by bungee, boat and barrel

Day 14

I was so pleased with my boat yesterday – it was my first metal building project and it looked great! Well, the cold light of morning changed that. How could I have been so blind? It’s terrible! What a piece of junk. Not really. But definitely rough around the edges – so I got to work fixing it up. It’s those last few steps that are just tough to do. You get so close, it’s gone from being a lump of materials to a thing that looks like something maybe even the something you imagined. So it’s tempting to stop there and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. But once it looks like something, you have to be careful to go slowly and methodically and be sure to finish it properly. In the case of my poor little boat, it was a question of finishing the edges properly. I had these huge lumpy folds where the metal joined and I ended up pulling it all apart and rolling it instead of folding it, which makes a much cleaner edge. Then I filed down all the fun parts (the ones guaranteed to slash your hand open like a teenager in a horror flick) and apoxy (I looked at the label today and apparently I’ve been misspelling it up to now. How embarrassing.) sculpted the gaps. Not quite so pure anymore, but it’s a lot more finished looking. Tomorrow I’ll throw on a coat of paint and see how it turns out.

The afternoon was taken up with mouth mechanics. In a previous post I described the elastic/string configuration that makes the mouth move. Well I rigged up another guy (The Servant) and showed him to Judd, who liked the set up. At first. After a bit, though, he got that thinking look in his eye and innocently said “what if it was on a trigger instead of a ring?” So I got to work prototyping a new handle with a trigger. He also wasn’t thrilled with the elastic band idea, so I tried to find a way to make the bungee cord work.

The trigger is surprisingly straightforward once you get all the eye hooks screwed into the inside of the head. It’s just a section carved out of the handle with a small piece of wood bolted in the centre with enough space to move freely. I tried a couple of different shapes and sizes before finding the winner. I also ended up adding washers to help keep it from shifting too much inside the slot.

I have to admit that I also prefer the trigger to the ring. There’s less lateral movement when you pull, so it’s a bit more responsive. Plus, thanks to the power of leverage, a smaller movement of the finger results in a larger movement of the mouth. Hooray for Science! So that’s a winner.

On to bungeeing. The problem with the bungee is that to fully close the mouth, there is only about ¼ inch of space between the attachment points. The bungee only stretches to about double its length, so the mouth can barely open. Also, the bungee gets harder to pull the closer you get to maximum stretch. I figured that if the cord was longer, there would be more stretch and more even tension – a winner, The problem is, where do you put the cord without it getting in the operator’s way? The only place I could see it going was through the core of the handle, so I got out the drill and put a couple of holes through the handle around the trigger hole. Now there’s about 6 inches of bungee. Mission accomplished! I showed it to Judd who played with the mechanism for a while before looking at me and saying, “it kinda sucks, doesn’t it? Why don’t we just go back to the elastic?” The trouble is that even over the greater distance, the tension isn’t consistent, so the control isn’t as good. Oh well. The bungee through the handle sure looks a lot better engineered.

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The Servant’s head with original string&ring mechanism (right) and prototype trigger with internal bungee (left)

Ssometimes the simple solutions are the best ones.

Servant without clothes
Servant without clothes

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