Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It runs! Well, more like lopes...

After a prolonged operation of moving other aircraft out of the way, were managed to pull the Warrior out of the hangar to test run the re-assembled engine. I received yet another harsh reminder of the true cost of taking night classes in the winter: it's COLD out there.

We had pre-oiled the engine before pulling the plane out of the hangar to ensure that all of the engine bits had at least some access to lubrication when we first started the engine, so it should have been a simple matter to just crank it up and run it. Snapita, of course. What appeared initially to be a dead-ish battery (and in this case, given the hugely deflating, anti-climatic failure to turn over, I prefer the word "flaccid") turned out to be a problem in the wiring. An hour of fiddling around with that, wishing all the while that, if not Rome, at least something was burning to provide some heat, the wiring was jury-rigged enough to allow another attempt.

It started right up. No apparent leaks, and all of the parts (at least those visible to the naked eye) remained attached. Success!

Well, partial success. The engine steadfastly refuses to rev up any higher than 1,300 RPM. At that point, it just quits. Fuel starvation, it appears, which indicates a problem in the carburetor. Now, here's something we didn't know: when the initial damage to the pistons and cylinder heads occured, they were running the engine to try to determine the cause of (wait for it...) fuel starvation at higher RPMs. Late to be learning that, in my opinion, but nothing to be done. We did all we could do, and now it will be up to the advanced engine class to find the fault with the carb. Which, of course, they will do inside, where it's warm.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Fillets and Glass

Earlier this week, I "tack welded" the edges between the bottom and the lower chine pieces. The idea is to get enough epoxy in place to hold the parts together without the aid of the plastic tie wraps. Because of the large clearances between the parts, the epoxy has to be thickened with sawdust (or to use the term on the side of the bag, "wood flour") to keep it from just seeping through the gaps and adding to the already copious amounts currently adhered to my basement floor. It has to be thin enough to get down in the tighter gaps (what few there are), though, so it would still drip through and cause difficult to remove stalactites on the outside of the boat. To avoid that, I ran masking tape along the outside seams where ever I could see light coming through.

The epoxy/wood flour slurry also has to be thin enough to be loaded into the applicator, which in this case is a plastic hypodermic syringe:

I mixed the slurry in a plastic drink cup, and sucked it up into the applicator by sticking the open end into the mix and drawing it in by pulling out on the plunger. I then filled the gaps between the parts by injecting the epoxy mix into them:

Where the gaps were really, really wide, I trimmed some thin shims of plywood from some of the scrap left over from cutting out the larger pieces and stuffed them into the gaps before injecting the slurry:

I let the epoxy set up for a few days, mostly since the latter half of the week was pretty hectic and I never really had the time and/or energy to start on the next part. Today's weather being what it is (read: crappy), I moved on to filleting the seams and covering them with fiberglass cloth tape. The tape doesn't handle sharp angles well, and the fillets aid in that by providing a larger radius for the tape to work with. I suspect that the fillets also provide a bit more strength to the joints, but their primary purpose is to provide a good seat for the joining tape.

The epoxy gets mixed with wood flour again, but this time to a consistency almost like that of modeling clay. It is going to be pushed down into the seam and molded into the required shape, so there is no reason to it to be very thin. That consistency precludes the use of the syringe for getting it into the boat, though, so I used a different technique. With the filleting, I use a plastic kitchen storage bag with a tip cut into one of the corners, much the same way a bag would be used to apply decorative icing to a cake.

The first step is one of those that requires a pretty healthy dose of faith: cutting the tie wraps out. The faith comes in believing that the tack welds will hold and the whole boat won't explode apart:

It held together, so I went ahead and cut the pieces of fiberglass tape to length:

This is one of the costs of using the OSB molds to hold the parts together. If I was just using spreaders, I would be able to do each side all at once. With the molds in the way, I have to work in the bays, and when the molds come out, I will have to go back and fill in the gaps. It's a small trade-off, in my opinion, given the huge benefit the molds provide in the initial shaping of the boat.

