By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
Forum sponsored by:
Forum sponsored by CML

Slide Rule

Neville Shute's autobiography.

All Topics | Latest Posts

Search for:  in Thread Title in  
Tim Hooper17/04/2012 22:32:22
avatar
2911 forum posts
2412 photos

Seems to be an open secret that Neville Shute saw his prolific novel writing as a mere hobby, and that his 'real' career (under his given name of Neville Shute Norway) was that of aeronautical engineer.

He worked as a designer for Vickers and de Havilland, before becominmg a founder of the Airspeed company.

His biog (written in 1954, four years before his death) is the remarkable tale of his career - both from a technical point of view and as a businessman from the end of WW! to the 1950's.

Recommended!

tim

Plummet17/04/2012 23:09:44
avatar
1419 forum posts
41 photos

Coincidence time. I was at college before calculators were allowed in exams, and so my trusty slide rule was my friend. Yesterday I used my slide rule again for the first time, probably since leaving college, because I was talking to a group about the history of computing.

I was also playing with a Comptometer. Can anyone explain to me how to use a comptometer to subtract and divide?

I read Slide Rule years ago. I concurr with your recommendation.

Plummet

Alan Randall18/04/2012 09:27:34
avatar
446 forum posts
108 photos

Nevil Shute Norway worked for Barns Wallis on the R100 airship as a stress calculator. His description of resolving the stresses in the main frames was interesting because what would take a computer seconds could take several people a fortnight.

PatMc18/04/2012 09:54:10
avatar
4471 forum posts
548 photos

I always found it quicker & less prone to error to use log tables than a slide rule. Mine was used more often to draw straight lines although it was a handy place to hide cribbed formulae etc at exam time. wink 2

Never read any of Nevil Shute's books. SWMBO got a copy of "Landfall" from a charity shop, she thought it would interst me because it had a drawing of an aeroplane (Avro Anson) on the cover. I think I'll put it on my next read list.

Fun Flyer18/04/2012 11:07:46
325 forum posts
55 photos

Shute's "Trustee From The Toolroom" is another good read. As are most if not all his writing.

kc18/04/2012 12:59:05
6646 forum posts
173 photos

I must read 'Slide Rule' again........

2 other books which are worth reading by aeromodellers are

New Science of Strong Materials

Structures or why things dont fall down.

both by J.E. Gordon. Published by Penguin Science. These dont sound like aero books but Prof Gordon was involved in research on planes during WW2 and his explanations of Hurricane , Mosquito problems and the wing failures of Fokker D7 are worth reading ( differs to other Fokker explanantions ) Also as a simple book to explain all sorts of structural things it is exceptional. Necessary reading for aeromodellers who are interested in light strong structures! Borrow it from the library and then you will want to buy your own copy!

Geoff Jackson18/04/2012 13:17:17
160 forum posts
3 photos

Still got my slide rule! When I did my O levels (just given my age away) we had to state on all the maths papers whether a slide rule was used! I think they also did that when calculators arrived. I may still have my first Texas Instruments scientific calculator as well.

Must read the Neville Shute books though. smiley

kc18/04/2012 13:25:51
6646 forum posts
173 photos

Plummets comptometer question.........I cannot find any info for certain, but on the old type that looks like a bus conductors ticket machine my wife seems to think you wind the handle forward until the bell rings and then wind it back! On the old National adding machines ( hand or electric) I seem to remember keeping the 'plus' button pressed down and pressing 'return' a number of times did something like subtract or divide.

But it's lost in the mists of time now but all I can remember is that you could use pounds shillings & pence machine for tons hundredweights and quarters using pounds for tons, shillings for hundredweight and threepence for a quarterhundredweight , sixpence for 2 quarters and ninepence for threequarters! You cannot do that with an electronic calculator!

Phil Brooks18/04/2012 14:17:37
avatar
468 forum posts
150 photos

I still remember being gobsmacked when watching The film of "Apollo 13" and the scene where the NASA experts are sitting around a table trying to work out how to get the astronauts back to earth. All are wielding slide rules, not even a calculator is in sight, let alone a computer of any description! Times sure have changed!

