Thursday, May 26, 2011

Unpublished work sees the light of day!

As it transpires, some of the work on the airplane that I did last Sunday hadn't been reported on yet, the idea being that the relatively small report would segue into Monday afternoon's work and it would make sense to talk about it as if it was a single work session. For reasons I'll discuss shortly, that didn't happen. So here it is, Thursday evening and I find myself looking at these pictures and trying to remember what story they tell.

Ah, yes. It was an interesting task. Close on the heels of the drilling of the hole for the OAT probe which, you may recall, was notable primarily due to the relatively high degree of autonomy foisted unexpectedly onto the builder (in this case, that being your's truly) as to precisely where the hole would be located, we come across a directive to create two [insert esoteric code number that I have long since forgotten here; WH-B183 if I had to guess] wires. Not complicated at all, that, insofar as it entails only the cutting of two lengths of wire and the crimping on of a couple of terminals. Note, however, the arbitrary nature of the phrase "two lengths." We know, obviously, that there are to be two wires. We do not know precisely what lengths they are to be. That is an exercise left to the reader, and I cannot recall a similar instance in which a specific size has not been supplied by the designers.

The wires in question were to run from each of the sides of the fuselage and meet in the center where they would apparently be fastened to the sides of seat ribs to provide a solid electrical ground. With that in mind, I decided that the thing to do would be to first run the entire length of the remaining spool of wire provided in the kit from the left fuselage side, through the wire duct, out to the right side. Then I would leave enough room on the soon-to-be left side wire for it to reach a location on the seat rib. I marked said position with a Sharpie(tm).

I cut the wire at that mark, then pulled some of the remaining wire back from the right side and added a terminal to it. With that done, I simply removed the excess wire from the length pulled out through the hole in the right side of the fuselage. Here are the two wires meeting in the center:

The outer ends of the wires also had terminals crimped on and were then attached to the transfer blocks.

Next I ran some wires back towards the aft end of the plane. This was one of those "might as well; it will only take a couple of moments" jobs that invariably turn into those "why do I ever think anything will only take a couple of moments" jobs. As you can see if you really squint, the wires are going through a hole with no bushing in it.

That sent me on what was effectively an archeological dig through the plans to find the place where I had missed the installation of the bushing, and an even larger search through the archived parts bags to find the bushing itself.

As I said, this all happened four days ago and I haven't been back to the hangar to work since. Sunday afternoon I came down with my annual summer cold and haven't had the clarity of thought required to work on the airplane since. As you can imagine, achieving any kind of productivity at the paying job while working with a brain as mushy as the plot line of a Tarantino movie has been challenging enough; I've had no mental energy left for airplane work after a solid day of trying (and, for the most part, failing) to get more than three or four synapses to fire on command.

I did, however, manage to order a few things. First of all, I had to order more electrical terminals. Some of the really thin 20 gauge wires weren't meaty enough to get the terminals to fully grab onto and the terminals came off during my post-crimp pull test. After the third time that happened, I started stripping a little more insulation off and doubling the exposed wire over before crimping. That seemed to fix the problem, but by that time I was short of terminals.

I also placed an order for two plexiglass bits and a special "zero flute" countersink bit to be used when it comes time to install the canopy.

I mention this because it brings up one of my pet peeves with Van's. Now I may have mentioned before that I have a habit of collecting peeves like a lonely widow collects cats and it really labors the concept of a "pet" peeve to have so many, but this is one that (admittedly irrationally) really irks me. I'm speaking, of course, of their completely inconsiderate shipping practices.

Look, I understand that I'm building a $60,000 airplane and the leakage of a few bucks here and there is small potatoes in a project of this magnitude, but it's just so unnecessary. Because it's so unnecessary, it comes off as somewhat rude.

Here's what I'm talking about. I placed both orders at the same time, and on the same day. Both arrived in my mailbox today.

Here's the Van's order.

Wadded up into a thin envelope. Shipping cost: $6.63.

Here's the Avery Tools order.

Safely packed into a rugged and secure box. Shipping cost: $1.90.

Which of those vendors does the better job of looking out for me, their valued customer?

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