« Archives in August, 2010

More odds and ends.

5 hours.

Mostly a cleanup day. And a rearrange day. And a figure-out-what-to-do-next day. So there was cleanup. I rearranged the guest house bedroom and gained back a few more precious square feet. Then I went over the construction manual and checked off things I know I did but didn’t check them off during the actual work, mostly from wing mating. After that, I screwed the panel back on and started tinkering with the throttle quadrant. I didn’t get far with that. I needed to get the canopy out of the attic. It was beginning to drive me nuts that it was sitting up there, with the spiders and the heat. So I brought it down and then I realized I’d never put on the canopy latch handle or the outside canopy lift tabs. Not fun, but necessary. I hate cotter pins. I got the handle and tabs done, then had to take the canopy off and put it up in the rafters of the main shop. It’s pretty empty right now. More parts are on the plane than off it, at least parts that came with the kit. Oh sure, there’s lots of fiberglassing to be done on the empennage tips, wheels, landing gear etc.

But I’m at a crossroads: What next? leave the airframe for a while and do the O- to IO-360 conversion on the engine? Order avionics and start wiring? Or just do it all. Go to town. Work on the wiring while i’m waiting for engine parts and vice versa. But something tells me I’d rather not have nasty stripped-down engine between the plane and the workbench for extended periods of time unless that’s all I’m working on. Engines can be whole projects in and of themselves. But the truth is, if I find enough nastiness in the engine when I pull a cylinder off, it goes bye-bye to be rebuilt by real engine builders in real shops. If not, I replace cylinders as necessary, install the hi-pressure fuel pump, the new sump and tubes, the AFP FI system, and bolt it to the airframe. Fortunately, I’ve got all the parts for that, I think. I need to make a checklist for incidental parts, like hoses and gaskets, other stuff like that, and order it in advance. I also have to be singularly anal about the teardown process and not lose ANY PARTS WHATSOEVER and adhere strictly to the manual. This is no Oldsmobile Rocket V8.


4 hours.

The 4 hours is yesterday, not the week before, in which I finally got to repairing my sanity-saver and nearly sole mode of transportation. A few weeks ago, the Buell snapped a motor mount on the way home from SIGGRAPH, not quite leaving me stranded, but putting the bike in the barn for some time. This is the second time I’ve had mount-related issues with that bike, and the last time I had it repaired, the monkeys at Bartels not only didn’t replace the mount, they used the wrong bolts. The mount was weak from its impact on the frame and hanging by one bolt. The dynamics on that piece of aluminum are pretty brutal, but it might have lasted a little longer if they hadn’t used the short Sportster bolts that only go about 10mm into the head boss. The result of that was mashed threads in the head boss on the left side. The end result is this:

broken mount
The piece on the left is the original mount, with the arm snapped off. The piece on the right is the NHRS billet replacement. Nothing’s going to break that short of a nuclear event.

I hung the Buell by its frame and jacked up the engine so I could drill out the head boss, install a helicoil, then the new motor mount.
Buell lifted

Once that was done and my bike was running, the shop went back into airplane factory mode. Yesterday I cleaned up some odds and ends that have been driving me nuts for a while. I installed the F-824 control horn access panels at the end of the tailcone. There’s two more parts I don’t have to find later.
tail access panels

Then I finally got around to installing the eyball vents and vent tubing. The only thing holding up this process was the need for a spacer between the retaining ring and the vent bracket. I wasn’t able to find a suitable candidate at B&B, so I made them myself from .063. I was then able to cut the hose to go from the vents to the NACA scoops on the sides.
vent, left side
vent, right side
These will probably come out during the beating the cockpit is going to take during wiring and other installs, but they’re good to go for now.

The day started out as the pondering of where to mount the VA-168 fuel/oil/MAP sensor manifold, and I realized I have no idea how large the sensor modules are, or how they would fit with the engine mount installed. So of course I installed the engine mount instead. Did I mention I love my new Makita cordless drill?
engine mount

Those four big rings on the white tube structure are where the actual engine mounts go. They’re big rubber pucks designed to buffer the vibration between the engine and the airframe. The landing gear legs will stick out from the tubes at the botttom corners, you can see the left gear leg tube next to the bolt at the bottom right of frame. Yes, it’s confusing, but when we talk about left and right on an airplane, we use the perspective of sitting in the pilot’s seat.

I’m glad I got the engine hoist. It will come in handy when I have to lift the whole airframe high enough to put the gear legs on. At that point, it’s going to be freaking tall. I”ll need an elevated platform to get in and out while working on things like the panel and wiring.

Wing work wrapped up.

4 hours.

