Sunday, March 25, 2012

Yard Work

I remember thinking, as I was droning around the vast expanses of Schmetterling Manor on my aging mower late last summer, that we had never enjoyed the normal annual mowing lull that comes after a hot, dry July and August. I was finally relieved of the onerous yard work duties that I bear by dint of my gender sometime in late October, when the grass decided that enough was enough and that it needed a rest. Unfortunately, that much needed (by both of us) hibernation was over almost as soon as it started due to the mild winter weather we enjoyed this year. There's no such thing as a free lunch (at least for us non-governmental types), and it is now time to pay the piper for the placid winter: the grass is back, and it is back with a vengeance.

Quick, here's a pop-quiz: see if you can guess precisely what the diametric limits are of the restraining ropes we use to keep Brave Sir Hogarth and Cabot Bennett from wandering off from their morning ablutions:

Too easy, right? Okay, see if you can guess where Cabot enjoys a daily sojourn on his way down to the mailbox:

So, there was definitely some mowing in my future this weekend, but I also had a trip that needed to be made. I ran into a little difficulty with the final sanding of the cowling halves. As I've mentioned, I've been making short forays out to the hangar to finish up the sanding jobs. I had finished the bottom, what I thought to be the more difficult of the two, and moved onto the top. Where I immediately realized that we had completely missed one of the edges that needed to be trimmed. Out came the Dremel and the belt sander.

Then the big sanding block:

Finally it was time to try introducing the halves to each other.

And, as in the ever-predictable plot lines of a Disney romance, they hated each other. Couldn't stand to get within a 16th of an inch of each other, in fact. And unlike in the movies, it was by no means certain that they would ultimately reconcile:

Somewhat at a loss, I thought that it might be beneficial to make a little road trip down south to visit with The Jackson Two. They finished their cowling work months ago, so an examination of their parts might point out where I was over/under cutting/trimming. Jackson and its environs have always been "flyover" parts of the state to me, but as I really like hilly, wooded rural areas, I relished the drive. Unfortunately, the whiny ("recalculating again, you idiot!") girl that lives inside my Garmin showed no interest whatsoever in the adventure:

Either that, or she was predicting a snow storm.

Eh, who needs her. I found the airport easily enough on my own.

In a side-by-side comparison, it was easy to see where one of my problems was. Given that it was 50-50 odds for one or the other, I was overjoyed to see that I had failed to remove enough material. Fixing the alternative (removing too much) is a lot more work. With fiberglass, it is always easier to remove stuff than it is to add it back.

Knowing that the installation of the cooling tunnel comes next, I also surveyed that part of the job. The little radiator in the middle is for the oil. The tunnel that runs off to the left feeds cooling air to the other radiator installed back on the firewall.

There is apparently a fundamental design issue with the tunnel that Van's is not willing to fix and therefore requires a field modification. The problem is that the tunnel runs into a conflict with one of the welded wire hoops that provide an anchor point for one of the springs that hold the exhaust header/muffler combination together. A hole has to be cut into the tunnel and a little fiberglass bump has to be fabricated. So, while it is easier to remove fiberglass than to add it, both are manifestly possible. Good thing, eh?

With the lower cowling installed on the airplane, you can see why the bump was needed:

I was also interested in seeing their progress on the installation of the Skyview avionics. I'll be doing that sometime in early summer and again it seemed like a good idea to learn of any issues. As seems to be their lot in their RV-12 build, they ran headlong into yet another abject failure of Van's quality control. You may remember that they were the ones that found that their flaperon tubes, parts absolutely critical to safe flight, had left Van's prior to being welded.

In this case, they got to the point where they were ready to apply power to the aircraft for the first time. After hundreds of hours of effort, this is one of those moments that you have looked forward to with great anticipation. Pretty much the last thing you want to happen the first time you throw the master switch to ON is see/smell a noxious cloud of smoke. Close behind that, the second to last thing you want to have happen is.... nothing.

Nothing is precisely what happened.

Days of troubleshooting later, the found the cause: the main electronics module had left Van's without being completely soldered.

Once a replacement unit was in place.... success!!

Short-lived as it was:

Just kidding. Those big X's just mean that the system hasn't yet been configured.

