Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The 7 Month Update Known as: "Pro-regress"

Holy wow. When your parents tell you life only goes faster as you get older they REALLY mean it. I can't believe it has been SEVEN months since I have updated all of you. Time to fill you in on the recent events in my life and of course update you on the never-ending project that is my balloon.

Life. To sum it up, I have been ridiculously busy. I thought I lived at work last year...pffft! I started keeping a toothbrush in my desk this year. That has to be sign I am working too much. Tons of repairs and annuals went through the shop this year. It has been fun and challenging but I am absolutely looking forward to spending time working on my own projects now that the slower winter season is here.

There was something else...something that was going to take up more of my time than I work ever could...hmm...oh yea, Kelli is pregnant! We are so very happy to having a new addition to our family around April 20th. Kelli has been reminding me to completely finish this project before the baby comes otherwise I might regret it. Seeing as I am a smart man... I will happily listen and finish this thing up! "How did he spend his time getting back into the project?" you might ask. Well that's easy. I took all the load tapes off the completed envelope!

16 bags containing the recently separated gores. Why take it apart when it was already finished? Weight. As you may recall, I used load tapes recycled from another balloon. They were free and would have worked fine. However, I was recently given a few hundred yards of light weight webbing that will shed approximately 20 pounds or more. How could I resist? I have everything set up to start reassembling the balloon tomorrow morning. Photos will be posted as I get close to having it back together.

The Gondola
I sat around staring at the work I had done to the gondola this last weekend and tried to create a plan of attack to upholster it. What I realized was I made the sides and floor too complicated. Screws, bolts, plywood and staples. It would have been a pain in the butt to take it apart for annuals or even to repair a rip. So, much like the envelope, I took it apart and came up with a new approach.

 Instead of using 1/8" plywood mounted to the frame with screws, I am using 1/8" foam with velcro. Here are a few photos of my progress so far.

 The foam and the chair
 Wrapped the chair to get a rough cut
 Traced the borders of the chair on the foam to help line everything up when making trim cuts

There is a unique problem I had to solve using this new approach to upholstering the chair with foam. When I bend the foam around the corners (or the tubing), The outside of the foam stretches, while the inside of the foam bunches up. Since I will be using a spray adhesive to adhere ballistic nylon to the outside (visible) side of the foam, I needed to figure out what materials and method would work best for covering the inside of the foam. I considered not covering the inside, but I would like a cleaner look and it will be easier to clean with a fabric surface. Here is what I came up with.

I used 3M Super 90 spray adhesive to adhere the ballistic nylon to the foam. Once it dried, I used a razor blade to make cuts half way through the foam. These cuts will be located the full length of every bend and allow the inner radius of the foam to compress. The result is a cleaner, tighter fitting bend.

Next I used some of the scrap cuts from the balloon build as a liner for the inside surface of the foam. It is lite weight and flexible, easy to work with and best of all, it's free!

Here is a shot of the foam bent around one of the tubing uprights. The design with the cuts and fabric inner face is much easier to manipulate around the bends in the chair compared to the stock foam was.

One last photo of the test piece wrapped 180 degrees around the upright tube. 

As of right now, I have the foam almost completely cut. I only need to trim the holes to allow the propane tank to slide in and out then I will start adding fabric.

I am 100% committed to finishing this project before the baby comes. Expect more frequent updates from me in the future. Thanks for following my progress!

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