Epic build week, day 2

Day 2 started early. Unlike day 1, we already had some idea of what we were doing. Plus, we were frozen from the lack of heat and blankets the night before so may as well go to the hanger and start building a fire in the fireplace.

We got things going in the fireplace, then went back to work on the floor pans. We made really good progress and it felt great to be able to work without needing stop and ask questions every few minutes.

Once Robbie arrived, he showed me some lexan pulley covers that he’d made for his airplane. They are to cover the control surface pulleys that are located just behind the seats, in the baggage compartment.

Pulleys just behind seats in baggage area
Pulleys just behind seats in baggage area

There is nothing in the design of the airplane to protect the cables, and the cables are what keep the airplane under control. One errant strap from a bag getting caught in the cables would lock the controls in whatever position they jammed in. This could be fatal. Robbie had designed and created some simple lexan covers that protected the pulleys. He set me to making my own set. A couple of hours later, I had a set of covers that were exactly, perfectly, wrong. I’m not very experienced on a brake, and I didn’t have a bandsaw to do the cutouts. As I worked, I thought that this was silly, Miguel has forgotten more about running a brake than I’ve ever known. After finishing the covers, I decided that it would be time better spent having Miguel make the covers on our brake once the plane was home and we were making them to fit the actual airplane and not just a pattern.

Frustrated with the lack of success with the covers, I moved onto something simple, the cockpit floor pan. Robbie showed me some additional work that needed to be done to it besides the normal cut, fit, drill. There were some extra relief slots that needed to be made to accommodate the rudder pedal attach points. The easy way to create the slots was to drill the holes the same as where clecos normally go. Then take a step drill and drill them out to the size of the cutout. Then it was a simple process of cutting with shears to the circle and we had perfect slots. Unfortunately someone was visiting about this time and I really wasn’t paying attention when I was drilling out the holes. I unfortunately drilled out one of the cleco holes into a large hole instead. With this now oversized hole in place, I then needed to create a patch for the hole (after some cursing), which then took a couple of tries to get correct because aluminum has a grain and the patch needed to match the direction of the floor pan. Something I learned after making the first patch incorrectly.

Floor pan in cockpit, with patch in place.
Floor pan in cockpit, with patch in place.

At this point, I was thoroughly frustrated. I expected to make some mistakes along the way, and none of these was really that big of a deal. But two back to back mistakes, on day two, had me pretty frustrated.

Fortunately at this point, I began working on installing the fuel sump point. This was a good opportunity to get back on the horse and do something right. I spent an hour doing something that should have taken 15 minutes, but it came out perfect.

Carter had spent his time installing the pulleys for the control system. He and Robbie also built the flap handle.

Flap handle installed
Flap handled installed and ready for some flaps

It is surprisingly complicated and took a good bit of time, but once it was done they got it installed and it worked perfectly the first time!

With those successes behind us, we installed the control sticks and mixers. This went well and finally we moved onto the rudder pedal assemblies.

Rudder pedals being assembled on the bench
Rudder pedals being assembled on the bench

They were just getting started when we called it a day. Fortunately we had Robbie because the instructions for the rudder pedals were pretty much missing from the manual. Step 1 was there, and a small picture. That was it. No step 2, 3, 4, etc.

Hobbes sitting in the baggage bay
End of the day, Hobbes checks out the progress

With our day in the shop ended, Spork and I headed out to dinner in downtown New Bern. We went to MJs Bar and Grill. We’d been there before when Spork was much younger, and he had tried alligator tail for the first time. It was a big event for him, trying something so new and strange.

Spork eating alligator bites at MJs in New Bern
Spork eating alligator bites at MJs in New Bern

Now years later, we came back to the scene of the crime and he had second helping.

We started about 7am and finished about 6 pm. After dinner we returned to the cabin and I made a fire and turned the LP heat onto full. We weren’t going to be cold tonight! Except it was almost 20 degrees warmer this night instead of last night. With all the heat going, we absolutely roasted in the cabin. The birds came back when I opened the window to get some air and we spent a good 30 minutes getting them out of the cabin. After the birds were gone, I had a bug crawling on me, on my face. I knew it flew there, and I’d seen a wasp previously. Nothing like a wasp on your face, in the dark, while you’re sweating. Finally I used an iPad light to see what it was and it turned out to be a ladybug. Crisis averted, we finally got a few hours of sleep before starting day 3. Our adventure continued.


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