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September 11, 2012

Upgrades to Blue-Dragon

Upgrades begin

Upgrades begin

   Our good friend Pluvius came by today to assist the in rebuilding of the Blue-Dragon.  Upgrades were to the base system: motherboard, CPU, RAM and video card.  I also installed an SSD for the boot drive.  We went from a 4-core 2.5 GHz system to an 8-core 3.6 GHz, and from 8 GB of RAM to 16 GB.  Most of the change was driven by the fact I wanted a video card that could support more monitors and the chipset on my motherboard wasn't playing nicely with new video cards, and the desire to switch to an SSD boot drive.  There isn't much I hate more than reinstalling an OS and getting software on it's feet.  So I figured if I had to reinstall the OS I was going to upgrade the entire system since it was all going to miserable.  Lucky for me, Pluvius doesn't seem to mind getting software on it's feet and helped me through the process.  Thanks Pluvius!
   Pictured is the Blue-Dragon after the main hardware has been installed.  My new motherboard does not have any PATA, and the DVD drive I had was PATA.  So Pluvius has a drive of his own plugged in for software install.  In addition, the RAID-5 array is not installed so there was no risk to the data on those drives until the system was booting stable.
   Now for the weeks of getting moved in....
   It has finally been cool enough at night to do something that has been need for sometime: clean the oven.   The first time we used the oven clean function, Xiphos and I were fairly skeptical about much of a help it would be.  However, the oven was filthy and we had nothing to loss by giving it a shot.  This is when we learned just how well the system functions.  Last night I ran the clean function again, placing all the stove top hardware in the oven so it would also be cleaned.  Here are before and after shots side by side.  I've wiped out the ash with a damp rag, but there was no scrubbing involved.  As is clearly visible, the oven and pizza stone look pristine.  Everything burns to fine ash during the clean cycle, and is easily wiped away with a damp rag.  The discovery was a pleasant surprise.
   One item I was interested about with the steam tractors was if they had a steam driven draft.  Steam locomotives blew steam out the smoke stacks in order to pull more air through the firebox.  This, in turn, caused the fire to burn hotter.  More heat meant more boiling water and that meant more power.  In talking to a gentlemen (and as it turns out, a former coworker) I got my answer. On the tractor he was running there was a steam powered draft. The steam could come from two sources. There was a valve to release steam into the stack, and the exhaust steam from the pistons was also released into the stack as well. So while the tractor was sitting still, a strong draft could be created to heat the system up. While running the exhaust steam took over to do this job.