Finished the platenuts in the left wing. Other than a slightly messy install of the trailing edge platenut, the process went OK. However, for the first time, I regret not getting the platenut jig for the 8-series K1000 and K1100’s. I still have to figure out what to do about the wiring that’ll eventually go through the fuselage to the panel, but I there is no longer any interference with the control tubes (yeah, that was a big one, glad I caught it now). The wings are now back in the little garage for storage until they go to the airport.

So what next? The engine is supposed to be next, but I need the space and tech to fix a busted motor mount on my Buell, which is my daily transportation. However, I am dying to find out just how bad my motor is inside. Here’s hoping the guy who stored it for 10 years stored it properly and I don’t have a rusted camshaft.

Wing mating wrapup work

9 hours.

I’d say that only 7 hours was actual, tools-to-metal building. The rest of it was cleaning the shop, looking at plans, arranging parts, and various distractions. I’m also including Wednesday night, when David came over and helped me with the final wings-on/wings-off activities. We drilled the wing root fairings and the bottom skin, then pulled the wings off and moved the plane back into the guest house. Then I slacked off for two days while I took a break and watched bad movies.

Today, I got back on it and tried to get the wings into shape for more cold storage. Because I’m an idiot and didn’t attach the pitot and static fittings, the AN connectors slid up (down?) the tubing of the pitot and AOA into the pitot mast and got stuck there, with no way to wiggle them loose. I had to take the pitot tube off and shove the fittings down to the point where I could grab them and hook them up to the plastic tubing running down the wing. Of course, this demanded that I unclamp the plastic tubing from the Adel clamps attached to the bellcrank bracket to give it some slack. Finally, I got all that back together, ran my wires back down the conduit, and moved on.

I deburred and dimpled the wing root fairings, and deburred/dimpled/countersunk the wing roots. I also drilled all the holes for platenuts. I got all the platenuts done on the right wing, which was slow going on the forward edges because they went family style on the pro-seal. It also didn’t help that I drilled the fairing root holes a little too close to the root rib. I had to grind down some of the platenuts so they’d lay flat on the skin. But it’s all good, they’re all installed. I’ll do the left wing tomorrow, then they go back into the garage to await the trip to the airport. And some wiring. And some other stuff.

More wing rigging

As promised, a wider angle. All the bits flap like they’re supposed to.

Video of moving control surfaces.

First one, from Dave’s iPhone4. Shelley has a wider shot that’s higher res.

Forgot about Saturday

8 hours.

Saturday was a pretty huge day in its own right. The night before, I’d cleaned up the workshop and put all the tools away so I could start making a fresh mess. I gloated over my handiwork in drilling the wing spars for a few minutes, then got going on the flap rigging. The flaps are attached at the trailing edge of the wing with a strip of piano hinge. The right side, the inboard edge of the flap rubbed against the fuselage, which didnt allow it to travel its full range of motion. So off it came, and I filed and scotchbrited off enough metal so that it did. However, in that sentence is contained about 4 or 5 iterations of trial, error, and scratching the crap out of the flap with the file until I got smart and put some tape around where I’d be working it. Eventually, it fit fine and was able to swing up and down, and in the ‘up’ position, the skin lay flat on the belly. The left side wasn’t a problem.

After that, it was time to reinstall the flap motor and rig the flaps. This is where the first setback occurred. The flap motor was one of the first things I did on the fuselage, so maybe I screwed it up, but there are many reports of the flap motor channel interfering with the canopy latch bar. Supposedly, they fixed this in the matched-hole kit, but I have a matched-hole kit and I’m telling you now, it ain’t fixed. What I had to do was put a 3/16″ spacer between the bushing block and the F-705 bulkhead to move the canopy latch bar forward enough so that it would clear the flap motor channel. I also had to change the rivets on the upper part of the flap motor channel to flush AN426 rivets. After this, I was able to see daylight between the latch bar and the channel. Of course, this also meant that the pushrod between the latch handle and the bar was now about 1/4″ too long. Put that on the list.

Then came the weird ceremony of drilling the flap pushrod holes. I”ll post pictures of this whole mess when I get the chance.


9 hours.

Nine. Hours. I had a list, a big one. Much things to do. Because I’m utterly beat, I’m not going to boil it down to bare essentials. Most of the morning I spent chasing the elusive sub-$100 engine hoist. This was not to be found anywhere west of Covina, so I settled on secondary prey: A replacement for my ailing cordless drill. The 14v DeWalt served well for 15 years, but now it drains batteries, the motor’s getting weak, and the replacement batteries only lasted about a year. So today, I picked up the ultimate badass cordless drill, a Makita BDF451. 18v, 3 speeds, and the torque of a 71 Chevelle SS. This hunt took most of the morning. I didn’t get on the stick until about 11am, which sucked, because like I said, I had a list.

