Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What. A. Month...or Two?

There are many words which could describe the last two months of this project. "Inactive", "dead" and "dormant" are all viable choices. Possibly the most appropriate descriptive word is "interrupted". My progress has been interrupted by work, time conflicts and non-existent floor space...but it hasn't been interrupted by a lack of motivation.

It wasn't until yesterday that I realized it has been two months since I have updated this blog (or journal?) with anything of real substance. Not one substantial piece of progress had been made on my project. This aggravates me. Each and every day I see the pieces of my balloon sitting in the corner of the shop, folded neatly, awaiting assembly. I hadn't forgotten about the balloon by any means. Most days I wondered how I could manage to clear the floor for a significant amount of time to get one more seam sewn together. Those delusional dreams were usually crushed by the arrival of another balloon which would be placed inconveniently where I was going to lay out my fabric... such is life...

But today was different. My day dream lasted longer than usual. I was thinking about how great it would be to have a full day to work on putting together the 16 gores and be able to finally have an update for the people anxiously awaiting news on the build (right?). Then something unusual happened...absolutely nothing! Nobody was coming in today, the floor was clear, and I had the entire shop to myself! Let the PROGRESS BEGIN!

The short and sweet of assembling the gores:
Each seam (with load tape) takes approximately 40 minutes to sew. This is without a folder or a tape guide. Unfortunately the coating on my 1.9oz fabric does not like to slide through the seam folder, nor on the sewing machine table. This causes my sewing time to increase because the fabric drags a considerable amount. The occasional application of dry silicon spray helps, but doesn't last very long.

I have left 18 inches of extra load tape at the throat of the balloon so I can double it back to create a 1 inch loop which will contain two 5000lb Dee Rings and the remaining 16 inches will be sewn to itself to provide structural support. Some might wonder why I chose 5000lb Dee Rings for such a small balloon and the answer is simple...they were cheaper than the lower load rated ones. One ring will serve as the skirt attachment point and the other will attach to a rapid link which connects my suspension cables (seen towards the end of this post). As of today, I have managed to assemble a total of 8 gores. HALF THE BALLOON! I greatly exceeded any and all expectations of work to be completed today. My passion for the project has been reignited, and it feels great!

Here are a few photos of 6 gores sewn together. I have said it before, and Ill say it again! "The colors pop so well against the dark fabric" I cant wait to see it inflated!"

Sewing the fabric wasn't the only thing I manged to get done today. I also made my stainless steel suspension cables. 8 double sets of 1/8 inch cable. They are strong, sturdy and weight tested. The rapide links will attach to the Dee Ring on each gore tape of the balloon.

Pictured: Nicropress tool, a small thimble which attaches to the rapide link, a large thimble which attaches to a carabiner, 1/8 inch SS cable and a copper ferrule.

16 Rapide Links which will attach to the Dee Rings on the envelope throat edge.

Completed thimble ends with rapide links attached.

All 8 double sets completed.

With any luck, I will be able to begin working on the remainder of the envelope tomorrow. Hopefully the floor will remain cleared for me...check back soon!

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