Below is a short write-up on the architectural style of our house



Thursday, 23 October 2014

The Long Journey to create The Kruger House Museum


Paul Kruger House museum
Kruger House is the historical Pretoria residence of the Boer leader and President of the South African Republic, Paul Kruger. It was built in 1884 by architect Tom Claridge and builder Charles Clark. Milk was used, instead of water, for mixing the cement from which the house was constructed, as the cement available was of poor quality.

Paul Kruger's house

The house was also one of the first in Pretoria to be lit by electricity. The house contains either the original furnishings or items from the same historical period, some of the many gifts that were presented to Kruger as well as other memorabilia.
 



Verandah (stoep) of Paul Kruger's house

Stone lion gift by Barney Barnato
Another interesting feature of the house is two stone lions on the verandah that were presented to President Kruger as a birthday gift on 10 October 1896 by the mining magnate Barney Barnato.



Inside Kruger House
The Kruger House is now a house museum that tries to recreate the ambience of the period that Kruger lived in.










What follows is an extract from a posting by the Heritage Portal:
 
"Let us return to the dismal afternoon of 29 May 1900 when the devoted old couple said goodbye after a married life of nearly 54 years. Tant Sina was too old and too weak to accompany the President into so uncertain a future. Mr and Mrs F.C. Eloff (who lived next door) undertook to look after her, even in the event of the British entering Pretoria. The fact that she could lean upon her daughter, Elsie, and her husband in her closing days was her one consolation.
 
Before the President left Lourenco Marques on 20 October 1900 he sent her a farewell message: 'May God bless you. Trust in Him, Who governs all.' Letters reached her from him while he was in Europe. On 20 July 1901 she died in her 71st year.
 

Paul Kruger's funeral
After Mrs Kruger's death the house was claimed by the South African Constabulary, a curator bonis being appointed. Part of the furniture still stood in the house and many pieces were packed and removed in boxes, some objects being placed in the safekeeping of the National Bank. In 1901 the contents of the house were valued at £2 774; an inventory was made that covered 12 typed pages, without giving details. This indicates how many Kruger relics may still be in private possession, either heirlooms or items removed from the house after 1901.
 
The Constabulary remained in possession of the house even after 1902. Mr Eloff and his family were compelled through pressure from the military authorities in Pretoria to leave the town after the death of Mrs Kruger. They joined the President in Europe, living with him in Holland, the south of France and finally at Clarens, where they were present at his death.
In April 1904, shortly before the President's death, Mr Eloff bought the Kruger House for his little son out of the joint estate. In the mean time the house had, without his knowledge, been used as a boarding-house. A disgraceful episode in Pretoria's past is therefore the fact that Paul Kruger's old home was a boarding-house, named The Presidency, at the time of his funeral. The residents were supplied with writing paper bearing a portrait of the President seated on his stoep.
 

The owner and members of the public intervened and the house once more became private. Up to 1916 the widowed Mrs Van Broekehuizen, mother of the President's son-in-law, lived there, and for a short while afterwards it was occupied by her daughters.
 
After the President's funeral in 1904 a great number of wreaths (nearly 300) were stored in one of the rooms. On the table in the main bedroom were two visitor's books - one, the 'Book of Mourning', with the names of many of the 30 000 people who attended the funeral, and the other giving the names of those who came to look at the wreaths. In 1918 Mr Eloff granted the use of the house to the Association of Afrikaans Mothers for use as a maternity home until they could build a maternity hospital on their own premises in Beatrix Street, Pretoria.
 
Museum of Kruger Mementos
The suggestion that the Kruger House should be turned into a museum was made by the Transvaal Museum Board to the Minister of the Interior on 26 February 1923. The Board pointed out that although it had many Kruger relics in safekeeping, a large number had already been lost. A lack of funds, however, prevented the Government from buying the house; it was also felt that the matter should be taken up by the newly constituted Historical Monuments Commission.
 
The Transvaal Museum then already had many Kruger relics, chiefly through the intervention of Dr W.J. Leyds and others. After 1904, too, when the contents of the House were largely divided among the children, many objects were restored to the Kruger House.
Most of the relics of the President's last days were to be found in Europe. During his lifetime he had given many objects to the South African Museum at Dordrecht, Holland. Personal belongings and garments, which had been stored in eight chests at Menton, were later also sent to Dordrecht. At the time of his death he had in his possession one large and six smaller Bibles. There were also the orders and ribbons presented to him by various states after 1884.
 
