Sunday, November 29, 2009

Murr-E Gets a Throttle

I purchased a Kelly throttle for Murr-E, my electric tractor project and I got it installed today. I still have to complete the control wiring, but the power wiring is mostly complete.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween office contest

Friday was fun! I dressed steampunk for the office Halloween festivities and won the top prize for the most creative costume! It was also the first outing for my steam saber, I will complete the video soon for this latest artifact.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Dryad

Dressing up runs in my family. Here are some terrific pictures of my first-born daughter in her guise of a Dryad. The costume and makeup are entirely her creations. Pretty amazing, huh?


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dragoncon 2009, the year of the steampunk explosion!

Dragoncon 2009 has come an gone and it was the best yet. I have been attending since 2001. This was the year steampunk exploded and I predict next year it will be a steampunk convention! The Alternate History track was standing room only for every panel and I certainly hope they plan on a bigger room for 2010. My costuming efforts were well received which made me very happy. I even got compliments on my work from Anthony Daniels (C3PO) and Michael Hogan (Colonel Tigh from Battlestar Galactica). Here is a slideshow of the steampunk costumes. It is by no means complete, but I hope you enjoy it. the music is "She Blinded Me with Science" by Thomas Dolby.

I uploaded all of these steampunk pictures and many more of other costumes to my Flickr account.


Monday, August 24, 2009

More steampunk artifacts....

I finished the Dimensional Rift Divinator that I had been working on for my youngest daughter to wear at Dragoncon. Here is a short video:

I finally got around to documenting PIPP, my first steampunk artifact. PIPP is short for Pulse Initiated Plasma Pistol and here is the video:


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Busy steampunking!

I have been toiling away in my shop, but I have a lot to show for it. In addition to getting my robots ready for Dragoncon Robot Battles, I have been building more steampunk artifacts. Here is my Steampunk Spinning Photon Array Pistol. I am pleased with the pewter look I was able to get with silver Rub 'n Buff.

I also finished my Radium Gripper and show it off in this video below. It required lots of detail work and reminded me I need some stronger glasses...

I made my first pair of goggles as you can see below. I used leather from an old jacket, some plumbing fittings (1 1/2" slip joint nuts), and some amber acrylic that I ordered from McMaster Carr. I made them as decorations for my hat, but they work well as goggles.

The family is really looking forward to Dragoncon!


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Somebody Stop Me!

So I got this cool product after watching a steampunk forum on youtube. Its called Rub 'n Buff. Check out these sunglasses that used to be tortoise shell. They look like old brass, huh! Just kill the gloss with some sandpaper (220 or finer) and dab the stuff on with a finger tip. It dries in 2 minutes. Then just polish it with a cloth. Its a metal laden wax. It comes in a lot of colors, I want to get some of the copper next. For use on lexan, I recommend light sanding, Krylon fusion black, light sanding, then the Rub 'n Buff for amazing results.

It does not work well on aluminum, even the anodized stuff.

Maybe I'll do my computer mouse....


Saturday, August 8, 2009

PUGG is complete in time for Dragoncon!

After about 100 hours, PUGG, my Petite Underslung Gatling Gun is finally finished. I hope you enjoy the video!

If for some reason this video will not play, I also have it posted at Youtube here.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Steampunk 3D Clockwork Binoculars are DONE!!!

I have been working on this on & off for several months and I am finally finished. The 3D Clockwork Binoculars are now ready for display at Dragoncon. In case you wonder the purpose of the scanner mounted on top of the clockworks, it provides for constant calibration of the 3D engine by compensating for the doppler shift of the target.

Don't forget the first rule of steampunk: There shall be presumption of functionality.


Monday, June 15, 2009

This was a BUSY weekend. Friday evening I burned a huge pile of brush that accumulated from recent yardwork. Saturday morning I pulled the upper intake manifold off our 2001 Honda Odyssey and cleaned out the carbon that had accumulated in the exhaust gas recirculation port. $35 worth of gaskets and I avoided a $500 EGR kit installation at the dealership. Saturday afternoon I traveled to the south of Winston-Salem to meet the President of the Triad Electric Vehicle Association and purchase a used Etek permanent magnet motor for a future project I am planning. While I was there, I got to drive his converted Chevy S10 pickup. It was a HOOT! Other than the brakes (which had a mismatched master cylinder), it was imminently driveable. I will use the Etek to convert my current internal combustion powered lawn mower (not Murr-E) to electric this coming winter. Now I have to find room for 48V worth of batteries!

I spent the better part of Sunday felling and bucking 15 trees in an area of my lot that I wanted to open up. By Sunday evening, I could hardly move! I did work a little more inside, cutting leather from some old jackets purchased at Goodwill to wrap the tubes of my 3D steampunk binoculars. I had made a template in AutoCAD that made it easy once I ripped the seams out of the chosen jacket. I conducted a science experiment with a scrap of leather and a small piece of PVC pipe to investigate the bonding of the two materials using a craft glue called Tacky Glue. The next morning I was pleasantly surprised to find that the bond was substantial. This will work!

