Apr 30 2010

Canopy Latch done

The rotary canopy latch system was installed today.  It required the construction of a new main latch hook because I wanted to keep the rotary latch as far away from the instrument panel as possible.  I’ll paint it black to match the anodized parts.  When the plane is in Calif it can be taken off black anodized there.

After a bit of frustration adjusting the remaining half latching hooks everything is working smoothly now.   I temporarily installed the RAM mount (with my iTouch).  Almost anything can be installed on this mount (696, iPad, Droid, whatever) since it was glassed into the plane with a large backing plate.   All the wires are submerged in the foam so they will not be seen.   The LED spot light was also installed to check the clearances.  Everything ‘just’ fits as planned.

Two small canopy spacer hardpoints were constructed to control the crush of the canopy on the seals.  This prevents over-crushing of the seals thus causing a permanent of the seals.  These hardpoints also keep the alignment of the canopy and fuselage from changing when closed.   I think every plane should have them, but few do.

Apr 29 2010

Lettering done…

The lettering is completed for the panels prior to clear coating in Calif.  They will be sent out tomorrow. 

I thought I would give you an idea of the steps involved using the Pulsar system.  First you must print out the graphics on their special paper

Then you chose a color you want and bond it to the graphic, white in this case.

After bonding you peel it off the color film, (you can see how the image was transferred from the film on the right)

Then you take a clear film and put it on the image.  It is SUPPOSED to cling by static electricity to the image.

Then you put it into water, which is SUPPOSED to let the water get absorbed from the backside of the paper.  Then the water is SUPPOSED to travel to the front side, releasing the graphic (which clings to the static film), then you pull it out of the water and glue it to the panel.

This is one convoluted process, but IF IT WORKED reliably as advertised, it would be great.  You could make all sorts of graphics for quick transfer.  Too bad it is so hard to use.   It took me 9 tries ( each try took 15-20 minutes) before I finally got a good transfer on the right panel. 

I have started investigating silk screen printing.   There are all kinds of ways to accomplish it from sheets of pre-applied photo resist screens, to “do it yourself” methods of applying the chemicals to the screen.  The nice thing about silk screen paint is that it VERY TOUGH.  You go through the same process as what I have done with designing the computer graphics but making the screen takes time.  Overall, with all the wasted time spent with Pulsar system, I have easily made silk screens.  I called a local art store today and talked to them about supplies and they have everything I need.  I am going to check them out and get some supplies to play with.

Now to the plane, I started on canopy latching system and again found more little problems to solve.  To me building a plane (and more so with RE-building a plane)  is just a series of continual little problems to solve.   The canopy latch system I bought from Jack was the wrong size so I had to reuse the original latch system.  The threaded rod in one of the of the parts was destroyed by the anodizing process.  The lath was necessary to remove the stub.  The rod was quickly repaired.

Then I found out the anodized handle (right) would not work (geometry wrong), so a new one needs to be made. 

At least I am doing fun things now… solving more problems and building parts!

Apr 28 2010

Lettering frustrations

I took Chomp to the doctor and alas, he is no longer with us.  He passed due to too much alcohol and has gone to the great tick heaven.   The doctor checked me out and didnt think Chomp has left any lasting reminders, but put me on medicine anyway as a “prevention” measure.  Chomp has left us but wont be forgotten for at least 10 days (when my pills are all gone).

Spent ALL FREAKEN day working on lettering 3 panels.  I HATE this lettering system.  Thought I had it mastered the techniques only to find out the weather, humidity, air temp, temp of the water, acts of God, whatever???!!!? is causing it to not work.    I WOULD NOT recommend the Pulsar lettering system.   Great idea, but it is way too touchy.  If I had  spent my time learning how to do silk screening all the lettering would have easily been done by now…  I want to spend my time building planes, not lettering.

Five hours effort for two little panels…..

I still have the main passenger panel to complete.  I will keep working at it until it is done…. 

