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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Right Wing closed

Yesterday Leah and I made an attempt at epoxying the new upper piece of plywood on the right wing.  It didn't really go so well.  I was hoping that I could force the wood to shape. I was dreaming.  So today I cleaned up the epoxy mess that I had made and started over.  I needed to steam the plywood so that I could bend it to shape.  I've never done this before.  A steam box would be the ideal setup for this sort of job but I don't have one or the materials to build one.  So I bought a clothes steamer at Wal Mart and decided to give it a shot. Amazingly with my thin 1.5 mm plywood it worked pretty well.  Although I did burn my hand a little.  After boiling about a quart of water the plywood had a decent curve bent into it. Things looked like they were going to work!

I killed a little time waiting for the wood to dry out.  Then added a new layer of wood sealant to the inside of the new wood.  Waited for that to dry.  I did unroll the rest of the carpet that I bought when I was building the wing stands.  This turned my garage floor into a nicer floor than my apartment!  Nice plush carpet!  With varnish dry I mixed up epoxy and set the wood in place.  I had a little time to actually think about it and worked out a pretty decent method for holding the wood in place and tight while the epoxy cures.


After I took the picture I added a few more Bungee's and a couple of 1 inch wide canoe straps.  With the new plywood securely in place I moved that wing back into the cradles and hung some blankets over it and the heater under that to keep some warm air on it.  Then Leah helped me lift the left wing onto the benches.  Moved my wing root stand onto the right wing and generally re-arranged the garage. It's looking alright.


 With the left wing on the bench I got a new piece of sandpaper on the sander, donned my personal protective equipment, and went crazy.  By about 6:30 when it's dark and starting to get cold I had all of the top wing skins sanded.  Tomorrow I hope to start working on the bottom and maybe do the ribs, which have to be done by hand.  After yesterday which was a bit discouraging it was great to make some progress!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Horizontal Stabilizer

The Horizontal/Elevator has been decorating my bedroom for the past few months.  With all the other control surfaces covered it is time to start on it. Elevator detached from the Horizontal quite easily.  The fabric peeled off the elevator with no problems.  The wood looks really nice underneath!  Leah got started sanding the frame while I took a closer look at the Horizontal.


The Horizontal Stab on my glider is covered in a formed piece of fiberglass, like on my Vertical Stab.  I found after removing the elevator that this fiberglass had started to lift off of the rear spar on the Horizontal in a few places.  Couldn't be having that so I mixed up a small batch of epoxy and got to work.  I found a great use for the piles of old Soaring magazines that I recently got, using them to help apply pressure to the new glued areas.  A couple of 2x4 bits and some 3 ring binders helped put the pressure in the right place.  I have always known this but it goes without saying that you can never have enough clamps!  

Let's see you do that with an online archive! Just kidding, I really really like the online archive of Soaring Magazine.  That's all for now!

Setting Goals

Ive got several shipments of goodies arriving today and tomorrow.  Mostly from Aircraft Spruce and Stewart Systems.  Picking up more fabric (just in case), epoxy varnish, wood filler, some inspection rings, another gallon of fabric filler, 2 gallons of daytona white paint, a quart of pontiac red for trim, and another gallon of glue just in case we need it.  I think that should pretty much set me as far as what I need to finish the job. The only thing else that I might need to order is a variety of odd AN nuts and bolts.  I need to do a good inventory first and see what I need compared to what I have.

So I've got a large term goal and that is to put everything in the trailer and take it to Marfa TX to fly on April 17.  Big goal and even I'm not sure if it's going to happen.  But in order for that to happen a bunch of things have to happen first.  Working backwards seems to work best for me when planning these things.  Of course the glider needs to get repairs finished and covered in fabric and painted.  Also, I'm pretty sure the annual condition inspection will need to be done as it expires on March 31, but that will have to wait until after the glider is covered and ready to fly.  I need to find an A&P and coordinate to make that happen.  Should be no problem.  Getting control surfaces covered will be no problem as they fit in my apartment easily and I can do the work on cold days.  I need to settle on an instrument panel layout and may delay getting the transponder good and installed until later this season.  I will need Oxygen for flying at Marfa and I ordered an Aerox 9 cubic foot bottle yesterday but I'll have to work up a mounting system.  Since I cut out the shelf in my cockpit I'll need to come up with a new solution for a seat back and also while i'm working on it need to put a couple of fabric pockets in the cockpit so I have a place to stow maps and stuff.

