Load cells stories for the end of lockdown

Published On: November 27 2020


Good news, England’s lockdown is almost over! To celebrate, we’ve put together a snacking selection of load cell stories that have tickled our fancy in November.


Building boats – a pandemic panacea?

Afloat magazine clearly loves its boats, and none more so than hand-built wooden boats. Whilst others may bake off the blues, author William Nixon finds that

“There is nowhere more soothing than a well-organised but not unduly fussy timber workshop where each day’s harmonious effort shows a tangible result.”

However, these are not just ordinary wooden boats, these are racing boats designed to complete in Irish racing. To compete in classic cruiser classes, each boat need to be within a specific weigh range.

“Many years ago when all the local cruisers had to be weighed to comply with Channel Handicap Measurement requirements, the Howth 17s got hold of the load cell for a day or two to weigh their own boats at launching time. They found that despite the mostly very old boats being only 22ft 6ns LOA (they go back to 1898), there was a half-ton range in their measured weights. Yet, to everyone’s surprise, it was the class’s most renowned light airs flyer which was the heaviest boat of all.”

Another example of load cells yielding results that surprise and (occasionally) delight researchers!


Room temperature 3D printing with bottlebrush elastomers

During lockdown, sales of 3D printers boomed as home hobbyists printed everything from PPE face mask bands to archery training aids! In a paper published in Science Advances, a team worked on a process to enable:

“Three-dimensional (3D) printing of super-soft and solvent-free bottlebrush elastomers at room temperature.” The reason this is an exciting development is that “Super-soft elastomers derived from bottlebrush polymers show promise as advanced materials for biomimetic tissue and device applications (including)… patient-specific implants.”

Load cells were used to test the resulting printed samples as follows:

“Uniaxial tensile testing was performed on 1.0-mm-thick dog bone–shaped specimens (gauge width = 1.5 mm, gauge length = 10 mm) using a custom-built setup with a vertical TwinRail positioning table and a 4.45 N load cell (Miniature S-Beam).”

3D printing is definitely a technology that has so much potential, and so long as load cells are involved, we’ll be keeping an eye on the latest developments.


The ultimate racing care SIM?

If your racing SIM set up is a couple of pedals, a steering wheel an an armchair, prepare to drool. US Supercar Rick Kelly of Kelly Racing is selling a Ford Mustang SIM, as used in the online All Stars Eseries.

Kelly started our his bid to win the competition with

“An entry-level Logitech set-up teamed with a camp chair and a telly to take on his rivals.“

By the end, he had a full size printed car silhouette box and a driving set-up that included three screens and

A load-cell brake pedal for a more realistic feel, as well as a direct drive steering wheel box fitted with a proper Supercars wheel and buttons, sequential shifter and a custom-made frame.”

You can even wheel the whole thing around as it’s on castors! However, you’ll also need room for three 55” screens, and power for the high end gaming PC, audio system and neon underbody lighting.

The price? A mere $24,600 – plus shipping from the US of course….


Craning in Christmas trees

We were fascinated to read that a major oil and gas company were using load cells to help crane seven 85t Christmas trees into place. In August. In Africa! Luckily the article went on to explain that

“A Christmas tree is the set of valves, spools and fittings used to regulate the flow of pipes.”

With our own UK Christmas 2020 confirmed as a 5-day break from social distancing coronavirus restrictions, we’ll probably appreciate seeing real Christmas trees in our city centres and public spaces all the more this year. Most Christmas trees of a significant size will be craned into place, as they can weigh in excess of 6 tonnes.

Every year, the people of Norway gift a Christmas tree to the people of Britain as a thank you for supporting them in the Second World War. The tree, normally a 50 to 60 year old Norway spruce, is cut in Norway, shipped across the North Sea, and set up in Trafalgar Square.

This year’s tree arrived at the Port of Immingham on Sat 21 November and is approximately 23 metres tall. It will be craned into pale ready for a virtual lighting up ceremony on Thursday 3 December. Click for pics of the tree on its lorry, ready to rumble down to London.

And to get you in the festive mood, here’s a video from 2018 showing the Trafalgar Square tree arriving, craned into place and the lights switched on. Lovely!



At last, it’s beginning to look a little like Christmas…