My sweetheart says I give away or sell everything and make nothing for her. So... this one's for you, babe.
I start fabrication by making a loop out of 1/4" steel rod, the kind you might get from Home Depot but this came from McMaster-Carr. Their material gives me good results and the cost is acceptable.
Using 3/16" rod I start the shell frame with the center ring. Everything else in the shell will key off of this piece.
The next step is to attach rods to the corners of the center loop.
I could use a MIG welder but I prefer oxy-acetylene because these will be low-strength joints, and gas welding gives me a weld joint that cleans up easily enough.
But first I have to clamp the pieces into position and that can be the most difficult step of all. With increasing complexity comes increasing difficulty in jigging and clamping. Sometimes I can use super magnets to hold things in position, but not always. At this stag, a bench vise and lab tube holder does just fine.
After I'm happy with the setup I'm hitting it with the torch. No in-process picture but here is the immediate result.
Hot stuff! And after a little wire brushing and sanding to remove slag and weld splatter...
I'm happy with this. It almost looks like it grew that way. Only 85 more to go.
Now the fun really begins. All the connecting and intersecting pieces will go one, one by one.
One trick is keeping ahead of the corrosion that sets in almost as soon as the weld joints cool.
Now, on to the flippers and the head (and tail).
In order for the body to have some, er, body... there really has to be some depth. So, here's where it gets deep.
Actually sort of shallow but whatever.
The next step will be filling in the head.
Now it's on to the little segments that will make up the shell.
i didn't keep up with the in-process photos, so this is all you get. 😬