'Nice' books to read?

Like most of us, I have a few 'special' books that I can drop into at almost any
time and get involved with. Doesn't have to be engine-related, almost anything
will do as long as it has an engineering thread of some kind and manages to
distract me for a while.
Amongst these are:
"Not Much of an Engineer", Stanley Hooker's biography
"Trustee from the Toolroom", Nevil Shute Norway
"Development of Aircraft Engines & Fuels", Schlaifer & Heron
"Allied Aircraft Piston Engines", Graham White
Any Fred Colvin book
The Graham White book is interesting, as it pulls together a lot of the
information in the Schalifer-Heron book, while quoting a lot of the stuff that
Hooker mentions in his own book, while retaining its own separate identity.
The Nevil Shute book is just a damm good read at any time, and the Colvin books
while being either autobiographical or instructional retain the quality of
writing for which Colvin was known.
As we seem to be a like-minded group in many ways, do we share any of these
books in common??
Peter (Sipping a nice Muscatel with Beethoven's 'Pastoral' on the music machine
Reply to
Peter A Forbes
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I am a committed Nevil Shute fan & find all his books enjoyable. Dave Croft (Just got back from the pub, Pissed)
Reply to
Dave Croft
Did someone mention books ?? -- Regards,
John Stevenson Nottingham, England.
Reply to
John Stevenson
In message , Peter A Forbes writes
Anything by Nevil Shute Norway is worth reading - I read his autobiography "Slide Rule" for the first time last year, but "On the Beach" and "The Chequer Board" have to remain favourites for me, along with "Requiem for a Wren".
I read Geoffrey Wellum's "First Light" last year and was very moved by it.
On a different note, I am led to believe that my maternal grandmother nursed Mr Norway between the Wars - she certainly used to correspond with him. Unfortunately my mother, now 80, can't recall any other details.
Pete (waking from anaesthetised slumber in the armchair)
Reply to
Peter Scales
It has been suggested that Shute was a model engineer in later life, hence "Trustee from the Toolroom".
Think I have read every word written by Nevil Shute, except for an obscure screenplay he wrote which I have not yet been able to locate.
Some of the few books which can be read and re-read, especially his autobiography "Slide Rule". Some of his work is considered to be prophetic.
He had an affinity for Australia, migrated here in 1950, owned a farm at Langwarrin, near Melbourne. Cremated and ashes committed to the English Channel.
There is (was) an International Nevil Shute Society, see:
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and an Australian web site:
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He owned and raced a white Jaguar XK140 (still in existence) and later a 150, at Phillip Island in the late 1950's, and there is a unconfirmed report that he can be seen driving the 140 in the racing scene in "On the Beach".
I am gradually replacing the tattered paperbacks I have with hard covered editions, as they turn up.
JW² in Oz Norton AntiVirus 2003 installed ************************************
Reply to
Jack Watson
I know just what you mean!
"Some unusual Engines" - LJK Setright "Not Much of an Engineer" - Stanley Hooker "The engines were Roll-Royce" and "Rolls-Royce from the Wings" - Ronnie Harker
"I Kept No Diary" - (just reading it now after a recommendation and easily finding a copy on Amazon, but it's destined to become one of "those" books. The author was a fuel specialist and was involved in many interesting things during the development of the high speed aero engine - like the Schneider Trophy races, for instance.)
A fascinating thought is that the authors may well have known each other to some degree.
I'd recommend a few more in this context .
The Science Museum's "The Rotary Aero Engine" by Andrew Nahum, "Napier Powered" by Alan Vessey (Chalford Publishing).
The Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust publish a number of softback books about aero engines, amongst which I thoroughly recommend "The Rolls-Royce Crecy" by Nahum, Foster-Pegg and Birch and "Fedden" by Bill Gunston .
For a sheer uphill struggle, the Crecy must take the biscuit! Little known now, it was an attempt by Rolls-Royce to develop a fluid-cooled, Vee12 sleeve valve two stroke (initially Diesel) petrol engine. Development proceeded from 1939 to 1946 and in the end it proved impossible to cool the pistons sufficiently. It was said that the engine on test could be heard five miles away on a quiet night!
I've been a convinced Patrick O'Brian fan since discovering him in the '70's.
Regards,
Kim Siddorn
Reply to
J K Siddorn
It's worth joining the trust just to get access to some of these books. There is a two tier pricing structure, members and non members. If you join and become a member you only have to buy about 3 or 4 books to save the membership fee. I'll join Kim in agreeing with the Fedden book. Another one in the trust library is an A3 sized book of Rolls Royce cut away aero engines to a fantastic quality.
