Wednesday, January 4, 2012


At the end of it all, in reflection the memories of even the longest of lives are comprised mostly of a series of defining, unforgettable moments that are permanently etched in our brains. Sure, things like the years of a lengthy commute to and from work will be remembered as an amorphous blob of irritation and frustration, and thousands of events will be remembered in a general sort of way, but there are only a relative few events that are so etched in our memories that we can remember them as if they happened just minutes ago. These remarkable moments can be happy, sad, or anything in between.

For me, my earliest such memory is from a day when I couldn't have been much older that four. I had wandered over to the neighbors yard somehow and was embroiled in a heated game of Ring Around the Rosie when my very justifiably irate mother found me. It seemed odd to me at the time that a parent could simultaneously be so happy to have found me yet so, so angry. I understand that dichotomy far better today than I ever could have then, of course, what with my now being a parent myself.

Sometimes it isn't even the actual event that I remember with such clarity, but a later point in time when the full import of something that I had done hit me.

I worked my way through the last three scholastic years of my engineering degree using both veterans benefits and whatever money that I could earn through a series of bottom rung jobs. By the time I received my diploma, I was working full time and could only squeeze in one or two classes at a time. All told, it was something like fifteen long years from my first day as a freshman at the University of Cincinnati and my graduation from The Ohio $tate University.

In that time I served five years in the military, had spent three years overseas, gotten married, and established myself in my career. All very important events/accomplishments, but the moment that I remember with the most clarity was when I was driving home from having picked up my diploma from the registrars office and decided on impulse to stop at K-Mart and buy a frame for it. I remember that it was as I was turning left into the K-Mart parking lot that the full realization that I was done, finally done at long, long last, with school hit me. I remember the tears that filled my eyes as the overwhelming sense of accomplishment washed over me.

My most recent accomplishment was nothing like that, but I'm fairly sure it will always be archived somewhere in my memories for easy retrieval. And, when I really think about it, for good reason. A lot of people graduate from college. Even more say "I do," although not all of them really mean it. It is a very small minority indeed, though, that do what I have done.

So, what was it?

I (well, as we'll see, I mean "we") hung the engine onto an airplane that I (okay, in many, many cases, "we") assembled.

That is not something that happens every day, right?

Having fulfilled what I see as my obligation to provide a dramatic lead-in to what are really fairly mundane details, here's how it went.

First, the bottom mount (which doubles as support for the nosewheel) had to be drilled out to 3/8". These are very critical holes since they are going to be used for the large-ish bolts that hold the engine mount. As such, it is desirable to have them straight and tight. To achieve this, Van's wants a small bolt temporarily installed to hold the nosegear mount tightly against the firewall. They suggest pushing a small bolt through the firewall and attaching it with a locknut. Unfortunately, getting a nut on the small bolt would require an uncomfortable reach under the instrument panel, and discomfort is not something I endure willingly. I found it much easier to push the bolt through from under the instrument panel and put the nut on from the firewall side. The mount didn't seem to care one way or the other.

There then transpired a rather difficult drilling operation. Co-pilot Rick had brought along an electric drill that is much beefier than my little Li-Ion Craftsman drill, but the combination of the cold hangar (which had a weakening effect on its battery) and my Harbor Freight (Home of Under Performing Drill Bits) drill bit made for a lengthy operation. Once done, though, the bottom bolts fit in easily.

Having learned the lesson of making sure all holes to be filled with a bolt actually can be, we then went through the process of making sure all of the holes, especially those that are powder-coated, were large enough to allow the bolt to pass. Cadillac Pete also thought it would be a good idea to test the fit of the bushings that go through the rubber mount isolators too, and it's good that he did - they had small burrs that were keeping the bolts from sliding through. A light pass with the 3/8" bit cleared that up.

With all of the holes verified and the bolts/nuts/washers/isolators ready and positioned, it was time to move the engine into place. Co-pilot Rick agreed to stand ready to throw himself under the engine to protect it from damage in the somewhat likely case that I managed to knock it off of the hoist.

We preloaded the top mount holes with the assembled attachment parts:

At this point I adopted my usual management role and guided Rick and Pete's strenuous efforts from afar:

I swear, some day I'm going to form a blues band just so I can name it Three Bolts Easy. There's always one bolt that doesn't want to cooperate. Rick assessed the situation:

A little pushing and prodding finally got the fourth bolt in. The bolts are to be tightened to a torque value of 160 inch-pounds, but can be further tightened to as much as 190 inch-pounds if needed in order to get the cotter pin hole to align with a slot in the castellated nut. At 160 inch-pounds, the hole was actually slightly beyond the nut. I'm going to have to research whether or not that's a problem:

Problem or not, we considered the job done and celebrated the event in the only way possible:

The tears can come later, if for no other reason than that I can finally, after weeks of worrying about it, be assured that I'm not going to drop that engine.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

Looks like you're going to have to add a washer to that engine mount to get the castle nut in the right place. Lookin good tho.

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