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Author Topic: A new racing teapot is born  (Read 1086 times)
Colonel Hawthorne
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« on: January 03, 2017, 06:43:57 am »

First things first: if your initial response to the words 'racing teapot' was 'you what?', have a look here.

Not long ago a splendid chap by the name of David Elliot published Snark, the full story of the expedition first reported by Lewis Carroll (review here).  One item Mr Elliot noted as being among the equipment carried by the expedition was a Snark-cooker:



Both the creator of Splendid Teapot Racing and I had the same reaction on seeing this - 'that's a racing teapot!'.  So I have taken it upon myself to make it.  I've made three previous racing teapots, but this is the first time I've had a design to follow.  I still haven't decided if it's more or less challenging ... but I'm beginning to suspect more.

First, one requires a base vehicle.  My preferred local supplier of such things has discontinued my favourite and I'm dubious about what they've replaced it with, so I looked further afield and found this.  It's a good size - vehicles in the 1/16 to 1/18 scale are big enough to be fun to drive and still get through the obstacles on a teapot racing course without too much trouble - but I was particularly taken by the double suspension:



These vehicles come with very light bodies and their manufacturers, lacking vision as they so sadly do, appear not to consider that somebody may want to attach a teapot and other bits of heavy metal.  Single springs seem to cope - just - but double has to be better.

One also requires, naturally, an innocent teapot:



Opportunity/thrift/junk shops are the place for these.  You'll find a variety of sizes and weights, and the prices are low.

I also found this in one such shop:



This is a dolls' pram; I was able to get another couple of dollars knocked off the price because I didn't want the dolls that were in it!  Refer to the first image in this post and you'll note the similarity in wheels.  You can't really see the scale, but these wheels are somewhere around 6cm in diameter; a little larger than the car's own wheels.  Attaching them isn't going to be entirely straightforward, but that will be the subject of another post.

Knowing I was going to be embarking on this project, I made this a couple of weeks ago:



It's a couple of centimetres across and is made from Worbla, leather and some copper sheeting.  It was quite fun to do and only required hot gluing together then taking apart to try again about three times.

Mounting the teapot on the vehicle is an important step.  You don't want it falling off halfway round the Ramp of Doom.  For my first racing teapot I managed to hinge the teapot to the frame, which gives great access to batteries and such but isn't as solid as other methods.  This time I used a nice chunk of aluminium from a scrap metal dealer.  Here it is, mounted on the base:



Getting it attached was something of a struggle but I've ended up using the original mounts for the car's body.  I wish I'd tried that apparently-obvious method first, before spending much time and ruining a number of bolts trying to be fancy!

The teapot is bolted on.  That sucker's not falling off:



And then we get to the embellishments.  Trying to match the look from the book is challenging, but if you've been collecting things that might one day be useful for a while, you get there.  Here's where I stopped for the day:



I'm reasonably happy at this stage.  Still to come are the wheels, as noted above, and the door on the side which will probably be another Worbla job.  I still need to give it some more thought, and inevitably (based on prior experience) there will be bits that need to be attached differently when they prove fragile.  I'm also thinking about putting a red LED in a spare hole beside the bellows to suggest fire.

I'll show you the final product in (I hope) a day or two.

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Colonel Sir Julius Hawthorne
H.M. Air Privateers (Retd.)

http://capitalsteampunknz.org

Whatever did we do before retro-futurism?
Banfili
Zeppelin Captain
*****
Australia Australia



« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2017, 08:57:23 am »

Colonel, excellent work, so far. I look forward to the finished 'Snark' racing teapot.
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Atterton
Time Traveler
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Only The Shadow knows


« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2017, 02:44:02 pm »

It looks a lot better than the original by Mr Watt.
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Resurrectionist and freelance surgeon.
Miranda.T
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United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2017, 07:27:22 pm »

That is looking absolutely spiffing! The tone of the original image is being captured beautifully. Will the pram wheels be replacing the RC vehicle's originals or will they be more for creating the look rather than function?

Yours,
Miranda.
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Hektor Plasm
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All-Round Oddfellow.


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« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2017, 07:34:02 pm »

I'm watching this with interest! I missed the teapot racing at the Asylum last (!) year- must get cloning, so I can be in more than one place at a time...  Grin

HP
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Kensington Locke
Officer
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United States United States


« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2017, 09:13:49 pm »

seeing all that makes me regret giving away my old remote control car last year.

How much does that teapot rig way, thus far.  seems like an awful lot of weight to bear on the car.
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keithjones
Gunner
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United States United States



« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2017, 02:31:46 am »

Nice!  Will you be competing at the Steam Punk World's Fair in May?
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Colonel Hawthorne
Snr. Officer
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New Zealand New Zealand



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« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2017, 08:21:40 am »

Thank you all for your comments and questions.

Miss Miranda: The best idea I've had for the wheels so far is to strap them to the vehicle's existing wheels with cable ties (yes, I know, very steampunk!).  I had hoped to do a straight swap but the pram wheels in no way match the vehicle's axles.

