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Our big day arrived and the group from Failsworth Q arrived in good time on Saturday afternoon to get set up but we still worked right up to the start time of 7.30 getting the sculptures ready to show.

We’d installed them on the lock and become the focal point for the start of the trail. A huge crowd gathered and the traditional 10…9…8 countdown added to the pressure on us and our creations. The crowd reached zero and after a seconds pause for pedaling in the wrong direction the fish started to swim through the air and the bird started to flap. The crowd cheered – SUCCESS!!!

The next two hours flew by as the group dashed around operating, tweaking and replacing slipped chains. They were kept busy talking to the audience and explaining how they’d make the sculptures, how they worked and showing off their fantastic creations to friends and family.

All the hard work was definitely worthwhile. Seeing the pride, enjoyment and sense of achievement shining in the group’s faces as they dashed about coupled with the smiles and amazement of our audience proved what the project is all about

The local news even took our picture.

So until we start the next stage – Manchester Day Parade – it just remains for me to thank all our amazing, hard working and talented participants:

From Failsworth Q: Ste, Steve, Dan, Martin, Levi, Peter, Sam, Dale and Sam,

From Chadderton House: Andy, Dennis, Scott and Maxine

From Grassroots: The amazing Darren, Anthony and Chris.

From Manchester Uni: Hebe Phillips.

And of course a big thank you to everyone who support us in other ways and without whom it wouldn’t have happened: Sara, Natalie, Maggie, Ann, Bulky Bob and everyone else.

See you at Manchester Day Parade!


Salvage! At Illuminate a video by arbarus on Flickr.

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The group reconvened for our last full working day before the grand unveiling at Illuminate – our mission “Decorate!”

Decoration consisted of scales and feathers created using from cable ties, Mylar film from an old slash curtain and double sided tape. A painstaking process…

Other work included adding a tail with flapping mechanism to the bird, improving the fish’s moveable jaw and adding fins and more tail detail to the fish along with a gangsta style grill (or bike chain teeth!)…


How To Decorate Your Fish a video by arbarus on Flickr.

As the deadline of the Illuminate event approached it was time to test and tweak the sculptures.

We added the drive bike to the bird using some ‘dropouts’ made from scrap steel plate and old angle iron shelving. Time to test the bird and it proved too big for the poly tunnel so we moved it outside to continue work– the weather was changeable so we worked under a slightly too small gazebo for some of the day.

 

The bird wings proved too heavy and kept throwing the chain from the gear as they ‘pushed’ the chain forward ahead of the pedal. This was remedied by the addition of a number of ‘muscles’ made from old inner tubes, strategically placed these ‘muscles’ countered the downwards force of the wings and allowed an even resistance to the pedals allowing control of the speed of the rotation and flapping more easily.

Everyone was thrilled that the bird worked. The flapping motion had a real bird like quality and everyone enjoyed pedaling and making amusing ‘caw-cow’ noises…


The Bird Moves a video by arbarus on Flickr.

We were please to have our young team return on the second day of their Easter holidays and continue work on the bird.

The tricky process of setting up and aligning the drive mechanism proved a challenge as four bike chains were needed to create the required length. These were salvaged from our junk box and Dan and Ste set to work making sure they were of the same pitch, cleaning and freeing any stuck links and joining them into one long, unwieldy and unusual looking chain.

Once this was connected correctly around the wing crank gear and the freewheel of the drive bike, Sam Ste and Dale mounted a tensioner and chain guide made from two old derailleur cogs onto the struts of the bird support frame.

Meanwhilst Andy and Dennis got the fish moving with the addition of a drive bike.

The fish frame had been lifted 5″ using bed frame ends to enable fixing of the drive mechanism. (The fish was now truly above the river bed!)

The perpendicular drive for the fish was connected using a cunning contrivance of parts from our toolkit: a 3/4 socket and universal joint adapter, Andy and Dennis made sure everything was aligned correctly to the fish drive crank and fixed it in place.

Our group of new artists joins us; ten young men from The Q Youth Centre in Failsworth accompanied by Natalie and Maggie.

The group instantly gets to work on their challenge – create a kinetic bird sculpture in just two days.

They split into teams and get to work on various parts of the sculpture: a lightweight mountain bike frame is stripped and mounted onto two wheel barrow frames to become the bird’s body, two saddles are found and connected by a complex arrangement of metal, nuts and bolts to a brake mechanism to become a moving beak.

At the same time the ‘fish team’ continue work and the body, head and tail are completed. Then the complex task of detailing the moving sculpture begins.

After lunch the bird’s wings are constructed from bed frame pieces connected by inner tube sections and jubilee clips to create flexible flapping joints.

The wings will be driven from the pedals and are connected by more bed frame rods and by the end of the day the bird has taken shape. It’s about 8foot high and has a wing span of about 16foot – a very impressive achievement from five hours work!