John's Plane Week 5
Flying Wires, Cable Routing, and Engine Systems

August 3, Monday

I report for work at 1 PM. A steady stream of walk-in customers and phone orders delays building the plane. Tony and Ed from Bicknell and Monroe City are collecting parts to repair Ed's plane after his engine-out dropped him into his own cornfield. He was not hurt and he claimed he caused more damage to his corn getting the plane to the road than to his airplane.

This leads to a discussion of the best way to set down in tall corn. Everyone agreed flaring out at the level of the corn tassels would give you the best of a bad situation. Ed said he did that and the plane stalled and stopped moving forward at the same time. This maneuver may flip the plane on its back as the corn absorbs and cushions the shock. Ed unbuckled and began his retrieval effort quickly.

Next, Gene and a friend show up and about six of us head for the field and Mark gives the friend an introductory lesson and another ex-GA pilot gets hooked on ultralight flying.

After supper about 8:30 Mark begins teaching me how to make wing wires.

First, I assemble the tangs and thimbles and nicos and lay a set out in the order I will use them. Mark turns to his files on the plane I am building and pulls out Wing Wires. This includes hard earned information on the exact amount of rubber to strip from the cables, in what order to assemble the cables and the exact length to cut the cable so the assembled wire will be precisely the right length, both left and right side.

First I unroll enough cable from the spool and strip several inches of rubber from the end. I insert the cable through 2 nicos and then through the back of a thimbled tang. Next I curve the cable back through the two nicos.

Prepare to crimp the nicos like this: grip the first nico in the crimper to free both hands, keeping a bit of pressure on the crimper handle with your shoulder. Center the nico in the crimper jaws, push the doubled cable through the first nico until you see both bared surfaces. Place your left thumbnail on the edge of the rubber on the cable and slide the end of the cable against your thumb nail. This insures the end of the cable is even with the edge of the rubber covered cable. This is extremely important because the size of your bend will determine the total length of the completed wire. Now, slide this doubled-over cable into the nico until your thumbnail acts as a stop against the nico. Check that the nico is in the center of the crimper jaw and push your shoulder into the crimper handle until the nico is crimped. This requires a solid push and repeated performances will make your shoulder sore. Now move to the second nico. Grip it in the crimper jaws. Slide the cable through the nico until it pulls the thimble tight against the nico. Make sure the assembly is squared away, i.e. the wires are parallel, the thimble is tight and in a straight line out from the cable and crimp the second nico. I finish crimping this end by making a second and third crimp on each side of the center crimp of both nicos. The ridges and flats on the nico should be balance and even. The nico should not have a distorted look, although you have been distorting the hell out of it.

Next, I hook the tang over a pin and stretch the cable from the spool out to the exact length required by running a steel tape measure along side it. I cut the cable and assemble the other end of the flying wire by repeating the steps above, taking care to install the proper fitting on this end. Wires could have a tang and a thimble, two tangs, or a five hole tang and a single hole tang on opposite ends. In paying attention to the details of crimping you could easily lose your place and attach the wrong piece and have to start over. That's why Mark suggested for each cable I lay out the pieces in the order of assembly. By 10:30 I have made 3 of the four wires we complete that night and so off to bed.

August 4, Tuesday

I continue working on the upper and lower flying wires. I complete 2 sets of the upper wires, These are fitted first into the five hole tang that will fit over the king post, so I will make a left and a right for each set. The other end of the four upper wires will each receive a tang. This cable is stainless steel and coated with rubber. It is of aircraft quality and very expensive. I am again anxious not to screw up. Mark insures I get the first cable in place, the trailing edge inboard wire, on both left and right side, That way I can't go wrong if I think my way through step by step. Besides, Marks file on how to do this is right beside me. I place a rule on the file of each wire I work on. I read the cut length at least three times before I cut any cable. Mark then goes to work filling orders for his mail order business in the same room so I can check with him if I have questions. I work slowly and carefully, carefully.

The ideal nico installation will have 3 crimps, evenly spaced with narrow ridges at the ends of each flat and in between each crimp. The cable end should not protrude from the first nico, nor will it recede too far inside. Once the first nico has its first crimp, the assembly is held in place and crimp the second nico is easier. Still, you must concentrate on squaring up the tang or thimble and having the doubled cable lengths parallel to each other so when completed and installed, the wire will pull evenly on both sides of the fitting. Here is a picture of the ends of a set of wires I made.

I screw up three times making the set and must cut out my nico and start over. Luckily, the long cable can be used to make a shorter one so only a short piece is wasted. Finally, after copiously sweating from anxiety more than the heat, I finish the 2 sets of upper wires, 2 lefts and 2 rights. Mark inspects them and finds them all within tolerances but one. I have somehow cut one inboard wire 1/4" shorter than its true measure. I must cut it from the 5 hole tang and install a new wire. Since the inboard is a short one, I have also created a beautiful piece of scrap. Deep breath.

This project, building the plane, continually throws me into new situations. About the time I am relaxing with a task, Mark assigns me a new job and I go through the anxiety of new man on the job. At last, however, I have two complete sets of flying wires. Here they are:

August 5, Wednesday

Today is my grandson Jared's 12th birthday, I recall upon waking. building this plane is high priority with me. Normally, I would be celebrating his birthday with him and his family. Well, I sent him a card and a present.

To the DQ for breakfast about 7 am where I find Mark with a student of his, Tom. We all head for the strip for some flying and a second student, Gene, shows up. Flying and hangar flying until lunch and into town for pork chops at Lucky Linda's.

