Saturday, May 28, 2011

Surreptitious Research

I've never been one for throwing parties, which is quite likely why I've also never been one that gets invited to a lot of parties. I have quite a bit of the repressed hermit in me, emerging from my preferred solitude only to wear the guise of a gregarious and usually jovial co-worker for as long as it takes to pay the bills. 'Twer up to me, I'd have a shack somewhere in Montana where I'd spend my days building stuff and my nights watching Top Gear re-runs, laughing uncontrollably at their caustically acerbic British wit.

Things are a little different when I'm at the airport, though. Far away from the crowds of Wal-mart shoppers (a term not to be confused with folks that simply shop at Wal-mart, mind you, myself being one. I contend that "Wal-mart" can be a lifestyle in and of itself, separate and distinct from Wal-mart as a destination) and hectic highways filled to capacity with people unable to come to grips with complex operations like signaling turns or using their headlights in the rain, the airport to me is a bucolic refuge in a maddening world. I'm a different, somehow better person there, or so I like to believe, periodic outbursts of emphatic swearing excepted.

Which explains how it came to be that I have agreed to host an EAA Chapter 9 build-visit next month. June 25th, to be precise. 1 pm, if you're thinking of attending.

I myself have never attended one of these soirees so I have no idea what the expectations are for the provision of amenities and comestibles. Do I need to bring chairs? Perhaps a gazebo? Do hosts typically cater in warm foods, or perhaps fondue? Baked goods? Finger sandwiches? Will I be vilified behind my back as a provincial rube for failing to have at least a three member band? Strings, or jazz?

I decided to do some research to find out. Better safe than sorry, as they say. Fortunately there was one such event scheduled for this very day which I thought to be the perfect opportunity for me to take a look at how this business is done. The event was in nearby Delaware, Ohio, and presented me with the option of an enjoyable forty-five minute Miata ride or a ten minute flight.

I opted for the flight, although I was never able to get much above 2,000' due to the low-ish clouds.

Quite the gathering it was! I'm not sure how I will fit this many people into a hangar already packed to capacity with an RV-6 and it's little brother, The Mighty Dozen.

Snacks were limited to a couple of Tupperware containers holding cookies. I personally did not see a single cookie eaten. And music? None but the sound of general aviation itself enjoying a clement Saturday morning.

I can do this!

Back at my hangar, I did a little work on the 12. The first little job was one that will be near and dear to young co-pilot Egg: the installation of the 12V power socket and input jack for a portable music device. Nothing could have been easier. Both parts just screw in, and access was easy.

I had to build up another wire. This one was notable for the fact that it wasn't notable for not providing the required length. In other words, Van's is right back to telling us everything we need to know. I can't figure these guys out.

Next were the pilot and co-pilot headset jacks. These are notable for the difficulty in accessing the holes they go in. With the fuselage being laid on its side like it is, left and right have become top and bottom. As fate and good ergonomic design would have it, these jacks go on the left and right sides, or in the contemporaneous situation, the top and bottom. Not only that, they're installed through the little power transfer panels in the sides of the fuselage. Getting them in there was looking to be a real chore.

Each jack has three washers, one that goes on the inside of the skin and two that go outside. The one that goes inside was the biggest concern. As we've seen before, dropping one of these washers could easily result in it falling to a completely inaccessible area. That would not be good, and would almost certainly result in some non-airport like behavior on my part. Screaming and shouting, as it were.

I came up with a clever little way to keep that from happening. I tethered the washers onto the jacks using slim pieces of masking tape.

Even then I couldn't get my hand in the opening far enough to get the jack to protrude through the hole in the cockpit floor. Lucky for me, I'm horrible at putting my tools away; the Impulse Buy of the Century was still sitting out on the work bench. This it the flebible grabber thingy that I used to retrieve the bolt that I dropped down into the guts of the fuselage. It saved my bacon that day, and did it again today! I just used it to grab hold of the first jack and maneuvered it into the hole.

It held it in place long enough for me to climb down from the stool and run around to the other side.

I used another Harbor Freight impulse buy that I had picked up in their well stocked Dental Tools aisle to grab the edge of the jack and pull it through the hole.

The second jack was a little more difficult. Even with the grabber thingy holding it, it wouldn't sit straight enough in the hole for me to get the two external washers and the nut onto the protruding part of the jack. Masking tape was able to hold the grabber thingy in a better position, though.

Finally! The pilot side is done!

The installation of the co-pilot side is on hold until I can get to Radio Shack. The reason for the delay is that the plans show the optional installation of a headset jack that can be used to siphon headset audio in a video camera. This is a dream come true! I have struggled for years to find a reliable way to do that. My best solution to date is to feed a little bud microphone into the cup of one side of my headsets. It works, but roughly half the time the little microphone gets tugged out of the headset cup and I don't notice until it's too late. I'm definitely going to install the optional jack! Van's was helpful enough to provide a Radio Shack part number for the stereo jack, so it should be easy for me to get the required parts.

By saying that, of course, I have doomed myself to a prolonged struggle to find the parts. It will be worth it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love this writeup and for how I use them in my newsletters, the first few paragraphs in particular.
Still looking for the place where you wrote something like
X + Y = ???? I can't remember but I laughed a lot and want to again. Do you know where it is?
Gail in Independence, OR.
PS -Remember, when you lose a part, go buy new and you'll find it!! ! ! !

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