Metalworkers Co-op meeting, Wednesday, March 21, 6-8 pm

Will Bebb
Chris Gardei
Marshall Rolerson
Jennifer Hill
Kevin O’Connell
Richard Mann
Phil Sheridan

Kevin O’Connell – I’ve been in Belfast for a long time, left on a permanent basis many times, but keep coming back. I have a couple of businesses. I’m in favor of living by my wits, running my own kind of business, bringing the skills I’ve accumulated over the years. Marine canvas business has picked up with the new boatyards here. I work with stainless steel; I have bending tools. I’ve been here for quite awhile.

Will Bebb – I’ve met Jennifer, Marshall, and Chris, and I’ve known Kevin for a few years now. I’ve been living in Belfast for my 2nd spring. I work at Fisher in Rockland. I thought the co-op would be a good way of getting a foot into the community.

Richard Mann – I was intrigued by the notice. I’m not a metalworker, but a woodworker, though I have worked in metal. I like the notion of sustainable industry and making something that doesn’t make more days like this in March (sunny and warm)

Marshall Rolerson – I started working in metal 20 years ago now. I went to school for metal. I like designing things, like experimenting with alternative energy stuff. I’m building bicycle trailers now. Recently, I built one at Newforest Institute that’s a prototype for a workshop I’m doing in May. Up to 10 people will be making bicycle trailers in 4 hours. We’ll see (knock on wood). Metal is versatile. Metal is a small part of every project, especially alternative energy stuff. I’m also interested in wood gasification; I’m reading a permaculture book and wood gas is one of the things that we’ll be needing in the future on a small scale (home or local use). I’m game to designing just about anything, including a bus schedule enclosure, doing R&D. Different types of cooperatives: worker cooperatives, shared work cooperatives,

Jennifer Hill – I became aware of cooperatives in the mid-1990s, and went to business school to learn more about them, but the university didn’t know anything. So I researched them. I want to be part of the co-op and can offer event planning services, marketing, leadership. I take notes at the meetings and have set up a website. I’m a part of the Belfast Area Transition Initiative.

Chris Gardei – I like bicycles. That’s what got me here. I work at French & Webb at the boat shop at the bottom of the hill, grinding bronze and power playing lead. We deal with stainless, but not as much. Bicycles tend to be steel, so the metalworkers cooperative is of interest to me. I’m interested in projects and ideas for my own use. I don’t weld, but I want to meet people who do. That’s my step towards transition town stuff. I also like the things folks were talking about at the last meeting, making tools that farming needs that are no longer being made. Tools are poorly made, or not made at all. That’s close to my heart because my wife does farm work.

Phil Sheridan – I live in Appleton. I’m kind of an information architect, trying to be a small farmer – my lifetime dream. I’m involved in Cooperative Maine. I have ideas about a metalworkers co-op. I have a background in chemistry and I have ideas about renewable energy. Old techniques, for turning wood into alcohol to move vehicles. A friend, Herb, is very ill, but he always wanted to do bio char. Biproduct of biochar is a type of gas where you get carbon monoxide and hydrogen – you get methal alcohol with which you can run vehicles. I need a bridge across my creek – that would be a nice product for the cooperative.

Kevin: Is it possible that we can get our bios together and say - this is what we have to offer. We need thinkers and doers. What do we have between us. Unless there’s a way that we can connect the objective to where we’re at today, we’re just blowing smoke.

Phil: Another thing I’ve been thinking about is vertical axis wind generators. It wouldn’t be too hard to build one. There is a kit on the internet, a do it yourself model. Take 2 barrels, giant 40-gallon barrels, cut them in half the long way. Hook them together, take an axle.

Chris: Railroad corridor – a year ago people were talking about burying the rail so it would be there for the future, if we need it.

Kevin: Build a bike, weld or attach an outrigger, low resistence. Rail bikes are out. John McIntyre

Marshall: Skateboard wheels, on rails to Brooks. Pop them off and ride your bike. Never hit more than a 7% grade.

Kevin: We want a signature item or product that draws people in.

Marshall: A recumbent, bullet train type of thing, 2 across and several deep inside an aerodynamic vehicle – generate an amazing race. Bring people in, enhances visibility.

Will: Tie in from Unity and last meeting, exhibit at Common Ground Fair, use those tracks. Has there been any talk about a space?

Marshall: don’t need anything spectacular. I have a cut off saw and a suitcase welder. Planer, table saw,

Phil: We need a place. I have 13 acres in Appleton, with electricity and a creek. Can walk across the bridge, but need a bridge to drive over.

Marshall: We know a guy who invented a solar tracker with an infrared eye that will always point towards the sun for photovoltaic panels.

