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How could hydraulic power packs help Santa? ben lee

Like it or not, Christmas is on the way and approaching with some speed.  For most of us this means shopping, wrapping and planning, together with cooking, visiting, hosting and decorating our homes.  For one man in the Arctic Circle, however, the festive season holds even more hard work in store.  Santa has the most responsibility at Christmas.  Although he may not be cooking a turkey or hosting extended family for days on end (and that can be stressful enough), he has to deliver presents all around the world in just one evening.  Physicists have demonstrated how it is possible for him to achieve this mammoth world tour in just a few hours, but we think Santa should consider taking advantage of hydraulics to make his big night a little easier.

 

His sleigh has manual steering, which is undoubtedly the best way of controlling an animal powered vehicle as the pack relies on signals from the driver, transmitted through the reins, to know which way to turn.  This steering method can be tiring for long periods of time, so Santa could ease the strain on his arms and hands by installing a hydraulic steering system. This would only require a small amount of human input to determine which way the pack is told to go.  At the press of a button Santa could send a small amount of pressure to the reins on either side of each animal, directing all the reindeer one way or another, with no manual tugging on the reins.  Micro power packs could be used at each animal junction, which would make for easier maintenance and repair than using a single hydraulic power source and a long network of cables.

 

Santa is driving all night, constantly stopping and starting, so a hydraulically operated braking system is also advisable.  Such a system would be integrated into the steering system to tell the reindeer to stop, but also operate on the chassis of the sleigh.  Without brakes on the sleigh it could slide into the standing reindeer and send them flying off the roof, which is perhaps what happened to inspire some of the lines from The Night Before Christmas.



Landing on roofs of different materials and inclines could pose a problem for hard, set suspension systems.  While an eco-house with a gently sloping turf roof may be ideal for reindeer based landing, a steeply sloped roof of the type found in areas which experience heavy snowfall (which are so inclined to allow snow to fall off the roof and not pile up) would be a different experience altogether.  Santa could use a mini hydraulic power pack to operate a hydraulic suspension system much like those used in racing cars.  Between stops he can check the route list and alter the suspension to be suitable for the next roof surface while still in flight.  With stiff suspension for thatched and turfed roofs and soft suspension for harder and steeper ones, he can reduce the wear and tear on the sleigh and perhaps save himself some maintenance time during the rest of the year.

 

Once at his destination Santa has to haul the presents out of the back of his sleigh.  Assuming he is still using the traditional design with high sides, unloading his cargo could be very hard on his back.  Santa would benefit from a tailgate operated via a mini hydraulic power pack with two rams which raise and lower the rear of the vehicle allowing for much easier access to his cargo.

 

We'll be keeping an eye out this year to see whether Santa has moved with the times and has employed some clever hydraulics or not.  If there is room for improvement, we'd be delighted to help him and earn a lifelong place on the “nice” list.




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