Dr Leyds and General Louis Botha were chiefly responsible for the return of many Kruger relics from Dordrecht to the Transvaal Museum, 21 boxes and a crate arriving at the Museum in 1921.
 
On 3 October 1924 Mr F.C. Eloff wrote to Mr P.G.W. Grobler, then Minister of Lands, saying that his end was near; that he had bought the house not for the purpose of making any profit on the transaction; and that he was prepared to sell it at a reasonable price to the Government. Before Mr Grobler, Dr H.D. Van Broekhuizen and the Minister concerned (Mr Tommy Boydell) could act, both Mr Eloff and Mrs Eloff died within a few weeks of each other, in October and November 1924, respectively.
 
On 25 August 1925 the House was bought for £3 600 from the Eloff estate by the Union Government, but the maternity home could find no other accommodation. Their lease ran for another seven years and on 4 June 1932 the Government at last began making the house a Kruger museum and restoring, as far as possible, its original appearance.
For this purpose a committee was formed in Pretoria by the Government and recommended that the house be gradually restored to its original appearance and that the historical atmosphere be preserved as far as possible.
 
A National Monument
This recommendation was accepted by the Government on 20 September 1932 and the Department of Public Works undertook to renovate the house. The building was handed over to the Board of Trustees of the Transvaal Museum on 23 October 1933. The cost of renovation was more than £900.
On 10 October 1934 the Kruger House was officially opened to the public. Additions were made to the collection already in possession of the Museum through purchases and presentations and in 1933 Anton van Wouw's "Kruger in Exile" and the Kruger head by the French sculptor, Achard, were bought.


Kruger House national monument plaque
The Kruger House was declared a national monument on 6 April 1936 and a bronze plaque bearing an inscription was inserted in the wall on the verandah. This is the translated inscription:
Historical Monuments Commission
During the period 1884-1900 this building was the residence of His Honour S.J.P. Kruger.
State President of the South African Republic
Look in the past for all that is good and beautiful, take that for all that is good and beautiful, take that for your ideal and build on it your future.
From President Kruger's "Last Message".



A scale model of the Kruger House at Santarama Mini Land
 
 
 

Monday, 28 July 2014

A piece of history unearthed in Church Square

Recently, workers uncovered some old tram tracks in Church Square whilst working on the A Re Yeng project.

The tracks are in a surprisingly good condition and will be preserved. This discovery highlighted some aspects of Pretoria’s early days of transport with a direct link to the suburb of Arcadia.


Horse drawn tram in Church Square
Public transport in Pretoria began in 1897 with the establishment of the Pretoria Tramway company which had 8 trams and 50 horses.


Map of Church Square showing the tram line
However, the service was disrupted during the Boer War when the horses were needed. Services resumed in 1903 and in 1910, 14 electric trams replace the horse trams. The Tram Shed was completed in 1912 and routes were laid out from Church Square to the Pretoria Station, the Zoo, Sunnyside, Pretoria West and the “Ou Volks Hospitaal”. A total of approximately 21 kilometers of tracks were laid.
Electric tram in Church Square

Later a track was laid to the Union Buildings. Mr Courtenay Smithers, who lived with his parents at 555 Vermeulen Street in 1913, vividly recalls the trams and in particular, the little tram that made its way up to the Union Buildings.
“For most of the day (and only on working days, if I remember correctly) there was only one tram which made the short run from Church Street to the Union Buildings and back, a small one which would carry only half the number of passengers which  the usual “big” trams would carry. This small tram ran along Leyds Street to Vermeulen Street and wound its way up the hill to join the road which ran along in front of the Union Buildings.


Electric tram in Andries street
Now there is a road that follows the curving route up the hill where the little tram took its slow climb up the hill, making a whining noise in its low gear. Keeping up with the struggling tram was easy. In those days the tram line passed between the pine trees of the plantation that grew on the hillside.  One of the boys who lived in Hamilton Avenue was a good shot with a “catty” and he enjoyed showing off his skill by bringing down a dove or two from the pines. The driver of the tram didn’t like the boy; I suspect he was worried in case the boy let fly at him or the tram, but he never did.

Small boys usually know where to “draw the line”. Inevitably, small boys being small boys, we sometime put a little stone on the line for the tram to crush (with a loud bang of course) as it went over it.

