A while back I saw the following quote which really sums up building a big and sometimes overwhelming project like an airplane is....
How do you eat an elephant?
I have a lot of time on nightshifts at work to study my 750 plans and as I think of all the things I need to make, decisions on features I think I want to incorporate and how I'm going to make all these the parts, I get a bit discouraged. It is indeed a massive undertaking.
But as I keep being reminded both by others and myself, it's all the small bites that add up.
I find myself spending more time focused on completing tasks than taking pictures of my build which is both good and bad. I'm probably getting more done this way, but it doesn't leave a lot to add to my blog for you readers. Most of what I've done in the last couple of weeks is really just repetitive steps that I've already shared. But here is some of what's been happening.
In my last post I said I was headed back to the "drawing board". Here is the correct plywood I should have been using for my form blocks. Much smoother and knot free!
Each form template gets traced twice in opposite (flipped over), creating left and right side forms. These will be cut out in rought form using a hand jigsaw then cut close to final size using the scroll saw (more on this later).
Ron and I continues on our discussion regarding the wing extensions for the 701 wings I'm helping repair. Now that the main repairs at the root end are done, I can focus on this. Ron wants a 18 inch extension, so that's what I'll work towards.
First we have to remove the "factory" wing spar tip extension. I say "factory" because like a good majority of other "factory" items on this plane, it's really not to "factory" plans. Not the right thickness and missing two critical rivets at the upper and lower spar caps.... sigh. At least this time it's coming off to be replaced with longer ones, not just coming off to be fixed or replaced as original.
The wing spar tip extension isn't considered structural per se, but it is an important component of the wing. It supports the fiberglass wing tip and completes the outer structure end of the wing. Here it is close to it's original position on the end of the spar (I had already removed it at this point but forgot to take a picture):
....and removed from the spar. There appears to be a small wrinkle in the wing skin behind the joint, but that can be fixed easily and will be underneath the new skin extension:
Next we had to decide on how to handle the new wing skins extensions and how they would attach to the old skins. We believe at this point we can get away with a simple overlap with a double row of rivets, but we'll probably add a doubler strip underneath for strength, or even another wing rib. We trimmed the lower and upper wing skins to a convenient length and made sure to leave enough skin outside the last full wing rib. Where the trim line ended up (defined by green frog tape below) is actually a good place for a new rib:
The upper wing skins were trimmed back in the same fashion. Then, using the original plan dimensions I cut a new wing spar tip extension web (actually two, one for the other wing to match), by adding a full 18 inches to the inboard end. I was very important to get these right as they need to be perfectly straight to match the wing spar. After careful measuring, they turned out perfectly! This was also good practice making the long scoring cuts from a full 4 x 12 foo sheet of 0.025 aluminum. I'll be doing the same for my 750 wing spars and tips too:
With a little thinking and practice on a scrap piece of matching 0.025 aluminum, the top and bottom flanges were bent to a perfect 18mm width, leaving the total top to bottom dimension of 209mm, exactly as the plans call for!
We are going to wait on putting in the lightening holes until we see where the new ribs end up. The flapperons will also need to the extended, making another pick up point necessary which in turn will determine where one of the new ribs goes.
Ron keeps reminding me to continue working on my stuff too. So I took some time to make some of the smaller parts needed from some of the "scraps" left over from the 701 wig repair.
It's paying off studying the 750 plans when I can too. For example, I new I had to create 6 full length flapperon ribs and probably had enough cut-offs lying around from the repair I was doing to complete them. But then I recalled that the plans call for 4 full flapperon ribs made in 0.016 thickness and 2 full flapperon ribs in 0.025. I referred back to the plans and remembered that the two thicker ribs are "root ribs" meaning they are where the control rods for the flap actuators attach, requiring something more robust. The other 4 thinner ones are distributed elsewhere in the flapperon assembly. Glad I noticed nd didn't make them all the same!
They use the same templates, so I traced out the other four flapperon ribs on the 0.016 aluminum:
Although almost any thickness of aluminum can be roughly cut out on the bandsaw, a standard office paper cutter works great for cutting 0.016 aluminum sheet. Here I cut as close as I can to the template trace lines, then I use the grinder and hand sanding to bring them to final shape/size:
I'll store these in inventory as they are for now as I don't have the bending forms ready yet and wont be building the flapperons for a while.
