Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fathers Day

It was a great plan. Drive the Miata out to the farm for a visit on Saturday, fly to Beach City for the Fathers Day Fly-in at Beach City with co-pilot Egg on Sunday. Both 2-seaters get to contribute in their unique ways, Fathers Day was to be celebrated equally in both of the capacities required by one who sits in the middle, and the weather was going to allow for both.

Well, you know what they say about mice, men, and plans. I had driven no further than ten miles towards the Saturday destination when I was interrupted by a call on my electronic leash: an email had come in at home to notify me of the impending arrival of my friends Jim and Lisa in their very recently overhauled Mooney 252. Figuring that I could defer the farm visit until Sunday and skip the Fathers Day fly-in, I turned around and headed back.

I was home well before the ETA of high noon, so I spent a bit of time working on the kayak. The project is coming along nicely, and is following pretty much the normal, albeit for more complex, steps involved in building an RV. First step: inventory the contents of the kit. Second step: scan the documentation for excuses to buy stuff at Harbor Freight. Step three: buy a bunch of stuff at Harbor Freight. Step four: go to Lowes and pay too much for the stuff Harbor didn't have. Step five assumes the example RV to be a slow-built: cleco the parts together.

Given that this is a 17-foot kayak, and that it shipped in an 8-foot box, it shouldn't be a surprise that some of the wooden pieces need to be joined into their full length before putting them together. In the past, these parts had beveled edges that were joined with epoxy and fiberglass tape, but it was difficult to get the parts well aligned. They apparently had a tendency to slide apart and add an unsightly joggle to the panel. Now they use CNC saws to cut very precise jigsaw shapes into the panels to ensure a correctly aligned joint:

I glued these joints with the parts laid out on a big sheet of plastic on the basement floor. This approach offered the benefit of being extremely low cost (as compared to building work benches), but very hard on my back. I needed weights to hold the panels together over night while the epoxy cured, which led to a funny incident in the great room as I hauled load after load of canned goods and bottled water to the basement, right in front of the quizzical stare of the wife who, due to being involved in a phone conversation, couldn't ask me just what the heck I thought I was going to do with all of those rations.

So, back to step five: no, we don't use actual clecos to hold the panels together. In a process known as "stitch & glue," it's actually done with short pieces of copper wire run through holes drilled in the edges of the panels and twisted together to snug up the joint. You can do it by hand, but I've found that 6" safety wire pliers work very well for when you need to get one really tight. The wire will hold the panels together while epoxy is used to glue the joints together:

In older versions of the kit, all of those holes had to be located and drilled by the builder. Fortunately, I came along just after they upgraded the kits to be essentially pre-punched; almost all of the holes are already drilled. Because of that, I already have the bottom panels joined at the keel and one of the side panels on:

After a lengthy debate, I ignored my conscience and listened to the little devil whispering "Hey, what's another $40 on top of a $1,000 kit?" into my ear and ordered an onlay to dress up the boat a little. It's laser cut wood only a few millimeters thick that will be glassed onto the front deck of the boat. Here it is, still in it's plastic protector:

I finished wiring the side panel into place and headed to the airport a little before noon to make sure I was there when they arrived. I needn't have hurried - I had forgotten all about Pilot Tip #16: if the pilot you are meeting at the airport is departing from a different time zone, make sure to be clear about exactly what it meant by "noon." Or better yet, use Zulu time. Oh well, there are worse places to be than sitting in the shade of the control tower with a scanner, just watching the planes fly in and out on a nice, sunny afternoon.

The plan was to chow down on some fine JP's BBQ, but if there were to be RV rides involved in the visit I've learned to get those out of the way first and have lunch later when the risk of having an unwanted 2nd visit with your victuals is substantially reduced. Two rides later, we worked through a pleasant lunch and they headed back towards Chicago:

Sunday was Fathers Day, so breakfast was up to me. Not having been in awhile, and one being conveniently located on the drive to the farm, I chose Waffle House. Also in another exercise of my Fathers Days prerogatives, we got out of the house early. The dog was loaded up in the Forester, the Beretta Neos was in its lock box and ready to go do a little plinking, and the family were at least nominally headed towards the car. I noticed that I had forgotten my hat, so I ducked back into the kitchen to grab it. I missed the top step of the garage stairs on my way back out, and twisted my ankle badly enough to give it a nasty sprain, and managed to end up flat on my side on the garage floor after flopping off of the stairs, words normally reserved for one of my patented Tourettes Landings spewing out uncontrollably. Well, that was that.

Hoping that the pain would subside and the swelling would just as soon skip the show, we headed towards breakfast. It was to no avail, though, as it soon became apparent that I couldn't walk. We headed back home where I found that the ankle was swollen to somewhere between the size of a golf ball and a baseball. We ended up just cutting my sock off rather than trying to get it over the painful knob of my ankle.

The rest of the day has been spent lying around watching TV. I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but swelling is down and I hope to at least be able to hobble around. Oh, and Rick: I guess messing up one of your legs and delaying your build progress is another of those parallels I was talking about before. Sigh.

UPDATE: It's a Class III sprain, which is the worst kind. The doctor says it will never fully heal, I'll feel it when the weather is changing, I'm going to require physical therapy, etc. Not the greatest news, really:

A third degree sprain is the most severe of the three. A third degree sprain is the result of a complete tear or rupture of one or more of the ligaments that make up the ankle joint. A third degree sprain will result in massive swelling, severe pain and gross instability.

One interesting point to note with a third degree sprain is that shortly after the injury, most of the localized pain will disappear. This is a result of the nerve endings being severed, which causes a lack of feeling at the injury site.

The part about the pain receding is counterintuitive, and led me to believe that this would be no big deal. Ah, well. Google knows better, as usual.

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