Sunday, August 7, 2011


Have you ever met one of those people that stretch their birthday celebrations out for a longer period than is generally accepted in polite society? For a few days before and a few days after the actual date it's all "me, me, me." I even coined a word for it: birthanukkah. Like Hanukkah, those that celebrate their birthanukkah seem to think the occasion should last for eight days.

You haven't run into that, you say?

Well, you have now. But we'll get to that.

First we need to get caught up on the RV-12. As you may recall, two of the three major control axes had been connected and were working, leaving only the pitch control to be finished. The first step in that process was the installation of a bushing that will act as a barrier to keep the stabilator control cables seated into the pulleys that they will ride over (well, 'under' to be precise). Being down in the under floor area, it was another of those tight fits that I'm becoming accustomed to. I'm virtually certain that the designers at Van's did careful calculations that involved determining the average size of a human hand and ensuring that every opening on the airplane would be 35% smaller.

The stab cables come in two halves that will later be joined together in a complicated process that has to be accomplished by putting both hands through holes that are, unsurprisingly, also 35% too small. But before that, the front halves have to be selected from a bag containing both the front and back halves. The front halves are easy to pick out - they're much, much shorter than the back halves.

The end with the threaded rod will go towards the back of the airplane. The back cable will also have a threaded rod at one end - it is these threaded parts that will be captured by a brass coupling to join the halves together. The hole in the threaded rod will provide a means to hold the rod fixed in place while the coupler is threaded on. To fabricate a tool that could be used to hold both halves of cable, I had brought along a wire hanger from home. That was to prove fortuitous, as it turns out.

Here are the pulleys. I took a picture of the bag they came in just in case I ever need to know the lot number of the pulleys I used in case of a recall (known as an Airworthiness Directive, or 'AD' in the parlance).

The plans had me attach the front half of the cables to the control tube first, then install the pulleys on top of the cables. I just stuffed the remainder of the cables under the floor board.

That turned out to have been a mistake. There is a step on the next page that has me trying to get those cables that I stuffed under the floor board routed through some holes in the bulkheads that are hidden under the floor board. In other words, the access holes for getting at those cables were 100% too small. In other, other words, there were no access holes for getting at those cables.

Fortunately, I was able to feed the coat hanger through the holes (with the help of Cadillac Pete lying on the hangar floor providing directional help - he never passes on a chance to lie recumbent on the floor, a fact that I attribute to his age) in order to pull a string up to the front, where I would use it to tie the ends of the cables and pull them back through.

Just as a note, the blue masking tape is there to keep metal shavings or other foreign objects from getting into the fuel lines.

Fitting the back halves of the stab cables onto the control horns of the stabilator was easy enough, as was drawing the cables through the tail cone using the string that had been put there last year for just that purpose.

Getting the cables joined together with the brass coupler was not nearly as easy. I had to lay down on the floor (the temptation is just as strong at my advanced age) and reach up through the 65% sized access holes. The threaded ends of the cables are cut in opposite directions, so turning the coupler in one direction will tighten the threaded rods of each cable half at the same time. It sounds easy, but there is a trick to it: you have to get both halves started into the coupler at the same time. If one side starts threading in a few turns before the other, that end will be fully tightened before the cable is fully tensioned. It took quite a few tries to get both of them right. It was also fairly difficult to keep the cables from getting crossed over each other - you really wouldn't want to have those cables rubbing against each other, or the rudder cables either.

We finally got the cables put together and tensioned up enough to hold them taut. The final tensioning would have to wait until after the party, when I would be in temporary possession of a tensiometer. In the meantime, we put the wings back on and I placed the seat cushions in the plane so it would look nice when all of the people at the party came over to see the plane.

I hear you. "Party? What party?"

Well, my loving spouse had arranged a 50th birthday party for me. Yes, yes, I know: my birthday was days ago and here I was just carrying on about birthanukkah. What's up with that? Well, we decided that a weekend party would be better since it would be easier for people to attend. That, and we wanted to have it at JP's BBQ, which is right there on Bolton Field in case anyone wanted to fly in. You know, just like that song.

What do you mean, "What song?"

Isn't it obvious? "It's My Party and You Can Fly if You Want To"

I was put in charge of cutting the cake. Being an engineer (the nerdy kind, not the cool kind where I would get to drive a locomotive) I started with a precise cut right down the middle.

I then cut precisely identically sized pieces. Sixteen of them, to be precise about my precision.

There were twenty people at the table.

I didn't say I was a good engineer!

See if you can guess who didn't get cake:

I always get a kick out of JP's huge 'JP's Welcomes the Monkeys!' banner, autographed by Davy Jones, Micheal Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork. I grew up watching their TV show and, although I shouldn't admit it publicly, I still like their music. So what's so funny about the banner? Well, they went to all that trouble to commemorate their visit by The Monkeys, when any true fan can tell you that they are actually The Monkees.

After the BBQ chicken and ribs and all the great fixins', we all rode over to the hangar in what must have looked like a funeral procession to the guy in the control tower.

With the sun shining just the right way on the wing, I could see my foot print from earlier in the day:

If you can't read it, it says "Van's." I guess I'm all about brand loyalty, even when they aren't even the same company.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's one cheerful cake. Did you get a crumba or did someone feel sorry for you and give you a mini bite? What kind was it anyway? Home made? (is that a dumb question?)


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