Day 4 – Hubs and Struts – June 20th, 2013

Slept in late today.  Every muscle ached when I went to bed.  Developed a cough (upper respiratory infection from breathing in sawdust last week) and when I cough, my back spasms.  I am so old.

Hit the Home Depot at noon.  Purchased twenty-two 2” x2” x 8 footers, to be cut into thirty small struts and 35 large struts (to come together later to make the pentagons and hexagons of the 2 frequency dome.   I still have to figure where to break the dome in two, stretch it out seven feet, and connect the two spheres to make the tunnel dome of a home.
I cannot imagine a less expensive, strong frame for a cabin (that can withstand hurricane force winds) using 180 board feet of 2” x 2” for a total cost of less than $70.00 USD in the year 2013!
I selected a star-head self-setting cabinet screw of 1.25” length to later fasten the 2” x 2” struts to the ½” plywood hubs.  No pilot holes are necessary, but I am on the verge of setting up a jug to more quickly and repeatedly assemble the five and six strut hub subassemblies. 
Today I felt like an assembly line worker: First, cut thirty pieces into 27” lengths, and then trim off the edges to a 16 degree angle, to later accommodate the hub.  I had to consider a cut that left enough “meat” to drill into, through the plywood, without popping through the strut, exposing a screw tip for some visitor to scrape their head into on the houseboat.
I used a miter saw for the first time and it cut through the wood like butter.  It took perhaps a little more than two hours to cut all struts and then another hour or so to cut the angles in each end (18 degrees for the longer, 31” long struts).
I ended up making a pile of small wedges.  The other guys at the workshop of the Buffalo Maritime Association were meticulously cutting precise parts for their classic wooden boats, while I hummed away in assembly line fashion.   I enjoyed sharing the story of my project as well as the geodesic nature of it and how it made so much sense. 
What I really realized is that most people find the geodesic solution beyond the window of credibility.  I’m also finding out that it takes a long, long time to make the hundreds of piece parts that make up a geodesic structure of any kind, in order to enjoy the “quick” assembly of the final product.
So, in one sense, I spent a day turning twenty-two pieces of wood into 65 pieces of wood. I smell like wood, my car smells like wood and my girlfriend is becoming more and more distant every day.  I added a new layer of dust to my lungs struggling to get rid of the first wave from the hubs last week.
I was home by 5:30 today, a short day for a sore old man.  I could not wait to assemble the first 5-strut hub assembly. 
A final learning moment: the struts seemed to align themselves, as revealed by a small 5-sided pentagon in the middle of the hub.  I found it like art from nature that when you deal with an elegant, simple, perfect little recipe, it tells you how to do it.  My method was as much something I listened to as much as something I decided or designed.  In fact it was nature’s design and I was just getting bask in tough with it.
I wanted to stand on it, just to see if it would support my 240 lbs., but my small bit of wisdom that I retain got the better of me.
 I plan to spend a few more hours tomorrow making a few more pre-fabricated hub assemblies, and then back to the floating deck to improve rigidity.   I hope to hear back from some of the media I reached out to today to help tell this story publicly and lead to an eventual place to tie the boat up. 
I have not yet finalized the decision for an outboard.  I have yet to cross the bridge of the boat registration process.  My only fear is that some naval architect or US Coast Guard inspector will not impressed with my quick, light, yet capable design, as it is too different from anything out there.  Maybe I’ll send the regional commander a book on Bucky to grease the skids.
Honestly, none of this challenge intimidates me as much as the thought that it will not be welcomed here, in my waterfront community of Buffalo, NY. Nothing could better exemplify the innovation, creativity, courage and technology of the Erie Canal better than a geodesic houseboat, but people don’t always see things like you expect them to, even if the data supports it.
So, next time you visit your local do-it-yourselfer, behold the lonely 2” x 2” lumber.  Buy one stick or a few and see how light and strong they are.  Wood like this provided the frame for delivery trucks and busses and trolley cars.  Attach it to some ¼” plywood and make a boat, a cabinet or a dog house, or… a houseboat!
My journey started out with 2” x 2” lumber and ¼” plywood in making a small boat on Martha’s Vineyard.  Then it was Harold “Dynamite” Payson’s Gypsy. So please, I encourage you to go out and make something.  You know you want to.
This houseboat will become the first in a series of boats that any individual, family or group of friends can tackle.  Have fun!  Life is short. I used to read stories and watch videos about people who were imagining, designing, developing and executing ideas they had about tiny homes, cabins, RVs, greenhouses and boats and tree houses.  Now I am building one of those things.   I conceived of it, as a result of hundreds of inputs, ideas, accomplishments and errors and mistakes. 
I am one of those do-ers, and you will be to.  It feels so good to hurt so much! Sometimes I wish I had a team to help me, but I’m not sure what I’d tell them to do next.  I like discovering this side of life where one faces the fear, tries, adjusts, but, slowly moves toward an outcome, a result.
Someday, I’ll just be sitting there on the Buffalo River; sipping a cool drink, in the floating home I built with my own hands, watching the sun set over Ontario, and say,”Ahhhh”.

Originally posted 2016-06-24 03:45:13.

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