John's Plane Week 11
Gear box and prop, testing the engine, seat harnesses

September 13, Monday

The trike is almost done so this afternoon I begin looking it over. First thing this afternoon I examine the instrument pod we installed last Friday. I find several small jobs to complete.

I see the air speed indicator is not connected to a pitot tube. I install a fitting in the front center of the pod and attach a short piece of fuel line to the fitting (now the pitot tube), and the air speed indicator is done.

Next , I need to install the top of the pod; remember the instruments are mounted on the bottom of the pod and need a top only to protect them. I fit the pod on the top and mark the areas I'll need to cut out, a curve around both sides to fit around the mounting handles and one around the pitot tube. I drill with an eighth inch drill along the pencil lines, snap out the hole and sand the edges smooth on a sanding drum installed in the drill press. This works quite well, and gives me good control of the shape and size of the cutouts in the fiberglass. I install the top with two tiny screws on each end.

The cooling system needs tweaking. I replace a hose that was rubbing against a clamp with a hose 2 inches longer. The increased length curves out past the clamp nicely. I install rubber boots on two structural members where the hose rubs: on the A-frame and on the engine cradle. I make the boots by splitting a short piece of hose and tie wrap the boots in place. Rubber against rubber can still wear, but nothing like rubber against steel.

I fill the cooling system with water. I must shake the trike to get trapped air to bubble out of the system, even lowering the back of the trike momentarily. I find no leaks and will make a final check when we run the engine.

I split a 3 inch piece of fuel line and install it over the EGT probe lines where they are unsupported for about 15 inches. I slide the split line over the probe lines and tie wrap the fuel line to the water hose for support.

I add 2 gallon of fuel mixed 100 to 1 to the saddle tank. Now the trike is starting to smell like an airplane. Mark allways starts a newly installed oil injected engine with mix just in case the oil injection unit is not working. We will watch for the dark oil in my oil reservoir to replace the clear oil that fills the engine injection lines before depending on the injection unit alone. I add 2 gallon of fuel to my seat tanks and test my electric auxiliary fuel pump. I hear a soft whirring sound and I see the clear fuel line leading from the pump some five feet up to the tank fill with fuel. The pump runs quieter with fuel flowing through it than it did in the first dry test of the pump.

Tuesday, April 14

This morning at the Dairy Queen I find Mark having breakfast with Lester Morrison, who has driven over from Linton, IN to get a new seat tank for his two place. I know Lester has been an auto mechanic for much of his life so he'll be interested in what we have planned for today.

Sure enough, after seeing the trike, Lester can't resist picking up the wrenches and helping Mark and me install the C gearbox on the 582. Mark is busy on the phone a lot this morning so with Lester contributing his expertise when Mark is on the phone, we complete the installation this morning. We have directions, of course, and Mark is in and out, but basically, Lester honchos the job and we bolt the gear box in place. Here is Lester torqueing the last of the Allen bolts.

Mark and Lester and I assemble the 72 inch 3 blade Warp Drive prop and install it. The parts are packaged tightly along with a protractor for setting the pitch of the blades. We slide hub plates and spacers into place and slip the bolts through their proper holes and snug them lightly. Once we are sure everything is squared off, we tighten them to the required torque, moving from bolt to bolt diagonally across the hub and going round twice to turn the final torque. Here Mark and Lester are working on the prop.

Mark sets the angle of each blade roughly, then attaches the protractor on the end of one blade and sets it roughly. He then matches the other two blades to the first, and we are ready to test run the engine. Here is a shot of where the protractor is place to read the angle of pitch. Notice it is way out at the very end of the prop and the protractor is behind the prop. This would be true even for a tractor configuration.

As per Mark's instructions, I add gearbox oil to the gearbox until it begins to trickle out of the lower "fill to" plug. Mark advised me to do this slowly because the delay of the oil flow across the gears would fool me--and it did. Several tablespoons of oil dripped out before it stopped and I felt it safe to screw in the "fill to" plug. Too much oil in the gear box would create unwanted pressures and damage the box. I safety wire the plugs, lower and upper (the upper is not functional but would be if the gear box were installed in the opposite direction as it could be) and the drain plug. All are predrilled for this purpose. The actual fill port is at the very top of the gearbox and would exchange places with the drain plug if the installation of the gearbox were reversed.

We push the trike outside for the test run. I sit in the right seat, and reaching comfortably if nervously up to the control panel, turn on the master switch, push the mag switches to the "fly up" position, prime the engine twice and press the starter button.


The solenoid is willing but the battery is weak. Try again. Click.

Mark steps up to hand prop and the engine fires on the first turn, but I am not quick enough to catch the prime. "Once more," Mark says. "Ready?" He swings the prop once more and this time the engine gives out a full throated roar and the trike moves forward a bit. I pull the brake and Lester wedges his foot against a tire.

I check the instruments and am gratified see the tach is working. The left (rear cylinder) EGT gauge moves up and I am anxious about the right gauge standing on zero, but soon enough the right comes up, too. Mark signals to increase power a bit as he does when he is giving flight instruction, and I run the engine up to 5000 rpms briefly, then cut it back to 3000 rpms. The water temperature gauge begins to rise. Well, what do you know? All the wiring is right. Mark makes the slash sign across his throat and I switch the mags off.

We are all happy, grinning broadly, and I congratulate Mark who is the brains behind all this. He grins in spite of himself. We put the trike back in the shop and take off for the strip to get Lester his fuel tank and then we go to lunch where we recount the successful engine test to our friends at Lucky Linda's.

