Sunday, May 13, 2012

Getting back into the groove

Have you ever had one  of those weeks that seems as if it lasted a month but in retrospect seems as if it lasted, well... a month?

Yes, I went back to the daytime gig at the remunerative job.

It's always hard getting back into the daily grind and this time around has, if anything, been worse. Before I left, I was getting by with six to seven hours sleep a night through the entire week with only minimal discomfort. Ever since I've been back for my trip, I seem to always be ready for a nap and I'm struggling to get by with eight hours of sleep a night. I think it's just a matter of getting caught up from the five hours I was getting per night on the boat.

This weekend was the first time since I got back that I've felt more or less normal, and today was my first real chance to get back to work on the 12, the evening hours of the past week having been used on lawn mowing and getting the RV-6 through its annual condition inspection.  Being Mother's Day, Pete and I arranged for an early breakfast, knowing that the restaurants would surely be crowded.  In fact, our waitress asked how it was that we two gentleman had escaped from home on this sacred day. I jokingly responded by telling her that Mother's Day is my second favorite day of the year because it is the perfect day to remind the co-owner that she is not, in fact, my mother.

"Really? Well what's your favorite day," she asked, falling for my set-up hook, line, and sinker.

"Boss's Day, of course.  Same reason."

I had to reacquaint myself with the current status of the 12 once we got to the hangar. That turned out to be pretty easy - I had drilled and clecoed one side of the side hinge, leaving the other side obviously ready as the next step. Well, almost ready anyway. It didn't talk long to realize that I hadn't marked the hinge for drilling. Easily rectified and on to the drilling. Piece of cake.  Then a few minutes of trimming the side hinge pins to the correct length, which involved trying to decode a drawing in the plans that showed a place to mark on the cowl in order to determine the amount of pin to be removed.  After that, a couple of bends get put in the end of the wire so it will emerge out of the inner side of the cowling and sit flat against the lower bowl when screwed in.  Pretty mundane stuff.

That was the last step before the fitting of the top half. There's not much to say about that; it was a couple or three hours of put it on, debate about where the next bit of sanding should be done, take it off, sand it, put it on, debate about...... over, and over, and over.

At some point, it doesn't matter if it is perfectly fitted or not; it's "fish or cut bait" time. There's only so much you can do when the parts are still loose and slide around as you're trying to see if they all line up correctly or not. You also have to deal with the stresses imposed by not knowing whether or not you're removing too much material, not enough material, or just the right amount of material but from the wrong place. When we got to the point where the top half would settle nicely onto the bottom half and assume a reasonably decent shape, we cautiously moved on with the drilling.

The first hinge to be drilled, the top left, immediately presented us with a problem. The hinge wasn't rigid enough to resist the pressure of the drill, so it bent out of the way. That let the bit run wild in the fiberglass, resulting in an unsightly over-sized hole. Fortunately, I had misread the markings on the hinge and that hole wasn't supposed to be there anyway. I'll just fill it in with resin.

In order to continue with the drilling, we had to stuff a piece of wood in there to provide back pressure on the hinge.

As I drilled, Pete put constant pressure on the front of the cowl to keep it in the position that best reduced the gap between the back edge of the cowling and the front of the fuselage. This also kept a nice gap between the front of the cowl and the back of the prop spinner.

Once the back row of holes was drilled and clecoed, the side drilling was quite easy.

The next step will be a whole lot of countersinking and riveting as the hinges are permanently installed.

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