Firstly, the book review. It is short, because I did not enjoy it. Not that it is badly written, or poorly researched. But it is really shocking.
EMPERORS OF ROME. THE MONSTERS. by PAUL CHRYSTAL
From Tiberius to Theodora. AD 145-548
This book is one of the series published by Pen & Sword on the architects of terror. Other volumes include Al-Qaeda, The Armenian Genocide, Bloody Mary, Einsatzgruppen, to give you an idea of the scope of the series.
Now that I have finished with the book, I am examining my own motives in choosing it. I have read many books about ancient Rome, and find the era fascinating; the personalities, the reasons for the rise and fall of the empire, why the military was so spectacularly successful etc etc.
But to be truthful, I did not actually finish the book. I had a similar reaction when I read about the Nazis and the concentration camps. Just too horrible to contemplate. And I closed it after reading about half. And will not reopen it.
Paul Chrystal is a well-respected author who has written many books about ancient Rome. He states an aim to use primary sources, and to balance the horror with the mitigating aspects of the monsters. The book is 127 pages long, and it covers 10 emperors, so there is not a lot of space to give a balanced view. Mostly, despite its aims, the book is about rape, murder, treachery, nasty and insane men and women with absolute power doing whatever they felt like doing.
And to be realistic, even the “good” emperors started wars, executed rivals, instigated massacres and mass maimings. That was the way things happened in ancient Rome. And twentieth century Germany, China, Cambodia etc etc.
So, if you enjoy seemingly endless descriptions of sadistic torture, rape and mass murders, with many illustrations, this book might be for you.
Not for this this reviewer though.
Now, back to getting enough heat into the 1:8 Trevithick Dredger Engine.
I have made a grate to place into the firebox, and which will replace the gas burner, which has proved to be inadequate, despite many, many experiments with improving it. So here is the grate.
The holes in the grate are tapered, with the smallest part of the holes uppermost. The fold at the back is to prevent coal being pushed off. The taper is to prevent clogging the holes with clinker, and possibly to improve the velocity of air flow through the fire.
And how did I drill so many small holes so neatly?
CNC of course. Took about 45 minutes.
But after that I had a conversation with Stuart Tankard. He reckons that I will do no better with coal than I have with propane to date. Hmmm. Might give it a go anyway.
Stuart’s suggestion is to try one of these….
It is 50mm diameter, has a large jet (0.81mm diameter) and has a fearsome flame. Looks more like a silver soldering torch. If I use it I might get a flame coming out of the chimney. Hope that it does not melt the silver solder.