Despite finally having Spork available to work, it has only been for a few hours here, a couple of hours there. We are still only getting about 8 hours a week at up to this moment so progress is happening, but it is slow. We do have work on the schedule, but it seems we are always starting an hour late, or finishing early for some other commitment.
One thing that keeps us hopping is our Civil Air Patrol commitments. For instance, I needed to go to Goldsboro to pick up some product for our farm store, and since I was already there, lets stop by the Airman’s Attic and visit our friend Kelly to see if we can get some uniforms for our cadets.
What you see here is all clothes! We were nearly out of uniforms for cadets. Now we have a supply for us and other squadrons as well!
A few weeks ago, we posted this photo of us uncrating the engine for the first time.
Now we have test mounted the engine, removed it, remounted it, then removed it, and finally mounted it for the final time. With that done, it was time to start installing accessories like cooling, oil lines, coolers, throttle cables, etc.
When Spork wasn’t available, I tried to do things that required a lot of single person time. Things like reading the manual, figuring out how something was routed, etc. I really puzzled over this door because it was a major milestone to be installing the door. But I had to locate all the holes we’d predrilled for the rivets and it took a lot of sleuthing to find the holes with a probe, then burn them out with a hot iron so they were ready for rivets. I installed the drip guard, but left the actual door install for when Spork was available. Plus we need to make a door latch for this thing and I want him part of that.
I thought installing the throttle cable would be easy enough. The instructions seemed daunting so I spent a good bit of time just reading through them and trying to figure out what they meant. I literally spent a good hour just figuring out which was the throttle and which was the choke. I read all the firewall forward instructions (no help), checked all the pictures (nope), and even pulled out the Rotax manual (all 400 pages) and started reading through it page by page. I finally found a note in the Rotax manual which clued me in. Now it didn’t actually say “This is the choke, or this is the throttle” but it had a reference on a picture which I was able to figure out. It really shouldn’t be this hard.
Once I knew which was the throttle, I set about cutting the cable to length, the shielding to length, etc. Then it was time to drill the hole in the panel where the throttle would go. That required sitting in the airplane and testing the fit for where it should be. I was sitting there when Spork crawled in with me to look. That is when I realized this was the first time we’d both been in the cockpit, and we could make airplane noises. We spent a few very happy minutes doing that, and then I pulled the throttle too far out and all the fiddly bits came spurting out. There were about 4 warnings on the throttle not to unscrew the section that had just come exploding out. I must have missed the part where even screwed in, it could happen. Ugh.
AircractSpruce.com, part number entry, correct cable length (dig cut off pieces out of trash to measure original length), click, $257.00 plus shipping. Ugh! What a way to end a day.
So I spent 4 hours installing a single throttle cable, didn’t finish, and ruined the cable. A few days later, the new throttle cable shows up.
I opened the package, spread out the parts, cut the cable to length, installed the cable, finished the install, including the parts I didn’t do the first time. Total time = 15 minutes. That story right there tells you what it is like to build an airplane. 4 hours the first time, 15 minutes the second time.
I had to take a break from building to fly for CAP and for the Army. We have a series of training missions (for them, not us) that we fly routinely in CAP. I ended up responding to a call from Wendy for a right seater to fly out of Raleigh. I’ve never flown out of Raleigh before in their CAP plane, so that was a treat. I ended up flying two days that week, farmed the third day, and did office work, work in our real estate business, etc the other days. That was a slow build week.
But we did get some work done. Systems continued to progress on the engine. I also tidied up the avionics, then broke them apart so I could insert the panel in the airplane temporarily.
We took a break from building for the kids to work the Wings over Wayne airshow. CAP provided security to the masses (over 230,000 people!) who were arriving, making sure they didn’t have contraband and making sure they knew where to go. They also were able to camp there on the base and see the airshow. It was more work than play but they did have fun.
But with WoW over, we were back to work. I broke out the torque seal since we were doing final assembly. It was starting to dry up since I hadn’t used it since prior to starting covering. But with a paper clip and some pressure it was flowing again, and it has been getting quite a bit of use ever since. Pictured above was the first nut that was torque sealed during the final assembly, one of the engine mounts four bolts. After installing and removing parts so many times, putting that torque seal on is a really nice step. That is like putting a big check mark on the to do list.
Spork spent a lot of time reinstalling the tail feathers on the plane. They were labeled and prerigged so all we needed to do was remember exactly how everything had been done a year ago and repeat it, exactly. Yeah, that took a bit of time as our memories were pretty fuzzy. But we installed and rigged the tail feathers and cut open the first access panel, the one where the elevators pass through and bolt to the push rod for the control stick. This access panel will be covered after final assembly by a custom panel painted to match.
With all the small stuff progressing, Spork and I solicited help from Myla and installed the wings for the final time. This is a MAJOR milestone. They will still fold but the rear bolt and lift strut bolt won’t be removed again unless there is some major maintenance. It took a bit of fussing to get it all back in place but it was way easier than the test fitting last year because with the engine installed, the airplane didn’t want to tip over with one wing extended.
It was night time by the time we finished installing the wings. We folded the wings and pushed the plane into the shop, now in its new configuration. No more wings on stands in the floor, no more airplane and wings, and other bits all stacked everywhere. Now the main assembly is the airplane, and just small parts are here and there to be installed. The shop looks much cleaner and the airplane is starting to look like an airplane. We still have plenty to do, but we are closer than we’ve ever been.