Sunday, July 22, 2012

Deck. Done!

Alright!  So the deck is up and completely mounted.  It will withstand at least the 70 mph wind.  That thing isn't going anywhere.  Special thanks to Ed for cutting some joists, making two runs to Home Depot, and chopping up the metal joist hangars into a useful shape.  Without the help, I probably wouldn't have finished the deck today.

Anyway, it's done.  And I sent out the following official invite to the OC Burning Man community for Saturday the 4th!  Now I have a deadline.

Hi all,
I wanted to give heads-up that in two weeks I'm inviting you to help in raising
the plywood shell around a new Mutant Vehicle. It will be on Saturday, August
4th, from noon-ish till dark or so, at the 2013 SLACerspace in Santa Ana.

The work that day will include plywood cutting, hanging, drilling, bolting, and
painting. I'll send a reminder out later, but wanted to give people a chance to
save the date! The structure is nearly complete and soon the cosmetic part of
the build can begin.

Pictures of the concept and current status are here:

As for what is it:
The vehicle will be a sinking ship, the back half of a freighter specifically
with the front 800 feet under the surface. By day it will look like a rusty
sunken relic on the bottom of a dried out ocean or lake. When in the Black Rock
Desert, I hope it makes people ponder nuclear war, global warming, water
shortages, post-apocalyptic life, the temporary existence of humans, and
experience echoes of the Exxon Valdez, Costa Concordia, Titanic, or Edmund

By night, the M/V Nain Rouge will be lit up to appear in the process of sinking,
and is no longer the wreck at the bottom. When faced with absolute calamity,
what will her crew do? Abandon ship? Get out the violin and play along with the
string quartet? Dance their worries away?

That's the plan!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Floor, Welding

Ok, so this is the truck so far... can anyone see the sinking ship in it except me?  I've realized my spatial ability might be different than others.  A good woodcarver brings the sculpture out of the wood, by working with the grain and removing material until all that's left is the desired shape.  Most people just see a block of wood.  In the same way, this blank slate of a truck is being turned into a sinking ship.  Just very slowly.  And nobody quite gets it yet, it seems.  Well you will soon enough.  Today I threw some flooring up and attempted to weld some joist beams hangars to the rack.  Unfortunately, they didn't tack weld very well so I'll have to end up drilling and bolting them down.
My welding of these joist hangars was particularly shitty... clearly I need more practice.  But it sure looks cool with all the sparks!  I didn't even notice noxious fumes coming from the galvanized steel.  Actually the hangars welded just fine but the thick C-channel beams didn't melt at all.  Like I said, tomorrow I drill and bolt.  I do not trust these tack welds to 65mph freeway speed and two 4 x 8 sheets of plywood, 3/4" thick.  I don't want to see the floor taking off like a wing and flying onto the car behind me.  Some U-channel bolts are also needed.  Here are a bunch more pictures:

Till next time!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Steel Beam Bumper is less Redneck than 2x4 Wood Bumper

Plans?  Who needs 'em!  Well it turns out I do.  The beams went together into a fine 9 foot x 9 foot L-shaped structure, but they were too long to attach properly to the top of the rack.   So I had to do some additional measurements and it's back to the drawing board, literally.  Apparently simulating a 9x 9 "L" shape out of 8'x8' wood that was lying around was not an accurate mockup.

On the bright side, the end caps welded nicely to the new bumper. I welded the crap out of them so they're not going anywhere.  On the not so bright side, I realized during welding that they're stainless steel.  And stainless steel not only sucks to weld, but it really sucks to drill.  I about wrecked all my large drill bits to get two 9/16" holes cut.  Anyway, at least the welding went well!  That beam is probably stronger than the bolts used to hold the bumper on.  I used the same weldnut threads as normally holds on the plastic bumper.  I may put another couple of bolts in there since I think the loads will be pretty high (at least 4-500 pounds or more, depending on if people decide to climb over the cab).
And last but not least, the 12" subwoofers I ordered last month have arrived.  I am temporarily trying them out in my car.  They work pretty well with the amp I have and seem to handle the amp just fine.  They're rated for the full output of the amp, which is 600W RMS at 2 Ohms.  It makes my headlights dim... hopefully the diesel truck with two very large 12V batteries in parallel won't be as affected.  These both will be moved to the truck at some point.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The 5 Steps of Project Management

