Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Just flailing around for a few days

Right up until I decided that it would be easier to skip over Section 23 and jump ahead to some of the later sections that require easy access to the bottom of the fuselage, I was quite comfortable in following the enforced linear path of "do this, then do this, when you're done with those, do this." Now that I have options, I seem to have lost my sense of steadfast direction. I could work on the rudder pedals, or I could work on the fuel system, or I could starting painting some of the interior parts, or... well, I just can't seem to decide.

Any decision being better than no decision, I had started down the path of doing the fuel system. That was going fine until I tried to bend the first length of tube. As it turns out, there is a difference between the cheapy tube bender from AutoZone and the more sophisticated tools available from airplane shops. The first bend was to be 90 degrees. And it was! Unfortunately, it was a 90 degree bend with a crimp in the tube for the last 30 degrees. The tube bender didn't have any facility for keeping the tube down in the support channel (I don't know, what do you call it?) and the tube lifted out as I was bending the final 30 degrees. Crimpsville, just like that.  Bummer.

Having ruined an entire four or five inches of precious tubing (which in my prescience I have already ordered more of) I decided that it would be more expedient to buy a proper tool rather than throw more tube into the maw of the crappy bender.  I immediately placed an order with Aircraft Spruce, hoping that the tool would arrive quickly in order to maintain what little momentum I had developed on the fuel system work.

It wasn't to be.

Aircraft Spruce called the next day to tell me that my Visa had been declined. Now I don't want to brag, but overdrawing my Visa account simply doesn't happen. Something else was amiss. I called Spruce and verified that I had entered the numbers and expiration date correctly. We verified my billing address. All of that was correct. On to the bonus questions*:

"Where were you born?"

In a hospital.

"No, what city?"

Oh. Cincinnati, Ohio.

"Is your blood type B-positive?"


"Were you married on May 23, 1992?"

Hold on, let me check my notes since I always get this one wrong.... yes I was.

"Well, it would appear that you're well and truly screwed. What do you want to do?"

Nothing, really. I'd have to say that I'm pretty happy in the marriage.

"No, I meant about the order."


* It should be obvious, but just in case it's not, the bonus question portion of the above is purely fictional. Well, not the part about being flat out of luck with the Visa - it actually was declined.

I went ahead and cancelled the order since  I didn't happen to be carrying my spare Visa card. I then had the CFO contact the kind folks at Visa to see what was going on. The answer? "We stopped approving new charges after a suspicious charge was made on your card."

Really? Suspicious? It was a $1.00 charge at iTunes. In case you're not familiar, let me tell you a little something about iTunes. It is a website that sells songs to be downloaded onto iPods. The cost of the songs? Well, $1.00. So is it truly suspicious to see a purchase of $1.00 from a web site where 99% of the product for sale is priced at $1.00?  As it turns out, yes. It's counterintuitive to me, but Visa says that there is often a "test" charge on a stolen card to see if it works, and charges like they saw at iTunes are very typical ways of testing. Who knew? It seems to me the best test charge would be to actually go out and buy something expensive right away rather than tip off the Visa Police with a measly $1.00 song, but I guess that would come with more risk because you'd be at a physical location where you could be caught. But then again, doesn't the $1.00 test charge carry the same risk, albeit with the addition of a high degree of false confidence? "Yeah, man, I don't know how they caught me. The test charge went fine!"

So now I'm waiting for a tube bender. In the interim I was able to complete the inventory of the wing kit. There was just one little piece missing, and a call to Van's quickly got a replacement on its way to my front porch. They're always pleasant to deal with on these kinds of calls. I always expect an inquisition asking whether I had carefully checked within the folds of the mountain of paper the parts come wrapped in, but they never do. The apologize for the inconvenience, verify my address (and thankfully have no questions about my credit card), and send the part on its way.

I guess I'll start on the rudder pedals now.

But first, a question from the mail bag that I think warrants an answer:
Did you try filling the tube up with fine sand to prevent crimping? Works fantastic for regular copper plumbing pipes.
This is an interesting question because I came across this same suggestion when I was researching tube bending issues. The problem is that I am loath to introduce any more foreign materials than absolutely necessary to the fuel lines. It only takes one grain of sand or other tiny obstruction to block a carburetor jet. It's inevitable that a little aluminum will get in the tubes from the cutting and burnishing, and every effort will be made to clean out the tubes before they are installed on the plane, but I just cringe at the idea of getting a grain of sand in there that steadfastly resists my cleaning efforts but eventually acquiesces to the pernicious demands of flowing gasoline, only to lodge itself in a very inconvenient location further downstream.

That said, if the fancy tube bender also includes more than a modicum of FAIL with its more sophisticated feature set, I will have to look into other means of bending the tubes. I don't think that's going to happen, but if it does I will have to try a more old-fashioned method. What I would try next is tube bending springs. Just like sand, they're dirt cheap (heh! I really crack me up!) and have the benefit of working external to the tubing.

1 comment:

Julien said...

Did you try filling the tube up with fine sand to prevent crimping? Works fantastic for regular copper plumbing pipes.

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