I worked this week on getting the elevator trim channel installed on the elevator skeleton. I went over the plans several times to visually ensure I was adding the trim to the correct side of the elevator (remember, I'm building it upside down to take advantage of the flat upper surface of the airfoil).
Again, the plans have to be interpreted correctly - in this case the position of the channel is determined relative to the trailing edge of the elevator. But, that can be difficult without the elevator skin installed as the fold of the skin at the trailing edge extends past the tail end of the elevator rear ribs.
To solve this, I made a small narrow strip of 020 aluminum and bent it exactly as the elevator skin would be - it looks rough but it is exactly the right length to simulate the trailing edge:
I placed the strip in position and clamped it with clecos to the spar as if it was a complete skin. Measuring back from this temporary trailing edge, gives me the position of where the elevator trim channel should be but gives me room to to see my work.
Even with the measurement confirmed, I was having a hard time getting the trim channel to fit correctly, until I got a look at the build pictures that come with the plans. Turns out the kit supplied channel has been joggled at the end, allowing it to sit inside the tip and inner elevator rib.
Once I joggled my channel (that sounds bad as I type it), it fit in the ribs where I needed it to. This automotive body panel air tool is very handy for this:
The middle elevator rib gets trimmed down to fit between the spar and the trim channel. It's attached to the trim channel by an appropriately sized L bracket.
With everything squared up thus far, a quick check of the elevator alignment to the horizontal stabilizer shows extremely close to the plans, so my measurements, cuts and bends are very good and accurate. Very, very happy.
Next step is to start cutting the skins. These are fairly large in size and the bench is pretty crowded at the moment, so I rolled out the 020 sheet and traced out the skin on the floor, leaving it a couple of millimetres wide and long - it can always be trimmed back once I have it fitted to the tail skeletons.
First up is the horizontal stab skin. Making it fit correctly is challenging as you have to make holes AND account for the curvature of the skin across the top (bottom) of the airfoil as well. A kit skin would already be trimmed and holes cut for the front and rear stab brackets. As a scratch builder, this isn't a luxury we benefit from, so we have to come up with a workaround. Time for a template!
First step I did was to mark the location of the front brackets on the spar:
In order to transfer these measurements to the skin, I made a template from scrap 020. I cut out the space needed for the rear bracket, keeping in mind the overlap that is required by the real skin past the spar (15mm):
I removed the front brackets and with the template now in place (clamped) where the skin will be including the curve, I drew a line with a straight edge to represent where the back of the spar is - the goal here is to simulate where the final skin will sit in relation to the brackets. It's better to make mistakes on the scrap than on the full skin!
Knowing where the brackets come through, I was able to measure-mark-create the matching holes in the template and gently open the holes a little at a time with a Dremel tool until the brackets can be reattached where they will protrude through the skin:
I'm very happy how this template fits and I'm very confident it will transfer the positions of the holes to the real skin. I'll use the template to cut the slot for the rear stab bracket before final fitting the skin, but for now I placed the skin across the stab skeleton to check the fit - perfect, nice and square with the outer tip ribs and has the correct overhang of the spar.
Now I've reached a decision point. Do I fit the skin on top first and tighten it down with straps across the flat bottom or vice versa? Both have advantages. I can work form the rear bracket at the spar, fit the skin over the front brackets and pull the skin tight across the nose. Or I can start at the spar on the flat side, secure it and draw the skin tight around the nose, over the curve of the top - essentially working in the opposite direction. I've read that drawing skins tight over a curve is easier, but that means fighting with the brackets.
Either way, the skin will need to be pre-bent at the line that defines the tightest curve first - at the nose with a 27mm radius. The plans show a 90 degree bend in the skin prior to wrapping it around, so I need to get that done first.
I flipped the skin over on the bench to mark the centre of the bend line as per the plans (checking very carefully to mark it in the right spot - right and square:
A long piece of factory edge aluminum clamped down with wood blocks makes a great straight edge:
With the scribed line, I slipped the sheet under the stab skeleton to where it overlaps behind the spar 15mm and the bend line coincides where it should.
