Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A forced break

Wow, did I ever find a crappy way to hurt my back! When I got home from work Friday afternoon, I was met by the guy that had just emptied our septic tank. I'm not super keen on septic tank maintenance, and apparently my negligence had resulted in the aerator motor getting so fouled with gobs of who-knows-what that it had burned itself out. Gave its life in the interest of foamy crap, as it were. Sad, yet somehow heroic.

Being a friendly and helpful sort, Mr. Septic had informed the CFO that we could save a $100 through the simple expedient of me driving across town and buying (and installing! ICK!!) a replacement unit rather than having one delivered. Well, we all know how that went; I was nominated before I even knew about it. Wish I had gotten to him earlier - I'd have sprung for a ten spot just to keep that little tidbit of knowledge between the two of us. $110 to avoid driving clear across town in the company of a piece of equipment that has spent eight years soaking in effluvium? Bargain!! But... not to everyone, and particularly not to those that wouldn't be riding along.

Long story short (too late for that, I suppose, so let's go with "long story finished, here's the punchline"), I was lifting the old crap-encrusted (and I'm afraid I do mean that literally) motor into the car while striving to touch as little of it as possible and ended up wrenching my back. Quite painfully, too.

My back loosened up a little later and it wasn't too bad across the weekend, but as I was getting in the car Monday morning (and catching my first whiff of an interior than had been infused with Eau de Septique for the weekend), my back rebelled with a very noticeable spasm. Which was followed throughout the day with another series of the same every time I lifted anything heavier than a three syllable word, made a wisecrack, or pointed out an irony. In other words, it was nearly constant. I was able to get an afternoon appointment with my chiropractor, thankfully. That was an eye opening session - heretofore I had thought the only way he could bring a tear to my eye was to present me with my bill! Turns out restorative machinations on a truly ailing back can be quite painful as well. Besides which, after dropping $468 on a new motor whose sole function in life is to stir air into sewage, his invoice looked like a bargain.

As it turns out, the pain he put me through had nothing on the bruiser of a girl that gave me a therapeutic massage on Tuesday. I had to look it up when I got home; I had no idea that "therapeutic" was a synonym for "excruciating" and "massage" is French for "the intentional bruising of internal organs." If it had been a guy doing it, I might have mentioned something along the lines of "Hey, that really hurts!" Being as it wasn't, misplaced masculine pride precluded me from making even so much as a whimper while laying there wondering if I'd actually be able to hear my ribs snap as she dug her elbow into my back so hard that she left a trench in the mattress table on the other side.

But finally I felt well enough to get back out to the hangar today. I've had a few days to look into the problem I had with the gap between the roll bar and the brace. The word on the streets was that the roll bar might move forward once I put the top brace on. That step is two pages beyond where Van's would have had me match drill into the roll bar mounts, thus preserving the misalignment of the parts for eternity. What were they thinking?? I decided to skip ahead those two pages and see if the top brace would help with the immediate problem. It looked like it might be easiest to assemble the whole, uh, assembly and attach it all at once.

It wasn't. The side bulkheads have a slot cut into them that is supposed to fit over the longerons, but it's a very tight fit. That, and the fact that the top brace couldn't be reached while holding the rest of the assembly in place, meant that it was too much to do alone. I had to take it all apart again and start with the top brace.

I was then able to put the side bulkheads in.

And take them right back out again.  Something just didn't seem right. The baggage floors weren't reaching the side bulkheads and the bottom flanges seems somewhat off. That was all because I had clecoed the bulkheads into the wrong holes in the side skins. Fixed!

When I got everything assembled, I went back and checked the gap between the roll bad and the brace.


With everything all aligned, I could finally go ahead and match drill into the mounts.

It all needs to come apart again, as usual. There are nutplates to install and all of the new holes need to be deburred. I have to prime the roll bar mounts and the roll bar itself needs its final coat of paint. Then it will all get riveted back on and it will be just about time to rivet on the tail cone!

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