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Sculptures in clay / Re: "Converting" my lady keystone 22-D to fired terra cotta
« Last post by \\-olff on May 26, 2017, 11:16:05 PM »
The first pressed clay is now out of the mold and she came out with a very minimal amount of surface defects that have to be fixed by hand. In the 1890s when these pieces were made the workers pounded the clay in using a small sand bag to ram the clay into the details and eliminate the little "creases" that I seem to get between pieces of clay laid in and pressed next to each other. Might help too if the clay was a little more moist and softer but I hesitate to add water since more water causes more shrinkage. To get a batch custom mixed to add a little more water I'd have to buy I believe a full ton and there's an extra charge too.
 Really want to see this in the red clay but I don't have enough to do it and only had 50# of this white clay left.

Sculptures in clay / "Converting" my lady keystone 22-D to fired terra cotta
« Last post by \\-olff on May 20, 2017, 11:41:16 PM »
I decided to take the steps needed to be able to produce this little keystone in kiln fired terra cotta, now after several steps- the final step is pictured,  I have the plaster piece-mold to do it once it dries out.


Sculptures in clay / Little classical cornice lion
« Last post by \\-olff on May 13, 2017, 01:04:58 PM »
The template for the lion is done except for attaching the one side piece once I decided how wide the sculpture was going to be, after coming home and measuring the lions head and found it was 9" wide, I decided on 11" wide for the backing block, so just like they did the old plaster ceiling moldings this box and template is used the same way but on clay.
 I have the 1st section of the little mold made, after it hardens I can mold on the next section, it will take 3, maybe 4 pieces.

Mold started of my lion mask
The mold is done and I made a cast in it to see how it looks, it can be used with the clay  backer formed and shaped with the template I made earlier.
 Now I can take this and incorporate him into the new clay backer and while the plaster cast is still wet make a mold of the whole thing since the rubber I use is unaffected by moisture in the model.
 This would have to be done on the moist clay once formed since clay shrinks as it dries and plaster does not.
I went ahead and shaped the clay backing block for the lion with the template box and just set the lion in it's approximate position for the photos and then sealed it up in a plastic bag to keep it from drying too much too quickly, once the clay sort of firms up I can remove the sides of the box and finish and tool texture the 4 sides and the face nicely, and then look at setting the lion in and filling the gaps around the sides of it.

Seeing how the lion head fits, the 11" long backing form looks just right to show that nice classic double curve an inch or so on either side of the lion while keeping the whole thing small and compact .
 I have to see if the boxes of clay I have had sitting around are still useable, but once I start making the clay backing form in the template box it all has to be done quickly, including making the complete rubber mold before the clay starts to shrink, including making the plaster support shell since if the clay shrinks the rubber will move with it, so the shell has to be done as soon as the last aplication of rubber is no longer tacky.
 Right now I don't have the molding plaster to make the shell.
 Maybe next weekend I can form the clay backer if that clay is ok, and it will firm up a little over a week without shrinking, and then I'll order what I need in 2-3 weeks and press the lion into the still soft clay and then make the rubber mold.

Now I have this interior cast stone cast finished with the weathered terracotta finish.

Sculptures in clay / NYC Subway 14th St Eagle plaque
« Last post by \\-olff on May 13, 2017, 01:01:01 PM »
Since I have most of the 2 gallon kit of mold rubber left over that needs to be used up, I decided to set up this clay model I did in 2008 after an original polychromed terracotta at the 14th st subway station in Manhattan. A volunteer back then took several photos and obtained measurements for me to work with. The model has been kicking around in the studio, the basement and elsewhere around the house while I decided on how I wanted to do the molds.
Originally I was going to do 2 molds, as a one-piece panel, and as thinner tiles in terracotta. For now I'm going to caulk-in the seams to have it as a one-piece panel with the seams looking like mortar joints.

Setting up the model for the mold involves cutting a sheet of drywall in one piece to surround the assembly so I can raise/lower the drywall to get the final depth of what I want for the resulting castings' thickness.
 I wanted to keep as thin as practical to lessen the weight, but the lower tail fin section was thinner than I felt it should be, so I lowered the drywall down 1/2" from where I originally thought it might go, that leaves the thinnest portion 1-1/2" thick.
 I started caulking in the seams between pieces to fill, but not obliterate them- so the liquid mold rubber can't drizzle down through the spaces before it sets up.
Only the rubber portion will be done for now, the plaster support shell for this and the plaster mold for the beaver had to wait until I ordered some of my casting material, molding plaster, and a few boxes of clay. I still have 3 bags of casting material on hand and it all has to be freight shipped, so it's about a $600 outlay for what I'll want to order.

One of the original polychromed terracotta eagles at the 14th St platform.

The first interior cast-stone cast in the dirty bronze finish!

Sculptures in clay / NYC Subway Astor Place Beaver panel
« Last post by \\-olff on May 13, 2017, 12:55:24 PM »
Started on the positive mold of my beaver sculpture by bringing the negative mold up from the basement and applying the release agent to it, after I have dinner I'll be applying the rubber compound.