The next step will be pre-bending the skin, but I'll need to obtain something close to 27mm radius and more than 8.5 feet long so I can clamp it to the bench. I was thinking a piece of 2 inch ABS plumbing pipe might work, but it may not be stiff enough laterally, so maybe a piece of steel pipe. Unfortunately, Ron doesn't have anything that long in house, so I guess I'm going shopping :)
Thanks for reading, more to come!
The next sub assembly to do is the elevator. This is the trailing edge of the tail and it's primary function is to control pitch movement for the aircraft in flight. The initial assembly of this structure is somewhat less complex than the horizontal stab, but as always just as critical to get straight and square.
The nose, tip and rear ribs I formed fit almost perfectly and with a bit of trimming squared up the spar really nicely.
Being able to interpret the plans is becoming more apparent as I progress through this build. One item missing on the plans is the distance from the elevator spar to the elevator rear support channel seen below. The builder is left to decide where this fits. From what I can determine, the placement is designed to be back far enough so the flanges on the support channel are equal in height to the inner rear ribs. This would make sense as the skin and elevator hinge assemblies attach here. Front to back spacing is held temporarily in place with tape, squaring the whole thing up proved to be a bit tricky but I got it done without too much issue.
I had some discussion with Ron at this point, as I wasn't happy with the rigidity of the elevator assembly. I know that things will square up and get stiffer once the skin is on, but the assembly seems a bit lacking in structure at the middle where all the force and weight is acting on the elevator in flight.
Ron suggested I make a small modification that he is doing on his 701 builds by adding a 016 gusset plate across the top and bottom of the elevator centre section, extended out to the spar.
I liked the idea and set out to make the suggested gusset plates. Even at 016 thickness this will strengthen the centre spar of the elevator without causing undue problems adding the elevator skins.
I've drilled them out to A3 and will wait for A4 holes once the skins are on. One on the lower side....
...... and one on the upper side:
The last pieces to be fit on the elevator spar skeleton are the tip ribs. It's a bit of a juggle to get them in the exact right position, but they fit perfectly. Figuring out the order to drill them and the attachment angles to the spar was fun, but I got it done. A pair of wide neck welder's vicegrips are excellent for holding things together for drilling (note the protective masking tape on the pads to avoid scratching the aluminum):
Here is a picture of the elevator tip rib clecoed into place. The final rivets here are four A5 rivets which also hold on the outboard elevator pivot pins. Ron and I are going to weld up enough sets for each airplane being built and the holes will be matched with the A3 pilot holes I've drilled here.
As mentioned in my previous blog post, I'm considering options for a system to control the elevator trim tab. The plans call for a Ray Allen trim actuator and digital trim position indicator for the cockpit. But at $400+ I'm exploring alternatives, including substituting in a giant scale RC servo.
The Ray Allen system is spec'd to provide 40 pounds of linear push/pull force. Current metal gear RC servos are more than capable of meeting or beating that spec and with a bit of microprocessor power and programming are an attractive alternative. The whole replacement system from front to back including servo, a cockpit indicator and voltage regulators will likely be less than $100. The question is how?
Welcome to the world of Arduino, a programmable microprocessor board based on the AT328 chipset. With a bit of time, I believe I can use the Arduino to not only control the trim servo but provide failover support and control correlation. In addition, I have many options for how I want it to display in the cockpit, from a simple bar graph LED to a more intuitive graphic display. Only imagination limits me here. I',m also considering an Arduino board for controlling LED navigation lights and LED strobes.
