Behaviour of cyclists in Dublin City Centre

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Infrastructure

Google streetThe radio pundit George Hook takes a lot of abuse, from the cycling community, for his strongly expressed view that their behaviour is in main dreadful.  While he may go too far sometimes, he has a point when he says that many cyclists show a complete disregard for the rules of the road. The one behaviour that I encounter daily is cyclists using footpaths at speed and more often than not with one hand held to their ear with a phone.

Personally, I think its fine for a careful cyclist to use a footpath to avoid using a narrow or dangerous road. But more and more I see cyclists aggressively cycling on footpaths at speed, weaving in and out and around people, and giving them little regard.

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Cleaning algae from external walls

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Existing Building Issues

Cleaned boundary brick wallWith our damp and warm climate, algae growth on external surfaces can be a problem. I generally just use a power washer every few years to clean the sheltered concrete areas where it can be a problem. However I discovered that the power washer was unable to remove the algae for my brick garden walls, probably as the brick was more porous than the concrete.

However lightly scrubbing the walls using a dilute solution of water and bleach provides an excellent result with little effort, see below.

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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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