Tinkering School

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Day Two - Design, Build, Shop!

2012 Session 2 - Seniorsgever1 Comment

We have a fairly well understood goal - sailboating by the end of the week - and we've been talking about the critical considerations since we introduced the goal on the first night, now, over breakfast, we found the scope a little daunting. The weather, to say the least, is less than inviting, and there is a collective tendency to linger in the cozy dining room of the ranch house. But this is Tinkering School and time's a wastin'. IMG 0153 So, we got right to it and started working on the designs for three railboats.The teams are formed thusly: Piki - Juliana, Luigi, Mica, and Mackenzie Nooi - Rohdy, Sam, Declan, Serena, and Anita Kablooi - Sam (aka Nigel), Gilon, Nickey, and Hanna

The materials are divided evenly; one sheet of 3/8" plywood, one sheet of 1/4" luan, two 2x4's, four 1x4's, and a shared pool of assorted wheels ranging from tubed wagon wheels to urethane 70mm skate wheels - and a $30 gift card to the local hardware store.

We begin.

IMG 0161 The Kablooi use their materials to mock up a few ideas. After a few minutes of various layouts they settle on a design that "feels pretty right."

IMG 0163 Juliana and Mica explore various relationships between a load-bearing skate wheel and a lightly loaded rollerblade guide-wheel on our salvaged chunk of rail.

IMG 0165 The Nooi soon move from paper to prototype to work out some difficult resource constriants.

IMG 0175 Returning tinkerer Nigel (aka Sam) seems right at home at the controls of the chopsaw.

IMG 0183 There are parts of the emerging plan that give Gilon pause...

IMG 0187 The Piki team starts assembling wheels by sorting out and inserting bearings.

IMG 0189 Evidently, the right tool for the job is the Crayola marker.

IMG 0191 g With bearings in place and correctly aligned, Juliana finds something irresistibly silky about the simple skate-wheel mechanism.

IMG 0196 Sam sees things differently and has developed a reputation as the quiet thinker of the Kablooi team.

IMG 0198 Getting the wheels centered on the rail is deemed a critical component of the Kablooi design.

IMG 0201 Gilon is the Kablooi master of accuracy and steadfastly maintains a very high standard of precision.

IMG 0202 The shelves of Tinkering School. What do these parts want to be?

IMG 0206 The next step in precision marking is precision cutting - Nickey gets to it under the watchful eye of Hanna.

IMG 0208 The Nooi have also chosen to use a mixture of skate and rollerblade wheels so they set themselves to the task of fitting the bearings to the wheel blanks.

IMG 0213 Meanwhile, the Piki have been looking for ways to create more rigidity in their railboat. Juliana tries increasing the number of diagonal members in the body.

IMG 0217 When asked, Gever is a fountain of advice and peculiar digressions that touch on topics ranging from insect anatomy to ice cream physics.

IMG 0219 Portrait of a Tinkerer: Juliana is happy when she has a tool and a project.

IMG 0220 Portrait of a Tinkerer: Luigi has a laid-back style that belies his intensely productive mode of working.

IMG 0222 Portrait of a Tinkerer: Gever in the thick of it.

IMG 0234 The Kablooi team is starting to have a frame and the complexities of getting one particularly difficult screw properly placed has become a "wait, I have an idea - let me try something" kind of game.

IMG 0245 Every team has managed to use all the 2x4's and 1x4's they have been allocated in the design of their railboat frames, leaving nothing to make masts out of. We decide that eucalyptus is not cheating. We head down to our favorite little forest where Gilon fells are nice straight sapling.

IMG 0247 Serena also finds a particularly perfectly dimensioned mast disguised as a small tree and brings it down.

IMG 0258 IMG 0259 IMG 0260 Timber! Juliana fells her sapling after fighting with it fiercely for a few minutes of hard sawing.

IMG 0269 Then we cart our bounty out to the truck and head back to the ranch.

H IMG 0166 There is a lot of discussion of the importance of precision because the rails are thin and the margin for error is small. Mica decides that the drillpress is the right tool for precise placement and alignment of the holes she needs.

H IMG 0167 Cleverly camouflaged, Nigel (aka Sam) manages to get in an afternoon nap before being discovered by his teammates.

IMG 0275 Portrait of a Tinkerer: Gilon takes the opportunity to ride on the runningboards of the truck very seriously.

IMG 0281 Portrait of a Tinkerer: Serena is caught enjoying herself on the ride up the hill.

H IMG 0173 Refreshed from his nap, Nigel helps offload the new masts.

IMG 0284 crop Mica discovers that the unloaded electric drill "feels neat" when she spins it against her cheek.

IMG 0285 The designs and the constructions get far enough along that the teams decide they are ready to go to the hardware store. Much to our chagrin, the local store does not carry the right kind of 1x4, even after we sort a big pile that has to be brought down with the big forklift.

IMG 0289 So we also go to the big hardware store in Daly City, and in doing so break a long-standing Tinkering School tradition by leaving the ranch on two consecutive days.

IMG 0292 Luigi is far more critical of the quality of the 2x4's than any 12 year-old has a right to be.

Almost as soon as we arrived home, the persnickety toilet in the girls bathroom stopped working, overflowed onto the floor and out the door and down the hall... Anita and Gever left Hanna to the defrosting of ground turkey for taco night while they dealt with the unspeakable mess that was now making a run for the girls dorm room.

And, in spite of the excessive time spent in cars, it was a very productive day and the teams are feeling pretty good about having something to test on the rails by Wednesday morning - maybe not finished, but definitely testable.

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