Final work on the Pirate train

We moved the Trinidad pirate train back into the shop one last time today. I finally had the measurements for the cab bulkhead. I did the layout in EnRoute and then sent the files off to the MultiCam plasma cutter to do the cutting.

While the machine was doing it’s work we built new pallets for the train pieces and bolted the components to these frames. This will ensure secure shipping on their way to California so they can then be mated to the operational chassis.

We then fit and welded the 10 gauge sheet metal into place for the engine bulkhead. Gauge panels will be fastened to this sturdy framework. We only have a little sculpting to finish off this project.

We can hardly wait to see all of this detail driving down the tracks!

Black eye candy

Back in April I wrote a blog post about plasma cutting ten tons of skulls.  We tossed them into the last shipment of shipping containers. On Sunday we fished two of the plasma cut pieces from one of the bins and delivered it to a local welding shop. They welded them into the test fence panels which were delivered and welded into place today. The owner and I inspected the result and declared them finished. The welder then backed his truck to the shipping container and we fished our sixty more of the plasma cut logos. Soon the park will be a whole lot spiffier and more secure.

Translating a plan to reality

I spent the whole of this past week with owners, engineers and workers on the worksite of Skallywag Bay Adventure Park in Trinidad. For five days we trudged back and forth across the site many times, me with spray bomb and tape measure in hand and the small group in tow. My task was to lay out the locations of the foundations of the rides, fences and features on the uneven ground and then explain my vision to them as clearly as I could articulate it to them. Behind us a team of surveyors recorded the marks I made in the dirt for they will quickly disappear as construction proceeds. Over the next four weeks the workers there will translate these rough marks into concrete walls, feature footings and a newly imagined hilly terrain. Then I will return to create a whole new set of marks to build the next features and so it will continue for months to come.

There has been a large workforce labouring on the site building the basic building and infrastructure. They worked from blue prints on these works but now we are building the parts which are not easily translated into drawings. These areas need to be built by eye according to the plan that resides largely in my head.

My vision is the same plan for the site I’ve described and drawn for more than four years. Only now it is finally becoming real. One tiny piece of this giant complex puzzle is the cave that will become the hole twelve of the adventure golf. Above, on the mountain top guests will start their golf game by putting into the back of a giant cannon affectionately named Joe Blow. The difficulty is that no one on site has seen the cannon for it is tucked safely into one of the sealed shipping containers.

None of the workers have seen the sketches and drawings, only plans from the architect which are little more than plain lines. The drawings from the architect are constantly being adjusted by the needs of the mechanical and plumbing engineers and myself as I translate my vision into spray marks on the ground. The form builders will simply follow the lines, not knowing what they are building. It takes a little faith on all sides that it will all turn out just fine.

Ten tons of skulls!

I’m not big on skull imagery but Scallywag Bay Adventure Park is all about pirates and the pirate logo features a skull. The tall fence around Scallywag Bay needed a little bling and we decided to weld in the skull and crossed wrenches logo into each panel. The logos will also be featured on the building posts. This meant we needed two hundred and twenty logos cut from half in chick plate steel It was time to give our MultiCam CNC plasma cutter a real workout.

The steel arrived this morning – all twenty thousand pounds of it! The forklift would get a real workout as well!

I created the files in EnRoute and then sent the cutting files off to the machine. The parts nested well with only a little waste. We’ll cut some brackets on the bigger bits and recycle the rest.

The plasma cutter handles half inch plate well as long as everything is kept nice and clean. Once the pieces were cut it took a quick pass with  the grinder to clean up the back side and they are ready to send off to Trinidad where the fence guy will weld them into place.

Pictures of recently completed projects

I learn a great deal of what I know by looking at pictures (and real projects by others). I love to see step by steps too of course.  Two of the projects of late are now complete and I thought readers would enjoy seeing how they turned out when all painted up. When we last saw the Hornswaggler’s sign and the food boat they were just at the end stages of the sculpting process. The pieces of the sign got the usual three coats of base colours and then a series of glazes to age them. Now at last they are ready to head out the door and into the shipping container.

