Crystal Quest IV – Assembly Begins


Our acrylic has arrived! 

Global Oceanic Designs capped off a whirlwind 2012 by receiving its shipment of nearly a quarter of a million dollars of acrylic to begin construction of the Crystal Quest IV.  

Delivery was quite the endeavor with a 60-foot flatbed truck sinking into the fresh sod after two solid days of rain. The truck was finally able to navigate the course, and the thirteen pallets of acrylic running the entire length of the truck needed to be unloaded.

Doug Siemonsma of Ashwood Homes was standing by with the forklift, but the combination of the size and weight of the pallets exceeded the capabilities of one forklift. Everyone onsite scrambled to call for another as the light rain collected on the protective covering.

Once determined that none were available within a reasonable distance, Mr. Siemonsma reached out to a friend. The Directional Drilling Company (DDC) of Willis, TX generously provided the second forklift, and it was paraded down Cude Cemetary Road to the site.

The orientation of the pallets had to be manipulated in the air multiple times once off of the truck. Only the larger forklift could get a pallet off of the truck, yet only the smaller one could fit through the doors while carrying a pallet.  A system was devised that allowed all of the pallets of acrylic to be carried into the brand new Showcase Facility where Crystal Quest IV will be born.

Each of the thirteen pallets was placed in rows taking up the entire floor of the Showcase Facility. The majority of these pallets held two, four by eight foot sheets of six inch thick acrylic. Just one of these sheets weighs over 1100 pounds!

The floor also included one pallet that held the thinner acrylic sheets. They came in the same dimensions but two of them at three inches thick and three at one quarter of an inch of thickness.

As the forklift left through the 16 foot tall and 14 foot wide, main rolling door, the Global crew committed to cut and shape the twenty-eight thousand pounds or 14 tons of acrylic into the parts in the blue prints with only hand tools. The group decided to test their collective knowledge of weights and measures as well as creativity by skipping the expense of adding cranes to the building.

January allowed the design team to complete the last of the drawings, and the ceremonious first cut on acrylic to signify construction on the Crystal Quest IV occurred in late February of this year.

The Global team started cutting one sheet at a time by cutting away the top of the packaging to expose the absolutely crystal-clear acrylic for the first time. Lines were scribed across the length of the sheet to connect carefully measured marks. A guide bar was fastened to the acrylic using hand clamps as to line up the blade to the scribe line.

Finally, the 16-inch circular saw, affectionately known as Paul Bunyan by the team, would be called upon to cut the acrylic in one clean pass. The length and angle of the cuts varied as well as the methods used to make it work.

The final result was over a mile of cuts to produce over 90 flawless pieces. A few of these pieces were final cuts, but most of them required shaping to fit into place. Most of the shaping done to date has been accomplished by the use of a hand planar.

All of the finished pieces of Crystal Quest IV show a level of precision that one would only expect from a machined part. In fact, Global attempts to maintain tolerances of less than three thousandths of an inch on every part to ensure that the strength of the Bi-Pyramidal Hull will be showcased to the world.

Six weeks of pushing tough schedules resulted in all 13 pallets of sheets being cut into pieces and parts.

The elimination of the pallets on the floor and addition of beautiful shapes in clear acrylic adorning the walls gave life to the Showroom Facility.

DSC01834One was struck with the image of the supports and internal framework of the Crystal Quest IV stacked against the walls when entering the Showcase Facility. A variety of shapes were represented in these parts from hexagonal to trapezoidal and triangular.

Clamping System Bonding Table 005Once the largest, 900-pound sheets parts were cut to size, the time to begin laminating them together loomed just over the horizon. In congruence with the agreement to avoid expensive machinery, Global designed and modeled a rolling assembly platform to be built out of cedar and inexpensive two-inch thick steel tubing that would make everything possible for approximately $20,000. 

The avoided costs saved by Global started to stack up after designing around both cranes and a several hundred thousand dollar air table. The Global team decided that the savings would be immediately reallocated to marketing efforts.

About a third of the 1200 feet of 8 inch by 8 inch cedar timber was purchased and stacked along the wall of the Showroom Facility beside the pieces of acrylic cut out to be fashioned into the crowns of Crystal Quest IV. The finished rolling assembly platform has to be perfectly flat to produce the factory-quality seams that Global partners demand. To achieve this level of uniformity, much of the timber had to be planed flat before assembly.

