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I’m absolutely convinced that if you spend enough time in scrapyards you will eventually see everything. You won’t recognize most of it, and the stuff that you do recognize will more often than not have originated in a slightly surreal parallel universe and have some completely unexpected characteristics attached an otherwise familiar form.

Scrapyards are like that. It can be crazymakin’ if you’re sourcing very specific components for a very specific build; I’ve talked to guys wandering around NorthStar with parts list printouts and confused looks on their faces who just couldn’t understand why we didn’t also stock the 1/8 hp version of the motor they’d just pulled of a scoop of breakage. If you’re shopping to spec, stick to a specialty outlet: It’s as simple as that.

On the other hand, If you embrace the philosophy of improvisational fabrication , a scrapyard is the best possible place to fritter away an afternoon looking for…whatever. ‘Whatever’ can manifest itself in unexpected ways, provided you a) pay attention, b) avoid over-focusing and c) recognize opportunities.

Case in point, the stuff I found this week in a bin of what’s called ‘New Aluminum’ in the scrap metal trade. They looked like 12″x12″ pieces of 3/8″ aluminum plate until I flipped one over to reveal…

The StarGate. In absolutely jawdropping detail. Really. Take a moment to scope these detail images and fantasize about what you could make if you had a cnc mill with this kind of resolution:

Un-freakin’-believable… and there was a pair of ‘em! Both sides of a mold made specifically to crank out weensy little StarGates about 9″ across. Personally, I’d always thought Richard Dean Anderson was taller than that, but whatever…

These things had come into the yard in a load of stuff from one of the movie industry prop shops…they’d seen some use (there were a few stray bits of resin visible), but were nearly new. I’ve done a fair bit of casting and mold-making over the years, but I experienced a complete WTF moment when I realized that this particular mold had no sprues.

Heh? No fill hole? No vent hole(s)? So how did they get the resin into the damned thing?

I haven’t got a clue. But finding out is gonna enlarge my skillset and make me a better Maker.

…Which is the entire point of this post: I left the yard with a couple of chunks of intricately engraved aluminum, but the really valuable thing that I came away with was ‘a reason to learn new stuff’.

I also haven’t got a clue as to what I’m gonna do with the mold (which I paid 6 clams for, BTW). I’m sure I’ll thing of something, even if it’s just making big-assed StarGate ice cubes to float in the punchbowl at the next Eccentric Manors soire.

Your suggestions/input / lore is welcomed: post a comment, or ping me at kaden@eccentricgenius.ca

Humongous TIFs of the related images here, here and here


Related

Comments

  1. traveler says:

    “So how did they get the resin into the damned thing?”

    Look at what stargate the mold is set to, take a real stargate to that planet, set the stargate that you just came through to point to the mold, pour in your resin.

    Duh.

  2. Jake von Slatt says:

    Kaden you lucky bastard!

    Might be a mold for a urethane thermoset that expands slightly as it cures, that would mean this mold was for a fairly limited run as cycle times would be pretty long.

  3. Gary says:

    Another alternative is that it is not a mold but a press tool. Provided the material is deformable enough at the temperature it is fed into the press and enough wheight is applied it will flow into all the spaces.

    Makes me wonder though, surely this item comes under IP rights for the image, if they wanted to protect their TM or copyright then throwing out a tool to stamp them out seems to completely undermine that. The usual thing to do here, post production to items like this is to either put them in safe storage or melt them down.

  4. Kaden says:

    @traveller:

    How could I have missed that? I’m a total dumbass

    @Jake:

    Cheers, my friend…good thought, but you’d have air evacuation issues getting in the way of filling alla them weensy little details.

    My Scrap-fu has been *strong* lately; Not withstanding the StarGate acquisition, there’s a lot of marine refits going on in town, and the quantity of primo brasswork coming though the gates at NorthStar has been… gratifying.

    Later today I’m shooting a video demo of our 1956 Birtcher Electric Scalpel… it is a terrifying example of Flintstone medical technology. I’m gonna carve the Make logo into a steak. Them laser cutter gys have nothing on me…

  5. Matt says:

    The mold may be for slush casting. Look for a 2-part urethane casting resin that you mix and pour into the mold to not quite half-full. Clamp the mold halves together and start flipping it over and rotating it around so that the resin coats all the surfaces. If you need to make the casting more rigid, you can pour a low-expansion 2-part foam into the hollow shell to make it more rigid.

  6. Alex says:

    Oddly, I just watched Stargate on DVD two days ago. In the production notes on the disk they mentioned how the movie was the first to employ an anarouter to engrave props and prototypes. It apparently did the work of twenty people in a day and was one of only nine anarouters in the world at the time. Does this shed any light on the mystery?