We had our special hiding places amongst the trees where we couldn't be seen but from where we could have a good view of the tram. The surly driver never caught us at our mischief but he must have suspected we were the culprits. We occasionally sacrificed a penny from our meagre pocket money and put it on the line so that it was squashed and flattened.
Occasionally we lost our penny because it stuck to the tram wheel and was taken away instead of sticking to the rails.”

“At peak passenger times, when the office workers arrived and left the Union Buildings, the small tram was supplemented by a couple of big trams to provide enough space to cope with the extra passengers to and from Church Street where they could catch trams which took them into town and elsewhere.”

In 1935 trams were supplemented by double-decker buses. The last tram trip was in August 1939.

(Source: www.sa-transport.co.za)

Monday, 3 February 2014

Gone but not forgotten - the Grand Hotel on Church Square

The Grand Hotel as it looked in 1902.

The Grand Hotel was located on the south-eastern corner of Church Square. It was built in 1890 (then known as the President Hotel) and designed by Wilhelm Johannes De Zwaan. The building was built by Mrs. Lys in 1890 and called the President Hotel. H. W. F. Burger was the proprietor in 1892. It became the Grand Hotel in 1894 with Mr. S. Schlomer as proprietor. This was one of the finest hotels in South Africa, comparing favourably with its European counterparts. It had accommodation for 70 visitors and had 30 white servants and 23 coloured attendants. The building was leased by Mr. Schlomer from Pretoria Estates Ltd., who had bought it from Mrs Lys.


Photograph of Paul Kruger Street looking south from Church Square.
The "Raadsaal" is on the right and the Grand Hotel on the left.
The Old Raadsaal was being built next to the Grand Hotel, and a lot of progress had been made. The foundations were poured and some of the walls had already reached the first floor level. Some of the sandstone ornamentation was manufactured and ready, and the roofing material was on its way from Europe to Durban. From there it was transported by rail to Charlestown and onwards by oxwagon to Pretoria.

When President Paul Kruger was made aware of the new hotel that was about to be erected right next to the Raadsaal, the new government building, he was very upset when he heard that it will have 3 floors. One more that the Raadsaal! His advisors told him not to be concerned as all the finer finishings and towers of the Raadsaal will make the Raadsaal taller than the hotel. Paul Kruger then motivated why the Raadsaal had to get an additional floor. It is now has 3 floors!


The inauguration of President Kruger
The balconies of the Grand Hotel were a famous vantage point for grand events of the period












The Raadsaal decorated for the ceremony of Trooping the Colour
before the Governor-General Lord Selborne in 1905.
The Grand Hotel is on the left.





















In 1890, the first building on the site of the current Standard Bank Building in Church Square belonged to Mrs Lys, the President Hotel. The President Hotel was renamed when the establishment changed hands in 1895, and became the Grand Hotel. The third and final plan/development of Church Square took place in 1905 (see bottom of page), and in 1929 the architecture firm of Stuckey and Harrison were commissioned to build the New Standard Bank Building. During the period 1930 – 1934, the Standard Bank Building was built by W. Pattison and during the construction of the building Mr Stuckey died. In the 1950's electricity was installed in the building and the building was renovated in 1952. During 1967, the building was again renovated to its current appearance (polyvinyl floor included.)


Standard Bank building on the left and Grand Hotel on the right
Standard Bank building on the left and completed
Grand Hotel on the right
 The Old Standard Bank Building in Church Square (1894/1895), was designed by the firm Emley and Scott, and is situated on the northern side of Church Square. Anton van Wouw constructed sculptural elements for the façade design of the Old Standard Bank Building in the Parisian manner. The building contained many Anton van Wouw sculptures (bass-relief panels and high-relief of putti winged the surrounds of the upper windows and pediments). The building was unfortunately demolished in the 1950’s. Seven of the reliefs were retained and are currently in the National Cultural History Museum in Pretoria.








Today the "neoclassical" Standard Bank building stands on the site of the old Grand Hotel.

Map of Church Square - 1904

Donaldson & Hill’s New Map of the City of Pretoria and Suburbs. Compiled by D. Seccadanari, Engineer and Carthographer.  Revised to Oct. 1904. (Scale 600 Cape feet = 1 inch)

On this map all buildings in green are still being built. The Raadsaal has been enlarged and fills the whole street block. The Palace of justice is also completed. The original church is still in the centre of church square. The church was demolished the following year. A novelty at the time are the tramlines on church square.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

The Porsche 917 – a true legend

The Porsche 917 is the race car that gave Porsche its first overall wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1970 and 1971.
In this post I hope to provide some background about what made the iconic Porsche 917 so special, and take a look at its lasting impact on racing and popular culture.