With the epoxy mixed and squeezed down to the corner of the bag, someone needs to help by cutting the corner. I have an itinerant laborer that comes down to the Boat Works now and then to lend a hand:

It's easy to then simply run a line of the thickened epoxy down along the seam:

When I did this with the kayak, I then used the end of a plastic spoon to impress the fillet shape into the epoxy. This time I just laid the glass into it and pressed it down into shape with a gloved finger:

I then mixed up a batch of unthinned epoxy to wet out the tape. This remains a job that I'd prefer to be able to hand off to Mike Rowe. The loosely woven fiberglass tape sheds threads easily, and they get strung along with the plastic spreader that I used to move the epoxy around. If I leave them there, I have to try to sand or scrape them away later. This being a canoe, there's not even the opportunity to hide away the majority of my sloppy work like there was when doing the interior of the kayak. I got it done, but between the glass and the wood being very thirsty, I'm already starting to wonder if I will have enough of the relatively expensive epoxy to finish the job:

Mid-way through the wetting out, my laborer complained about the atrocious smell and left the Boat Works. I haven't yet decided if it was the smell of the epoxy or that of the Chief Boat Builder, who had at the time not yet showered, that she was complaining about, and she won't say. Smart girl, that one!

Pea soup, chilled

Pea soup, as in "fog thicker than." You don't have to be a regular reader here to know what a Weather-Out-The-Window(tm) forecast like this means. It's so foggy that even Brave Sir Hogarth can't find an excuse to wake the neighbors with his booming bark:

A second opinion from the front window confirmed it:

It's a Boat Works day. Check back later for a progress update.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Snow, Ice, Lions, Tigers, Bears and other dreadful things...

It's been a pretty back week for weather. I think 50% of my work commutes were through some kind of ice, sleet, freezing rain, snow, or similar. We currently have that weird stuff that we get here in Central Ohio, which is snow with a hard crust of ice on top. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce simply has to be behind this in some way. If it's not them, it must be Florida.

I have an update on the engine tear-down and reassembly from A&P school, though. You may remember that the engine we tore down wasn't one of the many "stable horses" normally used for the purpose; this one was pulled off of one of the hangar planes because it exhibited very serious internal damage after one of the ground handling classes ran it. Specifically, it destroyed 6 out of 8 spark plus (there are two per cylinder on an airplane engine) and got a very bad case of combustion chamber acne on 3 of the 4 cylinders. It was obvious that something had been ingested into the cylinders to cause that damage, but it was not obvious what it was. We found nothing in the cylinders when we tore down the engine that would provide any kind of clue.

Everyone pretty much shrugged and decided to just reassemble the engine and hang it back on the airplane. Chalk it up as a mystery and press on, as it were. Well, there we were, hanging pretty much the very last piece of kit back on the engine when one of the guys noticed something. We were in the process of hanging the heat cuff (shroud) back around the exhaust pipes (which is just a piece of metal that surrounds the exhaust pipe and directs some of the heat into the cabin for the comfort of the folks when it's chilly outside) when he noticed that the piece of screen that covers the carb heat inlet was torn.

Carb heat, for you non-pilots, is simply warm air that is added to the incoming air for the carburetor to keep ice from forming. You can read more about it on Wiki, should you choose to. If not, this is the most important thing to note:

Usually, the air filter is bypassed when carb heat is used.

Because of that, they placed a screen over the hole in the shroud to catch any big pieces of junk before they could get into the engine. That's all well and good, right up until the screen itself decides to contribute pieces of itself to the fuel/air combustible mix:

While it is by no means a certainty that this is what caused the damage, it is a fact that we weren't about to put this back on the airplane! That piece of screen has attached to the shroud with a almost-circular "donut" of sheet metal, held in place with five rivets. The teacher was wondering what it was going to cost to buy a new shroud since there was no sheet metal class this quarter when I chimed in that I had already had said class, and would be thrilled to do the repair myself.

