Plane Week 3
rudders and rebuilds
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
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.
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
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.