Adrian Glasser – Land of Iron volunteer
This blog will describe the process of making a 7 foot tall foam chimney puzzle.
The chimney puzzle is based on the Warren Moor Mine chimney. Construction on the mining site was started in 1866 and the mine boiler house chimney was built by the end of 1866. Because of the relatively poor iron content of the iron stone found at the site, the mine was never a financial success, although the site was still in use until 1874. The chimney still stands proud on the landscape today and is marvellous stone and brick reminder of the ironstone mining industry.
The Land of Iron programme has undertaken work to conserve and protect the structures still present at the Warren Moor Mine and as a part of that conservation work, drone photogrammetry was used to capture and create a 3D digital model of the chimney. This model can be viewed at the Land of Iron Sketchfab page.
Based on this photogrammetry model, a chimney puzzle has been designed and fabricated out of foam. The digital model was imported into computer aided design (CAD) software and an idealized solid chimney model was designed around the photogrammetry model. This was then cut up into 24 unique puzzle pieces that all fit together to form the chimney. Tom Mutton, the Land of Iron Programme Manager wanted a 7 foot tall foam chimney that children could build while sitting on the shoulders of their parents. The initial design of the chimney puzzle resembled a 3D jigsaw puzzle with puzzle pieces that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. While the CAD model looked interesting, we were unable to find a foam cutter who could cut these complex shapes. So, the chimney puzzle was simplified to produce more squared, block-like puzzle pieces that could be cut more easily by the foam cutter. After several design iterations with the foam cutter, the puzzle design was completed to be a somewhat stockier version than the slender lines of the original chimney to allow for the constraints of the strength of the foam, the thicker foam walls required and a stockier chimney required to allow it to stand on its own.
The chimney puzzle is composed of 24 unique pieces and it has a separate base and a top to help to hold it together. It is intended to be assembled just using the friction between adjacent pieces and it's own weight from gravity.
Here below is a 3D model of the chimney puzzle. Click on the image and the model can be manipulated in 3D on this web page.
The chimney puzzle may be a challenging puzzle to build, but that is intentional. There are some clues as to which pieces go where from the fact that the walls are thicker at the base than at the top and from the fact that the outside walls are tapered from bottom to top, but the inside walls are parallel. The images below show the arrangement of the puzzle pieces for each wall, so this image also serves as a clue.
Four sample pieces were cut in foam to decide on the coating colour and to get a sense of how the pieces look and what they feel like. These samples were not a perfect fit, but we expect the final puzzle pieces to be cut more carefully and more accurately.
The finished chimney puzzle has been delivered from the foam cutter and Tom and I spent some time playing with it. It is a bit of a challenge to build, but with some help from the pictures in this blog we managed to do it - after all it is meant to be a puzzle.The fully built foam chimney puzzle is 7 ft tall, as seen shown here below with Tom standing beside it. We are looking forward to taking it out to the public for future Land of Iron events to see how everyone likes playing with it. Tom might get the outside painted in a brick and stone pattern like the original chimney which will provide some helpful clues on how to assemble it. If you might want to go and play with it, look for future Land of Iron events and hopefully it will be there.