Editor’s Note: Memorial Day Weekend can be tough for many of us...
By RU Rob
If you have been following Ranger Up products for any amount of time, then you are aware of the absolutely incredible Liquid Metal Signs that they have been selling. When I am able to go to the warehouse there seems to always be a new piece of polished metal hanging on the wall that represents something military. Curious as to the process in which Ranger Up procures these awesome pieces of art, I cornered Nick and Tom to question them about it.
A serious look fell upon both of their faces as they quickly led me into a room I had never visited before; dimly lit, sparsely decorated with a single chair, table and a secure telephone unit. The room was completely sound proof and the only thing on the walls was a single video camera with a small, blinking red light. At this point I was thinking, “What the hell is going on?” As Tom and Nick left the room, Tom turns to me and says “Wait for the phone to ring.”
About twenty seconds after the door shuts and the dead bolt is slammed into place, the phone rang and startles me. I answer hesitantly and was met with the cheerful voice of Jason. Jason starts the conversation by apologizing for the security measures, but due to recent espionage attempts against the Ranger Up Liquid Metal Sign Team and their top secret methods of production and location, these steps were necessary to protect the sanctity of the program. I responded with an “OK?!?”
I tried to explain to Jason that I was just trying to get some information for our readers as they were curious as to how these signs are made. He chuckled and said “Really? That’s all you wanted to know?” It was at this point that Jason began firing out information like a machine gun going cyclic.
Jason started “There are a couple of things you need to know right off the bat, the first of which is that some of our ideas are inspired and some are custom. We generally take direction from Nick for most of the pieces but we take on custom projects as well.”
I wondered just how the designers of the Liquid Metal team could take a picture and turn it into a solid piece of steel while still maintaining the originality of it. “Everything starts with an image” Jason explained, “an image of just about anything. The images are loaded and processed through the Liquid Metal Super Computer to ensure the original concept is maintained while designing the final piece.” Jason further explained that this is the hardest part of the process as you have to make cuts to remove the excess steel and one improperly placed cut can easily ruin an entire piece.
“Let’s talk about the manufacturing process,” Jason continued, “we start with a chunk of steel and cut it down to size using a computer directed cutting machine that is supplemented by one of our skilled artisans guiding it through the precision cuts. From there we grind down the steel to begin the polishing process. This is one of the things that make each piece unique as you cannot hand grind multiple pieces of steel to be exactly the same.”
At this point I was wondering how in the hell you would be able to mount a large chunk of metal to the wall. When asked about it, Jason responded, “That is actually the next step in the manufacturing process. After the sign is ground down, we weld the mounting hardware to the back. We use precise welds to ensure that the hardware is strong enough to support the sign.
Another question I posed to Jason is how the craftsmen are able to bring out such vivid colors while using minimal paint. Jason shied away from this question and mumbled something along the lines of “TOP SECRET, blowtorches, different levels of heat…don’t worry about it.” Given the location for this interview, I guessed that is the bit of information that they are protecting.
I assumed that the last step in the process is the shellacking, oh how I loved saying that – shellac, shellac! The phone went silent as I repeated shellac over and over like a drunken frat boy. I quickly come to my senses as Jason responded to my infantile chanting with “Are you finished?” He then continued, “We then coat each piece with multiple layers of resin to give it the high gloss and ‘liquid’ look that is so appealing. We are currently slammed with orders for the new ‘Liquid Metal Old Glory Sign’ and are working night and day to get these things out to the Ranger Up community.”
Just as quickly as the interview started, Jason ended it. He closed the conversation with “Since you cannot know or even visit this location, I will send you some pictures of the process and also some of the custom signs” and with that the line went dead.
The next day I received an anonymous email that contained the following pictures. It also said that if there are any questions or requests for custom pieces you can email email@example.com .
I am still confused as to the reasons for secrecy, but hey, at least I was able to use the word shellac. Below are some of the custom pieces they have so expertly given birth to.