DSC01560Once within tolerances, eight 12-foot-long timbers were laid in parallel running east and west and covered with one half inch acrylic sheet. The steel poles joined the timbers by running perpendicular on top of them. Small wooden blocks screwed into the timber on both sides of each pole hold them in place while still allowing them to spin.

Next, the blocks had to be joined to construct the laminating table on top of the steel rollers now resting on the Showroom Floor. Four six-foot timbers stacked on top of each other constituted a block, and the eight were joined using nearly 250 steel plates and over 5000 wood screws. Each block was covered top and bottom with the same one half inch acrylic and loaded on top of the steel rollers to sit directly over each timber on the floor.

Now that the laminating table sits on top of the steel rollers, the rolling assembly platform was ready to perform. The first 6 inch thick, 900 pound part was loaded on top of the table by hand using a cart and some one-inch steel poles as rollers. The system of felted poles and hard surfaces made it easy to move the sheets once on the table.

The second sheet was lifted onto the table, and it was time to prepare the first lamination in building Crystal Quest IV. The two sides of the acrylic sheets that faced each other were planed and sanded to be flat, even, and more porous for the solvent that would be used to join them. After the sides were adequately prepared, the two sheets were set in place on top of wooden blocks with a small, even gap between them.

Steel poles equipped with clamping mechanisms and protective strips of felt were put in place next. Eight poles were slid under the acrylic, seven poles were placed on top, and two were made ready for the sides. 

20130422_175605The lamination procedure included taping over the gap on the bottom and sides of the bonding surfaces with aluminum tape to keep the solvent from escaping.

DSC01915The aluminum tape selected was the only one that Global identified that could take the pressure of the solvent as the plates were pressed together.

The top of the bonding surfaces required an entirely different tape setup. The tape was scored down its length about a half of an inch from the edge in order to be able to peel away the backing evenly. The exposed tape was run flush with the edge of both sides of the bonding surface, and the remainder of the tape with the backing still on it created the spillway to pour the solvent.

The lamination table had held steady with the plates exactly lined up in position, and the lamination was prepared. The act of bonding the two pieces together with the use of a chemical solvent takes two pieces of material and makes them literally melt into one. 20130423_110007The effectiveness of the bond is paramount for the safety of Crystal Quest IV. Bubbles in the seam also detract from the aesthetics of the finished piece.

The moment of truth had arrived as the team took its positions. The solvent was poured into the spillway, clamps tightened, and excess removed. The site could be described as orderly chaos as the team worked together in a coordinated scramble to achieve a quality seam on the first lamination.

Now that the team felt confident with its ability to perform perfect lamination of the acrylic sheets, the remainder of the rolling assembly platform needed to be constructed.

Global was able to locate cedar timber that was planed to the required dimensions for the remainder of the wood. Lucas Cedar was able to fulfill the order and help Global to save significant man hours of planing.

20130520_135946Twelve-foot cedar timber was laid end-to-end with the existing timbers on the floor and covered with one half inch acrylic. Steel tubing was blocked into place to match the other half of the machine, and the laminating table was ready to slide down the length of the platform.

Six inch by one inch boards were used to lock the blocks into place to cause them to function as one on the rollers. Cables were attached to the laminating table and anchored to the far end of the machine. The cables were tightened, and the table and half of the first side, or shield, of the submarine inched down the machine in a controlled manner until it came to rest into place.

The other two rows of blocks now had to be built. These blocks start off the same as the laminating table but are cut diagonally at twenty-seven degrees to hold the shields in place for their lamination when the time came. The eight inch timber required two passes with Paul Bunion from opposing sides of the blocks to complete a clean cut all of the way through. With careful measuring and great attention to detail, the crew made the cuts necessary to complete these blocks. They were covered with the same one half inch acrylic and loaded onto the platform.

