August, '07
Works in progress

More art car work this month, with leaving date for Burning Man fast approaching. I wound up welding and fabricating art car stuff pretty much every waking hour, with the occasional 'break' to make shoppy stuff to make the job easier. I also made several Road Trips that will be posted ...eventually!

Photos of the Blood Vessel in action at this year's Burning Man are posted to the Blood Vessel Tribe page.

Photo #1: So what else do you make for a gothy hearse but a pile of bats! Lisa made the drawings, Lance made the templates and cut the material and I got to connect the dots.
Photo #2: In order to "animate" the bats (with sequenced blinking electroluminescent wire) we had to have three templates, with bat wings in different positions on each one; i.e. more work.
Photo #3: Close-up of welds I did to connect the dots; not easy with an Econotig! The trick was to crank the power almost to the bottom of its range, then take my foot off the pedal in the instant I saw a puddle, otherwise the stuff just vaporized.
Photo #4: Oh, yeah, the thrill of TIG welding with the door open to an ongoing project in the driveway! The slightest puff of a breeze and, even with a gas lens, I've trashed another tiny weld. I took some time out and built a lightweight frame for a welding curtain. I'm reeeeeally glad Now I did! I'll be able to open the door more in the otherwise claustrophobic rainy season too.
Photo #5: Shot of the reeeally big 'bat wings' being assembled. Each side has three spars welded to short lengths of pipe. I reinforced the intersection with a diagonal strut, then the corners were dressed up with the previously-welded 'spider web' details. Each spar in turn is slid onto a smaller diameter pipe, shortest on the bottom and longest ones on top. They can be rotated back against the vehicle for freeway driving and out for cruisin' the Playa. There's a bolt acting as a big-ass setscrew on each piece so they won't go flapping about.
Photo #6: As evening approaches one day I got a shot of the flaming smokestacks test. Next year we'll add a hot water bath to warm the propane tanks, to keep pressure high enough to shoot flames 20ft into the air!

New rules (40 pages long last time I looked!) were instituted this year regarding art cars with more than one deck. Ladders are no longer considered adequate, so I had to fab a real staircase that permits people to ascend and descend by putting one foot ahead of the other. The whole damned thing had to hang sideways off of the back of the art car to clear a trailer hitch so I also had to make a landing.

Photo #7: A little aside: nearly 4 weeks after I picked it up from Praxxair I finally had enough of the correct accessories to hook up my new TIG torch, a Miller Maxstar DX; gotta do something about that cable mess soon! What a beauty! With this little gem I managed to blaze out the staircase, the landing and some other stuff in a single day, stopping only because...
Photo #8: With more power at my command and with a shitload of welding going on I managed to banzai a cup! When time permits I've gotta start thinking about adding a water-cooled torch tho...
Photo #9: Meanwhile, back at the ranch, here's the trial fitting of the hastily tacked together staircase, complete with now-mandatory railing, to the temporarily attached landing. Later I welded stuff to the landing that captured the top of the ladder so that it would not wander...
Photo #10: Strength-to-weight issues helped with the plasma torch and square tube reinforcements beneath the thin steel of the treads. Added benefit of plasma torch: by leaving ragged edges I created a good gripping surface for shoes that also discourage bare feet.
Photo #11: Stiles needed a little extra reinforcement so I welded each to a tread; lighter than adding gussets, yes? More welding needed here, but proof of concept was fat boy me stomping up and down without bending treads or tweaking railing.

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