John's Plane Week 3
Ailerons, rudders and rebuilds

July 21 Tuesday

I am starting late this week because an old buddy from Jasper, Indiana showed, up and we visited all day. He wanted to see my Sprint, we played cards, the passtime of my youth in Jasper, and caught up with each others lives, both of us retired.

Returned to aileron assembly about 10 am. Compressions struts installed in leading edges and riveted in place, each is a snug fit. Vinyl inserts in the strut butt agains the inner wall of the leading edge and I insert the rivets and snap them in place. The vinyl fitting in the trailing end of the strut ends in a short nipple whict fits into the trailing edge tube. The trailing egdge tube is bent very precisely to shape and fits into half inch holes at the end of the leading edge. This frame work is a beauty of precision and form. It is marvelously lightweight.

Bob Pierpoint and Stovepipe arrive with Bob's QS MX rudder in hand. Mark and Bob repair and modify the rudder while I complete the ailerons. Mark must manufacture one of several items for the rudder and it becomes apparent why he prefers to produce a dozen or two of most parts he manufactures. Set up of the machines is the same whether you make one item or a hundred. Mark bolts triangular plates of aluminum on both sides of the center joint of the rudder, strengthing and flattening the rudder as produced by QS.

The rudder repaired, we adjourn to the airstrip and Mark begins the overhaul of my 447 Rotax which I have brought from Terre Haute. The engine has only 200 hours on it but Mark pointed out, "Since it's eight years old, you need to get in their and check it out." Age as well as use is a factor in TBO.

In less than a half hour Mark has the engine apart, and I heft the crankshaft in my hands. It's like a live thing. No major problems but the beginning of them. One seal is leaking grease badly, one ring is slightly stuck. This was not visible from the visuual inspection I made through the exhaust port in April. The pistons are good but they need decarbonized as do the domes.

We stop work to fly awhile, and while I am flying Mark replaces the seals and closes up thecraknshaft. He covers the engine with a cloth and we leave the rest of the rebuilding for cooler weather. It has been 95 degrees today.

After supper at Linda's, we slip the sails onto the aileron frames. This is simple but difficult. All but the last 18 inches slip on as easily as a pillowcase on a pillow. Then the work begins. Mark climbs his stairs and turns to the aileron with the inboard end of the aileron resting at the bottom of the steps, and grasp the sails by both edges and inches them down the frame. This is hard work. It requires strong hands and tough skin but finally the first sail is almost on. We set itaside to let the Dacron stretch by itself overnight and I begin the second aileron. Mine is not as near completion as Mark's but we'll get the last two inches tomorrow. So far, stretching the skin on the aileron has been the most physically demanding job of building this airplane, probably because no machine can help us here.

July 22, Wednesday

This morning, Mark set up the milling machine to turn out solid aluminum fittings to install in the ends of the compression strut. For the leading edge of the strut we mill a fitting with a 1 7/8 inch arc to match the leading edgetube of the wing; for the trailing edge we mill a 1 1/4 inch arc. These must be exact. Mark uses his micrometer to check the accuracy of his milling machine which itself measures in the thousands of millimeters. We check the first one, adjust the machine, it's right. Mark finds another task and I become a miller. I polish and deburr each fitting and when I have three sets completed, I stop. We now have enough for both planes we are building and an extra set to add to Mark' stock.

During a break in the milling, I return to the ailerons and "milk" the wrinkles down toward the inboard end. I repeat this over and over, my skin gettin hot as I slide my hands over the dacron and down the tubes. Finally the Zippers close on the first one but I put off the second until tomorrow. It really takes it out of my hands. The completed aileron is tight as a drum. Nice! Smooth!

Mark caught up with his mail orders as I did the milling, and after my work on the ailerons, we returned to the machine shop to drill a bolt hole through the 24 fittings so they can be bolted into the compression struts.

About five, I stopped by Steve Gould's computer store to be versed in the new computer I have purchased from Steve, one of Mark's flying buddies. I want to go onl line like the rest of you techies. I met Mark for supper (Where else but Lucky Linda's) and we plotted work for the evening. We drove the the hangar fro tubing, cut 28 compression struts and 8 diagonal and returned to the machine shop to process them: sand each end, bevel the outer wall, debur the inner, set up the mill and drill the bolt hole to accept the strut fitting.

This evening we work together, changing off jobs, talking only to do the job, moving past each other from mill to drill press to sander. A busy pair for about two hours, by the end of the evening about 9 pm we have all the parts ready to assemble into compression struts. Mark has installed a reinforcing sleeve over the aileron strut, riveted it in place and drilled and deburred the holes where the bell crank will be mounted.

Tired and glad to be going to the showers.

July 23, Thursday

Storm rumbling and flashing over last night, good bit of rain, cool this morning. We finished the compression struts today. Bolted the fittings into place, noticed I had reveresed the first aileron strut. The location of the bell crank makes them a one way deal. I did'nt have to pay attention to the others except to make sure I had a leading edge and a trail edge fitting in either end. Easily corrected.

Mark has cleaned up my 447 pistons and heads and rings in his sand blaster. He uses glass beads instead of sand, however, because the sand is too abrasive and some mechanics believe the sand could embed itself in the aluminum. That would tear up a cylinder wall, wouldn't it. Mark says some even use ground walnut shells for this job. We load the struts in Mark's truck and head out to the field. We store these parts where we will make the final assembly of the planes, and pick up parts for mail orders. Mark completes the rebuilding of my 447, making the installation of the wrist pin bearings look easy. We also pick up a part for my trike . A new development in the building. It is only a chromoly steel seat support but I feel a surge of excitement. We're moving forward. We set the engine in my car trunk and back at the machine shop, I sand the seat support and clean it with solvent. Then I paint it a satin black. I also paint a second coat on the two trike steel undercarriage bars while Mark assembles a steerable nosewheel for a customer.

After lunch, we begin cutting steel for the cage, 12 pieces of each part, enough for both planes and some to restock. Once the machines are set up we can do 12 almost as quickly as we could do the 4 we need for our planes.

Tonight we knocked off work early. I'm almost lost. I drive down to the river, look around Mt. Vernon, and am home by eight pm and reading in bed, novel The Oath, by 9 o'clock. A regular life of Riley.

July 24, Friday

We spend the morning flying. Marks student retired Evansville Courier editor Gene. A quiet, cool morning. Great for flying and watching people fly. After all, this is why I am building a plane.

We work only a couple of hours after lunch on the steel. It is much harder to shape than the aluminum. The drill bits need more encouragement to eat through the steel and they smoke a bit as I press them firmly but gently through. The bits need sharpening and the job is a bit more efficient.

We put the steel aside to work on the aluminum tension struts. These are 1 inch tubes with a heavy wall thickness. We make only four of these. Then to end the short afternoon, we complete work on the ailerons. Mark irons them--yes--with a cool iron he smoothes out the last of the wrinkles. Beautiful job. Then he locates the eye bolt holes under the skin on the leading edge and demonstrates with a hot knife how to cut an opening for the eyebolt and remove an inch wide flap of the velcro on the leading edge at each location. He says, "Finish them," and I am full of trepidation. I want to say, "Why don't you just do this job?" but he is gone. Okay. I pick up the hot knife and locate the second eye bolt opening. Am I really going to cut this beautiful skin? I do. Not so bad. The rest are a piece of cake. I even imagine I did as good a job as Mark did. Ain't so, Mark?

I leave Mark's about 4 pm and pick up my new computer at Steve Gould's store. We load it in my car and back to Terre Haute for the weekend.


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