Tuesday, July 31, 2012


by Lee Post

Here we are at the end of week four - my projected halfway point. Of course we are way further along than that. At the beginning of the week we were down to a bare pipe and no ribs at one point before heading the other direction. Now we have all the vertebrae on the tail and the pipe, most of the silicone done between the vertebrae, the rib hanging pieces bent to shape and welded in place and the ribs back on. In addition, the skull came down to join us and thanks to Cheyenne and Wesley, the cleaning of the skull got started. Laurel Patrick from Mexico joined us for a week. She has a 60-foot sperm whale skeleton in her back yard south of Ixtapa at her nature refuge. She came to get some hands-on experience working on big bones and arrived at a great time to be very helpful. We also reached a point on the flipper assembly of calling them done. They still need some beautician work with the coloring but otherwise are fairly finished. . .It was an exciting week.

This next week we will be taking Thursday off. Otherwise it should be a week of getting the rib hanging hardware painted and the ribs fastened. We should be able to get rid of the woodwork inside the rib cage so we can get close enough to finish up the silicone. Sam and Marilyn are scheming on ways to create a full size tail for the whale. Cheyenne and Wesley are going to start consolidating the skull. Tammy and Kaylie are finishing up the tail section. There are still fun projects so don't give up coming .

We never did come up with a good T-shirt design. In a town full of artists we should still try for that. Any great ideas?
On the 30th day of the gray whale skeleton project, we welcomed new volunteers, Ginger and Skeeter Ewing . . .

They spent yesterday morning cleaning the skull.
Sam Smith and Marilyn Kirkham got into the skull cleaning act
yesterday afternoon. Kind of looks like brain surgery doesn't it.
Art Koeninger worked on the frame for the ribs.

No, that's not what it looks like. Art is not setting Sam on fire.
An interior look at the rib frame.
A millipede chasing a spider?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Homer, Alaska, has the best volunteers!! Where else could one call up a handful of people, and have them be willing to drop what they're doing and come help on the spur of the moment? That's what happened yesterday when the gray whale skeleton project hit another milestone. It was time for the skull to come into play, but retrieval of it was going to be a bit tricky and more hands were needed than what was on deck. A few phone calls we had instant volunteers! A special thanks to James Dolma, Bobbie Copeland-McKinney, William Foster and Fred Harnisch for being those instant volunteers who joined forces with Wesley and Cheyenne Carty, and Lee, to retrieve the skull and get it inside the workshop yesterday.

(click on photos to enlarge)

As you can see, the skull was in a rather out-of-the-way spot. It has been
stored (close to thirteen years) under the eve of the museum workshop.
Ropes were attached to the skull in strategic places.

With the cart that Wesley and Cheyenne had built for it at the ready, folks grabbed an end of each rope and started to slowly lower the 150 to 200 pound skull from its perch.
Ever so slowly and carefully the skull was lowered.
Easy, easy, a little bit more. . . .
After reorganizing the workshop. . .
. . .the skull was wheeled into the room.
And there it is - all ready to be refurbished. (photo by Cheynne Carty)
Which is something Wesley got started on right away. 
But even with the excitement of  reaching another milestone within the project, it was also a very sad day for Lee and your Blogster, as we had to say goodbye to Holly. It was Dr. Holly Cusack-McVeigh's last day as the museum curator, and director of the Pratt Museum Gray Whale Skeleton Project. Holly and her family are leaving Tuesday for Indianapolis, Indiana, where Holly has taken a professorship. We will miss you Holly. Good luck in your new endeavors.  

Saturday, July 28, 2012

There's nothing new to report today about what went on at the bone mines yesterday. The same folks who were there on Thursday were there on Friday adding more silicone cartilage replacement to the vertebrae. So, this would be a good time to update new readers about Lee. If you don't already know who Lee is or what he does or how he fits in with this project, you may read about him at: www.theboneman.com  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Thursday, July 26, 2012, was the 26th day of the Pratt Museum Community Gray Whale Skeleton Project! It is amazing what the volunteers have accomplished in such a short time! Congratulations everyone for making this project such a success.