The trash can with failed attempts… 

Apr 26 2010

Choop not doing so well…

Today was a relatively fun day, but somewhat short one.  I had a slow start due to a slight infection (I hope it is not from Chomp)…

I decided to move the BOTTOM VOR antenna connection from where I just installed it last week.    I thought it was not the optimal postion for easy access and thought there could be a better place for it.    I could have easily left it in that location, but since I was installing TOP #2 VOR connector on the front of the canard cover, why not move #1.    It only take a few moments to put in, and even less to take out.  Worked out great!  

Former location

New location:

Glassed in.   Now when you install the canard, the BNC’s are protected, easily visible and easy to connect.

The Trio Pro pitch control system is installed with all the hardware.   My installation instructions I published a few years ago for the community still work well.  I will have to make a few updates to take into account a changes on the rotary arm and servo tab length.   Wiring needed.

The closure of the hatch door is complete and sanded.  Ready for epoxy sealing.   Need to complete the installation of the canopy closure system (tomorrow or Wed).

The Grand Rapids Horizon HX EFIS electronic sensor module (dual AHRS).  This box contains he main instrumentation sensors for the glass panel.   Wiring and tubing needed.

I am taking Chomp to the doctors tomorrow.  I think he may have had too much alcohol to drink.  He just doenst seem to have much energy lately.

Apr 25 2010

Guess who invited himself to dinner…?

Last Sunday, April 11th,  a hungry new friend invite himself to lunch at my place.  His name is Chomp.   Chomp stopped by to visit me while I was working in the garden Sunday afternoon.  Hum, what that little black bump on my back?   Could it be Chomp cozying himself up to me for a snack.…???   

After checking the internet I found out he is a young male”Lone Star” tick.  Lonely for a good meal for sure!  Not the kind of friend you want to invite over for a quick lunch especially when you are the main course. 

When I pulled him away from the dinner table, the first thing on my mind was what sort of nasty stuff was Chomp capable of carrying?  The next few hours was spent on the trusty internet studying ticks of all kinds.    Not exactly what the way I planning to spend a nice Sunday afternoon with a new friend. 

I was hopeful that I might dodge the disease reaction bullet …since: IF the tick has been chomping on you for a short time (less than 24 hrs) AND he has not sucked a full load of blood (he/she is small and flat and not engorged) you most likely be OK since the bacteria from the tick is usually transmitted to the host after the tick is “topped off” with blood which occurs many hours after stopping by for the meal.   

I also found you should save any tick you remove from your body “just in case” there is a reaction and it needs to be “further researched”.   You can put feed a tick lots of rubbing alcohol or wrap it a moist paper towel and put in a pill container.    I offered Chomp fine 2010 beverage direct from CVS  (actually he had lot of alcohol) and was in drunken revelery time for a short while.   Oh, that little guy liked to party!   He was kicking up a nice jig for about 5 minutes and then …well the alcohol got to him!     Don’t let anyone tell you I am not a good host!

Tuesday, Chomp and I are heading off to the Dr Walkers office  so he can check out a nasty red/black welt on my back and see whats up with Chomp.  He is still feeling the affects of the the alcohol and hasnt been himeself lately. 

Apr 23 2010

The LONG return trip home



I had a chance this morning to kill a few hours before the flight back to Charleston at 3 PM, so I drove up the coast on highway 1 from Long Beach to the LAX airport.   What amazed me is how beautiful this area is!  Scenic over looks of the beach, unspoiled rolling hills.  Just incredible!    

The amazing thing is this is just west of the BOQ a few miles.  In LA!!

When we took off it was interesting to see the beaches and hills I had driven past this morning from the air.     


In the center of the picture is where the BOQ was located.   


These are some louse pictures from my cell phone which had to be used since my camera was packed away.  All the more reason to buy a “smart phone” which has a decent camera/internet/ text capability.  I bet it can even be used to talk human to human.   

After extensive research I have settled on the purchase of a HTC EVO on the Sprint Network.   