The 917 display at the Porsche Museum
I was fortunate enough to visit the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart that has a number of 917’s on display. I also attended the Classic Le Mans race in 2012 with my son. There were a number of 917’s racing at the event.

If someone were to make a list of the greatest race cars ever made, the Porsche 917 would almost certainly have to be on it. In fact, the 917 makes a pretty good case for itself to be the greatest race car of all time.

Want some proof? How about how with some iterations of the car rated between 1,110 and 1,500 horsepower, it remains one of the most powerful race cars ever made -- not bad for a car that competed in the early 1970's. 

Click here to see and hear the 917 in action. 


Le Mans movie poster starring
Steve McQueen
Then there's how the car dominated at the track, securing multiple victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Daytona, Watkins Glen and a host of other events and tracks. The car was also immortalized in the Steve McQueen film "Le Mans," which included footage of its victory in that race in 1970.

There are many more reasons why the 917 is considered among the all-time greats. If you don't immediately recognize those three numbers, don't worry -- you've probably seen the car in photographs somewhere.


Porsche 917 in Gulf Oil livery

With the car's low, wide shape that included a tapering tail at the back, swooping front fenders and massive tires, it looked especially striking in its iconic blue-and-orange Gulf Oil livery. Yes, it's that car!

According to Porsche, when 50 international motor sports experts from the British magazine Motor Sport were asked to name the greatest racing car in history, they cited the Porsche 917.

But while its reputation is considerable today, the 917 got off to a rocky start in the late 1960's when Porsche struggled to build enough examples of the car to qualify for competition. Then they had trouble finding drivers brave enough to drive the beast, whose power far outpaced its handling. It was also initially plagued with development problems. But Porsche persevered with the 917, and after some tweaks, the German automaker had a more than just a winner on their hands -- they had the makings of a legend.

Porsche 917 Development

Development of the Porsche 917 race car came about due to a rule change in motor sports. In 1968, the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile, the international racing governing body commonly known as the FIA, announced a new class of racing for sports cars with engines no greater than 5 litres and that weighed at least 1,760 pounds (798.3 kilograms). The decision was made to allow cars with smaller engines to race in the World Sports Car Championship and to attract new companies to the grid.

Following the frightening speeds attained in the 1967 race, the capacity of engines was limited to 3 liters. The old 5 liter cars were allowed so long as they had a production of 25 vehicles. The regulators thought that no manufacturer would be able to make, let alone sell, 25 prototypes... and yet on the 20th of April 1969 at the Porsche factory there stood the designated number of cars neatly parked. On the 14th of June, three 917 with 4.5 liter flat 12 power were at the start line. Although it was Ford with an 'old' GT 40 that took victory, the Germans took revenge in 1970 and '71.

In this new class of racing, only 25 examples of the car had to be built instead of 50, which lowered the cost of entry and production for other manufacturers. Development was headed by an engineer named Ferdinand Piëch, a member of the Porsche family and the chairman of the Volkswagen Group today.


Stuttgart, 20th of April 1969 : Lined-up at the factory,

 the 25 Porsche 917 awaiting inspection by scrutineers.
But when FIA officials visited Porsche's factory to inspect the cars for the 1969 racing season, they found only six examples of the 917, although engineers said they had the parts to build the rest. The FIA said "no way," and mandated Porsche have all 25 cars completed in order to race.

So in just three weeks, Porsche rushed the remaining cars into construction, using secretaries and office workers to quickly assemble the cars in time. They succeeded in building all 25 of the cars, and they passed FIA inspection -- although some of them barely ran and later had to be reassembled and rebuilt by Porsche mechanics!

Once it started racing, success was not immediate. The car only won one race its first season and was plagued with handling issues. It exhibited wheel spin at 200 miles per hour (321.9 kilometers per hour), and its instability on the track resulted in the death of a driver. Fortunately, John Wyer's Gulf Oil team discovered that adding aluminum sheets to the 917's rear end added some much-needed stability and downforce. Suddenly, the car -- now called the 917K -- became a monster on the racetrack.

I once watched an interview with David Piper where he said that the car's handling was so bad that you needed a compass to find your way out of a corner! The main problem was basically due to a lack of down-force at speed.


Porsche 917 Specifications

917 flat 12 cylinder air cooled engine
Before we look at the Porsche 917's racing record, let's learn a little more about the car itself, its engine, chassis and how it used novel techniques to keep its weight down. 