Richard: market research is necessary. You could make a prototype.

Marshall: I have ideas for products, bicycle trailers where you could sell them on ebay, ship them in a box. Open the box and you have something really inexpensive. Thoughts about folding bicycle trailers that people in urban settings need to transport something, pull it into the hallway. Product ideas . . . but where I see myself in this is that I like to do R&D. I like to search for the simplest and purest way of doing something, not complicated or messy. Once you get to the elegant solution, people look at it and say, “of course – that’s how it was always done” because it’s reached a point where it’s hard to improve it. I don’t mind manufacturing either. I enjoy it.

Phil: John Howe invented a solar powered tractor. Talk to him. Excellent product idea for folks who want to stop having to use fossil fuel. He converted an international cub. He wrote a good book. I read the book, great statistics.

Marshall: I have a Farmall tractor – it’s 10 hp.

Will: We should start small, like designing a kitchen rack – easy, keep materials low. Find recycled steel anywhere. The more you buy, the more you save. Find a 20’ rod of steel.

Kevin: We have an interest in bike trailers – where are the bike kayak trailers?

Chris: my idea about the co-op was this would be a cool place because I have these dreams . . . I can just make one of these things, for me. Usually they’re not mass marketable, but I’ll buy the parts.

Jennifer: then we could take pictures of what we develop for ourselves, and put the pictures up on the website. Great segue into business!

Phil: I’ve got a steel spike embedded in concrete, the ground wire for a temporary electrical pole when I was building my house. I can’t get it out. I need to cut it.

Marshall: We could get involved with other organizations that have similar goals. I’m doing bicycle workshop at Newforest Institute in Brooks. They want to do a bio char, build a rocket stove, permaculture projects. They want to do them as examples.

Phil: we need a shop, lease something for a year. We need a plan to get a shop before we can actually do anything.

Marshall: Chet Grady’s place. Has anybody laminated wood with aluminum on the outside. Need to etch the aluminum first.

Chris: bicycle is 20-25 pounds. When you load it up with stuff, then you can be closer to 80-90 pounds. Still rides fine. Just need patience.

Will: I’ve worked a lot with 1” steel tubing, like a music stand. How much strength do you need in the material?

Marshall: It’s a balance with bicycles. That trailer is heavier than you want to haul empty. The ones I designed for Newforest, made of wood, it’s light. All wood frame. Bicycle wheels are trapped with 2 pieces of poplar.

Phil: On my garden cart, it was the wheels that failed.

Jennifer: We should bring things we’ve designed to the next meeting. We need a photographer to take pictures for the website.

Next meeting: Monday, April 2, 6-8 pm

Respectfully submitted, Jennifer Hill

Metalworkers Co-op meeting, Thursday, March 8, 6-8 pm

Will Bebb
Chris Gardei
Marshall Rolerson
Jennifer Hill
Brian Hughes
Dick Frost
Paul Ford

Richard Frost – There are lots of old ideas that got lost when farming got large and mechanized. In 2005, I bought a piece of property in Liberty to build a small, diverse farm. We’re starting to build a residence, growing varieties of willow and plan to do shitake log cultivation and berries. I’m into small scale hand work, as opposed to large mechanized things. Woodworking is an interest. We have 16 acres of woodland; 4 acres of fields. I put up a barn last season, which will have a woodworking shop, drying materials, woodworking space. I’m really interested in wood working with hand tools, as opposed to power tools; interested in history and management of woodlands in Europe; specialized tools manufactured by specialty tool outfits for regenerative growth. David McLaughlin died last year – he was a guy who could fix things or create things. Copsing is when you cut certain types of trees that they grow quickly. Set of tools for bodgers who went into the woods and harvested pole lathes, turn the spindles for chairs.

Brian Hughes – I live in Maryland at the moment, but am looking at moving to the Belfast/Liberty area. I want to get back to farming. I want to develop bicycle-powered light cultivation equipment, taking the fossil fuels out. Tractor is too heavy for lots of jobs. Light jobs, can use bicycle power. Cargo bicycles - things like Eliot Coleman who is selling tools through Johnnie’s catalog – we could develop tools, hand tools – I have prototype ideas in mind that would be popular. We could bring these things to fruition. I have experience in auto CAD and 3-design software and can do simple basic things. I took a few courses in arc welding. I love the idea of cooperatives and plugging into a shop where people do creative things.

Chris Gardei – My wife is the farmer in the family; she is connected to MOFGA. I don’t do much with metal – I work at the boat shop across the street. I am interested in this, it sounded like a nice place to find out what people’s ideas were. Already I’m excited about the tool idea. I’m a fan of all things related to bicycles. That’s my connection to Marshall about coming to this. For my skills, I can offer woodworking skills, composite stuff, bicycle knowledge.

