Saturday, October 12, 2019


Note to self: when taking photos of wire locations/labels, make sure camera is in focus before moving on.

Like this.

Wires all removed and organized, there's my trophy fish.

With the layout roughed out, it was time to replace the cardboard with the real things. Even then, I still (almost) screwed up, only blind luck saved me. More on that later.

One thing we tried was having the power buss backwards so the wires could be ran along the back of the shelf, but with the nosedeck on I found I could not reach or locate the terminal connections, so that idea got squelched. Note how all the wires got ziptied or taped together according to their destination (buss 1, 2, ground, etc), or function.

And with final locations determined, it was time. *gulp*

THAT was a late night, but I tend to be nocturnal, and once I get in a groove I like to keep going.Note also the new ARTEX 345 ELT. (Me: I was thinking about this ELT. Syd: You're not getting that one, you're buying this one. Me: Ok.)

Nutplates vs nuts were a big debate. TJ hates nutplates because of dissimilar metal corrosion between the steel nutplates and aluminum structure, but Syd & I held firm that they were almost mandatory for field repairs. We came to a compromise: nutplates, but before they were mounted the shelf would be epoxied so there would be no dissimilar metal contact. Fair enough.

I wasn't going to buy a jig just for drilling the nutplates, now I wonder how I did without. SO much easier!!


With the parts mounted, it was time to run wires. Here's where I almost messed up. You can see the transponder in the upper left of the tray, I was going to put the dimmer relay to it's left but changed my mind. Had I done that, there would have been a conflict between the relay and the cable coming out the transponder. Dumb luck that I put the relay in the center of the panel instead, but I'll take that.

Just for fun, here's how da big boyz do wiring. Wonder how much they charge for those zipties?


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Mmmm... Spaghetti....

To do, you must undo. So with a fresh blade in my X-acto knife, and a mostly steady hand, it's been time to take wiring bundles apart. The replacement of some avionics necessitated the rearrangement of the layout, meaning wires had to be re-run, so the bundles had to be taken apart and redone.

You don't want to know how many times I've rearranged those cardboard cutouts. Thought I had it all laid out, only to find out the wires did not reach, or were in each others way, or... Since once of the purposes of this redo is to make it more easily field reparable, I'm taking a lot of time to pretend "Ok, this broke. How can I get to it?"

Friday, September 6, 2019

Hire the best, then get out of their way.

Our schedules finally matched up and TJ made it out to help bend metal.

A local pilot owns a boat building shop. There was a sign inside I loved, it said "No smoking, no loafing. State your name, you job, and GET OUT. We have work to do." 

It was unbelieveable how fast those guys did what would have taken me all day or more to do half as well.

"What can I do to help?"

 An hour later he was packing his tools, the new mount was perfectly fitted, and the gunslinger was on the way to the next town. I'm undoing the lacing in preparation for rearranging the wire bundles.The cardboard pieces are mockups of the various black boxes that will be fitted. CAD/CAM is great, but sometimes it's better just to have a physical piece of something to move around and check with.

TJ also left me with some other work. Though he trusted my glassing job, he hinted that he'd really like to see a 4" layer of glass around the bulkhead, just to be safe. No worries, I'm getting good at glassing again. 

He also pointed out how little of the bow reinforcement plate was actually touching the hull, so I made up a slurry and glassed the plate in place. 

Time to pay the piper, off to work I go for the next few weeks, but on the way I could not resist stopping and seeing the 737Max parking lot.


Monday, September 2, 2019

A lot of small steps

The control surfaces are in the paint shop.

After much trimming, I finally felt that I had a good fit for the bulkhead and cut one out. Another kitbuilder at the airport had some extra glass layups from his kit and kindly donated a piece to OspRey. 

Note the mockup battery. I finally got wise and made it out of scrap wood, allowing me to fit the 16# battery without being terrified of dropping it and breaking the hull. 

Tack the bulkhead into place with 5 min epoxy, and wait for it to dry.

Then make fillets. I was doing this on a Friday afternoon and plannig to work through the weekend when I realized I should check my supply stock. Sure enough, my big can of resin had crystallized, but luckily, Fiberglass Supply is just across the airport from me. A quick run over and I had a fresh can, ready for the weekend.

They say a perfect fillet should be the radius of a tongue depressor. I ran out but discovered a quarter was also perfect. 

The next morning I refreshed my fiberglassing skills and sealed the bulkhead in with 2 layers of glass: a 1" strip over the fillet, followed by a 2" strip over everything. 

Nothing secret, just keeping the avionics from getting accidentally glassed.

Jim is going to freak when he sees this. Because of some new equipment that would not fit on the old tray, we've pulled the avionics tray he so carefully built and are building another one.

Next steps will be to design and fabricate the new tray, rerun the wiring, and continue working on the new panel. All good...


Friday, August 23, 2019

Going backward, moving forward.

Abominable snowman, or my dog playing in the snow?

And as winter hits in earnest,  a little formation work gets put in.

Here we go. Pull the old panel, take everything off, and cut it apart. Now we're committed to rebuilding the panel.

Practice makes perfect. I'll never be as good working metal as TJ, that takes years of experience and talent, but if I can be competent and get his respect I'll be happy.

I spent an inordinate amount of time deciding on the layout of the landing gear lights, but it's something I honestly find fun. (Another shameless plug for XPanel software, great program.).

I probably voided the warranty by doing this, but I didn't like the ACI eFlap mounting plate, so as both a challenge and solution I decided to make it recessed and cut individual openings for each pushbutton. Wish I could change the color of the buttons, but at least I'll be able to  find them easily.

And for the wing panels. I got tired of fumbling under the panel for the Dynon USB extension and decided to mount it on the left wing panel, while on the right side I wanted to add a USB charging socket for phones, cameras, etc.

To fit the USB ort into the panel I needed room, one version was to change the orientation of the switches from horizontal to angled up along the curve of the glareshield. Failed experiment, adding the USB port made the panel crowded, and the angled switches did not work in a simple flow so the idea was junked and we went back to the horizontal switch layout.

Instead, using my new-found metalworking skills, I'm just going to take the old USB extender and mount it into the panel above the switches.

At the same time, I've been working on the front bulkhead. Paper template first,

transferred to some old foam for fitting. Anther thing that seems easier than it was, I'm sure there's a trick to making paper templates from a complex curve, but if there is, I didn't find it. All good.

Next step will be to glass it in, one of these days when I have time. I'm basically copying the new SeaRey's design, I'll have the battery hanging off the front and the relays on the back, the ELT will be somewhere on aircraft right behind the bulkhead.

A long time ago I had put the seatpans in with Rivnuts, when I burned out working on the panel I took a day and replaced the rear seat mounting tube with a new one.

Now we're seriously digging into the electrical. In a classic case of "You don't know how much you don't know until you realize how much you don't know.", while building the wiring harness I did not  make a detailed list of the wiring, so it's time to go back and make one.

I got to fly this last week. 23 years ago I started out flying ATRs from a gate nearby that no longer exists, it's been a long, strange, wonderful trip.

But really, it's not about the planes, it's about the friends you make along the way. Gator, James, and me at the wrap party for Sun 'n Fun 2019. The t-shirts say "This ain't Oshkosh", which is an informal motto among the volunteers at Sun 'n Fun, and the shirts are available here, with all proceeds going to charity.

And the gang.