Saturday, April 5, 2008

Guns, Lot of Guns

My family has always had a "let's play with wool and small bits of string" kind of mentality. So when Spenser and I decided we needed an awesome gun prop for some promo posters for Heart of the Argos, I had to put my clean childhood upbringing on the shelf (next to my common sense and fear of irregular shapes) and break out some good old fashioned gunslinging enthusiasm.

Originally we were talking about a bolt action sniper riffle, which would fling out shells after "firing." And then of course, since neither of us puts limit on imagination because of practicality, the idea became: an articulate bolt action shell flinging sniper riffle that turns into a pump action shell spitting shotgun. After drawing up some plans I began to see how this could be a challenge.

So I went off into my lair and began messing around with the initial designs, and concluded I needed to start simple(er). I'd just make the pump action shotgun to begin with, then build up to the sniper riffle combo.

On a very long trip to the hardware store I matched up parts that I could find to my sketches, and purchased the basic materials for my post-utopian sci-fi shotgun. (I think the employees are beginning to recognize me as "that guy with the doodly clipboard that always seems to be puzzling over something very complicated, and buys the strangest combination of plumbing and electrical parts.")

I began with the basics, PVC pipe, wood, hot glue.

I knew the pump action and shell flinging mechanism had to be extremely simple in order to actually work, so using a small spring thingy I found lying around the tool shed and a few bits of sheet metal I created the gizmo. Essentially it's a small springboard that snaps up after the pump action passes down the barrel towards the end of the gun. (hard to explain, see confusing diagram for details)

After some extensive trial and error and lots of bullet casings flying around the workshop I got the basic mechanism to work about ninety percent of the time. I also discovered it works with multiple casings, and no matter how much I want it to, it cannot make me look badass.

Feelin' nerdy... punk?!

Next came lots of "arting it up": adding more details and bits to make it look more science-fiction-ee, followed by the first coat of paint!

You may have noticed my helper in that shot. That's Eddie, the pug. He's a big ol' lump of "aww".


The next phase will be a tedious process of painting the details, aging, adding rust, and trying not to gum up the spring mechanism. Spenser's vote is for a stained wood handle, which will probably look awesome. I may add more progress if it somehow comes out looking amazing, otherwise keep a lookout for it in the promo posters for Heart of the Argos.