Welcome. This issue’s cover photo features high-throughput holemaking technology, as is traditional for the January issue. (If you can refer to a twist drill as “holemaking technology” with a straight face, you may have what it takes to be a fancy-pants tooling engineer.) Specifically, it shows a still from a test video for drilling the main oil gallery in a V8 engine block using high pressure gas lubrication. When you expand a compressed gas through an orifice you get cooling due to the Joule-Thomson effect, a basic result classical thermodynamics. In the image the drill has just started drilling, so there’s little heat from the process, and the gas that has been expanded through the coolant holes in the drill is so cold it forms a shower of dry ice particles, which are the white dots flowing out of the hole and up the drill. The wires and boxes on the block are for thermocouples to measure temperature in the block, to adjust the gas flow rate to balance the drilling heat. This was a popular job in the shop, despite the weight of the parts that had to be jockeyed around, because the lubrication system required a pleasing cornucopia of things dear to the simple heart of the mechanical engineer, including gas cylinders, hydraulic hoses, compression fittings, and dump valves, and for the cherry on top a special pump with yellow rubber seals.
Generally any blog or website that survives long enough will post a navel-gazing assessment of the state of the venture after the third or fourth issue. I think everything’s going fine and don’t plan any changes beyond routine kaizen tweaks. I still have a large supply of suitable industrial cover photos, and since I enjoy making the covers I am motivated to continue. The first poet whose work I read and reread was Carl Sandburg, my fellow frontiersman from western Illinois. His book Smoke and Steel, in which he tried to paint the beauty of the industrial world, made a big impression on me. I worked for US Steel for a couple of years when I first got out of college and can attest that the inside of a steel mill is visually stunning. It’s like being in a volcano. I’m trying to show some of the inadvertent beauty I noticed during my engineering career with these cover photos, but I don’t know how well it’s coming across. We all respond to the signal in different ways.
Of course the main reason I enjoy the journal is the poetry. I’m always happy to receive a new submission, and optimistic that it will contain a poem I really like that will make my day, so please keep them coming. The reading period for Pulsebeat 05, which will be posted in May, begins February 1. Until then, enjoy all the wonderful poems in this issue.