Sunday, 19 October 2014

Theming fun

I've recently been working on some scenic elements for a Halloween event. The pieces needed to be rustic and distressed, which was lots of fun to produce.

A 4 mtr long table made from rustic materials.

A freestanding archway. The piece has rollers built in to allow it to be removed from the set quickly and easily.

6 planters were produced and painted white.

Paint effects added to make the items look aged and distressed.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Yamaha Virago Bobber

I've been admiring the bobber look bikes just recently and thought I could do a half decent job of one. So, first port of call... eBay!!

Bought this job!

Although the bike wasn't in too bad condition, the engine didn't really run properly, no tax or mot... why did I buy it? Well I wanted something that I could really strip back and put my own mark on, so I only needed the bare basics to work with.

I got the engine running better after finding a problem with the vacuum system preventing proper fuel distribution.

I've now replaced the rear shocks with rigid struts and slammed the rear end right down. Effectively its now a hard tail. The rear guard has been chopped and shaped to follow the back wheel, much more bad ass!! The card has been re-jetted to accommodate the new K&N style air filter and the new flow friendly turn out pipes ;) more on that later though.

Boxford Restoration

Here is just a quick entry to show another of my hobbies / past times.

I've got some sort of obsession for vintage machines, its just something about the quality and attention to detail that you just don't find in today's world. I'd much rather spend the time restoring something that was built to last rather than buying something that isn't going to see me through the job.

Over the years I have had some experience with old machinery, from kitting out my garage whilst working at home, to expanding into a business premises where I've had most types of machines you could image relating to engineering. I think my obsession is deep routed from some sort of past life, I'm intrigued by an era thats long before my time and I feel really passionate and almost protective about it. I have used these experiences and emotions to start another project that will be explained in a new blog entry soon.

Anyway, onto the machine in question :)

This is a Boxford AUD MK2. The machine was kindly made available to myself through good friend of mine. Originally the lathe was in a secondary school, where it would have been used to teach children the basics of turning. Most schools and colleges have disposed of this era of machine now and have either opted for a newer type or removed that part of teaching all together. Luckily this has been in my favour and I have come by a number of machines that have escaped an industrial life and have been reasonably well looked after or under used.

Mechanically, the machine was very good. Cosmetically there was work to be done... I set about this project as I do with every project of this type and stripped and cleaned every bit of it. It was at that point I decided to restore the paintwork. Around 3 years passed and the machine was in bits in boxes :( Eventually, every part had been removed, cleaned, serviced, primed and painted with 2 top coats.

This is how the machine looked afterwards:

The machine looked wonderful, the paintwork is 100%. True to my character, I soon got bored and part exchanged this for my next project ;) "And the rest is history"....

Monday, 13 October 2014

Animatronic Skeleton

Well this project was completed a while back, but its just nearing the Halloween season, so its fitting in a way!

I was approached by a popular theme park to retrofit an animatronic character that features in one of their shows. The original workings had become old and worn out, so a whole new system had to be manufactured.

Can you tell what it is yet?

This actually forms the mechanical backbone of a skeleton and the base for the stool that he sits on.

The 'backbone' was designed to contain and support all of the mechanical elements of the upper body of the skeleton.

As you can see from this picture, the mechanisms are mostly hidden from view. The skeleton is to be partially dressed, which will hide any obvious mechanisms. 

The mechanisms enabled movement of 2 arm sections, 1 leg, head and mouth. The movement is controlled by means of pneumatic cylinders and valves.

Some short clips showing the different mechanisms working.

Asea Robot (new toy)

Well another eBay impulse buy... I saw this little fellow up for auction and had to have it! This is 1 one of the first robots from ASEA, which later went on to become ABB robots. The IRB6 (this model) is a 6 axis robot arm designed to automate manual tasks within manufacturing. This particular machine was used as a robot welder though I'm not sure where and how it was used.

It arrived to me a looking a little neglected and feeling sorry for itself

A little elbow grease later and its looking a lot more presentable:

Currently, the control doesn't work properly and the fault lies somewhere within here:

This is just part of the wardrobe sized control cabinet!!! (I love 80's electronics!) Sadly I haven't yet found the problem inside the control, so this guy just serves as an elaborate ornament in my workshop :)

Ornamental Ironwork / wrought iron

Here is a project I did some time ago. Its is the prototype for a chandelier that was designed to go into a church. The architect supplied 1:1 drawings to work from, which helped enormously.

Saturday, 11 May 2013


A few weeks ago I did an interesting job for a well known theme park. They required some projector screen surrounds in a steampunk style for an event they had on. I was eager to get going on these because this type of work is right up my street.

I employed the help of my sister Lorna Horton to do some of the finer detail and painting.

Many of the parts were sourced from reclamation yards and then arranged to create mechanical / decorative elements found within the steampunk theme.

Here are some pictures of the work: (please excuse the background, these took up quite a lot of space in my workshop)

Image of frames on set.