Will Bebb – I grew up in Islesboro and then moved to Sugarloaf. I live in Belfast on Spring Street now and work full-time at Fisher Engineering in the push plate department. I was notorious for inventing zip-lock wire bag driers. I made them for Christmas presents. Since I’ve been at Fisher, my dabbling has tapered off. I’ve worked some in stainless steel.

Marshall Rolerson – I’m interested in projects that lead us away from fossil dependency. I have a broad range of interest – from dish racks to farm tools and bag driers – all of that stuff. I personally think we could open the cooperative up. Metal seems like a central piece – may not even be the bulk of the product, but there comes a time when you need that critical piece, metal to attach to bicycles, for axles, - the rest could be made of just about anything. There is a world of materials out there - we don’t need to limit ourselves. Wood is a resource that is here. We can use that as much as possible.

Dick: We need facilities and equipment – common space. We could share tools and space, but not necessarily a product.

Brian: I want to design and test prototypes – I have farming skills; I have spent lots of time thinking about what designs should be; it’s why I got into design architecture. I’m always criticizing design and asking why it isn’t better. I would like to be able to have living wage one day, so I can support my agriculture habit and design things, see them come about. I believe in the Transition movement – sustainability – it’s the main driver of what I do. I want to hopefully be a supportive member.

Chris: I’m interested in bicycle related stuff, getting people to use them more. I’m not a metalworker; idea of the co-op sounded interesting to learn or work on projects, business idea aside. I do have carpentry skills.

Paul Ford (just arrived): I just started a job doing structural steel in Searsport. They’re under the gun to get things done. I have a good amount of skill in welding. I pride myself in being a good welder. I haven’t used it enough over the years and am just getting back into it full force. If you’re good, it’s where the money’s at. Before that I was running a small business doing solar thermal operation, but I ran out of operating cost, and had to shut the door. I have skills in electrical, carpentry, welding, and metalwork. When I saw the notice about this meeting, I was interested to see where the thing is headed. Right now I’m a little pressed for time.

Will: I live in Belfast, working at Fisher Snow Plow for 2 years now. Welding comes easy to me; I’m good at it. I want to stay in the community. I’m engaged and plan to stay here.

Dick: I have a small piece of property. I’m interested in doing woodworking with hand tools. Deep spades can be manufactured. One is being sold at Fedco that is not very rugged – there are lots of different types of hand tools.

Paul: I’m doing heavy stuff. I like tig welding, clean, can go down to extremely thin wire. I haven’t been able to do a whole lot of tig welding, but with it you can do really fine work. It’s an art form. I’d like to be able to work with clean stuff, make fine things. I like to do things that are dead on, in terms of measurement. I tend to spend a lot of time making it perfect. You need a tolerance of 16th of an inch, you have to get it right. I like the idea of making tools that haven’t been around for awhile. MEPS Maine Energy Performance Solutions – not a small or big company. They’re doing solar thermal installations and PV installations out of Washington, Maine

Chris: We need to create more of a bicycle culture here. Hilly, rainy, snowy – but that doesn’t matter.

Brian: You put a coulter in front of the plow, a small thin plow that’s high strength. Machinery goes through and separates, puts in plants. You don’t use heavy tractors for everything. Old stuff can be made better. I’ve seen a bicycle hooked up to a harrow; I’ve also seen a battery-powered Allis Chalmers G – looks like an insect with a light frame – great for cultivating. I’ve also seen an electric generator that runs off a bike.

Next meeting: Wednesday, March 21, 6-8 pm.

Metal Workers Cooperative

February 25, 2012 – 10-noon meeting, 17A Main Street, Belfast

Marshall Rolerson – we live in Waldo off the grid. We have a part-time farm with full-time chickens and more rocks than soil and maple trees that are tappable - but I didn’t get to that this year. I worked at Fisher Engineering for 10 years, went to Eastern Maine Technical College for welding in my early 40s. I want to be more creative in my work; I always have a project going. Products I’m interested in: wood gasifiers, farm products, bicycle trailers. I’m not a highly skilled welder, but I taught myself flux core, stick welding and mig. I’ve been working with the Belfast Area Transition Initiative to design a bus stop sign. I’m interested in permaculture projects. My tolerance for repeat-repeat is not that bad. While working at Fisher on push plates, my mind was designing. I want to design and build bicycle wagons.

Jennifer Hill – my interest is in cooperatives and local economic vitality. I have an MBA from the University of Maine, I edited the Co-op manual for the Maine Department of Agriculture. This office is operating as a cooperative. I bring selling skills, marketing, computer and other skills – but no metalworking. I want to be a member of this co-op.

