We are lucky to be working with a Stainless Steel welding expert at StephensMachine to get the base welded.The stability of the base is critical to the statue, and they have equipment beyond our basic welding equipment that gives us the desired result in both function and appearance. Before the final weld, the piece is placed and spot welded to position it well.
Stainless Steel is particularly prone to warp when welded, so after welding, the entire base needed to be heated and then straightened to ensure that it was not warped.
The end result looks great and we will be getting our hands on it soon, so we can continue the finishing process along with all the other gears already underway.
It is time for the project to take on parallel paths.
While Stephen’s Machine shop starts to weld the base, we get to start working with Kokomo Opalescent Glass to get the glass inserts poured. We had the molds cut in the extra space of the steel plates to save time and money, but this meant that Dave had to attach some sort of lift handle on them so that the glass folks can handle them.
For now, welding for us means a trip up to Dave’s folks’ farm and using his dad’s shop. We picked up the parts and supplies we needed to be working with Stainless Steel ( not the normal welding material on a farm),and headed north.
For Dave, working in his dad’s shop is like tapping directly back into a long family history.
This is the shop he has welded in for decades, and there are metal clamps he works with when welding here that are older than he is.
The goal for the day was to makeshift lift hooks that KOG
would be able to use to move the one inch thick stainless molds around. There are two molds- the bat for the bottom gear and the crescent moon shape that is in the top gear. Dave ended up bending some stainless screw hooks and welding them onto the tops of the molds to make a lift system that can easily have a rod inserted through.
Getting the alignment perfect so that a metal rod can be inserted means careful measurements and lots of clamps to hold things in place until they get tacked down by the first welds.
Watching him work this weekend reminded me that it is true- you really never can have too many clamps in the shop.
All of the steel parts came back from being cut at the water jett shop and we had our parts check and first welding consult with the folks at Stephen’s Machine Shop in Kokomo yesterday. That is Ken ( on the right) and Steve ( on the left)- who are working with us to get the base prepped and welded. We decided to work with folks who weld Stainless all day every day to ensure that the base is completely secure. We also believe that art is collaborative and like to work with local professionals who can help us out.
Parts check means that we go through stacks of parts, checking cut, sizing and fit. We also needed to talk through where the base welds need to be placed and how to avoid warpage to the stainless as much as possible.
The big gears came back stunningly gorgeous, we could not be more pleased.
This is the base gear – you can see the flat edge where it gets welded down to the base plate.
The long bats will get filled with Kokomo Opalescent Glass, and the rounds will remain open.
Parts checking is not just all marveling at the beauty of the pieces and playing with forklifts.
It is also time for careful measurement checks – here you can see Ken with his calipers, checking hole sizes; lining up pieces to make sure that the alignments came out correctly, and lots of talking and planning. Once the pieces are welded, it is too late to find out about misunderstandings or mis-communications. Like any other project, the up front planning is critical to success. We were very pleased with the amount of time and thought Ken and Steve contributed to making sure that the piece gets done correctly.
They will start the actual welding within a week, and we will get the chance to video tape for you, so watch for updates.