Configuration is a fairly lengthy process. The Dynon units are not custom designed for the RV-12, after all, so they need a few lessons about their new environment. In fact, they don't even know that they live in an airplane. Who knows, they might even be installed in a 'Parachutist' or an 'Unknown." Or even, although it doesn't seem likely, at least with regards to the display unit, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV):

Just as I was getting ready to leave, I got a new idea for how to keep my yard mowed without having to deal with my geriatric mower:

These blades have a separate engine up at the top of the boom to drive them. The pilot simply starts the engine with a control in the cockpit of the helicopter and flies these blades along the edges of the corridors that they cut to keep the encroaching trees away from high tension power lines.

I'm not sure how well that's going to work on my estate, but it looks like it might be fun to try.

Just before I left, I noticed this old Pepsi machine sitting abandoned behind the airport office:

It was the Rock-Ola coin box that caught my eye. I did a little research on the name and found it to be fairly interesting:

The Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corporation was a top maker of jukeboxes. The company, which originally made slot machines, scales and pinball machines, was founded in 1927 by Coin-Op pioneer David Cullen Rockola.
Rock-Ola neon sign.
During the 1920s, Rockola was linked with Chicago organized crime and escaped a jail sentence by turning State's Evidence. Starting in 1935, Rock-Ola sold more than 400,000 jukeboxes under the Rock-Ola brand name, which predated the rock and roll era by two decades, and is thought to have inspired the term. In 1977, The Antique Apparatus Company engineered, refined and manufactured the first "Nostalgic" Jukeboxes, and in 1992 acquired the Rock-Ola Corporation and name.
The company currently manufactures a variety of jukeboxes for both commercial and home entertainment. Commercial jukeboxes feature touch screens, Peavey power amps and digital downloading of music and ad content, delivered by the AMI Network. Rock-Ola continues to manufacture Nostalgic style CD-jukeboxes and has also added state-of-the-art digital touch screen technology for the home market. The Rock-Ola line of Nostalgic Music Centers was introduced in 2006. Two new music center models, the "Mystic" and the "Q", were introduced in 2008.
Rock-Ola was one of the producers of the M1 carbine for the US Military during WWII, making 3.7% of the 6,221,220 made. Due to both the relative rarity of Rock-Ola carbines and the distinctive name, they are highly prized among collectors.
I wonder if the Pepsi machines are as highly prized.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Whittling away

It wasn't until today that I got back to work on the airplane, and even then it was only for forty-five minutes. I almost didn't go at all, but the allure of an eighty-five degree "first day of Spring" was too much for me to resist, particularly when I think ahead to the 125 degree "first day of Summer" that will logically follow should our temperature escalation proceed in a linear fashion.

Let's hope not.

I had thought to get out to the shop on Sunday, but instead went trap shooting with Pete and his wife Красивая женщина, who was going to try out her brand new 28 gauge ultra-light semi-auto shotgun. I was afraid that I wouldn't do nearly as well as I did last time, thinking that my 16 out of 25 was surely a fluke that I would never be able to match again, but it ended up being the opposite: I shot a 22 out of 25. I was doing so well that on the three that I missed, I theatrically looked askance at my gun as if it had somehow developed a warp in its barrel. Boorish, yes, but quite fun! Lest I give the impression that it's all about me, I also have to say that after a few shots to get the feel of her new gun, Красивая женщина also had a pretty good day. And I have to tell you, I went 0 for 3 with that gun. The five or six birds she hit in a row was very impressive!

Pete? Well, I don't think we will be inviting him on our safari.

I had also hoped to do some more sanding on the cowling halves on Monday after work, but by the time I was able to even think about making it out to the shop my mood was wrecked. And it wasn't the only thing in that condition. You see, Monday was one of those days that we have every three months or so at the sweat shop wherein we meet at an offsite location for a "strategy" meeting.

These meetings went a lot better for me in the past, before I came upon the idea that the secret to success in the business side of the house is to differentiate yourself. After thinking of various means to do that, I came across what I thought was a winning plan: rather than follow the herd, all of whom now pride themselves on "thinking outside the box," I thought that I might distinguish myself through the radical idea of thinking inside the box.

That ended up being just as unpopular as the most famous "inside the box" profession known to man which is, of course, being a mime.

So, after a grueling day of expostulating on obviously unworkable strategies, I found myself pulling into the driveway at the palatial estate that I call home, only to note that a portion of the house was no longer where it had been when I had left just nine short hours earlier. Apparently what had happened in the interim is that Co-pilot Egg had come home from school, and rather than drive into the garage, she had managed to drive into the garage.