Any spare time I have to work on cockpit comfort items will be worth it.  I particularly want to come up with some sort of foam support for my legs, a kind of cradle.  Will be a bit of a trick though to work that around the control cables but I think it can be done.  Also I think I'm going to send in the loaner Cambridge 25 Flight Recorder to get calibrated.  Needs to be done anyway as I have high hopes for setting some state records this season. 

I need to get an antenna for the truck, and get it tuned up and ready for the trip.  Spare tire for the trailer.  Trailer still has a few more places where it needs more rivets and Harry is working on a few pieces of bent aluminum to put over the front of the trailer to seal it up.  Those will need riveted on too.  I just rememberd that I've got a little bit more work to do on the wing attachments in the trailer.

In The Sunship Games George Moffat said "You need help, and it's endless..."  Then he saws off the wingtips on his Cirrus.  I know how he feels. 

Stay's going to be a busy month.  General outline is:

Starting now - Work like Mad
March 13th weekend - cover fuselage and wings
After March 13th but before April 17th - Paint glider and finish everything else.

I sure hope it warms up soon...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Aileron #2

Once again I had a sunday at home, and it was cold outside.  Nothing to do except cover another aileron.  I worked sluggishly through most of the day and started glueing fabric around 9:30.  It sure helped out to have done this before.  Went pretty smoothly.  I bought a cheapo full size iron from wal mart and spent some time calibrating it on saturday.  I like it a little better than the small hobby iron, mostly because it seems to hold its temperature better during shrinking.  I did still use the hobby iron for an initial shrink and the big iron for the final 300ish degree shrink.  So now both ailerons and the rudder are covered.  I think I'll start working on the horizontal and elevator this week.  Forecast is for 40ish weather by the weekend so hopefully I'll have time to get some more work done on the wings.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

New Skin

Leah and I did some more sanding on the right wing today.  Neal was kind enough to give me some scrap 1.5 mm plywood to use for the new skin.  After supper I started cutting out the new plywood.  Did some more cleaning up on the wing and got the skins fitted.  We got the lower skin in place and the epoxy is curing at this moment.  Hopefully it looks good in the morning and it stays warm enough to put the top skin on soon!


Here is a picture of the new skin in place.  It looks pretty nice to me, still needs some sanding and touch up around the edges but it'll do.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wing Work

Warm weather today.  When I got down to the garage at 6 PM it was 48 F!  I finished up cleaning up the area around the bad wood on the lower leading edge.  It is looking pretty nice and should be ready for new plywood soon.  With the bottom of the wing open i had a good view of the inside of the top wing skin and it didn't really look that good.  really dark, some areas more black.  Plus I could see epoxy on the wood.  On the inside!  Well my mystery was solved.  I had found the area that previously had epoxy injected into the wood.  This is the spot that Dave Schuur found was soft when he was working on the glider 5 or 6 years ago.  So i decided I better remove the top skin at the leading edge too.  I made pretty quick work of it with the chisel and knife and now I have 2 pieces of plywood to replace.

After that I sanded the lower leading edge.  Then Adam called so I didn't get much more work done, but it was getting cold by then anyway.  Back to the garage tomorrow, supposed to be warm again.  I took this picture of the inside of the wing, just thought it was pretty.  This is looking at the inside of the top wing skin.

Monday, February 15, 2010

An Aileron a day

Yesterday brought cold weather and Leah and I decided to spend our Valentine's Day at home watching the Daytona 500 and the Olympics.  Sometime early in the afternoon we started taking fabric off the ailerons.  At some point I thought "I wonder if I could get this right aileron recovered today?"  So I decided to try.  The fabric came off pretty easy, Leah was a willing helper but not too interested in getting her picture taken.

Then it was time to sand.  We both grabbed some sandpaper and got to work.  It was pretty quick work to get the surface smoothed out.  Then I spent a little time with the wire brush cleaning up the hinges and control horns in preparation for a shot of Rustoleum Primer.  Next was a fair amount of time with paper and tape getting the aileron covered up so I could prime the metal parts.  Of course I had to take some precautions to avoid spray painting the rest of my apartment.  It all worked out fine.  Then I used the Stewart Systems cleaner to clean up the dust and junk off the wood, followed by a couple coats of the wood sealant.  It was looking nice at this point and the next step was fabric!

