I'm trying something new here, in several ways actually.
Last Fall, a friend of mine inadvertently got me charged up to dust off an old idea I've had floating around in the back of my head- and in several physical folders full of sketches and drawings- and finally try to make it a reality.
On the first of November of last year, I bandsawed out the first chunk of bar stock, and by Thanksgiving, I had a fully functional, fieldable prototype marker. In early December, I posted this entirely unsatisfying tease about it.
I'd hoped to move right on to the next-gen, to add some refinements, and then on to what would be a fourth gen, which would be, with luck, a fully dimensioned production-ready test mule. Unfortunately, as always, day-to-day work, customer work, and "free" machine tools intruded, and I wasn't able to revisit it.
I have decided to kick myself in the butt to get back into it, and I'm hoping some of you can help. First off, I'm going to try to take August "off", meaning I'll try to defer taking in new shop business during that time. August is typically a slower month anyway, as things wind down locally and many places in the States go into their 'dog days" where it's too hot to play.
The comic will of course keep going, as will store and Ebay sales, and I'll be trying to keep up on email. I'm not dropping off the edge of the Earth, I'll just be asking customers to maybe wait until September, if possible, or even later in the fall or winter, which is generally on the slow side for me anyway.
Second, I've made it a Patreon Goal. I already have the first page of the Fall '16 build posted, and I'll be putting up page 2 on Monday. If we reach the Patreon goal, I'll "unredact" the text and decensor all the photos, and you ladies and gents can watch the "Mark III" build in (semi) real time.
I will say that joining the Patreon is not a requirement. If and once the Mark 3 development is completed, if I'm satisfied it's sufficiently production ready, I'll release all the info at that point anyway.
But, I'll also likely wind up turning down about two grand in shop business to do it, and it'd be nice if a few extra Patreon donations could help offset that.
This is NOT, however, a "Kickstarter", or a preorder of any kind. At the moment I cannot promise anything but some fun photos, hopefully a few videos of the prototypes being test fired, and my thanks for helping keep me, the comic and the machine shop going for all these years.
The eventual hope is, of course, for limited production, but again, for the moment I'll raise no hopes. Lots of us airsmiths have done that all too many times over the years. I was going to try and keep this quiet 'til I had parts falling out of the production machines, but sometimes you just need a kick in the pants to get'cha back on track.
What IS "Project X"? It's a unique, niche-market mechanical marker. Picture something a lot closer to a stock-class Phantom than an Autococker or Automag, and you're halfway there.
It will be of limited interest, but then, my plan never was to produce boatloads of them. I specialize in custom and one-off, the interesting and the unique. While I hope to at least break even on any potential production, I'm honestly not doing this for the payday, I'm doing it just 'cause it's cool.
And even once the project is over, successful or not, I hope those of you that sign up for my Patreon, will stick around and help keep the comic going for at least another fifteen years.