This afternoon, I drain the water from the cooling system and replace it with a 50% solution of antifreeze. Mark and I look over the trike and he instructs me to safety wire the exhaust springs, six of them in all.

September 15 Wednesday

This morning we make the shoulder harnesses. Almost as a warm up, Mark sews a buckle to a short belt to fasten the oil reservoir to its pan. Here you can see its fancy belt.

Then to the main event. Mark studies his plans. He has not made a harness for over a year. I watch him concentrate on the plan. After about ten minutes, he brings out boxes of buckles and keepers and shows me how they will work with the belts. He unrolls the webbing and begins cutting and shows me what to cut next. Mark settles in at the sewing machine and begins sewing.

I cut lengths as Mark fires instructions at me. I am going step by step, not really understanding, until finally I see a harness and belt taking shape. This next picture shows a layout of parts on the left and a partially assembled belt on the right.

The entire harness along with its pink release tabs is done in about an hour and a half. I install them on the trike and Mark takes this picture of me showing them off.

After dinner I start to make ribs from 35 tube lengths Mark has precut. This will supply my plane and restock Mark's supply. I sand each end and debur them. Then I insert the front vinyl tip into a tube and punch two dents into the tube to grip the vinyl tip. Using the jig Mark has built I bend each rib to its proper shape. Here is a rib I've already bent reinserted into the jig so you can see how simple the operation is.

Next, I make two sets of aileron cables, left and right because they are not the same length. Remember the aileron bell crank sits off to the left of the root tube and therefore the left cables are shorter than the right cables. I need only a bit of instruction from Mark since I have somewhere in the dim past of this project made two sets of flying wires. I also make two aileron strut restraint cables. These run diagonally from the aileron strut to the leading edge of the wing to reinforce the aileron strut which would bend under the stress of the aileron cables being tightened on it.

September 16 Thursday

Getting closer and closer to finishing the trike. I install two eyebolts on the rudder pedals on which to mount the rudder cable. A castle nut inside the bolt and a nylock outside make a full threaded eyebolt adjustable. Taut rudder cables may not be absolutely necessary but sagging cables look dangerous. I once saw a loose cable get pulled into the prop at start up and the cable was cut. Never even nicked the prop.

I install four cable pulleys. The two under the seat on the tab welded to the seat support are a piece of cake. Now then, the two I will bolt to the axle are not so simply installed. I cut on the band saw two 4 inch strips of aluminum and drill for two bolt holes and one pulley mounting hole. I bend the aluminum to 90 degrees on Marks bender and realize now I must drill four holes through my axle. Whew. Darn, why didn't we drill these four holes when the axle was just a tube. You know what, drilling a hole squarely through a tube in not so easy. I've said it before and now we have so much invested in this axle I---Well, I block that out and simply put the bracket in place and drill the top side of the axle. I make sure my drill is at 90 degrees on all four compass points and drill the second side. Simple. Thank goodness, all four holes are exactly right. I bolt the pulleys in place.

The trike is done. Completed. Not a thing left to do but put on the wings and tail feathers and ----well, the trike is done and we go to lunch.

After lunch Mark takes two customers, Larry Gehrig and his friend, both from the Chicago area, to the hangars at his strip for parts, but I remain behind to work on--yes the trike. I decide I don't like the pedal action with the nosewheel. My foot must rotate around my ankle too far for me to get a good turn. I plan to copy a device I've seen on Mark's plane and Dan Grim gives me a helping hand in planning. He, too, has such a modification. I design a metal plate to bolt to the pedal edge which will allow me to attach the nose wheel push tubes behind the pedals. This picture shows the completed job. I like the feel much better and get a full turn without straining to stretch my foot further than it wants to go.

September 18 Friday

We have not made the stabilizer because the tubing we need had not arrived until yesterday. Mark needs to make several to ship out and I need one. For shipping, Mark must halve the tube that bends to form the stabilizer but mine can be made in one piece. Mark and I make several for shipment then cut one full length for mine. We drill and bend the tube into shape and after bowing out the leading edges slightly, I slide the sail which we made way back when onto the shaped tubing. I slide the trailing edge through the rear pocket into place, and Mark pops the final end into place with a tool he has devised. I use the hot knife to open holes through the sail into the bolt holes and slide three spars into their battens. Together Mark and I assemble the stabilizer mounting tubes. We bolt the assembly together and it is done. Much easier said, than done.

As you can see, the tail skid is not bolted into place yet. I load the tail feathers in Mark's Suburban and after lunch we take them to the hangar at Mark's strip. Next week we will assemble the plane and break in the engine. We will be flying by Friday.

It is early afternoon and I could take off for Terre Haute, but Mark plans to overhaul his carburetors which have unaccountably gummed up during his return flight from the Nulltown fly in last weekend. Bad fuel at one of the stops? Don't know, but we drain the fuel and add fresh fuel from Mark's regular source to be sure.

I stay to assist and learn about this dual carb system which is the same as mine. The carb slides would hardly move when Mark first discovered the problem. But after a thorough cleanup and replacement of parts, the engine starts and Mark flies the plane up and down the runway at about 3 feet before feeling confident the problem has been solved. After a few turns around the area with the engine humming, he returns satisfied. We will watch this problem closely.

At about 4 o' clock I head out for home. Next week I fly my plane!