My current re-read at the moment is Sir Joseph Whitworth: 'The World's Best Mechanician' by Norman Atkinson. Although not a gun nut at all the story of the Whitworth gun is one of those stories where you have to ask Why when you have read it. Here's a guy who built a gun that could outshoot anything in the world and as usual the power that be had their heads up their arse's and just ignored it. In 1829 to be able to fit a shell 5.8 miles and only be 3 feet off target and at 2 miles to put 3 shells thru the same bull is truly amazing.
If we had had the Whitworth gun at Crimea we could have stood 4 miles off and shot crap out of them, instead we had to get in close and had the 19th century equivalent of the labour party conference. -- Regards,
John Stevenson Nottingham, England.
Reply to
John Stevenson
(snip)
Hi Guys, Quite a few of us seem to have similar tastes in books. I own every book I have laid my hands on by the following Authors. C.S.Forrester. Patrick O'Brian. Nevil Shute. Dudley Pope. Alexander Kent. C.S.Forrester still beating the good authors that copied his style. I will shortly have to buy a larger bookcase as I have trouble shutting the doors. -- Dave Croft Warrington England
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Reply to
Dave Croft
Peter Scales wrote in message ...
Agreed. Also read "In The Wet" and think about the voting system he envisaged.
Reply to
Bob Spowart
I'd love to read more of Hooker, but he's hard to find. So is "Allied Aircraft Piston Engines"
A few others:
Ricardo. Preferably a later edition.
"Modern High Speed Oil Engines"
Bill Gunston's aero engine book. Lightweight, but very broad coverage for obscure makers. I'd love a copy of his research notes.
Rolls Royce - "The Jet Engine" Haynes manual for turbojets.
Kurt Schreckling - the model jets book The only readable explanation I've seen of the gas dynamics in a gas turbine.
Mikesh - "Restoring Museum Aircraft" You thought you knew what "concours" condition was ?
Landels - "Engineering in the Ancient World"
Gimpel - "The Medieval Machine"
Agricola - "De Re Metallica" (Dover press do a cheap reprint)
"Chinese Technology in the Seventeenth Century" Another reprint of an old text, a Chinese Agricola. Describes the Chinese drilling for natural gas !
I have a near-complete set of Nevil Shute, collected over about twenty years. I always thought I was the only person who still read him ! I've even ploughed through the "Middle-class officer and the shopgirl" stuff, which isn't his finest writing.
Tom Sawyer is a fine read - not the well known ghost-written tale of his early life, but his later "The Modern Gas Turbine" of 1947. It's one of the few books that describes pre-war gas turbines.
There's a copy up YKW at the moment - worth grabbing.
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Geoffrey Smith's "Gas Turbines and Jet Propulsion for Aircraft" is another wartime first-sighting report on early aircraft turbines. Worth catching when it swims past.
Reply to
Andy Dingley
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- May I add to list
Flywheel. by members of the Muhlberg motor club Stalag 1Vb 1944-1945 printed in facsimile form.A collection of motoring magazines produced by the prisoners of war all hand written and drawn.
W.O. The story of W.O.Bentley
Steam in the Village. By RA Whitehead
The Flower of Gloster. By E Temple Thurston
Harry Ferguson (Inventor & Pioneer) By Colin Fraser
Reply to
Mike.H
7 copies of Hooker's book on the internet, I copy of Graham White's book.
I bought my Hooker book some long years ago at RAF Hendon Museum, the Graham White book I picked up at the Hiller Aviation Museum at San Carlos, Ca., last October on my second visit to the Museum. These sort of books are cheaper to buy over there than in the UK.
Good book but the days of the £50 copy are long over, theye are VERY collectable now and go for prices into the many hundreds of dollars, $850 is the most expensive I have seen.
Got a nice set of three here spare if you want to buy them, £30 plus postage.
He did a few, the "World Encyclopaedia of Piston Aero Engines" is probably the most comprehensive.
Peter
Reply to
Peter A Forbes
I hve to agree the Fedden book is an amazing story well told. also I can recommend
"The Last Years of Mill Engine Building" by Arnold Throp
"The Napier Way" by Bryan Boyle
"The Cornish Beam Engine" by D.B Barton
and pretty much anything by L.T.C.Rolt.
Regards
Philip T-E
Reply to
ClaraNET
One of my Christmas presents was a book -"Seven Wonders of the Industrial World" by Deborah Cadbury. It appears to be a spin-off from a BBC TV series. (Anyone seen the series?) Some great stories, accounts of great struggles to do 'impossible' feats of engineering. Note, the title doesn't say "THE Seven Wonders, because that would be difficult to pin down, but they are all good choices.
