Monday, August 8, 2011

UPDATE: Auditorium Fly System Renovation: Lock, Load, and Lower.

The title of this post sounds catchy, but perhaps things are not quite in the right order. Ideally, we lower battens first, load them up with scenery and counterweights, then we lock them at a trim height. I suppose if you want to do things the hard way then I guess you can lock the batten, load it up with stuff and then lower it, but gravity usually wins that argument. Once again, I digress.

Today's update showcases some of the equipment that you will be interfacing with - the things that help us lock and lower the battens.

Presenting our new rope locks: The Restrictor. You may recall that we had an interesting - some might even call historical - collection of rope locks on our rail. (We counted three different types at the last strike.) The idea is that the operating lines - the white ropes that we pull to operate a batten - run through the lock to secure the rope from unintended movement. A cam (oval metal piece) would literally squeeze the rope against another metal surface inside of the lock until that pressure was enough to hold the load. Typically, if the batten was off by 25 pounds, the pressure would not be enough, and the rope would slip through - which was bad. Some of our older rope locks had a loop that would put additional pressure on the rope, but that was only good for countering another 20 pounds - not to mention that those loops were made of cast steel and prone to snapping off. Which was really bad.

A close-up view of the lock shows three things: an indicator to tell you if the batten is heavier than the arbor, a long, hefty handle, and a keyed lock. The indicator eliminates the need to check the balance by releasing the lock with hands on just in case it's out of balance. The indicator will give you a visual cue. The longer handle give the operator more leverage in locking the rope lock, and the lock prevents unnecessary batten operation.

Remember how we would really struggle raising and lowering the electrical battens? All those people trying to raise a batten full of lighting equipment? Me yelling things that I really shouldn't be yelling? Lovely times, I'm sure, but now a distant memory. Say hello to one of the many electrical hoists that will allow us to raise and lower the electrical battens with the push of a button. This is a close-up of one on the loading palate, but they have since then been installed on the grid. The control panel will be located on the fly rail, and it will be key operated. An additional safety concern is addressed by only allowing one batten to be lowered at any given time. The battens will be connected directly to the cable drums on the shaft connected to these motors, so no more counterweighting the electrics.

And what stage renovation is complete without curtains? Yards of lovely black curtains - teasers, borders, legs, mid-blacks - look at them! The luxurious velour, the nap of the fabric, the - OK, I know, they are still in their boxes. But they are here! That's a reason to get excited, right? Sure it is. They will likely be the last step of the install, so stay tuned for that event.

And just for giggles, I thought you should see why the Auditorium was closed off for the summer. I realize that many understand that idea that there would be a lot of people working on the grid, and that there are plenty of fall hazards around, but the stage deck has been the work zone for the installers. This birds-eye view shows you how much stuff is left to do.

And there is still a lot to be done. This week, the electricians are doing their thing, connecting the winches to the control panels and connecting the fire curtain control to the release mechanisms. The arbors are still lying in position, waiting for their installation, and there are hunks of steel that are sitting on palates. I'm not sure what they do exactly, but they are heavy and hunky, and whatever they do, I'd bet they do it well. Check here again next week for the latest update.

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