The mold in progress, and just after the 2nd application of rubber started to gel I poured the warm plaster in for the support shell. The heat from the setting plaster will help cure the rubber faster too. To-morrow I can take the negative mold apart and peel that rubber off the new and I'll have a rubber positive with this plaster support inside it.

After filling the cavity with plaster for support

And here's the rubber positive to use for making the plaster piece-mold to press terracotta in.

I have the very first hand-pressed clay from the new plaster mold out and drying, it took 50# of clay to press the design, and about 10# of that was removed during the final work on it.
Now it will set loosely under plastic to slowly, evenly dry out over the next week to 10 days, it will need to be 100% dry before it can be fired in the kiln. I plan to press a second one either in the same white clay, or the red clay.
The photos show the progression from start to finish, with the back of the sculpture being made exactly the same way the antique original 19th century architectural ornaments were made, not really required for my pieces, but mostly it's done out of tradition and authenticity.


I also did one in the red clay today;

Hi, there's little in the way of manuals Harry, if you have a photo of the unit outside , and photos  inside, it helps since there were different models over the years.
They all ran on low voltage DC, 6 volts is usually enough to actuate the magnet coils inside, adding a gong requires more voltage and a resister and it depends on what kind of gong and it's draw.

Because the current must be limited to about 100 milliamps DC to keep the coils from frying,  it is necessary to  insert a resister between the battery or DC power supply you use and the mechanism.
6 volt lantern batteries work fine, never more than 12 volts.      To calculate the resistor value (in OHMS) multiply the voltage you are using by 10 to get the value.  Then subtract 20 from this value and the result is the value resistor you need.  So 6 volt dry cell x 10= 60, -20 =40 OHMS, while 12 volt drycell x 10= 120, -20= 100 OHMS,

  Buy a  resistor and  put it in the + wire between the battery and the box mechanism.

Resistors  also have a power rating in watts.   For 6 to 12 volts, the resistor needs a 1 watt power rating.  You can always use a higher power rating than called for, but not a lower rating, so get at least 1 watt power rating
  if you leave a battery connected to your box  it will run down,  you will need to put a switch between the battery and alarm box.

To connect the drycell battery to a Gamewell box, use the two outside terminals on the porcelain connection block in the inner box, the center terminal is not needed.

As far as keeping the box outdoors, personally I don't care for that location for mine, such items tend to get relegated out in the "back 40" where they wind up being ignored and fade out of view, insects wind up building nests inside and bringing debris is with them, the sun fades and destroys the paint, and humidity and moisture corrodes steel/iron and can corrode brass as well. The boxes last on the street so long becuase they are periodically repainted and their mechanisms are periodically inspected, lubricated, cleaned, tested and even replaced, they don't just sit there indefinitely.

You can add a light, or a gong, a gong is more authentic, the voltage of either has to match the 6 or 12 volt drycell or equiv you use.

Restorations of Gamewell & other fire alarm boxes / I have this old Gamewell Box
« Last post by Harry on May 02, 2017, 01:49:31 PM »
I have an old Gamewell alarm box that came from Fresno California.  The box still works, clicks the address of the box and is in reasonable condition.  I have the pedestal as well.  My Dad was a retired Fresno Fireman who also served in the central alarm station for several years.  I still remember the bells and paper tapes telling the alarm bureau which box was activated.  I would like to properly display the unit and am looking for suggestions.  My thoughts are to place it on my back deck - in the weather.  After all, it withstood the weather in Fresno for quite a few years.  Is there any way to wire up the box so that I can place a light on top that will flash a red light when activated?  Are there sources of wiring diagrams for these old boxes?  Harry Dyck,
Restorations of Gamewell & other fire alarm boxes / Re: Horni Signal complete box
« Last post by \\-olff on April 24, 2016, 10:07:54 PM »
Yes, they are pretty much the same as the Horni Signal box other than minor changes and the logo differences of course.
I am not a fan of stripping the original paint off unless it's really necessary, the Horni Signal box shown here will not be repainted since I want my antiques to look like antiques not brand new, but  the movement was cleaned and oiled and the case washed in hot soapy water.

Some have said the Rustoleum International Red is a good match for most, but being an oil based paint its tricker to use, but oil paint would be the more authentic paint to use. I do not spray the paint on any that need paint I use a brush like the city crews did, in fact, in an early old Harrington-Seaburg fire alarm photo showing the plant, one guy has  some boxes on a work bench and he's obviously applying the paint to the boxes with a brush while holding a can of paint in his other hand.
They may have gone to spraying later, but oil based brush paint was the paint that was used back then.
Restorations of Gamewell & other fire alarm boxes / Re: SAFA box #445 restoration
« Last post by \\-olff on April 24, 2016, 10:00:56 PM »
Did you have a photo of what it looks like now?

I'm sure this would be an aluminum box not cast iron too, it can  offer more options for paint types than cast-iron.
Restorations of Gamewell & other fire alarm boxes / SAFA box #445 restoration
« Last post by Gabe1577 on April 21, 2016, 05:13:04 PM »
Hello, I am currently restoring a SAFA street box, I have already stripped the paint off of it, and plan to prime it soon. Does anybody have any tips on painting, etc. or anything to do with SAFA boxes in general? Thanks
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