When an engineer with his spanner in his hand declaims with satisfaction “thatâ€™s a tight fit” you can be sure he’s doing a good job. Sealing a joint between 2 similar or dissimilar materials has been a problem for millennia. The Vikings clinker built long ships made from steamed lengths of soft wood cut from northern forests were sealed with hemp cords and pitch extracted from the same northern trees.
Sometimes the skill of ancient craftsmen made sealing materials unnecessary, look with wonder at the cut stone blocks that built Ankor Watt or the Pyramids of Egypt and the Yucatan Peninsula. The industrial revolution was only possible because Engineers discovered how to seal metal to metal joints. Steel to steel, brass to copper, copper to steel, steel to brass. Without this technique, Newcomenâ€™s steam pump would not have drained Cornish tin mines. James Watts’ engine would not have powered the cotton mills of Lancashire and Stevenson’s Rocket would have remained stationary and belching steam instead of attaining a breath taking and so they believed dangerous 30 mph at the Rainhill trials in 1829.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â image credit: theyorkpress.co.uk and titanic-titanic.com
The Titanic wouldnâ€™t have hit that iceberg either but that was down to the Captain not the steel foil sealing the propeller shaft. It probably doesnâ€™t occur to the many waiting in the cold and rain for a Northern Rail train to turn up that it’s only possible due to a little piece of steel foil. This steel foil fabricated into a single or multi layered gasket gives the engineer that moment of satisfaction when a tight fit is obtained. It literally makes us go round the world, if not the world go round, and is as relevant today in all our mechanical equipment as has been in the past.