HTC EVO on the Sprint Network

 Soon, I’ll be able to consolidate all my carry around stuff (phone, camera and iTouch into one piece of equipment.  That’s the great new, the bad news is Sprint has not released the phone yet, nor is there a price on it.  It will be coming out sometime (hopefully) in May at a cost of (hopefully) $200 with a 2 year contract.   Sprint also has a great $69 plan which gives you unlimited everything with 450 minutes of talk.  It has unlimited talk for cell to cell call, so if I go, watch with the EVO watch out because I’ll be calling your cells whenever I can!   

A few more hours were spent just tooling aound LA with my trusty Garmin GPS and then it off to the airport for a quick trip home…   


The trip home was indeed the longest one I have ever had.   The flight was weather delayed from LA to Atlanta and we missed our 10:45 pm Charleston connection by 10 minutes.    I was treated to a not so pleasant room at the Comfort Inn (at my own expense) for the night.   This is the first hotel I have ever stayed at that I checked the bed for “critters” before retiring.   Maybe thats why they assigned me a KING sized bed….for unexpected guests.     

Saturday morning, I arrived bright and early at ATL and found the flight was delayed again by an hour.   Bottom line, the flight was 12 hrs longer than planned.        

Years ago I remembered an art exhibition at the Atlanta airport.  The art deco strobe lighting is now gone but the African art is still on display.  Beautiful rock carving from Zimbabwe.    


Surprisingly, at the gate waiting for my plane, I ran into an old friend from the Aero Club who was heading back to Charleston for reserve duty.  John Nevitt.  He flew at the Aero Club an worked his way up the experience chain and is now a first officer for an airline.  Loves flying, but it doesn’t pay the bills, so he is also a reserves and has a small business on back in Louisville, KY where he now lives.   Times in the airlines are tight!   John and his wife Peggy, who out ranks him in the reserves (he is enlisted, she is an officer).  I wonder who gives the orders in John’s house?


Here is a Nick Nugget for you.   The hardest part of any trip is the first mile down the road, the best part of a trip is walking in your front door.  

Sure is nice to be home.

Apr 22 2010

LA, California ….part 2

After leaving Chino (about 35 miles NE of LA), I drove south (25 miles SSW) on some flowered covered hill sides to Lake Forest to have dinner with David Orr which was a real treat since we never formally met.

Snow can be seen in the mountains!

I first contacted David about 12 years when I first started looking for a canard airplane.  David keeps detailed lists of canards (engine size, builders, current owners, general history, build quality, condition, paint job, etc)  and connects buyers and sellers for a small fee.  The experience and detailed records of planes he maintains is invaluable for a canard buyer.   He asked a lots of questions about what I intended to use the plane, my needs, price range, etc and recommended a SPECIFIC LongEZ with a 0320 (160 HP) engine.

Naturally being cheap and not wanting to pay the Piper, I bought a Varieze with a C90 engine in Florida (later sold).

I then hooked up with Tweety in 1997, a 0235 (108 hp) LongEZ  .   After living Tweety for 150o hrs,  an old cranky lady who moved at the speed of grandma driving on the interstate I finally decided I had enough!  I gave her a heart transplant and installed a newly overhauled IO-320 and downdraft cooling, oil heat, new interior and now she is one “bitchin” nice (as Pat likes to say)  perfect lady.  Responsive, sleek, economical, thrifty, wonderful plane.   It only took me 8 years to get back to the type of plane David originally suggested.   David knows canards and I take my advice, I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE you to avail yourself of his his “canard finding” service if you are looking for a nice Bird.  In the end, you be happier and have a much better canard experience!

David has a beautiful home on a man made lake.  Fortunately it was too cold for him to take me on his electric boat. What a mistake on both occasions.

A nice dinner at a Thai restaurant, and a trip (12 miles NW) to his hangar to check out his latest plane.  A Berkut, which is a really nice fast bird (has an O-360 in it)  Right now she is in primer awaiting a good painter.

An interesting bottom cowl outlet for the oil coler  IF you have updraft cooling.

Time to drive another 24 miles WEST back to Long Beach and the BOQ.    I drove about 95 miles today…did I say LA is big, BIG city?

