Red Wagoneering

At one point or another in life, we’ve all had an adventure in a little red wagon.  Whether rocketing down the steepest neighborhood hill we could find, doing our best Spaceman Spiff imitation, or perhaps being wearily toted back home from the Fourth of July fireworks by our young parents, the little red wagon is deeply ingrained in the American psyche.  So when a client approached me with an idea to repurpose one of these neat little vehicles, I was all ears.

Now, as far as unique jobs go, this one is high up on the list.  You see the customer wanted to convert the wagon into signage, easy enough you say.  But there were a few extra requirements involved such as weatherproof, strobe lighting that could be detached from a power source, that made this job quite the exacting task.

Not only was I a metal artist on this piece, crafting ornate scrolls from flat stock, bending giant concentric hoops from straight, solid, half inch square bar, shearing heavy gauge sheet metal and fabricating a solid foundation from one inch square tubing (which is actually completely hidden on the inside of the wagon,) but I was also a tile contractor (the platform is one inch glass mosaic tiles set in antique white grout) and an electrical engineer.

I designed and fabricated, thankfully with the help of one of my best friends who happens to be a union electrician, multiple circuits that manipulated and transferred AC and DC power.  There were chargers, batteries, rectifiers, fuses, inverters, switches, gamma rays …OK, well maybe not gamma rays, but darn if it didn’t seem like that was tossed in there too.

It turns out that the lighting system actually needed revision later on and the client wanted the piece expanded and a different finish added as well.  So what you see in the following photos is actually the second iteration.  After these tweaks, the piece was a hit, and all parties were quite pleased.

The photos below don’t quite do it justice, so next time you’re in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, stop by The Ruby Room and check it out.  While you’re there, take the time to pamper yourself.  It’s an awesome boutique, spa, B&B, and fantastic all-around urban oasis.

Austin F. Bader

Copyright 2011

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