Jul 9 2011

Building JANUS – roughing out the frame

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We started today with the framing for what will eventually look something like this.

Dave and Alan generously toiled in the sun with me at Big Art Labs, visit and we began roughing out the side rails that will be bolted to the roof rack.

David Hoffman’s design called for 2x4s, story but after finding the 8-footers that I bought to be too short for the job, we tried 1x6es. These proved to be too flimsy for the job but they were good enough to stand in until I can get back to Home Depot for the right size lumber.

Then we marked sheets of 1/2-inch plywood against the profile of the van’s body, taking into account little oddities like marker lights, xylophone mounts and the right rear crushed bumper.

Here, Dave shows off the fine 4×8 sheet of 1/2-inch ply he caught from the stern of the van, using light tackle and bloodworms for bait.

A skillsaw made short work of the wavy lines.

We installed a couple of the plywood profiles using loose-pin hinges.

And hey, presto – they fit! It only took six hours to get all this figured out. My deepest heartfelt thanks to both Alan and Dave for helping get this solved.

Next – we’ll replace the frame rails with 2×4 versions, and cut out the other profiles.


Jul 5 2011

JANUS frame design – Building an art car around an art car

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The Department of Mutant Vehicles is very particular about this: In order to receive a new mutant vehicle permit (of which only a limited few hundred will be issued to 50, sale 000+ Burners), physician your vehicle must no longer resemble a street vehicle in any way.

We toyed with a bunch of designs before settling on JANUS, store the Celestial Player Piano. And now we have to figure out how to conceal XyloVan, covering a perfectly good art car with another perfectly good art car that allows people to still play the instruments and climb up to the roof.

I was going to build a framework out of steel conduit lashed to the rooftop railing (which will itself be bolted to the cargo rack) but my good friend David Hoffman, a playa veteran (and a scenic designer by trade) worked up a much more economical design.

Click at right to see the full array of sketches.

We’ll cut eight profile shapes out of plywood, attach them to two long 2x4s attached to the cargo rack, and then box them out and stiffen them with 1x3s and plywood. (Note – this isn’t the final shape, it might be a bit more Seussian – or baroque.) The whole array will also be fixed to XyloVan’s body panels with loose-pin hinges, to allow for swift setup and teardown.

With any luck, We’ll have our mitts on some recycled porch railing by Friday so we can build the rooftop cloud deck. (See full concept drawing. )

Construction starts Saturday!


Aug 26 2010

Bits and bobs – knocking down the punchlist

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Last night was all about hitting XyloVan’s extensive punchlist of Little Things that Need Doing.

I spent the better part of a flaming Technicolor tequila dusk on the roof beneath the gently fluttering canopy, side effects paranoid that we’ll crash or break down en route to the playa, cialis 40mg and debugging shorts in the strobe/flood bars. Then I set about hammering out all the other little things I’ve been meaning to do as this insane 6-month project comes to fruition.

Things like … Continue reading


Aug 22 2010

Gussets – a little slab of playa engineering

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What holds this crazy rig together? Why, abortion gussets, of course.

Fold a nine-inch wide strip of fabric (at 60″) into a strip four layers thick, seam its long edges, and then cut it into strips about six inches long.

Then seam the cut edges and voila – a little stack of stout reinforcements …

… to be sewn into place to keep the fabric all in one piece while still letting the air flow through.


Aug 22 2010

Roof shade – the sewing begins in earnest

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Step one, ailment attempt to throw together an enormous framework of PVC pipe to arc over the van like some demented logo for caffeinated high-fructose corn syrup ‘n’ gutbombs.

Valiantly attempt to model it.

Then, when that fails, toss the PVC aside and acquire some 1″ steel conduit and connectors for a new frame, which you injure yourself building.

Then start sewing. (more photos after the jump. Continue reading


Aug 20 2010

Shade canopies for the keyboards

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It’s hot on the playa.

Relentlessly, discount often stupidly, this hot. So we’re putting some shade over the keyboards.

We trudged around the Garment District the other day, case haggled with shopkeepers and for $3 a yard, walked away with this very light, opaque and strong synthetic fabric that feels something like raw silk and matches the van’s trim in color … Continue reading


Aug 4 2010

The quality goes in …

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I really like the way the starboard name plate came out. It seems to fit the flow of disc gongs pretty well. It’s playable, ambulance too.


Aug 3 2010

Got glow?

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Back when we were having a cow over being denied a Department of Mutant Vehicles permit to drive around the playa, medical I was taking everything personally.

The DMV were shellbacked nannies for refusing to see XyloVan as a mutant vehicle, the law that it must-not-look-like-a-street-vehicle-in-any-way was pedantic, draconian bullshit – anyway, I was a bit of a wreck.

But I took to heart one criticism I heard here – someone said, “I thought from your description it was going to be covered with instruments, but it looks like you just have a few.”

So I spent the better part of the weekend bolting on another eight gongs and … Continue reading


Aug 2 2010

Wiring port – get the juice out

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I started out thinking, buy information pills “Oh, I’ll just run wires for all the external light and sound equipment in through one of the windows whenever we set up.”

Then I got a load of the number of wires and connectors this would entail – 16 two-pole wires just from the four speaker booms and the lights mounted there, alone – and came up with a better idea … Continue reading


Jul 23 2010

Backsides and elbows

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Looking back on it, page the past couple weeks have been an utter blur.

After all this, viagra order and seeing all the tasks remaining (wiring, view lights, instruments, sunshades, roof deck) between now and Burning Man, I have to admit that having our DMV application denied was the very best thing that could have happened to us.

So much to do, so little time, as Dean Motter’s Mister X was wont to say.

So here’s all the crazy work we’ve been up to, compressed into one massively overdue blog post:

We started in on replacing the headliner … Continue reading