Sunday, June 19, 2011

Load Tapes and Titanium Needles!

Over the last few weeks the process of building the envelope has been focused around destroying another balloon. I'm sure most of you are thinking "What does destroying another balloon have to do with building yours?" Well, I decided to use load-tapes from another balloon. I have tested them to twice the load strength of the previous webbing I was going to purchase and there is little difference in weight. So, after many many MANY hours of pulling and cutting fabric off the webbing...I ended up with this pile inside my garage.

I am happy to reuse the webbing and I am even happier to save the extra money, but if you have ever cleaned load tapes you know how tedious and repetitive it is. At a rate of 1 load tape length per hour, it is slow going but the end result is pretty rewarding!
Although most of my time has been invested into salvaging the load tapes, I have managed to get some more sewing done. With the majority of my diamonds completed, I decided to start to assemble my #4 and #5 panels so I can prep the stickmen which will be placed on the seam between the two panels. I am not using a seam folder for two reasons: 1) The seams I am sewing are short lengths and it wouldnt save me much time and 2) I only have a 3/8 seam folder and my seams are going to be larger. So until I invest in a larger seam folder...Ill do it the hard way. 

On a side note, we (California Ballooning Services Inc.) stumbled upon an interesting solution to shredding/breaking thread due to excessive heat on the needles OR from sewing through multiple layers at once. Our sewing machine genius, Jose, brought us a few packs of Titanium needles for our double needle machines! The Titanium is on the left, regular one is on the right. Aren't they pretty?

The great thing about these needles is that they stay much cooler which prevents thread shredding from friction and they DON'T FLEX! Not many of you will ever have an issue with flexing needles, but if you can drive you crazy. Flexing needles can cause looping of the bobbin, broken needles and throw off the timing of your machine. The titanium needles are really the way to go in my opinion.

Ok, so back on topic! I have managed to all of my diamonds together (Panel 3) and finish sewing panels 4 and 5 together. With the new needles I can really blast through sewing these things together with no thread issues! (Besides changing out bobbins of course). The only thing slowing me down is limited floor space at the shop. We have a 210 and a 250 on the floor. Take a look at the chaos:
Even with maneuvering around the other balloons, I have still managed to make a pretty pile of my own.

As usual, I have been recording every working moment to document and create a time lapse video. Although it will pay off in the end, it takes a LOT of effort to start/stop the video when I take a break or start up again. It also takes a bit of time to edit the footage to make an interesting video that isn't 20 minutes of boring footage. 

My goals for the next week is to attach the stick-men to the 4&5 panels, and start to assemble panels 1-3 to panels four and 5. Once that is finished I can start assembling the gores together. That's about it for now...tune back in soon for more pictures and a color diagram of my top cap design!

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