Friday, October 7, 2011

Old Friends, New Friends

I'm sure there's some pithy, insightful quote that offers sage advice on the preservation of old, loyal friends when newer friends come along, but I'm not going to bother looking for it. I'm relatively sure that the underlying message would be to make sure not to cast aside the former friendship in favor of the newer, yet remain open to the opportunities presented by new acquaintances. This is actually a piece of fatherly advice that I shared with a younger Co-pilot Egg back in the days when I was still able to fool myself into thinking that she would listen. As I recall, she was very enamored with her first true boyfriend, to the exclusion of all of her girlfriends. I warned her that she was driving away her old friends and may some day regret when/if the relationship with the boy had run its course. I probably told her something along the lines of, "Boyfriends come and go, but your girlfriends are forever." Eventually I was proven right and she learned a valuable, albeit painful, lesson.

I now find myself in a similar position on a couple of fronts. At home, Cabot, the little puppy that we adopted a couple of years ago, has blossomed into a healthy, hearty, and attention-demanding young dog. So desirous of attention is he that it is difficult to remember to share time and affection with the older, more sedate Brave Sir Hogarth.

It doesn't help that Cabot has a possessive streak a mile wide and is quite jealous of any petting of, or playing with, Hogarth. He makes quite a scene, really.

The other (and slightly more topical) situation has to do with my airplanes. The RV-6 seems to have adopted a bit of a bad attitude after having been listed for sale. I was warned that anthropomorphizing airplanes tended to make them angry but, as with my progeny, I have to learn these lessons for myself. And have I ever paid the price! You may recall that I had an in-flight situation wherein some of the rubber weather stripping at the back edge of the canopy came loose and caused a ruckus as we were approaching Darke Co. International Airport for landing. A strip of duct tape got us home, but I figured that a prospective buyer might find that kind of repair to be somewhat off-putting; it would need to be fixed.

Figuring that the canopy repair would lead to at least a couple of days of down time, I thought I'd also perform an oil change. While the current load of oil only has a dozen or so hours on it, it's been in there since April. There are those who say that the oil should be changed every three months no matter what, but I figure that oil is millions of years old already. Twice a year will do famously, says I.

I have come to dread the removal of the engine cowls over the last few years because it seems that every time I remove them, some of the hinge strips that hold them together will be broken and in need of replacement. And that replacement? It's an unholy bear to do. The hinge strips are riveted into the fiberglass of the cowl and there is no way to drill out those rivets without creating large, unsightly holes in the fiberglass. That necessitates refilling the holes with epoxy, re-drilling them to fit new pieces of hinge strip, and painting over the result.

As I removed the top cowl, I heard the tinkling of the three hinge hoops that formerly resided on the strip that sits in the small air inlet area right behind the prop spinner as they dropped through the engine and onto the hangar floor. I hate that sound so much that I'm convinced that every time I hear one of those little broken hoops rings as it hits the ground, an angel gets a colonoscopy.

It was at that moment that I realized I had been ignoring my old friend. It was a difficult decision to list the -6 for sale and I dealt with the pain of it partially by starting to step away emotionally. Which is to say, I lost interest in working on it. That would have to change - this time I would not be replacing the broken hinge strip with another hinge strip. No, this time I would do what I should have done ages ago: I would add a metal plate to the bottom half, put some nutplates in it, and match drill the top half so that it could be screwed into place. That would be a far more robust solution and would (in theory) solve the problem of the broken hinge strips. This would, of course, mean that I would have to divert my attention away from the RV-12 canopy for awhile. So be it.

Only one of the four hinge strips was broken, but they all needed to come out. Drilling a metal rivet out of fiberglass is tricky - the bit senses the fiberglass and much prefers to drill through that than metal.

The inner edges needed to be cleaned up. It seems that the original builder didn't trust the rivets to hold and smooshed some epoxy in there too. The little belt sander that I bought for working on the RV-12 canopy sure came in handy!

Meanwhile, Pete was removing the canopy strap so we could put new rubber on it.

Using peel ply for the first time ever made me wonder why I had never done it before. It was a great way to make sure I got a nice flat epoxy surface to work with. In the past, I've always had to try to sand a bumpy surface smooth and it never really worked out very well.

Aircraft Spruce sells aluminum in much larger chunks that I actually needed.

So the RV-6 is fixed, and just in time for a beautiful Native American summer. Hopefully I'll get some flying in to cheer me up. I'm pretty despondent over the loss of my little red Miata, which is a completely different story.

No comments:

Post a Comment