 

Back closer to original topic, Yes, some of Shute's books are a bit dated, his interest in spiritualism is a bit off putting to some, but his description of the in-fighting and rivalry in the R100/R101 competition is fascinating.

Edited By Phil Brooks on 18/04/2012 14:20:50

Edited By Phil Brooks on 18/04/2012 14:21:14

PatMc18/04/2012 15:12:52
avatar
4471 forum posts
548 photos
Posted by Phil Brooks on 18/04/2012 14:17:37:

I still remember being gobsmacked when watching The film of "Apollo 13" and the scene where the NASA experts are sitting around a table trying to work out how to get the astronauts back to earth. All are wielding slide rules, not even a calculator is in sight, let alone a computer of any description! Times sure have changed!

There was a documentary recently explaining the licence between fact & drama used in the film. There were certainly pocket calculators generaly available in the early 1970's & office computors were quite common then to.

I remember a sequence in the film where Lovell (Tom Hanks) is showing people around the visitors centre. He points out how small & powerful their computor is as it only take up a single room. However I don't recall seeing slide rules in use but I suspect they may have been shown in the film just for dramatic effect since most people have no idea how inaccurate they are but they do look more technicaly impressive than a calculator to the layman.

Jon Laughton18/04/2012 15:19:32
avatar
1226 forum posts
72 photos

Still have my original paperback copy of J E Gordon's 'New Science of Strong Materials' that I bought in 1977 as a recommended 'pre-reader' for the university course i started that Autumn - I must dig it out for another read. Thanks for the prompt kc!

Erfolg18/04/2012 15:33:26
avatar
11798 forum posts
1346 photos

Patmac is certainly correct n stating that in the early 70s, the calculator had arrived. A single Hewlett Packard was available in our office for all to use. Sinclair was marketed at the college and private user, using Reverse Polish Notation, which our lecturer made great play of being far more logical from an arithmetic view point. In my case I bought a Commodore 8120, as it was a little more expensive but simple to use.

On the subject of slide rules, I have also still got my own, a Faber Castell. A true work of art, made from laminated wood, brass strip, with plastic faces. Al supplied in a clear front case with a green rear. The outstanding virtue of the investment, that all the basic relationships of maths and engineering science were on the rear of the rule. I guess the true virtue of the slide rule, is that you were not drawn into the temptation of providing an answer to 5 or so decimal points, as is common with calculators. You thought about the viable level of accuracy.

As with most people, I used my slide rule mainly for drawing lines and measuring.

PatMc18/04/2012 15:58:56
avatar
4471 forum posts
548 photos

I too still have my slide rule, it's in it's original case somewhere in the attic. They always looked more impressive than calculators. The poseurs at college used to carry the 6" versions in their top pocket. The rest of us knew them as "guessing sticks" & preferred using log tables.

Andy Palmer18/04/2012 16:55:11
avatar
261 forum posts
111 photos

I live just north of Portsmouth where Airspeed were based so there are some local connections. A couple of years ago the guy that lives 3 doors away was telling me that the previous owners of his house were friends of Nevil Shute and he often used to visit the house. He also told me that Norway Road is named after him, and of course Nevil Shute Road, both next to the old Portsmouth Airport, now sadly gone. He lent me a Nevil Shute book to read (forget which one) which was fascinating and I keep meaning to search out some of his others.

On the subject of slide rules, I used to love my long gone British Thornton one and must have spoken about it to my wife, as on my 60th birthday she presented me with a slide rule she had spotted in a charity shop. I agree that log tables are of course more accurate and I used to enjoy using them but somehow the 'magic stick' always had a special appeal!

