Sunday, July 15, 2012

by Lee Post

This week flew by! Incredible amounts of good work got done. The volunteer numbers have become much more manageable with eight to twelve people a day working for portions of the day on some aspect of the project. I wondered if the first week was just an initial burst of enthusiasm, but people keep coming back. I have a few people who let me know when they are coming next and I try to make sure I'm ready for them but in true Homer style, I generally don't know who is going to come in to work and when. Hey, it's summer in Alaska (sort of) and I know as well as anyone how plans for doing fun outdoor things can trump all other activities (including sleep), when the enticing weather intersects with outdoor opportunities. I'm grateful for everyone who has been helping.

This week we got the whale cart moved inside, the flippers together and standing, and multiple layers of silicone (cartilage replacement) added to the flippers. One flipper is being done by young museum interns and the other by assorted volunteers from the community. The biggie of the week was getting beautiful holes drilled through all the vertebrae. The high school has the only drill press (that I know of), that is both big enough and slow enough to bore through the big bones. On the day of the event we had a parade of cars, each carrying a few vertebrae to the high school and back, with the crew that helped set up and bore the 2.5-inch hole through the exact center of the big vertebrae. Some of those vertebrae have been strung on the big curved pipe, and others have been added to the tail section.

Gaye Wolfe has been doing magic with the touch-up and coloring of the bones. Heather Beggs has been coming in for evening shifts on the tail section and has drilled and bored flawless holes through the biggest tail vertebrae with a hand-held drill. Sara and Esther have been the constant stars of bone repair. Another highlight of the week was discovering that one of the interns (with makeup and all) was one of the best at drilling bones and is equally good at cutting, filing, tapping and general work with metal. She's become the project's little machinist.

For now we are at a bottleneck until some metal parts are fabricated—from which the whale will be suspended. Glenn's welding is doing the magic with those pieces. Once they are done, the vertebrae and everything downstream from there will happen fast.

This coming week we have a little bit more bone cleaning and repair to do, and more silicone to build up on the flippers. We're also working on coming up with a weight of the skeleton. Once the metal parts are in our hands, lots more forward motion can happen on several fronts, so stay tuned.

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