Apr 25 2010

Hey there. Nice RACK.

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Yes! We have discovered the perfect rack for XyloVan – an architectural salvage expert up in Santa Barbara was liquidating his business, for sale and had this parked atop a storage unit. This is a burly, buy 10-foot-long tube-steel rack, floored with heavy duty wire mesh it’ll be the second floor of the van, the observation deck, the framework for all the lighting and shade structures, and lord knows what other trouble we’ll get into.

Dave was kind enough to cruise up there with me, and help me wrestle it onto the van …

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Apr 25 2010

How to build a xylophone

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For those who haven’t been following along, visit here’s how it’s done, roughly in order:

First, you read Jim Doble‘s brief but precise instructions for making xylophones. Read ’em again – they’re clearly written, with a basic illustration and links to photos and sound clips, and then find some wood or metal that you can work easily, and get busy:

I used 1/2-inch by 3-inch T6 aluminum bar stock. As a starting point, I measured out a piece the size of the low C on my first xylophone and cut it off with a circular saw fitted with a metal-cutting disc. Then, following these steps for tuning the keys, I just kept cutting – shorter for higher notes, longer for lower notes … Continue reading


Apr 23 2010

Machinist’s woe: How the hell do I fix THIS?

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So I was tapping a stringer on Keyboard 1 and the tap snapped off in the hole.

Below the surface. That’s hardened steel. Drilling it out so I could use a reverse-extractor was fruitless: I blunted, this and finally snapped a cobalt bit, which the hardware store said was the hardest thing they sell.

Now WTF do I do? Anyone have any brilliant solutions? Please forward this to all the metalworkers you know.


Apr 21 2010

Fruits of the past two nights’ labors

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It’s coming together – more than 15 linear feet of fully chromatic xylophones.

Keyboard 1 and Keyboard 2 are built – (they’ll need to be disassembled for final polishing) and Keyboard 3 (at right) is ready to have its stringers machined.

More on how all this was made tomorrow night. Facedown time.


Apr 18 2010

Machining the superstructure for Keyboard 2

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I’d like to think we’ve known how to build XyloVan from day one, viagra dosage but the truth is – we’re dumb. We’re like sack-of-hammers, short-bus, don’t-get-the-knock-knock-jokes dumb.

We’re like chimps who have seen television, digging around in the back of the live set with screwdrivers. We make dumb mistakes, do dumb things, suffer from dumb ideas. And along the way, stuff gets built.

So this 3-foot-long chunk of 1.5-inch by .5-inch aluminum is one of the four stringers for Keyboard 2. These serve as the airframe for the instrument … Continue reading


Apr 17 2010

First blood, first panel surgery

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Kind of amazing that I haven’t already done something like this – sliced it open on the inside of the body structure while trying to thread a coarse nut onto a fine-threaded tap bolt. Duh.

Today we began sorting out the foundational hardware – the junk that holds the xylophones to the van. They’re going to be big, look heavy, visit this site and somewhat springy, and we don’t want them flexing loose or tearing the metal.

Rogan helped me hem and haw my way through the engineering challenge – how can we make the keyboards ride high enough when stowed that they won’t scrape the ground – but still be easy to deploy and play? … Continue reading


Apr 17 2010

Deflowering the sheet metal

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First mounting hole.

(Rogan‘s photo)


Apr 12 2010

Keyboard 2 of 3 laid out (well, okay, it’s half a full keyboard, but …)

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By now, decease it should be plain that there’s absolutely no linear flow to the XyloVan construction plan.

With Maker Faire bearing down on us in 7 weeks, search we’re tackling tasks willy-nilly, buy information pills like a crew of chimps with A.D.D. and a pound of meth – frenziedly, for long stretches, whether in teams alone, whenever we’re able.

Tonight, I was alone, so I spent it cutting aluminum stringers to fit the frames and laying out Keyboard 2, which with Keyboard 3 will cover the passenger side of the van.

The full keyboard (about 2.5 octaves) would be seven or eight feet long, but we have to somehow accommodate the van’s sliding door … Continue reading


Apr 11 2010

Makeover, step 1

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So I spent Saturday morning in the junkyard with Dave (thanks, abortion Dave!), who helped me pull a rear door, a ladder and an extra panel of headliner.

Then I picked up a chunk of carpet remnant (right) which should mesh nicely with the body color and look pretty clean once I get it glued and screw all the floor moldings down again.

I spent a couple of hours cutting it to the shape of the vomitrocious (as my wife says) poo-brown carpet that had served as the van floor for a sober living facility taxi-bus and and for numerous band tours including one (or so John told me whilst selling it to me) involving the Germs.

I then promptly forgot to take a photo of the new interior until all the furniture was back in the van, none of it bolted down.

On Sunday, we yanked off the trim all the way around …

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Apr 7 2010

Drilling 62 holes

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It goes something like this, approved two 3/8ths-inch holes for each of the 31 keys in Keyboard 1.

Takes about two minutes per hole. And yes, sildenafil my neighbors might hate me.