High Mountain Doings

From 8200 feet along one side of the Upper Arkansas River Valley in central Colorado, my blog is about many things: travel including river and bicycle trips, and other experiences as well. The focus is on photography, not lots of text.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Granddaughter Katerina near Phoenix

Here is granddaughter Katerina, who lives with her parents Tammy and Art near Phoenix. This was a very pleasant visit.

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix, AZ

Water runs out of a steel channel at the Desert Botanical Gardens near Phoenix. I presume this was part of the watering system, and it made a nice image in front of the plant. I guess it reminded me of a fountain we encountered while bicycling through the Sahara Desert in Morocco.

Some of the cacti were beginning to bloom at the end of April.

This smaller and perhaps younger catcus was in front of a larger, older-looking one.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sinus Progress

Before leaving on Saturday morning, I tried to reach a good stopping point in Sinus construction. Specifically, I tried to get the blue carpeting installed in the cockpit area. I was mostly successful, though the large piece glued to the firewall turned out not to be stuck on very well at all, and a whole side of it came loose.

Well, I'm not sure the contact cement that came with the kit was very good, though more likely I just didn't use it right. Anyway, I bought another spray can of it (I have lots of the brush-on variety). The new cement seems to hold better, though it's much "grabbier" than the other kind

I masked around the rest of the cockpit , then sprayed to reglue the sound deadener. It seems to be working quite well. I also glued down the ends of two side pieces, under which no glue had been painted on initially because then I hadn't known the exact area needing it. I only have two more narrow strips of carpeting to apply--these will go on both sides of the windshield, apparently to reduce solar reflection and glare.

I also Loctited (with Permatex brand) the bolts that hold in the throttle and choke lever assembly, and also the flap handle at the rear center of the cockpit. These were fixed in place with red "threadsetter" which is the permanent kind. I used the blue threadsetter (less permanent) on the threads of the four bolts that mount a container holder on the front of the firewall. I'm trying to finish up things in the cockpit before moving on to other systems.

Though the landing gear is mounted, I have yet to torque the outer wheel mounting nuts. I won't be able to access these with an ordinary torque wrench, so I'm on the lookout for a simple spring scale (such as what I guess some folks use to weigh fish they've just caught) so I can pass a bar through the bolt (a hollow thing with two holes drilled laterally). Then, by pulling on the bar a certain distance out, using the spring scale, I should be able to calculate foot-pounds of torque, for conversion to Newton-meters.

Hallelujah! I was missing one of the washers used to mount the landing gear to the fuselage. And I found it! It was right there, in the little plastic bag that this hardware had come it, so this wasn't like solving a major mystery. But I'm glad to have it in place under the nut now.

Rather soon, I'll have to be figuring out flight control systems and fuel lines, so I can get those installed. I'd love to fly this motorglider by the end of summer, but this will require steady work and not hitting any snags. We'll see how this goes.

There will be photos of all this.


A Bit of Travel

Time for a break! Patty thinks so, too, since she's been working so hard recently. We're in San Diego now, where she'll be attending a work-related training session at the Mission Valley Resort here in this California City where winter never comes.

I'm seeing some country that I haven't seen for a while. We got here via Phoenix where we visited my daughter Tammy, her husband Art, and their eight year old daughter Katerina.

Yesterday the five of us visited the Desert Botanical Gardens in the Phoenix area. What a great way to spend the afternoon! It's mostly a display of desert plants, including magnificent cacti, and a large butterfly building that's screen in. My camera got left at Tammy's house, but Patty let me use hers. So I have a number of photos that I'll post here later.

Katerina is an amazing kid in many ways: A redhead through both parents have black hair; and a very skillful reader. She read out loud, without hesitation and with proper pronunciation, the contents printed on several containers of food. I mean words that certain adults would have trouble with--among the simplest was folic acid, and there were a number of less obvious chemical names. Later on, she and I made a model volcano from a kit. Katerina read the instructions aloud, which seemed directed at adults, and it looked to me that she understood what she read. Such good verbal ability bodes very well for her future.

Talking with Art, I learned that he worked with a group that did much of the work toward developing modern GPS devices. While I love my new mapping GPS, I didn't develop it! I asked Art why there seemed to be errors in GPS locations now and then (not matching the map exactly). He said this was mostly due to not being able to use one of the satellites--even though that satellite may be shown by the unit to have a strong signal! For example that particular satellite might be blocked (perhaps by the horizon or by something else, or by some other glitch) and not usable right then (though the signal can still be received).

I forgot to ask him about altitude determination by GPS. I've always understood (and have observed) that altitude is the least accurate part of GPS, but I'd like to know more about it. I'd also like to know much more about WAAS augmentation of GPS accuracy--which is what makes it possible to use GPS for instrument approaches in aircraft. My handheld GPS unit detects when a WAAS signal is present for a given satellite.

