You start with an idea – a train, powered by sail, with a dining car, a sleeping car, and (even though you didn’t know it until you saw it) a grape-shooting car! The idea is so powerful that you find yourself dreaming about it, drawing pictures of it, talking about it… and finally, building it. This is the story of Session 3 at Tinkering School, 2012.
Our railcars survived the night by the side of the quarry haul road in Davenport (special thanks to the night security crew at the cement factory for keeping an eye on them!), and, with a little effort, we manage to get them on to the trailer in pairs for transport.
Getting the cars down to the rails takes some effort and some walking through thistles.
Saya tries out her eucalyptus-filled pillow on the bunk bed.
“Nooi” – so good, you have to write it twice.
The clouds lay on the torpid ocean like a wet blanket, the wind nowhere to be seen; we press on.
Steve unveils his secret after-dinner project – skate-rail-board!
Our friends at the cement factory keep an eye on the progression of the project from the maintenance gantries at the top of the mixing towers.
The new spinnaker is starting to stir on the breeze, lifting hopes and refueling the excitement of the tinkerers.
The Engine team fabbed up some spiffy gussets for the sail since the sewing machine broke halfway through the sail re-shaping process.
Amelia’s wireless rock seems to get better signal than our cellphones.
When the guide-wheels get ripped off by unseen obstructions, it can bend the seemingly indestructible gold screws. Lauren performs a little forensic analysis on the twisted metal.
We start to attract a crowd at our setup spot, so we move the setup operation a few hundred yards down the track – but the crowd follows us.
The view from our new work area is pretty darn spectacular.
Lunch is, of course, served al fresco today.
While it is very frustrating that the cars are still not rolling reliably (wheel alignment, discovery of new obstructions and protrusions on the track…), we all experience a kind of dreamy euphoria. Just being out on the rails, rolling, breaking down, fixing, upgrading, hoping, and rolling again is like riding a continuous roller coaster of emotion and adrenaline.
Portrait of a Collaborator: Kami exudes a continuous calm, no matter what calamity is unfolding.
Jane and Kami add side panels to the triple-decker bunk bed so that it will be safe to sleep on when the train is rolling. Passengers will no doubt sleep just that much more soundly knowing that they cannot accidentally roll out of bed and be crushed by the next railcar.
Portrait of a Tinkerer: Adam tries out the new bunks and finds them completely satisfactory.
Gever enjoys the challenge of constantly inventing a new solution for each of the breakdowns. Here, he makes use of some plywood gussets that were brought for some other purpose that they didn’t actually suit.
The train is ready to roll, again.
We were all pretty impressed with Steve’s use of a plywood triangle to create an improvised miter-box.
The secret of his railboarding design lies in the clever use of wagon wheels to create a functional train wheel on the out-rigger – a solution so beguiling that Gever almost wants to do another project on the rails.
Portrait of a Collaborator: Hanna, part of the Engine team and fighting a flu, grabs a quick rest while repairs are being done on the Nooi car.
The dining car is serving a string cheese appetizer this afternoon. Because the seating is all on porch swings, they do not serve soup very often.
Seabirds make frequent fly-bys, Brigid and Bryn keep a keen watch.
This is exactly what it looked like in our dreams, except that we spent more time rolling down the track and less time cursing it for being so variable (special photographic effects curtesy of a sudden change in the humidity temporarily fogging Steve’s lens).
Saya takes a walk down the rails while yet another repair is figured out.
Adam entertains the team with some mad riffs on the bongos – way out daddy-o.
The wind is just barely strong enough to fill the spinnaker, but too weak to move the train. We decide to try unhooking it from the train and seeing if it can move the Engine car.
We discover that it can – just barely. When we rig for single-handed sailing, we watch as Theo rolls briskly down the rails away from us. If only we had more wind…
As the afternoon wears on, an impromptu meeting of the readers club takes place. Brigid, Jane, and Lauren; members in good standing.
Portrait of a Collaborator: Maxine takes a spin on Steve’s railboard.
With the train ready to roll again, the Kablooie team practices with their grape-shooters. You can never be too prepared for bandits on these old railroads.
Without enough wind for the sail on the railboard, Steve uses the mast as a stabilizer.
With little or no wind, Gever, Theo, Hanna, and Anita, acting as human engines, push the train all the way out of Davenport to Shark Fin beach – where the Tinkerers gleefully scamper down the steep trail to get in some frolicking while the vehicles are retrieved.
A mysterious cave leads to another hidden beach!
The field where we have stopped the train, is filled with artichokes that have been left to seed.
Little did we know, just having a rolling deck with no accessories turns out to be a really fun thing too – too bad we have to call it a day and load everything on to the trailer. But what a day!
Strategic deconstruction allows us to fit all four of the railcars on the trailer at once. How efficient we must seem to passers-by.
We bid farewell to our little friends at the cement factory, to our challenging railroad, and to our adventure in Davenport.
“Ho!”, calls Gever, one last time.
“Ho!”, say the tinkerers in response.
“Ready to roll?”
“READY TO ROLL!”
“ROCK AND ROLL!”
It was such a good day that Gever was inspired to make apple cobbler, and Adam’s extended family secretly snuck in to the Ranch house to drop off home-made cookies – so we decide to have them both!
Anita wanted everyone to see how Gever writes the blog each evening after the tinkerers go to sleep, and Gever wanted to thank you all for your kind words about the daily blog. It is, in the most literal sense, a labor of love.