It’s time for Archie to come out of the closet, …. err, workshop.  Who is Archie?  Archie is the name of my bridge for the bridge building contest that I recently blogged about.  With the competition coming up tomorrow, I think it’s safe to talk about Archie without my competitors stealing my ideas (like they would want to!). 


(In case you are wondering, no, I don’t have a pathological need to name every ‘thing’ in my life.  One of the contest requirements is to name your bridge.  My nine year old daughter came up with Archie and the name has become quite attached to the structure!)


As his name implies, Archie is a classic arch styled bridge.  Each half of the bridge consists of a ‘roadway’ (1/4” square dowel) spanning the 12” opening, an arch (1/4” round dowel) which provides support under the roadway and is butted on each end against the side of the ‘cliff’, and two support pieces at each end tying the arch and the roadway together.  All joints use toothpick ‘dowels’, including the two toothpicks which hold the two halves of the bridge together.


The primary challenge of the bridge was making the arch out of the 1/4” oak dowel.  After some research, I experimented with “steaming” the wood by wrapping it in wet paper towels and microwaving it.  After steaming, the dowel was clamped into a form with the shape of the arch that I cut out of ¾” MDF.  I was hoping for a deflection of about 2” from the center to each side, but I only ended up with a little less that 1.5” after taking the dowel out of the form.  That was close enough for me…


Like his namesake (you know, Jughead’s friend), I doubt that Archie is prize worthy.  He should be fairly light, but I don’t know how much he’ll hold and don’t believe he will be up with the frontrunners.  Regardless of the outcome, it has been a fun and interesting project.  In fact, I’ve been thinking about some parallels with software development that I plan to write about in the upcoming days.