N. G. Spagthorpe:
The nuclear-powered Airedale is perhaps one of the most unusual models in the Spagthorpe stable. Its power/headlamp design was particularly notable.
I understood the Airedale used the bremsstrahlung radiation piped through fiber optics augment the headlight illumination. As I recall, the major difficulty experienced was that, of course, the wavelength of the bremsstrahlung radiation resulted in blue light. Consequently, other motorists got a bad case of cruiseritis and drove 2 MPH under the speed limit, resulting in hopelessly blocked roads. The resultant effects of this are still seen today around the central London area!
While the jury’s still out on the effects the accelerator’s magnetic field had on the rider, the Bremsstrahlung radiation is rather directionally dependent, and depending upon the efficiency of the “gamma hose” that Lord Julian employed and the location of the bremsstrahlung target material, this radiation would have caused the rider relatively little concern. It was the primary reactor that caused the problems with the Airedale’s development. Of course, my interpretation of the treatise on the Airedale was that Lord Julian utilized the fiber optics originally to pick off Cherenkov radiation from the core to pipe forward for headlight illumination. Of course, nobody at the time knew that neutron radiation would cause darkening of the optics, causing the headlight to become dim and useless after but a few month’s usage. [aside: A young engineer named Lucas worked awhile on this project, and he thought this was precisely the way the system should have worked, but with standard electrical circuitry. He was subsequently sacked by Lord Julian himself shortly thereafter.]
The trade-off mentioned in the treatise, along with limited lead shielding, was that Lord Julian wanted to add a separate small electron accelerator to produce the bremsstrahlung radiation for the headlamp, but due to weight concerns and cost overruns, the idea was shelved indefinitely.
The Airedale design had at least one further advantage.Of course the Spagthorpe Airedale (the nuclear powered job) was never chased by any member of the K-9 set. Turns out that when the bike came down the road most dogs began howling, drooling, foaming, and running around in circles yapping. The bike is still outlawed in most nuclear free countries…
But apparently the disadvantages outweighed the benefits of the novel power and illumination source. Unfortunately the test rider died from radiation burns because the Indian seat lacked lead shielding. Lord Julian believed that riders of the Airedale would understand their own exposure to risk, along with exposure to radiation, and would wear lead lined shorts if they deemed them necessary. I understand that a pair of one-size-fits-all lead lined shorts covers - with velcro attachments - were included in the factory supplied toolkit with the Airdale. For the US import model, the federal Department of Transportation was to require a copy of 10 CFR 20, Standards for Protection Against Radiation, to be included with the owner’s manual of all Airedales. Bloody killjoys!
Despite the favourable publicity surrounding the Airedale's first place win in the Sellafield Trophy of 1952, and despite the distinction of being the only motorcycle ever protested by Greenpeace, this model never really caught on, either at home or overseas. Postwar regulations restricting the importation of radioactive material into Japan (the Godzilla Protocols) effectively eliminated imports into that country, and in the United States a rare collaboration between the Environmental Protection Agency and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission restricted the number of machines available to prospective purchasers. Because of the Japanese import restrictions, the Airedale is the only Spagthorpe motorcycle whose design was never copied and improved upon by a Japanese manufacturer.
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