Sunday, August 30, 2009


Presenting one of the biggest tiny tables ever made!  Here is the Peeper set I designed and built for a Waldorf school here in Portland.  If I get an engineering trophy for the slowest car in a derby, I should get something for designing the biggest tiny table.  This thing is McMassive!  It accommodates 16 squirming 4 year olds with room for a teacher.  I am excited to see it get beat up a little so it looks less important.  That shouldn't take too long.
I fabricated this bamboo blockbuster at a guest facility.  The top of my noggin looks like an inverted golf ball from banging it 9000 times on the low duct work in my friend's basement shop but it is all worth it.  Rudolf Steiner would be pleased.
To give you some reference of scale, here is a picture of Kapow Design's oldest intern with Peeper.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Best Engineering

Our car wreaked of many things, but engineering?  I mean, I don't know a lot about engineering from an engineering standpoint, per se.   Some of the other cars made me think "engineering", our car made me think, "what kind of idiot...?".  WE WERE THE SLOWEST CAR!   I thought the Drunken Pig (pink and white) should have our trophy.  Now that I am thinking about it, I am going to give it to him...  when I am good and dead.  

Look at us!  oh yeah, engineering, baby!  This is the last picture of the twins I will be posting.  I can't help myself.  

Monday, August 24, 2009

Twin Barrels Burning Rolls!

I might have found my fight club.  Riding 'The Twins" down Mt Tabor was like shoving a whale into a VW and was easily the most terrifying 5 mph I have ever gone.  I laugh so hard when I see a video my friend made of us rolling by.  My body is as tense as a log jam and my head looks like it is in a vise.  I remember knowing where my family and friends were but fearing distraction too much to even move my thumb the 1/2" to acknowledge them with a scream from our siren.  My personal goal was to reach my health insurance deductible but like many other goals I have set, that one eluded me. If you knew my deductible, you would have said it was ambitious.  
We are a six person team and we were in three heats so it worked out that everyone got to take a ride.  We were the slowest car on the track that day but I think our intensity and our struggle vindicated our efforts.  I think I can speak for the whole team when I say that we certainly did not intend to be the slowest but we pulled it off.  In the second heat, Eric and Derrick caused a little drama when they engaged in a 2 mph fender bender with a Water Department Security Jeep that was parked 100 yards in front of the finish line. 

Twins-1 Security Jeep-0.
At the beginning of the third heat we had a troubled start and the Twins were in the gutter 30 feet off the line. We wrestled it back onto the road and aimed downhill again. It slowly began to descend and as it did, the crowd closed in behind and walked down with them cheering and clapping.  It was like a demented Coke commercial, David and Trevor gritting their teeth and having the full 3 mph Twin Barrels Battle while kids are passing them on scooters cheering.  It was very funny.
We ended up winning a trophy for best Engineering!  My friend Julius congratulated us for getting the smartest prize for the dumbest car.  For a while I didn't think we really deserved that particular prize until Derrick reminded me that we put disc brakes on wine barrels with a '57 Ford F100 drop axle for a frame and rode them down a mountain.  I saw several cars there that I thought should have our trophy, though.  I was secretly hoping that we would get crowd favorite but we lost out to a giant Lego car.  I was feeling the love in the pit and from the crowd but I guess the numbers didn't add up in our favor.   We should have gone with a more identifiable brand.

We have plans to do it again next year.  I can't wait.  We will make the Twins faster.  That is all I can say at this point.  Below is the rig as it looked race day.  We installed the siren that is powered by a motorcycle battery.  We also put in some machine guns in the yokes but the yolk was on us when we found out water was all we were allowed to shoot.  This photo was taken by Squid Vicious.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Twin Barrels Are Heating Up

The race is this Saturday.  We are taking the rig to the mountain tomorrow for a test run.  This thing is 10 feet long, probably 400 lbs, and hops like a bull in a rodeo stall.  It is a bone crusher. It will make you a cartoon.  It should have a poet in residence.  It scratches so many itches I can hardly focus.  

Here is how to make one:

First you get three wine barrels.  
Wrap two of them with bicycle tires and staple. 
Countersink and screw the banding to the staves. 
Shove an axle through them.  
On the front barrel you need to build a plates for each side to mount the rotors and the brake assembly
Mount the aforementioned technology
Build yolks
Cut hole in third barrel to accommodate an old truck axle
Bolt third barrel to old truck axle using angle iron
Attach yolks to an old truck axle and third barrel with kingpins
Style and attach gussets where needed 
Build handle bars off of front yoke
Add foot pegs on front yoke for leg steering
Let simmer 

My pal and team mate David Lewin made this image that will be on our race jerseys.  

The ladies love it!

Twin Barrels Burning Team:
Eric Black, Architect
Derrick Benson, Kaizen Leader
David Lewin, Industrial Designer
Sam Tannahill, Winemaker
Trevor McWilliams, Assistant to the Intern
and myself

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Let's Redo The Bathroom!

Why? Why did I do it?  Redoing my second floor bathroom might be one of the worst decisions I have ever made.  It is more than a nightmare.  It is an open wound, a festering abscess but worse!  It is viral.  The extent to which the ill effects have infiltrated even the most remote and exclusive aspects of my life is mind boggling.  The venomous tentacles have saturated everything from my pocketbook to my sex life to my newly compromised DNA.  It is unbelievable.
You don't have to tell me, I already know: Getting into an old house is looking for trouble. That is why I was prepared for twice as much as I thought it would be, but a BILLION times more?!? Things have spun out of control.
The clincher is that this whole catastrophe is all because we thought we didn't like the way our old bathroom looked.  I mean, it was nice enough.  It flushed, it soaked, the lights turned on and off.  The tub filled right up or if we were so inclined, we could take a nice shower.  There were even random tiles with animal scenes on them.  Come to think of it, it was one of the nicest bathrooms I have ever seen.
Why did I do it?  Where were my handlers?
Rather than showing you pictures of the battle zone I have made a montage of bruises, contuses and lacerations I have accumulated.  They tell the story better than I.