Bent and cracked metalwork
So, on a raw autumnal morning I went back to my workshop for more than a fleeting visit. I was horrified by the clutter that had somehow gathered. I can’t work like that so it had to be sorted and sorted properly. First, the Saxon Micro drip trays just needing painting finished. That done and stowed in the shed I have a bit more room. Next, the replacement wheels for DF now just waiting for the paperwork to be labeled and stored on the right place. Then a general clean. Magic, ready to start, fire up the laptop to check with the workbook and reread the appropriate section of the Kit Build Instructions and study the drawings, it is starting to feel familiar again.
Logical order suggests that first the cockpit frame uprights to have all their plates and brackets fitted, then make up the fore and aft sub frames then join these together to form the cockpit frame. From there connect up to the engine bulkhead and the pile of tube starts to resemble part of an aeroplane again.
With so many types of plates and brackets I check the drawings in the book, read the labels that I attached when I removed them, that seems a long time ago, and lay them out on the bench. When I am happy that I know exactly where everything goes I loose fit it to check alignments, then using my supply of new nuts and bolts making sure of a good layer of Duralac where needed.
I feel a great satisfaction as a recognizable component arises out of the stacks of labeled bits.
It is also about time that I started replacing the rejected tubes and brackets.
Firstly tube, I have two damaged forward tubes, bent by the nose wheel installation and two of the main uprights to the cockpit section have damage to the sides as if a wire or something similar had been crushed against them. Ok that is the main reason that I acquired kit 208. I am disappointed to find one of the forward tubes is not straight either but the other one and the two uprights look good. This is now a well organized process. Firstly strip off all the plates and brackets and roll it on a flat surface to check it is straight and check that all the anti-crush inserts are in place. Next a good clean down and check any marks with the trusty magnifying glass. This shows a slight deformity beside one of the holes on my last remaining forward tube, Damn. Then the messy rigmarole of the penitrant dye testing to the uprights. Messy but satisfying when as this time the developer shows a pristine white surface
So now I need a length of tube, more tube to make sleeves from and some channel and angle to make brackets from. I remember last year a mention on the BMAA web site of a metals company offering a discount to members. That seems the right place to try first. So I call them up, friendly sounding guy on the other end has not heard of a BMAA discount but he will ring back in a about half an hour. Two hours later, no call, I ring back. Still sounding friendly he explains that he needs to speak to the States and they are not available for another hour, apologies, will ring back in less than two hours. Three hours later I ring again, he hasn’t found the channel but will ring back shortly. Next morning I ring again, he is still having trouble with the channel but can at least confirm that he is now aware of the discount offer. Leave me your e-mail address, he says, and I’ll send you a quote within threequarters of an hour. Two days later no mail, sod it, if he can’t be arsed why the hell didn’t he say so. Ah well, there are others including my old friends at Light Aero as they are now the agents for Aircraft Spruce also of high repute. So I sit down and dispatch a flurry of e-mails asking for quotes to all those that I’ve got addresses for, maybe that’ll do some good. No response to any of the e-mails, this is getting to be a pain. However after a phone call to Light Aero all is again right with the world. As helpful as ever, they track down what I need and are a bit concerned that they can’t get it to me before Christmas. It’ll have to come from America he says apologetically, but it won’t be long after the holiday. That’ll be fine I say magnanimously, it is, after all 21 December. What a damn good company.
While I await delivery of my new tube and bits I can start a bit of reassembly. First thing is to use the brackets and bits already sorted to put together the rear cockpit section. The uprights come first, then put together the torque tube and pushrod assembly. With this fitted to it’s bearings on the crosstubes I can put together the front and rear sub- assemblies. As the rear cockpit section is where the seat is mounted. When this is in one piece I can temporarily attach it to the rear fuselage giving me all the dimensions I need for the seat harness mod. Before this can happen I need to offer up the rear sub assembly to align the rear fuselage attachment brackets as the lower ones are set 45degrees to the uprights. Getting them close is easy, but things are as they should be and there is no slack in any of the bolt holes the last bit is a bit more tricky. The back of the hole being inaccessible it seems the old torch and mirror trick is the only way.
Another thing I acquired about this time was another set of main wheels, ex Pegasus as fitted to Quantums and AX2000s. Neat units, compared to the original which where the plastic wheelbarrow wheels so beloved of early microlights.
As these where innocent of any bearings I’ve always cringed a bit when looking at them. The Peggy wheels are the same diameter and same weight but narrower, Ahh, my mantra, less drag, and fitted with bearings. They can even be fitted with brakes, but brakes are for fairies and nosewheel pilots, they are also extra weight.
Wheelbarrow wheels first, another mod for later, although it is very tempting to get side tracked
Early in January my package from Light Aero, or LAS as they now like to refer to themselves, arrives. As I have come to expect from them everything is there and 100% correct. Also the paperwork that accompanies the delivery is the kind of thing that Tec Office goes to bed dreaming about. As good as always, thanks guys. When I’ve opened the package I check that the tube that sleeves two of the others fits, and it does, perfectly. I feel a very strong urge to start making the brackets ect. Discipline prevails and I regretfully tuck it away until the right time in the build sequence
It’s time to start checking the rear fuselage and it’s not a good start when one of the attachment brackets turns out to have an elongated hole. Sod it! still kit 208 comes to rescue again and that bracket checks out ok. The elevator push rod comes next and that also is fine, then the rear aluminium bulkhead.
This is a bit more complex, with its edges pressed over to just a bit less that 90% to the main plate, attached brackets for the longeron ends and attachment holes for the rudder post. The only way that I can think of for this is carefully, a bit at a time.
After spending most of a day checking bends, corners holes and rivets it all proves to be in good shape Whew.