Saturday, December 31, 2011

The relay race

On the plus side, I have a borrowed engine hoist in the shop, delivered courtesy of a fine gentlemen who lives in the next county over. Brought it right to the hangar door, by golly, and unloaded it too. You meet the nicest class of people in the flying game... usually. More on that later.

The hoist is on loan for an indefinite period, but as it is a vital tool in the donor's work, I don't want to have it around any longer than I need to. Unfortunately, I'm still not sure how long I'll need it given the two steps forward, two steps back nature of the jobs I'm slogging through.

You may remember that I was in need of an adapter plate to adjust for a change in the spacing in the firewall holes that the starter relay mounts to, and after (not) convincing the doubtful Mr. Ken S. at Van's that I had not, in fact, already received said adapter in the past, one was sent.

I waited more than a week for its arrival.

In the intervening days I heard from a number of other builders that told me that they too had to run the Gauntlet of Cynical Doubt in order to acquire the part, and that the part in question presented other difficulties in the area of fit. In other words, "I have the new version firewall also and had the same issue. The Vans transfer plate pushed the starter contactor into the rudder support bracket, about a 1/4 inch lower then the position in your photo."

Well, the part arrived via US Turtle Express this afternoon and, with the clock ticking on the hoist rental, I wasted no time in getting out to the hangar to get it installed. And sure enough, the positioning of it put the relay solidly in metal-to-metal contact with the brace beneath it:

A situation like this could lead to no end of future problems such as electrical noise being generated as the relay rubs against the brace or damage to the relay as it wears its protective case away against the more rigid brace. The solution to this problem was the same as the solution to nearly all of life's little problems: if duct tape can't fix it, a Dremel tool can.

Now there's a nice little gap where there used to be inappropriate contact.

With the relay mounted, I was able to move onto the next step: remove the panel cover. Not easy, that, since it was still covered with obdurate duct tape that insisted on leaving a nasty residue when removed, right up until the moment when Cadillac Pete, expert in all manner of adhesive recalcitrance problems, suggested heating the tape with a heat gun. That worked like a charm! Once removed, I was unsure where to store the screws so that (brace yourselves!) I wouldn't lose them. Pete had another fine suggestion: take a picture of where they're stowed.

The reason that the cover had to be removed is that Van's assumes that the avionics are installed by this time. However, as we're still firmly stuck in Skyview purgatory, no avionics have been installed in my, or anyone else's for that matter, RV-12 since spring of last year. Still, there's nothing stopping me from getting the wiring harnesses in place.

Then it was time to install the fuel pressure sensor. See if you can find the problem here:

That's right: I have the plans and hardware for the new Skyview sensor, but when it comes to the sensor itself, I have the older model. That will require another call to Van's to rectify. I swear, if that guy accuses me of losing the new one that they already sent me....

I decided that I'd move onto the next step which was to draw another set of wires through the firewall. These wires were supposed to go through a pair of cushion clamps mounted to the engine mount standoff. The only problem was that I did not have those clamps installed, nor could I find the step in the plans where I was supposed to install them.

As I was puzzling over that, Pete stepped to the hangar door to see what type of aircraft was taxiing by. It turned out to be the big Piper Aztec that hangars next door to me. That was bad news as my hangar door was hanging wide open and the pilot of that particular airplane uses a lot of throttle on the left engine to get the plane to turn in front of his hangar. This causes a hurricane of sand, gravel, dead worms, and anything else laying on the taxiway to blow into my hangar. It also causes everything in my hangar to blow around. I ran to the door to bring it down. As it was just five seconds from being closed, I thought I had it made.


Too impatient to wait those last five seconds, Hurricane Jack(ass) hit us with nearly full throttle.

I was not happy.

I figured that was as good of a time as any to call it a day.

Not that it will do any good, but on my way out I reminded Windy that the way he makes his turn "makes a hell of a mess in my hangar, and if he could just wait a few seconds for me to finish getting the door down..."

I didn't bother mentioning how little I enjoy it when he sandblasts my car; I suspect he knows and simply doesn't care.

Usually you meet the nicest class of people in the flying game...

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