Sunday, June 10, 2012

Design and Inspiration

Well time for another update.  I'm slowly finishing up material plans and design details, and will start assembling beams as soon as mid-week.  The pallet rack uprights are perfect building materials -- cheaper than scrap steel, and already in the right shapes.  But without the cross-beams, they're flimsy and I want to make sure the truck stays freeway capable to be able to get more materials and to help out the CORE project (pictures at left).  But that's not to say that I've been idle.

I've been working on some of the detailing and puzzling design problems.  Since I decided to make the narrow version, basically I'm going to be bolting plywood directly to the 8" flange that round around the flat bed.  You can see it in the picture at top... it's got the red and white reflective tape on it.  But since the ramps aren't going to be built, and I don't want people jumping into the vehicle while it's moving, I had to design up a door.  I'm thinking it will be a wooden panel that's hinged at the bottom as in this sketch:
You would be surprised at how difficult it is to find appropriate hardware such as handles and hinges online.  I really need to locate a local industrial supply company that sells heavy duty stuff like that. This fold down version is the one I'll probably go with. But that decision only came after trying a couple other ideas out.  I was thinking some 1/5 scale lifeboats disguising simple steps would also work.  From a distance, you'd see the lifeboat, but up close you'd step on them.  I rejected this idea because 1) it seemed like a lot of work to fabricate and 2) there'd be no way to keep people off the steps/ little boats while the vehicle's moving.  So a hatch up high and opened and closed deliberately will keep all the people out that run up to it and want to jump on while it's moving.

The next question I decided to explore through drawings was the paint scheme.  Originally I was just thinking all rust colored for the hull, and white for the superstructure.  But I was inspired by that Japanese trawler that floated across the Pacific after last year's Tsunami and showed up as a ghost ship in Alaska.  This is one option for some faux rust along all the portholes.  That trawler had a completely black bottom from seaweed and rust.
 Actually I have been thinking about this sunken ship art car idea for well over 4 years or more, if I can come clean with you.  And it started earlier than that really.  I'll start explaining with an oblique reference to my childhood: Star Blazers.  This was a Japanese sci-fi cartoon where the Earth has been attacked by aliens and all the oceans dried up by the bombs and radiation, and the humans left have to live underground.  So the Earth Defence Force rebuilds a sunken battleship into a spaceship, and in a great scene it comes to life from the flat expanse, breaking free of the dried up ocean floor.  It was these images from childhood which inspired me.

This cartoon was remade into a Japan-only live action movie recently, much to my delight.  It's called Yamato, which incidentally was the flagship of the Japanese Imperial Navy.  But I digress.

The idea of a sunken ship appealed to me, and I actually thought about building a giant sunken battleship on the Playa for Burning Man.  This leads me to the Murmansk, a Russian ship parked a little too close to shore.  Note that it's all rust colored.  This will probably be the paint scheme that I want the truck to look like.  You can tell that this ship has been there a long time.  A little battleship gray remains, but it's mostly red rust.  I'm thinking to make mine the same.  A lot of red rust over the top of some white.

Well this was probably back in 2008 when I was fixated on a sunken warship.  I started thinking about other sunken ship ideas in 2010.  Thus the Great Lakes Ore Freighter idea.  Once the project is done, maybe I'll show the evolution of those ideas. Originally I thought the front would be showing, not the rear.  But sunken nonetheless.  Who doesn't like shipwrecks?  This was another inspiration for that idea.
This was the HMS Love from Burning Man 1999.  I love it, and never saw it.  I didn't even go to Burning Man until 2006.  But that's a pretty clever concept.  Last but not least, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Dock.  Last year it was very cool, and ship art cars all drove up next to it.  This year, there will be a sunken Spanish Galleon at the end, that will look like it crashed into the thing and sunk.  Just the rear end!  They stole my idea.  Grrr.  And it will definitely one-up my car, because they have 50 people all from like Disney and Hollywood working on detailing it up.  But it won't drive around, will it!  Anyway, it's all good.  There are no original ideas, right?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Blank Canvas Finally Ready

It's on!  Construction has begun. So here's the first load of metal, thanks to Mike's resourcefulness:
Pallet racks: the perfect mutant ship building material
The long racks are going into the warehouse space, but the shorter ones are 7 feet long and will make up the upper deck area of the ship.  So instead of doing the cab-over framework, the deck will be constructed first, probably next Saturday once some additional materials are purchased since we have only the uprights.  And the next great find: smokestack material!  Magically some large 55 gallon barrel type containers made out of cardboard showed up next to the dumpster.  Painted red with a big white stripe (maybe) and placed on the upper deck, one more detail is figured out.  The advantage of these is that they're super light and that'll help to keep the weight down.  I may have to rig up some kind of framework inside, they're so light.  The next order of business today was to measure the rig.

Ghost view from the side, steeper descent angle.
I'm really starting to enjoy this process, whereas earlier in the year it terrified me.

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."  – Eleanor Roosevelt

The biggest question I had was if I'd find the time to build it, not if I could do it.  Now I know for sure -- it will be buildable in time for Burning Man.  I spent last weekend at Lightning in a Bottle festival and no longer feel any need to do other camping trips or festivals until August. 5 days of camping and partying will do that. Elesium was canceled. After I got back from LiB, I sold my Electric Daisy Carnival ticket on stubhub and actually made a little money on it.  And now I have every summer weekend free to build stuff!  If I just pick away at little projects, before I know it the whole thing will be finished.  Summer in California is going to be great.

I finally got all the California registration bs finished and got my license plate and stickers.  In case you never knew, the little two digit number stickers on the side of commercial vehicles indicate how much weight the truck and trailer can weigh.  I got "15", which means 15,000 pounds, and actually could have paid an additional $140 to get a "20". I don't figure I'll be pulling a fully loaded 12,000 lb truck with a 6,000 pound trailer, which is the maximum the truck is rated to pull.  If someone needs the truck to pull a heavy trailer like that, by all means they can pay the extra to get the updated registration (or pay the fine).  Thanks to the DMV, I had to learn about weigh stations and pulled into an official California Weighmaster with the truck empty.  It weighs 5,960 lb completely empty, so that means I can load it up with 2.5 tons of stuff.  Anyway, I got my stickers!

So what's next?  More collaboration!  If you love your work, it is supposed to be fun.  I am still trying to figure out how to make that happen at my place of employment, but with this project, it's not work.  I am meeting people that want to contribute in their own way, and want to extend an open invitation to others to help in whatever way they feel like.  This is the vision I had for the project all along.  Everyone wins when everyone does what they feel like doing.  It all comes together so effortlessly.  I'm sure at some point I'll have to do something I don't want to do (like the DMV nonsense), but with an eye on the process and the eventual goal, it'll all get done.  So if you want to build some part of this, or have an idea you want to see become real, talk to me!  I know what I can do; you know what you want to do.  Let's find the happy medium where everything meshes.