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.