The main structure of the floating TriPod base that will keep the SeaPod and EcoPod afloat is made of large steel tubes that are cut and welded together to create one solid structure. These tubes start their lives as a flat sheet of steel before being rolled into the tubes that you can see us working with here.
When making the perpendicular connections where the outriggers are welded to the central hub, we have to cut a hole in the hub so that the outriggers can be properly inserted and welded together so that everything has the structural strength that it needs. When building traditional wood framed houses, you can simply use a saw to cut the wood, but we don’t have that luxury when working with steel.
Due to the thickness and hardness of steel, the best way to cut it is with fire. We use oxy-acetylene torches to cut the steel. This process works by using the torch to heat the steel until it is in a molten state, then the pressure from the torch blows the liquid out and we are left with a fairly smooth cut. The torch only heats a small area so it allows us to have a very small and precise cut.
Another challenge with these cuts is that we are cutting a “flat” hole into a curved surface. So we can’t just draw a circle and cut it out. The shape is not quite a perfect circle due to the curvature of the steel tubes. We have created a jig which is basically a fiberglass stencil that we can lay on the surface of the tube and trace around to mark our hole. This method allows us to have the same size hole, every time.
Our team has been hard at work here at the factory and we are making great progress. Our team is becoming more efficient as we get more practice and everything is moving a little quicker every day. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and follow along in the blog to watch these steel tubes become Ocean Builders TriPod bases!