David was due to arrive at about 1pm, but before, I got the tank brackets drilled, and a few other things. Honestly, I was doing so much stuff, I forgot exactly what I did and in what order, but these are the things that got done:

Vent lines made
Fuel lines trimmed, ends fitted
Canopy pushrod remade (because of the spacers I had to put on the c-611 blocks)
Rudder cable links made (should be using AN turnbuckles, those links are stupid)
Tank bracket platenuts installed
Triangles marked on wings for belly skin lineup

This process was not without its setbacks. Braided steel hose sucks to work with, and we’ve got the poked fingers to prove it.

I got pictures and video, I’ll post them tomorrow when I’m not too tired to think straight.

Wing spars drilled.

2.5 hours.

I win. Sweep and incidence are set, aft wing spar bolts are in. I made a drill guide from some 5/8″x1x4 bar stock (which I’ll have to replace, I think it goes with the wheels or brakes) featuring holes of 17/64″ and 5/16″ to guide the middle and final steps of drilling.

But about that stuck drill bit. As I suspected, I was able to drill just below my ‘relief well’ and pop the broken bit out from the front. Once I drilled it with the 5/16″ bit, all traces of nastiness went away and I have a nice round hole with little to no play on the AN5 bolt that goes in there. On VAF, there are a good amount of people who recommend using a .311 reamer to obtain a close-fit, precision hole. There are also a good amount of people who say that using the plans-recommended 5/16″ bit works fine too. I don’t have a .311 reamer. I don’t want to buy a .311 reamer, or any other kind of reamer right now, and I certainly don’t have time to wait for it. I think the drill guide did the job, and as long as that bolt is torqued and cotter-pinned, I seriously doubt the wing will fall off. If it should come to pass that the wing wiggles around that bolt, I’ll go up to the next size, use a reamer and a NAS close-tolerance bolt, and that’ll be the end of that. But there are plenty of RV’s flying with 5/16″ holes in their aft spars and they don’t seem to be having much of an issue.

I’ll have to take the wings off again to deburr the holes and shoot some primer on the raw metal where it was drilled or filed, as well as do the lineup for the wing root holes, but while they’re on, I’m going to do the flap pushrods, the rudder cable links, and maybe just for giggles, put the wingtips on to make sure everything lines up along the trailing edge.

Do NOT pass ‘Go,’ do not collect drilled wings.

2 hours.

Drilled the left wing. Everything was lined up, everything went perfectly, everything was easy as pie. Then I went over to the right wing. I measured and checked level again, then locked in my drill guide. I almost got through when the 12″ drill bit broke off in the guide block. Then the remaining nub snapped again when I tried to extract the guide block and drill bit from the spar. Oops.

There’s that feeling you get, I know everyone’s felt it at one time or another, and if you haven’t, you haven’t lived. It’s that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, when the world does a traveling zoom, where the only thought running through your head is ‘I am so utterly, completely, well and truly f**ked.’ Before the urge to throw breakable things takes over, it’s good to breathe, look at what’s going on, and come up with a plan. The facts: I have a drill bit broken off, pinning 3 layers of aluminum together. I have enough edge distance to completely drill around the broken bit to facilitate extraction.

First step was to drill alongside the broken bit. A relief well, if you will, to see if that would allow me to wiggle the broken bit out the way it came. I tried drilling out a #40 hole to see if that would loosen things up. No joy. Next was to see if I could just go up a couple of drill sizes (#3) and pulverize the stuck bit while drilling through along the same path. I got just past the first layer (aft part of bracket) when the #3 bit started to spin and wouldn’t cut into the broken bit at all. Back away. Back away before you make it worse.

So I pondered, and then had a hunch. What if I can move the wing spar relative to the bracket? I unclamped everything, making sure to double check that my sweep and incidence positions were marked and gave the wing a jiggle. YES! The spar end slid inside the bracket, which meant that the broken bit wasn’t pinning all three layers, just the first two. So what to do now?

Take the damn wing off. With the wing off, I can get at everything and backdrill to the broken bit from the forward side, then pound it out with a drift punch and a hammer. The broken bit will be right below the #40 hole, so with a good guess, I can put another #40 hole below that one and hit the tip of the broken bit, all without compromising my edge distance to the sides of the bracket or the spar. I have to tread very, very carefully now. This has the potential to be a nasty incident pit.

And if I fail completely, I can have the bracket and spar welded up and redrill it. I think. Might have to contact tech support on that one. Best policy is not to mess it up.

This is truly a “come back victorious, or on your shield” moment.