Friday Night, August 24th, 11:42pm
It is quarter to midnight, and seven tinkerers are up with me as I write the blog. Three of them are playing Texas Hold ’em, two are playing Spades, one of them is playing bass, and one is just watching the whole scene. We don’t impose curfew on Friday nights with the Seniors group. It’s a nice time to hang out and enjoy the transitory bittersweet nature of the relationships that we have spent the week building, wallowing in a proactively nostalgic atmosphere.
By the end of breakfast, we’d decided to rebuild the track, to flatten out the turns and figure out how to deal with the excess speed. We’re going for distance and thrill. And, when we saw the hay bale smash into the door frame at fourteen miles per hour, nobody thought it looked like fun.
So we head back to the drawing board to figure out everything we have to dismantle, and everything we will have to build – today.
Elijah has been working on a side-project – a combination go-cart skateboard. The nice thing about his design is that he takes advantage of the curl in the nose of the skateboard to create some caster-angle on his front wheels so he avoids some of the lock-out problems common to pivot steering solutions.
Ethan decides to use carriage-bolts to repair the broken guide-wheel on the cart.
Next on the list is to drop the track down to the floor for the new simplified turn design. Leo slides under the track and pulls out the screws holding the legs on.
The new turns require a new set of angles, so the track crew sets up a jig for the production line.
It is not lost on us that we are almost back to where we started on Monday. Will the new design be fast enough to build?
Althea and Gever have to build a new transition to the floor, which requires them to cut a tricky angle or deconstruct more than they want to. They go for the cut – which works out pretty well.
Portrait of a Tinkerer: Tara is a little sleepy this morning.
The outdoor section of the track gets a preliminary layout to help us better understand what we have to deal with.
Portrait of a Tool: Drill Press – this became a well-loved tool after the grooving operations on the boats.
The loose straw from Session 4’s hayboarding experiment has become an impediment to progress on the track, so Leo grabs a pitchfork and makes short work of getting it loaded into a wheelbarrow.
Gever shows Ethan how to cut and clean a notch in a pole using the chop saw and mallet.
There aren’t many 2×4’s left and Josh is protecting this one for the corner crew.
Isaac and Althea enjoy the teeter-totter from last night’s free-build session.
Leo has developed a responsible confidence in using the chop saw over the past few days.
Gever, Althea, and Christie enjoy a playful balancing game as well.
It’s Leftover Friday at Tinkering School when everything comes out of the fridge during lunch – which enable Josh to create a new kind of quesadilla with pepperoni glazed to the outside with cheese.
Natalie’s new swing has a long tail that encourages flinging the rider around in a chaotic manner. Althea’s vestibular system seems to withstand Isaac’s best efforts to make her dizzy.
Sam enjoys a ride at the hands of Gardner as well.
A test run on the new corners reveals that the guide-wheels are not allowing the cart to turn as much as it needs to. Ethan re-jiggers the wheels for the third or fourth time.
Portrait of a Napper: Tara takes a break from the quiet productivity going on around her. Tinkering School takes a nap-positive view of the day.
With the end in sight, Natalie suddenly realizes that the cart needs handles if we expect anyone to ride in it. Coincidentally, Elijah wants to replace his steering handles with straps.
So we head up to the kitchen where we can heat something up to cut and melt the ends of the strap in a single operation.
With the first corner figured out, the straight stretches that have been waiting all afternoon finally get positioned and supported.
A new test run of the empty cart reveals that we are on the right track (so to speak) with the revised design. So far, so good.
Then we run with a hay bale, and that works too! There is a palpable sense of anticipation in the barn all of a sudden – we may actually finish this in time to ride it!
A little while later, the haybale makes it all the way through the second curve.
Gever promised to give Isaac a ride in the wheelbarrow when it is time for dinner.
The new steering straps work really well… but Elijah just realized that he forgot to make brakes.
We go right back up to the barn after dinner and commit to finishing the track tonight.
Just because it is completely dark, doesn’t mean the problems get any simpler. We have to connect a straight section of track to the end of the last curve – some of the angles are tricky. A solution is devised that uses hinges and posts. Elijah and Gever team up to make it work.
Everything looks like it is ready to test with a hay bale, at least as far as we can tell by headlamp.
Miles holds the hay bale at the top of the track, waiting for the “Track safe!” call from Josh.
Yes! All the way to the end of the line, and the bale stayed in the cart – which we hope means that a passenger will too.
We end the evening with a well-deserved campfire and s’mores.
It was hard for the tinkerers to give up on the banked corner, but in the end, once we did, the whole project picked up speed again. I guess you have to know when to double-down and when to fold ’em, and projects like this are how you learn the difference.