12 August 2019
110vac To Go


In 2016 I completed a 20 pipe street organ that I call Misty. Misty and I perform in public 2-4 times a month…it’s fun.  A side benefit are the tips that I receive…which I reinvest into my art projects (street organs and automata).  Sometimes I perform where it is crowded and noisy and sometimes I perform where it is calm and sedate.  I got the thought into my head that I would like to take an automata with me to these calm and sedate venues.

The problem…the show stopper…was that there was no convenient 110vac at these venues.  In July 2019 I completed Big Wheel Lift #1Big Wheel Lift was screaming at me that it wanted to come performing with me…so I started the task of locating a portable power source.

I ended up purchasing a FlePow portable power bank from Amazon…approx $80.00.  This is a neat little power bank that has two powered USB ports, and a 110 volt outlet.

Big Wheel Lift contains a 110vac 6 watt motor.  The FlePow portable power bank powers the Big Wheel Lift for 12+ hours before it needs recharging.  It has worked flawlessly now at three different venues.

Having Big Wheel Lift as part of my street organ playing performance has added depth to my performance.  People are fascinated with it.  Many stop and watch.  Some of them speak to me about Big Wheel Lift and automata in general.  All in all the power bank has been a great investment.

110vac To Go. Acquired August 2019.

31 July 2019
Back to the Biped


It’s Scissor Lift #2 that is the priority on my bench.  I gave up on it’s biped last year and commenced to create Big Wheel Lift #1.  The biped for Big Wheel Lift #1 has turned out well.  I like it.  Perhaps this copper leaf and patina process will become my default biped treatment…I don’t know yet.  

At any rate…I am now proceeding with the Scissor Lift #2 biped, which I expect to have completed within the week.  It has been created and primed (X2).  Only the copper leaf and patina remain to be done.

The Scissor Lift #2 biped Project Sheet is here.

The biped for Scissor Lift #2 is taking shape.

 

18 July 2019
I still have 10 complete digits


I feel very good about the encounter that I had with my bandsaw.  I did not lose my finger.  This was one of those lucky incidents.  I don’t call it an accident because it wasn’t.  I could have avoided this if I had been thinking more alertly.  So, it was an incident that was my fault.  I wasn’t cutting…I was cleaning the blade.  The “bugger bar” got caught by the blade and pulled my finger into the blade.  And then it jammed and stopped the blade…which caused my finger to remain intact.  I am very fortunate…and I am rethinking how I approach my tools (both power and hand).

Big Wheel Lift #1 is complete.  Now I move to showing it and marketing it.

I am currently finishing the biped for Scissor Lift #2…am about 1/3 done.  I like the way that the copper leaf and patina turned out on Big Wheel Lift #1 so am repeating that process for Scissor Lift #2.

Then A Sunday Drive is going to take priority on my bench.  A Sunday Drive is a one off…and should be fun.  No rolling marbles…just a lazy Sunday drive in a cute little red Volkswagen convertible.

Fortunately I still have 10 complete digits. 15 July 2019.

 

11 July 2019
Completed


Big Wheel Lift #1 is finally completed!  It runs beautifully.  All in all I am very pleased with this build and am pleased to announce completion.  I would be happy to accept a commission for Big Wheel Lift #2.  Big Wheel Lift #2 will be similar to #1 but will be more organic…smoother…and better.  My commission page is here..

The next project is the completion of Scissor Lift #2…the biped remains to be completed.  I like the copper leaf and patina (on Big Wheel Lift #1) and am going to treat the Scissor Lift #2 biped the same way.

Then A Sunday Drive will take the focus on my workbench…at least for a while.

Big Wheel Lift #1 completed 8 July 2019

 

6 July 2019
Big Wheel Lift #1 is Almost Completed


It has been a busy three weeks.  I’ve been disassembling and painting and reassembling Big Wheel Lift #1.  The Big Wheel Lift automata has gone back together very easily and I’ve powered 1,500 marbles through the machine with no incidents.  I like the paint job…however will not ever paint again like I did this one.  I’ve taken the time to learn about the Liquitex family of acrylics and will be using them in the future.  As a result of using the Liquitex Soft Body Acrylics, and gesso and varnish, I should end up with a better paint job and perhaps with less or equal effort.  We’ll see.  I’m done with Craft Acrylics.  They simply don’t cover reliably enough.  I want these machines to be the best that I can make them be.  The shift from Craft Acrylics to Liquitex will help me paint much better.

As soon as Big Wheel Lift #1 is completed (the next few days) I’ll complete the biped for Scissor Lift #2 (which will complete Scissor Lift #2).  Then it will be A Sunday Drive that occupies the primary spot on my bench for a while.

 

July 6, 2019: Big Wheel Lift #1 is almost complete.

 

13 June 2019
Sanding, Spraying, and Leafing


This past week has been a week of disassembly, sanding, spraying, and experimentation with metal (copper) leafing.

To the right you see an image of my drying rack.  What I’ve learned over the years is that being impatient with paint while it dries is wrong.  Paint must properly dry or there will be consequences later (always).  My default is 24 hours for primer between sanding and coats, and with enamel I let the final coat dry for four days before I attach it to the mechanism.

