred in Birr, County Offaly close to the centre of Ireland. I only realised when I was passing by the actually spot on my way to Birr Castle recently. There is a large notice board describing the events on the road side  which I stopped to read and then look at the junction where the accident occurred.

The events occurred on the 31st of August 1869 when the passenger, Mary Ward, fell out of a steam powered car while it was turning sharply at a junction. She was fatally wounded with a broken neck. The car was destroyed afterwards, thus following the custom at the time, where animals were killed if they caused human deaths.

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