Without the time to make another cable, well taking into consideration the time it took me to do the last one my thoughts turned to mounting the instrument panel. Now while I was still in the dismantling stage Jim Romain gave me the original instrument panel which I’d placed, duly labelled on a shelf in the best heated part of the workshop.
My idea, as the build manual gives little clue how it is done is to mount the panel from the frame tubes “E” & “F” using padded “P” clip linking them with anti vibration mounts. Difficult to offer it up with the instruments in place as it is a bit cumbersome, they have to come out anyway to check them as best as I can and to re-varnish the panel itself. It turned out that all the instruments were held in by different sizes bolts and all of them the, rather uncommon BA type that I had to burrow into my tool kit to find the relevant spanners.
On removal the rather fine looking altimeter proved to bear the broad arrow mark to declare its military origin while the VSI was marked with a crown and A M, presumably standing for Air Ministry, the ASI bore none of these distinguished marks but was of much the same vintage. Nice kit, I only hope that they prove in good working order
Next time into the workshop produced another length of rudder cable: once complete, I connect it up with its turnbuckle and fit it. Ok fitting involved going into the small access panel at the rear, just in front of the pulleys with my arm fully inserted up to the elbow I felt a bit like a vet delivering a calf but it all worked alright. I need a better cutter though, this worked fine on the lighter wire of the simulator but this was the next size up and ragged ends were the order of the day.
Meantime the check on the altimeter was not looking promising with widely varying readings I was a bit disappointed as it is a fine looking instrument. Then the wife had an idea, “when I was gliding” she said “we used to have to tap the altimeter to get the correct reading but the vibration of power flying makes it unnecessary”. Then she smartly rapped the instrument with a finger and the needle moved significantly and my hopes rose again. So tearing up the record of readings that I’d gathered I started again and this time there was a satisfying sameness, it seems I have a working altimeter after all. Next check will be the VSI, the only way I can think of doing that is to take it along next time I go flying, still I’m feeling more optimistic than I was a day ago.
Mistakes with the “hump”; rudder cables, instrument panel & seat
Arranging to meet up with the modellers at North Weald I loaded my roughly-carved blue foam SE 5 hump in the car and headed off. It was a nice sort of day if you discounted the wind, which was more than either microlight fliers or model fliers would want and after checking the aircraft tie-downs I met up with Richard, a pleasant and helpful chap.
The model club occupy a hut on the airfield similar to, but larger than, the one from which we run Saxon Microlights. They have a very nice workshop complete with a band saw and a lathe, some good large work benches and a goodly variety of hot wire cutters. Already there was a chap putting, what seemed to the finishing touches to a very beautiful model of a Mig 15 (I think). He pitched in to help straight away, so I’m afraid that we interrupted his painstaking work. Both of the lads looked at the piece that I’d brought and it was apparent that I’d made several mistakes in my ignorance of blue foam work. I’ll pass these on in the hope that it may save somebody else from the same errors.
Firstly I’d used ply for my end formers, this may have worked but I’d not taken the trouble to get the edges sufficiently smooth. Ideally I should have used alloy to allow the hot wire to glide around the ends, if not then the ply would ideally be as smooth as it was possible to make it. Secondly, for something so sharply tapered it would have been far better to have made it in two pieces to glue together later. Before we started I was warned that this may well, due to the drag on the wire, give a sway backed finish. My last mistake was to glue the sections together using epoxy, it’s not structural said the man, PVA would have done. The other advantage of PVA apart from being easier to use is that it cuts similarly to the foam so causing no localised drag on the wire.
The first side went quite well with the drag marks that I’d been warned of but nothing too much. The second side though lived up to its billing, the epoxy slowed the cut in the centre and left me with a hollow that will have to be filled.
Still I’d spent the morning in pleasant company and I’d learned a lot but I finished the day with a hump that needed a bit more work and at least one area of my ignorance diminished. So I moved forwards on two fronts, that can’t be bad, I ordered some more microballons for my filler and moved on.
The next job to progress was to replace the old rudder cables with new. This, after fitting the static pipe forward to the rear of the instrument panel position and rigging the seat belts, would mean that I could fit the seat. This would be handy as at present I have had to keep moving the seat about to keep it out of the way, because I’d had to attach the upper seat straps (and thus the seat) when fitting the tank.
I have made up control cables before, but only for the training simulator that we use at Saxon, I thought a bit more of a thorough look was called for. So I resorted to that invaluable resource, the EAA Instructional Videos. Sure enough all the information was there and not for the first time I blessed their generosity in making this available to everybody. I was intending to use the “economy “tool for compressing the Nicopress swages and from reading the “Big White Book” on inspections and much else by the FAA, I purchased the simple little gauge to check them.
Then I made up my first cable, a success! All I have to do now is to find a tape to prevent the ends from unravelling that doesn’t fall off and how to prevent the little spiky ends from sticking in my fingers, it didn’t happen to the bloke in the video.
The SE5 style hump for the back has now been rough shaped and glued together out of 4 pieces of blue foam and ply profiles made for each end.
A friend has promised to try to locate a suitable hot wire cutter for the final shaping, a new skill to learn but it does promise to be easier than hours of careful sanding, so I hope for the best. When the glue is dry I’ll weigh it , it does feel very, very light so here’s hoping the scales agree with the feel
I also wanted to trial fit the Romain vertical stabiliser, as this is already covered by the previous owner I wanted a look inside so I dug out my little cheap borescope and to my delight it gave me an excellent view of the state of the inside.
As it happened it was in good shape matching the other work done by the same chap, all the same it was nice to have looked. I’m in hope that the hump in conjunction with it will look terrific as well, hopefully, helping also to tame the swing a bit.
