Sunday, 22 March 2009


And so this week, I have mostly been playing about with a drainpipe filled with charcoal.

Allow me to explain.

We use a special fluorescent dye to check castings for minute surface defects; tiny cracks which, when subjected to repeated cyclic loading, will propagate and eventually result in the failure of the part. Apparently the days of just giving things a cursory glance and declaring that it'll probably do are long gone (unless you are a French car manufacturer).

The parts are dipped into a gigantic vat of dayglo goop, left to drain for a bit, and then the excess goop is washed off with a water gun. And then all the goop and all the water trickles off down the drain, where it goes on to make fish glow in the dark/die, and gets us in trouble with the environment agency. Clearly something must be done. Fortunately, there are a number of companies that can supply and install specially designed activated carbon filtration systems. So no problem, job done, right?


It's too expensive, they say. Explore other options, they say. And it's at this point that the project gets dumped on me. Looking for a different way around the problem, I notice that the dye has a lower density than water - it floats, and can be skimmed off. Brilliant! So I start researching such exciting innovations as parallel plate separators, draw up a few rough designs, think of ways to regulate the way that the dye is removed, and look up a few mojito recipes on the internets (I'll be needing victory cocktails when my genius plans come to fruition).

But when I present my ideas to the guys from our environmental department, they don't like it. They can't see how it can possibly work, even when I demonstrate using a bottle containing a mix of the dye and water. They want a filter, but they don't want to pay £40,000 for it. Can't we just put the water through a bucket filled with charcoal? That's got to be simple to do, right?

Sigh. Of course it isn't, for reasons too multitudinous and tediously boring to go into here. But they want a trial of our homemade filter to be up and running by the end of the week; and so on Friday I find myself standing in the finishing department with a three foot long piece of drainpipe filled with activated carbon granules, wondering how the hell they can expect this piece of crap to replicate the effects of a £40,000 filtration system.

For the trial, we pour 2 litres of dye and water mix into the top of the "filter". It's about 10% dye; you can tell, because the dye is floating on the surface of the water (grr). At first, it looks like all my cynicism is misplaced as 2 litres of water with little more than a few bits of charcoal in it drains out from the other end of the pipe. I'm feeling a little bit upset by this.

But wait! Another two litres go in, and the water coming out of the other end has just the tiniest hint of green to it.

Another two litres, and this time there's no hint - it's just fucking green. With a fat slice of dye on top. Yum.

Another two litres, and then another two, and the water coming out doesn't look any different to the water that's going in. This means we'll need to change the filter roughly every ten litres; or, to put it another way, fifty times every day. Turns out that the reason why £40,000 activated carbon filtration systems cost £40,000, is that THEY FUCKING WORK. Unlike our Blue Peter piece of shit drainpipe.


Meanwhile... Beastmans.

This week, you get a double whammy of beastmans action; minotaurs PLUS chariots. This is because as attractive as they are on paper, neither is really that much to look at. Minotaurs first.

I run two units of these suckers (in addition to the lesser badasses that hang out with the Black Maul wielding Doombull). Smaller units of great weapon armed death monsters seem to be popular on the tournament circuit, and I can see why; but because I suck, I've never quite managed to get them to work for me.

The chariots, meanwhile, are just a complete no-brainer (until the Beasts book gets re-written and they become special choices, like what they should be).

I recycled the chariots from an old beastmans team for this army. The Ungor drivers were converted from the original (and fortuitously diminutive) Gor crewman, with just a simple head and weapon swap and a minor bit of green-stuffing.


Willard said...

I'd buy your clever system Ben. If I was looking for some way of filtering goo, that is.

Silly suggestion, but have you thought about going on Dragon's Den with it? I'd help with the pitch:)

Charlie said...

Damn you Ben i was hoping to read something good not to re-read the science lesson from hell :D Floop de floop de doop de doop

The Jolly Blogger said...

Man-o-man you've brought back bad memories when I've told people to stop being cheap skates and do it properly and visa-versa suggesting cheaper, easier things than the expensive and rather shit option. Sad thing is they didn't listen and the results are crap for all to see.