more putty

well, i’m done attaching pipes to the dolphin.  yay.  each stage lasts forever, and there are infinite stages.  this is what hell is like.  like with the no-face demon in phantom tollbooth.  as you know, it snowed in atlanta, getting on for a week ago, and because temps have hovered around freezing since then, atlanta’s been shut down.  i ran out of putty two days ago, and could have hazarded the trip because they were open yesterday, but when i looked online, the roads were bolloxed, so i didn’t bother.

instead, i smoothed my putty work with modeling paste, softening edges and filling dings.  this kept me busy all day, and there is a lot more to do when i’m ready to go back to it.

today i did more of the modeling paste, which you just can’t see in these photos so oh well.  then around 1:30, when the sun’s been out all day and the road was turning to slush finally, from three days of ice – sort of melt – ice – sort of melt – ice up again, jim and i set off for hapeville, driving at 40 all the way.  the roads were clear until you’d least expect it, and then i could feel the tires slip.  yesterday there was a big jacknife on i-20.  traffic was backed up for 15 miles.  that’s like halfway around the perimeter.  i wasn’t there.  i was home.  haaaaa.

when i got back with the apoxie sculpt, i believe it’s my fourth container, i got stuck back in to mixing up golfball sized amounts of parts a and b, mashing them for half an hour while reading news or writing emails, and then filling things.

the 1.5″ pipe had only been stuck on yesterday; one of them, anyway.  the other was still waiting to be applied, with enlarged holes so i could top off yesterday’s putty and finally get it stuck on.  until it’s dry, the bolts are only there as guides, because they don’t hold anything.  it’s only when i built up all the putty around the pipe, and anchored it to a nearby pipe or two, that the pipe stopped wobbling.

but now it’s all done.  when i had the dolphin leaning forward so that i could fit the bolts from the underside, i had to wrastle it when it started to roll off the counter, and used my knees.  i felt this sickening crunch as something gave way, and looked down to find that part of the donated pumps had broken off.  whew.  if it had been one of my pipes, i would be in serious trouble, because that meant they weren’t holding, and i’ve got to have them strongly enough attached to pick the thing up by.

what broke was one of those red-handled turny things, the one fitting into the top of the impeller and moving water off to the skimmer and filter.  they were held on with hot glue, so they broke of easily.  i cleared the glue out of the connections, cut an inch and a half of 1/4″ tube, stuck putty into both holes, fit the tube, fit the turny thing, and put putty around both joints.  that’ll do it.

when i was done puttying around the 1.5″ pipes, i went around and built out anything that looked skimpy.  i ended up joining a bunch of pipes to each other, and filling behind some complexes of pipes, mainly in order to keep water from collecting, but also because making a single mass out of all those pipes onto the fiberglass base will make it all very strong indeed.  at least, that’s my fervent hope and certain trust.  plastic.  you’d swear by it if it weren’t so toxic.

when i was done building and connecting, i went around and fit straps.  2-hole plastic straps for electrical conduit.  and discovered to my horror that the perfect pressure flange i need to put at the beginning and end of each pipe (and that i’m now going to have to create with rolled-out putty and little dots of putty on top of them was still in the bag – i’d bought a bunch of plastic insulating bushings in the electrical section of home depot last time i was there, right before i started putting the pipes together).  i only found them after all the pipes had been installed.  so i couldn’t use them.  and they were perfect.  and cheap.  and now i’m going to have to use putty at $35 per container.  grrrr.

i’ve been using orange oil to smooth the putty when i’m done applying it and before i leave it to cure.  i was using water with the first batch of the putty, but the second batch didn’t smooth with water, and i read somewhere that you could use vegetable oil.  so i got out my orange oil, my all purpose solvent in the studio, so much less toxic than turpentine or odorless mineral spirits, and used it to smooth.  works like a charm.  i used it to clean the dolphin before priming, and will do so again before repriming.  you’re supposed to use alcohol, but orange oil gets it all off, and evaporates totally.  not sure if you’re supposed to use alcohol because that’s what works with primer and/or fiberglass, but unless there’s a real good reason not to use orange oil, i tend to use it.  it’s that good.

i’m happy to report that whatever i was coming down with last night faded entirely during my sleep.  i went upstairs and took 2 grams of vitamin c, along with all my flu preparations, ranging from elderberry cordial to concentrated pomegranate/blueberry juice to some kick-ass medicine i got at the health food store last year for swine flu.  so, it still works.  and i don’t need a break that bad.  i stayed in bed late this morning, tho, just to make sure.  but here i am and it’s half twelve again, so i’m not really resting.

tomorrow, more puttying down the clips, and fixing on some hose clamps to be gauges, and making flanges to go around the ends of the pipes.

a little bit, a little bit, a little bit.  as my friend mark the old dutch master painter says, slowly, slowly.


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