The 917 was designed to race in a class of cars with smaller engines than the Ford GT40, which dominated the World Sports Car Championship for years with its massive V-8 engine. But don't let the word "smaller" fool you -- the 917's engine had a little less displacement, but it was nothing to fool around with.
An exploded view of the 917 engine

An exploded view of the 917 engine

The car packed a 4.5-liter, air-cooled flat-12-cylinder engine, similar in design to the flat-six or boxer engines used in the Porsche 911 sports car. The 917 engine initially had 520 horsepower, could do the zero to 60 miles per hour (96.6 kilometers per hour) dash in 2.5 seconds and had a top speed of close to 250 miles per hour (402.3 kilometers per hour!)


Can-Am race car engine showing the gearbox and turbos
The engine was capable of far more than that. When Porsche began using the 917 to compete in Can-Am racing, which carried far fewer regulations than other events, the engine was tuned and turbocharged to produce anywhere between 1,000 and 1,500 horsepower. Even today it ranks among the most powerful race cars ever to compete.

Can-Am race car
But an engine is nothing without a body to put it in, and fortunately, the 917 had an impressive one. It featured a lightweight aluminum frame that weighed just over 100 pounds (45.4 kilograms), and included a variety of weight saving measures like a gearshift knob made from balsa wood. The body itself was made of fiberglass.



In addition, the car featured interchangeable rear ends. Teams could choose between the "long tail" with low drag for races with lots of straight sections, or the "short tail" for races with curves when downforce is called for. Other iterations of the car included a combination long/short tail, and open-cockpit "Spyder" versions.


The "Hippie Car" at Classic Le Mans
The "Pink Pig" second from left
at the Porsche museum
The 917 is also famous for coming in a variety of paint schemes, including the famous Gulf Oil colors, as well as a "Pink Pig" version and a psychedelic green-and-purple "Hippie Car" model raced by Martini Racing. Hey, it was the 1970s, after all.

Porsche 917 at the Racetrack

The Porsche 917K of Jo Siffert and
Brian Redman being inspected during
scrutineering at the Le Mans 24 Hours race,
Le Mans, June 1970
Ferdinand Piëch's goal for the Porsche 917 left nothing to the imagination: he wanted it "to be the best. Everywhere". However, while the car was unveiled in 1969, it would be a while before it would achieve greatness.


Helmut Marko and Gijs van Lennep pull into the lead in
their Porsche 917, at Tertre Rouge during the
24 hour race at Le Mans on June 13, 1971.
The car's handling was so sloppy in early races that many drivers refused to pilot it. Porsche asked two BMW drivers for a 1969 race on the Nürburgring, but they refused, saying the car was too dangerous. Later on, a driver named John Woolfe was killed in a 917 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The car ended up only winning a single race in 1969.

The 1970 racing season proved to be a better year once the Wyer team ironed out the kinks in the 917's handling. The car went on to claim victories at Daytona, Brands Hatch, Monza, Spa, the Nürburgring, the Targa Florio, Watkins Glen and at the Österreichring in Austria. The season's high point came in June when the 917 won the long-desired overall win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The car won nine of 10 races that year to secure the World Championship of Makes trophy.

Footage from the 1970 Le Mans race was used to create the Steve McQueen film "Le Mans," where the 917 featured prominently in the story. The Gulf Oil 917K was driven by McQueen's character Michael Delaney as he battles Ferrari's 512 race cars. 

Click  here to see some background on the making of the movie

The following year was equally successful. The car defended its world trophy in 1971 by winning eight of 10 races and once again won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This time, it set a record of 240 miles per hour (386.2 kilometers per hour) on the track's Mulsanne straight, a feat that has yet to be broken today.

The 917 became so dominant that the FIA once again changed their regulations, and the car was no longer eligible to compete. So Porsche brought it North America, where they entered it in the Sports Car Club of America's Canadian American Challenge Cup, better known as CanAm. This form of racing had far fewer regulations than the FIA races, so the car was able to compete with well over 1,000 horsepower. As could be expected, it dominated there as well.


Not all the 917's were on display at the Porsche museum. This one 
was at the Classic Le Mans  2012 
Only 65 examples of the Porsche 917 were ever built. Seven exist in the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, while many others are in the hands of collectors all over the world. They tend to command high premiums at auctions due to their prestigious histories -- and still inspire awe over their power today.
Porsche Museum in Stuttgart










I hope this short write-up has done this magnificent car justice . . . .


