It's looking great! This week flew by in the shop with Christian, Gregory, Juniper and Toby putting in some serious hours- and as it is with talented help- the Heron to do list is shrinking! Christian has been tenaciously working on the hydraulic cylinder attachments on the head and on the upper body- which look indestructible. We decided to add plates on the sides of the head to spread the "up" force of the cylinders to the main two rails. The Pulley truss and all it's fine compound angles was a project Juniper took on-it looks beautiful- now I will weld it on to the main body and the entire outline of the crane is done. The outriggers are done, but still need bracing- and they are currently attached to the new 16" sub base. Tomorrow we will attempt to attach the sub base to the main body- with the help of our overhead hoist and Otis, the forklift. No easy feat, as the shop clearance is 14'-9" and the new dimension of the bottom part of the Heron is 13'-5"- not that much wiggle room. I am also posting a pic of the progress of the power unit build! Christian jumped over to work on that and hooked most of the lines and built a sweet fuel filler box that will be exposed after it gets sheathed.
He is such a super star! I have welded most all on the Heron so far- starting to wonder how many hundreds and hundreds of feet of beads I have run by now...and more to go, but the
list is shrinking!
Now it's really getting exciting!
Joel Hobbie brought one of the fire wings up to Taos this weekend for a test run and they are going to work great. The flame ranged from a soft feathery look to huge blasts that will certainly draw moths to the flame. Supposedly one could see the bursts of flame from R.E.A.C.H, an Earthship community clear across the mesa up on the mountain- 25 miles away! (See the video) They will articulate with a cable and winch and have an elbow joint and a shoulder pivot, where they attach to the Heron. We fire tested the wing with different various amounts of propane in the accumulator tank that Joel fabricated from a score at the Black Hole- our very own Los Alamos National Lab Surplus yard. The night started in full form with some random firing of Joel's pyrosil cannon- always a fun time! Ahhh, the toys available in Special Effects. The Heron is coming along beautifully also. Last week was a big push in the shop. We worked steady on the outriggers and a variety of large bolt plates...heaps of hole drilling. My advising engineer, Tom, drove up from Santa Fe also, with his lovely daughter Kira, and got a chance to examine the project in person. We discussed the connection areas of the crane, and how to fail safe the load-as in transferring loads to the appropriate structural members. I kept thinking about the book "Structures or Why Things Don't Fall Down" by J.E. Gordon- a book well worth checking in with again. We have all been calculating the craziest situations that could arise with and on the Heron- exercising our imagination extensively.
Now off to the shop...
Nowadays the shop resembles a vaguely post apocalyptic maze, as the Heron has taken over. There are parts scattered EVERYWHERE, in some unique form of chaotic order. Christian, Gregory and I are working on various parts of the Heron, to get it ready to stand tall at the end of the month. This chapter in the build is comprised of machining parts with the lathe and the mill, building outriggers, a sub-base and Gregory working on the power unit engine, a six cylinder tiny Ford engine from a European car, could have been a Ford Focus. We have moved from compound angle lingo to "thousandths of an inch" as we are determining pivots, and pulley pins... The enormity of the project is starting to weigh down on me too-
the Heron is huge!
I am anxiously looking forward to making the acquaintance of this sculpture for the first time! We will load test it once it's standing tall, possibly using one of Christian's heavy robots to hang from the beak, then we take it back down, fix or tweak if necessary- then paint, and then up again...