The side beams are welded to the tank – and still no leaks, or for that matter explosions – and the chunks of hull plating bonded to the beams. For once, that went smoothly. I’ve even cut four extra short chunks of beam and welded them onto what will be the thrust frame near the edges to mount the side-mounting thrusters on, leaving enough space in the center to attach the cutter’s core if I can find it.
I’ve even stripped power cable, data lines, and enough flexpipe to get them rigged to run.
Which makes it time to balance it (it’s enough mass that I’ll have to balance the for’ard section separately). It’s embarrassing if your first candle falls off its tail when you take it out for a near-hab jaunt. Under these circumstances, it would be a little worse than that.
If I was doing this properly, I’d have a clean room, and a torsiometer, and a gradiometer, and a quantized-thrust applicator, and assorted other fancy tools with verniers to tweak, and I’d finish up by carefully placing gold-tungsten washers and balance weights in exactly the right positions such that I could fire her dead-stick and not see more than a milli in a mega drift. If I was building a really fancy candle, I’d go ahead and throw some trim tanks on there while I’m at it.
But I don’t have any of those, so I’m using a more informal engineering technique, namely giving her a good shove along the thrust axis and eyeballing the gross wobble, then planing some mass off the heavy side with a laser torch.
(In theory, the stabilization gyros I’m pulling from the tactical platform should compensate for any deficiencies in this area, but with the extra mass this will have over and above, I don’t want to make them do any more work than they have to. I’ll be running them too close to the delamination redline as it is.)
…I wonder if the Navy would sell me this for a keepsake when I’m done with it? Give it a couple of thousand years, and it’d be nice to tell my hypothetical descendants a few horror stories of how Grandma Isif had to get about the place before the magic transilience drive was invented.