Mr Plasm:  Indeed, we need more of you.  I'm not sure what the plans are for the Asylum this year, but I would hope Splendid Teapot Racing will again featue (but probably without the Countess in attendance). One of these years we'll get there ...

Mr Locke:  I haven't weighed it, but with a few of these things under my belt I'm confident it will behave.  As I mentioned, the double suspension should help.  The thing to really watch with these things is the centre of gravity - teapot racing requires agility, and being too top-heavy is a bad idea.  I shall perform suitable tests, never fear.

Mr Jones: Alas, no.  The end of May/beginning of June is New Zealand's biggest steampunk festival and we have certain commitments (and we hope the author of Snark will attend to see what he's been responsible for unleashing on the world).

I haven't been able to do any more to the Snark-cooker today, but tomorrow is another day.
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Cora Courcelle
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England England



« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2017, 12:23:10 pm »

Fun! Tea, hee, hee!
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Hektor Plasm
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« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2017, 06:48:05 pm »

Fun! Tea, hee, hee!

Arf arf!  Cheesy

HP
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Colonel Hawthorne
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New Zealand New Zealand



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« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2017, 05:53:30 am »

Steady, Miss Cara - much more of that and you'll go completely potty.

I've had a bit of two steps forward, one back in the last day or so.

If you look at the final photo in my first post and the lamp piece the little bell's hanging off, you may spot a difference now:



Wellington has an amazing second-hand shop* we hadn't been to for a while and I found an alternative lamp piece I think works better.  That's a mesh sink drainer thingy inside; I bought a pack of three different-sized ones from a $2 shop a year or more ago on the basis they looked like they might be useful one day (doesn't every steampunk do that?).  That day has finally come.

The backward step comes with the wheels.  As I mentioned in my earlier reply, cable ties were the best way I could think of to attach my metal pram wheels, short of major surgery on the wheels the vehicle came with.  So I tried that, with short aluminium tube sections in the centre of the pram wheels to (hopefully) keep them centred on the wheel nuts:





It's a reasonably handsome beast, taken all round:



But I'm not at all happy with both the look of the 'wheels over wheels' effect, or with the likely stress this arrangement will put on the axles (the vehicle tends to droop in the middle due to the weight of all the persiflage on top).  So I've bitten the old musket ball and ordered a replacement set of wheels (I feel I should have one intact set in case Plan B doesn't work either).  The plan is to remove the tyres and (probably) slice the wheelrims in half, then mount the pram wheels solidly on what's left.  The important piece is on the inside of the original wheel, where there's a socket that fits over a rotating nut on the axle to provide positive driving force.

Whether I wait until I have the new set remains to be seen, but I can at least give the matter some more thought and there are a few other finishing touches to be done elsewhere on the teapot.  More news as it happens; any comments or suggestions will be carefully considered.


* The place is staggeringly full of ... stuff.  Books, electronics, china, ornaments, jewellery, ... stuff.  Don't even think about going in in your crinoline; even without it you'll have to negotiate some parts sideways.  It's in Abel Smith Street (west of Cuba St), for any locals or visitors who may be wondering.
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Banfili
Zeppelin Captain
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Australia Australia



« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2017, 11:34:41 am »

Oh, very nice, Colonel!
Have you trimmed the cable ties yet, or are they to remain in place to scythe down the opposition?
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Colonel Hawthorne
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New Zealand New Zealand



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« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2017, 08:54:11 pm »

The cable ties are no more, Miss Banfili. I've taken the wheels off pending major surgery (to them, not me).
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Banfili
Zeppelin Captain
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Australia Australia



« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2017, 12:09:47 am »

Colonel, there has to be a way to affix them so that they are the primary source of locomotion! They look too good to be wasted.
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Colonel Hawthorne
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New Zealand New Zealand



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« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2017, 05:28:20 am »

Quote
... there has to be a way to affix them so that they are the primary source of locomotion


And so it proved!

Another day, much better progress.  The major surgery referred to was to the (plastic) wheel hubs the vehicle came with.  I had to slice exactly 1cm off one side (making sure it was the right side - there was a wrong side, which would have been vexing), times four wheels.  Precision cuts are not my strong point, but I was heartened to get the first one exactly right:



I was even more heartened to make a pretty good job of the other three as well - nothing a bit of sandpaper couldn't get rid of, anyway.  This was after peeling the tyres off, which was much more difficult than I'd expected.  Dashed good glue those chaps use.

Next, some minor modification to the new wheels - nothing more than enlarging the hole in the middle a little at one end so it fitted over the wheel nuts.  At this point I discovered the hub was wood - I'd been thinking the entire wheel was metal:



Yes, the hole does look off-centre, but so was the original.

To jump ahead slightly, it worked:



I'm much happier with that.  The 'tyres' are draft-excluder foam.  It works quite well but is very soft, with the potential to come off after a few corners.  I'll be looking out for a more robust alternative, but it will do for now.

