Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I always suspected

It was just a theory until yesterday. Now I believe that I may have proven it once and for all. The theory in question was one of my own, and as such was somewhat fatalist and pessimistic. I'd note that not all of my personally invented theories are like that, but I'd be lying if I were to say that those aren't the predominant traits of the portfolio. In any event, the theory that I believe to have now been proven inarguably is this one:

"The fastest way to find a lost part/tool/anything is to order/buy a new one."

The final proof of this theory involved the (as it turns out) temporary loss of three nylon pieces that mate with three matching nylon pieces that are already installed in the airplane. The first three pieces were installed ages ago, back when I was still assembling the lower part of the fuselage in my basement. I remember the job well because it was quite an extraordinary effort to get them installed; there was some kind of mismatch between the size of the bolts and the size of the provided nuts. All of that aside, the salient point is that the second part of the nylon assemblies needed to be put away someplace safe where I wouldn't lose them in the intervening year.

Which, of course, is precisely what happened. I couldn't remember where I had put them. I do remember seeing them on various occasions over the last year and reminding myself to remember where they were, but that's just one of those cruel and ironic tricks that nature plays on the imminently elderly. The only thing you remember clearly is your admonishment to not forget.

There are only two places they could have been, though. They could have still been in the basement somewhere, or they could be somewhere in the hangar. An exhaustive search of the basement produced no positive results. The good news in that is that the search area had thus been reduced. The bad news is that this was the same as having exhausted Lake Michigan in the search for Amelia Earhart, leaving the vast Pacific as the only other alternative.

Typically in these cases I try to put myself in the shoes of a rapidly aging and often distracted person and try to figure out where that person would have thought it best to store these things. While playing that hauntingly familiar role, I decided that if it have been me that needed to store these parts in a safe location, I'd have put them in a plastic bag and stored them with the remaining fuselage detritus. No luck there, though. Having failed there, my second thought was that perhaps my purely hypothetical forgetful person would have tossed them in with all of the little pieces/parts of the finishing kit. A few minutes of rooting through the finishing kit vegetable bin with the fervor of a Dachshund on the scent of a ferret found nothing.

All was not lost, however, and the idea of simply lapsing into a state of dejected capitulation for a few weeks was quickly discarded. Well, not all that quickly; I gave myself a day to luxuriate in frustration. Instead of working on the airplane, I took care of some of the logistical stuff that's been parked on one of the back burners for a while. Amongst that list of items was a note to call Van's and order the autopilot servos. They're easier to install now than later, and they're Skyview compatible should I end up going that route. As long as I was placing an order, I thought to ask how much replacements for the missing nylon parts would cost. They were just a couple of bucks, so I ordered them.

Naturally, I found them yesterday. They were in a plastic bag in the finishing kit vegetable bin. I had missed seeing them on the two or three times that I had gone pawing through the contents of the bin. In my defense, two things had been working against me on those previous searches: they were white parts camouflaged in a white bin, and I had not yet ordered new ones. I really never stood a chance.

Having found them, it was too late to do anything with them since I had something else I needed to do. The Dynon D-6 installation was finished and I needed to test fly it. Well, "needed" is possibly too strong of a word, but "wanted" seems too frivolous in the era of $5.60/gal avgas. Either way, I decided that I'd rather fly.

My plan was to fly over to MadCo (KUYF) and buy some gas for the plane (that would get the tanks back to a known level; the actual content of the left tank has been questionable since the repair of the leak) and while I was there I would also use the compass rose to calibrate the magnetic heading of the Dynon. The flight over was routine, although I was even more vigilant than usual during the takeoff roll to ensure that the airspeed indicator was working. The installation of the Dynon had required some splicing to be done on the pitot and static lines and I wanted to be sure that the steam gauges were still working before I went aloft. I was even rewarded with a pretty good landing at MadCo, mostly as a result of the dead calm (yet somewhat cloying) summer air.

I was able to buy gas, but the compass rose has been painted over. They aren't very common, but I dimly remembered seeing one down south somewhere, and my first guess that it was at Fayette County Airport (I23), just outside of Washington Courthouse. It was a nice evening to fly, so I figured it was worth the short flight down there to see. I was right - they have a compass rose. It only took a few minutes to calibrate the Dynon and I was soon heading back to Bolton where I had another fine landing.

I doubt if I will be using those nylon parts any time soon. Our forecast for the next day or so is highs above 95, and that's just the relative humidity. The high temperature forecast for today is 98. I believe I'll stay inside until we can negotiate more reasonable terms.

1 comment:

Torsten said...

I knew I would "lose" those pesky little plastic thingies if I'd bag 'em and 'em in a "safe" place. I'm like a squirrel trying to remember where the good nuts had been tucked away when it comes to stuff like that.
What I did to avoid this moment of realization that I failed yet again to recall such a storage place, was to put the things right where they belong. I put one nut on them to hold them in place yet allow them to be moved out of the way to put wires and hoses underneath them. Works fine for me so far.

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