She has often stated a desire to own a smaller, more nimble car. Unable to buy one, she seems hell bent on making one herself:

Smaller, anyway. Probably no more nimble.

No one was hurt, fortunately, which, if you figure (as I do) that a first accident is inevitable, is the best outcome possible. I've had my share of accidents born of over-confidence and/or carelessness, so I know of what I speak. Oddly enough, she thought she was going to be grounded as a result of her vehicular imbroglio. I quickly put her mind to rest by explaining that grounding is what you do to misbehaving little kids that don't have any foreseeable financial prospects against which a lien can be placed. Eighteen year olds, on the other hand, make pecuniary restitution, even if it is only the amount of the home insurance deductible.

I think she would have preferred being grounded.

Today was no real picnic at work either, as I learned the hard way that obvious ideas have the detrimental trait of actually being implementable. By me, as it turns out. More work.

Next time? I'm going back to the outside of the box. Way outside.

Still, with the weather being what it was I thought I'd at least get some more of the interminable sanding done. Pete loaned me a nice sanding block to use to try to straighten up the somewhat wavy edges caused by the use of the very narrow belt sander.

Trust me: I was every bit as tired as I look.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Scowling at the Cowling

Having reached the step in the engine installation process where the directions demand that I install the engine cowling, presumably in preparation for the fitting of the tunnel that will reside inside the cowling and direct air into the radiator, I thought maybe it might be time to go back to the section in which I was supposed to have fit the cowling in the first place. The large fiberglass cowling halves have been stored in the underground secure storage bunker at the Schetterling home office since the day they arrived with the rest of the finishing kit last year, where they have charitably provided ancestral housing for hundreds of generations of spiders.

Not all of whom were yet deceased, as it turns out.

They are now.

After wiping away the remains, the cowling halves were loaded into the trusty Hyundai-like-Sunday and hauled out to the shop. Figuring that there would inevitably be some trimming required, I also laid out the chopping and sanding tools.

Van's, who never has you do one step when two or more will do, instructs the builder to trim the fiberglass to within 1/8" of the "scribe line," then sand away that nominal 1/8" of fiberglass down to the scribe lines. I imagine that is intended to be a cautious way to increase the odds against accidentally cutting past the scribe line which, in a word, would be bad.

The problem is that the scribe lines are very hard to see. They would be next to impossible to see while obscured behind the cloud of fiberglass dust and chips thrown out by the Dremel cutting disk, so I made Sharpietm lines to help.

I don't trust the Dremel not to throw itself or a part of what its cutting right in my face, so I deck out in safety gear when using it. I also don't like the idea of lining my lungs with fiberglass dust, so I grab the filters as well.

Fiberglass is notoriously hostile to tools. I could actually see the cutting disk shrinking as I was cutting.

I went through three entire disks before it was done, which was fair because one of those disks tried to go through me. Through more than two years of building, I made it through almost all of the drilling work without once drilling into one of my fingers, which is good, only to slice into the tip of my left driving finger (used on occasion for non-verbal communications with inept and/or irritating drivers) with a Dremel cutting disk.

Which was bad.  In a word.

I applied first aid, as is my wont, with a shop rag and masking tape, which I thought to be more than sufficient for a tiny little flesh wound, but Pugnaciously Paternal Pete was having none of it. He sent me home for a real bandaid and a dab of Neosporin.

The conversion of the remaining 1/8" of fiberglass into a cloud of noxious and clinging dust was a job for the nifty little Harbor Freight belt sander that I bought for the canopy work. This job, being even more dependent on being able to see the nearly invisible scribe lines, was better suited for outdoor work.  If you can get the angle of the sun just right, you can get a fleeting glimpse of the hair-thin lines.

It was a nasty, thankless job, but with no more than a quick final sanding with a long sanding board left to do, we should be ready to move on to step 2 soon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Unique Historical Perspective

Through the immense power of the internet and the always helpful peer group of Van's builders, I was alerted to a problem that I didn't even know I had, to wit:

Dave - Good Monday! Was reading your Schmetterling blog over a cup a joe this morning and noticed something you may not be aware of.

The Vans plans don't actually tell you to do this, but the banjo bolt (the bulbous looking shiny fitting coming out of the bottom of the crankcase with the yellow plastic cap) has to be replaced with a flare fitting in order to mate with an oil return line. The fitting and a one page instruction sheet are in the small box of misc engine parts supplied by Rotax - the same box that the wrong fuel pressure sender came in.

