« Archives in April, 2010

Some Data

1 hour.
Not actual building, but some research. It’s amazing what the FAA TCDS’s can tell you. For one thing, I might need a new governor. The one on my engine is a McCauley C290D3/T18. This means absolutely squat without some real numbers. For instance, the drive ratio is .895:1 and the torque range is 120-1200 in/lbs. Why is this a concern? Because if that McCauley turns out to be trash, I’ll have to pick up a PCU5000x, which is pretty freakin’ cool, but the application chart doesn’t spec my governor, exactly. Maybe I’ll have to replace it, maybe not, but I like having options. And just for future reference, here’s a link to the TCDS:
TCDS number E-286

Canopy skirts, take two

4 hours.
I suppose the price, a little blood and a bit of pain, isn’t too high for the completion of a couple of items which have been hanging over my head for a while. On Friday, my replacement canopy side skirts arrived, but I didn’t get going on them until Sunday, because I found myself in an intense and protracted battle with Windows 7 and my employer’s VPN server. I don’t understand why anything with the word “Windows” in it stretches time out like taffy and a simple task manages to eat up a day. The aircraft was a different matter, squatting out there on its sawhorses like a chrome toad, malice seething from every rivet. My primary concern was that my skills had degraded enough to the point where I would Go To The Bad Place, that is, crack the canopy through some kind of ineptitude, and I think the plane was just as apprehensive as I was. While I was waiting for my side skirts to come in, I had set to work on the canopy stiffeners. This task wasn’t exactly difficult, but it was no picnic either. Bending those things into the right shape and especially bending the edges of the lightening holes was not that much fun, and I’m really surprised I didn’t mangle them a lot more than I did. Right now, I’m going to take comfort in the fact that paint hides a lot.
But the skirts did come in, as well as my new, larger Weldon bits (which are the shizz for countersinking plexiglass), along with my screw dimple die set. Figuring out how to make the new skirts fit with the old holes worked my puzzler out a bit. On one side, I tried clamping the new skirt to the side rail and match drilling through the previously drilled holes. That worked, but what a pain in the arse. That was where I did my best to put a #40 drill through the first knuckle of my middle finger on my left hand. While the drill was spinning in the meat there, I felt an odd tingling, most likely from the drill vibrating the nerve. To call the sensation odd would be understating the facts. There was a bit of blood, but not enough to turn my little ship into a demonically sentient killing machine like in the Stephen King short story. The starboard side, I just used the old skirt as a drill guide on the new one. Much easier and worked perfectly, and with zero loss of bodily substance. I got the canopy screw holes done, screwed the whole skirt/canopy/rail sandwich together and it seems to work wonderfully. All that remains on the skirts is to drill, deburr, and dimple the holes where the temp screws were.
The other thing to consider is the splice plate between the canopy ribs at the aft end of the plexi. I’ll have to countersink and rivet as many of those holes as I can before I take the canopy off. I’ve got this thing fitting as well as it can, and there’s no way I’m going to take a chance on messing up the alignment of the holes in the canopy. But once that’s done, the plexi can come off and I can drill the stiffeners to the canopy skin, then I can mark the skirts using the side rails as a reference to mark the area that should be trimmed off the skirts. Or maybe I’ll just leave it. The stamping press at Van’s makes a much cleaner line than I could ever cut on my craptastic bandsaw. Once that happens, everything gets painted gray, and the stiffeners get riveted to the canopy skin. Then the canopy skin inside the plexi gets painted flat black. After all that paint, the canopy goes back on and the microballoons and resin get deployed on the front edge of the canopy.
See how much fun this is?

Canopy skirts.

1 hours.
Got the side skirts drilled to the canopy frame. It’s nice to have a pure-metal session, no plexi, no fiberglass, no paint. Next step is backdrilling the holes through frame, plexi, and skirt so that the screws make a nice plexi sandwich. The only non-fun part is that one of my holes goes through a weld on the side rail, which will make it impossible to put a rivet there. So I have to burr away that weld enough to make the shop head sit flat. No big deal, but fiddly.
Once all this stuff is drilled, it’s deburr, dimple/countersink, then paint. In case you didn’t get it before, I hate paint.

Break on through to the other side…

4 hours.
We’ve not visited for a couple of months. This is what happens when you pack a lot of work, home improvement, and travel into what could be decent build time. Home improvement has this weird time dilation. Like near-C spaceflight, I suppose. A week-long project takes way longer when you can only work on weekends. but it remains in process for the entire time, so it’s like working on it for a month when it should take a few days. It’s still not done. I still have baseboards to put up in the bedroom. And another garden bed to build. But this weekend was pretty huge, because the tip-up portion of the canopy is drilled to the frame. Yes. Finally did it. I mustered up the courage to put drill to plexiglass. David came over and we drilled the canopy to the side rails and the F-631 ribs. Wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and I had the distinct pleasure of seeing the big bubble hinge up and down just like it’s going to when it’s done.

Canopy up!

Got the side skirts drilled too, but not to the frame yet. I still have deep-seated fears of cracking the plexi when backdrilling the screw holes, but I can use the plexi bit to find the position and finish drilling them out with the drill press.