  7. TVGenius says:

    Any ideas if it’s from the series or the movie? I’m sure there’s more than a few, um, ‘experts’ on Stargate that could tell the difference immediately. :)

  8. Brett says:

    It kind of looks like the little plastic stargate attached to front of the DVD packaging for the complete series collection.

    I can’t think of a reason that the show would use that in an episode, nor do I ever recall seeing one, for what it’s worth.

  9. Jake von Slatt says:

    Aren’t the glyphs the right way around? they should be reversed if this is a mold.

    http://rdanderson.com/stargate/glyphs/glyphs.htm

    Maybe this is a f’up and the sprue holes were never drilled ’cause it was cut reversed?

  10. Cathy H says:

    These look like they could be the molds that Legends Memorabilia used to produce a limited run of minature Stargates with for MGM 2004/5. I’m sure I saw them at Gatecon in Vancouver 2004 when they were in pre production. I have gate number 69 at home.

  11. Robert Carpenter says:

    @Jake -

    My thoughts exactly (though I didn’t notice the glyphs).

    What if the reason it was thrown out is because of the lack of planning in making the mold? It doesn’t make it a defunct mold…you could easily drill some holes in it, you might have to do some thinking about where though.

    It could also be one of those optical illusion things. Where it is recessed so that if you look at it and move your head around it looks like it is moving to look at you. (pretend the glyphs are the eyes?).

  12. john gomm says:

    That would make one heck of an ‘infinite mirror’ frame! If you get a decent molding out of it, I’d love one. I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday.

  13. Jackson Brown says:

    wow yeah, i want a stargate infinite mirror :D

  14. GMAN says:

    Go buy one of those circular electric waffle makers, rip the old waffle plates out and insert your Star Gate molds. Star Gate waffles! Tasty!

    Spray a light coating of Pam nonstick spray on both mold halves, pour melted chocolate on one half, clamp the molds together and turn to evenly coat the inside with chocolate. Place in the fridge. After about an hour in the fridge remove and open the mold, extracting your chocolaty good Star Gate!

  15. GMAN says:

    Go buy one of those circular electric waffle makers, rip the old waffle plates out and insert your Star Gate molds. Star Gate waffles! Tasty!

    Spray a light coating of Pam nonstick spray on both mold halves, pour melted chocolate on one half, clamp the molds together and turn to evenly coat the inside with chocolate. Place in the fridge. After about an hour in the fridge remove and open the mold, extracting your chocolaty good Star Gate!

  16. GMAN says:

    Go buy one of those circular electric waffle makers, rip the old waffle plates out and insert your Star Gate molds. Star Gate waffles! Tasty!

    Spray a light coating of Pam nonstick spray on both mold halves, pour melted chocolate on one half, clamp the molds together and turn to evenly coat the inside with chocolate. Place in the fridge. After about an hour in the fridge remove and open the mold, extracting your chocolaty good Star Gate!

  17. GMAN says:

    Please excuse the above inadvertent triple post.

  18. Lear says:

    @Gman

    Clearly you were exited… such good ideas are almost worth triple posting methinks.

    Mmmm… chocolaty Stargate goodness.

  19. PopeRatzo says:

    Stargate Jello Mold!

  20. krizoitz says:

    Stargate Minature

    Probably used for these.

  21. Jon says:

    Hot:

    I think you may be right

  22. Mechy says:

    Sorry if you’ve already heard this a ton of times, but my guess is that the mold is intended for rotocasting. Basically, you put some material that will harden into 1/2 the mold, slap the two parts together, then keep the mold constantly rotating and spinning until the inside is coated completely and evenly with a set hardened layer.
    You could make some pretty awesome hallow easter gates with this mold, for sure!

  23. Hambone says:

    It could have been a press for vinyl, just like a record press. They don’t have fill holes either but it does require cautting away excess.

  24. liltrix says:

    There are only 4 basic ways to make anything.

    1. Cut – (engrave, saw, mill, laser, water jet, etc)
    2. Mold – (caste, pour, bake, set, etc)
    3. Form – (Press, pulltrusion, extrusion, stamp, hammer, etc.)
    4. Turn – (lath, weave, auger, rotation, etc)

    If I had to guess I would say that the mold blanks were engraved using a scale model stylist (think making engraving plates for money) and then rotational moulded using electric current and heat. You put metal slurry in the mold turn on the electricity that slurry is attracted to the mold walls and then rotate and bake

  25. Simon says:

    A common method of prop making is ‘vaccu-forming’ which does not leave any residue on the mold. (It’s basically heating a sheet of plastic over the mold while sucking out the air pockets. This method does not use a reverse mold. For props I have made with this process the advantage is only needing one real item to make multiple copies.