Slide Rule

Olly P18/04/2012 16:55:58
avatar
3215 forum posts
181 photos

Must dig out my slide rule. I don't use it often, but love having it on my desk to confuse young engineers with.....

buster prop18/04/2012 17:36:02
501 forum posts
13 photos

Still got my slide rule as well! Mine's a BRL 'Academy' which I used back in the late '60's when doing HNC as a day release course (remember those?). My youngest son was intrigued by it, I showed him how to multiply, divide, find square roots, sines, tangents and reciprocals all without needing a battery. He was impressed but doubted it's accuracy because of the non-linear logarithmic scales. I also read a few Nevil Shute books, one I particularly remember is 'No Highway' about metal fatigue in a ficticious airliner, called the Reindeer, I think. The mention of comptometers rang a bell, there was once a firm called Sumlock which made an early electronic adding machine which was also called a comptometer. The Nevil Shute books I've read are 'A Town Like Alice', 'On the Beach' and 'Slide Rule'. He was an under rated author in my opinion.

kc18/04/2012 18:14:03
6646 forum posts
173 photos

Jon L. It's the Structures book, not the New Science Strong Materials book, that contains the Fokker D8 explanantion ( not D7. my error ) which is very relevent to aeromodelling.

Bletchley Park contains a computer museum that has every type of calculator device as well as computors. You could see a huge range of devices that we all remember. The very knowledgeable staff would surely know how Plummets comptometer works. It's an extra cost museum within Bletchley Pk and only open certain times. When I went last year they were looking for working radio valves etc if anyone has any to donate.

By 1973 electronic calculators ( mains power) were normal office equipment so NASA would have had them much earlier than that.

Geoff Jackson18/04/2012 23:11:18
160 forum posts
3 photos

I was at Bletchley Park as an apprentice with the Board of Trade when GCHQ was till there. I never knew till 10 years ago what happened there - it was still secret. I still have my official secrets letter. i've been back to see the Bombes and Enigma and realised our old social club was the hut Alan Turing was in. I had the time of my life there and now realise what a huge importance this small place was. You have to visit to realise the impact it had on the war's outcome. I'd recommend it to anyone and will be visiting it again. They still have to fight for funding to protect it from all our shortsighted political parties!!

Erfolg19/04/2012 12:15:21
avatar
11798 forum posts
1346 photos

Well I have had a look for my slide rules, my treasured Faber Castell and a few British Thorntons (one company issue before calculators were standard issue). Of course missing without trace. I assume in the loft, with a hundred weight off text books. I do threaten to get them down from time to time, then realise I have no room for my recreational (aircraft0 books, never mind books which were essentially reference.

With respect to the D8 wing failures, if the suggestion was aeroelasticity, it seems unlikely with the D8. Other WW1 aircraft probably did including the Handley Page 400 and the lower wing on both the Albatros and Nieuports of the 27 type.

It is more probable that it ws poor workmanship due to subcontractors planing away parts of the spars to fit the wing ribs.

The plywood covering, should have been an improvement on most WW1 wings, irrespective of the bracing wires.

There has also been suggestions that the ailerons could have fluttered, yet again, this must have been an issue for most WW1 fighters, other than the D8 had possibly beefier ailerons than most, moving the CG of the ailerons back, certainly relative to many open structure types.

Plummet19/04/2012 12:34:51
avatar
1419 forum posts
41 photos
Posted by kc on 18/04/2012 12:59:05:

I must read 'Slide Rule' again........

2 other books which are worth reading by aeromodellers are

New Science of Strong Materials

Structures or why things dont fall down.

both by J.E. Gordon. Published by Penguin Science...<snip>

I second this recommendation. They were recommended reading when I was at college - and unlike a lot of the stuff I did or didn't learn there, stuff from these books still comes to mind.

Plummet

All Topics | Latest Posts

Please login to post a reply.

Latest Forum Posts
Support Our Partners
Sussex Model Centre
Slec
electricwingman 2017
CML
Advertise With Us
Sarik
Latest "For Sale" Ads
NEW POLL - has the pandemic altered your event safety perceptions?
Q: Has the covid pandemic deterred you from attending shows and events in 2021?

 No, I'll be attending just as many as I usually do
 No, but I'll choose my event with greater care
 Yes, I'll attend fewer events going forward
 Yes, I wont attend any where previously I have

Latest Reviews
Digital Back Issues

RCM&E Digital Back Issues

Contact us

Contact us

Magazine Locator

Want the latest issue of RCM&E? Use our magazine locator link to find your nearest stockist!

Find RCM&E!