Got all my supplies together and cut out a piece of fabric that would wrap around the aileron.  Did a fair amount of himming and hawing while I figured out how I wanted this to work, and it ended up working out well.  Everything shrunk down well and I've got a decent looking aileron as a result, I think.  I didn't even have to stay up all night to finish it.

I do still need to burn some drain holes into the aileron with my soldering iron.  Once that is finished it should be ready for finish, whenever I get around to that.  

No I did not finish the second aileron today.  It is supposed to warm up in the next few days so hopefully I'll be back in the garage working on the wings.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Right Wing Work

Beautiful weather in Wichita today, afternoon high was nearly 55 F!  Leah and I got to work on the right wing and in a few minutes the fabric was gone.  Initial inspection was good.  Then a quick trip to Lowe's.  I needed to lay the wing horizontally to start sanding.  I decided to just use the workbenches I already have to support it but I wanted to make some sort of support on the root so the wing was stable.  So with a 2x4 and a dowel i rigged up something that will work.  Picture was taken before I added another piece of 2x4.  Now I can pretty easily rotate the wing right side up, upside down, or vertically.

Now it was time to get to work, so I started sanding. And sanding. And more sanding.  I knocked off most of the residue left over from the fabric and cleaned up a lot of damaged wood.  I did find a few dings and dents that will need to be filled in but that should be pretty easy.

So I did a first hack at a good sanding job on the top of the wing and it is looking good.  I probably have a few more places to clean up a little more but in general the top of the wing is looking good. 

I gave Dave Schuur a call to visit about some repairs he did to this wing before I owned the glider.  He had told me about a soft spot in the wing.  I couldn't remember where he thought it was.  While on the phone and the two of us were trying to remember the location of the soft spot, I  noticed some of the plywood on the bottom of the wing near the tip was a little off color. I pressed on it with my thumb and my thumb went through. Found it!!


So I spent the rest of the afternoon carefully peeling up the rotten plywood.  It's nice to have nice sharp chisels (thanks Harry).  In the end I got most of the area from the skid outboard cleaned out.  I'll probably remove the wood on the other side of the skid up to the next rib.  
Next is sanding the bottom of the wing, cleaning up anything else I find, and then moving on to the next wing.  It was really cool to get to take a look at the entire wing structure.  Probably about the best preflight you can do!  This wood hasn't seen the light of day since the early 70's.  The area under the rotten wood in the tip hasn't seen daylight since the early 60's when the glider was built!  It's all in really good shape considering.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

First Wing Opened

After work today I went out to the garage and got a good two hours of work in before the Olympics started.  Leah helped remove ailerons which are now sitting in our apartment waiting for their fabric to be removed.  I got all of the fabric off the left wing and the wood looks OK underneath.  In fact for most of the wing the wood looks great!  Very beautiful and with a little cleaning it will look just fine.  My leading edges are plywood covered and the Ree's did a nice job of adding a small stiffener behind each panel to help prevent the plywood from sagging.  It's worked so far!  Harry and Neal were both nearby so they stopped by to check out the wing.  The root rib needs some attention, but I already knew that.  Since this is the cap on the root of the wing it gets handled a lot during assembly and derigging and it is in rough shape as a result.  Should be a pretty easy piece to replace.  Also there is evidence of past water damange on the leading edge at the root. However it appears on initial inspection that the wood is OK.  I need to get a pin and poke around a little more to make sure.  So all in all I'm pretty satisfied with the wing and hope the other one is as good.  We'll find out tomorrow!

The Wing

Wing Root
Leading Edge

Friday, February 12, 2010

Funny Classified

I just came across this in the November 1960 Soaring:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wings in town

Leah and I made a nice effort today and end result is the wings are in my garage!  First we picked up some carpet remnants at a local flooring store.  Then after work we ran out to the shop and got the trailer.  Lost a little time repairing the left tail light.  One of these days I'm going to approach my trailer and the lights are going to work. Probably not anytime soon though.  Then we went back to town and stopped at Lowe's to pick up 6 2x4 studs and 4 door hinges.  With this and the carpet I built 4 wing stands (2 root and 2 tip) in about an hour and a half.  Then Leah and I moved the wings into the garage.  It's going to be a bit cramped but I will still be able to get some work done.  Tomorrow we'll start removing fabric!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Another Flight Report

For your entertainment here is a flight report from a Downwind Dash that I did way back in 2006.  This was a cool cross country because I got close enough to home that I was able to show off my glider to my family. Enjoy!

