Tinkering School

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Day Two - Thinking it Through

2014 Session A - Mastersgever1 Comment

So, you want to build a boat that will carry 17 Tinkerers? By our estimate, we collectively weigh 935 kilograms - almost a metric ton. Then we made some wild guesstimates and decided that the boat would weigh about 250 kilograms, for a total of 1185 kilograms, which, wait for it, is approximately 2607 pounds. Put another way, that's a little more than a cubic meter of salt water (1.2 cubic meters if you would like to be as precise as Serena, who is helping out again on the blog this week).

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We start the morning with a rousing design session where the first concrete ideas about the boat come together. Hull design evolves from mono to cata- to tri- to quatra- and even to quinta-maran solutions.

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We gather outside, long after breakfast, our brains addled by too much nebulous design consideration, pausing enjoy Lauren's many Tinkering School knives (four!).

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Your Daily Donkey

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In the barn, we set to making cardboard prototypes and dealing with some of the early onset realities of building a really big boat. For instance, plywood can be bent in any one planar curve, but not two.

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These realities send us back to the drawing boards to iterate the design further before cutting wood.

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Miles and Lauren compare and contrast two strong hull designs. After much discussion, we concluded that Miles' design would work best in our quatamaran dreams.

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Josh attempts to replicate the V-relationship of the hull- and remind us again that we can't magically bend plywood in all directions. This involves much gesturing.

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Lauren engages in an animated conversation with Gever, discussing the possibilities or her curvy design. Gever takes a look at her model, pondering.

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Portrait of a Gever: Thrilled in the midst of the immense brainstorming, progress and bustle of the barn. And look- there's Josh cubed.

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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Elizabeth ponders the ramifications.

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As we move through the morning, the hull team moves off to discuss the details of the design, while the main group stays to think about other aspects— starting with the deck. unable to decide on size, we decide we'll simply have to try it out. "Everyone climb onto the luan! Squeeze!" We quickly realized 4' by 8' was much to small.

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All aboard! We get the first try of our new "deck-to be" once we work out that 8' by 12' is much more comfortable.

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Our propulsion plans call for oars as a back-up to the sail we hope to build- so of course, we have to check to make sure they fit.

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The new tool walls have been great. The team gathers round to come up with a plan for the week. Josh 2 came up with a great marker holder, and so the sharpies are within grabbing distance- perfect for instant brainstorming tools.

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Portrait of a Tinkerer: J-cubed, Respect.

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As the hull team works to figure out how to get the curve right, they turn to diagrams. And math. Yes, that actually works at times.

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Our ambitious schedule goals- we intend to wax the boat by Wednesday afternoon, to make sure it's waterproof by Thursday, when we hope to test.

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Portrait of a tinkerer: Elijah, the look.

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Lunch on the porch- an inside glimpse at what we eat at Tinkering School. Today, paninis (spell-checked by Gabriel).

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And, your daily goat. Did you think we'd only get you the donkey?

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Lauren and Nova add the tape manager to the tool wall- one of a growing number of modifications as we tinker with this new storage.


IMG 9288 Josh and Miles lean down to examine something- them and that team have been working on hulls all morning, and now return to it.

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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Megan's boundless enthusiasm.

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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Elijah in Red.

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Nova, Megan and Liora are excited to finally start cutting out the pieces for the rudder- they've been working to design the steering and sail for the boat all afternoon.

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Elijah holds the template they've been using to precisely cut each of the bottom pieces for the four hulls they intend to build.

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The hull team- Josh, Elijah, Gabriel, and Miles, setup to make a straight cut with the circular saw- two sheets at once. The guys make good human clamps- holding the board down for a great straight edge.

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The rudder team (Liora, Megan, Serena, and Lauren) take Gever through the designs they came up with while he was away on a shopping trip- a discussion later, we'd worked out how to keep the rudder attached to the boat so that it wouldn't slip off.

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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Because Megan.

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The hull team has come up with a complex labeling system for each of the components.

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Serena starts the fabrication of the twin rudders that will grace the stern of the boat. The difficult design problems are mostly solved(ish).

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Miles, Elijah and Gabriel assemble the first floaty bobber- a process that involves attaching the gunnels.

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And the floaty bopper coming together....

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And Elizabeth, manufacturing tokens from a eucalyptus tree and a sharpie for tonights game play.

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Portrait of a Collaborator: Nova brings quiet focus.

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The deck crew is determined to get back on schedule- they hit a set back when we realized the scale of our project was so large that we actually wouldn't have been able to move the deck out of the barn once it was completed. In the search for a flat surface, they claimed the boy's bedroom for workspace.

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And forty minutes later, Yoël, Nova and J-cubed have the top of the deck screwed on - that takes a tinkerer's determination.

Tonight's blog hand crafted into the wee hours in a collaborative effort between Serena (who did most the hard part) and Gever (who had the key-strokes memorized for the tedious bit).

As per our erstwhile habit, full resolution images are available here.

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