I came to a screeching halt a couple of weekends ago trying to figure this out. A Monday morning call to Guss at Vans revealed that Rotax sometimes doesn't install the correct oil fitting for the Vans application, but supplies the fitting and an instruction sheet. Since Vans plans don't specifically tell us to do this, it left me stymied.

You have to drop the muffler to install this fitting and oil line, so don't bother silicone-ing your springs yet!

If you can't find the sheet, let me know. I'll forward it to you.

Also - when you take that yellow plastic cap off, oil will flow! (All over my muffler and nose wheel...!) You've been warned...

Hope this helps!
Well, I knew about the oil, anyway. The rest was surprising news. Upon examination this evening, I did find that my engine did indeed suffer from the presence of an unduly bulbous fitting. The replacement fitting was right there in the box, as predicted, but there was no sign of an instruction sheet.

While I was out there, I thought I'd knock out a couple of pages of work. I would install the knob/cable that will allow the opening and closing of the heater door from inside the cockpit. I will end up having to remove and replace the little panel that the knob mounts to because of the change in panel components brought about by the adoption of the Skyview avionics, but that won't be difficult. The majority of the work of installing the cable is in the mounting of it to the engine mount.

The first step is the fabrication of a firewall grommet. This is one of the weirder things Van's has us do - they have us create a larger diameter hole in the middle of a rubber grommet by using a socket as a die cutter. Basically we just crush the grommet with the socket until "a distinctive crunching sound" is heard. Of course, after the distinctive crushing sound that I heard when a tore the guts out of my vise while I was trying to open the angle at the ends of the longerons, I'm kind of leery about making distinctive crushing sounds with a vise.

Money, you know. It doesn't grow on trees.

And there is the newly widened grommet put safely to bed in the firewall.

I went ahead and ran the cable through. Gee, I hope it's long enough!

Most of its length will get eaten up in the circuitous, serpentine path that it will be taking on its way around the engine and over to the heater door. Nothing is left to just flop around on an airplane, so a cushion clamp is used to hold the cable in place under the panel shelf. I made repeated trips back and forth from the plans to the airplane trying to find the correct hole for the screw. You see, there were three available on the airplane, but the drawing only showed one. I ruled out the one that was too far away from the natural path that the cable wanted to take, leaving a choice of two. But which of the two was the correct one??

It took a very close examination to find the landmark that I was looking for. Ah, there's the other hole!

I remember not too long ago when I was thrilled to actually be able to sit in the airplane. These days, it's the precursor of a difficult job doing something under the panel shelf. Installing this clamp turned out to be easier than I had expected it to be, though.

It was the next one that caused all of the grief. This is one of those cases where the drawing in the manual masks a lot of the true complexity. Look how exposed those clamps are! Piece of cake!

I gathered up the clamps and attaching hardware, along with my extra-special cushion clamp installation tools.

Hey! Where'd all that extra stuff come from! None of that is in the drawing!! This is actually a more open path than I would have had if I hadn't known that I was going to have to remove the muffler anyway. I would have added another hour or so to the job of installed those first clamps just to avoid the five minutes that it took to remove the muffler. Odd, that, but it's just in my nature. I like a challenge! Conversely, I don't like work.

So, back there behind all of that stuff is the cable, patiently awaiting a set of clamps to hold it in place.

Installing that set of clamps was when I realized that building an airplane offers one a truly unique perspective on history. Sure, there's that whole Orville and Wilbur thing going on, but that's not what I'm referring to. No, I'm thinking that building an airplane gives one a unique opportunity to understand the history behind the English language. Case in point: installing these clamps was the precise type of situation that prompted the creation of the word "suck."

"Can you use it in a sentence, please?"

Yes, yes I can.

"Was it fun, educational, life-affirming, and all around rewarding to install those clamps? No, it sucked."

But eventually it was done! (Note the non-conventional orientation of the bolt - usually you try to go from the top down, but that would never have worked.)

There were two more to do, but they were right out in the open with the muffler removed. I found it easier to use the method that I learned with the oil vent hose: install the clamps, then push the hose/cable through.

I'm not sure what the purpose of the metal weave plate is, unless it was just a reminder of the utility of the work "suck." Kinda tricky to get that thing on there, it was.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spring Forward, Fall Back, Fall Down?