Two customers show up at Linda's and we spend much of the afternoon with them, Dan and Charlie from Central Kentucky. Dan buys supplies for his business and Charlie needs several items so we head out to the strip and the warehouse and send them on their way. Back at home, a friend drops in and visits with Mark until about 8 that evening.

I use the time to repair an aileron I bent on my Sprint back in Brazil last Saturday. Since I have already made a set under Mark's supervision, I can do this by myself. Mark, I feel has given me this power and I feel good. I know which tools I need, where Mark keeps them, how to drill precisely the 3/16 holes in a row through both sides of the replacement leading edge, using the mills centering V-blocks and a level inserted into the first hole I drill. I drill the 1/2 inch holes in the trailing edge for the aileron compression struts, drill the eye bolt holes and rivet the blind nuts in place. I complete the repair and spend some time visiting with Mark and his friend, who is also a flyer. At 8:45 Mark is on the phone with a customer and I head for home.

August 6, Thursday

This morning I made 2 sets of drag wires, 4 total. Mark laid out the parts and I did the work, feeling comfortable, cutting and crimping, fairly precise work. All other wires we will make on the airplane.

I mount the throttle bar under the seat support and Mark cuts two 7 inch steel throttle levers on his plasma cutter, just a 1/2 inch longer than the standard QS aluminum levers. We expect this to give us a slightly smoother action and greater strength. Mark then devised a handle of 2 aluminum knobs, 1 inch in diameter, turned and polished on the lathe. He drills the center and countersinks it to the depth of the nut and the bolt head. We tamp the nut and bolt head into the countersink and we have two knobs that will screw into each other through the top end of the throttle lever. A neat job that fits my hand nicely. Mark hands me the set he made and says, "Here, go make the other set." Again, I feel comfortable on the metal lathe, a machine I had not used before Mark put me to work on it last week. This time I need no instructions. I complete the set and install it on the other side of the trike. To my eye, the sets are indistinguishable. Here is a picture of one set installed. Beautiful or not?

Mark has already installed the carbs and today he makes and installs the cable splitter and the throttle cable. This requires and expertise I do not have and I mainly watch and hand tools. Marks explains as he is installing the splitter and when it is adjusted correctly, he removes it, hands me the parts and tells me to reinstall. On the job testing. I have been paying attention and I get it right. this project is removing the mystery of how this machine works. I feel confident when I do have problems of maintenance I will be able to at least diagnose the problem and probably repair most of the systems I have worked on so far. Here you can see the splitter in place. You can also see the replacement hose Mark has installed in the 582's lubricating system. He believes the original hose not a durable quality, so routinely replaces them even on new engines.

Since you wouldn't want the throttle cable to be the mechanical limiting device of the throttle motion, you must devise a stop system that prevents the linkage from receiving this stress. Mark bolts two small metal stop tabs on the cross bar. These tabs contact the tri bar immediately after the throttle is fully released or fully open and before any mechanical stress is applied to the throttle cable.

Out to the strip to collect parts: a muffler and connections, an electric starter for my 582. I need help to start Mark's 582 and so I need the electric starter on my plane, despite the disadvantage of the extra weight. We locate the starter on the front of the engine and rotate it for best fit. This turns out to be at the 12 o' clock position and we must grind a hole in the housing of the 582 to accept the starter gear. Mark uses his pneumatic grinder while I assist by spraying WD40 on the grinding blade. He must grind a semi circle almost 2 inches wide by an 1 1/2 inches deep and though Mark is a big man he rests every few minutes before this job is done. We set the starter aside for mounting later.

We close out the day with the muffler. Mark welds the mounts on the muffler after installing it temporarily to mark the positions. I clean and paint the muffler, the elbow and the exhaust manifold and hang them up to dry. Here they are:

August 7, Friday

Today we work with almost no interruptions. I install the brake cables and the brake handle. In these two pictures you can see the brakes with springs and cable installed and the handle in place.

I route the brake cable along the axle with standoffs made by inserting a tie-wrap through a short piece of tubing. This protects the brake system form vibrations and looks pretty nifty, too. Here is a picture of the routing of the brake cable.

While I am doing the brakes, Mark is completing the throttle linkage. He routes the cable as he instructed me in routing the brake cable.. He must solder a cable tip to the cable after determining exactly how long the cable must be. I check the carb piston positions as he locates the wide open throttle position. Once in place, we check for full closure by listening for the telltale click as the carb pistons bottom out on the carb housing.

Mark points out a pilot should make this check before starting the engine. The linkage is secure and safe but don't assume this. If somehow the linkage is bollixed up, the throttle would be opened an unknown amount, even though the throttle lever is against the back stop. Seat belts fall down around this cable and might pull the cable out so it rests on the edge of its tube rather than inside where it belongs. This could pull open the throttle linkage almost a 1/2 inch. Ever been run over by an airplane? You won't be the first. The linkage is in place and I take another picture: Note the neatly installed cable routing with standoffs.

The brake handle isn't quite finished. I cut the handle and bend it. I install it to check position next to throttle handle. It's too close. I cut off another inch and install again. The handle nestles too closely to the axle strut for easy grasping and Mark suggests a second bend outwards. That is the finishing touch. I can now grab the brake handle by feel and do it easily and positively.

Late Friday afternoon we start to install the muffler. Should be quick and I head for home. As we attempt to install it we discover one of the brackets has an off center hole and must be removed and rewelded. I grind the weld off and Mark welds the bracket on in its proper orientation. We install the muffler and elbow and Mark welds the spring hooks in place. I assist by holding them in place with a vice grips. We remove the muffler, I clean it up and repaint, and finally we install it for the last time. I think. I hope. Here it is looking good.

The fifth week of the project ends about 7 pm and I head for Terre Haute.



Return to Main