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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Trailer Covered!

Yesterday was a great day for getting work done. Way back in May a windstorm blew through Wichita and my trailer got tipped about 45 degrees before an open schweizer trailer caught it. This was the scene, not pretty:

This lead to some pretty major work in May and June to get the trailer roadworthy again. Leah and I and a few good friends were working out at Harry's most days each week. The old skin and floorboards were torn up, repairs were made to broken or seriously rusted portions of the frame, the whole thing was sandblasted, primed and painted. I put in new plywood for the floor and got the fittings back in the trailer in time for the Kansas Kowbell Klassic straight out distance contest in July. But the trailer still didn't have any skin! It was a drag, literally. With only the front and rear pieces of aluminum in place, it was about equivalent to towing two trailer. Maintaining a reasonable highway speed was impossible. Tailwinds helped.

I had bought some aluminum back in June for the job but just never went through with it. Partly I was dreading it because it certainly was going to be a major job. Second I didn't have a great place to do the work. Well with colder weather these last few weeks I knew I wasn't going to get much work done on the glider so I decided that maybe I should spend the time getting the trailer finished. I arranged for a few friends to help out this weekend and a couple of my power flight students offered the use of their shop which was awesome. I had a couple of air drills from harry, had bought a whole bunch of drill bits, a couple hundred clecos, 3 cleco pliers, a couple air powered pop rivet guns and about 1500 pop rivets.

We got to work mid morning on Saturday. First sheet went pretty well while we all (Leah, Joe, Jesse, and I) all figured out what we were doing.

We put all three top pieces on after attaching the bottom pieces. With all three of the top pieces cleco'd together we used some 2x4's and ratchet straps to bend them all over together so that the seams were flush. It turned out really good!

Here is the view of the right side before it was bent.

Ryan working on riveting the pieces together at the top

The view from inside. Looks great!

So I still have a few more things to do before I can call the trailer complete, but it is completely functional in its current form. At least I will be able to park it outside and the glider will be protected. Harry is working on some lip pieces to rivet around the front to seal up the gap there. Then I will have side running lights to install along with maybe some interior lighting and some tracks for the wing dollies. I also need to get a sheet metal strap or something to hold the wingtips in the wingtip cradles.

I picked up some 1/4" ID plastic tubing at Lowe's today along with some Tees so I can replace the pitot and static lines. Hopefully tomorrow I will have time to start installing that as well as fitting the transponder, encoder, and transponder antenna.

I'm still debating whether or not I want to cut out the shelf in front of the spar. Im a little nervous about putting the saw to that. Also, the plans show lightening holes on the keel underneath the cockpit, and my glider doesn't have them. I'm considering doing that too.

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