To continue towards starting my tail section, I found another couple of little parts I could make up while I had the scrap out. I'm also learning that it sometimes pays to bend multiples of the same part where required. The tail section call for two of these 35 x 40mm bent angles from 0.025, and I had the perfect piece to make it from. After cutting and deburring, into the bender they went:
This way they end up being perfectly matched!
I got several other small parts made as well that aren't pictured here, but like the quote says.... "One bite at a time".
Wonder what's for dessert?
The Google search bots are really going to love my posts now!
Remember my fellow Corvair engine builder Jeff Moores of Newfoundland (see previous post "time-to-get-back-at-it")? While at the Zenair Open House we talked over lunch about the struggles I had been having with head studs and Jeff reassured me that my issues were common issues in both his previous builds. He offered to send me some extra head studs that he had lying around his shop to replace the bad ones from my core. They arrived via mail on Tuesday and they are brand new! All for the price of shipping via snail-mail.
The more I continue pursuing a Corvair as my choice of motor, the more I'm starting to realize the value of getting to know other Corvair builders, both for their experience and generosity. This is the kind of group I want to associate with, not some faceless foreign owned engine maker that just wants my money and couldn't care less about my mission to learn. Thanks Jeff!
Next steps, dealing with the 3 stud holes that need to be fixed (see "progress-sort-of") . I've decided on using TimeSerts which are a threaded barrel insert repair that is accepted in the conversion manual. Definitely more expensive than Helicoils (another possible repair method) but I believe worth the piece of mind. Corvair automotve parts warehouse Clark's Corvairs rents the TimeSert installation tool kit and also sells inserts that are the proper length and a blind nut tool for proper torquing of the head studs. I think I'll order those now and get the repairs done soon in preparation for some case machining work I'm planning.
Got a call from my buddy Guy (correct pronunciation is Gee, which is french Canadian) . Despite his best efforts to remove the broken studs he is struggling a bit. He tried welding a nut to them but they just snapped off further down and now they are sitting close to flush to the block. This leaves no option but to drill them out using a milling machine and end mill bit.
Fussy, temperamental work with a fairly high risk of wrecking the threads if not careful.
After finding limited success using the weld method, he tried centre drilling the stud in preparation to back them out with an EasyOut bit. This proved to be very difficult because the studs are a hard material to drill, but he did manage to centre drill one of the three. The other two he's going to use the milling machine as it should be easier.
The next concern will be how to clean out the remaining debris from the threads that gets left behind. The conversion manual is very specific that the lower end of the studs is a special thread called 3/8"-NC5. So at this point I believe I'll need a 3/8"-NC5 tap to clean out the threads. Even an experienced machinist like Guy had never heard of this particular thread (he checked with his suppliers too) and suggested it will be expensive to obtain due to it's rarity.
While my buddy worked on end milling the holes, I decided do do some research.online. Although I wasn't able to find a tap or die that matached this unique thread, I did come across an online archive of GM production drawings that show the machining dimensions of a Corvair engine! I really love the internet!
This is where it gets a bit more confusing. According to the dimensional drawing showing the machining instructions of the casting, the stud holes are supposed to be tapped to a dimension 3/8"-16 UNC:
But how can that be? The hole and stud should be the same thread as the stud..... hmmm.
I sent an e-mail to the internet Corvair conversion forum seeking some guidance.
Not long after sending the e-mail, I got a telephone call direct from William Wynne (the Conversion Manual author and recognized Corvair guru).
We had an almost hour long conversation about the conversion process, my overall plans and this particular issue regarding the studs among other things. He's very supportive of new builders like me that want to learn and his overall philosophy about home-building and being in the arena speaks to me.
He is an amazing person to speak with and very quickly confirmed that the GM drawings are correct, the stud holes are in fact 3/8-16 UNC. The reason the studs are slightly different is GM engineers wanted an interference (extremely tight) fit to ensure the studs would remain in place. Using a common 3/8-16 UNC tap would be appropriate to chase the debris from the holes.
Guy happens to have that tap (it's common) and I called him afterward to confirm what we know now to be correct. He's going to finish cleaning things up. In the meantime, I'll bring him the other half of the block and have him clean it up too. On the advice of William I'll also be contacting Dan Wesseman of FlywithSPA.com, William's recommended supplier for info on obtaining 12 new (to me) OEM matching long studs as the ones I have are too corroded to re-use.
