Welcome to the Highlander Studios blog.

I won't promise any earth shattering revelations here. What I will be trying to do is post some new products as I release them, share some thoughts on gaming and show some pics of games and other stuff that I enjoy. So come in and make yourselves at home.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Long Time Gone

     Yeah... it's been a while since my last post. I've been doing a bit of traveling, a bit of reading and wrapping up a few sculpting projects. But most of that time I've been immersed in a new passion or two. Or three.

      I was taking a break from sculpting one night, checked FaceBook and followed the rabbit down the hole. The rabbit being an ad for making your own solar panels from parts. That, in turn, led to solar heaters made from styrafoam, plexiglass, aluminum foil and pop cans. Which somehow led to the Gingery books on building your own metal shop from scrap. And so on to making your own forge from a brake drum. I finally came to rest on a new recipe for paper mache.

     So there I was with a head full of new information that just begged to be tried out.

     I can't say that I'm a prepper. I simply don't have the overwhelming doom and gloom gene. But I do think some rough times are coming and we need to start getting back to our industrial and agricultural roots and re-learn some survival skills before the government and reliance upon technology breeds them out of us.

      I've always had a fascination with bootstrap video games where you build, beg, borrow or steal everything you need. Two of my favorites are Minecraft and A Tale In the Desert. Now this may seem a total non-sequitur, but bear with me.

     Minecraft is a free form sandbox game where you start with nothing and build the things you need to get or make other things that you want. Surviving that first night is still my favorite part. ATITD is similar in that you start with nothing, gather materials and build, But it also adds a social and political element. Some things you simply can't do by yourself and you need to enlist others to help out. Very interesting game dynamics. The players even create their own legal system.

     So I spent more time playing these games than any reasonable person should. But while I was doing it, I was considering what it would be like if we had to bootstrap our society after the zombie apocalypse. Ok. I really don't believe it will be a zombie apocalyse, but substitute any noun-cause-of-social-disruption you please for zombie. The problem (or maybe the blessing) of spending a lot of time thinking about something is that I usually start meeting people or finding information that relates to what is on my mind. Seemingly happenstance, but we all know better... right?

     Back to the latest obsessions. I purchased the first Gingery book, The Charcoal Foundry, read it and started gathering materials. My first purchases were some tools for black smithing since I'm going to need to do a little work to make the tools I want for the foundry.

     I did some calling and searching on the web for some other items. I decided that for the basic ingot mold for left over melts I wanted a cast iron muffin pan... er... ingot mold. I found one on my trip to visit friends and family a few weekends ago. It was the largest expense to date at $35. It had twelve cavities and shapes that I wanted rather than ears of corn, ovals or circles would have worked. But this was very similar to the one I had seen on line for $25 plus shipping.

     The shell of the furnace is built from a 5 gal steel pail. Most of these have been replace with plastic. So instead of buying one full of driveway sealant or ordering one online, I decided to go with a 6 gal pail.

     The handle will need to be removed from the top and the U bolts inserted into the sides of the lid for easy lifting. I'll also need to cut a hole for the tuyere (the air inflow) and a hole in the lid for the flue. My next decision is to buy refractory mix for the lining or to make my own. I'm leaning toward making it for the learning experience as well as a substantial cost savings.

     I have wood for the sand casting frames. I'll need to check with the die and casting place down the street to see if I can get any used casting sand to recondition. I'm leaning toward making that myself as well, though, because the experience is the thing here.

     Anyway... that's what I've been up to. I've also been working on Clear Horizons' new Hell Divers figures and wrapping up the last five ATZ Indiegogo figures to send to the mold maker this week. More on those later this week or early next.



Chris Stoesen said...

I have a friend that made one of these. He was going to cast his own aluminum parts for things. He has managed a bar of aluminum at this point.

Rodrick Campbell said...

Excellent. I sure hope I get farther than that. At least before the township people come and bitch.

John Bear Ross said...

Best of luck to you on your machining and casting adventure!

I have a few Gingery books I got at the local library's excess store. It might be a good place to start for you, as well. A lot of old machinists (or their families) get rid of their stuff on Craigslist. Another place to look for precision equipment (Starrett or Mitutoyo) and tooling.


Mr. Harold said...

Sounds like a great idea, and a lot of fun. I'd want to be doing the same thing if I had the space at home...