Haste makes waste

Messing up, especially for a type A, pilot type, is devastating. All you can hope is that no one noticed. Unfortunately (actually fortunately) I have Spork (and in this case Cody) alongside to see me mess up. But at least they are family so we’ll keep it quiet.

Except trying to be an example to Spork in my blog post timeliness, I’ve also blogged pretty much every day on the build. Yes I’m supposed to blog every day, but I don’t always do it the same day or the next day. There is some time between the action and the post so I have time to learn a bit and maybe edit out the worst of my mistakes. But in this case, I blogged the same day, documenting for to the world my mess up. Yesterday it all came to light.

I’d blogged previously about trying to install the butt ribs, and what a pain in the butt that turned out to be. The root cause of that failure was that I thought we were simply taping the slats in place, not actually installing the slats. So we’d pulled the airplane outside, on a day forecast to reach 100 degrees, with the idea that we’d tape the slats in place, knock out the butt ribs, and be back inside before it got hot.

When I found out that we actually had to install the slats, not just tape them in place, I didn’t want to take the time to go find the section of the manual that explained how to install the slats. I figured it was just temporary anyway, I can get them in quickly. Plus the slat section was buried in the wing build section. Since I didn’t build the wing, I really don’t know my way around that section as well. Time was a wasting and I had two boys standing there ready to work. I didn’t want to spent the next 30 minutes reading. So we went straight to work.

Then the bolts didn’t easily fit into the bearings that hold the control arms on the slats. Hmm, odd. But having to press a bolt/pin into a bearing is normal. You want the bearing to spin, not the bearing on the bolt itself, that causes wear and eventually failure. So we pressed in the bolts which was a pain and later caused me to use a slide hammer to remove one. Finding out the slats were labeled wrong was simply the icing on the cake the caused the entire day to go sideways.

So yesterday I sit down before work begins and open the manual. Lets see what it says about installing slats….

Slat installation instructions
The paragraph that could have saved an entire day

I’ll save you the squinting. Sentence two says, “The AN 3-20 bolts will have to have the cad plating removed to fit into the bearings properly, the head of the bolt should bottom out on the bearing without putting any pressure on it.”


It never occurred to me to remove the protective cad plating, since its, um, protective. I took a small set of bolts, pressed the bearings back off with the hydraulic press, and took them to the belt grinder where I Scotch brited off the cad plating. They fit better. I worked them a bit more, the bearing slid on smoothly but didn’t seat on the head as described in the instructions. I moved to the small belt sander and a fine belt, touching up the area around the head. Butter.

Now I could install the slats with relative ease, inserting and removing the bolts as needed. With now proper hardware, I installed the slat I’d relabeled the day before and prepared to move forward. Except it was the wrong side! How could that be?!

I didn’t have the slats labeled wrong, I had the sets wrong. I thought we had inboard and outboard as sets, No, we had left, and right as sets. Which meant that the label I’d so carefully checked to make sure was wrong, was actually correct. Those were the left wing slats, inboard and outboard. I’d just installed one on the right wing.


All of this had been for nothing, because I was in a hurry to beat the heat.

So, after much swapping around and grousing, I installed, along with the help of Spork, both inboard slat sections, and taped them in place. I then made sure to label the outboard slats and put them away. What has taken two days should take about an hour next time. Lesson learned, it’s better to stop and understand what you are doing rather than press on (pun intended).

Wings spread as best we can in the shop
Wings spread as best we can in the shop

Had we beaten the heat that day, we’d have pulled the wings off and put them back on their rotating stands. Now we have to work around the wings in place. Spork came up with the idea to spread them partially like in the picture. We bubble wrapped the wing tips and tied off the wings to each side so we have access to the fuselage. It is much better than working around the wings in their stowed position. Good call Spork!

The ELT antennae mounted in it's final postion
The ELT antennae mounted in its final position

After checking with Scott to verify that this antennae does indeed ned to be grounded, I switched up my plan and went back to the method suggested in the manual for this antennae. My concern was the tip of the antennae is going to rub the fabric or bang against the fuselage members, but with some careful planning I was able to get it to fit very well and not bother anything. I hope.

Spork mocking up the battery box
Spork mocking up the battery box

Spork spent the day, and I mean the entire day, working on a battery box. I’d forgotten to order one, so no problem. We’ll just make it!

Making a template and then transferring it to metal is a new skill for him. He worked very diligently and very hard. He also was not accepting of any errors or mistakes. The end result is after nearly a full days work, he is still making the template and hasn’t cut the first piece of metal yet. He’s getting close, but by about 3:30pm (we started at 6am) I could see he was wearing out on this one job.

We took some time yesterday to run some errands and do non-building stuff. We went to Angie’s for lunch, stopped by Loop Road Auto Parts and Lowes to get some supplies and even stopped and picked up some salt for the pool. By the afternoon we were both wearing out a bit. I sent Spork home to unload the 600 lbs of salt from the truck and then to work on his blog post in the A/C. I went upstairs and turned on the A/C myself in order to work on the ELT plug wiring. I spent about 2 hours going over the schematic, getting my work area ready, and then soldering. The end result?

Wired D Sub connector
My very first D-sub connector, perhaps even wired correctly

This was tedious work. The connectors are VERY small, so small I have trouble seeing them. But I think I was able to get them wired correctly and the heat shrink all looks good. A little finish work and this connector will be closed up and plugged into the ELT so we can run the wire to the cockpit. Another task to complete before covering. 

So despite the setbacks the past few days, we are actually making good progress. Many of the items on this list revolve around getting the battery box made and the battery wiring installed. You can see Cody written by a number of the items on the list. Those are things we are waiting for Cody to come back for, although if we make enough progress we may coerce Miguel to help us and then we’ll tackle the butt ribs ourselves on one of these cooler days coming up. We have about 5-6 work days before Cody shows back up, so yeah, we’ll need to get the butt ribs installed before he gets here, and then remove the wings and get them prepped for covering.

I also want to look at what it would take to make a bike mount for the wings.

Bikes mounted to wings
It isn’t as crazy as it looks

A bush plane, that lands pretty much anywhere, with a couple of mountain bikes slung underneath, makes for a pretty useful critter. Even if all you are doing is going to a fly in. Word is it only costs a couple MPH and they ride under there deceptively well. We’ll see. Up to this point, I’ve not wanted to make any changes to the kit. And I probably won’t now, but I’d at least like to investigate what it would take to do the work before I cover the wings. That will go on today’s list.

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