So what does an Arduino processor look like? There are several models of boards all with different strengths and weaknesses, but most of either are related to what the board is capable of providing. I want the board to be simple to use but small for space considerations behind the control panel. For my prototype and likely final design, I've settled on the smaller sized Arduino Nano for the trim system:
I went on Amazon and ordered the Arduino Nano board and the associated mounting pins. I was able to find a 3 pack that included the unsoldered breakout pins. My plan is to use one board to prototype the trim system, one board to make for the airplane (wire soldered to the board) and one spare (in case one decides to poof into blue smoke if I screw up). I also ordered a voltage step-down board (top of picture) - the trim servo operates on 6 volts, so i needed a way to power it from the 12 volt system:
The easiest way to prototype and learn how to use the Arduino board, is to mount the pins on the breadboard, then place the Arduino on the pins. From there careful soldering each pin of the Arduino:
The Arduino is supported by a large online community of programmers, experimenters, robotic designers, musicians and others. It's simple but powerful programming language is easy to learn and because it is "open source code" based, there are literally thousands of example projects to build from and modify. I won't get much more into it here, but if this interests you, check out https://www.arduino.cc/
After getting everything together, I powered up the Aruduino from the USB port of my laptop ..... IT'S ALIVE! (I guess it's a stretch to consider that this might count as the first "power" my aircraft has had - I'm such a geek!)
After a bit of fussing around with loading up the correct USB drivers so that the Arduino programming application on the laptop can talk to the board, I uploaded my first "sketch", (the Arduino name of a coded program that instructs the board what to do). In this case, I added an LED and used the basic "Blink" sketch which tells the board to blink it's on board LED light
Again, I know this sounds geeky, but it's really cool! I messed around with the sketch and changed the blink rate and patterns and uploaded it again to see the result. I've got a bunch of learning to do, but a work colleague sent me some links to YouTube instructional videos which I'll work through and learn what this board can do.
Well, that's it for tonight. Back to the shop Thursday night to work more on the elevator. Got to finish the centre section, the elevator upper/lower control horns and start looking at how the elevator trim gets mounted. Got some disassembly, deburring and priming to do as well.
Thanks for reading, more to come :)
You know that satisfaction of reaching an important milestone when working on a large project? The joy that is only tempered by the fact you know you still have a long way to go? That's what today felt like..... incredible :)
After deburing, cleaning and priming all the parts for the horizontal stab, everything was reassembled and checked for square - all good and ready for rivets!
My daughter came to the shop to capture the first rivet being pulled on my 750! I don't think I can wipe the grin off my face. All the work I've been doing to form parts from paper to CAD to cardboard to aluminum to bending - it all comes together here.
There it is - rivet # 1 of MANY more to come. Before I close up the stab, I'm thinking of somehow identifying this rivet - a small inscription or label or something. All small steps may seem to make the journey a long one, but progress is defined as forward motion towards a goal. Happy builder am I!
With the first one down, the rest are quick to follow....
The rear bracket riveted in nicely. I'm going to wait to final rivet the attach bracket and gusset until I have the elevator complete and can match them up to ensure the pivot holes lined up for drilling. Same with the front attach brackets, but that's more for aligning the skins.
Very happy how this is all coming together. Next up, I'm going to start building the elevator skeleton using the exact same processes. Drill, fit, debur, repeat. When both are complete, I'll start working on adding the outer skins. I'm also starting to think of a system for activating the elevator trim system that should be an improvement on the plans.
Thanks for reading.
With the 701 wing gone from the shop and into storage, the bench is now clear for my 750 tail group and I can get to building my airplane using the skills and knowledge I've learned. This blog post will try and capture several days of shop work over the past week - it's been busy and to the uninitiated observer looks like it's moving really fast, but there's a bunch of work that goes into this that pictures will never capture.
The factory tail spars come predrilled, with all the rivet spacing laid out - this saves a bunch of time on layout, but you still need to consider order of operations and keeping everything square. Slight imperfections in scratch built parts means measuring everything closely.
And here it is.... my 750's first drilled hole (back drill from rear spar hole to doubler) and cleco. This is the basic procedure and first step of everything to be assembled to come.
