Sunday, September 25, 2011

A secret place........

When I first moved away from Minnesota to California,  joining Exile cycles and working on Discovery channel shows, I was a bit taken back and sometimes a little overwhelmed by the work load of on and off camera work.

I needed a place to hide....

I happened to run in to someone that told me about a very special place located in Los Angeles that would cheer me up and leave my brain twisted, the true location is low key and I don't know how much I should share but here is quick peek at one of the most happy places in the world for me!

My buddy Art, who use to work here moving stuff around,  now is on a Navy ship repairing jets and moving aerospace parts around just like when he worked here ( there you go Art, theres your fame for the month)

Remember I am an AeroSpace Welder and my love for NASA is very strong so this place is very special to me.....

This place is where NASA laid to rest so of its most well engineered " Space Race " projects of the late 1950 and 1960s.

You could call it a graveyard of Mercury, Apollo and Saturn rocket mission projects.

It is one of the only places that you can walk thru and NOT know what it does or what its used for.

There is about 40 rows in the building and two floors of just NASA stuff
over 20,000 feet of stuff!

Tanks and tanks and tanks

More tanks, complete rows of tanks

Titanium Tanks designed for fuel for NASA and the X projects

Rocketdyne J2 rocket used for the Saturn rocket and more Titanium tanks

One of the coolest things here!!
A back up rocket for the X-15 test projects 
This little beast pushed the plane to set the record of mach 6.7 - the fastest thing on earth 

Its only a dream to have it sitting in my living room

These are some of the tanks and parts used for the Apollo Command Module

This is a close up of the crazy Titanium welding that they did in the early 1960s 
Remember these guys wrote the book on Titanium welding, it was all trial and error
and what a project to learn on.....

Just looking at some of the prototypes they built makes my jaw drop
these guys did it all without computers and without crazy machines.
Nothing but a good set of hands and a smile

Control boards from the research centers and back up rockets

I worked at exile all weekend with Blake ( aka - random ), can't tell you what I am working on with these NASA tanks from 1958s Saturn project, but I can say its going to make a nice hot cup of wake me up in the morning... 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

So many vistors....

Over the last weeks theres been all kinds of people swinging by the shop to say hello and give me a high five, which is super rad!

The other night I was very surprised to see at my shop door with his lady, multi-time World Champ Downhill Mountain Biker Greg Minnaar, I would also add hes super rad and knows motorcycles.

I had to twist his brain with the idea of going 120 mph on a bike with no fork ( I think it worked ). Then he told me about the old Honda Downhill bikes and all about the new rad Santa Cruz DH bikes hes riding to twist my mind,  then we were off to a music show in good old Oakland.

Theres a regular around MLS and his name is Noah Sakamoto. You might be one of the few million that have seen his videos or seen him on TV mashing some of the most crazy hills in the world both in competition and for fun. Hes one of the craziest fastest dudes in the world and a school teacher, even more radness!!

Noah and his classy speed-suit

                    The best part about this is it was before GoPro cameras were super hip and it wouldn't have been the same kind of video if they didn't hand off the camera while going 50 MPH +

Noah dropped of a rad board for me to crash in the hills
Thanks dude.
Its against a new machine I was given as a gift from the All Power Labs in Berkeley - a 1940s Gorton Pantographer machine, just wait until I get it running!!! its so neat its like a crazy over built engraver/cutter from the 1940s, this one is very special as it came from the Navy during WW2. It needs some TLC but I will put her back in to service! Search it up if you want to understand how it works, its really neat!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


So, If you havn't heard about it.... Get with it and find out - Its crazy and amazing at the same time.

A 50,000 population city built in the desert for one week filled with all kinds of makers, designers, hippies, ravers, crafters and so on. Search up " Burningman "

My trip was very very last minute as normal, giving me about 3 days to get everything ready, and as being a fabricator and builder, you can't go to one of the biggest creative events in the world without something really cool and new to show..

So I started building..

Mr. Dirt Rag him self Maurice ( owner of Dirt Rag and Bicycle Times magazine )
was out testing the new Santa Cruz and seen my pile of BS laying on the sidewalk so he had to stop by and give me a hard time as he always does!

First being the 36er 29er cargo bike to a point that it was ridable - this was the perfect place to get out there and test the machine and beat it up. I put on every part on it that I didn't care about because of the crazy dust and wear and tear I knew it would see.