  26. AvatarIII says:

    “Any ideas if it’s from the series or the movie? I’m sure there’s more than a few, um, ‘experts’ on Stargate that could tell the difference immediately. :)”

    it’s an SG1 gate, due to the fact all the chevrons look the same and the symbols are relief and not engraved :D

  27. John says:

    Phenolic resin could be used, too… using a jack (for pressure to force the molds together) and a heated platen, you can use granular phenolic resin, and it self-vents, between the granules. Given enough pressure, it vents as the granules compact themselves.

    As one of the above posters mentioned, there’s a long cycle time, and it’s pretty labor intensive, but you can get great detail replication, and if it was for a model for use in making a background… that might be an explanation.

  28. Pragma says:

    “After about an hour in the fridge remove and open the mold, extracting your chocolaty good Star Gate!”

    Prop it up on a green sheet cake, add some minature figures and presto: every fan-boy’s birthday dream come true.

  29. air1cpg says:

    how much did you pay for them?

  30. Kaden says:

    Hiya gang… here’s an update

    First of all, thanks for all the communications; my inbox imploded under load about 2 hours ago. Makers (and the intertubes in general) loves themselves some Stargate, no babylon. There were a lot of very informed responses, all entirely within the realm of possibility, but it seems that what I found was the mold for one of these: http://www.stargateprops.com/shopping/shopexd.asp?id=19927, which means it was intended for use with casting resin.

    The question of how the resin gets into the mold remains unanswered, but I’m assuming that either the traces I found in each half of the mold were remnants from test pours of each individual half, or that there’s a really thin middle bit for the mold that’s missing, which contained the spruing, and likely served to gasket the mold against leakage.

    There were also questions. Lots and lotsa of questions.
    Well, actually, only a few questions, but lots of different questioners.

    Whatever…

    Anyway, here’s answers.

    1) No, it’s not for sale. Not now, not ever. Stop asking, ok?

    2) No, I won’t cast ‘just one or two’ for you to buy. Aside from the IP issues involved, if I were so inclined as to get into resin casting, I’d definitely *not* spend the time casting something I didn’t make with my own two hands.

    What am I gonna do with it? It’s already done: I gave it to The Sourceress as a gift. She’s the type who can (without even being a fan of the show) appreciate the sublime beauty of meticulously machined metal. It’ll be cherished as the artifact it is, and treated with the utmost respect.

    …and then there’s ‘Legends Memorabilia’…
    I got an email this afternoon from a lad representing the above named company; apparently it’s their mold, they don’t know how it got into a scrapyard, and they want to buy it back.

    Normally, I’d have at least a small amount of empathy for the fella… his guys were over enthusiastic when cleaning about 3000 pounds of aluminum scrap out of the shop. (For the uninitiated, that’s a *lot* of aluminum… the dude who brought it into the yard made 3 trips in his pickup to get it all out). Where Legends guy lost me was in the salutation of his email…

    It read Dear ‘Kaden’. Like that…with my name in quotes. Like it was a ‘nym. Or an alias.

    Which is a very ineffective method of attempting to initiate a dialogue of any form.

    Two words, Legends guy:

    “Dude… Google”

    I’m Kaden Harris.

  31. Matt says:

    the mold could be used really easily for plaster molding. a casting plaster would be carefully poured into each half, scraped flat and allowed to slightly harden, then both halves would be clamped together and left to set. some minor trimming might have to be done, but i think that you would end up with a pretty nice casting.

    great find, i’m insanely jealous. i hope that the lawyers don’t get you!

  32. misty says:

    Rotomolding? A la how they mold big tanks? fill the mold with finely powdered resin, heat and spin in all three dimensions. You’d probably end up with hollow stargates.

  33. Alex B (scyto) says:

    these are not the molds – these are the original positive / engravings used to make the molds.

    Why? Well the cheveron design stands out – just like on the real stargate.

    The molds were made from this original engraving.

    I.E. Positive engraving -> neagtive mold -> positive product.

    Oh they also look the right size for the plaques they gave the production crewe for the 100th episode – there was one hanging in the marketing office on site about 14mo ago.

  34. Alex B (scyto) says:

    I meant 200th episode.

  35. Kaden says:

    The chevron is concave. Trick of the light, doncha know.

  36. Peter says:

    “It read Dear ‘Kaden’. Like that…with my name in quotes. Like it was a ‘nym. Or an alias.
    Which is a very ineffective method of attempting to initiate a dialogue of any form.

    Two words, Legends guy:

    “Dude… Google”

    I’m Kaden Harris.”
    ————————————

    Your cool rating just dropped down to about douche bag level after you wrote that.

