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Equations of Motion by William F. Milliken

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Joined: 13 Jul 2003
Posts: 51
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2007 23:15    Post subject: Equations of Motion by William F. Milliken Reply with quote

Full title - "Equations of Motion Adventure, Risk and Innovation, the Engineering Autobiography of William F. Milliken", published by Bentley, 2006.

I have had this for a few months without reading it. I was reading a 1945 book "The SuperFortress is born" by Thomas Collison and realised that Milliken was Flight Test Engineer on the first B-29 flight. That prompted me to have a look at Millikens book - sure enough he was on that first flight (not to mention early flights of the B-17). By a strange turn of events he fell out of favour with Boeing test pilot Eddie Allen, and so was not killed in the disastrous crash shortly afterwards.

I haven't read the book through yet, but it seems like an excellent account of this mans interesting life with aircraft design and later with car stability and control. He describes some of his interesting vehicles -e.g. Bugatti and FWD/Miller, how he modified and raced them. The FWD/Miller is featured in Griffith Borgeson's book "The Last Great Miller, the Four Wheel Drive Indy Car". (Four Wheel Drive being the company of that name, well-known for their FWD trucks).

The book is large and has plenty of photos and interesting snippets added, e.g. Eddie Allens report on flying a Lancaster.

The book doesn't deal with engines particularly, it is much more concerned with flight and driving - pushing aircraft and cars to their limits and explaining the engineering involved with stability, control etc rather than engine development.
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Joined: 13 Jul 2003
Posts: 51
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2007 19:51    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not exactly sure what the paper is, but it is described as "acid-free". Not terribly attractive paper - sort of off-white, not glossy. The photos are only average, not particularly clear but lots of them. Nevertheless an impressive large book (683 pages).

Around the first 350 pages are to do with aviation, though this includes childhood years. However the author was building trolleys, gliders, modified motorcycles and aircraft from an early age. He attempted to build his first aircraft at age 13, then another at age 15 that he finally flew aged 22. This is described in detail.

The second half of the book is pretty much all ground-based vehicles.

I guess I shouldn't have mentioned this book here, as it is definitely not about aero engines, or even engines, none the less I thought it worth mentioning as a good engineering autobiography, they seem to be rare books!

I have spent years trying to find and buy engineering autobiographies, biographies and any personal accounts describing what was involved in designing, building and operating machinery of many types - they are hard to find.

My latest discovery just arrived, it took a while to find a copy - "Walter Wilson: Portrait of an Inventor" by A. Gordon Wilson (his son), 1986. Wilson was the partner of the famous Percy Pilcher, and built the engine for his aircraft (Pilcher died in a gliding experiment in 1899).
I am more interested in his role in the development of the tank in WW1, in particular as the inventor of the Wilson gearbox.
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Joined: 13 Jul 2003
Posts: 232
Location: UK

PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2007 05:43    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've got the Milliken book. It's a lot of pages for the money. One thing to point out is that it was his boss who fell out with Eddie Allen: his boss refused to fly any more as he thought the B-29 was too dangerous at that moment, and in what looks like a fit of pique, Milliken was bumped off the flight list, which saved his life. (I love the description of one flight in a B-17? that got into trouble where Allen and his co-pilot had to push the control columns forward, with their feet, to recover!)

Walter Wilson's biography: I lucked out a few years ago and found a reasonably priced copy just as the prices were going through the roof. I haven't seen one advertised in a long while.
One book I can recommend is

Louis Brennan - Inventor Extrordinaire
Author Norman Tomlinson
ISBN 0905540182
Published by John Halliwell 1980


He developed the guided torpedo, (using wires trailed behind the torpedo, shades of today's TOW missiles and some modern torpedoes) in the Victorian era, and the gyroscopic monorail. (single track wheels with gyroscopes balancing the train)

www.addall.com are showing a number of copies from around 20-45 US dollars.


I'm glad we have the Internet as it took me a long time to find a copy (it was expensive) before we all went online.

On an even nicer note, it appears that Weir Pumps has been sold, and is moving from its historic Cathcart, Glasgow site. An unpleasant experience during a job interview with them, made me swear to have nothing to do with them. Now, they may have a more enlightened management, so it may be the time to ask if we can check their archives for details of the helicopter engine they designed and built before WW2. (it's mentioned in Caunter's Four Stroke Aero Engine book: now, there's a book who's price has rocketed upwards)
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Joined: 13 Jul 2003
Posts: 51
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 22:06    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have been browsing through the Walter Wilson book, I am surprised at some of the little mistakes spotted already. Why call Davey Paxman "David Paxman", Noel Macklin "Joseph Macklin", supercharged Meteor engines??, a book title incorrectly described ("Addition to Automobiles" should be Addiction to Automobiles).
I always feel like a heel picking holes in someones huge effort in writing a book, but mistakes always leave a sense of carelessness about the whole effort, probably an over-reaction on my part. No doubt the huge majority of the book is good stuff.

p.s. Bill, the long website address you posted has screwed up this thread a little (on my computer anyway). Have to scroll the page to read it. There is a way of posting internet addresses in a short form, I can't recall how, maybe someone else knows?
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Joined: 10 Sep 2007
Posts: 32
Location: Lakewood, Colorado

PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 18:58    Post subject: Reply with quote


Equations of Motion is coming out in a new softbound edition, $44.95 from Bentley Publishers, www.bentleypublishers.com.

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