So as I sit back outside myself and observe my making of this art car, I can clearly see the stages of project management are moving along nicely.  I'm currently on step 2.  This hit true when Mike called me out for referring to it as "my fucking truck thing".  In case you forgot the five steps, they are:
1. Euphoria and Excitement
2. Disenchantment
3. Search for the Guilty
4. Punishment of the Innocent
5. Reward for the Uninvolved
 So yes, I am well past the wild enthusiasm of step one and well into the frustration of step 2. The search for the guilty has already begun.  The guilty is obviously me, since this is all my idea.  However, somewhere along the line my way of thinking was shaped which led to the crazy idea in the first place.  Now I need to psychoanalyze myself and figure out where society drove me to do this.  Clearly step 5, reward for the uninvolved, happens at Burning Man when hundreds of strangers enjoy this thing I create.  In the corporate world, the uninvolved get promoted.
Anyway, today I did get the bumper taken apart, purchased lots of bolts, drilled a bunch more holes, made my ears ring chopping a new bumper beam, and now the rack on the bed is almost 100% freeway worthy.  Just have to secure the cross beams a bit better.  Those were frustrating because there's a little tab of spring steel that I attempted to drill through, and then quickly remembered from engineering school that spring steel is hard as hell.  Definitely should have chopped those off before assembly.
I spent 5 hours again and accomplished very little.  I'm realizing that I need to roughly double the amount of time any particular task takes me.  I am just not that efficient!  I have a 40 minute attention span, then need to do something different.  But I'll spend another fine day tomorrow and will get the damn bumper beam welded up, bolted on, and ready for the vertical beams.  For your viewing pleasure:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Drill Baby Drill

So Sunday I spent 5 hours drilling holes.  In fact, this was a colossal squandering of time.  But I did get all these bolts in.  1/2" and 5/8" holes are a piece of cake once you buy $350 worth of drills and drill bits.  I actually enjoy drilling holes now.  My old 3/8" chuck drill was unable to make holes of this size, and I decided I didn't trust my welding so bolting was a must.  The reason it took so long was because I had to buy the bolts and then experiment with the drill, rearrange the pallet racks, and line everything up.  Also I needed to bs with the CORE members and escape the relentless 75 degree heat and sun.  And buy bolts from Home Depot.  Remaining bolts will be purchased from a reputable bolt seller, and not garbage grade bolts.  But frankly with 5/8" bolts the low grade will work.  I can say this without any reservations since I have a master's degree in mechanical engineering.  Trust me, a 5/8" bolt will handle these loads!  Oh, and I concluded that I'm crazy.  I can't even explain why I'm doing this anymore... I should be committed.  Nonetheless, this will be finished.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Some Assembly Required

Okay, since it's been a few weeks, so I should show where it's at.  I find assembly and collecting all the materials a lot slower than planned.  The reason is I have to think through absolutely every detail as I go.  The plans are just a guide, and have to constantly be readjusted as the actual recycled materials are found.  Yesterday my friend Billy and some of the SLAC / CORE folks helped me put assemble the pallet racks.  Currently they're just sitting on the bed (no freeway driving!) but I'll get them bolted or welded down soon, probably later today.   There was a lot of discussion on what level to put the floor.  I appreciate the discussion, because every perspective helps.  I find it really fun to think through the details... these are things I never have to do or consider in my normal work of designing and engineering car parts and systems.

This view shows you the loose mock-up of the racks and an old pallet thrown on the cross-beams to simulate the height.  The brown cylinder is the proposed placement of the smokestack.  I am thinking it's too far forward, but maybe when the frame is built around the cab it will be more clear.  The height of the beams is currently at 5', and we did try putting them at 6'.  Ideally, higher would give a better view and allow people to use the space under the decking.  But once we were up that high (10 feet off the ground), the truck could be easily swayed by just one person.  The railings were also only 2.5 feet, which made it feel really unsteady.  The platform is now at 5 feet and that seems about right for this size of truck.  Maybe next year ambitions and construction skills will be for something bigger and higher, but this is it.  After setting the height, I then had to notch the uprights to make them fit with the bulkhead of the truck bed.  Here's the final positioning after the cutting:
Here's a view from standing on the new platform.  You can see how the framing of the bulkhead on the truck fits nicely with the new pallet rack structure.  The notch was required at the base.

The back end of the space is now 5 feet high.  It's probably going to be some kind of lounge / chillout space.  Nobody will be able to stand under there.  I'm thinking carpeting and a bunch of pillows.  Maybe bean bags or something like that.
The sides will just be clad in 1/4" plywood.  That (hopefully) will be the simple part of the project.  I also realized that I can't just invite a bunch of people over to get this done.  Each part requires too much measuring, planning, and practice with machine tools.  Near the end, when it's just plywood cutting and painting, will be the time to enlist a large group for help.  Until then, it's going to be just me and the occasional helper.  I'll probably need help again to move the rack around to get the holes drilled, but mostly it's a solo project for now. Only 7 more weekends available.  Anyway, at least it's shaping up!