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I make toys for kids who don't want to grow up. I'm on the lookout for new projects. If you're interested in commissioning me to build something ridiculous, shoot me an email.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Ana forwarded me this excerpt from a NOAA Advisory Notice today:


So a 20 to 65 cm tsunami is going to hit the California coast. For those of you about to freak out and evacuate, bear in mind that that translates to a wave that's about two feet high.

I suppose the metric system would make me sound pretty huge too.

We now return to our regularly scheduled bloggage...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

First 9/11 Parody I've Ever Chuckled At

I just stumbled across this today:

It's not offensive until you look at it in post-9/11 terms...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

The other day I was finished in the shop and about to take a shower. Checking my email, I saw that Ana had sent me this comic:

At first I chuckled because this was so much like me. Then the notion struck me, "Nachos. That sounds really good right about now."

Since it was nearly midnight, the only place in the world that I could count on for nachos with jalapeno peppers was 7-eleven. I know they're probably not good for me, but 7-eleven nachos fascinate me as I've written about before. So after my shower I loaded up the dogs and headed back to the boat via 7-eleven.

When I got there I bought a tray of nacho goodness and cranked out several full measures of cheese product from the Free CheeseTM machine. Then I stepped over to the condiment trays and scooped out several unhealthy piles of anemic-looking, drippy slices of jalapeno peppers that had clearly been waiting there all day just for me. Then I paid the friendly little Punjabi clerk the small price for this tasty treat, knowing full well that the larger price would come later.

I was right about everything. It tasted great, sated my hunger for spicy junkfood, and left me completely incapacitated on the toilet for nearly an hour the next morning.

I'm old enough to know better, but it tastes too good to care.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Spreaders, Gauntlets, Noise, & Dust

When last I updated the bloggage it was Wednesday afternoon and I'd just finished working aloft on board the Heart of Gold. At this point, the only thing I had left to do on the standing rigging was to rig the triatic stay and bobstay, hook the backstays to their turnbuckles, finish building and mounting the spreaders, and then get underway under sail to tune the rig.

So, taking full advantage of my momentum, I left the boat Wednesday afternoon and headed to the workshop to continue working. It turns out my friend Jen got there a few minutes ahead of me so I had a spare pair of hands and someone to snap unflattering pictures of me. The first order of business was to break loose the threads on the bobstay turnbuckle:
Turnbuckle Work

Once that was done, I got back to work on the spreaders. Here's a shot of me drilling the end fittings on Dad's antique (and somewhat frightening) drill press:
Note the old spreader which now makes a great piece of scrap to drill into.

With holes drilled in the ends, I'm able to bolt on the caps which will trap the wire shrouds in place. Now all that's left to do with the spreaders is to brush on the final coat of paint, screw all the hardware in place, and haul them up aloft to bolt them to the masts.

Here's a shot of me hanging them from the overhead in the workshop, so I can paint the tops and bottoms all at once (the tops will have a total of three coats of polyurethane and the bottoms will have two):

According the the paint manufacturer's instructions, I have to wait sixteen hours between coats. Given the time I finished the last coat, that would make it ready to paint again at 0200 in the morning. What to do now?
(Click for video of the next step)

Since there was nothing useful I could do on the boat project for a while, I got back to work on the HALO costume project. At this point I've got finished castings of the helmet, chest and back armor, abdomen plate, shoulder pauldrons, and boot parts. I'm almost ready to make molds of the tricep and bicep armor, codpiece, belt pieces, and buttplate. I still have to do the finer details on the gauntlets and calves, and the thighs are almost completely unstarted.

Picking up where I left off, I got back to work on the details of the gauntlets. Specifically, it was time to score all of the seam lines onto the skin of the pieces. In order to make sure I'm making a straight line across the curved parts, I use the laser line that's built into my jigsaw (a laser level would work just as well, but I would've had to go back into the tool chest for that):
With the lines marked out, the next step is to score them lightly with the hacksaw:
Using the hacksaw'ed lines as a guide, I make them a bit wider and deeper using a jigsaw blade:

Once I was done making the lines I went ahead and sprayed them with a coat of primer. Unfortunately, one can ran out before I was done and the second can was a slightly different shade of grey. Still, here's a blurry pic of the result:

Gauntlet Tops in Progress

And a comparison against an in-game screengrab:
Gauntlet Comparison

Clearly it still needs work. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


This morning I spent some quality time putting the second coat of "Hatteras Off-White" on the spreaders:
Spreaders Painted

Once that was done, it was time to spend some quality time nose to nose with this mess:

This is the top of the mainmast. At the top of the mast, I'm about eye level with the roof of the three-story office building adjacent to the marina. It makes for an interesting view:
View Aloft

Interesting views all over:
View Aloft 2

While I was up there, I reattached the upper shrouds, the backstays, and the intermediate shrouds. I need to do some work on the triatic stay before I can call my work on the maintop done.

