Welcome to the Construction Blog of the Pirate Ship. I plan to have it done for Burning Man 2010 as time and material present themselves. I am trying to use as much recycled and reused material as possible. Some things I will have to buy, for that your donations are most appreciated.
Jul 24 2015

The Guardian


A photo of the C.S. Tere was in the Guardian this week:


NK Guy3

This is for a new book released by Neil K. published by Taschen. The book release coincides with an art show in London featuring prints from the book.


You can get the book here: Art of Burning Man

Oct 7 2013

Burning Man 2013


First, thank you for helping get the ship to Burning Man. It was a great year on the Playa.

A quick recap of the ship’s history on the playa:

2010, first year out, the ship drove painfully slow due to a hydraulic miscalculation until Wednesday night when the gas engine died.

2011, hydraulic problem as soon as we got to the playa, I wrenched on the ship all week but wasn’t able to get it fixed, the ship stayed in camp all week.

2012, still in debt from the last two years and wasn’t able to bring the ship.

It was a rough few years so I was a little nervous going this year knowing that something could easily go wrong and the ship wouldn’t be functional again, but that wasn’t the case. This year the ship ran great, she ran at a good speed (could have been a touch faster but a good cruising pace). We were able to drive the ship 10 hours a day and 16 hours on Saturday, we put over a 100 miles on the ship throughout the week.

Here are some of my favorite photos (so far)

Photo By Kelli Rua Klein

Photo by Jessica Carpenter:

Photo by Scott London:

Photo by Andrew Miller:

We took the ship out and did four Art tours throughout the week and also did a wedding party tour. One of the best things is we were able to give a lot of people that we didn’t know a ride on the ship. This to me is radical inclusion on the playa.

The one mechanical problem we did have was when we sheared the drive axle off one of the rear wheels on our way to the Temple burn. It would be easy to get upset but it happened on the last trip, when it could have happened on the first day of the Burn, or we could have made it home without a problem and then broke the axle the first day next year on playa. Having the ship break WHEN it did was incredibly lucky, The hydraulic motors were probably rated for ~5000 pounds and my guess is we had about 8000 pounds on each of the rear wheels and about 3000 pounds of that weight was dancing Saturday night when Diablo from BMIR DJed from two iPods and kept us dancing the whole time. After 9 Burns this was the most fun I’ve ever had on Burn night.

Luckily I have friends with big equipment and it wasn’t too difficult to get the ship packed up and transported home (Thanks Chili).

I am also happy to say that all the Baby Tripods were mailed out today. If you were one of the people waiting you should be getting yours in the next few days. Sorry about the delay shipping them was a much bigger project than planned. Here is me holding the receipt.

Right now we’re working on plans to bring the ship to Howl to be used as the back stage. I hope to see you there.


Also if you would still like a Baby Tripod we still have more. We maxed out a few credit cards getting the ship to the Playa and the sooner we pay those off the sooner we can get on to the next thing.

Thank you again.

Aug 16 2013

Spider Coupler


Between the Pirate Ship’s engine and its hydraulic pump is a device called a “spider coupler”  There is a rubber element (that looks like a 6 legged spider) that connects the two shafts of the motor and pump.  The spider takes out vibration and miss alignment between the pump and the engine.  When we designed the drive system we sized the coupler for a 30 horse power engine (we have a 27hp engine in the ship). What we didn’t know was that the horse power ratting was for a electric engine, and that you need to cut the hp ratting nearly in half for a gas engine.  We were wearing out the elements and then on our test drive we wore out the coupler.  This was not going to work on the Playa. We needed something better…

The fastest solution was to order a new coupler that fit the custom machined tapered shaft adapter. This new coupler will give us 4-5 times the capacity of the one that almost worked. This is much stronger than we needed but we save a lot of time by not having to make a new tapered shaft adapter.

On the left you can see the chewed up old coupler and then the new one on the right. Bigger is Better.
We cut a new key into the motor. It was easier to put the engine on the mill to cut the key way for the new adapter that to try to get the old adapter off (loctite on a lapped taper shaft is a force of nature). (you can see the teeth on the old coupler before they were milled off)

With the new key cut we needed a new bell adapter. Two pieces of 8x8x1/2 plate and two pieces 4x7x3/4 cold rolled bar were welded then machined square to make the adapter.



Then there were 8 very precise holes to drill and bore, and two counter-bored holes to line the two shafts up (withen 1 thou of a inch concentricity between the pump and engine).

Finished bell housing.


Mounted to the engine:

Back into the ship ready to roll

Aug 9 2013

Getting the Ship to the Desert


We’ve been busy getting the ship ready for the Playa.  We’ve solved the hydraulic problem we had in 2011, it appears that the pump was oversized and was leading to difficult to diagnose problems (some of the symptoms still have hydraulic experts scratching their heads). With a smaller pump we’ve had the ship racing up and down the street.   Now we need to get the ship to the Playa, there are a lot of costs involved with transporting the 10,00lb pirate ship to the Black Rock Desert.  To help us do that we’re selling Baby Tripods.

You can get one here on the Main Page: http://www.lostmachine.com/

We hope to see you on the Playa

Thank you so much,

Captain Andy


Jan 29 2013

Flat Rat Studios


It has been far too long between posts and a lot has been going on. The biggest change has been I have moved. My shop is now at “Flat Rat Studios”, which I have founded with 7 other artists. We got the name after the flat rat we saw at the space when we first went to look at it. We have just moved in and there is a lot of work to be done, shelving, racks, un-packing, walls, roofs, we have a huge list of things to get done to make us comfortable at our new space.

Moving for me was not easy, after 11 years I had acquired a lot of stuff, tools and materials. Some of the steel that was valuable to me at the time i was given it, I had out grown. It no longer was worth it to grind off powder coating for a piece of tube. So about a 1/3 of what I had was recycled, which amounted to over 10,000lbs!