Sources

  • Lieberman, Johnny. "Jalopnik Fantasy Garage - Porsche 917." Jalopnik. Aug 21, 2007. (March 25, 2011) Click here to follow the link 
  • Porsche. "40 Years of The Porsche 917." March 9, 2009. (March 25, 2011) Click here to follow the link    
  • Porschebahn Weblog. "1970 Porsche 917LH at the 2010 Amelia Island Concours." April 17, 2010. (March 25, 2011) Click here to follow the link 
  • Read, Dan. "Four decades of cool." TopGear.com. March 19, 2009. (March 25, 2011) Click here to follow the link 


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The history of the Howmet TX turbine car of 1968, still the world's only turbine powered race winner

Howmet TX Gas Turbine Prototype - Le Mans 1968 
Johann and Piet van Biljon
I was fortunate enough to attend the 2012 Classic Le Mans event with my son, Johann. We heard a car driving past the main grandstand that made a very strange sound. Not realising what it was I remarked that it sounded that that car must have a blown turbo! It was making a very loud hissing type noise, but it was still extremely fast. Someone then told us that it is a Howmet TX and that it uses a turbine engine!

I have done some research on the car. This is what I found.


Background

The 1960's was a time when there were fewer restrictions placed on race car designers than today, and that period saw the appearance of gas turbine powered cars, such as Andy Granatelli's STP-Paxton and Lotus 56 cars and the American Howmet Corporation's TX sports-racing machine of 1968. 



The Howmet TX (Turbine eXperimental) was an American sports prototype racing car designed in 1968 to test the competitive use of a gas turbine engine in sports car racing. Planned by racing driver Ray Heppenstall, the TX combined a chassis built by McKee Engineering, turbine engines leased from Continental Aviation & Engineering, and financial backing and materials from the Howmet Corporation.

The Howmet project was conceived early in 1967 by Ray Heppenstall, a sports car racer from Philadelphia. Heppenstall reckoned that a suitable lightweight turbine mounted in the back of a conventional sports-racing chassis would be a competitive proposit ion. He also convinced one of his racing friends, Tom Fleming, then the sales vice-president of Howmet, one of the United States leading metal companies and a major supplier of precision castings to the aircraft gas-turbine industry. Fleming and Heppenstall convinced the Howmet board that running a race-car program would be an ideal promotional tool. 

The turbine engine
A suitable power unit was found at Continental Aviation & Engineering, who had recently lost out in a bid for a US government contract for a light observation helicopter engine and had ten TS325-1 turboshaft engines left on the shelf from its development work. This unit developed a nominal 325 bhp at the output shaft, 650 lbs. ft. of torque at stall, and weighed 170 lbs. Applying the FIA's engine equivalency formula it was rated at 2960 cc, slotting it neatly into the Group 6 sports-prototype three litre class. Continental contributed two of these engines for installation in a relatively conventional tubular space-frame chassis built by Bob McKee.

The turbine was mounted at the rear, above a single speed transmission driving the rear wheels through a specially designed quick-change differential which allowed ratio changes. The necessary reverse was provided by a separate electric motor drive. A 32 gallon fuel tank was mounted centrally between the cockpit and the engine. Suspension was by conventional wishbone and coil spring/shock absorber units, with outboard disc brakes.

The TS325 engine comprised a two-stage gas generating turbine driving the two-stage compressor while also providing gas to the power turbine whose output shaft, via reduction gearing, drove the rear wheels. Heppenstall's solution to the turbine lag was to insert a wastegate bet ween the gas-generating and the power turbines. The first third of throttle pedal movement controlled fuel supply to the combustion chambers, and thus the speed of the engine. But once spinning at its maximum 57,500 rpm and delivering full power, the final two-thirds throttle movement activated the wastegate, thus controlling the amount of gas directed to the power turbine, and hence the rear wheels.

The 1968 Racing Season

The TX's first race was the Daytona 24 hours in February and two cars were brought, a newer car with 2.25 inch longer chassis and the original as spare; drivers were Dick Thompson, Ed Lowther, and Heppenstall. After 34 laps, and running as high as third, the waste-gate valve stayed shut as Lowther arrived at a tight corner leading from the infield to the banking, the resultant contact with the wall putting the car out.

At the Sebring 12 hours the car was qualified third, just 1.2 seconds adrift of the pole. In the race, the TX was running seventh when one of the engine mountings broke, and retired just before the seventh hour.