Each doubler is done the same way, A3 hole in the spar as guide, A3 drill through doubler and clecoed. I pleased my doublers fit as nice as they do.
With everything together, drill again, this time upsizing to A4 and again to A5 where needed and cleco. It's quite repetitive but this ensures nice clean and centred holes. The other thing we did was line both edges of the table with angle iron clamped to the edge. 2x2 HSS tubes laid perpendicular across the table provide a level reference point (flat table) to work with.
With the spars upright and referenced flat, I started to trial fit the rear and nose ribs. These to are back-drilled from the spar to the rib flange, then up drilled to A4 and clecoed. A quick measurement confirms my scratch built ribs are correctly sized and by default the spars are spaced correctly. Excellent!
Spars and inside ribs are drilled and clecoed in place, so next are the tip ribs. The key here is make sure they are square to the spars and the spars are square to the rest of the assembly. The front end of the tip rib is connected to the front spar (left side in picture) by a fabricated 025 "L" bracket. It takes a bit of ingenuity to make it all square and drill it, but not overly difficult - and certainly a TON easier that repairing the completely un-square 701!
To help square everything up before final drilling of the tip ribs, we added some uprights to the bench (there were eventually 4 of these, one at each spar end front and back).
The use of standard "L" around various parts of the airframe allows for small adjustments to square everything up as well. Kinda explains why I need so many of these (see this post).
Here is where the tiip rib attaches to the stabilizer spar. Drilling this takes some thinking about which order to do it first, but the uprights hold everything in place while the drilling is completed. Another check of measurements first, then final drilling to A4 size clecos.
With everything squared up, the horizontal stabilizer rear bracket assembly is prepped for installation. This 063 thick aluminum plate is fun to bend, but again if you think it through it isn't that difficult. The tabs are bent inwards to 98 dregrees from flat. This is an important measurement as these tabs are where the horizontal tail attach to the fuselage. I used a protractor and drew out an example angle on paper to confirm both tabs were correct before test fitting it on the rear spar.
Clamp the bracket in place and back drill from the pre-drilled spar holes.... all good.... right.... wait a minute... damn...did I just put this in upside down?!?!
This is where paying close attention to the plans was important. A traditional horizontal tail looks like a small wing - flat on bottom and curved on top. The Zenith STOL aircraft have inverted tail airfoils, where the flat side faces up. There are a number of reasons for this that I won't get into here, but what makes this confusing is that it goes against common thinking. Multiply that by the fact the plans for the ribs and forms are drawn with the ribs flat side down, it'e easy to get confused which way is up! I'm also building the horizontal stab flat side down to take advantage of the flat table to get everything square.
So, what saved my bacon? The predrilled factory holes! The fact that they are symmetrical and the bracket is centred on the spar horizontally means I just had to invert it before up drilling to A4 and eventually A5 holes. What could have been a nightmare was avoided, but I'll be much more careful next time!
With the bracket turned up to the correct orientation and DOUBLE CHECKED AGAIN before drilling, I worked on right sizing the holes and clecoing things in place. Another check and everything is now where it needs to be.
Next to go on is the centre elevator hing bracket, one of three attach points between the stabilizer and the elevator. The attach point is at the tip of the triangle and will be drilled later when we match up the elevator.
Supporting the hinge bracket is a support gusset, which was chaleging to bend correctly - again the plans give a somewhat confusing view, but a little figuring, fitting, and adjustments finally got things where they needed to be. It's getting crowded in this area with all the clecos!
Like the ribs, clecos can be moved inside the spar or to the other side of whatever it is attached to - clecos don't seem to care and that's a good thing :)
Making notes on the parts as you go through assembly helps to remind you in the future. Here you can see I wrote a note that an "AN-bolt", not a rivet goes in this spot - a reminder that the hole is drilled to a specific size that is slightly larger than an A5 rivet. Before anyone comments that my grammar sucks, the term "AN" stands for a particular type of fitting (in this case a bolt) used to connect flexible hoses and rigid metal structures. It is a US military-derived specification that dates back to World War II and stems from a joint standard agreed upon by the Army and Navy, hence AN.