While taking breaks this weekend, I documented a design that has been in the back of my mind for over a year. It is a steampunk inspired miniature Gatling gun that is suspended from the forearm with a collar and trigger handle. The 8 barrel assembly will rotate via a 12V cordless drill motor powered from a bank of 3.7VDC lithium ion batteries salvaged from discarded laptop packs. Here is a screen grab of the design. I have the rear section shown as transparent so the drill motor and batteries can be seen.

Enough for now!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Over on the Steampunk Side of the Shop....

I decided to give Murr-E a break and add a feature to my Clockwork 3D Binoculars that I had been scheming for a while. I sketched up a scanner dish in AutoCAD and printed the drawing full scale. I cut the shape from .032" dead soft copper and hammered the final form using a ball peen hammer and a leather glove on my anvil. Using the leather between the copper and the anvil allows the metal to be selectively stretched with each blow. Next I cut the brackets from the same material, bent a small lip for increased joint area. I clamped the brackets in place and soldered them with a propane torch. Finally I wire brushed the flux away and drilled the holes to match the clockworks. Enjoy the video!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Meetings and Motivation....

I went to my first meeting of the Triad Electric Vehicle Association (TEVA) today and met a lot of similarly minded people. There was a Tesla there to drool over and an electric go-kart for rides. I had a great time and came home very motivated to work on Murr-E. I cut another half inch out of the rear of the battery opening for comfort/clearance and welded a 3/8" rod across the rear as a stiffener for the remaining sheet metal. I made patches and welded up the openings for the deck height controls since the deck is not used on this project. I hate features that are not used that people point to and ask "What used to go there" oblivious to all the cool things that have been done. I then spent over two hours with a power wire brush cleaning off the rust and emblems seen in the picture in the previous post. The fenders are now ready for fabrication of the mounts and primer/paint.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Rear battery & Fenders....Developing

Murr-E survived re-assembly of the transaxle, hooray!!! The picture above is a mockup of the fenders modified for battery clearance and the rear dual battery frame. I need to create a little more clearance front and back, de-rust the metal, paint it bright yellow and add edge-trim to the battery opening. The fenders will be supported by risers from the battery frame which will be fixed to the chassis. The original fender support had to be axed to make room for the batteries. I have included a picture of my design for the battery frame/fender support.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Murr-E's Transaxle Exposed...

My machine conscience got the best of me and I decided I better go into the transaxle while I had it out installing new brake pads.  I am glad I did.  Some of the needle bearings were seriously dry and there was some water in the case.  A couple of days of cleanup and it is ready to go back together.  It uses a special bentonite base grease and all that is commonly available is lithium soap grease and the two are NOT compatible.  So I ordered 3 pounds of the stuff from McMaster Carr that will be here next week.

See the attached pic, this is MOST of the parts and I can probably find the rest....Haha

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Murr-E moves under its own power...

After arriving home from the SMARTT Challenge EV Autocross event, I was feeling motivated. The excellent team from McMichael High School won 1st place in their category with their 96V Mustang. It was great to put faces with the names and I learned some things that will come in very handy when I start on Frankenstang such as the issue of clearance from the motor to the steering rack.

I strapped a battery on Murr-E, rolled it out of the shop, hooked up some jumper cables and off we went. I rode it on my knees since I do not have the fenders and seat mounted yet. I cruised to the front yard slowly and set up for a short video which can be found here. I learned during this test that Murr-E on 12V will barely climb a hill even in lower gears. The original plan to use 36V is still in effect.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Murr- gets a wheel!

Last night I installed the freshly painted console, steering shaft bearing, and steering wheel. The tractor seems much smaller now.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Introducing Murr-E

Murr-E is my electric tractor conversion project. It is a 1975 Murray riding mower that I received from a neighbor in very sad shape. Most of the work so far has been to put the tractor back in useable shape. Murr-E is listed on the Electric Vehicle Album.

I applied power to the rolling chassis tonight for the first time. See the video here.

Introducing ROBOTRUCK

This is ROBOTRUCK, a '90s vintage Fischer-Price Powerwheels Big Foot truck with modifications. It is 4 wheel drive with skid steering like a tank. It has a motor and double-lobed cam to open and close the hood at my command. The Robot head pivots left and right and has ultra-bright red LED eyes. It is equipped with 105Db air horns for self defense from over-eager children bent on destruction (sad, but true). ROBOTRUCK has participated in over a dozen parades including 4 Dragon Con events in downtown Atlanta and always gets a great reception. It has web pages at

Introducing Micro

Micro is my 18 pound tabby cat/backup alarm. She got her name as a tiny kitten when we rescued her at the pound and they injected a microchip between her shoulders for ID. She is one fat cat!


I suppose an introduction is in order since this is the first post in my first blog.  I am a mechanical engineer in my 50s, enjoying life, and employed for the moment.  I am an avid tinkerer and enjoy creating things with my mind that I eventually craft with my hands.  I plan to use this blog to chronical some of my projects.  I used to race a Mustang that I am currently planning to convert to an electric vehicle.  I am in the process of converting an ancient Murray riding mower into an electric yard tractor.  I attend sci-fi conventions sometimes dressed as the 3rd Hokage from Naruto, with plans for dressing in steampunk fashion with weapons of my own design.  I drive a remotely controlled Powerwheels vehicle in parades.  These things and more will show up in this blog.  Thanks for stopping by!