Other little jobs sorted are a ply inspection panel to give access to the front fin securing bolt and to enable me to fit the rudder cables up though the upper pulleys. Eventually this panel will have a balsa wood fairing fitted to get a clean joint between the rear of the hump and the front of the fin, it will also make it easier to lift out, if needed and avoid trying to pry the panel out and maybe damaging the surrounding foam. With the glue made up I have also repaired the split to the centre section, with that done I can strip off the old covering and that will probably be my trial piece to learn to use Oratex covering, easy I’m told, but we’ll see. Heck, I’ve even pumped up the tyres and sorted out the springs for the rudder pedals, things are starting to move again.
While I considered the best way to tackle the foam, I placed the cockpit floor made from thin ply roughly in place which enabled me to have a good think about the cockpit systems and layout. One of the main things was the fuel system; the previous one had no provision for a fuel drain something that I was very uncomfortable about. As it happened I had a drain cock that I’d acquired with as part of a job lot, but it was designed to fit straight into the tank bottom something that was not possible in this case. I’d have to fit it on the end of a tube, something that worked well on the trusty AX3, all I needed were the right connections and then when the floor was fully fitted I’d only have to fit it though that and I’d be able to check the fuel. This seemed particularly important as the tank had no sump, a flat bottom with port and starboard draw off points, perfect for delivering debris and water straight to my fuel filter, I’d really rather intercept it before that. Checking what was available for connections to the drain valve defeated me so I consulted the guru and rang LAS, oh yes said the chap on the phone what you need is one of these and one of these, all straight off the top of his head. I was impressed.
So my fuel system, as roughly sketched out on a scrap of paper was pipes from the draw off points coming together in a tee piece another short length of pipe to another tee piece the starboard one leading to the cockpit side (when fitted) and the fuel tap followed by a primer bulb fitted with a bypass to the filter that would be far enough forward to be readily visible as I wasn’t expecting an excess of space in the cockpit. The port line from the second tee piece would go to the tank drain, even so I reckon that I’ll need a fair sized fuel sampler to get a good idea of the tank state. So I put some of this in place as far as the tap fitting anti chafing protection where it was needed. I was using the blue urethane tubing that has given such good service in other aircraft so it would need plenty of support as the only fault that I’ve ever found with the stuff is that being fairly soft it can kink and crush unless thought is given to its use.
Then two good things happened together, the first was packages from LAS and good old Skydrive with the bits that would enable me to build my fuel system, make my rudder cables (after study of the EAA excellent on line video) and put right my mistake with the incorrect washers on the aileron control rods. The next good thing was a phone from out of the blue with an offer from the North Weald Model Fliers club to lend me their equipment and expertise to cut my blue foam, what a result and a very generous offer.
Back in the workshop I was able to put right my error with the control rods. Have you ever noticed though the habit of split pins how in a slightly awkward place they sneak back and turn just when you think it’s almost sorted? Well three of them went wonderfully, but the one where I was in a bit of a cramped space did its best to make up for that.
The static port in the Romain Cub is mounted on the fuselage starboard side, that will make life a bit easier as I’ll only have to get a single tube out to the starboard interplane strut although it will involve cutting out a short length of foam, known as a “keyhole” slot in the build manual. This is tucked away behind the fuel tank and so needs to be considered at this time as well. Things are slowly starting to come to shape, although I’m sure there are few things yet that will that’ll make me scratch my head it is satisfying… heck I’m looking forward to flying this bird.
Fitting the cockpit floor was to be the next job to allow me to complete the fuel system as far as the tap and get the pipework clear of the seat, it turned out to be a fiddly job getting everything aligned and I was a lot more flexible after having finished crawling around underneath.
Then the final component to the fuel system landed on the doormat a primer bulb complete with bypass loop made by Mark at Galaxy Microlights. It’s the same type as we fitted to the AX3 a while back and have been very pleased with it.
I already have a high capacity fuel filter from Aircraft Spruce so at last I’m in a position to fit the system as far as the front bulkhead. Fortunately for me Jim Romain, no doubt horrified at the thought of blue foam below the fuel tank even with a tray fitted, had made that section of the lower fuselage of alloy. So I was able to make up a couple of alloy spacers with a soft washer made from layers for tape so that I could tighten my drain fittings through the fuselage bottom. That done it was an easy job to fit the primer assembly and filter all ready for the fire resistant fuel hose that will be used the other side of the bulkhead.
Hedy Lamarr was a famous film star, film producer and inventor.
Our Hedy is Miz Hedy the Thruster T600T, G-MZHD. After losing our old favourite Thruster TST to a forced landing (no injuries to the humans) we decided to buy a replacement rather than carry out the extensive repairs that would be required.
After a few weeks searching the adverts and hunting down the best we could find, we fell upon an early T600T and used the remaining insurance funds to pay the Thruster expert at Volair Aviation to clean her up to a standard we could be proud of and return her to full airworthiness.
Then The Lockdown struck – she was still half way across the country awaiting the opportunity to be delivered. We were all feeling frustrated.
Then an opportunity arose for the delivery pilot to fly her to us. She’s still stuck in the hangar until the Stay at Home rule is lifted, but at least she’s there waiting for us.
Right. In order to get started I’ll simply put links up to the current URLs of the story episodes on the old Saxon Microlights web site. As explained in the first post, the internal links are hard-wired to the old domain so you’ll need to come back here to jump to another episode. (NB. Titles below with a * have been added as posts in this blog and the link amended to suit.)
Introduction: It all started with back in 2003 with an ad in AFORS, “own a bit of microlighting history” it said … [Index]
Those of you who are a little bit tech savvy may notice that the links within the old saxonmicro site were hard wired to the original domain provider demon.co.uk. If you fancy playing with editing your URL then you can dig out the remainder… have fun.