So, I stopped by the hangar on Wednesday to pack up my riveting stuff (it was good to see my Gucci rivet gun (so named fir its astonishing color) again - it's been too long) and other supplies.

I had a little trouble drilling out 2 of the rivets and ended up making the holes a little bigger, but that was ok since the original rivets were #3 (3/32" diameter) and could easily be replaced with #4 (4/32" diameter) size rivets. The teacher had some metal screen on hand (which I'm pretty sure came from the Aviation Parts aisle at the local Lowe's store) that I used to replace the old, torn screen. That should be good enough since, as I have pretty much the entire class saying now, I can guarantee 100% that it won't fail in flight. (You know, because there is absolutely no way in the world that any of the hangar queens will ever fly again).

That was a pretty fun job, and as we're hoping to actually start and run the engine on Monday, I should know pretty soon whether it worked or not.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Well, I ain't flying...

... but that's hardly a good reason to deprive you of a ripping good flying yarn or two.

By way of intro, Lex is a retired F-18 jockey, and as such has never gotten used to the idea of paying for his own flying. Can't blame him for that, mind you, and sure do appreciate his years at the tip of the spear, but darned if he didn't find away to leverage that experience into the getting the front seat (paid!) of one of my favorite planes, the Varga Kachina:

The tandem seating, control sticks, and that T-6 looking canopy were oh so intriguing to a teenager dreaming about flying. I finally got to fly one a few years ago, back when I still had the Tampico. The retired doctor that hangars his Kachina across from me (in the hangar right next door to his Bonanza - I really should have considered a career in medicine!) offered to let me fly front seat over to MadCo for gas, while he tended to my ham handedness from the aft position.

Positively giddy, was I, but in retrospect I think it was wise to hold out for an RV rather than try to find a Kachina of my own. Although a -4 or a -8 would better slake my Mittyesque thirst for a more fighter-like seating arrangement than my side-by-side -6, the -6 comes close enough that to ask more is simply to show sinful greed. The point is, the RV planes are closer in flying qualities to a true fighting plane than a Kachina could ever hope to be, so I'm happy that I took on the additional challenge of the Experimental class bird.

Now, to get back to the story, Lex went and got himself a gig flying around in a Varga Kachina with some of those very same dreamers as I was before I grew my wings, dogfighting with another Kachina. I think it may be this very facility (http://www.barnstorming.com/documents/52.html) at which he has gained such desirable employ. Cool work, if you can get it.

In any event, he has taken to sharing stories about his flights in the Kachina, and has posted one today that I thought might fill the gap left by my own failure to provide the entertainment y'all stop by here for. Just to whet the appetite, I'll tell you how it ends:

We - or I should say I, since himself seemed blithely unaware - had a bit of a startlement on landing since the nose wheel shimmy dampener gave up the ghost at the first hint of wheel brake application. The crate was shuddering and bucking to an alarming degree, and while I suspected a dampener failure, but not knowing the exact failure mode it occurred to me with all the objectionable activity going on up front that maybe the engine was coming apart, but it’s not like we could forgo the option of slowing down. Runways go on for but a finite length.

All’s well that ends well however, and we taxied to the line to the evident relief of his dear ma who had no real need to be any the wiser on the topic of shimmy dampeners. A few photos and a handshake later and our work there was done. “That was a blast! Flying is so cool,” said the young man to me, and I had to agree with him:

“Yes. Yes it is.”

You can read the full story here.

He meets quite a variety of folks, each drawn to the experience for different reasons. Not all are there to get their first taste of real flight (flying in airliners not really being the same thing, at all); many arrive to look the other direction, back into their past:

Climbing out, he came under immediate machine gun fire from the farm house, and dropped to the deck. His wingmen circled overhead, and he thought that perhaps he could ease up, put the plane between him and the threat and run for it, but the instant he raised up even slightly the machine gun tore gouts through the snow around him. The message was clear: We have you. Sit still.

