I've written about Betty before: once here and once here. I was never in love with Betty, and tried to sell her a couple of times. The sales never worked out, and I ended up giving her to Alec Lindsay and Kate Teeter, family friends who live in Marquette, Michigan. Alec came down with a trailer and carted Betty all the way to the Upper Peninsula, where (as far as I know) she lives to this day.
Betty started with this axle unit from a self-propelled lawnmower (May 2011). I wanted to use it for something. My original idea was some kind of wind-powered phonograph. I was envisioning a frame of some kind with a turntable that would be hooked up via bicycle chains and sprockets to a windmill wheel. This axle piece would let me change the direction of rotation 90 degrees. Notice the monkey head pencil holder on the table. I've had it since I was in college. It is ugly.
I mounted part of the pedal assembly from an old bike I got from someone on Freecycle to the front fork and rigged up a bracket to hold the lawnmower axle. I welded the sprocket on but I didn't get it on straight, which was a bummer. The experience of trying to get these parts to line up so that the sprockets would turn smoothly convinced me that I didn't yet have the shop skills to make something wind-powered. The green parts are a chair I picked up off the curb (May 2011).
At this point I had decided to build a creature of some kind, but I wasn't sure what. I knew this was going to be the torso and that I wanted some moving parts. In this photo, I was trying to figure out how to add another bicycle sprocket assembly (purple) from one of my daughter's old bicycles. I have welded on part of a hand truck (green) that also contributed parts to Eileen (May 2011).
The outlines of the torso taking shape (May 2011). Most of the rest of blue Schwinn is stuck in there, as are some motorcycle parts and pieces of bed frame. By this point I knew I was making a brachiosaurus.
I used the crane to position the torso frame so I could start working on the legs (June 2011). I wanted Betty to look as if she was in motion, not posed with all four feet on the ground. I also wanted to try to capture the right posture - longer front limbs than back limbs with a sloping back. The upper segments of the front limbs are made from bed frame parts (curb acquisition). Here I'm using a hubcap and some pan lids to stand in for the feet. At this point I had planned on making the feet out of concrete. I knew I needed to have a lot weight down low on this one because of the total height of the creature.
My wife took me to Haggerty Metal scrapyard in Plymouth for some birthday foraging (June 2011). She said "get however much of whatever you want." It was great.
We got 208 pounds of hand-picked scrap for 60 bucks. I found four brake rotors to use as bases for the feet. The curving black parts are table legs that I used for the neck. Some of these parts went into both the body and base of the dragonfly. I also got some exhaust headers and some other things that will become part of something someday (June 2011).
This photo shows the feet and legs roughed in and some pieces in place for the neck (June 2011). The lower segments of all four limbs are pieces of MacPherson struts that I got from the scrap pile that accumulates every day behind the Midas shop. The lower segments bolt onto the upper segments: my thought was that it might be difficult to move this thing if I made the feet very heavy. Unlike during construction of the dragonfly and Eileen, I knew enough to: (1) not cut coil springs without compressing them; (2) drill a hole to drain the fluid before welding to prevent (3) explosive plumes of burning liquid from spraying on me.
Front feet, legs, and shoulders in progress (June 2011). The right foot is tilted up using an old axe head that I've been hauling around for years. I've also incorporated a piece of suspension removed during a repair to my old car.
This photo from July 2011 shows the body after quite a bit of "filling out" work. I used a lot of bicyle parts, especially rims twisted and torqued to create sinuous lines. I used pieces of a steel arch that I bought for $7 from the ReUse Center to create parts of the back legs and part of the neck.
Betty had to move out of the garage to make room for (of all things) a car during the winter (October 2011). I had originally planned on getting a wire feed welder so that I could work on her outside, but the money I was going to use for that (from selling my car) got sucked into other things. So either Betty has to move back inside to get finished in the Spring, or a wire feed welder has to fall from the sky. I think she is close to being done and I think I've got most of the pieces I want to use.
Betty is done, at least for now (May 2012). She has moved out onto the patio. Now when I look at her I see things I like (the neck) and things I don't like (the tail). So she may not really be done.
Betty in the yard in Ann Arbor (April 2015).
Taking her apart to be moved up north as we were preparing to move south (May 2015). The kids did not want to see the big dinosaur go.
I don't who these people are, but they were having a good look while was Betty was parked somewhere in Michigan (May 2015).
Betty crossing the Mighty Mac (May 2015).
Betty enjoying a beer with her new friends in the Upper Peninsula (August 2015).
6/13/2016 09:21:39 am
She is still living large, annoying her silvan perch above her newly adopted primates. She garners lots of attention and accolades, but only from those invited into her lair (our backyard). We love her.
6/13/2016 11:00:17 am
Great! Just don't let her fall over on the kids. I've worried about that since Day 1.
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