Tinkering School

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Day Five - Shakedown Cruise

2012 Session 2 - Seniorsgever4 Comments

Our goal today is to take the railboats out on the rails to see what breaks, what doesn't work, and what could work better - shakedown cruises. It takes a bit of work to get the boats really ready, so we head up to the barn early (by this Seniors session standards - 9:30) and start loading the boats and parts that are ready to go. Editor's Note: I've been misspelling Nicki as Nickie, and I mis-identified yesterday's beach as San Gregorio when it is actually Tunitas Creek. Thank you for your patience.

IMG 1119 1 Serena wrangles the mast, boom, and sail into the trailer.IMG 1123 The Kablooie mess with their flimsy guide-wheel posts once again.

IMG 1126 The fully loaded trailer gets guided onto the ball hitch on the back of the truck - team work!

IMG 1133 We arrive at the railroad tracks. Gever lays down a few guidelines and a couple of strict rules to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

IMG 1136 These tracks have been ignored for so long that a sand dune can be seen in the far distance where it covers the rails and railbed completely. We call those "the dunes" and past that is "Far Tortuga." The agreement that Gever makes with the teams is that no one goes to Far Tortuga until all of the railboats are working.

IMG 1144 Team Kablooie brings out their railing deck (we've decided to use the term "railing" to designate the active form of railboating) to see how it sits on the track.

IMG 1151 The flimsy Kablooie guide-wheel posts have been damaged in transit and Gilon climbs under to do some quick repairs and adjustments.

IMG 1153 Some kind of horrible traffic accident, evidently.

IMG 1161 The Nooi also get their railing deck disentangled and off the trailer for a rail-fitting. The Piki and the Nooi have implemented designs that allow them to fit and position the wheels to the track upon arrival. While the Kablooi haven't had any alignment problems with their load-bearing wheels, the adjustable positioning systems used by the other teams eliminated one possible source of problems before they could arise.

IMG 1164 One of Sam's very precise wheel and guide units, field-mounted and ready to go.

IMG 1176 With the other two railboats out of the way, the Piki can now get their deck on to the rails for wheel-mounting.

IMG 1179 The Piki boat shows off it's sleek lines and broad stance on the rail - very yar.

IMG 1182 Luigi checks the guide-wheel mounting to make sure it is free-spinning and hands it to Rhody for mounting.

IMG 1183 Which Rhody then does.

IMG 1186 And Gilon is still underneath the Kablooi deck mucking about with the guide-wheel posts.

IMG 1196 Sam celebrates the incredibly silky ride afforded by the dual rollerblade wheel solution he helped deisgn and then built four of.

IMG 1202 The entire Piki team pitches in to raise the mast and set the rigging.

IMG 1208 Once again, Sam drives in the mast pins.

IMG 1219 Flimsy guide-wheel posts somewhat in place, the Kablooi also raise their mast and sail.

IMG 1221 Since the vehicles do not have proper brakes (the plan is to just let go of the boom and dump the wind out of the sail), Anita has to trap Nooi boat with her legs while the sail rigging is finished.

IMG 1240 The Piki and Kablooi are starting to have very boat-like looking craft as well.

IMG 1243 The maiden voyage of the Nooi provides the perfect opportunity to try out their new innovation - the AnchorBag(tm). Much to the surprise of Gever and the rest of the tinkerers, it works surprisingly well.

IMG 1246 Our setup area overlooks some very nice scenery.

IMG 1249 The wind starts to pick up and the sails start talking to us.

IMG 1257 Everyone is ready to go! Including Rhett who comes out from the cement plant to see what we are doing on their tracks. We explain and then invite him to take a ride.

IMG 1266 Sam volunteers to take him down the tracks.

IMG 1270 And with the wind filling in nicely, they accellerate down the rails towards the dunes.

IMG 1277 The Piki take advantage of the open track and send Luigi and Mica down the rails as well.

IMG 1282 They bring Rhett back (mule-style by dragging the boats upwind with a lead line) and decide to try more people on the Nooi boat.

IMG 1289 The flimsy guide-wheel posts on the Kablooi boat do not go more than twenty feet before giving out and letting the load-bearing wheel derail. Rhett, offers to take Hanna and Gilon to the cement factory workshop to get some parts they can cobble into working guide-wheel supports.

IMG 1299 They return with some bone-dry 2x6's that they somehow rope Gever into cutting for them.

IMG 1300 We have lunch. Every day. Just not always at lunchtime. Today's lunch was at 2pm.

IMG 1320 The Piki's offer Gever a ride on their next test run. How can he say "no?"

IMG 1335 Portrait of a Tinkerer: Mica on the foredeck.

IMG 1336 Portrait of a Tinkerer: Able sail-handler Juliana.

IMG 1343 Out on the open rail, the boats are lively and smooth riding.

IMG 1345 The teams weigh anchor at the bay by the dunes for some serious playtime.

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IMG 1363 Once everyone has had some time on the dunes, they portage to the other side and then set out for Far Tortuga.

IMG 1369 Over the horizon, on uncharted rails, beyond the sight of Gever and the retrieve vehicle.

When we get everything back to the barn, we have a list of tweaks, fixes and modifications that we will make in the morning before setting out again. By mutual agreement, we decide to try for Santa Cruz tomorrow - eleven miles by rail and sail.

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