At the BOAC 500 at Brands Hatch in April British pilot Hugh Dibley joined Thompson and the TX qualified seventh. In the race the wastegate problems struck again, sending Thompson into the bank at Druids after seven laps. Dibley then drove in the Guards Spring Cup at Oulton Park the following weekend. Here he qualified second, and was running in fourth place until he pitted for fuel, but the starter failed and there was no way he could rejoin.

Heppenstall then campaigned the cars in a number of SCCA regional events. The first race finish came in May in the Cumberland 200. Then on June 8th Heppenstall won the qualifier for the Heart of Dixie race at Huntsville, and then the main race the following day, the first race win for a turbine powered car. The following weekend at Marlboro, Dick Thompson joined him for the 4.5 hour 300 mile race. Thompson won the qualifier, then the following day with Heppenstall the feature race also, leading from start to finish. 

The Watkins Glen 6 hours in July was the next FIA Championship outing, and for the first time both TX's were raced, with Thompson/Heppenstall being joined by Hugh Dibley/Bob Tullius in the older car. The cars qualified 8th and 9th, and were running well in third and fourth places, until the final hour. Heppenstall and Thompson maintained third spot until the end, but the transmission of the Dibley/Tullius car broke, although they managed to cross the finish line and be classified 12th.

Howmet TX at Classic Le Mans 2012
The Le Mans 24 hours on 28/29th September turned out to be something of a disaster. After only three laps Thompson came back in to hand over to Heppenstall, feeling that his car wasn't quite right. A fuel system problem limited the engine to 70% power and strangled the speed on the straight. They kept going however, and had worked up to 29th place when, at 9.45pm, Thompson crashed at Indianapolis corner and rolled, severely damaging the car although being unhurt himself. A rear wheel bearing broke on the Tullius/Dibley car after less than two hours. Although repaired in a lengthy 3 hour rebuild, it was finally disqualified in the seventh hour having covered insufficient distance.
Le Mans marked the final race appearance of the unique TX's, Howmet choosing not continue with a race program in 1969. 

Gas turbine operating principle explained

A gas turbine operating principle is simpler than a reciprocating piston engine. There are only three rotating parts not in rubbing contact with their surrounding cases as shown in the above simplified diagram. There are two shafts. The first shaft supports the air compressor and the primary turbine while the second shaft supports the power turbine and transfers the power by gear reduction to the wheels. An electric starter provides assistance by rotating the air compressor for the starting procedure. Compressed air is fed to a combustion chamber where it is mixed with kerosene fuel and ignited. Hot and high pressure gases are generated and sent to the primary turbine before reaching the power turbine. The primary turbine rotates with the air compressor. Hot gases are then sent to the exhaust system. In the case of the Howmet TX, there are two ways to adjust the power transferred to the wheels. The first method is the conventional approach with a gas turbine and operates with the variation of the fuel quantity injected in the combustion chamber. This conventional method, however, is known for a response time unwanted with racing cars. A second method utilizes a variable vane system on the hot gases admitted to the power turbine. This system also called waste-gate, allows to adjust the quantity of hot gases sent to the power turbine while sending the remaining portion directly to an exhaust pipe. This second method allows to keep the combustion chamber at full power and adjust the power sent to the wheels. The third exhaust pipe at the rear is dedicated to this waste-gate.

The Howmet TX gas turbine rated at an equivalent 3000cc produced nearly 400 hp at 55,000 rpm. The power transfer system contains a gear reduction that set the proper rotation to the wheels. 
Reproduced from Wikipedia and various other sources

Thursday, 26 December 2013

The Old Jewish Synagogue in Pretoria

The Old Jewish Synagogue after its completion

Significance

The Old Jewish Synagogue is situated in the CBD of Pretoria. The synagogue plays a part in the history of Pretoria. It is the first Synagogue that was erected in Pretoria but its function as a synagogue changed with the country’s political changes. It was converted to the High Court where numerous high profile hearings and court cases, involving amongst others Nelson Mandela and Steve Biko, took place.


History

In the late 1840’s, Adolf Coqui was the first Jewish settler in Pretoria. From here on, the Jewish community started to grow in Pretoria. As time went on, the need for a space to be available to perform services was needed. Prior to this, private homes, hotels, and halls were used to hold services which were performed by a layman. The Caledonian hall opened its doors to the Jewish community to hold their services in 1891-1892. But the hall was also used for private banquets ad other balls and functions. The Jewish community felt that it was not appropriate to hold religious services at this venue.
The Jewish community formed a congregation and it was decided that there was a need for their own synagogue in Pretoria. On the 11th December 1895, Simon Eeinbergand and Herman Manneschwitz bought Erf 103 from Thomas Patterson for the local Jewish community for £1500.


