Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hello, Winter, where ya been?

That which is unsustainable cannot last, so we all knew that we were living on borrowed time with the last few weeks of unseasonably warm 40+ degree temperatures. Perfect airplane working weather, it was, but no airplane work got done. Ten hour hour days at the paying, with an hour long commute home at the end of it, have left me a little too tuckered to head out to the hangar in the evenings. I had hopes for the long weekend, though....

Eighteen degrees this morning.

Well, those grapes were probably sour and there were errands to do today anyway. My new (as of today) Saturday morning errand is to go to the butcher shop, as long as I can get there early. I gotta say that as much as I love my K-cup coffee maker, the best gift I received this Christmas was the discovery of a nearby butcher shop. The place gets crazy busy, but as it turns out you can be pretty much the only customer in the store if you get there just after 8am on Saturday mornings.

My list of must-gets read: ground chuck, Colby cheese, and sandwich spread.

This place is like Sams Club or Harbor Freight to me, though, in the way that it triggers my impulse-buy gene. I left with, in addition to aforementioned staples, beef short ribs, philly steak, two hot italian brats, super-hot pepper jack cheese, hot colby/pepper jack cheese, sliced deli roast beef, goetta, and a bag of sub buns for the philly steak and deli roast beef.

I like hot, spicy cheese, but it's hard to find in the big-box grocery stores. Their selection is like a Chinese food buffet: they have to keep it bland to appeal to the masses. I didn't know that the butcher shop had any hot cheese, but when I asked the Meat Dude for "Two hot Italian brats," I jokingly added, "and I mean a count of 'two', not that I want the brats that are too hot." Once he got the joke, he replied that they only had one kind of 'hot' in the Italian brat genre, but if I "wanted to talk cheese, I have this super-hot...."

After gathering up $46 worth of impulse buys, I had to swing through the big grocery to pick up a few things for the braised beef short ribs that were planned for tonight's dinner. (they're currently in the oven as I write this) including some fresh vegetables and a sprig of thyme. I have dried thyme. but I use only the finest and freshest herbs for butcher shop meat!

Before I could start on the ribs, I had to run another errand with Co-pilot Egg. I have been struggling to figure out what to do about her damaged car with regards to figuring how much she is owed in damages. I took it to a local body shop and got a repair estimate of roughly $2,300,  but that's more than we'd get for it when we eventually trade it in, so there's no chance that we will get that work done. I finally realized that what I really needed to know is the difference between today's trade-in value and the old value. I figured I could just go get a quote from CarMax ("We Will Buy You Car Today Even If You Don't Buy One From Us!") for what they'd pay for it today and compare that to the Blue Book value to arrive at a fair amount. That took a couple of hours and it wouldn't have been bad at all if we could have walked around shopping for cars, but remember: 18 degrees.

Getting the ribs ready to braise took quite awhile - it's a new and complicated recipe that involves making a coarse puree of vegetables, cooking them in a cast iron skillet until they "develop a crud" (seriously, that's what the recipe says!), adding wine and reducing it (apparently not in the same way that I've been reducing the left over amount in the bottle), and adding water and a bundle of fresh thyme. Once all that's done, it goes in the oven for three hours.

I can tell you right now that I won't be making this recipe again. No matter how good it is, I just can't afford the thyme. [RIM SHOT]

With three hours to spend, I dressed up in my winter work clothes for the first time this year and ran out to the hangar. There were a couple of things that I wanted to get wrapped up. First on the list was to try to organize some of the engine wiring. I had ordered some supplies from Aircraft Spruce in furtherance of this task and the box had arrived while I was at CarMax. The wires that I wanted to do most were the set of three that go to the manifold pressure sensor.

With that job wrapped up (anyone that knows me can tell you that I'm just going to keep that up until you acknowledge the pun!), there were just a few loose ends (yeah, but this is a new one. You'll see.) left on the page. There were three more wires that needed to be winnowed from the pack, routed to various locations on the engine, cut to length, stripped, and fitted with terminals. The terminals to be used are these:

Two of these wires will feed data to the engine management system where it will be displayed as cylinder head temperature (CHT) and the third will send oil temperature. CHT is often gathered by putting a ring-shaped thermal coupler between a spark plug and the cylinder head, but Rotax has a niftier system. They provide a neat little attachment point:

The oil temperature uses the same method:

Van's details an easy way to attach the wires to the engine to keep them from flopping around. They use two tie wraps:

There are a lot of people that don't like to see wire ties used this way because they can cut/chafe the underlying part, so I don't know if I will ultimately leave them like this. I may order more wire wrap and see if I can bundle them into a little cable like I did with the manifold pressure wires and then use smaller cushion clamps to hold the cable, but only if I can find the thyme. [GROAN]

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