Thursday, September 29, 2005

Well, now I know jack

It was another gorgeous day today, so I grabbed my floor jack and headed to the hangar to see if it was suited to lifting the RV. It did a pretty good job, but there was no way to avoid putting a small bend in the very lowest part of the gear leg fairing. That's no big deal since one of the projects on my to-do list is to replace the wheel pants with the newer style and replace the aluminum leg fairings with new fiberglass fairings.

In looking at what it's going to take to get the wheel off, the axle nut measures at 1.5 inches so I'm going to need to go get a socket. I need one of those little tools that takes the Schrader valve out too. I'm also going to be doing the brakes as long as I have them off of the plane, and that is going to require a tool to de-rivet the old pads and rivet the new ones on. Unlike on a car, the brake pads are riveted in place so it's not quite as easy to replace them. The tool is less than $20, but it will take a week to come in, and I don't want to wait that long. I think I can borrow what I need from the mechanics at Bolton Flying Service. They're incredibly generous with their knowledge and tools, and seem to always be willing to donate small pieces and parts like bolts, clamps, wiring terminals and doo-dads like that to keep me from having to pay $2.50 shipping for a $.05 bolt.

You can also see, if you look closely, that the jack is leaking hydraulic fluid. I think I'll grab a new one when I go buy the other tools. You can also see the way the tire wears. I've heard, but never verified, that this is a common trait for the RV's. I've heard a couple of theories as to why they do this, but the pragmatic reality is that it doesn't make any difference. I'm very likely going to be putting new tires on once a year now. They aren't horribly expensive, though I might go with a better brand next time around. It depends on how well these retreads do.

It doesn't look like the plane is sitting very firmly on the jack, but I wiggled it around a bit and it turned out to be quite stable. I'll still look for a way to "safety" it with a 4x4 or something, but it's pretty solidly set on the jack so I'm not too worried about dropping it.

I went ahead and took the right wheel pant off while I was at it, both to get a look at the brake pads and to satisfy a sudden impulse and go flying. One of the bolts was an unholy pain to get out. It was really bound up and I ended up taking it out with needled nosed vise grips (one of my absolute favorite tools). That'll teach me to use stainless steel bolts rather than the more commonly available zinc that I used when I replaced the ones that were lost back when I broke that pant.

It was still early, and having just heard a very loud car crash out on Norton Rd. which dissuaded me from going to Lowes, I decided to go satisfy my urge to go flying. A quick preflight and I was ready to go. One of plethora of things that make a taildragger slightly more difficult to handle on the ground is the restricted view forward. I took a picture sitting in front of my hangar:

As a point of reference, RV's are considered to have very good ground visibilty compared to most other taildraggers. I don't think I would like that at all. As it is, I strain to see anything at all as I go down the small incline on the way to the runway.

Most of the recent flying I've done has been calm winds, but tonight I had 8 knots of left crosswind at about a 45 degree angle. That caused a bit of a leftward lurch (wind from the left pushes against the rudder, which causes the nose to go left) at that transition point from tailwheel steering to rudder steering, but it was easily corrected.

I flew around for 20 minutes out in the practice area then headed back.

I've been having horrible landings back at Bolton recently, probably due to a subliminal performance anxiety caused by all of the potential witnesses there. Tonight wasn't too bad, considering the wind. I got into a pretty hefty descent right over the runway and had to give the engine a quick blast before I pancaked onto the pavement, but recovered nicely from that and made a pretty decent crosswind landing. Mr. Personality was in the tower tonight so I must have subliminally figured he wasn't paying any attention anyway, so there was no one watching. That's my theory, anyway.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Mandatory Fly Day

Great fall weather today! Not too hot, barely any wind at all, clear blue skies, and plenty of visibility. I decided on a quick ride down to Highland Co., which is right next to the Rocky Fork State Park.

It's only about 20 minutes to get down there, and once there I entered a left downwind to runway 23. From here you can see the lake at the park. There's also a great hiking trail just up the road about a half mile.

You can't tell from way up here, but the runway slopes upward quite a bit. I wasn't sure what that would do to my landing, but ultimately it ended up not making any difference. I scored another squeaker.

I thought the trees would make a nice background for some pictures, but the light was too bright for the pictures to really turn out well - a problem I've had before. I often wish I had spent more money when I bought my digital camera...

It's definitely big bug season! I hit these guys at 3,500'. People always find it hard to believe that bugs fly that high, but they do. The ones I hit tonight were so big that I could actually hear them hit the canopy! That's with the engine running at 2,400 rpm and me with my headsets on!

I like that picture for some reason. I might try it again sometime without the bugs.

The landing back at Bolton was another bouncer. I can't seem to get my flare right on the big, wide runway at Bolton, but I'm doing well on the shorter, narrower runways at the county airports. It probably has something to do with peripheral vision differences between the different sized runways. Yeah, that's the ticket!

Monday, September 26, 2005

I don't know jack

The brake pads are here, but I'm still thinking about how I want to go about the jacking. I liked the jack adapter that went into the hollow axle, but it appeared to require a hole in the axle nut, something I can't do because my wheel pants have a bolt that goes into the end of the axle nut. I'm not positive about the requirement for the hole in the axle nut, but the only other way I can see it working would be to take the axle nut off with the weight of the plane still on the wheel. That doesn't seem right, so... whatever. I'm going to Lowes to pick up a 4x4 and a 2x4 and just whip together something to either act as a jack stand, or a brace for the jack itself in case it lets go.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Nose art?

I wonder how those teeth would look on my 6.

Look at those choppers!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Another UPS shipment

The vinyl decals I ordered from arrived today. It's pretty easy to apply them - I don't think it took more than half an hour, if that.

The decal letters come sandwiched between an opaque backing paper and a transparent sheet of sticky plastic. You clean the area where you want to put the decal, spray the area with a water & dish washing soap mix, peel off the opaque paper, and stick the decal on. You squeegee out as much of the soapy water as you can, then wait a few minutes. Then you slowly and ever so carefully peel off the transparent plastic.

You can see in the pictures that the pilot side has already had the transparent layer pulled off, while the co-pilot's side has not.

I think it looks pretty snazzy!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Thinking about the next trip

I've never been to Mackinac Island. I think I'd fly into Mackinac County rather than directly onto the island, mostly because it will be a lot cheaper to get a room. The ferry over to the island runs every 40 minutes or so, and costs about the same as the landing fees at the island airport. There's no av fuel on the island, either, and I'll definitely need gas. There's a water front Days Inn just about a mile from the county airport, so that's most likely where I'd stay.


I think this is an even better idea: fly into Sault Ste Marie, Michigan (KANJ) and do the Agawa Canyon Tour Train. Yeah! I'm going for the Premium Dome Car Service, too. There are plenty of motels near the airport and there are supposedly rental cars available. I think this would be awesome in the fall!

I think I'll stay here.