Saturday, August 20, 2011


There are some weeks that I leave with the same sense of relief that I feel every Spring when I can finally consider Winter to be well and truly done. This has been one of those weeks. Between an invasive and extraordinarily undignified medical procedure (which I cannot even remember much of thanks to modern IV-delivered pharmaceuticals) and the angst that surrounded my involvement in causing a million dollar hit to the annual bottom line at the paying job, the stress brought on from the difficulty encountered with an obstinate and recalcitrant part on the RV-12 was certainly not welcome. That said, I think stepping away from the problem for a couple of days was the right thing to do.

You may recall that the problem I'm talking about centered around the, well, center of the forward hoop on the canopy frame. The problem was that the hoop was not straight and it was therefore impossible to adjust its position to create a uniform 7/16" gap from the hoop to the instrument panel. After thinking about it for a day or two, by which I mean losing sleep over it, my theoretical solution was to remove the canopy frame and support the center of the hoop on an extended jack stand, the idea being that I would then be able to exert pressure on the outer halves of the hoop, thereby straightening it.

That worked magnificently. I really couldn't have done it without Pete, though. Without him standing there threatening to whack my wrists with that big metal straight edge, I wouldn't have had the nerve to really bear down on the hoop with the force required.

It turns out that brute force was to be the rule of the day. Even with the hoop straightened, it still wasn't at the requisite 7/16" gap from the panel. The rectification of that issue required the repeated application of blows from the mallet that I use for deer hunting. Well, I don't really, but how else to explain the vibrant orange color?? This is the same mallet that I bought from Harbor Freight (The Home of Wildly Inhumane Hunting Weaponry) when I was struggling with the longerons last year. I have nicknamed it 'Ole Last Resort'.

After a few dozen sharp whacks, it appeared that the hoop had actually moved closer to the panel, but I was becoming increasingly concerned that 'Ole Last Resort' was soon going to earn the new sobriquet 'Ole Aww Crap' if I kept pounding away at the hoop. I made a decision and shared it with Pete:

"I'm going to hit this thing fifteen more times and call it quits."

He replied, "Fifteen? That's a somewhat capricious number, is it not?"

Yeah, he really talks like that. It had only been a few minutes since I had shared an anecdote about having recently seen a horizon-to-horizon double rainbow, with his ensuing question being "whether I had seen Mobius' Dark Band."

I may be remembering it incorrectly since a later Google session on the topic of double rainbows and dark bands retrieves only references to "Alexander's Dark Band", but in either case I was dumbstruck, having never heard of either of them. After a stunned pause, my only retort was a flaccid "I don't know why I even talk to you."

In any event, there was nothing capricious at all about my selection of the number 15. That number is, after all, my lucky number.

"What," you ask, "makes 15 such a lucky number?" Well, Pete asked that too. You see, many, many years ago when I was no more than eight or nine years old, I was at a church carnival kind of thing. There was a woman walking around who would tell you your fortune for a mere nickle. Upon receipt of my nickle, I was allowed to pull my fortune from a pile of paper slips that I now know as the innards of fortune cookies. For the princely sum of five cents, I learned that my lucky number is fifteen. It wasn't much of a fortune, really, but it was the only time I ever learned any Latin from the Catholic church. Too bad it had to be caveat emptor.

So you see, there was nothing capricious about it at all. It was fated, lo those many years ago. And, since fifteen strokes on each side left the hoop exactly where it needed to be, it was five cents ($.2248 when adjusted to 2010 dollars using the CPI metric) well spent.

Having the hoop problem solved was a pretty big deal, and it relieved some of the frustration we had endured in getting the turtle deck skins and back window clecoed into place. The back window needs to be installed in order to correctly position the canopy. I've put off installing the turtle deck skins for a long time because they don't fit very well and it's a pretty big undertaking to get them on. But that was nothing to the fun of trying to get the window in place. We got it done, though.

It's just too bad that one of the fundamental truths about building an airplane is that what has been done, is soon to be undone. After match drilling the screw holes in the roll bar, all of that stuff gets removed.

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