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Finally moving forward on the railing. I got lots of drilling and tapping done today. All of the pickets for the flat section of railing and one of the staircases. Tomorrow afternoon I will twist one third of the pickets (about 30 total and only 1/2 inch square), followed by a little wire brushing and these parts will be ready to paint. I can squeeze the painting in between art car events this weekend and then the dry time on the paint will not be holding up any work. I like it when things come together.

I need to double check my measurements on the second staircase. I usually measure a couple of different ways to ensure accuracy and I am missing one measurement. Then it will just be a quick day to have those pieces ready for paint as well.

This groovy little fixture worked out the first time. It holds the pickets at the correct angle for drilling and is adjustable for different staircases. It is definitely a keeper. I also like anything with lots of screws. Screws make things look official.
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I have to twist about 30 half inch bars. I was thinking about how to do it in the lathe without overheating anything important but the whole time I had this nagging feeling that I owned some thing lathe-like that would be far superior. This morning as I was getting started on the tooling I remembered that there was a pipe-threader tucked away in the storage room. Perfect! It has more torque, slower speeds, and a big through hole so I can put a piece of pipe in as a heat shield.

I spent the several hours digging it out and cleaning it up. It is a nice old machine but I would not be surprised to hear it hadn't been used in 25 years. I cut a couple of pieces of pipe for my fixture and it works fine. There is a box of dies with it that includes machine threads as well as pipe dies, so I am set for anything up to 2-1/2 inches.

I spent another couple of hours making a really cool clamping fixture to hold one end of the half inch square bar. I was almost done with the socket to go into the machine itself when I saw the problem. These machines are set up so that any length of pipe can be fed in from the back but pipe threading rarely requires more than a couple of inches of movement. The longest twist that I am gonna be able to make with that machine will be 6" long.

If I had started twisting this morning I probably would have been finished already.

The good news is that I own a nice pipe threader. Maybe in the future I will mount it to another table so that I can use it as a twisting machine. Someday when I get some of this time stuff I have been hearing about.
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or journaller or whatever. I really want to write it all down, even if just for my own sake, but I am so tired and it is my son's birthday tomorrow. I think that I used up all my free time.
Current Mood:
groggy groggy
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So I slid out of the truck Thursday morning about 6:30 when it got too bright to sleep. I had packed a big dop kit with my toiletries and a couple of towels, so I grabbed that and headed into the bathroom. I got my teeth brushed and my face washed and I felt pretty good. On the way out I saw a little sign half buried in the flower-bed "State of Alabama - Free Wifi". I got comfy on the bench with my laptop and started checking my email. Getting on the internet is like staring up in the air. Other people see you doing it and they join you. An older fella on a motorcycle pulled up and headed into the bathroom with his kit. I noticed he had his tent and everything strapped to his bike and I felt like I was travelling really heavy. I think that all of his luggage would have fit in one of my tubs. We sat on the benches out front and did some figuring on the weather. I found it pretty funny that a guy with a bunch of Vietnam Vet patches on his vest uses a site called "The Weather Underground".

So I got on the road about eight when my battery was almost dead and just pushed on through to my planned lunch stop. During the day I noticed that the reception to my truck on the road got better the closer I got to the gulf. I guess people who actually know boats are more excited about a ship/truck than other folks.

Lunch happened about two pm at my secret lunch spot. I had found this place when Marz and I were going to Houston in 2005 and it seemed like the real deal. When we were going across Louisiana the first time and I was looking for a lunch spot I kept seeing signs for cajun food that were attached to signs for casinos. To me that says food for tourists; I am an elitist snob, so I want the cajun food that they cook for cajun people. Then I saw a little hand-painted song that said "Real Cajun Food -- The Boiling Point of Sulphur". So I got off the highway in about 20 miles at Sulphur, Louisiana.

Well, There were no advance signs on the highway anymore and they have painted over the inside mural. I still got a nice picture of my truck inside of the outside mural. But the phrase "We process your Deer, Boar or other exotic animal" were no longer anywhere to be seen. I still got a big plate with two pounds of crawfish and some delicious little appetizer things. Looking around at the other diners, it occured to me that I can get a plate of crawfish anywhere now and that next time I should ask the waitress to recommend something that I can't get at home. (She was dead on about the appetizers, they were toasty little sandwiches with a crab,shrimp, and cheese filling that was all melty and delicious.)

I arrived in Houston late afternoon and went directly to the home of my gracious hosts for the weekend. Steve and Lainie have the flying spaghetti monster car, so it was quite fitting that the pirate ship visit its creator. I had a comfy room of my own and off street parking right in the heart of Houston. On my way out of town I finally asked what neighborhood we were in. Montrose is pretty happpening and convenient to all of the events.
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LEAVING FOR THE TOUR

Some people like to say that they work better under pressure. I think that is an excuse used by those of us who work only under pressure. It is a habit that needs breaking. I have cancelled a lot of plans in the past because I used them as deadlines and I had to put off the start of this trip as well. I had planned to be at the Baton Rouge Art Car Parade on Derby weekend but I left a little too much work until the end. Part of my new plan for 'taking care of business' was to call them as soon as I knew that there was a problem and 'fess up. Amazingly, if you call people in advance and tell them you screwed up they often thank you for keeping them informed.



I put in some crazy time in the shop and got my work finished and delivered Tuesday (the 6th) and I spent the evening finishing my rack and mounting the figure-head. Wednesday morning I gathered up all my clothes and toiletries at the house and headed into the shop. There I packed a couple of toolboxes and gathered up my mast, sails, lights, and other accoutrements. I actually managed to pack everything into plastic tubs that made an even ten inch layer over the bed of the truck. This made it possible for me to put my air mattress back there without the need to unpack anything. (Urban camping in future installments)

On my way to the shop I saw a rental truck that had hit a railroad overpass and sheared the entire top of the box. There was a huge accordioned piece of metal in the middle of the street. It was pretty cool.

I left for Houston at 5:11 pm Wednesday night. It was a pretty sure thing that I was not going to arrive in time for the Welcome party at eight that night. I did make it as far as Alabama, where I slept very securely at the Welcome Center.



That is my little truck beneath a big rocket. The air mattress was comfy.
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My truck and I dress up as pirates and go to parades.
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