Tinkering School

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Day Five - Today we Float, Tomorrow we Boat

2014 Session A - Mastersgever1 Comment

We woke up this morning ready to get to work - even though we've been behind schedule, we still want to test this afternoon - and that means waxing all four pontoons, building four more oars, and finishing the rudder/tiller steering system.

After breakfast, Gabriel and Yoel share Gever's iPad in order to get a look at the blog - after all, we've accomplished a lot these past three days, and it's fun to think back. And look at pictures.

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We head up to the barn to set up a waxing station inside to wax the pontoons. Everyone gathers around to move the pontoon to the makeshift saw horses (Ben, Yoel and Josh's benches repurposed) to examine the side we're about to wax. How many tinkerers does it take to move a pontoon?

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An unfinished hull. The ambitious goal to place an entire, floating boat in the water by 2pm. If anyone is up to the task, it's us.

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And so we set to work. Working in parallel, discussing the most efficient ways to go about the task, the barn bustles with activity. And we are able to move forward on all four boats at once- repairing loose lacings done past 10pm last night, cutting the backs for the pontoons, and above all, waxing.

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Gever, Liora and Frannie discuss waxing techniques, sharing the knowledge Elizabeth and Frannie gained yesterday when they waxed the oars. So we take an oar out to study- the good strokes and the bad- and thus, we learn from each others past experience. So goes Tinkering School.

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Frannie slowly strokes wax onto the bottom of a pontoon.

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Waxing is a team effort. Frannie, Lauren, Elizabeth and Josh work together, sharing a hot bucket of wax.

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Hands of a Tinkerer: Serena tightens a loose wire stitching to (hopefully) better keep the seam of the boat together.

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Megan peers out from behind the pot of wax. She's stepped in to help the waxing team get the pontoons done in time. Lauren, too is hard at work as always. Today, waxing is her forte.

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An interesting technique evolves among those elite waxers. Excess wax, it is discovered, can be recovered and returned to the pot for future use by running a pocket knife lightly along the waxed part of boat. Megan uses her knife help in these efforts.

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There is a perfect temperature for wax coating. This is achieved by reheating the pot frequently. And to ensure we don't run out, more wax is added. Pontoons, we learn, require quite a lot of wax.

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But the waxing isn't the only thing to be done. Ben and Elizabeth cut out paddle blades for more oars.

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Because our difficulties sourcing canning wax, our supply angel Robyn brought us candles, which when painted onto the pontoons give them a nice, watercolory look.

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Candle in the melting pot.

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Portrait of a Tinkerer: the reliable Miles.

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The waxing team discovers that shaved off wax makes wonderful, curling roses when placed right.

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The morning light turns our barn into a cathedral of tinkering.

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Hands of a Tinkerer: Elizabeth is agile and adept with the angle grinder.

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Frannie uses the heat gun to ensure the wax has seeped into the wood everywhere, making as tight a seal as possible.

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Oar handles have to be perfect, because the sail may be a little bit small. Elizabeth has worked in some way on all nine of the paddles produced this week.

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The tinkerers have taken over the cameras today (and the blog - thanks Serena), and we have almost two thousand new pictures to sort through tonight. Evan caught young Josh in a digital shootout.

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Before lunch, we thought that we would be pulling out of Elkus Ranch at 4pm. That was our goal. We worked through lunch in shifts and at 4:45pm we were finally loading the trailer.

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"All Hands!" becomes a frequent refrain as we move all of the boat parts out of the shop. The mast will stay behind because we just don't have time to figure out the rigging today.

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Liora puts line-routing holes in the boat deck so that we can tie the pontoons to the deck and keep them in place while we are sailing through high waves.

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The true size of the deck becomes apparent as we get a better perspective on it.

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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Elijah expresses the joy we all share for the imminent launch of our boat.

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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Evan has been running errands and keeping a ready hand for the trailer packing team.

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Hands of a Tinkerer: Elijah and beetle.

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"All Hands!" is the call once we arrive at the harbor and unpack the boat. It is now 7:15pm, not the 4pm we were hoping for, and that makes this the latest test run of a Tinkering School project - ever.

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Boat preparation at sunset.

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Portrait of a (embattled) Tinkerer: Elizabeth is steadfast despite her many injustices (poison oak from playing with a farm dog, cut finger from whittling, cut finger from slamming finger in door, miner's lung from jigsawing nine paddle blades).

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Portrait of a Tinkerer: Lauren is all dressed up for the first test run.

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Megan is happy to climb into the trailer and help with the complicated rigging and pontoon-retention system we have invented.

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First touch of the sea. The stalwart pontoon team with help from Josh, Nova, and Emma, lowers the first pontoon into the water. Will it float?

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The first leak is discovered.

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Light and lively in the water, the stern section of the pontoon floats peacefully in the slip.

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With one section in the water and much work to be done, the lowering of the second section hardly rates a glance from the ever-focused Lauren.

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Two in, two to go.

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A few brave souls shed their shoes and enter the cold waters of the Pacific.

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Being the lightest, and youngest, as is our erstwhile tradition, Lauren and Megan are sent to the hanging deck to align the stern sections of the pontoons.

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"I have to admit," says Miles, "I'm really attached to these pontoons."

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8:30pm: with Megan and Lauren onboard, the boat floats! The sections of the pontoons are joined and secured to the deck cleats - it is a success! Now, how many of us will it hold?

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"All aboard!" We clamber on.

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It floats! It's an honest to goodness boat. We are careful to regard this as a "hull test" so that we don't have to name the boat yet (although a concerted effort was made to dub it "Pine-Tiki" by the pontoon team).

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Hull test complete, we disembark and dismantle our boat. We will take it back to the barn to address the leaks that have been discovered.

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It has been a great day. We are exhausted, hungry, and exhilarated. Dinner happened at 10:30pm (the latest dinner at Tinkering School ever) and at 1:51am the blog team calls it a night.

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