Fire Engine

These fire engines are all ‘Russian’ around.

  • A fire engine is an automobile dispatched and used by an emergency department, in particular the fire brigade, primarily to put out fires.
  • ‘Fire engines’ are also known as ‘fire trucks’, ‘fire wagons’, ‘fire apparatuses’ and ‘fire appliances’.
  • Fire engines are typically used to transfer fire fighters and their equipment – ladders, hoses, first-aid supplies, rescue equipment and breathing tanks among other things – from the station to the emergency site.
  • Flashing lights and loud sirens are generally found on a fire engine, and these help to make its presence known, so that other vehicles move out of its way during an emergency.
  • Long extendable ladders are generally found on fire engines, to provide a fire fighter with extra height, and they often have hoses attached.
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Image courtesy of Dave Conner/Flickr
  • Most fire engines are trucks designed for urban use, however some apparatuses are designed specifically for marine, rural and airport purposes.
  • Fire engines generally carry from around 1000 to 3785 litres (264 to 1000 gallons) of water, although some hold less, while others hold more; however the majority of water that urban trucks use is sourced from a hydrant.
  • A fire engine can be expensive to produce, with commercial pricing ranging from $350,000 to $1.5 million or more, depending on the purposes and features.
  • Greek inventor Ctesibius is said to have invented one of the earliest forms of a fire engine in the third century BC, though buckets of water were commonly used to fight fires in the middle ages; and from the 1600s, fire trucks of various kinds were invented, and by the 1800s, a pressure steam pump had been invented and was drawn by horses for fire use.
  • Fire engines are commonly coloured red, and this is generally attributed to the colour’s bright nature, which makes the truck stand out among other vehicles.
Bett D, Fire Engine, 1996,,
Fire Engine, 2016, Wikipedia,
Fire Truck History, n.d, Auto Evolution,
Revermann S, Fun Facts for Kids about Fire Trucks, 2016, Modern Mom,
Why Are Fire Trucks Red?, 2016, Wonderopolis,
Young C, Fires, Fire Engines, and Fire Brigades, 1866, Google Books,


Railroad Track

Railroad tracks are quite directional and controlling, if you think about it.

  • Railroad tracks are constructions that direct and provide a platform for trains to move along.
  • ‘Railroad tracks’ are also known as ‘railway tracks’, ‘train tracks’, ‘permanent ways’, and simply ‘tracks’.
  • The width of railroad tracks can vary greatly, from 0.38 to 2.14 metres (1.25 to 7 feet), with the standard gauge measuring 1.435 metres (4.7 feet).
  • Four main parts make up a railroad track – a pair of rails, which hold the train’s wheels; sleepers, which support and hold the rails in place; fasteners, that secure the sleepers and rails together; and the ballast that the sleepers sit on, which allows water to drain away and reduces the growth of vegetation around the track.
  • Early railroad tracks were known as ‘wagonways’ and were grooves cut into the ground or rock, to guide the movement of wheeled vehicles, and these are believed to have existed as early as 600 BC, and later they were commonly used in mines, from the first century BC.

Railroad Track, Invention, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Train, Line, Transport, Station

  • Railroad tracks are typically made of wooden or concrete sleepers and steel rails, that are placed on a ‘ballast’, a track bed of crushed stone, or a concrete platform known as a ‘ballastless’.
  • Improvements on wagonways in mines were made with the use of timber, until iron railroad tracks were first crafted in the early to mid 1700s, while more practical steel rails emerged in 1857, which boasted increased durability.
  • The rails of railroad tracks were originally too fragile to support the heavy weight of a steam locomotive, although an innovation of long wrought iron rails, created by English railway engineer, John Birkinshaw, in 1820 led to viable, durable tracks.
  • The fasteners of railroad tracks have historically included the combination of baseplates and spikes, bolts or screws, while springs or clips attached to baseplates are becoming increasingly common in modern times.
  • Railroad tracks are to be maintained on a routine basis to avoid train derailments, which includes the spraying of tracks to ensure no plants grow there.
Lewis M, Railways in the Greek and Roman World, n.d, Science News,
Permanent Way (History), 2015, Wikipedia,
Track (Railway Transport), 2015, Wikipedia,



Airports are the terminals of activity that enable travel to far-off places.

