I made some excellent (small step) progress on my airplane build this past week.
Before I get into details, I want to share a bit of scrounging advice. Don't ever be afraid to ask around when you are looking for something, be it materials or tools.
While building, Ron and I often get to talking about ways to save on costs. One of the things that costs a bunch of money when getting it done by others is powder coating parts. Powder coating is a dry finishing process that gives various materials a durable coating that can be much tougher than paint alone. It's particularly good on non load bearing parts that may be handled regularly or exposed to friction. Control columns and rudder pedals come to mind.
Powder coatings are based on polymer resin systems, combined with curratives, pigments, and other additives and ground to a fine powder. A process called electrostatic spray deposition (ESD) is typically used to apply the resin to the metal substrate. The process uses a spray gun which applies an electrostatic charge to the powder particles which are attracted to the grounded part. After application of the powder coating, the parts enter a curing oven where, with the addition of heat, the coating chemically reacts to produce long molecular chains, resulting in high cross-link density.
That's the long way of saying "it sprays on and sticks really well after being cured in the oven".... ha!
Ron and I both figure the majority of the parts we might want powder coated should be able to be done ourselves. Ron has a source for the powder coating gun and resins, we just need an oven. Baking resins can generate a fair amount of unpleasant fumes, so we won't be using the kitchen!
I've been real fortunate over the course of the last few years to have several people I know come to me with leads on "airplane stuff" and I owe a bunch of that to talking to everyone I know about my project and plans. Opinions regarding my sanity range from "wow, that's cool" to "you are bat-s%$t crazy dude!" However, even if the vast majority consider me closer to the slightly crazy side of the scale, they do come to me when they hear of something.
In this case, when I mentioned that we were seeking an oven, Brenda noticed a Facebook post from a friend of a friend who was remodeling their kitchen. Turns out they were giving away a built in Jen-Air oven! Free! Brenda messaged them, I hopped in the truck and 10 minutes later, it was in our possession. We really don't need the stove top portion for baking parts so this is perfect:
We'll build a simple stand and wire it for power. It will require some calibration tests to ensure the temperature settings are accurate as they need to be for the powder coating. Not every oven is created equally as far as accuracy is concerned and oven temperature can drift as much as 25 to 50 degrees over time.
As for my airplane, I started to put the templates I made to use and traced out my first parts with them.
They worked real good. A thick Sharpie marker leaves a good line for rough cutting:
Before making the rough cuts of individual pieces from the sheet, now is the time to drill the corner relief holes where reuired. Here are some that I remembered to drill before cutting them out. Much easier to do this before hand I've learned!
Once the parts are rough cut out (thicker pieces on the bandsaw), further fine cuts are made using hand tools. By always leaving a bit of the thick marker line, we can see where the part will be trimmed down with the grinder, a file or hand sanding when taking of the burrs.
I made several parts over a couple of hours:
I took a good idea from Ron and taped the template to the parts when they were done. That way I don't have to write the part numbers on the aluminum. These completed parts will be stored until I need them later. I'm keeping a massive spreadsheet to track parts made, where they are stored and what inventory of materials I have on hand:
I know I have a TON of parts still to make, some simple, some complex.... but there is something so motivating about making these first parts for my 750 that makes me want to be in the shop full time. Unfortunately without spending at least some of my waking hours at my paying job, I can't afford the materials to make parts, so I guess I'll have to get back to the shop when I can.
Next up, further repairs to the 701 wing and I'll finish the sub assembly parts I need for the tail group on my 750!
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.