It just happens to be one of the two weekends a year when the arrogance and controlling nature of the Band of Idiots we call "Congress" is on stark display: twice a year all of us (except the libertarians in Arizona) collectively have to shift our schedules either one hour forward or one hour backward to satisfy the whims of a nearly century old legislative body. My own circadian rhythms are entrenched into the very psyche of my being so it takes me weeks to recover. Of course, at least one of the annual shifts offers up the benefit of an extra hour of weekend time, but this one isn't it. In the Spring we "spring forward" and find that a groggy Monday morning arrives long before we're ready for it.

So, what with an hour of my time having been sacrificed upon the alter of congressional aggrandizement, there was no time to waste: I made sure that I would be able to hit the ground (foreshadowing...) running on Saturday morning. To that end, I visited the local car parts retail outlet on Friday night for to pick up some anti-seize compound, a household staple of which I had found myself embarrassingly lacking. It was a pretty typical visit: I spent ten minutes looking directly at it before finding it, a routine event caused mostly by the manufacturer's habit of applying camouflage colors to whatever it is I'm trying to find. Also par for the course: the store was empty when I came, but I was behind four people waiting in line by the time I was ready to check out. There was a self-important fifth that attempted to insert himself in the queue ahead of me, but a large helping of stink eye convinced him that perhaps he ought to act more civilly and wait his turn.

So, this is the stuff:

It doesn't look like I'll be caught short of anti-seize compound again any time soon.

Especially considering how little I actually needed:

I had the muffler anti-seized and ready to go by the time Pete showed up to assist in the final (I hope) installation. That job went a lot more smoothly with his assistance than it had on my trial (and tribulation) fit of the day before.

As long as he was there and the sun was shining, I asked him for another favor: I've been wanting to put the wings on and get a few pictures of the progress as a whole:

After that little diversion, we moved on to mounting the radiator, or "heat exchanger" in the flowery vernacular of Van's. This took longer than I would have expected. There is a relatively tight 1/32" gap required between the "heat exchanger" and the framework behind it. Despite the assistance of computerized design and robotic manufacturing, that 1/32" gap doesn't just happen; there was the normal dance of install..measure..remove..file..install..measure..remove..file..cha-cha-cha. The filing was done to elongate the screw holes in the "heat exchanger" flanges to allow a pair of washers (inconveniently located between two of the bolts and their spot on the "heat exchanger" flange) to take up the slack.

After brushing a couple of the "heat exchanger" fins with a fingernail and bending them, I decided to keep a cardboard cover in place to prevent further damage.

That was enough for the morning - I was hungry for lunch. In attempting to find an easier way home from Harbor Freight last week, I had noticed a new authentic-looking Mexican restaurant that I wanted to try. My area of town is rife with taco trucks (typically they are little food stands made out of converted shuttle buses) and you can't beat those for authenticity, but there's just something about eating food cooked in an old Hertz bus that makes me a little apprehensive. Nope, I need doors and floors.

As it turns out, this place was terrific!

Pete had a gigantic chorizo burrito while I went for the Enchiladas Verde con Pollo.

The two Coronas that I had with my lunch pretty much decided that there would be no more airplane work that day.

I woke up this morning already an hour behind (Spring Forward!!) on my plans for the day, but that wasn't too big of a problem since all I had to do on the plane were some simple installations of bits and pieces. Or so I thought.

The first thing to do was to apply some RTV/silicone to the front of the radiator "heat exchanger" to make a tight seal with an aluminum face plate that will presumably act as an attachment point for the air tunnel that will be installed with the engine cowling. The first two strips of RTV go on the top and bottom:

The face plate gets pressed into place and is held there for the entirety of the curing process with masking tape.

The small gaps on the left and right sides get filled in with more silicone.

Next, the metal bands that will hold the oil tank in place are added. Note the two nuts perched on the shelf above and behind where the tank will go.

The next step is to remove the bands and turn them around to the correct direction. That step isn't actually in the plans; I like to ad lib now and again.

While doing this, I accidentally brushed one of the nuts off of the shelf with my elbow, leading to a prolonged hunt for the now lost nut. I eventually found it hiding under the battery. I don't know if it is the fact that I used to club baby seals for sport back when I was an Eskimo or what other Karmic cloud I am working under, but it seems that anything that I drop will seek out the most difficult to find resting place imaginable. Each And Every Time!

Installing the tank itself was a breeze.

