Tuesday, July 12, 2011

UPDATE: Auditorium Fly System Renovation: Some Assembly Required

Oh, it's like Christmas in the Auditorium.

Actually, it's more like Christmas Eve. You know, when the toys are all in boxes, and "Santa" has to take everything out, make sure all the parts are there, put together the stuff, check that there are more than enough batteries, and somewhere during all of that there is the consumption of the "special eggnog," and for some unexplained reason, Mom and Dad need a nice long nap and 9:00 AM on Christmas Day? Yeah, that sort of Christmas Eve. Well, here's where we are as of July 12th:

First of all, let's look up an stage right. The new catwalk/loading gallery has been installed. It's a bit hard to see here, but it actually is a few feet higher than the old one. Because of this, the stage side of the catwalk is completely caged, and the rail height is just below the height of the grid iron. In comparison, the older catwalk sat about six to seven feet below the grid. Remember all of that talk about safety? Yup - this is one of those nice perks of having stuff installed in this century rather than the last one.

 This photo shows the new weight arbors standing on their sides. There isn't a good way to show how much bigger they are, but they stand about 7 feet tall, which means we have a lot of capacity for each batten. The arbors will slide in what is called a J-track so that they don't twist back and forth as our old arbors did on their cable guides. This will make for smoother lifts and drops, and will eliminate the twisting action of fully-weighted arbors. Which, I might add, is safer.

To the right are what I believe are the floor blocks - those pulleys on the ground at the bottom of the fly rail that guide the pull ropes. They also located at the top of the system, but ganged with the cable blocks, which I'll talk about next. This picture shows eight of them arranged on their loading palate, so it's a bit hard to see all of the details. The frame for each sticks out a bit further than the old ones, which leads me to believe that they will be firmly anchored to the ground. Which, again, seems like  a much safer situation that what we've had.

 Lots of things in this photo: on the left side of the photo is a lot of flat bar steel and angled steel that will eventually become the J-track that I discussed earlier. There is also a fair amount of bracing that will need to be installed, largely out of sight of the working end of things. On the right side of the photo is one of the racks of new battens. 1-1/2" tube steel that is straight and interlocks with the other pieces that will create 25 battens that are the same diameter, length, and trim height. Oh, can you just smell the safety in our theater?

Here are the head blocks - and it's not a great picture but you can see some of the sheaves that the cables will go over and across the top of the grid. These will be located at the top of the fly tracks. One thing that we can't get a good picture of (yet) are the loft blocks. These are the pulleys that some of you may recall were bolted to the grid. Not anymore. The loft blocks are now mounted to the roof girders, which means that if for some reason we need to get to the grid, we will walk under the cables rather than stepping over them. If any of you have ever done this - and I'm guessing not many of you have - you will realize just how much more safer this arrangement will be for us.

As things continue to progress, I'll keep on updating. There's still a long way to go, but things are getting done. Plans are in place for the ceremonial first curtain pull later in August. (OK, a bit kitchy I admit, but we need to do something!)

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