John's Plane Week 8

August 25, Tuesday

First thing I do this afternoon is load Week 8 into the web site. Writing the story has become an important part of this project. Writing helps me on the project. I review what I have completed and impress the details into the old bean and telling my story has had an unexpected small reward. Last week at Mark's strip, two young fliers, Dave and John, stopped by to visit. I saw them talking with Mark and walked over to meet them. When Mark introduced us, one of the pair asked , "Are you the `John' of the web project?" I grinned, "Yep, that's me." Oh, well. They say everyone has his moment of glory. Back to work.

I return to the wiring begun last week, Friday. I need to complete installing the wires from the control panel terminal to the instrument pod. I begin by running a single ground to the pod which will be common to all units in the pod, the water temperature gauge, the Hobbs meter, and 3 warning lights: one light each for the strobe, the master switch, and the fuel pump. This ground wire is green, the easiest one to remember since it is always used for ground. Of course, someone might use a green wire for a hot wire, but anyone looking at your work later would first guess that a green wire was ground and click his tongue at the unknown electrician.

This week Andy Aldredge has come to work for Mark. Andy is producing stock items for Mark. There are now three of us (You met Jim Doyle last week) working in Mark's machine shop. I enjoy working with them, even though we each have our separate projects. We don't slow each other down but we do make some small talk, even about Prez Clinton's, ah, lifestyle. This picture shows Andy turning steel axles on the lathe.

I install the wire in several steps. First I crimp the appropriate connector to the wire at the terminal or engine end and install it. Then I cut the wire to length by measuring it against one of the wires already laid out. I cut what I think is a not-too wasteful but generous length of the wire. Every time I do this I think, "Hope that's long enough." even though I ran the first one with some care.

During all this, I stop to make a record of each wire. I use colored pencils on my diagram to identify the wire, and locate and label each wire on the schematic. White wires I must identify with the written word. I am forced to duplicate several colors so I use a black felt pen to mark a black stripe on last 7 or 8 inches of the second pink or second blue wire. This is indelible on the insulation and dries in a few seconds.

By the time the last wire is laid out, I count twelve of them. You can see the loosely bundled rainbow wires in last week's pictures. To give some order to this potential mess, I tie pairs loosely together, the two EGT's and the pair from the water temperature sender. Only six other to remember but still I tape an identifier to the pod end of each wire or pair, identifying even the rear and the front EGT. To me, it seems intuitive that the rear EGT readout will be on the left and the front on the right. Bet somebody else would say the opposite. I could go through my schematic as I wire the wiring plug, but these labels will facilitate my working down at the nstrument pod.

August 26, Wednesday

Still wiring. I will make some final cuts today. . I make sure the wires are neatly and efficiently arranged and then stop and study them. Here is a shot of the wires looking "neatly arranged."

I install the control panel and bundle the wires into a shroud that leads to the panel. Here you see me hold the shroud with the panel to the right.

I route the wires through the vinyl end piece and into the holes I drilled in the tube for the switches. I am anxious about cutting the wires too short but Mark checks my work and says, "Go for it. Cut them two inches past the tube." I do it. Tom of Smitty's Fabrication has brought my seats and while he is waiting to help me install them, he pitches in on the wiring. Mark gets the soldering iron and in fifteen minutes we have the switches installed. Notice the wires are tucked out of sight. On the front of the panel, the two switches paired on the left (your right) are the kill switches in the flying position. These two are installed with "on" down to conform with the convention that kill switches "fly up." On the right (your left) is the master switch all alone. On the bottom surface you see from your left to right, the auxiliary fuel pump switch, the starter button, the fuel primer handle, and the strobe switch. The open end of the control panel (root tube) will be close with a vinyl square.

Tom and I install the seats. We set the left seat in place first to make sure the motion of the control stick mechanism will not be hindered by the front edge of the seat.

Finally, both of us are satisfied with the location, and Tom drills the first hole, drops a bolt through it into the seat support bar and drills the second hole. With two bolts in place he drills the 3rd and 4th holes and the seat is in. This pic shows the seat tanks molded into the seats. You can't tell by looking, but the seats are also wider than standard.

We line the right seat up with the first and repeat the procedure. Both seats are installed so you know what this next picture is going to be.

You can see the control panel over my head, a position which feels handy for me. I examine the panel in this picture and am reminded I had interrupted my wiring to get the seats installed so Tom could go back to work at his shop. My feet are resting on the pedal bar.

Now that the seats are installed, I finish installing the fuel lines. Tom has drilled and installed 3 fuel elbows, one in each tank for the electric pump line and one in the left tank for the overflow. The lines have been in place since last week so we cut to length and clamp the lines in a few minutes.

I feel we have accomplished a lot today. Mark and I head for the field and Mark pulls his GT 500 from the hangar. I have flown the 500 from the rear seat before and didn't like it much but a BFI surely ought to log time in everything he can get his hands on. Mark from the back seat gives me a steady stream of instructions through the intercom. Lining on the diagonal runway, have both hands on the yoke and its wheel shape makes me glitch. I try to turn the plane onto the runway with the wheel. Mark doesn't notice I correct so quickly, but hears me laughing at myself and I explain. Set the flaps, check the engine temps, don't let the EGT's go much past 1000 without doing something about it, water temp at about 165, flaps on and full hrottle.