The final parts to be added to the horizontal stabilizer being measure/confirmed and laid out for bending - accuracy here is critical to make sure all three attach points for the elevator and the two from attachment for the stabilizer to fuselage are correct. This will make rigging the plane easier at final assembly and a straight plane ALWAYS flies better!
I flipped the stabilizer over, making it easier to attach these brackets. Alignment bother vertically with the proper amount protruding above the spar and horizontally in relation to the centreline of the spar is critical for tail alignment. Looking at this picture is decieving, the brackets are perfectlyperpendicular to the spar - I know because I measured it 5 times and confirmed orientation 5 times.... no second chances here.
Next I measured up the stab/elevator hinge attachment brackets for rivet hole spacing and drilled them out. I thought I might drill them as a stack, but I was concerned about alignment so I did the individually. The plans are very clear here on where they attach to the rear spar and they installed accurately without issue. So nice working with newly made, undrilled parts!
So,with everything drilled correctly, together with clecos and measured as correct, it all comes apart for final deburring, cleaning and corrosion protection. Now was a good time to lable anything that might get confused when it goes back together for riveting.
Well, that's a lot of work done, approximately 14 hours in total. I'm updating my build time tracker on the right of the page as I go.
Next up, prime everything for corrosion protection. In hindsight, I think I'll wait to prime/corrosion protect parts until all the drilling/deburring is done - the drill and debur swarf tends to get stuck to anywhere the primer is already applied (it's somewhat sticky even after curing) which makes cleaning more time consuming when it doesn't have to be. After that reassembly of the entire horizontal stabilizer for final riveting - my first rivets on the 750 will be so satisfying :)
Thanks for reading, more to come!
Getting close enough to getting the 701 wing completed, it's time to start planning the rest of the tail group on my 750. That means ordering some aluminum!
I called the supplier (Aircraft Spruce Canada) and ordered all the 016 I need for the entire build, a sheet of 025 to replace what I've used from Ron and some elevator trim tab hinge. The plan was to go last weekend, but the huge storm that dumped on southern Ontario precluded the trip so instead we loaded up the truck and headed south this weekend.
We arrived in Brantford and convenient for the girls, an equestrian riding store is about a kilometer away from ACS. I dropped them off and headed to ACS to pick up my order and some items for Ron.
The staff at ACS are fantastic - I had asked them to roll the aluminum as small as possible in order to fit it under the tonneau cover of our truck and keep it out of the winter weather. They are masters!
In addition to stopping at ACS, I had been in contact with another 750STOL builder in Burlington - Ghazan Hieder. Ghazan has been slowly working on his kit for about 10 years and self admits that any upgrade that comes out from Zenair he buys, so when edition 3 cabin changes were announced, he bought the plans and updated parts, making some edition 2 parts available. He had advertised on the Zenair Builders website he was giving away an edition 2 cabin frame and windshield, so I made arrangements to meet up with him while down south to take possession of these two valuable items.
He was glad I called as he had hoped to find another builder who could use these items - and I was glad to take them off his hands. All the research I could find shows only minor modifications need to be made to the cabin frame and the windshield is another easy mod.
Ghazan also offered me an early edition nose wheel fork and nose strut - he'd replaced his with Viking steel spring mod, something I'm considering too. If I can't use the strut he gave me, it will work for one of Ron's 701 builds.
Brenda helped me load everything into the truck as best we could, but we decided to put the windshield in the back seat until we could work in the daylight the next morning.
With better lighting, it was easy to pack everything safe ans secure. I borrowed some moving blankets from a buddy and laid them out in a way to protect the plastic edges of the windshield and the sharp edges of the cabin frame.
Getting it home safely worked really well, thanks to Brenda's amazing packing skills!
