Oct 28 2010

Wind Generator Dedication

Today was interesting.   At lunch I attended the official dedication of the soon to be built national wind generator gear testing facility which will be run by Clemson University.   Development of the facility is being funded through a $45 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and an additional $53 million in private donations. Within days of announcing plans for a testing facility last November, IMO Group, a German company that makes wind turbine parts, announced it was opening a plant in North Charleston that would create 190 jobs.

It is  predicted thousands more jobs may be just around the corner as the Institutes 100-plus acre campus on the site of the former Charleston Navy Base grows.  When completed the site will be able to test the largest of  gear trains for off shore wind generators to failure.    One speaker said this is one of the most important sites for wind energy research and development in the country.  Plenty of pomp and circumstance for the crowd, but where is the food???

We were addressed by our senators, congress men and the city mayor.     The speeches were short and to the point.  Just how I like them.   Hum… food? It is lunch time.

This picture turned out interesting.  The piles of orange dyed sand (Clemson colors) seemed to glow like pots of gold.  Since the building is already built, officials will dig into the sand piles with shovels for the smiling money shot….

A local high school or possibly elementary school (maybe kindergarten?) band provided the dedication music…. all I can say is they tried hard.    Where is the feaking food???  I’m hungry.

The headrest area is done.  I now have the EIS, aft battery, fuel level indicators, power distribution (aft), electronic ignition’s and starting system finished.   This is how it looks before the beauty panel.

This is with the cover panel in place.  You  will never have to get to the electronics behind the panel unless a part fails.  I’ll letter the panel with the obligatory warnings, fuse sizes, etc to dress it up a bit.

The coils for the Lightspeed ignition are done.

BTW:  There WAS NO FOOD at the$98 million dollar dedication.  Cheap bastards……

Guess I’ll have to buy my own lunch.

Oct 26 2010

Waste Oil Mess / panel update

Drove up to Summerville to get some waste oil for my car and Gerhart and I and a bunch of problems with the filter system

We had one bag rupture in the filter housing.  I guess it just got too plugged up and the pressure got to it.  After we finally got it out (in the blue tub), we installed a fresh filter and it came unhooked and plugged the system up.  Lessons learned…. put a pressure gauge on the discharge of the pump (to monitor the health of the bag) and install the new bags differently than what I did this time.

In both cases, it is easily fixed.

I FINALLY talked Gerhart into letting me install a proper piping system similar to the one I have in my shop for his tanks and filter.  It drives me crazy to have such a mess of hoses and loose pumps that trying to make things work when it can be properly engineered so easily.  On Saturday, I’ll make up the manifolds and install everything next week.  

I also flew from Charleston to Mt Pleasant to visit Jack Wilhelmson to help him install my fuel probes in the new cozy 4 he is building.    Although it is only about 40 min by car, I can fly there in 7 minutes from the hangar (plus 10 minutes to the house).    17 minue trip time is great plus I got to fly today!

The fuel  probes went in very easily with no problems.  It only took about 10 minutes /probe.  It is SOOOooo much easier to install them on a new build than on an existing plane which (which is fairly easy to do anyway).

No work done on my plane today….  bummer.  Tomorrow I’ll really hit it again on the wiring.

UHOOOOO…  Quick update

UPS delivered the instrument panel tonight.

After months of false starts and many tries I am positive this panel has turned out to be the labor intensive and totally frustrating EZ instrument panels ever made.   I must have spent at least 40 hr just lettering it, after which it was sent to CA for clear coating.  Everything was sanded off.    It was then sent to a avionics shop in Chino, Ca for printing.  They had it for months and it ended being sent back to me completely untouched.  

I then spent numerous hours custom fitting (back setting) the radios for a differnt type of look and fitting it to the plane (to make dam sure it would fit as expected this time) before being sent to Aerotronics in Billings MT for lettering.  

Aerotronics did a great job and it looks FANTASTIC!!  I cant wait to see it populated with instruments in the plane.

Extra side panels in case I need them.

Oct 25 2010

EIS done

The engine information system is done!  Ya!  To go from such a mess of wires to this is great.   Now begins the fun of connecting the battery and fuse to the loads.

Black sleveing was put on the majority of the wires where possible.

Looking good now. 

Oct 18 2010

CHT wiring trick

There is not a lot to show you when wiring a plane.  Maybe a jumbo of wire, then everything neatly organized.    Here is a little trick I have been using for installation of CHT’s and EGT’s.

You have to connect the probes up to the readout equipment.  Normally, one uses ring connectors or 1/4″ push on connects as most do.  I think they are bulky and unnecessary. 


What I like to do is to do an inline splice with a sub-D barrow pins.  Just put pins on the wires, put heat shrink over them to hold them together and you are done.  After heat shrinking the junction, I always heat shrink the two wires together as a pair.  It make a great connection, there is very low voltage through the joint and since the sub-D pins are gold they will last the life of the plane. 

These joints makes the wiring  job not only look better, but are very compact.

The stbd side of the engine is done.

