Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Dark Cloud

Every now and then it's as if a dark cloud of ill luck blows in from the west and plants itself right on top of me. Nothing I do or try to do goes right. This can go on for days, and it's never an enjoyable time. Not surprisingly, I mention this for a reason.

I hate string trimmers. I don't care if you call them weed whackers, Weedeaters(tm), line trimmers, or that-noisy-useless-piece-of-crap, they're all the same. I despise them. In particular, I have a deep and abiding hatred for the one that I have now that is surpassed only by the abiding visceral, deep, seething anger that I have for seat belts that won't retract and then get caught in the car door when I close it. And I am not alone in this hatred of trimmers; I have had occasion very recently to learn that disgust with these things is widespread.

The current unit is one that I purchased solely for its light weight. The thing about these monsters is that you have to carry them canted off to one side, which is a design that I am absolutely certain was selected after careful, nefarious collaboration with the Chiropractors Union. It's fundamentally guaranteed to cause back pain. Having fallen victim to this, I was forced to buy a lightweight model that would be easier on my back, but at the cost of capability. The little bugger simply isn't up to the task of trimming the estate grounds of my expansive suburban enclave. If I'm not overly particular about doing a thorough job, I can finish the job with one tank of gas, but just barely. During that time I will have to disassemble and re-string the line head at least three times. The last time I used it was the final straw. Fed up, angry, and disgusted, I tossed the thing into the back corner of the shed and swore I was going to find a better one.

Easier said than done, that. As I said, no one likes these things. I combed internet sites looking for one that had received favorable reviews, but the best I could find was an average ranking of three stars out of five. Some had a handful of threes and fours, but those were invariably offset by an equal number of ones and twos. I looked at highly respected brand names like Toro, Cub Cadet, and Craftsman, all with the same result. Mediocrity, and disgust that such respected names could be emblazoned on such inferior products. It was very similar to something I have always believed: no matter how sexy and beautiful the woman, somewhere there is a man that's sick of her. There simply wasn't a trimmer that everyone liked.

Until, that is, I found the Hitachi on It had nearly universal five star reviews. Not trusting my eyes (or Sears, for that matter), I also looked at dozens of reviews on Amazon. Everyone loved this thing, with the exception of the guy who rated it a one because the package arrived damaged. As far as I'm concerned, that's the fault of the bozos at UPS. I've got my own issues with UPS, but I'm not going to take it out on the product manufacturer.

The Hitachi was so popular that it could not be found in any Sears store in a 100 mile radius. Bummer. But... you could order it online and they'd deliver it to the store in only 10 to 15 days. Well, that would be fine in say, February, but the grass ain't gonna stop growing while I wait. But... there I was, sitting in front of the computer last Saturday pining for that Hitachi, when I noticed that Sears was offering free shipping for the Memorial Day weekend. I figured I'd just have it sent to my house instead of going through the hassle of going to the store to pick it up. And they said I'd have it by the end of the week!! Shiny!

The UPS it'll-get-there-when-it-gets-there tracking system promised it for today! Less than a week! Ha ha ha, I really pulled one over on the local brick & mortar Sears store, didn't I!! I was excited all day (how sad is that!) over receiving my new five star trimmer today. When the doorbell finally rang, I was as excited as young Cabot, my hyperactive watch dog.


Wait.... that's not a Hitachi, that's a Weedeater(tm), one of the lowest reviewed trimmers they have!


After the initial disappointment, things really went downhill. I contacted the people, they said they'd send a return tag and I could simply drop it in the nearest UPS drop box.

My response? "Have you ever seen a Weedeater? Have you ever seen a UPS drop box??"

"Okay, just take it to the nearest Sears."

Brick & mortar always wins in the end.

Oh, and they can have a Hitachi for me in 10 to 15 days.


So.... off to work on the airplane. The weather is gorgeous and I won't be trimming the yard....

I had just a couple of more wires to pull to wrap up the wiring section. Actually, it was one set of wires and the static line (tube) that need to run from the tail cone all the way up to the avionics area. The wires run back to the electric pitch trim motor in the tail. I've been reading about these particular wires from those very first research days when I started following other builders to see if I thought I might be able to build one of these things myself. My clearest recollection is that a number of people have managed to pull off the little gold pins at the end of the wires while pulling them through the bushings on their journey to the front of the plane. I've thought about this a few times as I've been doing my own wiring, wondering what kind of ham-fisted oaf one would need to be to break those pins. You're just pulling wire through a bushing, for crying out loud.

That was before my bushings filled up.

The last few wires I've pulled through have been very difficult because there is very little room left inside the bushings. As I've had to work harder and harder to pull wires through, it has become much easier to understand how they could get broken. I've had to start taping the pins at the ends of the wires together into a little bundle just to make sure none of the wires get separated from the herd during the trip. I figured that as long as I did the trim wires before that big, fat static line, everything should be okay. Seriously, take a look at the size of the static line as compared to the space available inside the bushing. I took one look at that and flashed back to my reaction the first time I saw a colonoscopy camera: "You want that to go where???"

I wiggled and jiggled and swore and cursed and pushed and pulled and finagled. I finally got it to go through the first bushing. I repeated the operation again. And again. And again. And finally... I got that static line all the way up to the avionics area.

And then I remembered the trim wires. There they were, still sitting all the way back at the tail cone waiting to be threaded through the same bushings that I had just coerced the static line through.

A dark cloud, indeed.

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