  37. Jeff Bassett says:

    Hi,
    I am the guy that Id’d the Legends mould as well noted how they did the casting with them. Reading your blog, I am somewhat aghast at how you treated Legends. The moulds are an incredible and costly effort to make. By not returning them, you are costing them a huge expense and also making it where fans that want that licensed piece may not be able to purchase it now as the project may be too much of a loss at this point. In fact, they have taken the piece off their site now, so looks like fans are screwed with this situation occurring.
    You mentioned you were interested in getting into such a field of work ( hobby or as work I don’t know ) yourself. I wonder how you would feel if you had such work of your own accidently taken away and you took the loss that Legends is facing now.
    There are times when you just need to swallow your ego and help someone in a situation like this.
    To myself, you look like a jerk not to take a finders fee or reward and help them out to become a hero in all this that has occurred.
    Up to you of course to do what you like. But being a working stiff myself for many years, I understand how things like this can happen, and how both good and bad endings happen. It’s when you see the bad endings happen that you hope just maybe Karma does sometimes exist.

  38. Jeff Bassett says:

    Hi,
    I am the guy that Id’d the Legends mould as well noted how they did the casting with them. Reading your blog, I am somewhat aghast at how you treated them. The moulds are an incredible and costly effort to make. By not returning them, you are costing them a huge expense and also making it where fans that want that licensed piece may not be able to purchase it now as the project may be too much of a loss at this point. In fact, they have taken them off the site at this time, which is a huge loss to fans and collectors of Stargate.
    You mentioned you were interested in getting into such a field of work ( hobby or as work I don’t know ) yourself. I wonder how you would feel if you had such work of your own accidently taken away and you took the loss that Legends is facing now.
    There are times when you just need to swallow your ego and help someone in a situation like this.
    To myself, you look bad not to take a finders fee or reward and help them out to become a hero in all this that has occurred.
    Up to you of course to do what you like. But being a working stiff myself for many years, I understand how things like this can happen, and how both good and bad endings happen. It’s when you see the bad endings happen that you hope just maybe Karma does sometimes exist.

  39. Kaden says:

    What I should have done, in retrospect, is absolutely nothing. Left ‘em in the scoop, and let a very nice guy named Ernie empty it into the yard dumptruck. When the load shipped later in the day, the molds would have joined 5000 other pounds of pretty good grade alloy in their epic voyage across the Pacific to China, where they’d begin a new life as consumer electronics chassis components.

    Two years later, just after Christmas, when said consumer electronics have been replaced by the newest, shiniest consumer electronics, these once cherished, now discarded chassis components would end up in a scoop of metal in some unnamed scrapyard somewhere in North America, and the Circle of Scrap would begin anew.

    It’s the way of the Yard.

  40. Jeff Bassett says:

    Actually, I would have gone the hero route. After getting contacted by Legends, I woudl do my best to get them back to them. I would also be as inquisitive as I could asking them about the process and using this to get my foot inthe door. Hobby wise or business wise, you have an excellent chance to learn from the pros and make quite a few contacts with this situation. Always look at things like this with the best of intentions and usually you will coem up golden by doing so. it was a great find, now you should make it a great opportunity if at all possible to move forward for all involved.

  41. Concerned says:

    At this point in time these do not belong to Kaden or the person they were gifted to. They are property of the company that made them. They were stolen and should be returned. It would be the right thing to do.

  42. kaden says:

    Why would you possibly think they were stolen?

    Sheesh

  43. george says:

    dude, u r lucky for finding one of those! my friend wants one (and i do too!) but, the only place we could find one charges 200 bucks! idk what to do! just one question, where do u go “scrapyarding” and what exactly is it? (I live on the East coast, so i know i probabaly wont find a “stargate” or anything from pirates of the carribean or anything, but i could still find something cool! please, next time u write, can u say where a person goes (for example, a garbage dump, or a recycling plant, ect…) please help!!!

  44. Rastus Oxide says:

    Kaden, thats a great find, if you do make some ice sculptures I’d love to see the photos.

    Jeff Bassett is so jealous of you, it’s quite funny.

    xx
    ‘Rastus’

  45. Tom B says:

    The property is clearly yours. They threw it out – accident or not, it went to the scrap yard and you bought it. There isn’t a case in the world for stolen goods here. And now you’ve gifted it, so you don’t even own it anymore.

    So I think Legends has ultimately screwed up expensively. And that’s not your problem. And anyone who wants to paint you as the villain is out to lunch. You bought something at the scrap yard that had been discarded, with your own money. End of story. It was not stolen, it is now (or was then) yours. You gave it away. Also your prerogative.

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