of The Traveling Man


Brad Oldham International, Inc. (BOII) supplemented its internal fabrication capabilities by tapping two long-time, trusted partners. The BOII team is accustomed to building unique pieces. Much of what is created at our Dallas studio is one-of-a-kind, never-been-done-before pieces, so we already had the talent in place that was needed to build The Traveling Man. Warhogg Customs joined our project team to hand-cut and hand-welded the steel skeleton made of 5/8-inch to 1¼-inch thick steel plate, ASTM 572 grade 50k. This type of steel is typically used in the construction of bridges and other large structural projects. Keith Ashmore led the team of six welders in his Como, TX workshop that was set up specifically to build this sculpture. The skeleton took 12 weeks of cutting and welding to complete for “Walking Tall” and “Waiting on a Train.” To quantify the amount of welding required on this job, consider that there is more than 1,800 pounds of welding rod anodes in the bodies of the two large sculptures.


One fabrication challenge was how to bend 8-inch and 6-inch solid round bar into the positions required for the arms and pelvis. Engineering requirements dictated that the steel arms and legs, shaped like a trapeziodal box, were to fit precisely onto the solid round bar of steel. The team had to use a bulldozer tied onto the pelvis and hook a crane onto the end of the leg to create a strong pull. Three rosebud torches heated the bar to facilitate the bending as the bulldozer pulled from one end and the crane from the other. Working with steel pieces 26-feet-long was no simple task. Each leg had to be one continuous piece, while the bars for the shoulders and hips needed to be bent and fabricated to specific dimensions.


As work was underway on the skeleton, prep for the installation started for the three sites. With the ground cleared at Swiss and Good Latimer, McKinney Drilling Company drilled two 32-foot-deep piers for The Traveling Man-Walking Tall. The concrete and rebar piers provided a structurally sound base to support the steel bones of the sculpture. 

Once welding was structurally complete, huge sections of the skeleton were slated to be galvanized.  Galvanizing is a generic term for putting a coat of zinc on steel. It protects steel from corrosion, which is done through an electro-galvanizing, or dipping, process. The steel legs for The Traveling Man–Walking Tall were too large for the galvanizer’s tanks. Therefore, the team identified an alternative method for protecting the bones of “Walking Tall” that was more time-intensive and included sandblasting and cladding in zinc by hand.


Once the two legs for “Walking Tall” were on site, they were hoisted with cranes, at which point, the hips were welded in place. On-site welders, under the direction of Sam Cantu, put the final welds onto the zinc-coated steel bones. Many days of design and planning helped to reduce the amount of on-site welding that was required, and allowed for most of the work to be performed beforehand by Keith Ashmore’s team, in an atmosphere that was not rushed.


The brushed stainless steel 304 skin was cut and hand-bent into the general shape off-site. Once on-site, the artisans with LM Fabrication fined tuned the shape of each section and riveted the stainless steel panels in place. The BOII team worked along side LM Fabrication on this complicated and intricate installation of the skin. The stainless steel exterior work is detailed in the “Construction & Installation” segment as it comprised the bulk of the installation effort.



©Brad Oldham 2009