You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2007.

It will be a challenge to get anything done in the next few weeks. For several years I’ve built where I’ve worked, which lets me do bits and pieces during the day – immensely valuable for keeping the project moving along. Now that I’ve two kids, this is basically the only build time I have left.

Time marches on, however, and as the plane project grows, so has our company. We’ve reached a point where it’s no longer practical to live in what amounts to a nice but spartan warehouse, and are moving to new quarters. When we do, it won’t make any sense to rent a 4000 sq. ft. building to build a Cozy (ha!) so we’ll move it to the hangar. That’s going to be a major project since we have more than your average number of parts – two fuselages, three wings, lots of spare build foam, etc. Building will also be slowed down by proximity to John Slade’s Cozy, as we’ll be sharing the same hangar.

Still, it’s for the best, and we’ll have plenty of space to complete the build. With some luck and hard work, the primary structure will be completed this year, while it’s warm and we don’t need to heat the space as much, leaving the engine and avionics to complete over the winter. That would get me flying by 2008. Fingers crossed!

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For frame of reference, I’m posting a photo I cam across from October, 2006. It shows a number of projects under way simultaneously:

  1. Some introductory finishing work on the bottom.
  2. Beginnings of the electrical system mockup.
  3. The nose is taking shape, slowly but surely.

bottom_begin.jpg

The plane has come a LONG way since then. Current status as of 04/26/2007:

  • Both wings with winglets are complete.
  • Spar is complete.
  • Canard/elevator is complete, with some finishing micro applied.
  • The fuselage tub is relatively complete. Nose section is almost done, with access doors finished, pitot installed and plumbed, landing light going in shortly, nose gear complete but for some final details, nose gear doors installed and (mostly) working.

There’s obviously a lot left to do, but most of the major structural work is now complete. The BIG elements left to complete are:

  1. Strakes
  2. Turtleback
  3. Main gear
  4. Engine
  5. Avionics
  6. Finishing

So, it will still be a while before it’s ready to fly, but we’re DEFINITELY at a point where excitement is in the air.

Update: we’re moving to the hanger mid-May! We’re moving our primary business location to a building not well suited for aircraft construction, so the hangar is the best place to keep moving. Ideally I’ll finish the bulk of the composite work before winter, while I don’t have to (expensively) heat the hangar to get a good cure.

I’ve moved the project to a blog, to try to keep it up to date more often without as much overhead as my last site required. To see why I made this move, click here.

Last night John installed the pilot’s side retractable step. We made this out of an aluminum tube with a solid aluminum rod inside – others have had trouble with hollow rods bending. I cut a slot lengthwise in the tube, with a notch in one end forming a detent.

The detent was John’s idea, and solves an important problem. When extended, you expect general wear and tear usage, so a bit of play or rattle isn’t a big deal. When retracted, you want it to be in EXACTLY one position, with no rattle, so the end sits flush against the fuselage side, and can’t rotate or vibrate (which would create drag).

To address this, rather than having a detent for the retracted position, we’ll use a spring that holds it in the closed position. The slot for the knob is perfectly shaped at that end, so it can be in only one precise position while retracted (that is, there’s no play in the slot at that end; there is along the rest of the length to prevent binding). The springs make it easy to retract the step, too – just rotate it past the detent, and let go. The spring does the rest. We’ll test it out after the BID and UNI wraps over the tube cure, then install the passenger’s side.

After hemming and hawing over any last items I might want to put in there (we now have two battery cables, ground and supply, two brake lines, an alternator field disconnect wire, and several pull ropes/wires for later installations), I finally sealed up the rear heat duct. This takes some doing, because it’s two plies of BID and seven more to beef up the seat belt attach point, but I got it all worked out in a few hours and the installation looked good this morning.