Ship Engine Camshaft, Belfast Shipyard, 1978

I didn’t know too much about camshafts until the heavyset bloke I sold my car to arrived at the door a month later waving a badly worn example below my nose. “Did you know about this?” he asked, glaring through his eyebrows. Thankfully I didn’t. He pointed to a cam that was almost totally worn away. “Running on three cylinders.” Not ideal in a fairly lively Opel Ascona.

It says on the internet that an engine camshaft has lobes (cams) along its length. As the shaft rotates the cams open valves to let the air/fuel mixture into the engine and the exhaust out. You can imagine the size of the engine that eventually housed this camshaft, photographed back in 1978.

My father had some clout back then and together one Sunday morning we toured around the yard for a few hours. Everything was on the mega-scale, with an incredible array of machinery and tools on display – none of which was being used at the time. After all, this was a Sunday in the 1970s, and a troubled Northern Ireland too.

Unfortunately, when viewed in detail we can clearly see (below) the “Kodak Safety Film” negative is badly damaged. This was probably caused by attic storage which is warm in summer and cold and damp through the winter months. It was poorly stored for decades and now can’t be fully restored. But in context it’s acceptable at this resolution and possibly as a mid-range print at typical viewing distances.

I shot this with my first camera, the robust Minolta SR-T 101 (see below). I had two lenses with me that day, and judging by all the frames I must have used the MC Rokkor 28mm most of the time.

100% detail showing damage to this 40-year-old negative. Tap or click to view at full resolution.
Large clumps of heavy chains were used to control the speed of launches.
Sign of the times. A political statement in the workplace.

The Minolta SR-T 101.

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