10 YEARS AGO — 2002
Cat latches: Heavy-duty compression latches from Southco, Concordville, Pa., help Caterpillar secure inspection panels while meeting more-stringent noise regs.

Caterpillar's small and mediumsized tractors and large track loaders use a modified version of Southco’s Vise Action Compression Latch. The latch was tweaked so it installs quickly and easily, fits flush with panels, has a folding handle for easy opening, and locks with a key.

The lockplug’s pawl is fully adjustable and its shaft was shortened by 10ˆmm to reduce inside protrusion. Antivibration washers eliminate potential loosening of the pawl during equipment operation.

30 YEARS AGO — 1982
High-angle helical gears from metal powders: Helical gears with angles as high as 41° can now be made from metal powders on a production basis, reports Dixon Sintaloy Inc. The gears were previously produced from metal powders with angles up to around 30°, except as experimental or specialty items. However, the company claims to have perfected a new technique that allows volume production of metal-powder helical gears with angles approaching the 45° limit. The technique is applicable to all commonly used metal-powder alloys.

50 YEARS AGO — 1962
Recovering big boosters in a pillowlike structure is proposed by Philip Bono and John Hayes of Douglas Aircraft’s Missile and Space Systems Div. The Roost (Reusable One-stage Orbital Space Truck) would be used with a 50-ft-diameter, 273-ft-long single- stage booster capable of carrying a 160-ton payload. After separation of the payload, liquid hydrogen (left over from the launch) would inflate two heat-resistant fabric bags, protecting the booster with a conical structure 327 ft in diameter at the base. The blunt cone structure, designed to withstand 1,800°F, limits reentry temperature to 1,500°F. Air resistance should allow Roost to land at the gentle rate of 1 mph.

 

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