Eventually his wingmen ran out of gas, and returned to their base. Once the fighters had gone, out came the Wehrmacht soldiers. Hands up. Come with us. Your war is over.

You really ought to read all of that one too. Here.

Have you noticed how sometimes the details of the flying take a back seat (so to speak) to the emotions and satisfaction that comes from the sharing of it? I suppose that's why I find these little stories so fascinating - it's probably the one thing in my aviation experience that I can fully share with an F-18 pilot.

That's kind of cool.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Can I just say?

I saw a little ESPN yesterday afternoon, I just want to say that I think it's sad and deplorable that such vile, despicable, self-aggrandizing low-lifes have latched onto professional baseball.

Brian McNamee? Oh, well, I suppose so.

But Henry Waxman??

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

And I thought yesterday was bad...

Yes, I know you're all endlessly fascinated with the local weather situation here in Columbus, and even more so in the specifics of my daily commute, so here's today's Google Traffic map, circa 10am:

I have never seen so much yellow and red this late in the morning! Makes me glad I got up at 0500 and beat the rush! And at least I didn't have to drive the Miata again - that would really have been a treat.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Snapid, bordering on snafu, no ubid in sight

So, after my wonderful 35 mile commute of this morning, I left the office and walked towards the Miata, with "these things always come in threes, these things always come in threes" running through my head.

I'm not making this up: the car started fine, but wouldn't go into gear. With the clutch pedal pressed as hard to the floor as I could get it, I tried to force it into gear but it started rolling before the gears engaged. "Ah," I thought, "it needs more cowbell clutch." I shut it down and went back up to the office, where I quickly and efficiently utilized my knowledge of how to extract exactly what I need from Google in order to learn how to tighten the clutch. As long as I was there, I also purloined an adjustable wrench from the office toolbox.

For the curious, tightening the clutch is as simple as loosening the jam nut on the clutch pushrod and running the rod out a few threads. That's a snapita, of course, because it's pretty tight quarters down by the pedals in a car as small as a Miata, and even more so when bundled up against the biting cold in a bulky leather bomber jacket.

Still, I was able to get the clutch engaged enough to get me home, so that's something.

Ubid morning

ubid [oo'bid]

1. Similar to snapita, except that it means "Unexpected blessing in disguise."

Usage: The Miata snapita turned out to be an ubid.

[Origin: February 11, 2008. David R. Gamble]

0530, 5 degrees Fahrenheit this morning. The Suburu wouldn't start. Had I not charged up the dead battery on the Miata Saturday, I would have been stuck.

Of course, I used the Subie to jump start the Miata, so there may be a cause/effect relationship at work there. I prefer not to think too much about that, though. Kind of an "every cloud has a gray lining" path there, should I choose to follow it.

Oh, and a 35 mile Miata ride at 5F? Not so very pleasant, truth be told.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

This blows

Today's weather, that is. Mama mia, it's 26 gusting 38! I'm not sure I could even safely taxi out to the runway in that! The temperature is just shy of balmy 20F, and with the wind chill it feels like being stabbed with icicles if you spend even the briefest time outside. At some point, it's going to be hard to not take this kind of weather personally. What did I do, Al, what did I do? Bring back my global warming!

Like an old trail horse heading back to the stable at the end of a ride, once I determined that the weather was in no way flyable I pretty much found myself automatically heading down to the Boat Works. I found a bag of tie straps in the hangar this morning, so I didn't have to brave the crowds at Harbor Freight to replenish my supply. They're a bit garish, as you'll see, but no less functional for that.