Unpacking it all at the shop, here is a better look:
Needless to say, I am truly thankful to Ghazan for his generous donation. He could have just tossed these away (frankly I'm surprised no one else came forward to take them) but he didn't - he just wanted someone else to use them on an airplane. Estimates are hard to nail down because I have no idea what this stuff would cost to ship, but conservatively? I saved about $800+ by picking up these surplus (to another builder) parts!
One of the coolest things I've learned about the homebuilding community is how keenly interested everyone is in other people's builds and more importantly successes. I have or am learning the skills to make these work for my build and that works for me, whereas Ghazan is happy to build from a factory kit. Either way we share a common bond - dream, build, fly!
Thanks for reading!
I had every intention of spending the entire day in the shop today. I'd taken the time last week to mark specific "shop days" on the calendar - days that are set aside for the shop and my build. A discussion with Brenda and our girls regarding my build led us to an agreement that these days are next to untouchable on the schedule so that I can make real progress this year. Obviously if something special comes up that can't be scheduled somewhere else my shop day can be compromised by moving it to another day, but the goal is to maintain a regular shop presence.
So, I discovered that "something special" can also includes those days when I physically can't go. Today was one of those days.
Last night at Natalie's Scout meeting, I tried to prove that I could still play volleyball like a 20 year old. A "I-used-a-could-do-that" type of thing. Needless to say I slept poorly last night and felt like I'd been run over by a Russian cargo plane today, so I missed the shop.
After some rest and feeling sorry for myself, I decided I didn't need to go over to Ron's and could at least get something done here in my own shop.
I pulled out something simple to work on - the flaperon rear ribs. These are simple flanged parts, really just smaller versions of the elevator rear ribs I made before (see my previous blog post here).
It starts with lining the forms up on the metal template. Unlike other templates, due to their size they don't have bolt holes for the forms. Just line them up and place the entire sandwich in the vice:
The soft faced dead blow hammer is used to gently form the flange over the edge of the form:
Turns out the flanges are a bit wider than the thickness of the form. With the short top-to-bottom height of these ribs, I had to devise a way to protect them when I inverted the form to bend the opposite flange. To do this, I added two blocks on each side. One of them had a small groove cut in it to make room for the opposite flange but still enough area to hold the forms:
As per the plans I need 8 left hand and 8 right hand rear ribs and I made a conscious decision to do only six right hand ones first in case I mistakenly made a right hand one when making the left hand ones. Hate to end up with extras - that would mean making replacement templates for each one I screw up. It's easy to see how this could happen, glad I thought of it ahead of time. Good trick to remember for later when I start working on all the wing ribs!
It's amazing! With a bit of attention to detail, I managed to bang out 16 flaperon ribs, all of equal dimensions and quality. Really cool.
16 complete ribs.... not bad for a day I didn't feel up to doing anything :)
I also got a new 14 tooth-per-inch blade for my band saw. Installing the new blade was challenging, but I learned on YouTube how to properly set the tension and blade guides for my model. Once I make some of the rougher cuts on the plate aluminum using the big industrial saw at Ron's shop, I can use my fine tooth band saw to make the final cuts.
I've said it before.... a little shop therapy goes a long way :)
p.s. Photo credits to my daughter Natalie.... thanks for making me look good!
Can't believe it's been over a month since I posted to the blog. The second half of October and first couple of weeks of November have escaped us. Unfortunately, I felt like I had't gotten anything done in that time, but going through my photos, I see there is more done than I thought.
I had to go away for a week due to work, but I decided to make good use of my evenings in the hotel. I took my wing rib blanks and final sanded them as I watched TV. Got some laughs and strange looks from my co-workers when I told them I was building an airplane in my hotel room!
When I cut out the rib blanks the bandsaw kinda chewed up the inside corners of the ribs:
So when I got home and back to the shop I came up with a jig for cleaning these up. I drilled a slightly larger hole in a scrap piece of wood and set the sanding drum up on the drill press to fit inside. This gave me a working surface almost like an inverted router:
The sanding drum cleaned up the corners really nice and I finished them off by hand sanding.
