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



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    March 2012