It was, as expected, quite difficult to get the bottom chines to come together at the bow. Between two ratcheting tie down straps, plastic tie straps every few inches, and copious amounts of swearing as I'd get to the end and find out that things just hadn't lined up correctly and it had to be taken apart again for a do-over, I finally achieved this:

Unfortunately, some of the gaps between the bottom and the lower chines are still pretty wide:

Between the gaps and all of the holes that I've drilled for the tie straps, it seems that I'm going to be relying pretty heavily on epoxy and filler to keep the water on the outside of the boat. I think I may have to placard the boat against operation in anything deeper than 3 ft. of water for liability reasons.

It's definitely starting to take on the look of a boat, though:

Here you can see the cost of the twist that I accidentally built into the bottom pieces:

In retrospect, it would have been better to use the bent PVC pipe to draw the curve on one side, then measure a bunch of points on the curve and transcribe them to the other side, rather than putting quite so much faith in the pipe to bend equally on both sides using points 24" apart.

I can either cover that up and shape it nicer with epoxy, or sand/rasp/cut it down flush. Or, more likely, a combination of the two. The other end will probably look just as bad. I won't know about that today, though, since I intend to spend a few days recovering before going through the same chore again.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

A stitch in chine saves nine

I started stitching the lower chines to the bottom tonight. I started in the middle and worked my way to the fore and aft, alternating between the left and right side. The plans suggest spacing the holes 12" apart, but I just guesstimated that by looking to see where it seemed that it would do the most good to snug up the edges:

I've been cutting short pieces off of the PVC pipe that was formerly used for drawing the curved lines on the plywood for cutting out the parts and putting them inside the loop formed by the tie straps. That seems to give the tie strap a little more leverage for pulling the edges together.

You can see where my early efforts at cutting a straight line with the jigsaw introduced problems:

That gap will get filled with epoxy thickened with saw dust and then covered with fiberglass tape, so it's really not a problem.

Just as I was getting to the bow and stern, both of which are really shaping up to be a royal pain to get together, I ran out of tie straps. (I used way too many to put the molds in place, I think.) Since I won't be able to get more until tomorrow (Harbor Freight on a Sunday - Ugh!), I thought I'd see if I could get the wood at the bow and stern to take a bit of an appropriate and helpful bend. We all know what it means when I have recalcitrant wood unwilling to bend to my will, don't we? Yes, of course we do! Tie straps:

This is a neat time in the build in that you can see the boat starting to take shape. I think it's going to be a long and frustrating job to get the sides to align with the bottom and to also sit snug against the molds, but when it's done the boat will (well, should) have the characteristic lengthwise bend of a canoe.

Meanwhile, back in the far reaches of the boat works, the upper sides have the first epoxy/fiberglass patch joining them together curing. The second join will get done tomorrow morning.


sna·pi·ta [snæˈ pee tuh]

1. a needlessly complex or complicated situation. Similar to snafu, except that it means "Situation normal: a pain in the ass."

[Origin: February 9, 2008. David R. Gamble]

Given the reverse chronological order of blog postings, you may not yet know that I ended the preceding post thusly:

At least the weather is good enough to get the Miata out for some much needed exercise, so I'm taking a break.

As is normal for my lot in life, that turned out to be not as easy as could have been hoped. I moved the tractor out of the way, which ironically enough started quite easily. The tractor moves from the outdoor shed to the garage in the winter to keep the battery from dying, and that is where the irony comes in: the Miata battery was deader than the hopes and dreams of the typical first round American Idol contestant.

Badly in need of a jump start, in other words.

Co-pilot Egg was in attendance, and in one of the multitudinous ways in which she has exhibited accelerated development, she completed the transition from "Daddy knows everything" to "Daddy could replace the village idiot in any domicile of his choosing" quite awhile ago.

"Ah," I thought, "here's an opportunity to elevate my standing in her eyes. Surely I can jump start a car quite easily, an act which must indeed impress even such a mentally acute specimen as Ms. Egg."