  • Airports are a construction that provides assistance in the flying, taking off and landing of aircraft, as well as the storage, service, repair and maintenance of aircraft.
  • Airports usually consist of a type of runway for aircraft to land on, and often have hangars, terminals and control towers for further functionality.
  • When an airport has large amounts of traffic they will generally have at least one control tower, which is used to monitor aircraft arrivals and departures, dangers due to weather conditions and other factors, and to ensure there are no aircraft collisions.
  • It is generally considered that the world’s oldest airport still in use is the College Park Airport of the United State’s Maryland built in 1909, while one of the earliest commercial facilities still in use is Sydney Airport in Australia which officially opened in early 1920.
  • Airport runways vary depending on the facility size, with smaller ones generally having grass, gravel or dirt based runways of under 1 kilometre (0.6 miles) in length, while larger runways are made of concrete or asphalt and reach lengths of 2 to 5 kilometres (1.2 to 3.1 miles).

Airport, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Invention, Place, Port, Aircraft, Aeroplane, Qantas, Australia

  • Despite the majority of airports being of smaller size, most are owned by a government organisation, rather than by business corporations or an individual.
  • The first airports were, on the most part, reserved for military use until after World War I; many of which were later used for commercial purposes.
  • Each airport has its own letter code, known as an International Air Transport Association (IATA) code, and generally also an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) code, and the facilities usually have an official name, and sometimes a common name, which may be more well known than its formal title.
  • In 2013, there were 41,821 airports in the world, and almost a third of those were located in the United States, while Brazil had the second biggest number of facilities with almost ten percent of the world’s total.
  • Airports are generally split into two sections, landside – which is open to the public and includes roads and transport options, and airside – which has restricted access and includes airplanes, runways, hangars and so on.
Airport, 2015, Wikipedia,
Field Listing: Airport, n.d, The World Factbook, Central Intelligence Agency,
The History of Airports, 2015, AvJobs,



If it doesn’t run on diesel, it’ll probably run on gasoline.

  • Gasoline is a liquid fuel used to power engines that produce power through the process of combustion, and it is commonly used in vehicles like automobiles, as well as lawn mowers.
  • ‘Gasoline’ is also known as ‘petrol’ or ‘petroleum’, and also by the general term ‘fuel’, and the product is a combination of hydrogen and carbon, a ‘hydrocarbon’.
  • Although gasoline is generally produced clear in colour, it is sometimes dyed yellow, purple, orange or red to visually distinguish between fuel types and grades.
  • Gasoline is sourced from crude oil, or ‘petroleum’ as it is also known, and the oil undergoes a distilling process which produces kerosene among other products, and the petrol produced is a by-product of this process.
  • The raw gasoline distilled from oil is generally unsuitable for use in engines as it causes engine knocking, and so to remedy this, chemical additives are included in the mixture, and these were originally lead based chemicals until leaded-fuels where banned in most countries from the 1970s onwards.

Petrol, Gasoline, Petroleum, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Red, Liquid, Fuel, Cup, Code, Invention

  • Significant amounts of carbon dioxide are released on combustion of gasoline, and this, as well as the toxic nature of petrol leaks, and the non-renewable source of the fuel, has led it to be marked as not environmentally friendly.
  • Gasoline contains around 15 different chemicals that are poisonous to humans on consumption, and the fuel gives off a strong vapour which is toxic to humans if inhaled, although some people deliberately sniff the substance and as a result, petrol called ‘Opal’, that has a much reduced odour, has been introduced to some areas where sniffing is a serious problem.
  • In 1859, the American oil driller Edwin Drake, is said to have distilled the first gasoline, although he disposed of it under the assumption it would be of no use; and it was not until the 1890s that it was first used in automobiles.
  • After a year or so, gasoline is generally rendered too unstable and thus unusable for most engines, and is best disposed ofor used with the addition of fresh fuel, although a stabiliser can be added to fuel to extend its shelf life.
  • Gasoline is widely available at service stations, and in 2015 it cost between 50 cents and $7 US dollars for 3.8 litres (1 gallon) depending on the country, and the fuel is notoriously more expensive in Europe.
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Gasoline, 2015, Wikipedia,
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Hand Truck

Hand trucks may not be as big as trucks, but they are certainly easier to move.

