Building our fictional movie set would take a lot of work as it would be a lot bigger than one might think from the drawings. The train, for example, would take a massive amount of steel for the basic shape, which then meant a lot of flower material was going to be needed to cover it all. Work began immediately after the designs were approved so there wouldn't be any last-minute rush to finish.

I was able to do some of the construction work this year. In years past my job had usually kept me on the road for much of this phase, but I had recently retired and could put some time into this early work on the float. I am all thumbs (I think my high school shop teachers would agree) but happily covering things with flowers hides a multitude of sins.

Float chassis

Here's the float chassis after it had been stripped down from the prior year's float. It's possible to move the driver and observer stations to other parts of the chassis but it's a lot of work, so we had worked our design around where they had been used last year.

Mine cart

This is the basic framework for our mine cart that would have the city's name emblazoned on it. In the background you can see "Bob's Big Boy" which had been featured on the 2011 float. Sometimes figures are saved for re-use; in this case Bob was kept just because he's so cute and the figure turned out so well.

Public display

As time went by things started falling into place and it was possible to visualize how the float would look when done. Here it is outside the float barn during a fund raising event. There was still a lot of work to do but it was coming along nicely.

Metal work

Each of the floats takes a tremendous amount of metal work but this one had so many angles and curves that it was quite a complicated task. I know nothing about welding so my work came later in adding wood to the areas where people would later be stepping.

Foam heads

The character bodies are made out of metal rods but the hears are carved from foam to allow for more detail. Sadly the girl's face never came close to our design. It was worked on several times but eventually we had to go with what we had.

Railroad ties

The long reddish rectangular boxes were our railroad ties and would later be filled with fresh roses. This design element came about as Carol and I were out for a drive one day and were passing alongside a train track. All of a sudden she said "I know how we can do our tracks!" Her idea was to use rusty or brownish roses to simulate the railroad ties. Using roses for this seemed unusual at first but you get extra points for a creative use of roses. It turned out the judges just loved them.

The welding, sawing, and painting went on for months. Eventually the tools were put away and it was time to start adding the flowers.

More about the design and building of the float