I pull back on the yoke and lift off a little too soon. I feel the plane reluctant to climb and lower the nose to take advantage of ground effect. Immediately the 500 reaches 60 AIS and I climb safely to about 500 feet AGL with the tach reading 5500 RPM's.

Mark directs me to fly to Parish' airstrip, just north of Mt. Vernon, and we spot it quickly. Again Mark instructs. "Lower the nose. We've got 400 feet to lose, cut the power, flaps in, nose down, lower, lower, throttle back. I touch down really hot and feel Mark assisting in the flare. We use the brakes to slow, turn and off again. This time I hold off rotation until I have 55 AIS and the takeoff is smoother. I head into Mark's strip, responding quickly to instructions. This is not a Sprint. But with a long approach I get set up well and make a smooth landing, if a bit hot. Mark takes me through two more landings, both acceptable, and he says, "You did pretty well."

I feel great.

August 27, Thursday

I start the day by assembling the aileron bell cranks and the center crank. I rivet the three bearings onto the two wing cranks, one left and one right, and one onto the center main bellcrank.

Back to the wiring. I sort through the 12 wires which will go to instrument pod. Each is labeled at the very ends. I install the wires in the flexible split shroud by feeding them with my left hand into the shroud which I spread open with my right index finger. I install the shrouded bundle of wires with standoffs on the planned route, still not certain each one is long enough. the route is down the seat down tube to the seat support tube to the right side of the tri-bar then down the nose strut to the pod position. Last time at the strip I had removed Mark's wiring harness and stretched it out to the front wheel axle. The pin box reach dead center on the axle. So why am I worried about cutting these wires? "Cut `em and inch and a half longer," says Mark. I cut the wires, the shortest one needing no surgery.

Then I draw a diagram of the connector box. It contains 15 places for pins, each numbered. I make a list of 1 through 15 and as I install the wires, record the position of each. I group the EGT's in 1 through four, recording which are front and rear cylinders. I do the same for each, having just a moment of doubt about the two light blue wire, one I have marked with a black felt pen. A brief nagging at the back of my mind, but I proceed and feel pretty good about the neat job.

Mark brings out a voltmeter and says, "Now we'll see if everything is more than neat." We find one mistake: I have reversed the two light blue wires. Easily corrected and everything else checks out. Just to prove the point we connect the plane's battery, turn on the master switch and turn on the auxiliary fuel pump. It hums. Yeah!

One more thing I can't resist. I tighten the grounding bolt on the voltage regulator, turn on the master switch and press the starter button. The solenoid makes a satisfying thunk. "Hey, it works," I shout. Oh, by the way. the starter button should be routed through a master so if someone accidentally or just out of curiosity pushes the starter button, no one gets clobbered by the unexpectedly turning prop. In other words, the starter will work only when someone is planning to start the engine.

Mark brings out my seat covers and we install them. What's the next picture, guys and gals?

The long black snake in my right hand is the wiring bundle. Couldn't resist showing that off, especially to those of you who saw the spraddle of colored wires last week. Am I as happy as I look in that last photo? Oh, yeah!

August 28, Friday

This morning I return to the aileron bellcranks. In the next picture you can see the bearing riveted to the crank. I used steel, not aluminum rivets. I insert the bolt through the reinforcing sleeve and tube, place a saddle on the bolt, top that with a large area washer. Since the bearing is recessed, I place a quarter inch washer next as a spacer , then the crank and two more washers for spaces, followed by the nylock nut.

Here are two views. You can see the spacers which limit the motion of the bell cranks. The strut in the foreground is the right wing strut. To your right is the leading edge end of the strut.

Next, I install the rudder pedals. I find a scrap piece of tubing to cut into spacers and cut and smooth them on the lathe. I don't want a tight fit, a tolerance of say 4 thousands will be fine. I cut 9 pieces in all and line them up in order just under the pedal bar.

Andy, who has come to a stopping place in his work, comes over to watch, then gives me a hand. Here he is working on the pedal push tubes, "My specialty," he says.

The four pedals, not interchangeable, are designed each for its own position. I'll call them 1, 2, 3, and 4 reading from left to right. Pedals 2 and four are locked together by a wide U shaped steel tube and rotate on the pedal bar. They will apply left rudder. Pedals 1 and 3 are locked together by being bolted to the pedal bar. They apply right rudder. Check it out:

Notice you are not seeing the actual pedal bar. You see only pretty blue anodized aluminum. Five spacers keep the pedals in place on the bar and just to make the installation look finished, I installed the same tubing within the pedals.

I am feeling good about my plane.

Mark and I unbox the starter and begin installing it. We find some mill work is necessary on one of the plates and decide to call it a day. At about 4 PM we drive to Linda's for a tea break and falling into old habits, begin planning next weeks work. Still, the tea is cold and I feel the project is moving forward well.

This is the end of the eighth week. We had in an offhand way guessed we would build the plane in about eight weeks. Now we figure maybe two more weeks. One more week to complete all systems on the trike, and to cut tail tubes. I have never worked more than 4 and a half days, and several weeks I worked only days. So in actual time we may still be close to 8 weeks for the project.

Anyway, I'm having fun. See you next week.



Return to Main