Architect's drawing

Floor plan
On the 1st October 1897, architects, Ilber and Beardwood were commissioned to design the synagogue in a Byzantine manner. The building’s budget was not to exceed £5000. But as any project, the budget escalated and was slightly less than £6000 even though Samuel Marks donated electrical lighting fixtures for £300 as well as the bricks for the project. We can also note that the Jewish congregation ran into more financial difficulties because the street facade is the only facade that has the Byzantine theme. The other elevations do not carry on the same theme. Face brick and sandstone detailing was omitted due to the cost and a cheaper alternative was to use cheap bricks and plaster on the facades of the building, but even through the financial difficulties the Synagogue opened its doors to the public on the 20th August 1898.

This was not the end to the congregation’s financial difficulties. They had to raise a further £850 by the end of 1898 to pay the contractor and builder. But thankfully to the generous help of Sammy Marks, he donated the amount to the Jewish congregation. But this did not help in future months to come. The congregation could only renew the minister’s contract on a monthly basis because funds were scarce. Sammy Marks
Sammy Marks
again came to the Jewish community’s aid in 1901 when money was needed to repair and maintain the building, but it was not the end. In 1906 on the 9th September the congregation had to apply for an overdraft of £1500 and could only do so if the synagogue was mortgaged. Sammy Marks attorneys advised him to buy the property from the congregation and donate it back to them, subject to registration of certain conditions. 21st October 1906 must have been the most important day in the Jewish community’s history. A general meeting was held where trustees of the Jewish congregation authorised the sale to the astute Mr Sammy Marks (Samuel Marks) for the mortgage bond amount of £4000. The transfer would be given immediately over to the Jewish congregation with the certain binding limitations. These limitations were:
  • The property may not be sold, ceded or assigned to anyone, but is to be used exclusively for Synagogue purposes in perpetuity;
  • That no mortgages, charges or other encumbrances be put on , applied to or laid upon the property under any circumstances;
  • That the house on the property be used solely as the residence of the Minister of the Congregation or alternatively by some official of the Synagogue.

Inside the synagogue
On Sunday 7th August 1907, Sammy Marks formally handed over the title deeds of the synagogue together with three fire insurance policies to the Pretoria Jewish congregation.
In 1922 the congregation decided that the synagogue was to small and that additions and alterations. They sent in a request to overturn the conditions that were set by Sammy Marks to register the property to apply for a mortgage. The Supreme Court declined this request because the donation was only made a few years previously.

The old synagogue becomes the new Pretoria Supreme Court

During the Apartheid era, the black resistance against the government was building. The black resistance was mostly verbal and non-violent. Black leadership became more visible and outspoken and there was an increase in strikes and passive resistance. In view of the deteriorating situation, the government decided that there was a need for a special supreme court. The government needed a building that allowed for relatively large numbers for people to observe, interested parties and defendants. Also they needed a building that would have to be located in an area which was manageable in terms of security and effective crowd dispersal. The old synagogue was identified to be the new Pretoria Supreme Court.

The changes that were made to the building to make it an effective court were:
The synagogue with its cream paint finish and
window above the front door removed
  • Painting the facades and brick work in cream colour.
  • The removal and bricking up of the stained glass.
  • The removal and replacement of all the timber top hung window on both the northern and southern facades.
  • The alteration of the altar stage into judge benches.
  • The addition of judge chambers, toilet and ante rooms on the eastern side of the synagogue.
  • The keying and plastering of the original sandstone plinth which was deteriorated.
  • Application of acoustic board to a large percentage of the internal walls.
  • The addition of separate structures outside the main synagogue.


Nelson Mandela, Aziz Pahadand Winnie Mandela
outside the Old Synagogue
The main trials that were seen at the Supreme Court. The treason trial was one of the longest trials in South African history. All the accused were either members of the ANC or Black Consciousness movements. Nelson Mandela was one of the accused members. The Steve Biko inquest was heard at the Supreme Court. The Sharpville and Langa Incidents were both heard in the court. Nelson Mandela was tried in 1962 and was initially sentenced to 5 years hard labour. During the Rivoina Trial he was sentenced to life in prison with hard labour.

Reproduced from The Universiy of Ptretoria's 'Ablewiki' and various various other sources