There is a vent line that runs from the oil tank down to an area under the firewall that will best deposit vented oil in a difficult to clean part of the airplane. This line attaches to the oil tank through the expedient of being inserted into a shorter piece of hose. Pushing a piece of 3/8" outer diameter hose into a piece of 3/8" inner diameter hose might sound like it will be easy, but it is not. In fact, I struggled with it until I was spitting mad which, ironically, was the secret to getting it done. A little saliva on the tube and in it went!

Sliding the shorter tube onto the fitting on the tank was simple.

The hose couldn't be left to just dangle wherever it wanted, probably due to the risk that it might vent oil onto an easy-to-clean area of the airplane, so it had to be held in place with a cushion clamp. Apparently there was no place on the entire airplane that would be harder to attach that clamp to than one of the bolts on the gascolator, so that's where it had to go. Getting at the bolt to remove it was somewhat challenging.

That was nothing compared to the challenge of getting it back in once the clamp was in place. Can you see any way to get a wrench on that bolt?? Keep in mind that you can only see it in this picture because the bolt is hanging loose in the clamp; once pushed into the hole, it became completely invisible and equally completely inaccessible. I could get a 3/8" wrench on it, but I couldn't turn the wrench because it was too long - it was obstructed by the lower engine mount. That wasn't the only problem, either. I also couldn't get a finger in there to press the bolt into the hole to where it would reach the threads, so even if I was able to turn it, I couldn't get enough pressure on it to get it started in the threads. Those cushion clamps want nothing more than to spring open, so the clamp itself was pushing the bolt away from where it needed to go.

Pete wasn't around to conjure up a brilliant solution for this, so I was left to my own devices. This is the kind of solution I come up with when unchaperoned:

That son of a gun won't hit the engine mount now!!

Now that I could get the wrench to turn, albeit only through a twenty degree arc, I just needed a way to press the bolt into the hole while I turned the wrench. I tried pushing on it with a screwdriver:

That didn't work. I had been struggling with this clamp for quite a bit more than an hour at this point, and was making no progress whatsoever. I decided that the only hope was to remove the hose, get the clamp bolt started, and then hope that I would be able to pull the hose down through the clamp. The first part of the plan worked: I was able to get the bolt started.

No amount of spit or swearing would convince the hose to fit through that clamp, though. In desperation, I resorted to brute force:


Frustrated almost beyond belief, I decided to take a break. I had some paperwork I needed to drop off over in the RV-6 hangar, so I had a nice little walk over there. On my way back, I saw a little piece of metal on the ramp. Being the civil minded type, in addition to being nearly 100% sure that the piece of metal had originated from my own hangar, I stopped to pick it up. Well, more accurately, I tried to stop. What actually happened is that I slid on some of the sand that the airport authority rather ironically throws down in the winter so we won't slide on the ice. BOOM - right on my butt. Funny, but in the winter when the chance that I will slide and fall is more prevalent, I know better than to try to catch myself, lest I end up with a sprained wrist or broken arm. I don't seem to think that way when it's 60 degrees out, though.


So, as we see, not only did I spring forward this weekend, but also managed to fall back as well.

While it hurt a little bit, I was able to more or less laugh it off. I think the ability to do this is called "delirium" or "hysteria" or something like that. No matter; whatever they call it, I have it.

I considered calling it quits for the day, but all that was left to do was mount the antifreeze overflow bottle on the firewall and attach it via a hose to the coolant tank. How hard could that be?

The mounting was easy.

The only remaining hose was a white plastic length that matched the tank in color and material, but for some reason I couldn't get it to fit onto either of the fittings. Odd, that. Luckily there is a photo in the plans that I could consult.

Hmmmm. The picture shows a black rubber hose, and the only black rubber hose had just been installed on the oil tank.

Oh, NO! Tell me it ain't so!! The white hose was supposed to be used for the oil vent line? The black hose that I had just spent two hours installing is the wrong hose???

Sigh. It would have to come back out!!

This was just about the time that I decided that I'd do a little research into precisely which step in the build process is the one that prompts people to sell uncompleted RV-12s. I would have guessed "longerons" or "canopy," but I'm no longer sure about that.

The black hose, having put up such a fight against being pulled through the cushion clamp, was in no mood to be removed. In fact, it refused to budge at all. As a red mist descended over my vision, I grabbed hold of that &^%@ hose and tugged for all I was worth.

SPROING!! Out it came.

As did the cushion in the cushion clamp. And a cushion clamp without a cushion is... just a clamp. I would have to remove the clamp, find the cushion (which, Karma being what it is, was nowhere to be seen), and reinstall it.

