May 07, 2010
The Build Commences...
Finally! I always pay attention to the very first cut in the shop that signifies the actual fabrication starting point of a project, and this cut happened on April 29th 2010. Living out in beautiful Taos New Mexico has a variety of challenges, including the extreme difficulty of getting specific materials delivered here. Steel comes once a week from Albuquerque, if you forgot or missed something, or worse they forgot or missed something, you are running at idle for another week. The round trip drive to Albuquerque is six hours, making the idea of running down there and getting it yourself a small road trip(without the perks) and with gas prices as high they are and a large truck to haul the stuff back on to boot, a non option.
So after weeks of waiting for checks to clear, for materials to be delivered, for a few volunteers, the project is slowly creeping along. This would not be such a big deal if the reality of my situation was not as it is- which is that I am also currently fabricating a baby(!) which takes a bit of energy and ultimately is much more exciting than any steel sculpture I am building in the shop! Due to that, I am currently in the so called honeymoon phase of pregnancy, the middle phase, aka the second trimester. Energy is good, health is great, mobility is compromised but OK. Looking for a pair of shop pants that actually fit is not easy- welding maternity, anyone? Come July I will be in my third trimester, and I am guessing based on how much room this new addition is taking in my body all ready, that I will not be too excited to be working in the shop at that point.
So, now that I have set the scene- I will start the documentation of the build, epic on some levels, straight forward on others. First- building the Cage. It's a fairly large structure- a 16 sided 17 FT tall and 18FT across elliptical Cage. I guess the angles from the Heron Project did not satisfy my masochistic desire to build something so geometrically elaborate, so I am now working with ROUND stock and complex angles! It will break down into quadrants, and hopefully squeeze onto trailer for transport. My dedicated shop hand and 2nd Project Lead, Gregory, is in full swing helping me roll the ellipses out to form the main structure. And Yes, the roller we are using is from the 1940's. Johnny helped out with rolling and drilling the collars that are going to hold the cage together. Then there is the infill, between each rib with forged filigree and expanded metal. Some ribs will contain propane fittings, as the gas will run within the rib. The five arms that hold the jets will be rolled and built, with two-port commutators, and bolted on.
In the meantime, Eric Beck, pulse Jet maestro is fabricating five pulse jets of varying sizes, and will be coming out here in June for the mounting and final acoustic testing of the jets inside the cage. After the cage is done there is the interfacing station- the control station that has to be built and wired to work with the jets. Not a piece of cake.
But, let's take one thing at a time... so first shots of cage fabrication! Note that that is not a beer belly but a baby belly I am sporting, in case you skimmed over the first part!