To make things even better, Brenda tells me a fellow Corvair conversion builder called for me while I was at work and invited me to visit his shop near Barrie. He is building a Zenair 650 with a Corvair engine. It is almost complete at this point and offered to help answer any questions I might have along the way. I'll make contact with him tonight when I get home and maybe arrange a time to visit this weekend when I'm in the area for a family function.
What an AMAZING day Sunday was! Drove to Roseneath Ontario and met my new friend Paul.
Paul is a retired electrician who at one point in time had plans to build his own Corvair powered airplane. His plans got delayed for a number of reasons and he recently decided to sell his Corvair engine collection. Of course we could have talked for hours....
I don't have a complete list yet of what I obtained to post here, but I feel I got really lucky. Two complete core engines, several new parts and a custom work stand. I even picked up a billet aluminum prop hub and a bunch of technical manuals and drawings. More pictures to come when I get to inventory everything. It almost didn't fit in the truck (even the back seat was full):
A great day... sometimes things work out and I like to think somehow my mentor Barry had a hand in this.
Sunday was a combination of timing and a generous seller wanting to pay things forward. Something I will do as well.
Happy New Year everyone!
First day of 2016.... who can tell me where 2015 went?
2016 is going to be a watershed year for me. Among other things, I've decided and committed to myself that this will be the "year of the purge". Time to de-clutter, organize and continue to prepare for my build, both in the shop and around our home.
We've got so much stuff around the house that we never use, or had great plans for when we bought or obtained it. As I continue to tidy and organize the shop I realize how much space I've actually got to work with.
The purge is not going to be an overnight process, but it IS a new (or at least better) way of thinking.
For example, taking a break from the shop clean-up today, we reorganized the home entertainment / media centre. The jumble of wires gathered behind are now consolidated and labelled. The dust-monsters have been banished.
We got rid of the old non-functional computer speakers we were using as a sound-bar and they are heading to the library scrap electronics fundraiser. Substituted in it's place we put a component stereo system we weren't using elsewhere. More shelf space for books and pictures, and the TV sounds awesome!
The key is to be ruthless. I think most everything I'm not using can find a home elsewhere. Sell, recycle, up-cycle, donate, or trash in that order. Simple rules to live by.
Yup.... 2016 is going to be great!
The conversion manual I ordered is finally in my hands!
254 pages of information, knowledge and wisdom on converting a Chevrolet Corvair automobile engine into a reliable, powerful and economic to operate aircraft powerplant. Manual #801. I'm entering the arena!
Much to read and digest, but so far the instructions don't seem that complicated. I can do this!
I really like how the author William Wynne thinks and writes. Lots of motivational anecdotes and examples that speak to simplicity without compromising goals. Very cool!
Back to work on cleaning up the shop.... :)
Merry Christmas everyone!
For those following my blog, you will recall that my mentor in aviation passed away and we attended the memorial service for him.
His wife Linda delivered a wonderful eulogy and I got permission from her to share it here.
Feel free to read it or not, the choice is yours. But do know that everyone should live life doing what you love.
Linda Morris Speech at Barry Morris Celebration of Life Sept 26/2015
On behalf of my extended family, I want to express our heartfelt thanks to everyone who could make it here for Barry’s Celebration and for all the support we have been given by all of our friends, old and new here at Sandycove during this very difficult time. It has been truly amazing.
There isn’t anyone in this room who would have enjoyed this Celebration more than Barry If it weren’t for the circumstances we find ourselves in here today. He was a loving husband, best friend, father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, uncle and friend.
He… loved… life.
In his career, he had many “adventures” as he called them. He flew Kings, Queens, Princes, Mayors, Members of Parliament, industry elite, actors and singers such as Louis Armstrong. And the list goes on.
He once spirited Prince Charles away from his security detail during a trip Charles took to the High Arctic. Being a pilot himself, Prince Charles wanted to see how the Twin Otter operated. So they hatched a plan. Barry would keep the engines running beside the terminal and the Prince would escape via the side door. Their plan being set, the Prince escaped out the side door hopped into the aircraft and away they went. They continued their short flight all the while ignoring repeated transmissions from the angry security detail to return to base. Prince Charles would have been unscathed no matter how furious the security detail was, after all who is going to give a Prince a hard time? I’m sure they would have strung Barry up if they caught him. The security detail was on his heels for some time after this incident.