Apr 22 2010

LA, California …..part 1

The trip to CA was EZ and quick.  Arrived at 12:05 pm.  Found a great deal on Yahoo for the rental car at $27/day and a room at the Airforce BOQ for $39/night.  This trip is going to be one of the least costly of any I have ever taken!  The rest of Wed was spend in Pat’s dental office.  A quick dinner and I was totally exhausted by 10 pm (1 pm EST).

Thursday, after stopping by to visit  with Pat, I drove up to the Chino airport to see Bill Ortel.  I have never met him, but he is a canard builder/A&P and Pat recommend I see.  A very nice guy that has more canards in his stable than I do (4 of them).    Here is Bill (right) and his son working on a customers Varieze.

We had a great visit, after which I stopped by the airport cafe for lunch.  General airport cafes are small and not to busy.  This place was old (a former miltary building) but the food was terrific  and it was extremely busy.   Chino was an old miltary airfield with lots of old (and new) buildings.  I love going to an old airfield.  There is more junk airplanes and parts here than you can imagine.  I would love to have the time to just pick through the stuff.

One thing that impressed me about Calif  highways (besides the incredible traffic) is the concrete work.  I’ll try to take some more pictures of it.  They mold patterns or pictures into the concrete to break up the monotony of structures.  I have seen a lot of this sort of work in Texas, but not as extensively as here.

The Fort McAurthur  BOQ (Bachelors Officer Quarters) I am staying at back up to the Long Beach harbor.  Quite a beautiful walk in the morning.  I only wish I had more time to check out the sights here.

I had better close.  I am off to have dinner with David Orr (another canard owner).

Apr 20 2010

California Bound

Today is the last day of work before a business trip to Los Angles tomorrow.  It is a fairly short one and I’ll be returning Friday night….

It was a very busy day today.    First task of the day was shortening the oil dip stick tube.  After cutting the tube to the correct length (and a little reduction of the diameter on the lathe, a PVC connector was used to glue the pieces together.   A little black paint and it looks good and worked out very well.   I made a test sample (using the old tube) and could not get it to fail.   

Glued and painted.

 I have had to stop work on the engine compartment since I do not have a starter, alternator, oil pan, fuel servo or exhaust systems.    All these are in CA being fine tuned and modified.    That’s ok as it gives me time to focus in on other areas of the plane which needs attention.

I found the oil door to be hitting the inlet duct due to the off set hinge the orginal builder used.  After a bit of frustration trying to make it work, I decided to just remove it and go back to a standard hinge style.

It was quick to do and worked out great since the leading edge of the door was somewhat flat which allowed for a longer hinge. 

I also installed the bracket for the AHRS (electrionic gyro for the EFIS) and the Trio Autopilot pitch servo.   I had to install the canard to take measurements and really liked the look of it on the plane.  Installing the servo was interesting because I used my own instruction written years ago when I was a beta tester for Trio.  I tried a couple of different configurations to get the servo installed and when finally successful, I wrote up the methodology for other builders.  Naturally, I was a bit surprised at how well it worked and the clarity of the instruction.    Sometime I surprise myself.  

   When I get back I am going to finish off the canard and get it into primer.  I have completed almost all the glass work and installation of hardware so I am getting close to the painting stage.


Apr 19 2010

Cylinders 2 and 4 installed

Today was a long day of work on the plane.   It is hard to believe I have been working on the plane for a year and have put in 940 hrs on the project.    The number of hours is not surprising given the plane was completely stripped of everything except the basic structure and an extreme amount of customization and design work done.   I am determined to put out maximum effort for the next few months to get the project completed.  Besides, I really want to fly the bird!

Tony stopped by to learn the finer details of installing engine cylinders. 

Job well done!  Doesnt he look happy.

Cylinders 2/4 are installed.  I really like how the red crackle powder coating came out on the valve covers.

I needed to make a new bracket and bushings for the electronic ignition coils.

Simulated fuel injection lines were routed to determine the exact length needed.  They will manufactured by Airflow Performance after I get the fuel servo back from Calif to check on the fuel outlet position before I commit to the finial lengths.  I don’t want to be surprised when I put on the sump. 

This is the stbd side

The port side.