Hornswaggler’s cutlass – part two

The cutlass took about three hours to run on the MultiCam. Late yesterday I pulled it off the machine and glued up the two halves. This morning I removed the clamps and used the air-powered die grinder to add some serious character to make it look battle worn. While I could have built the file that way it was far faster to do it by hand.

Then we used sculpting epoxy to create the leather wrapping on the handle. A thin layer of sculpting epoxy was applied over the skull and form other details  such as the teeth and the undercuts on the eye sockets. The mounting board was glued up today and tomorrow it will all be ready for paint.

Stay tuned…

Hornswaggler’s cutlass

We’ve been asked to create a sign for the game area of Scallywag Bay. We settled on the name Hornswaggler’s which offered lots of fun possibilities. I decided an oversized cutlass would be perfect. The sword will be sit in a wood sign mount and we’ll hang a sign just below asking all patrons to ‘stow yer weapons before entry’.

I created the vectors in EnRoute, tweaking the text and warping it to suit the slight curve of the cutlass blade.

The skull shape, handle and knuckle guard were created as separate reliefs using the dome tool. Compare to the original drawing above and you can see I got a better idea as I proceeded and made the hilt into a bone. Once I was satisfied with the shape of the handle I combined the five handle pieces into one relief.

Then, using the dome tool to make negative reliefs for the eyes. I checked the front view and after nudging them up into position merged (lowest) with the handle relief to make the eye sockets.

The blade of the cutlass was created using the prismatic tool. Again compare the blade vector to the original one and you will see I pulled the ‘V’ shape back a little further into the handle to make it work. Once the handle and sword were complete I combined the two reliefs.

The lettering was created by creating a negative shape (subtract from) using the prismatic tool into the original cutlass relief. I should note that before I applied the lettering I created a second copy of the sword relief. This will be flipped to form the back half of the sword.

Next up is the sword bracket and other details. Stay tuned…

Pirate train model

We are building a pirate train for Scallywag Bay. We have partnered with one of the best train builders in the world for the project. Hillcrest Shops, from California is building the chassis of the engine and rail cars. It all started with a concept drawing. The first version was an 0-40 meaning it didn’t have any forward wheels, but had four driving wheels. No trailer or tender wheels were present.

As we progressed through the design it became an 0-6-0 to ensure it was stable on the winding track.
The chassis is coming along quickly in the shop in California. Look close at the picture below and you’ll see a Disney steam engine in the background. It is undergoing a full rebuild.
As we talked about endless things with the chassis builder we decided the easiest way to get our ideas across was to build two models. One would be for our permanent collection and the second would go the Hillcrest shops.  Because the real chassis is so precise the model needed the same treatment. It was routed from thirty pound Precision Board.
Once the mechanical bits were in place it was time for some sculpting. I did the first bit on the first model to set the tone and scale. 

Then Jenessa took over with minimal art direction from me. She did a fabulous job on every detail.

On Friday Jenessa finished the sculpting process. I still have to stick on the rope rigging and the connecting rods and running gear. Then we are on to paint.

Ready… Set…

We’ve been busy for the last year working on hundreds of signs and features for the Scallywag Bay Adventure Park in Trinidad. Over the last six months we carefully packed those features into shipping containers and sent them on their way. Now, at last the onsite construction is set to begin. I travelled down to the Caribbean this week to oversee the final checks. The first order of business was to do a site survey, confirming all boundaries and forty-two critical points in the park in order to locate the buildings, rides, pools and other key features. Then I used a spray bomb to mark the buildings and other features on the ground in order to confirm the placement of every piece of this giant jigsaw puzzle. It will be extremely expensive or impossible to make changes from this point forward. Save for one small change, the layout worked as I imagined back in my studio. With the surveyed steel pins in place and a schedule to constantly check and replace them as necessary I have every confidence that the buildings, foundations and retaining walls will be built where they are supposed to be. The next time I return the park will be very much in the vertical construction stage.

While I was onsite I opened each container and checked inside. I was delighted to see that everything has arrived in perfect condition after their 6,000 mile journey. It was a bit of a surreal experience to climb inside and inspect the containers. The last time I was inside everything appeared the same but when I exited I looked out the doors and saw our shop. This time, despite the inside being familiar, I saw a lush tropical jungle and seaside view as I looked out.