Some of his adventures were not so pleasant and landed him in third world countries in severe and nasty living conditions as some of his fellow deHavilland pilots can attest to. He lived, breathed and dreamt all things aviation.
He always felt honoured he was able to be a part of this magnificent industry.
His last trip before he “hung up his goggles” was in an Embraer Phenom 100 jet from Zurich to North Bay with David Anstett, his friend, at the controls. David and his family are here with us today.
Before the Phenom trip, Barry was on a highly secretive U.S. Military Mission to deliver a Dash 8 to Baghram Air Force Base in Afghanistan under the code name “CARDSHARK 78”. He flew this mission with his friend and pilot from deHavilland days, Bob Gumbinger. As timing would have it, they were at Baghram at the same time the US Navy Seals caught Osama Bin Laden.
Barry always strived to help the underdog and when he felt an injustice was being done, he fought to correct it. He championed the aviation industry he loved and would speak up and lobby to whatever levels of the Federal and Provincial Governments were necessary when he felt it was derailing itself.
He loved his family and a missing portion of that family was reunited with him in the way of his eldest daughter, Karen and her children Brandon & Ashley (who are here today) and Ashley’s children (Barry’s great grandchildren, Devlon, Braylon and Bryson. They are here with us today because they still need to be with their Mom. Brandon & Amanda are having their first child soon which makes another great grandchild. They round out our extensive family with his son Christopher, daughters Michelle (who is here today) and her son Jack, Nicole and her daughter Laura and Tammy and her daughter and son Alex and Ethan. That rounds out our extensive family. In case anyone has lost count this makes 5 children, 6 grandchildren and 3.5 great grandchildren. He also leaves behind his sister-in-law, Isabel & her family: daughters Laura and her son Wyatt, Tanya and her children Eva and Dillon and sons Michael & Rodney. Also a sister, Irene & her husband John and his niece, Jenny and her family.
Barry served as Aviation Technical Consultant on Omni Productions television show “Arctic Air” for CBC for the run of the program. He also wrote monthly stories for the Great North Arrow newspaper on his lifelong “adventures”.
Barry was writing a Trilogy “Just a Farm Kid from Ontario” which highlighted what it was like living on a farm before mechanization, inside running water, inside toilets, television or telephones to becoming a member of an elite group of Canada’s aviation test pilots. The first book has been done and in rewrite. The second needs to be inputted into the computer. However, the third book about his days at deHavilland/Boeing/Canadair/and his multitude of work after unfortunately has not been written. Therefore, I want to finish Barry’s third book as a “memorial”. But, as my mother has noted, I need the help of his friends and colleagues. I am asking his friends, colleagues, associates especially the people he worked with at deHavilland if they could take the time to write down some interesting stories they and Barry would have been involved with during this time so I can complete his dream on his behalf.
In 2011 Barry was presented the Canadian Owners’ and Pilots’ Association Award of Merit which is presented annually if a person is recognized as doing something special to further COPA'S aims over a period of time and recognizes individuals demonstrating an outstanding record of support for personal aviation in Canada and to aid in the promotion, growth and prosperity of aviation in Canada.
He received a Commendation from Department of Transport for his continued emphasis on aviation safety.
He was extremely proud of these awards as he should have been. It signified to him he made a difference. All his hard work, efforts and sacrifices had meant something in the industry he loved and fell in love with as a child.
Barry’s aviation career spanned 55 years of flying, over 23,000 hours of flight time with zero infractions.
He was privileged to travel the road most of us only dream of.
And I’m sure if there is a heaven, he is now arranging flight plans to some faraway place.
God has given him wings. He will be sadly missed, but never forgotten.
Till we meet again. Your loving wife, Linda
Time for a bit of a rant. Why does it seem so easy to get excited about things but ever so hard to make them happen?
Over the past weeks I've been actively searching for the right project to work on, but haven't been able to make any progress. Things that I've found are either way overpriced, way above my budget/capabilities or too far away.
I did however find the perfect airplane advertised on line. It is ready to fly home and it just about meets everyone one of my requirements except one - price.
It's listed price is above what I am able to afford at this point in time and I'm not sure if the seller is motivated enough to come down in price enough to make it inside my budget.
I could easily take a loan or line of credit out to buy it, but I don't think I'd be able to sleep at night with that debt.
Guess I'm stuck trying to balance this funk I'm in against moving forward. Frustrating.
