This is how the whole thing turned existential; Gilon walked back into the dining room after making himself a quesadilla for lunch, looked around the table and declared, “Everyone stole my chair.” That was how it started, and before the day was over, we talked about the elusive tangibility of existence, the difficulties of really “knowing” anything for sure, and the slippery slope of infinite possibilities.
Last night, the Bananagrams began. Our evenings will never be the same again.
Witness the galvanization of a habit into a tradition; every time the truck has to move between the buildings at Elkus Ranch, it accretes tinkerers like barnacles on a slow-moving whale. We’re off to the barn!
The Kablooies drill the axle mounts on their finished frame. Sam on the big honkin’ drill.
Rhody jigs up a special brace for the Nooi railboat.
Sam is setting up a factory for producing Nooi wheel units.
Anita joins Rhody to help finish the brace. It’s a critical structural element in their deisgn.
Sam needs a lot of identical chunks of wood for his wheel unit factory.
Mica and Julianna make light work of their adjustable wheel unit construction projects.
Mica was here. Drawing her name in sawdust. On the table. In person.
Portrait of a Tinkerer: Sam making precise marks.
Julianna and Mica’s efforts see the wheel units coming to fruition.
Portrait of a Tinkerer: Rhody has focus.
At the testbed, Juliana takes a wheel unit for a testdrive.
Portrait of a Tinkerer: Declan explains how the pieces fit together.
We are using all of the clamps today. Anita and Serena fit, clamp, and screw.
The long bolts that were purchased to mount skate and rollerblade wheels on are galvanized – which means that they don’t fit the plain bolts we got very well, which means that Juliana (along with Gever and Hanna) try grinding the bolt shafts down with a file. It seems like it could work, but after more filing than we collectively care to admit, we dispatch Gever to the hardware store to get proper bolts.
Luigi is an unstoppable force in the barn this morning.
Portrait of a Tinkerer: Mica tightening the bolt on a wheel unit.
Can you see it? The mast rising above the railboat, the sail stretched tight, the lines singing in the wind? The Kablooi mast and boom are almost in place.
But first, they have to finish mounting the wheels. Unlike the Piki and the Nooi, the Kablooi have decided to use the big wagon wheels. To reduce the rolling resistance they have pumped them up to 40psi, rendering them nearly as hard as the urethane skate wheels.
Declan makes friends with a goat.
Serena makes friends with donkey.
What a friendly place! Gilon makes friends with donkey.
On a tour of the upper barn with Leslie the ranch manager, the tinkerers meet the herd of sheep, horses, cows, and bigger goats.
Julianna reports that it is both thrilling and a little bit scary to hand-feed an eager sheep.
We live in a world filled with enormous and mysterious creatures.
Serena and Rhody of the Nooi ask Gever a seemingly simple question; “What kind of sail should we make?”
And true to form, Gever whips up a diagram as he explains the basic principles and designs.
To make sails, we have a collection of donated paragliders in various states of disrepair.
Watch out for the giant glider monster!
The Nooi spend some time getting to know the shape and properties of the paraglider.
Your moment of Zen.
The barn sustains a continuous hive of activity throughout the day as railboats come together.
Mica helps shape the Piki boat prow.
Nickey and Gilon work out a complicated relationship between the load-bearing wagon wheel and the guide wheel.
Sam’s factory has produced four identical and very carefully assembled wheel units.
Declan is happy cutting a new boom, but Gever has some serious misgivings regarding his sewing technique.
Juliana and Mackenzie work on the new deck for their railboat.
Mica takes a turn at the scroll-saw.
Bits of scrap wood are assembled into a mock rail.
Box of nuts. At rest.
Piki drop their new deck into place.
Which must be immediately sat upon “for testing purposes.”
Portrait of a Tinkerer: Luigi gives us the look.
Before the paragliders can be used as sails, Juliana and Luigi must remove the lines.
A sudden nap-attack takes Mica and Juliana out of the game for half an hour.
But then they are back at work and going like gang-busters.
Hoping to leverage the lifting qualities of the wing, Serena cuts holes in the ribs of the paraglider to slot the Nooi mast into, thus preserving the aerodynamic shape (hopefully!).
The mast gets slotted in, and Rhody ties it off at the top.
It’s working (we imagine, because there is almost no wind)!
Droopy sails cry out for battens, so we dash down to our favorite eucalyptus grove for thin, flexible branches.
Which results in a very bushy load.
A bit more work and then it’s time for dinner. Tonight is pasta with leftovers. Mackenzie puts marinated chicken on hers.
And here’s a simple vegetarian version.
Guten appetit, everyone!
Then it’s back up to the barn for a few more hours of building. Everyone wants to be ready to test their vehicles tomorrow.
“I’m testing my starfish pose!” claims Declan.
His audience does not seem impressed…
…because they are too busy working. Serena is trimming and cutting battens to bias her sail into the proper curve and shape.
Some new ways of attaching masts to decks are invented.
It is a rare evening at Elkus when we catch a glimpse of the sunset, so almost everyone goes outside to work on the sails in the golden-hour light.
Barn One – our workshop, playspace, and home base.
Work is good for conversation.
The Piki sail goes up for a test hang.
It was a long, and very productive day at Tinkering School. The last of the tinkerers left the barn at 10pm, pleading for just a few more minutes.
We can’t all help but wonder if the railboats will work on the test run tomorrow.