Sunday, August 21, 2011

Swimming on dry land

I had to mow my lush, vibrant green lawn yesterday. That wouldn't be a startling fact if this was May or June, but in late August I'm used to a dry, burnt umber lawn as the grass takes a late Summer siesta. Not this year, though. We're something like seven inches over the normal year-to-date precipitation level and the result of this is a lawn that would be more appropriate to the traditionally wetter months earlier in the year.

This surfeit of moisture has also resulted in the kind of humidity that one would expect from a Brazilian rain forest. It's so muggy that you feel like you could swim though the heavy, cloying air. And as we all know, it's not the heat that makes late summer life unpleasant, it's the humidity. I thought I'd get an early start on the day and beat the worst of it and I imagine that I did just that, but it was still 80 over 80 (degrees over relative humidity) by 10:00 in the morning.

I only intended to work for a short while anyway since I was planning on making my "zip code famous" ("World Famous" being as unprovable a claim as it is ubiquitous, to the degree of being a cliché) pot roast. The secret to my pot roast is in the liquid I use in the pressure cooker to cook the meat: Sam's Club cocktail sauce mixed with beef broth. The pressure cooker ensures a fall-apart tenderness, and the cocktail sauce infuses a subtle tang. Magnifique!

It was all o be one-man work on the plane (or so I thought), so I didn't bother to solicit any help from Pete. I figured I was just going to match drill the holes from the rear window into the roll bar and I could do that all by my lonesome. That went so easily, though, that I was done in no time.

There are only a couple of steps remaining before placing the canopy onto the frame for its first fitting and I will definitely need help with that, so since I was ahead of my fairly loose schedule I thought I'd go ahead and get them out of the way. All that remains to be done is to fit a few pieces of thin angle aluminium onto the canopy frame to provide something for the lower edge of the canopy to be screwed into.

I decided that I didn't want to do that without first replacing the spacing washers that we had installed to keep the front of the canopy from interfering with the forward fuselage cover. That turned out to be a little tricky to do alone. Every time I've done it before, I've had Pete there to hold the canopy frame up while I add the washers. Without his help, I had to find another way to secure the frame in the up position. It turned out to be as easy as tying a piece of string around the forward hoop and the upper engine mount.

Easy, but not frustration free. If you look closely at the roll of string, you will see that some of it has been re-wrapped on the spool. That's because I accidentally knocked the spool off of the firewall shelf and watched helplessly as it ran down the slope of the hangar floor and out into the taxiway.

How very amusing.

Pete usually holds the frame out away from the side of the fuselage while I get the washers in place. Without him there to do that, I had to dip into my collection of Harbor Fright surgical instruments (Harbor Freight: The Home of non-Sterile Surgical Tools and 4 Pound Hunter Orange Anesthetic Bludgeons) to find something with which to place the washers. This little gizmo did a great job:

Preparations out of the way, it was time to bend metal. The pieces of angle have to be fluted to introduce a curve into them that will match the radius of the canopy frame. They actually have to match the inner radius, but here you can see the matching outer radius:

It's been awhile since I've had to flute parts, but it turns out to be just like riding a bike: if you screw it up, you're going to be really in a world of hurt. I didn't, though. They turned out quite well.

From there it's clamp, match drill, and cleco.

I only got the right side done before I was too sweaty and miserable to continue, but the left side should go pretty quickly next time I get out there.

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