  • Hand trucks are inventions used to allow a single person to lift multiple large objects at once, or items of heavy weight, with a reduced possibility of injury.
  • ‘Hand trucks’ are also known as ‘stack trucks’, ‘sack trucks’, ‘two-wheelers’, ‘box carts’, ‘dollies’, ‘trundlers’, ‘bag barrows’, ‘trolleys’ and ‘sack barrows’.
  • The materials hand trucks are made from vary widely, though they commonly include some form of heavy duty metal, often tubular in shape, and they can include materials like aluminium, steel or plastic.
  • To lift heavy objects, hand trucks uses the principle of levers – and in this case a ‘Class 1’ lever, with the wheels acting as the fulcrum in the middle.
  • Objects that are lifted at the most efficiency are generally a maximum height of three times the length of the hand truck’s plate.

Hand Truck, Red, Single, Wheels, Invention, Tool, Ten Random Facts

  • Hand trucks are made up of a plate which is attached perpendicular to a framework that includes a long handle, while the wheels generally sit at the base behind the framework.
  • Although hand trucks are generally much taller than their depth and width, some trucks can be flipped so the depth is larger than the height, which usually contributes to better stability in transporting some objects.
  • While it is not certain who invented the hand truck, patents exist from the mid to late 1800s for the invention, and it has been suggested that its origins possibly date back as far as ancient times when the concept of levers was already known.
  • Hand trucks transport loads using wheels, which vary greatly in size and the tool may be equipped with stair climbers.
  • Hand trucks are popularly used in transport stations, to move customer’s belongings; in retail, to move stock; and households, especially during house moving.


Hand Truck, 2015, Wikipedia,
What is a Hand Truck?, 2015 WiseGEEK,


Channel Tunnel

Channel Tunnel is more than a World Wonder – it’s a beneficial construction.

  • Channel Tunnel is an underground and underwater European tunnel connecting Kent’s Folkestone, in England, to the town of Coquelles in Pas-de-Calais, France.
  • The ‘Channel Tunnel’ is also known as ‘Chunnel Tunnel’; in French, ‘Le tunnel sous la Manche’; and ‘Eurotunnel’, although this term generally refers to the company that manages the tunnel, or the shuttle service that travels through it.
  • The Channel Tunnel spans 50.5 kilometres (31.4 miles) in length, and reaches depths of 75 metres (246 feet) below sea level, and it sits underneath the English Channel.
  • The Channel Tunnel is a combination of three tunnels – two railway tunnels and a service tunnel, and passenger trains of high speeds, and freight trains that commonly carry vehicles with their passengers and pets, are able to travel in the tunnel, while the service tunnel is used by vehicles for maintenance, evacuations and other tasks.
  • The idea of constructing a Channel tunnel was evident in 1802, and was first expressed by the Frenchman Albert Mathieu-Favier, an engineer, and while various plans and ideas were put forward during the 19th century, it was not until 1880 that preliminary boring work began, although it was quickly abandoned due to perceived national security hazards.
Channel Tunnel. Service Tunnel, Chunnel Tunnel, Eurotunnel. Cycler, First, Ten Random Facts, England, France, Record
Inside the Service Tunnel of Channel Tunnel
Image courtesy of Jaguar MENA/Flickr
  • It was not until more than a century later, after various ideas were put forward, that construction of the Channel Tunnel began, after Britain and France agreed on a treaty, known as the Treaty of Canterbury, that allowed the beginning of the construction of the tunnel in late 1987; and the project was finished in 1994.
  • In the 20th century, the Channel Tunnel had the greatest length of tunnel, 37.9 kilometres (23.5 miles), underwater in the world, however the Japanese Seikan Tunnel was slightly longer in total length, and much deeper.
  • Channel Tunnel was officially opened in 1994, on the 6th May, by Queen Elizabeth II and France’s President François Mitterrand after a cost of then 4.65 billion pounds (worth 12 billion pounds in 2015).
  • A number of train failures have occurred in Channel Tunnel, and fires requiring temporary tunnel closures have also occurred over the years, while the 1996 and the 2008 fires caused extensive damage and partially closed the tunnel for approximately 6 months each.
  • In the late 1990s and the early 2000s, Channel Tunnel was commonly used illegally by those seeking asylum in Britain; and to help rectify the problem, a now closed refugee centre was made available, and later a £5 million fence and other security measures were put in place.
Channel Tunnel, 2015, Wikipedia,
The Channel Tunnel Infrastructure, 2015, Groupe Eurotunnel,


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