On preparation for finish bending of the tail group pieces, I had to drill the tooling holes in the forms. Best clamp them together evenly and drill each on the press:
When I tool out the tail group blanks, I noticed that I still needed to add the second tooling holes to many of them:
To save time and ensure accuracy, I decide to drill the stack of blanks together, using the available tooling hole as a reference point. A bolt and wing nut held the stack together and a form block and clamp were used to place the tooling hole accurately:
With the tooling holes established, the second bolt is added as well as the back half of the forming block. Here is an elevator rear rib bolted up and ready for bending:
The whole sandwich is mounted in the vice:
A soft faced (plastic) dead-blow hammer is used to round the aluminum over the edge of the forming block until flat:
Remove the form block and voila! My first formed part for my airplane! YAY!
Four of these ribs are required, so repeat the process 3 more times. Two left and two right complete:
I'm real happy how these turned out. They are pretty simple compared to some of the other parts in the tail group, but they are nice and straight, so my efforts to make the form blocks accurate paid off.
The next thing I wanted to do was get more of the thicker parts traced and cut out. Ron figured a 2 x 2 sheet of 0.125 aluminum would suffice for the parts I needed.
The sheet comes from the supplier covered in a thin plastic covering on both sides which is a pain to remove:
This particular piece of aluminum had been sitting around the shop for a while and fell victim to a few scratches and dings. Once I cleaned off the rest of the plastic and adhesive residue I circled any areas of concern and got to work tracing out the parts, nesting them as best as I could, starting with the flapperon arms:
Eventually I managed to fit 25 pieces on the sheet. It's tough to know the absolute best layout to minimize waste, but I'm only missing a couple of pieces which can be done later:
That's it for this update. Next up, more 701 wing extension work, bending more tail group parts and rough cutting the 0.125 parts.
Friday finally got here and I departed home for my road trip to "parts south" at 1130am.
First stop, my long time friend Lynn's place just outisde Barrie. Lynn and I grew up in the same hometown of Holland Landing and her late father Wally owned the local airport. For several years Lynn was heavily involved with ultralight aircraft, as a builder, pilot and instructor. Now heading in a different direction in life, she contacted me with a list of items from sale from her collection.
As I arrived in her driveway, I was very pleasantly surprised to see that one of my best friends Mike (also from Holland Landing) was also there. It was just like old times - what a fantastic chance to catch up a bit. None of us has aged by the way ;)
Lynn had collected up a bunch of stuff for me and made a sales pitch I couldn't refuse. More on this in a bit.
Next stop, my parent's place to pick up Dad and head to Kitchener to see Scott about the 750 rudder he has for sale. I like taking Dad on these jaunts when possible. It's great to catch up and of course talk airplanes - it's certainly something in the DNA I got from him!
After a dinner in Guelph with Dad, we made our way to Scott's place in Kitchener. The deal for the rudder we agreed to got even sweeter when Scott included a box of Cleco fasteners, Cleco pliers and two heavy paper bags of A4 and A5 rivets - all for $100 cash! I didn't dicker or give him a chance to change his mind. START THE CAR!!
We wound our way back to Dad and Moms during Friday evening rush hour and seemed to hit every red light. Times like this remind me how much I enjoy living in northern Ontario. I decided to grab a nap for a couple of hours, but by 415am this morning, I was back on the road home (there are other things I have to get done before going back to work tomorrow!)
Once I got home and had some breakfast, I began the inventory process.... in a word, wow!
Here is a group photo of the items I obtained from Lynn and Scott. Top to bottom, left to right: A handful of the several reference books, bags of Cleco fasteners, over a thousand rivets (paper bags), Cleco pliers, drill bits "The Claw" aircraft tiedown kit and a "One Touch Tach" tool used for confirming prop RPM.
