Just under the wire

Our shop doors are ten foot six inches tall. A piece that clears the doors and is then hauled on the trailer is legal height on the road. It all works. The key is to build the pieces so they fit out of the door.

It sounds too easy but somehow the pieces we build seem to keep growing and growing as we build. The structural steel is carefully measured and welded together without difficulty. But then things go downhill (or uphill actually) from there. Removable wheels are added so we can move things around the shop (and out the doors) a whole lot easier. That adds about six inches to the height right off the bat. Then the welding of the pencil rod frames begins. We build things to look correct and it is pretty easy to add a few necessary inches in an instant... or much more if necessary. The wire lath doesn't add much to the height but the fiberglass reinforced concrete can add a couple of inches of height in a hurry and by this time things are often getting very critical. The piece is nowhere near the door as we build and the pieces are most often very irregular in shape so it becomes difficult to estimate the actual height of the piece as it nears completion.

In the ten plus years we've building fanciful creations in the shop we've never had to cut a piece although we did tip a few to get them out the door. We've had more than a few feaures graze the top of the shop door as they went out.

Since Peter has rejoined our crew he insisted we implement a system to check our build as we proceed. It's a good idea. The solution was to restring the cord that holds up our welding flash curtains to the exact height we needed to clear those pesky doors. If the pieces couldn't clear the curtain cord as we did our fabrication it would never clear the doors either.

Today, I climbed the ladder to sight along the cord, over the tallest piece in the shop and to the doors beyond. It's going to be close for both the bridge tower and the first operator's booth..  :)

The shop is the fullest it has been in ten years with six large pieces and another five small pieces in process. Imagine this picture with twelve people on ladders and scaffolds on a typical work day.

Tomorrow, as the shop empties it is going to feel downright roomy once more. Stay tuned...

-grampa dan