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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love the part about Hogarth and Cabot. We're about to start on the cowling but have to reinstall the stabilator for the 6th time which is taking its toll on my neck & back and patience.
Our Garmin Nuvi uses reconfiguring now. Her name is Gertrude and she seems to be more willing to take the adventurous route than before.
Keep up the blog. Most enjoyable. I'm in here looking for something for one of my newsletters.
About Van's, yes we get peeved too at their oversights (letting us stumble and fall with no warning or redirection) plus it is getting more difficult to reach them on the phone. Gail (Rick S's bro-in-law's other half.

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