Amazing stuff for my project. In fairness to Lynn, I won't disclose what I paid for her portion of this stuff, but suffice to say, it pays to stay in touch with friends!
The big item of the trip however is the 750 rudder. Scott had attended a Zenair factory sponsored rudder workshop with the intent of getting a head-start on his 750 build, but as is often the case, life got in the way and he decided to part with his barely touched project. This rudder is already mostly built, including corrosion protection. Fortunately one side only has some temporary rivets on the skin that can be drilled out so I can confirm everything is good inside and run the wires for a navigation light. For $100 and the fact it was built in a supervised factory workshop I can drill a few rivets out to confirm. Unassembled rudder kits are more than $500 from the factory and there is at least $100 in hardware that he threw in.
Can't wait to show Ron!
But right now, the lawn needs to be cut.... again.
Yesterday, I called Zenair HQ to inquire if my plans had been shipped yet. I spoke with Kaitlyn who confirmed my package left their facility via U.S.Postal Service Air Mail on Friday afternoon.
Today, using the tracking number she provided me, I logged into the USPS web-portal and discovered that as of Monday morning my package was somewhere in the bowels of the USPS International Service Center in Chicago. Further reading reveals the ISC where all outbound mail from the U.S. goes to be sorted for distribution. I also read that it can be a bit of a black hole and there are many reports of stuff going missing, never to be seen again.
Thankfully when I checked a couple of hours later and my package was showing as of Wednesday morning as being in Canada Customs. I'm normally more patient than this, but Canada Post and their postal workers union are deep into a nasty labour dispute with both sides threatening strike/lock-out action by midnight tonight! At this point I hoping my plans wouldn't end up stuck on some conveyor belt or parked truck.
Knowing that web-portals are sometimes slow to update, I took a chance and called my local Post Office (love small towns). The lady there confirmed for me that I indeed had a package awaiting pick-up!
Brenda was kind enough to drop by and pick it up for me (I was stuck at work). When I got home, it was waiting for me. To be honest, I kinda thought it would be a bigger box, but happy nonetheless it has arrived safe!
Opening the box explained a lot. The plans are curled a bit on one end to fit a standard shipping box:
A fully numbered and complete set of plan drawings and folder with builder resource information including a CD of assembly photos. Really nice stuff.
Who's a happy guy?
In order for this project to come together, I'm planning on building in sections in order to keep things economical. Overall I'll be spending a fair amount of money, but by doing things in stages, it will keep me from being overloaded by debt.
I figure if I'm going to build and learn as I go, might as well spread the dollars over time as well.
To that end, I've broken the project into several "sections" and within those there will inevitably be sub-sections.
I've decided on the type of airframe I want (high wing, side by side). It will most likely be buying something that is a complete fuselage, tail section and wings. Whether that will be fabric or metal or fiberglass or a combination of 2 or 3 is yet to be determined. Tail dragger (conventional) or tricycle gear is also a consideration.
This will be largely dependent on the airframe, however the key here will be lightweight materials with a eye towards function and comfort.
The key here will be simplicity. For the type of flying I plan on doing, I really don't need much more than what is required for basic visual flight rules.
Now, I'm the first to admit that I am a gadget geek, easily distracted by the latest and greatest electronic systems and gizmos. Unfortunately, there is a big correlation between fancy and expensive. Surely some electronics add to simplicity and by combining several items into one do-all display there might be some money savings, but I'm not sure putting all my money into a single system makes sense. If that single system fails, it will be costly to repair or replace, where an individual component is easier to diagnose and replace where necessary without upsetting the entire apple cart. Perhaps once I'm up flying I can take a look at upgrades, but for now I'll stick with tried and true simple analogue stuff. (Unless I get a deal I can't refuse!)
In my next post, I'll talk about engines, a really big topic.
Time until takeoff
Husband, father and 911 dispatcher. Long time pilot with a licence that burns a hole in my pocket where my student loan money used to be. First time aircraft builder. Looking to fly my own airplane.