The soaring is always good during the week. Thermals seem to be naturally scared of weekends, apparently they get tired of overuse. Wednesday August 30 was forecast to have killer conditions throughout the Midwest, but alas, I had to go to class in the afternoon. Several club members had some great flights. Paul Kaufman, Darrel Mullins, and Sky King Mcilrath all worked good lift up to nearly 6000 feet MSL. Meanwhile I sat on the ground and watched. The forecast for the next day was looking good though. I had a friend, Jordan Birkholz, help me assemble the Cherokee on Wednesday afternoon and spent much of the evening getting the trailer and glider ready for a cross country adventure. Winds were forecast to be blowing to the west, turning northwest, boundary layer height was up around 6000 feet and clouds were predicted. Things were looking good.

Terry Lankford (My Hero) offered to tow me at 1 pm on Thursday. I got out of class at 12:15 and raced to the airport. Matt Michael helped me do a positive control check on the ship and make final preparations. I pulled down to the runway. I was slightly delayed but launched at 1:20. Terry pulled me into some good looking lift and at 1800 AGL I got off tow. The lift (as usual) ended up being weaker than expected but I notched the barograph and started to climb.

My initial limb was to about 3000 feet and I started to head northwest. My goal for the day was to make it to Estherville, IA, my hometown. I was looking forward to seeing my family, showing them the glider, and eating some pizza. Matt radioed me soon after I departed to see what my plan was. I told him I was going straight out and not coming back. He responded that he would be unable to chase as he needed to do some work, but I should call him when I landed. No problem. Turns out he was so excited about my flight he spent all afternoon monitoring the weather and trying to figure out my status. He might as well have chased. I soon found myself on the Northwest side of Ames, and the altimeter was still unwinding. It was quite disheartening to have to pick out a field already, just in case. Matt was still trying to talk to me and I responded with “Getting a little low now, need to climb, no time to talk” He was getting a little worried that my day was going to be really short. I managed to hook a good thermal though and back up to 3500 feet I went. Whew! I continued to the Northwest, headed for the Fort Dodge area. Reviewing the barograph trace confirms that I cruised in the strength band between 3 and 4000 for this phase of the trip. After an hour, I was half way to Fort Dodge.

I was right on schedule. I only was counting on 4 hours of flying. Of course, the thermals would probably be working after 5:30 but I didn’t want to have to depend on them. So I needed to be half way to Fort Dodge by 1 hour elapsed, over Fort Dodge at 2 hrs, then ¾ the way to Estherville by 3 hrs. I actually hit all these benchmarks right on. As I neared Fort Dodge airport, I tuned in their traffic frequency and was reminded that the airport hosts a huge skydiving event every Labor Day. There were two airplanes and a helicopter flying jumpers, with people falling continuously. I hooked a good thermal off of town that I rode to nearly 5000 feet and headed around west side of airport (downwind side). The clouds looked better in that direction anyway. In fact, for almost the entire trip I was flying right on the edge of the cumulus clouds. To the east, it was blue, to the west the sky was full of Cu’s. I stayed on the boundary and experienced long cruises in 4-600 foot per minute sink in the blue between some scraggly looking cumulus clouds. Cloud base and climb rates were improving as I continued on.