Thursday was a little bit sad too because it was museum intern, Zelda Grove's,
last day. Zelda is from California and will soon be starting her first year of college
in New York City, majoring in Anthropology. She has been one of our core volunteers.
Zelda, it's been wonderful having you part of this team. You're going to be greatly missed!
Good luck and come back and visit us . . .and your whale.

Yesterday also marked the finish of the intern's flipper!
Great job! Now both flippers are finished.

Oops! Minor set-back. One of the vertebrae tried to run
away and ended up with a big boo-boo!
No problem! Lee taught visiting volunteer, Laurel, how to make the
necessary repairs to that wayward vertebra.
Other activities on the 26th day included another layer of silicone replacement cartilage , applied by Rachel Bilbo and Laurel. . .
. . .and Esther Lowe.
Kylie and Tammy McShane continued work on the tail vertebrae.
Heads or tails? . . . If you guessed tail, you are absolutely correct.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

A milestone was reached on the 25th day of the gray whale project! The vertebrae of the main backbone support was permanently locked into place.

Museum intern, Zelda Grove, and visiting volunteer Laurel Miller Patrick (from Mexico), attached one of the pieces of hanging hardware onto the main backbone support and made sure it was level.

Museum intern/machinist, Caroline deCreeft, removed the excess end of the main backbone support.
Marilyn Kirkham, Esther Lowe and Rachel Bilbo (not pictured) locked the vertebrae in place along the main backbone support, with one of many layers of silicone cartilage replacement.
The silicone cartilage replacement is added between the vertebrae, one layer at a time. It takes a day to dry before the next layer can be applied.
Laurel helped Kylie McShane with the smaller end of the tail vertebrae.
Zelda and Tammy McShane worked with the larger end of the tail vertebrae.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Yesterday at the bone mines, folks stopped by throughout the day, hoping to see the whale skeleton sporting all its ribs - only to find a few vertebrae on the backbone support like this. . .

The vertebrae and ribs were put on the backbone support (as photos on the blog have shown), but only for temporary purposes - to calculate bone placement and hardware creation and placement. Then, all the vertebrae and ribs that were in place have now been removed in order to attach the hardware, that will fit in between the vertebrae, onto the backbone support. The ribs will go on and off several more times before the whole skeleton is finished. 

Here is one example of the hardware, this one created by Art Koeninger. The semi-circular part fits over the top of the backbone support and connects with its other half, to hold the metal that the volunteers have been bending (that is welded onto the semi-circle) into place. The bent pieces of metal will be part of the structure that will hold the ribs onto the skeleton.
In this photo, of our newest member of the volunteer team, Kylie McShane,
you can see the rib support that extends from the backbone support.

Here is another example of the hardware - this one created by Glenn of Glenn's Welding - that Bobbie attached to the backbone support. This piece is part of the system that will suspend the whale skeleton from the ceiling when it is displayed inside the museum.
Pratt Museum Director, Diane Converse, stopped in to see the progress of the whale skeleton project, when Heather Beggs was applying some of the silicone cartilage replacement between the vertebrae.

Pieces of wood support the vertebrae to keep them aligned.
Vertebral tunnel. Peek-a-boo I see you!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

This is the report for the 23rd day of the gray whale project, which happened on July 23rd. A follower pointed out that the date at the top of each blog does not match the date of the event. Sorry if I have confused you dear readers, but your Blogster doesn't write the reports on the dates in which they happen. Your Blogster writes them the day after, therefore, today is July 24th and we shall see what took place on July 23rd . . .

No, no. Unrest has not developed among the volunteers as it may appear. Sam and Bobbie are just bending metal. However, they do appear to be quite fed up that particular piece. 
First Sam and Lee tried reasoning with it. . .
. . .that's when things switched to "no more Mr. Nice Guy."
Oh dear! It's getting to be rather crowded in the workshop. In order to make more room, the rear end of the whale skeleton had to be sent out through the back door!
That made navigation around it a bit of a challenge.
But it was all necessary so Art could do this. 
AH HA! The skull-cart-making-elves have been found out! They are none other than Wesley and Cheyenne Cartey. Here they are adding some padding to the areas where the
skull will rest. The cart will hold the skull while it is being repaired.

They seem to work rather well with each other don't they. (^-^)
Here's Aidan Coyle, measuring inside the rib cage in order to
determine the curve necessary for the rib supports.