Monday, 9 April 2012

Sometimes you have to build a Tardis

Artist's impression

As some of you may already know, the Easter weekend project here in Bendigo was to build a Tardis.  Preparation began weeks ago, with the gathering of pictures and plans.  We began gathering materials about a week ago and work in earnest began on Good Friday.  We invited a bunch of friends and family to join us for the weekend and had a blast.  Unfortunately we didn't quite finish the build, but it's close enough that we can finish it off over the next couple of weekends.

When I say we aimed to build a Tardis, we weren't actually trying to build a time machine.  Rather, with our combined backgrounds in theatre production and cutting-edge cocking about, we aimed to build a passable, three-dimensional facade of a Tardis, place it out in our backyard near the rail line that passes by there and, hopefully, entertain some bored commuters from time to time by activating the flashing light on its roof.  We reckoned the necessary skills and inspiration could be gathered for the weekend and, with the right combination of determination, idiocy and whimsy, there was always a good chance that we could pull it off.
This turned out to be a formidable challenge.  Since the thing would need to be weather proof, the main panels are made from cement sheeting coated in exterior paint.  The sheer dimensions were a challenge - it's about 2.5m tall and 1.2m on a side.  There were windows to be cut out of the cement sheets, and then there was the matter of a peaked roof, also made of cement sheeting.  We assigned a highly qualified "scientician" (that's what he insists on being called) to the job of utilising some rusty trigonometry to calculate how the roof pieces should be cut.  The results were not very different from making four right-angled triangles, so we ended up cutting those and worked out the rest later.

Then there was the matter of constructing timber frames in such a way that they would fit together as a box, instead of as four frames with ugly indentations in the corners.  We needed to make lattice-work for windows, make window panes from acrylic sheeting, and my brother set himself the task of reprogramming an off-the-shelf camping lantern for the light on top.  And there was lots of painting.

Meanwhile, there was some industrial-scale catering going on.  We fed somewhere over a dozen people for several meals, and on Saturday night we did two sittings covering around two dozen people.

To say we're all feeling a bit shagged about now would be an understatement, but we were never in any doubt that we were having an insanely fun time.  I've been working up to something like this for a while, making increasingly more elaborate chicken runs over the last couple of years.  The number of components and level of complexity this time out was certainly beyond my abilities but, with the help of some very experienced people, now I've got a brand new set of tricks to draw on.

So, we were heading out for dinner this evening (nobody wanted to face the kitchen!) and Mrs G was talking about knocking up a chicken tractor, for dealing with broody chooks and wayward weeds, all in one hit.

With the amazing experience of building a Tardis behind me, the prospect of building a chicken tractor is not at all daunting.  It might take a day to put together, but I feel pretty well equipped to do it.  Yet, had I been asked to build a chicken tractor a week or two ago, I wouldn't be anywhere near as confident, and with good reason.

So, in addition to "Bacon makes everything better", I now have another motto:

Sometimes you have to build a Tardis.


  1. When you'd at school and you ask - when will I ever use trigonometry in real life? - no one ever (sensibly) says - One day you may need to build a Tardis.


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