Once I was back on deck, I went ahead and attached the whiskers to the bowsprit and found out that the turnbuckle on the bobstay was siezed and will need some work. I also went ahead and reattached the roller furler for the jib and snugged up the forestay before leading the backstays to the chainplates on the aft cabin and siezing them in place (I'll need to drill out the eyes swaged onto the lower ends so they'll fit the pins on the turnbuckles, so I just wanted to make sure they were leading right).*

Meanwhile, now that I've done all that I can on the boat until the spreader paint dries, it's time to get back to work on the HALO costume.

Stay tuned. Sooner or later I'll hoist myself up aloft and plummet to my death. I'm sure you'd feel silly if you missed it.

*This is the most navular sentence I've typed in a while. If only I could've worked in the word "baggywrinkle" I'm sure I would've set some sort of record. Yar!

I Don't Know What This Is, But I Want One

I was northbound on Highway 101 today, passing through Marin County and spotted this unusual motorcycle:
Odd Bike 2

I'm not a huge fan of all of the OCC-style choppers that everyone gets all excited about. After a while, they've all started to look alike. I've never seen a bike like this one though:
Odd Bike 3

Oddly enough, as I was passing him in traffic I decided it wouldn't surprise me if the rider was the maker:
Odd Bike

If this is the case, I'm somewhat envious.

Another Possible Demise

Time to think up more ways for me to go my way. Here's one:
Death 40

You can check out the rest by CLICKING HERE.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rat Rod Update: How Not to Make a Shiny New Sign

Dad lined up his three Internationals the other day in the driveway, so I couldn't resist the opportunity to take a pic:
International Collection
All three of these started as basically the same truck.* The one on the left is all stock. Even the paint is original. The one on the right has a new paintjob, new engine, and some minor modifications to the suspension to allow it to ride lower. The one in the middle is the rat rod with all of the more excessive changes he's been tinkering with for eight months now.

Last week he finally managed to make it legal to drive on the road. After fiver trips to the DMV and two trips to the Highway Patrol they still managed to put down the wrong year on the title and registration, but at least he finally has license plates.

Here he is after washing the only part of the rat rod that can be washed... the wheels:
Dad Rod 2
The project is riddled with fun little details like the bungee cord that holds on the driver's side mirror:
Dad Rod
The main problem with the project at this stage was the lack of identifying markings. After a bit of deliberation regarding exactly what should be there, he finally dug out an old page from a phone book with an ad for my grandfather's garage:
Thorsson's Ad

The challenge, match the logo on the side of the tow trucks and make it look like it was originally painted on when the truck was new. Step One? Clean off the doors:
Door Cleaning
I got my friends Matt and Jen (they started Blacksheep Signs a couple years ago. Their work is solid and inexpensive and you can contact them at customboatlettering@usa.com if you need some vinyl lettering made up for you) to cut out some adhesive stencil friskets using their vinyl cutter. Here's a shot of them picking out the parts of the adhesive sheets before we applied them to the doors:
Door Stencils

The stencils make the whole operation pretty simple. You place the sticker where you need it, peel off the backing paper, press the frisket down tight to the surface to be lettered, and then peel off the top layer of contact paper. Once the stencil is in place you simply paint over it, wait for the paint to skin over, and peel the stencil off the door as shown here:
Door Stencils 2
Here's a shot of me painting over the stencil while it was still in place:
Door Stencil Painting

Since nobody has seen the logo in color in about fifty years, we were able to excercise a bit of artistic license. Since the desired end result is to make it look subtle and aged, Dad decided to go with a white oval and do the lettering using a color pallette that wouldn't contrast very much against the base color of the door. Here's the stencil just before peeling:
Door Stencil Painting 2
And during peeling:
Door Stencil Peeling
And another shot before we distressed it:
Door Stencils Peeled
The next day, after the paint had hardened completely, we spent some time wet sanding and buffing the whole door to give it the worn-out look we were after:
Door Sign Distressed
I still think it needs more abuse before it really looks like it fits in with the rest of the vehicle.

For now he's trying to decide what the next major project will be. Leading contenders are a 1936 Ford Pickup, a 1942 Harley Davidson, and this thing:

Finished right, it will look about like so:

I have to admit that if I were him, I wouldn't be able to make up my mind either.

*Today he mentioned to me offhandedly that he needs two more International pickups to round out his collection. No joke.


This irked me a little.

The other night I was leaving the folks' house and found a dog outside the gate. He was a cute, friendly, little French bulldog, it was late at night, and I was certain he'd get mushed by a car or mauled by local predators if he stayed out, so I brought him up to the house and left him with my mother:

Lost Dog

He was clean, not neutered, and wearing a collar but no tags. I couldn't decide if he had been lost for a long time or was just a bit on the neglected side. Either way he was cute and if nothing else, I've got a sister who's in the market for a dog. This could only end well.

