Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mansfield: the fourth time was no more charmed than the third

Well, to be fair it is hard to blame the Mansfield Curse for this one. The forecast was never all that promising anyway, what with a bone-chilling 15F and high overcast in the offing. Still, it's been awhile, and if Co-pilot Rick was willing to brave the frigid conditions, it would be undignified for the Capt. to be the one to wuss out. We arranged for an 0930 meeting at the 'drome, but it just wasn't to be. The initial Weather-out-the-Window(tm) observation looked promising: high, wispy clouds with a significant percentage of blue showing. One must consult a higher authority, however, when it comes to aviation forecasting and decision making. Off to DUATs to get the official view, once a cup of hot tea could be procured. Sadly, not only had the morning forecast not done anything to improve the below freezing temperatures, but it now also included a warning for "showers in the vicinity," which was a new and unwelcome addition. With the temperature at 15F, one must assume that 'showers' means 'snow' and/or 'ice'. That, and my normal aversion to starting Papa's engine when it's that cold out with only my sump heater to preheat, was enough to cancel for today.

As you can see, that probably wasn't a horrible decision:

If that keeps up, I'll be out plowing the driveway this afternoon - that will be enough of the outdoors for me today. As much as I hate the driveway clearing job, I can console myself with the idea that least it's snow this time. My biggest beef with central Ohio winter weather is that it more often than not isn't snow. Instead of nice puffy snow, we get ice or ice-byproducts like sleet or freezing fog. I don't think I'd hate winter quite as much if we got real snow, the kind of snow you can do things with, things like riding snowmobiles or skiing. But, being as you have to go through winter with the weather you have and the weather that I have is more often than not utterly craptacular, I just stay inside and endure.

Saturday was pretty much the same story weather-wise, albeit with the exception of my having gone out long enough for an excursion to Lowes to pick up some wood and wood-byproducts. I've been struggling with the P-51 project because I've been using a 1/8" piece of chipboard as a work surface. It is so thin and flexible that it doesn't provide an even remotely acceptable work surface. It's slightly better than a very large piece of typing paper, but not by much. The problem with getting something better is that we traded in our Durango for a Subaru Forester a few years ago and I haven't been able to haul a large piece of plywood home without it. I finally decided to just go browse the shelves at Lowes and see if I couldn't cobble something together out of materials that would fit in the Subie.

What I ended up with was three 5/8 x 12 x 72 particle boards. Being manufactured, they're as flat as, well, boards, and plenty strong for what I'm using them for. A bonus trait was their price: cheap. I also picked up a few 2x4x96 to use to strap the three planks together, thereby forming a sturdy 3' x 6' worktop. It only took a few minutes to put it all together, although the job of lifting that heavy SOB up and onto Co-pilot Rick's sawhorses took a little longer:

The kit is at one of those stages that are rife with danger. It's time to bend the balsa top fuselage sheeting around the stringers, which is just the type of operation that inevitably ends in tears. Even thin balsa sheet wetted with warm water seems to maintain a preternatural bitterness (one could describe it as Pelosi-esque), so when I try to bend it, it invariably either cracks or breaks away from the fuselage at the lower glue joint:

It didn't crack this time, although there were most assuredly some dire warnings in the form of cracking sounds emanating from the lower edge of both sheets. The glue will take the rest of the day to dry, so I won't know until later whether or not it will all stick together once I remove the masking tape that's currently holding it all together.

Oh, and those "showers in the vicinity?" Here they are, at just about the time we would have been returning:

I'm awarding myself a "Good Call" ribbon today.

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