Thursday, October 20, 2011

Here it comes....

It was 5:15 this morning when I found myself shivering in a 45F degree breeze, feeling the biting sting of small, sharp raindrops being blown against the side of my face, struggling to perform menial tasks with hands that were playing the bumbling fool as is their wont when cold, and irrationally shouting bitter imprecations at the unhearing and unfeeling, yet irritatingly inquisitive, deaf/mute LCD screen of the gas pump as I filled the car for yet another dark and rainy commute to work, the whole while thinking, "This is only going to get worse. And soon."

Winter is coming, and I am ill-prepared for its onslaught of pertinaciously foul and objectionable weather.

Even fall has had an impact on the work schedule. As we can no longer count on temperatures conducive to the curing process of epoxy (60F is required for the type of hardener I'm using), we have had to strive to make good use of every opportunity to get the canopy fiberglass done. The two major applications of glass require a goodly number of contiguous hours to accomplish, so it's no mean feat to find the right combination of available time and appropriate weather. It doesn't take much to throw a wrench into the delicate balance of opportunity. This was readily apparent last Saturday when Pete and I met at the hangar with the hopes of applying the fiberglass strips that cross over the front of the canopy and fair into the sides of the fuselage. As you may recall, we were able to get the strips of cloth cut to size, but had to call for a hiatus to wait for the temperatures to rise.

These breaks that send me home are always risky; it's easy to get out of the house at 7:00 am when the family is still in deep hibernation, but it can be much harder later in the day when events can conspire to trap me at home. Which is precisely what happened on Saturday. With one foot figuratively out the door, I was reminded that Co-pilot Egg was going to be coming home with a few friends in order to have some commemorative photographs taken prior to her senior year homecoming dance. Fair, that, and happy to do it. Besides, Sunday looked to be warm enough towards the latter half of the afternoon.

The problem? Well, we need to come to an agreement with regards to the word "few."

Getting that photo was tricky enough, but it all fell apart when I asked them to form a pyramid.


Sunday fortunately delivered on the promise of 60+ degrees, so the fiberglassing operation got the green light to proceed. As is normal in all cases, but more so in recent endeavors, a great deal of cerebration needs must be applied to figuring out just what it is we're going to try to do. Specifically, that is. We fully understood that the general idea was to build a bridge across the front of the canopy, but the precise positioning of the varied-width strips was somewhat difficult to discern from the provided diagram.

It seems easy at first glance, doesn't it? Well, that's simply because I didn't include the accompanying text. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a picture plus a few dozen obfuscatory words is worth somewhat less. Eventually we figured that those absurdly narrow strips down in the middle of the pack were going to decompose to nothing more than a few loosely affiliated threads once we tried to wet them down with epoxy anyway. Might as well gird the loins and apply the noses to the grindstone, as it were. In the event we pretty much just lined up the forward edges of the thicker strips as shown and placed the narrower strips where it appeared that they'd do the most good.

It's hard to tell if it's right or not; we'll find out when we try to sand it all down to the correct shape. That'll be nice work for the cold, blustery days that will soon be upon us.

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