And while rummaging in my stash I also found the ideal embellishment for the left side of the teapot:



That's off an ice bucket we picked up a while ago.  A bit of Rub'nBuff and off we go.

So reassembled, we now have this:



I sprayed the aluminium base the teapot's mounted on black so it effectively disappears.  I still have to make a door for the other side of the pot, but apart from that (and maybe different tyres, and some extra twiddly bits round the base of the spout that I'd forgotten about until I started writing this, and maybe some LEDs, or maybe not) we have a new racing teapot.  I've tried it out on the flat and it performs pretty well; whether it can cope with the Ramp of Doom remains to be seen.  Its competitive debut is likely to be Wellington's CubaDupa festival at the end of March, so I have plenty of time for tweaking.

And for a future project? Well, there's still the rest of the dolls' pram I got the wheels off, and with a few additions ... does this suggest anything to anyone?

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selectedgrub
Guest
« Reply #15 on: January 07, 2017, 07:16:31 am »

Looking mighty fine.
I was wondering what you were going to do for the traction issue.


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Banfili
Zeppelin Captain
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Australia Australia



« Reply #16 on: January 07, 2017, 09:29:51 am »

Proper job, Colonel, looks grand!
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Nexxo
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« Reply #17 on: January 07, 2017, 02:15:37 pm »

Awesomeness unlocked!

If you are unhappy with the wheels, I happen to have a lathe and, provided with the necessary dimensions, can turn you a set of adapter hubs (brass) to bolt the prams wheels straight onto the axis.

Just let me know.
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Hektor Plasm
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« Reply #18 on: January 07, 2017, 06:57:06 pm »

Oh now that does look the business! Even the naked chassis looks steamy, with the big wheels on, if you ignore the anodised bits. May I suggest some parts in there might like a touch of steam-engine green or reds, just for effect?

HP
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Colonel Hawthorne
Snr. Officer
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New Zealand New Zealand



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« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2017, 02:37:57 am »

A splendid thought, Mr Plasm.  Black makes things vanish, or at least blend into an anonymous blob, but I see what you're saying with the railway colours. I shall consider the matter.

Nexxo, thank you for the offer.  Early signs are the wheels will do the job, but I appreciate your kind thought.

I find the overall height of the vehicle slightly exceeds the maximum height laid down in the official rules of Splendid Teapot Racing, but it is a comfort that said rules also provide for bribery of the judges in order to have such minor transgressions overlooked.
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Colonel Hawthorne
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New Zealand New Zealand



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« Reply #20 on: January 08, 2017, 06:05:16 am »

A couple of cosmetic finishing touches added this afternoon.

The door on the right-hand side of the cooker, more or less as illustrated in the book:



The door is Worbla, marvellous stuff to play with and widely used by cosplayers but less so, it seems, by steampunks. I'm a very long way from being even slightly competent with it (yes, the top hinge is crooked!) but it's a very useful, easy to use and forgiving material.  Heat it up with a heat gun, shape it over whatever you're doing and let it cool down again.  It's very strong and light, so ideal for (eg) prosthetic enhancements.  Your local cosplay group will almost certainly be able to give you an introduction if you're inerested in seeing what it can do.  The keyhole is from a set of puffy stickers we got to add to our Worbla play kit.  Don't expose them directly to the heat gun.  Ask me how I know this is a bad idea.

And a collar round the base of the spout:



Not the clearest photo, but it's simply a piece of decorative metal strip used in upholstery (it probably has a proper name!), curved round a suitable stick and secured by a tiny screw underneath the spout.  I've given it a light dose of antique gold Rub'nBuff, and may do something similar to the door hinges.  The red thing is a tiny 'jewel' that happened to be lying about in my workshop and fitted nicely into a nail hole in one of the domes.

A friend suggested EVA/craft foam for the tyres, which I'll look into.  It's probably a bit more robust than the draft excluder I've used.

Nearly there ...
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walking stick
Zeppelin Admiral
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« Reply #21 on: January 08, 2017, 01:24:15 pm »

The clock face on a chassis looks like a variation of  The Time Machine that appeared in the 1960 film of the same name.
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morozow
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Russian Federation Russian Federation



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« Reply #22 on: January 08, 2017, 03:03:04 pm »

See how it's done correctly.
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Sorry for the errors, rudeness and stupidity. It's not me, this online translator. Really convenient?
Colonel Hawthorne
Snr. Officer
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New Zealand New Zealand



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« Reply #23 on: January 09, 2017, 05:15:22 am »

The clock face on a chassis looks like a variation of  The Time Machine that appeared in the 1960 film of the same name.

You got it.  I'm thinking about making a real clock of it rather than using one of my disembodied faces.  Well, not my faces, you understand ...
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Banfili
Zeppelin Captain
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Australia Australia



« Reply #24 on: January 09, 2017, 08:57:36 am »

How many faces do you have, Colonel?
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