The rolling assembly platform was now complete. Global joined approximately 1200 feet of timber, 670 feet of acrylic strips, 220 feet of steel tubing, 300 steel plates, and 5000 screws to construct a machine that only requires three-quarter inch steel tubing and four hydraulic jacks to operate. Global management estimates that the design iterations saved the shareholders over a million dollars.20130529_171930

Lamination of the sheets to construct the first shield did not wait for the completion of the platform. The third sheet was added to the laminating table, and a similar process was repeated. On the second lamination, the two sides to be bonded were not meeting flush after multiple attempts, so the Global team decided to get creative.

The team decided to push the plates together and run Paul Bunion down the gap to guarantee that the sides would match. The maneuver left no margin for error with the $30,000 or more of acrylic involved.

The measurements were taken, guide secured, and inventor Ken Welch ran the saw down the gap while everyone present held his breath. The cut was a success, and the lamination produced an even higher quality seam. It was decided that the same procedure would be used to prepare every lamination necessary to construct the shields.

DSC01948The fourth sheet that was lifted onto the laminating table served as the guide for the other three because it was already planed to the correct angles on both sides; however, the sheets being at different angles made it risky to try to enter the gap with the saw.

DSC01961A wooden specialty piece was fastened together to give a flat platform for the saw to enter the gap without damaging the planed angle, and the cut resulted in the two pieces being ready to laminate.

A slightly-more intricate tape setup was applied, and the same lamination process was repeated. The Global team worked like a well-oiled machine to improve the quality of each and every seam.

IMG_20130611_125622_855After the seventy-two hour wait necessary to let the lamination reach its maximum 10,000 psi pressure rating, it was time to plane the three sheets to match the completed guide. Careful measurements were taken, and blue marking tape was applied to set the boundaries for the planar.

An oversized hand planar was held in place and walked down the shield countless times before the cutting line neared the tape. Finer and finer settings were used until the entire side was perfectly flat at its mark.

Two of the remaining three edges to be planed demanded the oversized, six-inch planar to be held upside down while walking down the acrylic. These angles increased the degree of difficulty while the price of the acrylic planed now exceeded $40,000. The Global team managed to plane all four edges to create the first shield to the Crystal Quest IV.A moment of celebration erupted as the first functional Bi-Pyramidal submarine started to take shape. Throughout the jubilation, the orientation of the first shield pervaded nearly every conversation. The angles of the shield match the one necessary for the closest row of blocks. Putting it in place would make it nearly impossible to get the second shield past it to its place near the rolling doors by hand. The Global crew took action and fashioned a “Lazy Susan” out of four-inch diameter scrap wood and threw a piece of felt on top of it.

It was decided that a daring spin one hundred and eighty degrees would not only solve the dilemma, but also serve as the first test of the seams. The entire shield was jacked up off of the lamination table, and the “Lazy Susan” was inserted into place. In a ballet of perfectly coordinated movements and weight shifts that included multiple people jumping up on top of the sheet as counterweight, the shield was rotated on one point until facing the opposite direction on the table. The 240 psi of pressure generated by the weight of the acrylic pushed through the block centered on the middle seam. One would have to descend to over 550 feet deep in water to experience the same hydrostatic pressure. Needless to say, the first test of the seams proved to be an absolute success.

With the orientation corrected, the ton and a half shield needed to cross the entire platform to the far set of blocks near the rolling doors. The eighteen foot journey had to be planned carefully, and the rolling assembly platform would face its biggest test yet.

A plan was designed, measured and modeled to execute the maneuver. The blocks were staggered to provide support to the shield all of the way to the far blocks. The steel poles running under the acrylic handle all of the weight of the shield, so turning two poles at a time slides the sheet effortlessly down the machine.

20130614_234555Once over its final destination for the lamination, the Global team slid out the staggered blocks to balance the weight of the entire shield on the far row of blocks. Some sliding and straightening of the blocks squared the piece before screwing in two wooden clamping points on each side of the outside blocks.

Once the shield was clamped into place, it was time for the Global team to raise a glass to the rolling assembly platform yet again.

Construction is progressing quickly with the second shield already under way. Three of the four sheets have already been laminated together by the same process to provide perfectly clear seams without losing any strength in the shield between sheets.IMG_20130625_104949_751

The Global team is determined to deliver the revolutionary Crystal Quest IV to the world as quickly as possible and will continue to push an aggressive schedule until completed.