The "Great Eastern". The Bell Rock Lighthouse. The Brooklyn Bridge. The London Sewers. The Transcontinental Railroad. The Panama Canal. The Hoover Dam.
I am half way through the book, the story of the Bell Rock lighthouse is excellent.
Bell Rock was a reef several miles offshore in the approaches to the Firth of Forth, East coast of Scotland. It was only uncovered at low tide, and on its northern side was a sheer cliff, so that a ship approaching would still be sounding deep water until suddenly being smashed onto the hidden reef.
Robert Stevenson suceeded in building a lighthouse on this rock, finishing in 1811.
It is a great story of the struggle, first to get acceptance of this 'impossible' project, then placing around 2500 tons of carefully made, interlocking, granite blocks of around 1 ton each. They could only work in the summer months, and then only for a few hours as tides allowed, and had to live in a moored ship close to the rock, often in miserable weather. There were huge storms, the lighthouse had to withstand 100 foot waves.
The lighthouse is still in place, the oldest offshore lighthouse still standing anywhere in the world.
The 'Great Eastern" and the Brooklyn Bridge stories are also similar accounts of struggles against the odds. The strain of getting the Great Eastern built more or less killed I.K. Brunel, as did the Brooklyn Bridge kill John Roebling, and then ruin the health of his son Washington Roebling who took over his fathers position.
Great stories, easy to read in these shortened accounts.
Reply to
Peter Short
Reminds me of a quote (forget just where now, was about RAF) of an amazed airman who had just seen his first jet aircraft fly over .. "it had no propeller - it just sucked itself across the sky like a Hoover!"
What was that in? Loved that.
JW² in Oz Norton AntiVirus 2003 installed ************************************
Andy wrote .. (snipped)
Reply to
Jack Watson
Snip
I treated myself yesterday to a book published by Warrington library. "Warrington At Work".(£15) In the late 1950's I was working as a telephone engineer all over Warrington & I remember many of the pictures in the book. (For the first year I was on foot). We had wireworks,steelworks,ropeworks,tanneries.paperworks,velvet cutting shops,breweries & many others. Warringtons nickname was "The town of 100 industries",nowadays it is "The town of 1000 warehouses" The book has taken my memories back for 40+ years. Happy Days, -- Dave Croft Warrington England
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Reply to
Dave Croft
Tom Rolt has a history of good books, but I seem to return to "Narrow Boat" a lot, he has a great way of describing things, a bit like Nevil Shute probably.
His book on Brunel is another very good read.
Rit'a brother and father had some connection with Tom Rolt when they were living in the Bath area and working for Westinghouse Brake & Signal Co. I don't think they were friends as such but Rita's brother remembers him well from those days.
Peter
Reply to
Peter A Forbes
One of my Christmas presents was a book -"Seven Wonders of the Industrial World" by Deborah Cadbury. It appears to be a spin-off from a BBC TV series. (Anyone seen the series?) Some great stories, accounts of great struggles to do 'impossible' feats of engineering. Note, the title doesn't say "THE Seven Wonders, because that would be difficult to pin down, but they are all good choices.
The "Great Eastern". The Bell Rock Lighthouse. The Brooklyn Bridge. The London Sewers. The Transcontinental Railroad. The Panama Canal. The Hoover Dam.
I am half way through the book, the story of the Bell Rock lighthouse is excellent.
Bell Rock was a reef several miles offshore in the approaches to the Firth of Forth, East coast of Scotland. It was only uncovered at low tide, and on its northern side was a sheer cliff, so that a ship approaching would still be sounding deep water until suddenly being smashed onto the hidden reef.
Robert Stevenson suceeded in building a lighthouse on this rock, finishing in 1811.
It is a great story of the struggle, first to get acceptance of this 'impossible' project, then placing around 2500 tons of carefully made, interlocking, granite blocks of around 1 ton each. They could only work in the summer months, and then only for a few hours as tides allowed, and had to live in a moored ship close to the rock, often in miserable weather. There were huge storms, the lighthouse had to withstand 100 foot waves.
The lighthouse is still in place, the oldest offshore lighthouse still standing anywhere in the world.
The 'Great Eastern" and the Brooklyn Bridge stories are also similar accounts of struggles against the odds. The strain of getting the Great Eastern built more or less killed I.K. Brunel, as did the Brooklyn Bridge kill John Roebling, and then ruin the health of his son Washington Roebling who took over his fathers position.
Great stories, easy to read in these shortened accounts.
Reply to
Peter Short

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