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3 Feb 1914. Tuesday


Having spent the week at Brislington in the workshop, Frank started on the Monday back at Fairlawn Avenue with work on the X3 – the last version of the Burney hydrofoil machine, and indeed much of today was concerned with it as well. But he did have time to produce a sketch of the revised warping lever for the control system. Looking at the other relevant sketches, the first one (554) produced a week before, shows a warping lever which he’d clearly designed some while before in the previous sketchbook – it refers to sketch 469.

577 Quaadrant for Rockshaft

577 Quadrant for Rockshaft

Although it doesn’t give precise details in 554, it looks identical to the one used in the production runs.

554 Assembly of Hand Control 14-1-14

554 Assembly of Hand Control 14-1-14

And yet sketch 558, produced the day after, also shows an arrangement of the controls, and the warp lever now looks much more like this drawing (which is called, more logically, a ‘quadrant’). For most of the fittings he’s put in cross references to the detail sketches, but he hasn’t for this one, so it may be that the decision to change the design was taken some time around the 14/15 Jan, and it wasn’t until Friday that the workshop foreman came to him and said ‘We need to assemble the controls and we don’t have the details of this bit.’

558 Arrangement of Controls 15-1-14

558 Arrangement of Controls 15-1-14

So Frank came up with this arrangement. From a design aspect, it’s great. The cables cross over; the right cable is secured to the left bolt and vice versa are well anchored and because they run round a perfect arc of a circle, the cable tensions won’t alter throughout the range of movement.

But the foreman, or the welder, must have shaken his head at it. Welding this would have been really tricky to get into the corners of the groove, get decent penetration but not burn or distort it. I can imagine him sucking his teeth and asking if they couldn’t return to the original design, with Frank being politely insistent that he give it his best shot as they were on a tight deadline to get the machine into the air as soon as possible.

In any case, history proved the welder right, because the production machines returned to the original design – and the name reverted to the illogical ‘Warping Lever’ as well!

Frank didn’t touch his notebook for a couple of weeks after this. He must have been in the workshop, supervising the assembly.

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