Sunday, June 3, 2012

Just Fueling Around

Every now and then, I do something completely pointless. As was the case today when I took Co-pilot Egg car shopping, which in itself was anything but pointless. Where the frivolity came in was when I succumbed to the temptation to test drive a brand new 2012 Miata. Some of you may understand the poignancy of that; I still bereave the loss of my own 1996 Miata last year. Driving a brand new one could do nothing to salve the pain of my lost friend, but Oh, what a wonderful little car!

The newer models are far more refined than my early vintage. All of the little annoyances have been smoothed away, albeit at the cost of some of the nimbleness and the feeling of oneness with the road. But look at this picture and tell me that there's none of the original spirit of the car still inhabiting the newest version:

So, what were some of the trifling flaws of my car? Well, mostly the canvas convertible top. It was loud, it was a pain to put up and down because of the zippered, plastic rear window, and it was hard to see out of with the top up, again because of the rear window. And then there was the finicky tonneau cover that was supposed to protect the plastic window from sun damage - it was such a hassle to put on and take off that I seldom used it. Oh, and driving in the winter with just canvas between me and the hostile elements? Ugh!

Now consider the new way they do it:

Better, right? A lot better! Twelve seconds, total. And from inside the car! Anyone that has spent interminable minutes on the side of a freeway in pouring rain trying to get the top up on a 1996 Miata will understand the significance of that.

I am so sold on this car! It's just a damn shame I can't afford it. Still, some day, maybe....

But in the interim, I have an airplane to build. Yesterday I spent a couple of hours finishing up the installation of the fuel door while Pete continued to whittle away at the two parts that will comprise the tail cone. The installation of the fuel door starts with cutting the hole for it in the top cowling. That was easily accomplished with the trusty Dremel tool.

The door itself comes from the factory already bent to shape. It gets placed in position on the cowling and the holes in the cowling that will host the AirLoc fasteners are match-drilled through the holes in the door. Then an odd looking hooked part gets riveted to the top edge of the door. This will be the hinge about which the door pivots.

The AirLoc receptacles are larger than the pin that feeds into them, so the holes in the cowling get drilled out to 1/2". The step bit makes short work of that.

I ran into a problem when it came time to rivet in the receptacles. I retrieved the little bag of AN426AD3-4.5 rivets, but there was a problem: they looked like they were too short to be 4.5 length rivets. I put a 4.0 rivet next to them, and sure enough, the 4.0 rivet was longer than the 4.5 length rivets. That would never do! I solved that problem by getting some 5.0 length rivets and grinding just a touch off of them on the ScotchBrite wheel.

Once that was done, it took only a minute or two to get the receptacles riveted in.

The pin-side of the AirLoc gets attached to the door with a star washer. I had a heck of a time getting the washer to fit over the barrel of the pin. I finally resorted to using a socket to push on the washer.

And there it was. Beautiful! Except for one small yet critical detail: it wouldn't open!

I had to take it all back apart and drill out the holes that the pivot bolts fit through - the fit was just too tight to allow the hinge to pivot on them.

I couldn't wait to get the top cowling back on the airplane and pretend to check the oil level!

Even with one of the wings removed, it's really starting to look done!

1 comment:

Leon said...

Yea the local Mazda dealer would put a red one on the corner of the lot with the roof stopped halfway. I wanted one every time I drove by.

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