Next being silverware and plates - I built a quick set up with a spork that wraps around the plate and bolts on. Very few people use any sort of disposable cups or plates out there due to trash so always having a plate and a spork is perfect.

I decided to build my truck in to a desert combat ready rig with canvas top over the bed ( for sleeping in ) and sitting on top of the canvas supports, I welded up a support to hold a 55 gallon water drum acting as a water tower, all plumbed in to a 1930s shower head attached to the side of the truck. This ended up being so nice to take showers in the desert, I found a old NASA temp gauge and mounted it on the side to watch the water temp, as well as a water level hose to watch my uses as the week went on.

 If you want a great way to meet people at Burningman - Just build a shower and they will be your friend all week !!!

With the help of Craig Johnson and his mad CAD skills in about few seconds, I had a blueprint for a sheet metal Conical hat made from .030 Aluminum and I made it just an hour before I left. This was so cool to ride around with ( not in the wind ), it kept me out of the sun and kept my head very cool.

Craig ( aka CJ $$$ ) making the flat layout for the hat on Solidworks
I was feeling lazy and he really wanted to draw it

here is the flat sheet before making the conical hat

The last thing I made was a custom Titanium wedding ring that I spun out on the Monarch lathe before jumping in the truck, using some of that great Titanium left over from Clorox prototype projects, I spun it up with the idea that I shouldn't leave home with out it, just incase something crazy happens and I find the lady of my dreams. ( by the way its back in my shop again )
yep, I hope her hands are cleaner then mine...

Add these things to the already long list of stuff needed to be built for others such as concept electric skateboards, art projects, concept bicycle stuff, and doing all the Clorox and Gov Lab stuff,  it didn't leave much time for a thing they call sleep...

I will keep the story short...

I left Thursday night headed east while talking to Blake ( Aka Random ) about how Dirty Dave was going to ride his Harley almost to 250 MPH at the BUB Speed Trials. My brain decided that would be way for fun to go to the speed trials then to burningman so I kept on driving thru the night headed for the Salt flats passing thru Reno and pass the turn off for Burningman. I stopped in Reno to go in the Casino and after walking in with 100.00 dollars and leaving up with 100.16 ( mostly found change on the floor ) I decided there was only one thing to do with all those profits and that was to go see some ladies dancing....

Back on the road now about 250 miles (400 KM for you metric kids) past my turn off for Burningman, I got an odd feeling to turn on to a small road and go back towards Burningman, why my brain decided with only 50 miles left to drive to the speed trials,  to turn around, it would be a mystery why I turned around but my brain told me to take a crazy gravel road that was 200+ miles long headed back west.
the death of a old Ford COE truck

the result of a new freeway years back..

Driving thru salt flats and gold mines, I got to a point where in every way I was 50 miles from everything.... I seen a man walking or more like dragging himself... I pulled up to see him out of water and in the last few hours before going in shock and maybe death.
I took this picture a few miles before finding the dude
being out here with no water seems like something out of a movie story

My brain is hurting now as I ask him why and how he got out to this point. He responds something about a hot spring... I put him in the truck, water him up and make him take a load off. He doesn't say anything to me but one last thing " you have beautiful welds " as he looks at the mega load of welded things filling my truck bed. Another 50 miles pass and not word was said, I drop him off at the sheriff station and tell him to have them help out, my brain was overwhelmed , and to finish it off - As soon as I dropped him off and everything was good I got back in my truck put it in drive and then had 4 flat tires......................................... My brain was done.....................

I gimped my truck in to the burn and aired up one slow leaking tire and put on the only spare to at least hold the heavy load of water, food and metal things in my truck and just drove it with the 2 fronts flat. I got to my camp and set up, I also got ready to work as I am an employee of the event, checking tickets and searching cars at the entrance.
I had to take this picture because it about made me cry

On the drive back I ended up blowing out my wheel bearing and having to ride the 36er cargo bike over 10 miles down the freeway to the auto parts store to buy a complete front wheel assembly to rebuild my truck on the freeway, it sucked.

the temple took months to build and was a great model of craftsmanship and then 
they burn it down, along with all the things people wrote, added, or put in the temple to burn memories and start clean again...

The story goes on and on but in a nutshell, the week was amazing and there is really no way to describe the fun I had - being with some of the most interesting people and personalities made the week fly by and not think a single bit about my shop, jobs, love, or anything that existed miles away in the real world.

Don't hate on it until you try it......