Well, here's the deal: if you're counting on impressing a young woman with your automotive acumen by reinvigorating a dead motor, you should probably ascertain the precise location of the battery before commencing. Because, as it turns out, the battery in a Miata is in the trunk. And no amount of searching about under the hood is going to find it, at least not in the brief window of opportunity allowed by today's impatient youth.

Alas. Snapita.

Will I ever fly again??

The Weather-out-the-Window(tm) forecast looked foreboding at first glance: it was grayer than a South Carolina Civil War re-enactment. After a half hour or so, though, the sun started breaking through the sludge, prompting me to head for the computer to get a real, FAA-blessed forecast. Aw, shucks: winds are 14 gusting 24. Too rich for me, I'm afraid.

As is becoming my habit, the next stop was the Blue Heron Boat Works, there to continue on the canoe build. With the bottom and lower side chines having been epoxied together over the last couple of evenings, it's time to start stitching them to the molds. I started in the center, mostly because that is the only one that I will be able to precisely locate. The others will require a little fudging back and forth to find the spot that best fits the width of the bottom edge of the molds. This location is shown on the plans, but with the imprecise way that I measure and cut, those are effectively just suggested locations.

So, placing the middle mold on the join line between the bottom halves and drilling holes for the tie straps resulted in this:

Pushing the tie straps down through the top and back up from the bottom:

The middle mold in place:

And, as they said on the Gilligan's Island song before the Professor and Mary Ann re-negotiated their contracts, "and the rest":

The next step is to drill the side chines and loosely stitch them to the molds. That job is already showing the hallmarks of being a real bugger. At least the weather is good enough to get the Miata out for some much needed exercise, so I'm taking a break:

Thursday, February 07, 2008

With this epoxy, I thee wed....

I joined the halves of the bottom and chines tonight. The fiberglass cloth that was specified for the canoe is a much looser weave than that used on the kayak. It wets out easier, but it also sheds threads from the edges far more prodigiously, making it a bit of a hassle to work with. It will leave ugly edges, I imagine, but I don't think it will matter as much on this boat as it did with the furniture-grade kayak:

The wood is pretty warped, so it took a bit of weight to hold the edges down:

I learned from the kayak that when I use those little floor tiles (you can see them on the far chine), I have to put the smooth side down. The side of the tile that goes towards the floor underlayment has a grid pattern in it, probably to give the glue something to grab hold of. When I used that side on the epoxy when joining the kayak parts, it quite predictably left a grid pattern in the epoxy. It wasn't very easy to sand out. Not very easy at all. Funny how that tends to help reinforce a learning experience, isn't it?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A&P School: Engine Assembly

It was a pretty good night. We should be ready to start hanging the engine back on the plane next week. It's going back together a lot faster and easier than I thought it would, mostly because, as I told the teacher, it's pretty liberating to not really care.

It's not that I don't care about learning how it all works and how it gets put together, mind you. It's just that when you know that the engine/airplane is never going to fly again, there's a slight loosening up in the Department of Stress and Tension.

Tonight we got everything assembled to just about to the point where I briefly considered putting the carburetor back on. I dug it out of the pile of pieces parts to see if it might need to be cleaned up first. A lot of the parts have been pretty gunky, so we've been scrubbing them off in the Simple Green bath.

That reminds me: did you know that if you look down the barrel of a carburetor to see if it needs cleaning, and if, while you're looking down the barrel of the carb to see if it needs cleaning you move the throttle arm, it will spray gasoline in your face?

You did? Really?

Well, thanks for telling me.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Most assuredly not the resource he was looking for...

"He" being the (presumed) fella that arrived here at The Chronicles after he googled:

"tax Advice for air Controllers"

Google must have tripped over a combination of my tax preparation rants, and the ATC employment issues that I linked to. Sigh. Another dissatisfied customer...

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Super Bowl Canoe Sunday

Yet another gray and lifeless day, so no hopes of flying. Thank goodness I have the canoe to work on!