Early the next morning, I printed out some flyers to post around the neighborhood in an attempt to find his owner. As I turned onto my parents' street, I noticed bright green flyers stuck to every other telephone pole, signpost, and mailbox all the way down the road with pictures of this particular little animal.

Written across the top in huge letters were the words "LOST DOG" and beneath it, in only slightly smaller letters was the word, "REWARD."

When I called the owner, she drove right over and picked him up. More to the point, she drove right over in her brand new 5-series BMW, stepped out in her designer loungewear, flipped her carefully coiffed hair over one shoulder, gave me a perfectly manicured handshake, and thanked me profusely for finding her very expensive, pedigreed, purebred glamor pet.

She made no mention of the reward.

To be completely honest, I wouldn't have taken her money if she'd offered it. It's not like it really cost me anything to pick this little guy up off the street and put him up for the night. Still, it would've been nice to have the opportunity to turn it down. Instead I had to find some other way to fulfill my Boy Scout obligation and do a good turn daily.*

As she was leaving I asked what the dog's name was, just in case I see him again. It turns out they call him "Easy." I think I probably would've been doing him a favor if I'd kept him and never called her. Oh well.

*Helping old ladies cross the street is not as easy as it used to be. Nowadays they tend to use mace or call the police. Given the choice now, I prefer the mace.

Finally Catching Up on Projects Part 2: Costuming

This is sort of a follow-up from my last post about my HALO armor. For those of you wondering about whatever happened with that project, I'm finally back up to speed and making progress again.

Here's a winning shot of me mixing silicon for one of my molds:
pouring silicon

And the master for the shoulder armor all boxed up and ready for molding:
lateral and shoulder

And here's a shot of my friend Matt modelling one of the casts of the shoulder armor:
Matt Model Bicep
The plan is to attach the outside piece to separate bicep and tricep armor so that I can make the size slightly adjustable.

Most of my progress has been pretty straightforward and minor, but I have had one major coup. After a bit of tinkering I've finally managed to crack the code on the faceshield. The desired end state is a helmet that looks like this one from the video game:

The challenge is to get the shape and color right while still being able to see out of it. So far, the closest anyone has come to capturing the correct look is to use a gold-tinted motorcycle helmet faceshield and find a way to add the little ridges to the surface. Most folks just use another helmet faceshield with the relief portions cut out of it, but for my first attempt, I used a thin sheet of clear acrylic cut to fit over mine:

The look is fairly good, but it's not quite as convex as the in-game model. The vertical portion of the compound curve is not nearly pronounced enough. Here's a comparison shot with the front of the faceshield outlined in red:
Helmet comparison

After a bit of experimentation, I was able to vac-form a visor in amber acrylic that has the right profile. Then, using a fine mist of mirrorchrome paint on the inside I was able to get the metallic reflectivity I was looking for:
Faceshield testing
The reflectivity is just right and it's still clear enough that I could wear it while driving. Here's a bad closeup shot where the flash has overwhelmed the whole thing:
Faceshield testing 2
I may be too proud of the technological terror I've created.

In other news, I walked Ana through the construction of her first silicon mold. The end result was a perfectly functional mold that I can use to create copies of the handplates for the costume:

The piece above is not painted yet. Instead, I've been experimenting with various dyes that I can add to the casting resin:
Colred Resin
The results have had various levels of success, but they've all been entertaining:
Colored Buckets

I've still got the arms, legs, and pelvis parts (aka the Space Diaper) to finish prototyping so I can mold and cast copies. Here's some fairing in progress:
Bondo for Armor

Here's a shot of the lower leg armor in it's current state and some of the tricep armor pieces:

Here I am trying on some of the already molded pieces:

As well as an ab plate and parts of the space diaper:
Space Diaper Test Fit

I've also started back to work on the old-school MarkV style helmet as seen in the first iteration of the HALO video game franchise:
MkV Progress

Stay tuned, more to come...

Renaissance Faire Snapshotse

I can't say when it was, where it was, or all of who I was with, but a little while back Ana and I went down to a Ren Faire somewhere in California. It was a pretty goode time and there were plenty of well-costumed performers there:
REN photo 4

ren photo 5

My absolute favorite show was Moonie. I didn't get any really goode snapshotse of the show, but if you ever get a chance to see this guye live, don't hesitate to check it out:
ren photo

Unfortunately, I didn't have anything to wear and had to borrowe appropriate attire from my friend Ray for the daye. Ana just pulled something out of her closet for the occasion:
ren photo 2

It was a goode time, taken for all and all, and I got to operate the little catapultse:
kite photo 3