We arrived unannounced, but the staff here were just super and gave an impromptu tour of their boat building facility. The apprenticeship program is open to young adults, age 17-22, who have struggled through the traditional school system. The Foundation offers a great opportunity for folks to learn practical skills, learn through hands-on experience and to be able build a boat! Those of use who had worked on the wooden mock-up of the 2013 ISR entry Il Calamaro could really appreciate the intricacies of wood bending, etc. Again, we added to our knowledge base of what programs are available and where skilled professionals are to be found. Thank you, Alexandria Seaport Foundation and Mr. Chadwick for this great tour.
What a great tour! TechShop is sort of like a gym for "makers": They charge a membership fee which gives you access to all the equipment...once you've passed the basic safety skills test. They offer classes, too. Let's see, among equipment that's available here are:
-tool benches, basic hand tools
-design work stations with 2D and 3D software
-silk screening area
-laser jet etching/cutting machines
-injection molding machine
-vacuum forming machine
-sewing area with heavy duty machines, sergers, embroidery machine, vinyl cutting machine
-bike repair/maintenance station
-wood shop (table saws, CNC milling machines, lathes, drill press, etc)
-machining shop (powder coating and sand blasting booths, tube bending machine, sheet metal bending machine, welding area, CNC milling machines, lathes, drill press, water jet cutter, etc)
There are also storage facilities, a kitchen/dining area, meeting rooms, a supply shop, and more.
So, for the submarine team, if we needed to vacuum form the windows for the sub, we could do it here. In fact, there are a lot of parts we could make here, if we had the training necessary and a membership. Another successful fact-finding trip!
In 2013 our hull was made by skewering expanded polystyrene (eps) discs onto a spindle, fairing it to the desired profile and fiberglassing over the form. It was pretty straightforward, but time intensive. Some of our eps had come from cellofoam via a roofing contractor we knew. We'd heard they could make big, intricate shapes. If we had the financial resources but limited time, might we be able to work with cellofoam to make our fiberglassing form? We decided to find out. Hence, our trip to cellofoam's plant in Winchester, Virginia, where Plant Manager Rick McMahon gave us a guided tour.
Our conclusion: Yes! Cellofoam could be a valuable resource for our submarine team. Not only could they make a shape to the size and dimensions we needed, but they could mark centers or ship it with a center-axis spindle in place. Thank you for the great visit, Mr. McMahon and the cellofoam team!
One of our goals is to learn how to lay down fiberglass more proficiently. Three new team members--Nisha, Scarlett and Liam--who did not work on the previous sub came over to the Carts' house and learned about types of fiberglass and types of resin. We worked on sample squares and tried our hand at making bulkheads by pinching a "wet" strip of fiberglass. Here are our results:
What a great day! The hull team came by in two groups and we were able to experiment with heat forming acrylic. Our first efforts included putting a simple bend in small acrylic samples. Everyone got a turn at clamping his/her sample in a vice and heating the piece with a heat gun. We ended up with some interesting shapes. Then we tried our hand at forming complex curves by trying to mold a piece of acrylic to a metal bowl. We experimented with three techniques: heat gun, drape forming, and vacuum forming. We clearly need to do more testing--possibly consult with someone who has more experience--but we learned a lot about the importance of temperature control, good clamping, team work, and problem solving. Here are some photos of the team at work.
Fueled by their desire to propel the sub with a jet of water, the propulsion team hit on the idea of dissecting a jet ski. Our fiberglass mentor, Mr. Whitley, conveniently knew of a used one available for this purpose. (Thank you, Mr. W!) Mr. Riz picked it up, and the propulsion team set to work. Below are photos of the team taking the jet ski apart in their quest to understand how it worked. Some of the lessons learned are: it's harder than you think to take apart a jet ski; a jet ski propulsion system is likely considered a prop design because it has radiating blades (we're hoping to enter the non-propeller category); it might be difficult for a human-powered vehicle to supply the rpm necessary for this system to work well.