Oct 17 2010

Algae growing in Sherman

Sherman’s fuel gage has started to give me problems.  It worked fairly well when I had a full tank of fuel, but now that I am getting low (I haven’t gone to a gas station since June 15th… 4 1/2 months) it is acting a bit flaky.  I did a bit of research and think it might be a bit dirty.  Gotta love the Internet and an old car which is very easy to fix. 

I found out the fuel sender is actually accessed from the back seat.  Take out the back rest and there it is hidden under a cover.  That’s probably why I never noticed it.

After dis assembly, I found the problem….  Crap.  Lots of crap which restricted the probes movement on the low end of the scale.  The gage readings now make sense considering the movement of the float was restricted on the low end.

I think it is a build up of algae (which grows in diesel fuel) and maybe some old bio-diesel and cooking oil.  Who knows.  The probe was carefully cleaned, reinstalled and everything is working great now.

Gotta love old technology.  Simple, it works (most of the time) and is repairable.

Oct 16 2010

Fuel Servo Inlet Duct

The last few days were spent working on the fuel servo inlet duct.  I wanted to use the armpit scoop on the right side of the cowl instead of cutting through the firewall into the hell hole.

After visualizing what was needed the part had to be carved out of foam.  First I had to carve the part out of foam and glassed. 

After a few hour under a vacuum, the part was read to be revealed.

Here it is with the foam still on the inside. 

Tony stopped by again to check out the work.  He thought it all looked “smashing” and “very clean”. 

Here is the duct system in the final form.  Some paint and it will look great.

Oct 11 2010

Wiring has started

Today,  I found myself getting a bit excited working on the plane because all the MAJOR issues have been solved and all the pieces of the puzzle are fitting nicely together.  Basically there are 3 major areas to complete.   Induction, hoses, wiring.  I still have a few minor items to do, but those will be easy as I already have all the installation issues with them (ELT install, Fire suppression system install) worked out.

The old inlets were cut off, and a fuel servo and oil cooling ducts (started today) will be constructed.  It will take 3 days to complete only because I have to let the fiberglass cure between the various the layup steps. 

This will be the new home for the fuel servo inlet.  Some hose needed to be rearranged to accommodate the duct.

Woo Hoo, wiring in earnest has finally started. I want to get the engine monitoring system installed first as I am still waiting to get the instrument panel back from the printers before I can work on the front of the plane.

Oct 10 2010

The Beach Boys (or Boy)? You decide

A buddy from the Charleston Ski Club called me this morning with a free ticket to the the grand opening of a new hospital at Mount Pleasant.  The highlight was the musical group the Beach Boy (aka, the Beach Boys).  I have seen the revival group at Oshkosh a few years ago and realized there was only one member of the original group still singing.    For some reason to me, I just doesn’t seem right to call the the Boys as there is only one left singing.  You can fool me once with the the Boys, but you cant fool me twice.

It was a beautiful day and a great day to be out and about instead of the shop.  I should do it more often.

Oct 09 2010

A MONSTER engine

I finally received the MONSTER ENGINE  (ME), a six cylinder IO-540 engine for my ultimate plane from Oklahoma.  She is fuel injected with 270 hp of pure power and weighs in at a robust 400 lbs.  The ME came of an Aztec twin engine plane.  What a brut!   The shipping weight was 607 lb with the turbocharger (which I am not going to use).   I love the IO-540’s.  They just purr when running and are as smooth as silk.    Beside I want to go FAST!!!

The day was spent sealing all the opening cranking it with preserving oil in it.  Hopefully with the precautions I have taken to prevent rust, she will be in great shape when I finally start it up years from now.  Sometimes a good deal is hard to pass up!

Moved to the my hangar.  The wheels are recycled from my oil cart I rebuilt.  


Sometimes I suspect I am a closet junk hoarder.  There is actually a TV show about people that hoard all kinds of stuff.  That’s me!  I HATE throwing away wire bits, scraps, little switches, motors, etc because RIGHT after I throw the junk away when working on a new project, I realize it could have been used.    I threw away the old engine baffles on the plane today.  Just more junk in the shop to deal with. 

Wouldn’t you know it this afternoon, I realized it had been a mistake because I needed the scrap aluminum.   Crap….. that will teach me.

Oct 08 2010

Grease Car part 4

Today was spent giving new life to my grease car fueling station.   I just didnt have room in my shop anymore and I wanted to move it to the remote storage building which required disassembling everything and rebuilding it.  Just like I did with an erector set as a kid…  Every boy should have one.    Transformers, video games… who needs them.  It’s much better to build a log cabin out of Lincoln Logs or something out of Lego’s.  

I recycled most of the fitting and parts so the it was a very cost effective project.  This a is a picture of the manifold/pump station. 

I can now pump oil between my two storage tanks and from my transport tank.  Since I picked up most of the stuff for free I am very happy with the results.

The final resting home for the cart.  It wasn’t a total waste of time building it, but a learning experience….

The last and final step will be installing a pipeline from the shed to my driveway so I can just flip a switch and fill Sherman with lots of artery choking recycled grease.