The Big Wheel Lift #1 Project Sheet is here.

I’ve been working a bit on A Sunday Drive.  I’ve identified (and then modified several times) the animation that I am looking for.  Right now this automata is not a priority.

The ceiling in my studio is the drying rack.

8 June 2019
It’s Time To Paint


Big Wheel Lift #1 has now lifted 9,101 marbles, about 5,000 of them under power.  The mechanisms are performing very reliably.  It’s time for paint!

During the disassembly process I photograph every step and then using a Google product called ‘Slides’ I prepare a record of the disassembly and I print it out and sleeve the pages and keep them in a 3 ring binder.  These disassembly images are important not only for the process of reassembly, but they are important when creating the next version of the Big Wheel Lift.

The painting process will be more fully documented in the weeks to come but is basically this:

  • Fill and sand everything, to 120.
  • Spray paint the 1st coat of primer (charcoal automotive) then sand to 220.
  • Spray the second coat of primer (grey automotive) then sand to 220
  • Spray final two+ coats of enamel on a few pieces.
  • Most all else is hand painted using acrylic paint.  I’ve not finalized the color pallette yet.
  • Some components are copper leafed.

As I have worried about how to finish my bipeds I’ve decided that I want them clad in copper leaf.  I received my shipment of copper leaf and the size and have begun experimenting.  I like what is happening and think that copper leaf will be a good biped solution.  I am also planning to copper leaf a couple of the drive components.

The Big Wheel Lift #1 Project Sheet is here.

I’ve done nothing with A Sunday Drive this past week.  All in good time.

At 9,101 marbles lifted, Big Wheel Lift #1 is ready for paint.

29 May 2019
First Life


Big Wheel Lift #1 began on my workbench early January 2019.  Yesterday, May 28th, it moved for the first time under electrical power…first life.  I’m pleased with this automata.  I like the way it moves.  It is reliable.  It is quiet.  It is fun to watch.  Lots going on.

Next steps are to run it through three to five thousand marble drops of testing, then disassembly for painting, then reassembly and final testing.  This is the #1 so it will not go to market.  All number ones belong to my wife.  If I create additional Big Wheel Lifts they will all be based on this #1, but none will be identical to it.  Each will be better than the last.

Enjoy this Big Wheel Lift #1 First Life video.  Captured with my Pixel 2XL.  Edited with KDenLive.  The Big Wheel Lift #1 Project Sheet is here.

 

Big Wheel Lift #1 is finally under power. A good day.

20 May 2019
New Drive Frame


As I have been adding components into the Big Wheel Lift drive frame I’ve run into a clearance problem between the lever cam followers and the pedestal drive belt.  To fix this problem I’ve been tweaking and adjusting things…but that has not been enough.  So, I’m biting the bullet and relocating the Big Wheel Idler Cluster, which means that I’ve got to re-create the drive frames.  This is an image of the new drive frame in the scroll saw, almost completed.  Sometimes doing it the ‘long way’ is the right way…and I want my creations to be right.  I want to be at peace with each one…knowing that I’ve done my best.  The Big Wheel Lift Project Sheet is here.

A Sunday Drive remains on my workbench as priority 2.  I’ve got all the little body parts dismembered and am letting them tell me how they want to move.

I live near San Diego, California.  The climate is defined as Mediterranean.  The usual cycle is rainy winters and drought summers, with an average rainfall here of about 14″.  We are at 21″ so far for this season…with more rain on the way…very unusual.  The native vegetation is loving all of this rain.  Everything seems very healthy and green.  Sooner or later the rains will stop…and then we will start worrying about fire.  Someday my wife and I will live somewhere that has more water and less fire.  Someday.

 

Big Wheel Lift #1 Drive Frame, version 2 is in the process of being created.

10 May 2019
Pedals and Magazines


It’s been a good week.  I’ve got a few electrical parts in transit.  They will be here early next week.  Meanwhile I’m creating the pulleys and the hand crank and cams.  Most else is completed  I expect Big Wheel Lift #1 to be under power late next week.  The Big Wheel Lift #1 project sheet is here.

I was pleased to receive the April-May issue of Automata Magazine.  I’m glad that this magazine is available and hope that it will continue to be published for decades to come.  There is a lot of good information in this little gem  Here is a link to Automata Magazine.

I’ve identified the A Sunday Drive passengers. I’ve got the body parts laying around on my bench…teaching me how they want to move. The A Sunday Drive project sheet is here.

Monday thru Friday I begin my day doing an hour of Tai Chi.  I’ve been doing Tai Chi for about 3 years now and appreciate the positive impact that it’s made on my body.  It used to be that I had back pain all the time.  Now I rarely have back pain.  I blame Tai Chi for that.  Another part of Tai Chi that I appreciate is the ‘meditation time’.  Some of my Tai Chi sets are done in my studio.  I have automata in front of me as I exercise.  I’m able to contemplate…to consider…to ‘what if’.  

Big Wheel Lift #1 is nearing completion. Almost ready to power up.