I saw the helicopter, a King Air jump plane, a regional airline flight and two skydivers (under canopy) during my flight past Fort Dodge. Talk about a diverse traffic flow! Continuing on, I was now cruising between 3500 and 4500 feet. I passed a Monarch Butterfly west of Humboldt and saw a few Hawks and Barn Swallows. All were a welcome sight. I arrived over Emmetsburg, about 20 miles south of Estherville, at 3 hours elapsed time. I was feeling pretty good about my situation. I caught a good thermal off the new Ethanol plant there and rode it to 5100 feet, my highest altitude. I spent a lot of extra time trying to get a little higher, as I remembered my low point in Ames to be 2200 and was trying to get the Silver Altitude gain. The Barograph trace confirms that I was a couple hundred feet short. I left the comfort of being local to the Emmetsburg Airport and pressed on to the north. I figured I needed two more climbs to 5000 or so and I would have it made. The next thermal I caught only brought me back up to 4000. I also started to notice that some high cirrus was moving in and was just about ready to block out the sun. Crap. It was decision time. I considered heading more northeast, trying to stay in the sunlight and hoping for a hole to cut back through the shadow, or I could try to make it before everything got shut down. I looked ahead and saw a few scraggly cumulus clouds in the shade about 5 miles ahead, then I saw a fairly large hog confinement a few miles in front of me. I was reminded of a day flying around at 1000 feet and then suddenly smelling a hog confinement that I was over. I thought maybe I could get a thermal off that and then work my way north. As I was headed toward that I noticed that there were a few more clouds up ahead now. Interesting, I figured everything was dying up there. I made the fateful decision to head towards the clouds. I caught some zero sink a little above 3000 feet and pressed on. Got down to 2500 and caught another little thermal, but only got a couple hundred feet out of it. I could notice it was darker and cooler out and I was beginning to pick out fields. I found an abandoned farmhouse with an empty field next to it. Apparently it had not been planted, and was full of weeds and grass, in bunches. I thought two things about it. One was a good place to land. Two was I could get a thermal off the stand of trees or all the black dirt. There was a little something coming off from it but I couldn’t figure it out fast enough, but did find a little zero sink. Finally I had to give up. I chose to land on the driveway to the house to provide ready access. Also with the bunches of weeds in the field, it did not look very inviting. 

I flew a pattern for the driveway, continuously evaluating the decision. There were a couple small bushes up by the road that I would have to clear and corn was on the left side, but plenty of room was available for wing clearance. As I came down everything was looking pretty good. It turned out that the driveway was rougher than expected and I think I caught the nose skid in the grass between tire tracks and got turned sideways. The driveway was also built up from the field about 2 feet and I slid off the side. I was not too happy with myself but the landing was good enough and the only damage was a rip in the fabric in a twice previously torn spot. I immediately called Matt, telling him I had come up 7 miles short of Estherville and everything was OK. He told me that a friend, Chris Jones, had offered to crew, so I called him and he agreed to start out for me. I then called several members of my family. I managed to get to show off the glider to my Aunt and Uncle and their kids, my Grandma, and my Step mom Jody and little brother and sister. I was very thrilled to make it as far as I did and it was great to get to show off the Cherokee. I still got to get a great Woody’s Pizza. Chris got to Estherville about 930 and we headed out to the landing site. By 1030 the ship was secured in the trailer and we were off. Jody and the kids helped derig and stocked Chris and I up with rations for the drive home.
The stats came out to a distance of 91 Nautical Miles, which equates to 169 kilometers. I got the Silver distance in the bag, came up just short of Silver Altitude. I’m sure glad I remembered to bring the Barograph! Duration was 3 hours 40 minutes, which is well over an hour longer than my longest Cherokee flight. Now I can’t wait for a booming day this fall so I can get Gold Distance and Silver Altitude/Duration!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Before and After

Well after inspecting Dean's glider at the SSA Convention I decided to bite the bullet and cut out the shelf in my Cherokee.  Night before last Leah and I started cutting the wood.  Tonight I did a little more finishing work to clean it up.  I have the right side cleaned up very nicely but still a little work to do on the left.  I'll have to work on that tomorrow.

I'm working on building a balsa base for the transponder and am hoping to epoxy that all together tonight.  I'm getting to the point where about the only thing that I have left to do on the fuselage is some epoxying and new varnish on areas where there is new wood or we have sanded.  So I'm thinking that I should start on the wings here pretty soon. It's not going to be warm enough to epoxy or varnish for at least another week but I can brave the cold to tear off fabric.

So here is what my cockpit used to look like:

And here is what it looks like at the moment:


I spent a little more time tonight cutting balsa and mixed up some epoxy to glue it in the base of the transponder box. Then I'll sand it to shape so that the transponder lines up pretty nice with the instrument panel. tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

More SSA pictures

I got these from Harry's camera today. Nice pictures of N72DG!

Leah and I are going to brave the cold tonight to keep working on the transponder mounting and start cutting the shelf out.  Hopefully we'll have updates later!