Mikinduri Day 4 & 5: Charcoal Press Fabrication

I spent all Thursday and Friday at the Polytechnic for the manufacturing of the Charcoal Press. Both days started a bit cool, lots of grey clouds, almost looked like it was going to rain. I was at the Polytechnic early morning both days, just like coming to school again.

The pieces of the box and the frame were already done from Wednesday, so they went on doing the grid Thursday. It felt really funny saying, “Don’t follow the drawings, this way is easier (the way I was telling them to do)”. I try to promote following the rules and documentations, especially being an IE. In all fairness to myself though, (Trust me, I don’t always say that. lol) it was the way we did it when we were fabricating the press during our building phase last year. And it surely works, no matter what the variation we do with the design. I guess we just did not have any means of explaining these discrepancies in a drawing package. I know, I know, we need to work on that *wink*.

I noticed that everyone were just watching their professor fabricate the grid, so I volunteered if I could do anything, just because I know it will alleviate some pressure off him, while also making things faster. I started by marking up some parts for cutting (it was crazy hot), and I was glad I did the IMG_4165column of the plunger. It was awfully complicated to figure out, and I just did my own thing in marking it, to make it easier for them to do.

It was a little bit odd because they were all very skeptical about me doing work. To Kenyans, men work are done by men, and women are supposed to stay on doing their thing. They were kind of giggling and staring at me, like thinking, “What in the world is this girl trying to do.” They went all around me, were speaking in Swahili (their local language), but I can understand some English words the teacher was explaining to his students “engineer”, “industrial”, like he is explaining to them I am a ‘female’ engineer. I did help though, and I got stuff done. I tried to enlighten them on gender equality within the western culture. They smiled with pride at me trying to explain how there are fields that are “men-dominated” in Kenya. It felt a bit revolutionary for me to be standing there. *laughs*


Then, I thought I would try out their ‘power’ tools myself. I used the hack saw to cut square tubings and a crazy thick metal pipe. I had some help, of course. I also tried using the grinder, to smooth the metal pipe I helped cut, and the hand drill to make holes on it for the handles. I ended up passing the IMG_4175drill because it was really hard metal. One of their bits broke, which I expected by the amount of pressure they put in to really try and make it work. Just to clarify, these are probably 1/16″ bits… yeap, they were trying to drill a hole in a 1/8″ thick pipe using a hand drill with a very tiny bit.

I really felt bad for them having to go through all these suffering to fabricate our charcoal press. Our drawing package even specified the tools needed for the parts, which they all did not have. This was a really huge learning for me, and very eye-opening too. We are indeed very fortunate in Canada. We try to always be more efficient and convenient, and these people just got stuck because of so many constraints. I tried my best to develop lots of shortcuts too, though there wasn’t really much to do, and they were determined to really follow the drawing package.

Friday, we gave welding goggles to the school as a thank you for their help. They were funny looking goggles. We wore them ourselves to kind of promote that wearing PPE is very important.

We had to buy an extra part because there was a vague instruction in the drawing package and they bought the wrong one. I walked with a guard half an hour down to the market in a dusty dirt road, in a scorching hot noon, went through every store we can go to, to find what we need, and stuff for Peter and Brady’s project.

Going back was my favorite part though, I got an umbrella for myself. It was a huge umbrella, one that can probably fit five people back home in the Philippines. I had it walking back, and I was so happy I did… if not, I probably would have passed out because it was SO hot (of course, I am a little bit exaggerating). I was also pretty happy, it feels a little bit like walking at home.

We got the press done Friday, it was pretty exciting seeing it actuIMG_4258ally there. We are testing it on Monday. I painted lettering on it just like I did on the one we built in Canada. My perfectionism was definitely tortured today, because I did not have a precision brush or any decent brush t o use to paint. I improvised every way I can, like a sharpened piece of wood, etc. Then the hairdressing teacher saved me and gave me a nail polish brush to use. It was an older one though, and I did not have any thinner to use for the paint. But oh well, it wasnIMG_4261’t for me to make too fancy right? I did let it pass, and forgave myself now. (LOL) The most important part is that the press is done. *grins*



Tomorrow (Saturday), we are going to the orphanage!!

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