The milling machine weighs over 4,000lbs, a friend with a boom truck (crane) was able to move it for me. Thanks Urban Timber. http://www.urbantimberworks.com/

We also moved the shed in the back yard.

After the last trip I did a quick video tour of the chaos of the move, I was in a hurry to get my stuff out of the house in Beaverton so that I could be listed. Not much time was spent on setting up the shop as things came over. So this is what the space looks like just after the last load.

Enjoy the video tour and I hope to share with you the same tour in a month with everything in order.

May 23 2012

Maker Faire 2012


Maker Faire 2012 was a huge success

We spent a bit of time making a nice display; we brought the ship steering wheel with all the gears and two hydraulic rams to demonstrate how the ship turns.

We sold a lot of Baby Tripods and a few of the bigger ones. We got to interact with a lot of people.


Setting up the Booth (notice the glass box around the gears, we don’t want to crush any fingers)



I think the highlight of the trip was these four girls explaining to each other how the gears moved the hydraulic ram and how the oil pushed into the other ram to make it move. These girls need a workshop right away.


We got everyone in Fiesta Hall to sing Claire happy Birthday, (Thanks Tyler).


We got to see a lot of cool art work and other people’s projects and see a lot of friends that honestly we don’t get to see enough.



We are looking forward to Maker Faire 2013 and we hope to bring the ship next time.

If you were there and you saw us, thank you.


May 18 2012

Popular Mechanics


The Pirate ship is in Popular Mechanics!!


Apr 29 2012

Building the Mast.


The Mast of the Pirate ship is an Art Piece on its own. One thing we would like to do is make a stand alone base that would allow us to bring the mast to smaller events.

We’ve been developing software to control the fire effects with a Microsoft Kinect. Last week we were able to do some testing with a smaller fire effect. We will be able to control all the fire effects with the kinect.



New poofer for further control system testing.

Some fire on the Mast


Mar 31 2012

Boca Bearing


The Pirate Ship needs your help.

There is a competition but on by Boca Bearing in which we could win $10,000. We need you to vote for the ship. Please go to the link and click the Vote button.




Thank you,
Captain Andy


Sep 11 2011

Burning Man 2011


The theme to Burning Man this year was “Rites of Passage” which makes me think of a test of the human character. The theme lived up to its name.

The ship ran great in Portland. We actually drove it most of the way onto the trailer. We hooked the trailer onto our 1960’s Deuce-and-a-half and on Friday morning we set out for Black Rock City.


Our Tow vehicle, the Deuce belongs to a friend who loaned us the truck after he put over $10,000 into upgrades: new brakes, a new clutch, etc… We picked up the truck from the shop two days before leaving and it was about 2 miles from my house that the clutch went out.

There we were on the side of the freeway without a way to get the ship to Burning Man. One of our crew put up the money and we rented an F-450 from uHaul. This was $2000 we were not planning on spending but we had made it too far to stop now. (again, the donations and the shopping on the Store page help us a lot)




With the new truck it was 26 hours later when we landed on the Playa with the ship. We had made it.


We got the ship off the trailer, the new engine started up fine but the hydraulics didn’t move us forward. This became the week long mystery. The ship drove onto the trailer fine but now it won’t go. We worked on it from Saturday until Friday with no idea what was wrong with it. We swapped and isolated all the control valves with no luck, we tested each motor and they all worked fine. We moved pressure gages all over, we were getting good pressure to the system, and it just wasn’t moving.

On Tuesday I put out a request on BMIR for help from a hydraulics expert. Over the next three days a few very qualified people came by including an Aviation-Hydraulics design engineer with 30 years experience. He spent a few hours going over everything then said the system was “simple and elegant” but he couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it. That made me feel a bit better, because the system is simple and I was feeling dumb for not being able to figure out what was wrong with it.

We had come all the way out here and we still had a beautiful Ship. I talked with the DMV and we were able to get the ship a tow and get her registered. We were still going to have the Fire Sails on the Playa.

We got the sexiest car on the Playa to give us a tow to the DMV, Christian Ristow hauled us out there with the Scoutch. This meant a whole lot to me because the Scoutch is one of my favorite vehicles on the Playa.



We got our Day, Night and Fire effects passes at the DMV on Friday Night. We spent some time in front of the DMV playing with the Fire for the First Time. The Fire was Awesome. I loved watching people press the Fire Sail buttons, their smiles, their little happy dances, it made it all worth it.




Chili from the DPW heavy lifters gave us a Tow out to the Flaming Lotus Girls big show. Even though we were being towed it felt good to be up on the deck on a moving ship.


Each year at Burning Man I try to recognize a few moments as they happen that make everything worth it, worth the work, the stress, the strain of a big project. This year I was actually able to capture one of those moments.


I was standing on the railing when I took this photo of old friends and new friends, the Fire sails were working and we had a great view of the fire. Seeing all these smiles made it all worth it.

We had some other mysterious mechanical problems later in the week but I had my moment that made it worth it and that was all I needed.

I am sorry we weren’t under our own power and weren’t able to give people rides. I know a lot of you made major contributions to see a running art car. I am sorry that I let you down. A crew member did point out that it takes car companies hundreds of people to design a new car that looks just like last years model, the fact that in such a short time we were able to design a new locomotion system, do all the mechanical engineering and get as far as we did was incredible, but I still wish you could have seen her driving.

Now that we are back we’ll get the rest of the KickStarter awards out. We need to do some major clean up of both the ship and the house/shop. Pay off some huge credit card bills. We’ll see what happens from there….

Thank you for your support, few people are as lucky to be able to work on a project like this. Thank you for allowing us to make this ship, thank you for your support.

Captain Andy