Jacob Hepner – My degree is in journalism; I worked my way through school restoring antique cars, did some welding and metalworking, and found that I was making more money than most of my professors. If I was going to be underpaid I’d rather be underworked. After coming to Maine, I worked at Wayfarer Marine in fab shop and also worked at the Waldo County Tech center. I work at home on ag farm equipment, welding & fabricating, machine work. I have a piece of land and a part-time farm.

I like the idea of products having to do with sustainability. This doesn’t pay the bills at the moment, but as fuel gets more and more expensive it will. I’m looking to prototype. My shop is not well set up for production type stuff, but it is a decent prototype shop. I have a milling shop, lathe, welding equipment. I like to problem solve, tear things apart and rebuild them again. R&D and initial set-up would be the most interesting for me. Standing in place and doing the same weld over and over again would drive me insane. I like to build stuff that fails until it works.

Phil Sheridan – I am a data architect by profession, have undergraduate degree in chemistry and a masters computers + 30 years of experience – lots of engineering, not so much mechanical. I want to be a farmer some day, would like to have an organic farm, a cooperative. No store in my town, but I would like to start a vegetable stand.

I have an idea for vertical axis wind turbines – several ideas
1.       Huge market with utilities – lots of space under power lines
2.       Windmills don’t have to be pinwheels
3.       University of Maine professor – ocean wind process involve pinwheel turbines, top heavy, has to be anchored, high up in the air. France says cost for vertical axis wind turbines is far lower for off shore wind – this is an untapped field

I proposed a co-op for the Gulf of Maine wind initiative. I didn’t have any way to deliver it, though, because I wasn’t going to risk a lot of money. They were looking for a large consortium to build a prototype. They have identified that there is a huge wind potential, but there are ramifications, like fishing zones. Have fishermen harvest wind as well as fish. Purchase a big barge for cheap, used. I’m interested in renewal projects. Pinwheels are antiquated.

Jacob: I have been repairing maple syrup evaporating pans (22 gauge steel for sap pans) and have seen the pans small welding outfits in Wisconsin are putting out. They are really simple, not elegant, and overpriced. I’m interested in creating a tie-in using local production on local product, with local resources. There seems to be no middle ground for somebody who wants a really nice evaporated pan for home use.

Jacob: We could make agricultural stuff, small farms mean small tractors and small cultivating equipment. Lot of Amish around here are making that kind of stuff. We could design and make horse logging equipment for people – little rings with shackles.

Phil: I could use a bridge (I have a small creek). A metal bridge 16’ long or 20’ long would be ideal so I could get across the creek with my tractor. Forest service has a booklet

Jennifer: I’d like to redesign kitchens to make dishwashers out-of-date. Create places where dishes can dry, places for plates, bowls, cups and glasses, so they won’t come crashing down to the floor.

Marshall: What about a wood gasifier, used for maple syruping? With a wood gasifier you could regulate the heat under the maple syrup boiler. It used to be that an outfit made producer gas from wood, behind Home Supply and piped it around town.

Phil: We could have a show, an energy future show. Charge money for people to come and see the latest ideas.

Phil: In structuring data you have 3 elements: Conceptual design, logical design, physical design – then you have prototype, run with that for awhile, test it, see what you can do with it. Then, pilot and put it into production. Even then there are changes.

Phil: Clark machine shop in Union on Route 17 – does metalworking.

Jacob: We need to discuss and develop a list of products of what would be possible, a working list of potential ideas. We could go through it and start developing ideas about what is viable and what there is a market for. It’s easy to put the cart before the horse. A working list would be helpful in outreach. No attachment at this point.

Jacob: We could appeal to people who don’t have metal working skills or organizing skills with our products.

Jennifer: Make no small plans.

Phil: On the topic of monetizing – Maine Initiatives is an organization that makes grants for good ideas. We could organize ourselves as a nonprofit now for R&D purposes, becoming co-op for selling products. We could hold workshops and events around whatever the product is we’re trying to sell. This should be part of our marketing plan, going to events, passing out cards.

Priorities (as written on the white board):
R&D – create product
Manufacturing (tool making, i.e. create jigs)
Marketing (website)

Next Steps:
Action Steps:
Jennifer will send out notes of this meeting via email
Jennifer will create website
Jacob will get email address for group and will field inquiries coming from website
Marshall will return phone calls and we will use his number for website
Phil will create outline for moving forward

Next meeting: Thursday, March 8, 2012, 6-8 PM, here at 17A Main Street, Belfast, conference room

Respectfully submitted,

Jennifer Hill

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    March 2012