Friday, March 03, 2006

the final day

The weather improved considerably on Thursday. Temperatures near 0°F allowed us to use waterglue to bond parts together and attach templates for gear tooth cutting without cracking the ice. Lars did a lot of chainsaw and lathe work, and I made gears. More and more people, including other sculptors, stopped to talk to us as the final hour of the competition drew near.

We encountered a number of drilling problems. The custom spade bits didn't hold up under extended usage; screw heads broke off, steel bent, and nuts came unscrewed, but we managed to get through everything that absolutely had to be drilled. Since the broken drill press carriage assembly wasn't able to make perpendicular holes, we had to use the hand drill, and hand drilling with failing bits resulted in some poorly aligned holes.

The gear tooth cutter had trouble as well. The first set of problems turned out to be caused primarily by poor drilling of spindle holes through the gear blanks, but a second set of problems resulted from the fact that the machine just wasn't well suited to cutting gear blanks weighing more than 50 pounds. I ended up using a manual method of positioning the gear blank for cuts but still taking advantage of the ability to spin the gear on the machine's spindle. This method worked incredibly well; had we turned to it sooner, we would have been able to make gears at a faster pace than was originally anticipated.

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