2011 Production Log Entry 13: Fabrication

9-3-11 – 8 hours

What started out as good intentions to swap in the transmission from the Grand Wagoneer (so the Jeep will actually drive) turned into a general garage clean-up then a fabrication-fest for the video.  First, I found my box of old fire alert strobes and set about wiring them up together.  Carrie even came out and helped for awhile.  A test hooked to the Jeep’s battery revealed that 30 strobes create a chorus of high-pitched whines as the capacitors charge and discharge.  I painted the mounting plate and glued the strobes down.  I still need to do the final wiring to the Jeep’s onboard power but it’s basically done.  The board will sit out of sight on the rear floor and should make for quite an effect when it’s dark outside.  I was concerned about the power draw of all the strobes when wired together but it’s only 3.5 amps; a car stereo draws more.

Next I worked on the “reactor” to go between the vents.  The main part of it is a worthless steel rim that Justin Hartzell gave to me.  On top of that I fringe-cut a piece of plastic (part of a wire conduit from a desk we were tossing at work), bent it around into a circle and riveted the top tabs together to draw them into a tighter circle.  The riveting did not go perfectly but the best side will face outward.  Above that I mounted a slide tray donated from Scott Cavanah at work, using two long pieces of all-thread that mounted to the lug holes in the rim.  The all-thread bears the weight of the tray so that nothing is sitting on the relatively-fragile riveted-together plastic part.

Next I drilled and tapped holes to mount the junk circuit boards I had found, using small plastic standoffs so it looked “intentional”.  There’s something inherently wrong with drilling into the side of a rim like that!  The boards had some wires with them so I tucked them between the slats of plastic so it looked like they were doing something.  I mounted additional circuit boards to the base board, although they do not look very impressive in the Jeep, probably because they’re hard to see.

The best part about using the slide tray for the top is that it has a natural “lid” to it that we can use for the refueling scene.  There’s a locking ring that locks into place on top, the original function being to keep the slides from falling out.  I found a coffee can lid that fit snugly inside the ring to make it more of a covered top, and painted the radioactive symbol on it (kudos to my wife for tracing and cutting out a stencil for me).  It may not be movie-accurate, but the whole thing looks pretty impressive.  I screwed a chiseled-down 4×4 block onto the base board so the whole assembly could sit snugly on top of it in the center of the rim, again wanting to keep anything from sliding around during driving scenes.

Finish work on the vents came next.  In my initial trip to Lowe’s months ago I bought a 12-foot section of flexible 4” drain hose.  I mounted the PVC elbows to the tops of the vents with small brackets, cut the hose in half and used a piece for each side.  It makes it look like the vents/rockets/exhaust ports are fed with something.  I also mounted some flexible electrical conduit to the sides of the vents (more stuff scavenged from work) to make it look more like the real DeLorean.

The last thing that I worked on before the mosquitoes started biting was to mount another PVC elbow to the back of the flux capacitor and run a section of shiny aluminum dryer vent hose to it.  The ends of all these hoses and conduits will simply lay on the floor, but nobody will be able to see that.

Getting really close now.  It may be time for a full mockup with everything installed together.