Argh, Thar Be A Big Wheel

If you’re marooned on a desert island, you want to have a Professor who can build useful items out of coconuts. [LostMachine] is one of those guys, and he’s currently building a land-loving pirate ship. The wacky vehicle will use the giant wheel above to propel the vessel while the captain sits comfortably in the lofty crow’s nest. A crack-pot concept? Not really, he plans to take this to Burning Man where it will be a fairly useful build compared to the folks who have really gone off the deep end.

The story here is the build quality. Take some time to watch his videos which we’ve embedded after the break. In the first, he details his method for creating a precisely level building surface on top of his uneven driveway. This is accomplished by welding supports in a circle that are level compared to the center point. He goes on to share his liquid-cooling system for cutting the pipe supports with a custom-built jig and an old windshield washer water system pump from an RV (second video). The final video shows the construction of the wheel which came in with 2000 welds and about 250-300 hours of construction time.

If you hadn’t guessed, [LostMachine] is a structural engineer. Unfortunately he was laid-off this spring which has put a damper in his building schedule. We hope that with a quality project like this in his portfolio a new job is just around the corner for him.

Creating a level surface on an uneven driveway.

Cooling jig to cut fish mouthed joints in pipes.

Building the big wheel.

[Thanks Rebecca]

11 thoughts on “Argh, Thar Be A Big Wheel

  1. My hats off!

    I always admire mechanical designers …

    A software program is a blueprint, which costs virtually nothing to compile to a working model (CPU binary code).

    With home mechanical design it costs a lot to compile to a working model. You usually compile the design by hand, and if you find a bug you either patch the binary, or compile it from scratch again by hand. Mistakes cost more and cycle times are slower so it it much harder to evolve a good design.

  2. Andy (lostmachine) is a friend of mine. his pirate ship project is unreal! You have to see it to believe it! He has a lot of details and photos of his work on his flickr page. He also has some neat stuff on his website:
    Seriously check it out! He is making little hand made tripod lamps to fund his pirate ship project. they are amazing, just like he is~!


  3. Mike, thanks for the awesome post. This is really cool to see a few thousand hits on my blog, YouTube and Flickr Page. Your support and kind words mean a lot to me.

    @everyone, thanks for the wonderful comments.

    Since I am without job, I have been making “Tripod Sentinels” and selling them to raise money for the Ship. They are metal sculpture with embedded RGB LEDs with Sound-to-Light interaction. They are very cool.

    @Andrew, this was a preliminary concept sketch

    The design has changed a lot since then. I keep putting more detail in as I am learning SketchUp. I haven’t finished the final model yet, but when I do it will be on the Flickr Page.

    @Gina, thanks for the support, you are awesome.

    @Married people, as far as a spouse that won’t let you use the driveway for Art…I had a girl friend that wanted to paint on 8 very large canvases all at once. She didn’t live with me but for a week I had to park on the street as she used all the space in the driveway. All in the name of art, right?

    Thank you everyone,


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