"Freezin's the reason."
Or so said the conventional wisdom back in the day. Minot (pronounced my-not) is an air force base located in the northern regions of the fine state of North Dakota. Now as you can imagine, such a location can be on the chilly side for a large part of the year, so it is no surprise that troops like me that made their livings working outside in the elements might be reluctant to receive such an assignment. I ended up gettting South Korean and West German winters instead, which to be honest weren't all that much fun either.
What got me thinking about Minot was how darn cold it was in the hangar this morning. I started pulling cowls and panels at 9:30 this morning to get the plane ready for the A&P/IA that's doing my annual, taking advantage of the relatively balmy 15F temperature. Even though the annual isn't actually due until next month, it's clear that I won't be getting the plane out of the hangar any time soon, so it makes sense to get the annual out of the way even if the weather is a bit on the frigid side:
Removing the cowl always reminds me of my Dad's long ago suggestion that I become a country veterinarian. See, I have the arm for it:
I have to get my arm way up inside through the oil door to get at the hinge wires. It's a royal pain getting them in and out of there. Consequently, while there aren't many things that I'm qualified to tell a builder about putting together a Van's kit, there is one thing I feel qualified enough to say: If you don't use camlocks or airlocks on at least your top cowl, you will regret it. I'm getting better at managing the hinge wires, but to me that's a lot like saying I'm getting better at shoveling the sludge out of a septic tank. I really miss the airlocks I had on the Tampico.
I finally broke down last night and bought a speed wrench from Sears. I've been hoping Harbor Freight would eventually start carrying them, but I just couldn't wait any longer. Every screw on the underside of anything that I've removed with a screwdriver for the last few years has frustrated me, causing me to long for the old speed wrench that was my constant companion back when I was working on the RF-4s and SR-71s. The reason that I waited so long is that I'm always reluctant to shop at Sears. I think they have a high quality product, but I have a problem with the nearly non-existent customer service at my local store. As usual, I had to search out what I was looking for on my own and then go through the inevitable song and dance of trying to find someone to give my money to. Feh. But it was worth it: that speed wrench made all the difference this morning. It provides plenty of torque, doesn't give me blisters, and lives up to the 'speed' moniker quite well. Except for the jobs that required me to remove my gloves to get improved dexterity, I was pretty comfortable in my Walmartts(tm) (see, that's funny because I didn't want to spend the big bucks for real Carhartts, so I bought some cheap clones at Wal-Mart and call them Walmartts(tm)) while I was working:
And wow, could it ever be worse! Consider those poor folks that don't have a hangar: