Sunday, July 8, 2012


Week One - This first week has been a week of almost overwhelming volunteer enthusiasm and numbers. Fortunately the beginning of these projects has a lot of places to plug people into such that most of the volunteers got their hands into the act - working on actual whale bones.

We had 21 people the first day - tapering down to 10-15 on most days since. As the skeleton goes together, the number of people needed will bottleneck such that there will be times that only a few people at a time will be able to participate. At other times it will open up and I'll be able to put more of you on the project at one time. The quality of the work being done and the enthusiasm are as good as it gets. We are way further along than I ever projected for one week of work thanks to all of you.

Where we are:
Most of the bones have been repaired - A BIG job as about 2/3 of the vertebrae needed repair work done.
One flipper is together.
The other flipper is reserved for the young museum interns to do and is coming along nicely.
The whale cart has been cleaned and is being painted.
The curve of the whale has been decided - plotted on paper - scaled to full size and the metal pipes for the vertebrae have been bent to that curve – the main one being 2-3/8 inch in outside diameter. The super-star of that operation being a hydraulic pipe bender loaned to us from Glenn's Welding. Thank you Glenn.
The bones have been weighed and put in sequence.

What's coming up this week:
The second flipper will be assembled.
The 12-foot-long cart will move into the building.
Silicone cartilage will get started on the flippers.
The vertebrae will get big holes bored in them.
The tail section will be welded and started.
The skull cart may be built and the skull started. It is has been hanging up outside for 12 years and is very soft and delicate and will need a lot of tender care to get it consolidated enough to display.

THANK YOU to all of you that have been helping. So far this has been entirely done by volunteers and every one of you has been doing totally great work. Keep going. This whale will swim again yet.

Just when you think school is out for the summer, someone comes along and expects you to do MATH! These kiddos are calculating the curve that the skeleton will need to have, in order to fit in its designated area of the Pratt Museum. In front of them is a to-scale model of the area in which the skeleton will be displayed, along with a to-scale model of the whale skeleton. They used this model to help them come up with the right numbers. 

Our mathematicians drew this side view of the area where the whale 
skeleton will hang. Their calculations appear above.
They were able to translate their calculations into life-sized
numbers and draw the life-sized curve on paper.

The curve needed to be darkened just a bit. The next step was to bend a 20-foot long
2 & 3/8-inch diameter steel pipe (the one lying on the floor) to match that curve.
This pipe will support the backbone of the whale skeleton.

Several eager volunteers did it with this--a portable, hydraulic pipe bender
loaned to the whale project by Glenn's Welding of Homer. Thank you Glenn!

They marked the pipe where each bend needed to be made, using blue masking tape,
before placing the pipe in the bender, then carefully applied the first bend.
After each slight bend, the pipe was compared to the curve on the paper.
Needs a little more guys.
Bend a little more.

PERFECT!! Well done!
Last, but not least, the pipe for the tail was also bent in the same fashion.

The other exciting thing that happened yesterday--the first coat of paint was
applied to the whale cart! Another job equally well done. 

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