Sunday, March 16, 2008

Flashback: Putt Putt Boats

In July of last year, I stumbled upon a web site describing how to make "putt-putt boats," (or pop-pop boats as they are also sometimes called) so named for the sound they make when they are working. I actually remember going to this site because I was researching the infamous "Electric Pickle" experiment, but was drawn to this page and figured that I could probably work this one with my boys:

Here is how we made them:

FIRST, we had to empty out three cans of fruit punch. That was the hardest part to get my kids to accept. They whined, they moaned, they screamed--I practically had to force them to drink it. And if you believe that, then you don't know my kids.

SECOND, we made the boilers by cutting, folding, and epoxying the cans into the recommended shape.

THIRD, we used silicone to mount the straw "jets" into the boiler and seal any leaks. (Apparently, Spence's still leaked. Oh well.)

FOURTH, while the silicone was curing, we made the boat mold from old 2x4s. The boys helped with some of the sawing, which thrilled them to no end.

FIFTH, we used an aluminum baking sheet as the boat body. We carefully pounded the aluminum into the mold, then cut off the excess aluminum.

SIXTH, we mounted the boiler assemblies, cut down some candles, filled the tub, and tested them out. Mine worked well, J's worked okay, and Spence's...floated. The audio from the video should give you a clue as to how these things got their names.

This was a really fun project for me, and the boys liked it, too. I would recommend it for 2nd graders and above.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Gas Grill Renovation

I just remembered that I posted a Gas Grill Renovation how-to on in August. It was a pretty cheap grill, but I can't stand throwing things away that would work fine with the application of some elbow grease, so I cleaned up that rustbucket and took photos as I went. The grill is holding up pretty well so far. Here's the link: