Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Birthday Present or Two

One of the benefits of working for a very large corporation is the attention that they pay to diversity. This doesn't really do me a whole heck of a lot of good from a tolerance perspective, what with me being pretty muddled up with respect to ancestry and therefore not belonging to any of the traditional identity groups that have entire weeks named in their honor, but it does benefit me in that I get a "floating" holiday every year just like everyone else.

I can't definitively say what lead to the adoption of a floating holiday (which is a day that can be scheduled at the whim of each individual employee), but I suspect that it was intended to address the difficult questions that arise when one religion has a holiday that comes with a day off of work while another religion's holiday does not. Probably the fairest solution to that problem is to give everyone Christmas as a holiday since it's so secular now anyway and provide one additional day that can be used in whatever manner the employee may choose to address the other occasions.

This is all in the way of explaining why I wasn't at my paying job today. Through the years I have learned that the best way to ensure that I don't forget to use my floating holiday is to take it on my birthday. As such, today was the day.

I met Cadillac Pete for a fine breakfast at Bob Evans and from there we went straight to the hangar. Hopes were high that we could have the second of the three control systems finished and working. The first was the flaperons; today we would do the rudder,

I had started the installation of the rudder cables a few days ago, but stopped when I realized that I was going to have to remove the screws that had been used to secure a stack of ground wires and replace them with Adel clamps and bolts. Adel clamps are always a treat, but the one that was intended to hold not only the rudder cable's protective plastic sleeve and the ground wires too was a rare beast indeed. There was so much pressure trying to spring the clamp off and spray washers and wires all over the place that I had to resort to using one of the clamps that I had purchased in the surgical supplies aisle at Harbor Freight (Home of Approximately Sized Wrenches and non-Sterile Surgical Tools).

It was only six bolts, but it took the better part of an hour to get them installed. The lesser part of that hour was used to drink a bottle of water and recover from the effort.

The other end of the rudder cables also has a protective sleeve. This one won't have the benefit of Adel clamps to hold it in place, though. For these, a hole gets drilled near the end of the tube and safety wire is applied to hold the sleeve in place.

More than a year ago, I ran lengths of string through the tail cone just before installing the final skin. This string has been taped in place ever since, just waiting for the day when it would be used to pull the rudder cables to the back of the plane and out through the aft bulkhead.

Today was the day!

Having used the string and removed it from the tail cone, the last thing we wanted was for the ends of the rudder cables to get accidentally pulled back into the airplane. The plans suggested using wire or string for that purpose, but we decided to be a little more cautious. We grabbed a couple of long bolts from one of the parts bags and temporarily installed them in the cable forks.

Because I've done enough word work to know better than to attempt working with wood, I asked Pete to fabricate the wooden fixture that is used to hold the rudder pedals in a neutral position. I specifically asked that it be built from the highest quality Teak, so I was a little miffed when he arrived with a plywood fixture.

Just kidding, of course. Isn't this the spiffiest rudder pedal fixture you've seen today?

It fit perfectly, which yet again made me happy to have his help. Had I built the thing, it wouldn't have fit at all because I would surely have gotten at least one of the surfaces installed upside down.

With the pedals secured, we were able to pull the rudder cables tight and clamp them into place. The metal tabs secured to the ends of the rudder cables don't actually end up being installed at the back of the plane where you see them now. They are temporarily installed back here to determine where to drill the second hole in them. Once the second hole is drilled in each, it will be match drilled to another matching plate. In this manner, there will be two matching plates for each side of the rudder. The matching plates will be bolted onto a pair of arms attached to the rudder pedals, effectively creating a fork on the other end of the rudder cable.

Yeah, I had a heck of a time understanding it too. Fortunately I didn't need to understand it to do it.

There was another mystery, too. Notice how little of the tab extends aft behind the rudder control horn:

Now look at the other side, where a great deal more of the tab is extending out past the control horn:

I had no glimmer of understanding why that was happening, but I was assured by the factory provided drawing that it was supposed to be that way.

I left it for Pete, Chief Boffin, to figure it out. He noticed in the drawing that the offset is required because of the way the rudder pedals are offset front-to-back:

With the tabs removed for drilling and fitting, we could final-install the bolts that will hold the control cable to the control horn.

To match drill the tabs, a bolt gets fit into the factory drilled hole and the second holes get drilled by the builder.

There is excess tab to be cut off of each tab, so it was off to the band saw.

Which was an abject failure, so it was the off of the band saw. The blade simply couldn't make a dent in the steel. Plan B was immediately put into effect.

The grinding wheel was used to round off the ends. A notable quote that I directed at myself was overheard by Pete after I absent-mindedly grabbed hold of the tab with my bare fingers. I think it was something like "Of course it's HOT - that's why you're holding it with pliers, you idiot!"

Installing the tabs onto the cables and rudder pedal arms required me to get fully into the airplane for the first time ever. Even though I swore that I would never do it, I treated myself to a birthday present: I made airplane sounds.

I tested the rudder movement while I was in there.

I got another present too. Pete had brought me a bag full of goodies from a meat market down in the southeast corner of Ohio. Corn, trail bologna, bacon, and beef sticks! So far I've only tried the beef sticks, but they are fabulous!!

Oh, and the bacon-themed birthday card? That was from the three other bacon-lovers in the house, daughter Egg and our binary quadrupeds, Hogarth and Cabot.


Hugo said...

Dave, very very disappointed that the video was lacking in the "engine-noise-simulation".

Wishing you a happy birthday and hope that next year, on this date, we'll be watching flying video with non-simulated engine noise.

Recently went back to the beginning of this blog...the beginning of this long road. You have come a long way from that start. Wishing you CAVU.

Anonymous said...

Hey, ditto, where's the sound? You're cute but you making sound would be at least cuter.

And H Birthday. I'd like a share too. Rick's sisinlaw Gail

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