Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Slow, steady progress

An ocean is a big thing to cross, and I'm always surprised when I remind myself that a ship traveling at no more than 20 measly knots can cross one in something like three days. At only 20 knots, you'd think it would take weeks. But the thing is, they don't stop; they plod along during 24 out of 24 hours. At a slow, steady pace they eventually get there, and with no stationary periods, they get there quicker than you might guess.

Which is all to say that while I did get to work on the airplane tonight, I didn't get much done. There is a reason that I wanted to be building this thing in the dead of winter, and that reason has a name: Yard Work. After a long day at the paying job, in the spring I often have to come home only to start on my second job: maintaining the yard and outside environs of the homestead. This afternoon the weather conditions were prime for putting down weed killer, "prime" being defined as "not raining, and not likely to for a few days." It's a big yard at slightly over an acre and a half, so it takes a goodly amount of time and effort to get it covered.

Once done with that, it's pizza night and I'm the cook. 'Tis fair: I cooked pizza professionally (minimum wage counts, right?) for years while I was in high school, so I'm the recognized expert at it. Nice to be recognized as being good at something, right?

So, after yard work and dinner it's time to consider making my way down to the shop. Which I did, only to be reminded that I had stopped my previous work at one of those head scratching moments. I do a lot of head scratching these days, most of it figuratively, fortunately. The question at hand pertained to dimpling some holes in the baggage floors. Five lucky holes were selected to be dimpled #19. Fine, as far as it goes, but none of my borrowed dimple dies are labeled as being size #19. At least that was the problem I thought I had when I quit working. Today it was pretty obvious that the holes that were to be dimpled were themselves a #19 size hole. Ah, that helped!

Still, why just those five? There were plenty of other #19 holes that would go wanting of a dimple, after all. My theory? These are the holes through which screws will be installed to hold the baggage floor down, and they look like they're in the area of the fuel tank. These screws will need to be flush to the baggage floor if they are to sit under the fuel tank while the rest of them can be permitted to stand proud above the floors. It'll be a long time before I find out if this theory is correct.

After those holes were dimpled, and it only took a minute or two, I had to determine which of the many remaining holes were #30 and #40 size because those too needed to be dimpled. Those sizes I more or less recognize on sight these days, so I grabbed the Sharpie and marked them to be dimpled. Those holes that were to remain unmolested got a X drawn over them lest I get carried away with the dimpling.

Again, it was short work to get them dimpled. It's really quite easy when the holes are right on the edge of the skin. The next step is to rivet the baggage floors to the Center Section. I found it easier to cleco them into place vertically rather than horizontally as shown in the drawings. As seems to be the norm with riveting in the Center Section, different size rivets are involved and it pays to mark the territory to avoid mistakes. They're #19s, in case you're wondering.

I could tell by how hard it was to get the clecos in that these were going to be tough rivets to squeeze because of their tight location up against the baggage floor. The plans suggest putting tape on the rivet squeezer to keep it from scratching up the floors, but with the squeezer I'm using that prophylactic won't be enough. I know Van's tried to design this thing to not require any rivet pounding, but sometimes the right tool for the job is the only choice. These rivets are going to have to be driven, and I'm going to have to haul the Center Section back to the hangar (its third trip!!) yet again.

Not tonight, though. I could feel that I was getting "stupid hands," a malady that I get late in the day when I'm tired and may have had one too many cups of coffee to get me through the work day. Stupid hands get sloppy and make mistakes, as I've learned to my detriment, and it's better to just call it a day.

This ocean will eventually get crossed, and while it will be a steady pace that gets it done, it's not going to be a non-stop ride.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hey, I gave up a project that I'd been working on for four years cause I got frustrated with interference with family time. I should have just kept a balance like you and persevered. I regret not sticking with it. Family does come first. Just feel lucky to have a project that comes second. John
PS really enjoy the blog!

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