When I lent my services to a collegue who was working on a film about 12 years ago, I was introduced to the world of cnc. I remember watching this huge machining centre milling out a slab of mdf and turning it into a fantastic set of gears. I knew that it would have taken me hours to achieve the same thing with traditional power tools. I decided then that I would invest in a cnc router for my own business Oxenham Design. At that time I could turn on a computer, but even to check email seemed like a crazy set of operations. I persevered and learned every piece of relevant software I could get my hands on. I am now fortunate enough to be using Vectric's ASPIRE software, and Techno cnc routers, which has helped us to create some amazing projects, both in part, or in full. I thought that this blog would be a great place to share "behind the scenes" adventures with the software, materials and equipment we use, as well as the projects we build.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

The Train Is a Comin!

The actual railway tracks we're making from PVC. The profile won't be exactly the same proportions as their real life counterparts, but they'll still resemble tracks! You can see the alignment tabs, and the holes they fit into in the bottom section. These will fit into the slots and holes in the railway ties, and a screw through each tie will lock them together. Plus the tab and slot insures that they can only be assembled in Alberta the proper way!
Here's a better image of the cross section of the tracks. Each rail was made from 3 separate pieces, chem-welded into one piece.
The whole railway track system is broken down into 5 sections. and as the left and right side are identical, there won't be any confusion as to what pieces go where.
With the tracks test fit onto the outer edge of the heart, everything is looking SAWEET!

 So far so good! The whole thing is working out like planned!
Must be my mad computer skills :)


Tuesday, 24 February 2015

On With The Parade!

Man, I have been bad at posting! I apologize! We have been tackling so many things, I run out of time at the end of the day to blog.

We got the PVC structure for the bridge clam shelled around the steel supports. I cut some small "steel" gussets from 1/8" pvc, and used some medium viscosity crazy glue to form the rivet heads.
I also welded on small angle brackets which will allow the rail ties to get screwed to the bridge from underneath.
While the sparks were flying, I had our Techno cut the slightly bowed rail ties from HDU. No cnc texture hear, we'll do it by hand with a dremmel after.
 I also had the cnc punch in the location holes for the track sections to key into. And the 2 starter holes for the 3" screws that will hold the ties to the heart structure. We have been very careful to make sure everything is as easy to assemble in Alberta as possible. We won't be doing any final assembly, and as much as I know the parts inside and out, the people on the other end will have never have seen them before.
Jody made pretty short work of the railway ties woodgrain texture. The cutter we are using, we custom made, making the woodgrain appear very quickly.
I think these look awesome. Once they get their paint treatment, they're gonna rock!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Parading On!

Were getting close to finishing the framework for the giant heart. We have actually held onto it a little longer than they would have liked. I'm a little concerned that when it leaves, it's gone for good, and there will be very little we can do if something doesn't fit quite right!
This is the mid section of the heart. The big square box is what the train bridge is going to sit down into.
The cnc cut out the framework for the bridge. I also had it pocket in a track for some 1/4" pencil rod. There will be a total of 4 of these. 2 pieces will clamshell together, covering the steel rods inside.
I also got the metal structure for the bridge all welded together. We used 1" squarestock for the top.
And the last steps for the day were to glue up the pvc frame around the metal structure.
Tomorrow I will cut some gusset details, and add the small rivet heads to them.
It was a pretty long day, and I still feel like crap!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Stettler, Alberta!

Well Jody and I made it back from Cuba, and the food was actually pretty good! Although the exchange rate sucked. How sad is it when the Cuban peso is worth more than the Canadian dollar!
And then I got a cold...........
I'm a pretty big suck when I'm sick. Everything seems so much more difficult to do. Like trying to get Jody to change the channels on the TV, cause the remote is to far away to reach from the couch.

Before we left for Cuba, we finalized up a design for a small parade float that is for the Town of Stettler Alberta. They wanted a float that would sum up that Stettler is the Heart of Alberta. They also wanted to incorporate the fact that they also run an old fashioned steam locomotive, providing exciting tourist trips throughout the area.
The concept was pretty straight forward. They are supplying the flat deck trailer, and we'll supply the rest of the project. For this design, I went straight to 3d. I didn't bother doing a 2d sketch. I wanted to go straight to volumes and shapes right out of the gate. Now the actual project will differ a bit from this, as this was just the massing model for approvals, with very little details. The buildings will be actual miniature facades of existing Stettler buildings.
The first step after approvals was to get each section out of the 3d software, and into Corel. Corel will give me bang-on vectors, that I can import into Aspire for cutting out on our Techno.
Each half of the heart is 13 feet long, and 7 feet high. This was made from a total of 5 sections. 5 sections allows us to crate all of it into a 4X8 shipping crate, with the largest sections being just under 48X96"
We're providing the curved skins at each end of the heart, but they will be skinning the large broad sides of the heart in Alberta.
Next stop, train bridge!