Plane Week 1
Decisions, sails and tails
July 7, Tuesday I arrived at Mark's Tuesday afternoon, a bit anxious
about this project. I had every confidence in Mark's knowledge and
skill but wondered if I'd just be following Mark around while he did
all the work. "First things first," said Mark. Lets work out a color
design. Mark also told me his intention to build a new plane for
himself at the same time we were building mine. I thought that an
excellent plan since I would actually be helping him as he supervised
and instructed me in airplane construction.
July 8, Wednesday
knew I wanted red, white and blue sails but no more. Mark instructed me
in cutting out a 4 inch wide strip of Dacron in each of the three
colors and we taped up a cross section to see if I would like the
balance of colors. The blue next to the red did not please my eye as
well as separating the blue and red with white. We also discovered we
would need to cut at sew the white to get the right balance. "So an
extra seam is no problem," said Mark and we had our sail planned. We
would fold the blue over the leading edge and Mark pointed out that the
red aileron would add just the right amount of red to create a balanced
look on the assembled wing
We then launched right into cutting. First the rudder, red, white and
blue diagonal stripes as you can see below. Mark cuts all edges which
will remain exposed with a hot knife to prevent fraying. Only edges to
be turned under can be cut with the shears. Both tools require a sure
hand and some skill. The hot knife will burn the Dacron if you don't
move it steadily across the material. Move the hot blan\de too fast and
the Dacron will not separate easily and you will have to go over your
original cut, an act that can make unsightly edges.
Mark has patterns to cut all the control surface shapes such as the
rudder and the stabilizer, and where the Dacron will not be sewed to
allow for installation around the corners of the frame, he istructed me
to cut out small patterns from scrap Dacron which he would later sew
onto these single surfaces. One of the tell tale signs of a Mark Smith
built plane is this double surface at the corners.
Before sewing the rudder sail, we marked areas that would receive a
reinforcing material and taped and sewed a heavy backing there.
Wherever the sail would be cut with a hotknife after assembly we sewed
this backing: bolts into compression struts, a slot for the wing
cables, grommets on the ends of both ends of the trailing and leading
July 9, Thursday
Mark and I
assembled an MX Spring II wing for a customer who had bent up his
originals. Mark had previously sewed the sails, so we had to collect
the tubing and wires and assemble the wing. This is done on the Sprint
by first inserting the leading and trailing edges into the sail pockets
and mounting the leading and trailing edges on a "root tube" Mark has
mounted on a saw horse. Then the compression struts are installed and
bolted in. The ribs must be inserted into their battens and the
trailing edge of the rib forced ont the trailing edge tube, no easy
feat as I found I simply didn't have the thumbs for the job, so I
watched as Mark did the honors. We completed the first wing in about 2
and 1/2 hours and stopped to fly awhile. Back at work refreshed, we did
the second wing in about 2 hours.
By Thursday night, the 9th, we work most nights after supper till 9:30
or 10:00. We had completed two rudder and elevator frames and fitted
the Dacron. We had also sewed, stabilizer, and ailerons right down to
the velcro for my plane and the same parts for Mark's plane.
July 10, Friday
this cutting and sewing of sails, our work was interrupted by phone
customers and walk in customers. As Mark talked on the phone, I would
pick up information about my own plane, what is the best propeller for
a Sprint I, should I convert my MX to a three axis and so on.
During these welcome interruptions I have met a dozen flyers I want to
have for my friends because we would put aside building for the fun of
flying. We drove out to, Posey Patch, Mark's airfield, almost every
flyable day. Only rain and wind kept us from flying. One day two of my
club members from Brazil, IN, came down and we spent the whole
afternoon with them at the field flying and they even joined us for
supper before making the 3 hour drive back home.
Friday afternoon, I returned to Terre Haute for the weekend and flying
my Sprint with my Terre Haute and Brazil buddies.
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