post

African Engineers: Resurrecting Hercules

During the Second World War (1939-1945) the British hooked up an plane meeting plant at Takoradi in what changed into then the Colony of the Gold Coast, now the Republic of Ghana. Many of the aircraft prepare at Takoradi, from parts shipped from the United Kingdom, had been Bristol Beaufighters, twin-engine warring parties, utilized in Egypt and North Africa in massive numbers in a huge variety of roles which include bombing, ground attack and reconnaissance. The Beaufighters have been powered through Bristol Hercules, fourteen cylinder, sleeve-valve radial engines, which in later versions advanced about two thousand horsepower. In 1971, antique Hercules engines have been observed within the bush at the campus of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, and the curiosity of engineering students caused one among them being given a quick new rent of lifestyles.

No one may want to say how Bristol Hercules aero-engines came to be left in the bush behind the mechanical engineering workshop. Perhaps years earlier than someone had notion that they is probably of hobby to the students. They truly excited much interest when rediscovered one hot afternoon in 1971.

Seeing a set of college students with an apparent awareness of attention, a British senior lecturer walked over to discover what had stuck their interest. ‘What are they?’ he turned into asked as he joined the gathering. To his amazement he discovered himself looking at engines he had worked on as an apprentice at the Bristol Engine Company in the mid Nineteen Fifties. ‘Those are Bristol Hercules aero-engines,’ he advised the young guys who looked lower back blankly, little the wiser for this response to their question.

There followed an extended move of questions and solutions at which the students were told approximately the records and uses of the engines. There will be no certainty that the engines had come from a Beaufighter, they were used in numerous different plane. They might have come from a civil aircraft that died at Kumasi airport, and plenty extra these days than the give up of World War II; the Englishman knew from his personal enjoy that Hercules engines were still being overhauled and returned to service as overdue as 1956.

There observed extra technical questions and the scholars asked approximately the wide variety of cylinders. The Hercules engine had fourteen cylinders arranged in rows of seven. Then one pupil requested, ‘Why are the cylinders spherical?’ This query startled the lecturer. These were college students analyzing engineering at a university yet they simply lacked lots simple mechanical understanding that might be taken without any consideration in an industrialised us of a. The lecturer determined to speak about the issue with Professor Norman Smith, the Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

It turned into agreed that one of the Hercules engines would be hooked up on a stand and dismantled by way of the students as part of a route in Principles of Mechanical Engineering. Two or 3 students would be assigned to each of the main mechanisms of the engine consisting of cylinders and sleeve valve force, carburettors, reduction gearbox and supercharger. With the resource of a maintenance guide received from the engine manufacturer, the students could write an account in their assigned mechanism, explaining its characteristic in element. Finally, each could receive a aspect component that turned into stated to be wiped out and sent to the workshop to make a alternative.

This became the destiny that came about one of the vintage engines. Hercules turned into no longer back to existence: he never roared or flew again, but his bare bones instructed the tale that bones can inform, and a new generation of engineers won NoakMech practical arms-on experience that they in any other case may have overlooked.