Command Performance

My sweetheart says I give away or sell everything and make nothing for her. So... this one's for you, babe.  

Just a sketch to act as a guide. What it evolves into? We'll see.  

Just a sketch to act as a guide. What it evolves into? We'll see.  

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.  

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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.

 

 

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After I'm happy with the setup I'm hitting it with the torch. No in-process picture but here is the immediate result.  

 

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Hot stuff! And after a little wire brushing and sanding to remove slag and weld splatter... 

 

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I'm happy with this. It almost looks like it grew that way. Only 85 more to go.

Here I've welded another piece onto the center loop and have the sub-assembly temporarily clamped to the frame to gauge the arc and height. .  

Here I've welded another piece onto the center loop and have the sub-assembly temporarily clamped to the frame to gauge the arc and height. .  

And here is the center loop welded in place.  

And here is the center loop welded in place.  

Now the fun really begins. All the connecting and intersecting pieces will go one, one by one.  

A little at a time... 

A little at a time... 

Really starting to take shape, now.  

Really starting to take shape, now.  

One trick is keeping ahead of the corrosion that sets in almost as soon as the weld joints cool.  

And with a few stringers added, the shell frame is almost done.  

And with a few stringers added, the shell frame is almost done.  

All done except for a little post-weld clean-up.  

All done except for a little post-weld clean-up.  

Now, on to the flippers and the head (and tail).  

Ok, so the 'extremities' aren't next. Sue me.  

Ok, so the 'extremities' aren't next. Sue me.  

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.  

 

I must like the extra work, too, because I have to clean up all those weld joints. Good thing I haven't lost my eyesight... yet.  

I must like the extra work, too, because I have to clean up all those weld joints. Good thing I haven't lost my eyesight... yet.  

Having already formed the rough outlines for the flippers in mild steel sheet metal, I'm test-fitting them to see if they're balanced.   On the way to getting here I experienced a problem with my planishing hammer- the hammer shaft seized inside the cylinder and necessitated its complete disassembly. In a way, that actually produced an unexpected benefit in that I was forced to go back to my old method of using a ball pein hammer and an anvil to create the curvature and surface texture. I usually torch the metal afterwards to soften it up and the effect this time was rather interesting to me. It's not only kind of knobby but the coloration is similar to blueing you find on watch hands... and guns. And, as it's an oxide coating it is less prone to corrosion. So, yay me!

Having already formed the rough outlines for the flippers in mild steel sheet metal, I'm test-fitting them to see if they're balanced. 

On the way to getting here I experienced a problem with my planishing hammer- the hammer shaft seized inside the cylinder and necessitated its complete disassembly. In a way, that actually produced an unexpected benefit in that I was forced to go back to my old method of using a ball pein hammer and an anvil to create the curvature and surface texture. I usually torch the metal afterwards to soften it up and the effect this time was rather interesting to me. It's not only kind of knobby but the coloration is similar to blueing you find on watch hands... and guns. And, as it's an oxide coating it is less prone to corrosion. So, yay me!

Just a close-up of a flipper.  

Just a close-up of a flipper.  

And with all 4 flippers welded in place.  

And with all 4 flippers welded in place.  

First step in getting a little head... attached to the body.  

First step in getting a little head... attached to the body.  

I got a bit ahead of myself and finished the welding, and painted the frame, before taking this photo.    That's what sometimes happens when the spirit moves me.    

I got a bit ahead of myself and finished the welding, and painted the frame, before taking this photo.  

That's what sometimes happens when the spirit moves me. 

 

And the side view.  

And the side view.  

The next step will be filling in the head.  

Ok, do a lot of time has gone by since the last post. I've been busy with other activities.    Anyway, here she is with the head all filled in and the paint applied.  

Ok, do a lot of time has gone by since the last post. I've been busy with other activities.  

Anyway, here she is with the head all filled in and the paint applied.  

Now it's on to the little segments that will make up the shell.  

 

 

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Ta-dah! 

i didn't keep up with the in-process  photos, so this is all you get. 😬