Monday, November 25, 2013

More Changes and Installing The Parachute

I have the rebuilt balloon "in the bag"... well...kinda.

Following my recent trend of making improvements to the rebuilt envelope , I have replaced some of the components to save more weight. I'm keeping this post short and sweet. Enjoy the photos!

The old velcro attachment on the envelope 

I added some load tape to reinforce the seam.

It got a little tight in the sewing machine sewing together the last gore tape.

These are the new confluence and centering lines that will replace the parachute cord previously installed. Saved about 2 pounds.

Knots for the new confluence lines

The new centering and confluence lines stretch so I measured them under 5lb load to get the proper length

5lb's of tension to get the proper length for the new lines

 Pulleys and attachments for the turning vent lines

Turning vent pulley installed

Installed the crown ring

Inflated the balloon inside the shop to tie in the new lines

Parachute top tied in

Excited to see this fully inflated!

I'm using parachute cord for the top section of the turning vent. I will use 1/4" black and green line for the lower section.

I reinstalled the suspension cables and tied in a new crown line. With all the changes I have saved about 35 pounds. Not too bad! 

This week I will start to tackle the chair again. Not sure how much I will get done. Check back in a few days for another update.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Happy To Rebuild!

I promised an update for Monday but you're getting it on Tuesday instead. All in all, not bad seeing as there was a multi-month gap between updates before. Again, I apologize about that!

I spent a lot of time this last weekend fighting the timing on my sewing machine. It was one of the first times I have had a "major" issue with the timing on this machine. VERY frustrating as some of you may know. Saturday I was only able to get two gores in before I threw in the towel. Luckily, Sunday was a different story. I came in determined to get the machine back to the reliable piece of machinery it has been. An air hose, some sewing machine oil and a few choice curse words later I had it back up and running. Time to start sewing!

I had 4 gores to sew up. My game plan was to install the gore with the turning vent second to last since I would be twisting and turning it a lot and wanted it to be close to an opening to avoid the massive bunch of fabric laying on the floor next to me.

As I mentioned before, I decided to redesign the turning vent during this reassembly process. The previous vent would have worked just fine, but it was bulky and quite frankly it didn't look all that great. It was one of the sections I just threw together to get it done. My goal with this new one was to take my time and be happy with the end result. I can definitely say I am EXTREMELY happy I redesigned the turning vent. It took me about 4.5 hours from start to finish but it looks great. Oh, and just a reminder, I based the design off of Lindstrand Balloons turning vent. I have had to rebuild a few of their vents and like the simplicity of their design. Here are the photos!

Since the new turning vent design uses a normal gore as the inner turning vents, I only had to cut fabric for the outer turning vents. I pulled out my panel #3 pattern to get the right shape. (Not pictured is the diamond pattern which I also used)

I cut two 30" sections (one left and one right). I knew 30" was going to be too large for my outer turning vent, but I needed to lay it out to get a better idea of the width I would need.

I decided on a 24" (22" finished) outer turning vent. Here are the outer turning vents with the diamond pattern sewn into place. The diamond ends "should" line up with the diamond in the balloon when it is inflated. Hopefully it wont require much adjustment

The turning vent requires horizontal webbing on the outside and inside of the vent. I covered the outer turning vent webbing in the same color fabric for aesthetic purposes only

And then there were two!

This is the inside of the balloon. The webbing will be the edge of the inner turning vent. The webbing visible here is sewn adjacent to the vertical load tape (under the seam to the left)

Once the inner turning vent webbing is in place, I installed the horizontal load tapes across the entire turning vent gore and the adjacent gores.

This is the outside of the balloon. The stitching on the left is the inner turning vent tape I installed in the last two photos. The vertical load tape is seen on the right

With a sharp knife and a steady hand you simply cut the fabric between the vertical load tape and the inner turning vent tape.

Now there is a vent (not quite a turning vent yet!)

The inner turning vent requires some additional support to hold the turning vent flags. To get a straight line, I connected my match marks and marked with a grease pencil

Sewing on some inner turning vent webbing (on the inside of the balloon)

Here are the two inner horizontal bands that are sewn to the inside of the turning vent. In the next few steps I will sew the vent flaps and outer turning vent webbing to these horizontal bands.

Cut out my 18"x18" vent flaps

Added some webbing for support

Then sewed them into place at the inside edge of the inner turning vents

One vent flap complete!

Here is the completed inner turning vent with all four vent flaps. I decided to make them pink rather than Gray because the pink fabric has a higher bias strength.

Last step was to install the outer turning vents over the inner turning vents and stitch the horizontal support tapes into place. The outer vent tapes are covered in the colored fabric it will be covering. If my measurements were right, there should be a flawless edge on the diamond when the balloon is inflated. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Second photo showing the completed turning vent with fabric covered tapes

While I was sewing the turning vents together, I had a brainstorming session and decided to redesign other areas of the envelope. Nothing as major as the turning vents. Just small things I could do (and should have done initially) to improve the balloon. One such thing was removing the D-Rings from the throat. There were two issues with the D-rings. 1) They were heavy and 2) They could possibly rust. So off they came! I ultimately took the idea that Kubicek currently uses (Yes, others use this too) to attach the cables to their Vertical load tapes.

Zig-Zag stitch the webbing in to a 3 layer fold

Fold over to make a loop

Stitch 18" overlap from the throat edge

Here is the finished product with the throat tape installed. Cleaner, just as strong, and no worry of rust!

For those of you who are builders yourself, don't worry, I strength tested the design with this webbing  and it held up just fine.

Tomorrow I will be adding the last three horizontal load tapes and closing up the last vertical load tape. If there is time, I will reinstall all the attachments and pulleys to the inside of the envelope and tie in the parachute top again.

Expect an update around Thursday or Friday!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Getting The Ball Rolling

The last two days have been very productive. I haven't had as much time to work on the balloon (envelope or chair) as I thought I would. That hasn't deterred me from getting done what I can while the opportunity was available. So far I have been able to reassemble 10 gores. I couldn't find my seam folder so I decided to just fold by hand. It slows things down a little bit but I was able to move at a decent pace. Being in the sewing machine for a few hours allowed me to rethink a few design areas on the envelope. The biggest change will be the turning vent design. I felt this was one of the areas I rushed a little too much. When I had it laid out on the floor it was too bunched and didn't look that great. I might try a more simple idea like the design that Lindstrand uses. I only have a few more gores to assemble before I get to the turning vent, so I will be sure to post photos of the design I decide on. For now, here are some of the photos of the reassembly process.

 Putting together the first two gores
 Adding the 4th
Straightening the 10th gore to be sewn in

I have made a little progress on the chair in the last few days as well. As you saw in my last post, was able to get the rough cuts on the foam exterior sorted out. I still needed to cut the area for the tank to slide in and out as well as work on the foam seat bottom.

Installed the tank
 Foam exterior with cutouts for tank
 Complete wrap of foam exterior
Foam seat cushion
 Cutout for access to tank valve
 Pilot view of the tank valve.

So as you see I have been able to get a few things crossed off the list. My weekend is free (surprisingly!) and my goal is to have the envelope sewn back together by Monday morning. I may work on the chair, but the envelope is my first priority so I can get it off the floor. Check back Monday for another update!

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!