Saturday, August 13, 2011

I'm board - I could use a belt

The post titles are getting pretty bad, aren't they. Still, you were probably able to infer that the distractions that were keeping me from getting the floorboards and seat belts done have either left the airport or that I have become inured to their attraction. It's the first case, as it happens. The bombers flew out in the morning.

Being as it was Friday evening and I was fresh off of another brain-draining week in the salt mines, I was not too surprised at the cloud of mental numbness that hovered over me like pigeons swarming over a nice, new statue. The effects of this were immediately apparent; I simply could not figure out how this floorboard was going to fit. It's not that I couldn't figure out how to get it to slip over the flap handle; that was a simple matter of un-doing the intricate installation of said handle. The real problem arose once I had it past the handle and was trying to snug the vertical flange on the back of the floorboard up against the back bulkhead.

It seemed that the wing spars were in the way. And, of course, they were. Perhaps I haven't yet completely internalized the fact that the wings are removable, although I thought that I had. I just had to pull the wings partially out to clear the access to the bulkhead.

The remainder of the forward floorboards went in without undue difficulty, as did the seat belts, although it did take quite a few trips back and forth to the plans to convince me that the AN4-6A bolt that is used to secure the crotch straps is, in fact, the correct bolt. The problem was that it never tightened up completely. Even with the correct bolt and washer in place, I ran out of threads on the bolts before they snugged up to the brackets. It seemed so wrong that Cadillac Pete actually removed one to make sure that we hadn't accidentally grabbed the wrong size bolt. We wanted to be double, triple, quadruple check so we could be at least passingly sure that we weren't going to have to remove the 30 kajillion floorboard screws of the main seating area floorboard to fix it later.

There was no way to defer the installation of that floorboard because it is required to be in place prior to checking and adjusting the tension of the stab cables. This seemed like it should be a pretty easy job: just put the cable tension gauge on the cables and tighten/loosen the bronze cable couplers as required. The problem was that I couldn't get the gauge located at a suitable spot on the cables through the inspection port holes on the belly of the airplane. When I groused about that to Pete, he asked why I didn't just use the miles of exposed cable on the top of the airplane.

Hmmm. Good question.

I think it was because I was so fixated on those brass couplers, having spent an eventful (and sweaty) half hour crawling around on the hangar floor trying to get them connected to the cables, that I never considered that there could be any other access point than those two little inspection ports.

It couldn't have been easier using Pete's radical alternative approach.

That isn't to say that I wasn't going to have to spend another uncomfortable half hour struggling to get suitable access to those couplers. In the olden days, you would safety wire those couplers to keep them from just working loose and leaving you with no control over the pitch attitude of the airplane, which would be a highly undesirable occasion indeed. These days, the safety wire has been replaced by these cleverly designed locking clips that are reportedly much easier to install.

And by "cleverly," I obviously mean "sadistically."

As usual, Van's depiction of the work area is unconscionably misleading or, as they like to put it, "some parts not shown for clarity." The parts in question being a whole fricking airplane. In the real world, those cables and couplers aren't just conveniently floating in thin air as shown in the drawing; they are, in fact, surround by a few hundred pounds of tightly constricting airplane. Nor did the first clip slide readily into the slot as shown in the drawing. It was a battle royale to get that thing in there. Oddly enough, the next three went in easily. I suppose this indicates that there was just a very steep learning curve to overcome. So steep, I think, that it could better be described as a learning cliff.

While I was messing around with those clips, Pete was keeping himself busy installing the shoulder straps.

The next steps involved installing floorboards that had not yet been painted, and I was out of paint. We decided that a pizza and a couple of beers would be a better way to use what remained of a nice Friday evening.

No comments:

Post a Comment