I am reminded of a quote I saw recently from singer Jimmy Buffet:
"Searching is half the fun, life is much more manageable when thought of as a scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party"
Hopefully this will start to happen for me and my hunt for meaning moves along. I hate the feeling of being in neutral.
Today was everything I expected and more.
Tears... laughter.... love and friendship.
Brenda and I attended the Celebration of Life for Captain Barry Morris, my mentor.
I've been dreading this afternoon for weeks. I'm the type of person that wears his heart on his sleeve and never have gotten through funerals, deaths or other emotionally charged life events without shedding tears at the drop of a hat. Today was no different in that regard.
What was different however was the realization that as well as I thought I knew Barry, I only knew a very small part of his life. From every one of the people who spoke at his Celebration today, we all probably learned something new we didn't know about him before. Some of it familiar, some of it surprising, most of it smile invoking. For that I am extremely thankful.
One thing that was obvious is that he lived an incredibly diverse life. His flying career took him all over the globe where he rubbed shoulders and broke bread with heads of state, celebrities and industry leaders. He was a bush pilot, test pilot and salesman to name a few. He shared his enthusiasm for life and all it has to offer with anyone he met. Carpe diem in every sense of the word.
If I tried to relay even some of the stories he shared with me over breakfast or lunches at the airport, I wouldn't do them justice. I could never hope to capture the essence in the same way he could tell it, so I won't attempt to try.
In the last couple of years he was working on a trilogy of his memoirs that sadly he will never get a chance to complete. His wonderful wife Linda has taken up the charge to complete them with the help of some of his former co-workers and friends. I hope one day to read them. There is so much more I want to learn from this man.
When we worked together on the airport committee there were many times I got discouraged. He had a way of seeing the "runway through the fog" and always insisted I run with my ideas "full throttle".
I promise to do just that Barry. You are cleared direct my friend.
For my mission, I'll be looking at engines in the 90 to 110 horsepower range. That gives me enough horsepower to carry two people and eventually be on floats. This will be one of the biggest and arguably important pieces of the build.
In realm of suitable aircraft engines, the choices are many. My main focus will be on cost, reliability, ease/costs of repair and overhaul.
Although Rotax makes excellent motors that have powered countless aircraft over many decades, I'm concerned about the short time between overhauls, having to run an oil mix fuel (in the case of 2 stroke engines). The Rotax 912 series is four stroke but even a decent second hand 80HP model is worth more than my airplane will be complete. Seems a bit steep for my plans. And overhauls and parts are either very expensive or in the case of 503 to 582 models more and more difficult to obtain.
Another thing I am looking for is an engine that is air cooled. I live in northern Ontario and I've known guys who have had countless issues with their liquid cooled engines freezing up solid or springing leaks. I want something simple and the addition of a liquid cooling system adds a level of complexity that I'm not comfortable with. I'd rather be flying than worrying about springing a leak in the air that could lead to engine failure. I'd also rather be flying than fussing around trying to make a liquid cooled engine installation work.
Certified engines (Continental and Lycoming) are good, robust and aircooled with decades powering small airplanes. However, even when out of certification and being used by homebuilders, they are hard to get parts for, those parts are expensive, made in China and extremely hard to work on (specialized tools).
For many years, groups of builders have been trying to adapt automotive engines to airplanes, with varying levels of success. The thought of a modern car engine with all the advantages of fuel injection, variable valve timing and easy to obtain parts is appealing. Unfortunately those ones that have been "successful" in the market have now placed themselves out of the reach of my project. Most are overly complicated, liquid cooled and weigh a lot (my goal is to remain as light as possible).
Another disadvantage typical automotive conversions have is the same as the Rotax series. These motors develop their best torque (a measure of force around a point, in this case a propeller creating thrust) at high RPMs (as they were designed for cars). This high RPM is not acceptable for driving a propeller, so these installations require a reduction drive which adds further weight, complexity and maintenance.
So where does that leave us?
For a couple of years now, I've been following the automotive conversions being completed by builders using Chevrolet Corvair engines.
But wait a minute, didn't I just say that automotive conversions were heavy, complicated and very high RPMs?
I did. But what makes Corvair engines unique is that:
As one of the guiding principals of this project is to learn new skills, rebuilding a Corvair would be very interesting without blowing my entire build budget.
So a Corvair fits nicely in my plan. Next step, start looking for one.
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.