I've been marking and cutting out the forms (the plans call them 'molds') now that I'm done using the sheet of OSB as a protective layer for the floor. It turns out that the idea of buying a Lazarus board to first protect the floor, then morph into an integral part of the build process was sound in principle, but it may be the case that OSB wasn't a great selection, albeit a fiscally responsible one. I'm afraid that the OSB may not be strong enough to use as a fulcrum for forcing the requisite bends in the pine plywood.

I noticed two things when cutting it: merely the threat of a blade is enough to make it decompose in fear, and it smells suspiciously like Corn Flakes when being cut. I'm not sure exactly what this stuff is made of, but recycled wet paper towels is high on my list of possibilities.

In any event, the forms are all cut, and I propped them up in place with this, that, and t'other stuff lying around the basement. So here, for the very first time, is a 3D representation of what the boat will ultimately hopefully look like:

Here's a reminder as to what it is that I'm trying to achieve:

I'm almost to the point where I can start stitching it all together. The one remaining thing to do before that is to butt all of the long parts together and fiberglass them together. I'll probably do that this afternoon before the big football game commercial extravaganza.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Press Release

From: Blue Heron Boat Works, Dept. of I'll Believe It When I See It
Subject: Canoe Pieces Cut
Release Date: *** For Immediate Release ***

The Blue Heron Boat Works has release the attached photo showing the major pieces of the in-work Hiawatha 14 Canoe:

A spokesman for the company stated: "These are the pieces of our latest project, a Hiawatha 14 Canoe. According to our Chief Engineer, these pieces will allegedly take the form and shape of a canoe when stitched together. Personally, I will believe it when I see it."

Friday, February 01, 2008

Public Service: Tax Preparation Tips

Tax Preparation Tip #5: Move to a "No Income Tax" state. No tax, no forms! It couldn't be easier! Sure, there's a one-time hit on the Federal taxes when you have to detail your moving expenses, but it's a smart long-term move.

Would if I could... and try to find a milder winter too.

Public Service: Tax Preparation Tips

Tax Preparation Tip #4: Withhold way more than you need to. This is a two-fer. It ensures that you will get a nice, fat refund after your interest free loan to the Government (See Tip #2 for the benefits of not earning interest) for you and the spouse to spend (See Ancillary Tip #2b), and it will ensure that you do not have to make estimated payments for the next year.

Uncle Sugar likes his crack cocaine, and isn't willing to wait a year for it. Not only will you have to write a check every three months, but you will also get to fill out yet another form detailing that you did. That's a lose-lose situation if I ever saw one. Better to let the Uncle spend your excess withholding, then go further in debt paying you back at the end of the year. It's the PayDay Loans model of governance!

Public Service: Tax Preparation Tips

Tax Preparation Tip #3: Don't give to charity. The paperwork is a mess. You can salve your conscience far more painlessly simply be realizing the a large portion of the dollar amount listed in Box 63 of the Form 1040 is, in fact, going to various corporate and lower income charities. Some large percentage of filers actually pay nothing and receive money back in the form of tax credits. If you simply must make charitable contributions, do it in a lump sum.

Do not do what I did, which was to make 20 individual contributions through the year, only two of which went to organizations that returned supporting paperwork. The rest required detailed and unprovable documentation. Helllooooo Auditors!

Public Service: Tax Preparation Tips

Tax Preparation Tip #2: If you can't follow the advice in Tip #1, then use Tip #2: Don't make any complicated money.


- Complicated Money: money that comes from anything other than straight wages. This includes, but is not limited to, money earned through interest or dividends (see Ancillary Tip #2b), sales of stocks or bonds, or any other type of investment income.

Ancillary Tip #2b: Spend it all. Don't save any of it, and don't invest any of it. Just spend it all. Also, spend it in-state. (See "Use Tax, and How to Blatantly Ignore it")

Public Service: Tax Preparation Tips

Tax Preparation Tip #1: Don't make any money.