Tuesday, May 18, 2010


The first part of the sculpture that needs to be fabricated is the base. The base will consist of the largest of the three gears, a round steel form on top of it, filled with concrete, and then a second large gear on top. It is far more complex than it sounds; the three pieces cannot simply be stacked one upon another. First, the excess dirt and foreign matter must be cleaned from the gears, while still leaving enough rust to make them look as old as they are. Below, the largest gear is shown after being moved to just outside Robert Lash's studio door.
The round steel form was subcontracted to a company in New Gloucester that has giant rollers specifically made for curving large sheets of heavy steel. Rob brought the650 lb steel cylinder form back to Gardiner in his pickup truck.After beefing up a crane he had previously built on the roof of the studio, he was able to lift the cylinder out of the truck and onto the gear.
He then discovered that the cylinder was not perfectly round. He created three turnbuckles, placed 120-degrees apart, to push and pull the form from the inside to make it perfectly round.

Next, he carefully measured and cut six openings in the bottom of the cylinder, so that it would fit exactly onto the spokes of the wheel.

Not only will the cylinder be filled with concrete, but the concrete will extend five feet below the base underground to ensure stability of the base and sculpture, so that it can withstand severe weather conditions and river flooding. But it's not ready yet. Robert must fabricated the internal bracing which will hold the threaded stainless steel rods in place, which will anchor the sculpture. In order to do that, he must know exactly how the bottom pieces of the sculpture will contact the base.

Next, he creates full scale replicas of the three bottom pieces of the sculpture out of ridged blue Styrofoam. They must be identical is size and shape to the stainless steel pieces he has designed for the sculpture. This picture shows the inside of one such model.
On a piece of plywood he has drawn an exact outline of the shape of the upper gear. In this photo, the three bottom Styrofoam models are balanced on the gear outline so that he can calculate the exact entry points for the stainless steel anchor rods. You can see his original small scale (2"=1') model at the base of the three Styrofoam pieces.