I looked high. I looked low. I looked and looked and looked. I had just about given up when...

It was easier the second time around, but not by much:

The black rubber line, on the other hand, had been cowed into submission and placidly accepted its new role in life:

I was done. I went flying. It was a great day for it - I even found a new place to shoot trap.

It was an awkward, lousy landing, though. My second of the day.

ADDENDUM: (Plucked from the internet):
Can we please slow down and get something straight? There is simply no way to “save daylight.” People can spin the hands of their clocks like roulette wheels, but come Monday here in Washington, D.C., we’re still going to have sunshine for about 12 hours and 45 minutes. The sun can rise at a time of day we call dawn or Howdy Doody Time or whatever–but the stubborn facts of astronomy are at work here and they can’t be wished away.

The reason we have Daylight Saving Time (DST), of course, is because the politicians have mandated it. Washington is much better at wasting things than saving them, but federal lawmakers nevertheless spent much of the 20th century insisting, with typical modesty, that they could “save daylight.” (Why couldn’t they instead have tried to save Social Security?)

Congress passed the first DST law in 1918 and repealed it the next year. Franklin Delano Roosevelt imposed year-round DST for three years during the Second World War. In 1966, Congress approved a uniform DST standard for the whole country. In the 1970s, Richard Nixon had the nation go on DST for 15 consecutive months in order to conserve energy. The last president to modify DST was Ronald Reagan, who advanced DST’s start date to the first Sunday in April.

I recently wondered exactly why we observe Daylight Saving Time (DST). For some reason, I had harbored a vague notion that it had to do with farmers.

Well, it turns out that DST had nothing to do with farmers, who traditionally haven’t cared much for it. They care a lot less nowadays, but when the first DST law was making its way through Congress, farmers actually lobbied against it. Dairy farmers were especially upset because their cows refused to accept humanity’s tinkering with the hands of time. The obstinate cud-chewers wanted to be milked every twelve hours, and had absolutely no interest in resetting their biological clocks–even if the local creameries suddenly wanted their milk an hour earlier.

As Michael Downing points out in his new book, Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, urban businessmen were a major force behind the adoption of DST in the United States. They thought daylight would encourage workers to go shopping on their way home. They also tried to make a case for agriculture, though they didn’t bother to consult any actual farmers. One pamphlet argued that DST would benefit the men and women who worked the land because “most farm products are better when gathered with dew on. They are firmer, crisper, than if the sun has dried the dew off.” At least that was the claim of the Boston Chamber of Commerce, chaired by department-store magnate A. Lincoln Filene. This was utter nonsense. A lot of crops couldn’t be harvested until the morning dew had evaporated. What’s more, morning dew has no effect whatsoever on firmness or crispness.

Perhaps farmers should take one for the team–i.e., put up with DST even though they don’t like it because it keeps city cash registers chinging into the twilight. Yet the contention that DST is good for business is doubtful. It may help some businesses, but it also stands to reason that other ones suffer. If people are more likely to browse the racks at Filene’s Basement in the daylight, then they’re probably also less likely to go to the movies or take-out restaurants. And in the morning, when it’s darker during rush hour, commuters are perhaps disinclined to stop at the corner store for a newspaper or the coffee bar for a latte. Although it’s impossible to know the precise economic effects of DST, any attempt to calculate them carries the malodorous whiff of industrial policy.

We’re also informed that DST helps conserve energy, apparently because people arriving home when the sun is still up don’t switch on their lights. Didn’t it occur to anybody that maybe they compensate by switching them on earlier in the morning? Moreover, people who arrive home from work an hour earlier during the hot summer months are probably more prone to turning up their air conditioners. According to Downing, the petroleum industry once was “an ardent and generous supporter” of DST because it believed people would hop in their cars and drive for pleasure–and guzzle more gas.

But the very worst thing about DST is that it’s bad for your health. According to Stanley Coren, a sleep expert at the University of British Columbia, the number of traffic accidents and fatal industrial mishaps (Ed: and painful falls) increase on the Monday after we spring forward. (Check out one of his studies here.) The reason, presumably, is because losing even a single hour of sleep over the weekend makes a lot of people a bit drowsier on what we might usefully call Black Monday. Unfortunately, there’s no compensating effect of a super-safe Monday as we go off DST and “fall back” in the autumn.

So DST is deadly. But maybe we should keep that troubling little fact to ourselves, before Congress decides to impose the National Bedtime Hour.