Anyway, for now I have time here in San Diego to make blog posts, maybe work on some photos, to read, to walk around a bit, and hopefully to learn about some things I wish I understood.

This was a long drive, but we're here. We drove south through Albuquerque to Socorro, and then west to Phoenix on US 60. I hope we'll be coming this way again, and if so we may drive the next highway north (Hwy 53) which goes past an extinct volcano, a cave with ice inside, and other such attractions. All this, and with time to stop for a look!


Friday, April 17, 2009

Firewall Carpeting

After the sound deadening layer, blue carpet covers it, and also will cover the dark area under the door. The areas beside the firewall have already had carpet cemented in place, as had the strip just under the top lip above the firewall.

Tomorrow I will melt through these two layers of carpeting with my new 40 Watt soldering iron, and will mark the location of the several nutserts by heating a piece of brazing rod and sticking it through each of the nutserts to melt through the carpeting.

Attaching the sound-deadening material onto the firewall after masking, and spraying with contact cement. This layer actually extended a bit too high when lined up at the bottom. So, as I was told I could by Andrej at the factory, I just cut it off with scissors.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Another Step or More

Here is the Sinus in my shop. Underneath are perhaps half the parts that still need to be installed. Most of my working time is not spent installing stuff, but finding parts and figuring out how they work.

Today I melted through the headliner material with a 40 Watt soldering iron. It worked very well, uncovering the various openings where the wing roots will attach. I sanded the insides of the openings to remove most of the melted bits of headliner material.

The front opening is for the fuel gauge (a visual tube in which the fuel level can be seen). The large opening is for the wing spar.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Contact Anxiety

Contact cement....wow, just that name! Suppose I allowed the two parts to touch each other too soon, way out of position? Would they touch, and bond in place? Immovable for a million years though I would tug and tug?

Clearly, I needed a plan. After three days of contact cement anxiety, I developed one. I had a roll of non-stick paper that I'd bought earlier for dry mounting photographs, during which process tacking the tissue (before trimming) onto the back of the print would usually result in contact of the tissue with the hot plate of the mounting press. So I use a sheet of this paper in the press, folded in half to surround the work, and it works well. A quick trial indicated that it would also work for contact cement.

My plan was to cut several sheets of this paper and lay it over other parts of the ceiling (now upside down) to stop the parts of the headliner that I wasn't working on yet from sticking. I would pull out the sheets of paper and work on the next portion, until I reached the edge of the windshield opening.

And it worked! I got the headliner glued in, if not quite perfectly, close enough that it won't matter. And with only one or two insignificant wrinkles which, for the most part, smoothed out quite well. To stick completely and to really hug the surface, the headliner needed lots of direct pressure, all over, though it did tend to stick on contact. I was very pleased. The next day I applied my new contact cement talents (the cement wasn't quite as touch-sensitive as I'd feared, though you sure could end up with a disaster if you aren't real careful) and applied the two upper side pieces, which also went on well.

I felt infinitely relieved.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Work to be Done

Here is the area between the windscreen and the skylight, painted black and then brushed with contact cement. I allowed some places to be coated too thickly, resulting in a long drying time. I had to turn the heat up in my shop, and also bring out a fan to help with warm air circulation. Finally, after more than two hours, I was able to apply the headliner, the upper surface of which I'd also sprayed with contact cement. Pipistrel supplies both spray and brush-on cement.

I did the same the next morning with the upper side panels. This was a much easier job.

The rear of the upper cockpit area. The gray bulkhead is where the seat backs will attach. The four holes in the center are where headphone jacks and other radio-related items will mount. One of the round holes (to the left here) is where the aileron (flaperon) will be operated. The other is for the fuel line from that wing tank. The two holes in the center will be for some sort of push-device that will control the dive brakes.

The ceiling has now been painted black, ready for contact cement and application of the headliner.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Sinus With Landing Gear, Upside Down

Sinus landing gear in place, with bolts, to make sure it all fit properly. Then a bead of silicon was run around outside the three holes on each side (two on each side for the bolts and another on each side for the brake line which goes down the inside the landing leg) between landing gear and fuselage. This apparently is for keeping moisture, mud, and stuff out of those holes. The bolts (with Patty's help) were torqued to 5.5 Newton-meters, which didn't seem particularly tight to me. But the bolts do fit snugly and precisely. Not that I can read my torque wrench that accurately, though we were in the neighborhood of correctness.

The firewall, with all the penetrations drilled. The large opening in the center is for cabin heat. Most across the top are for electrical wiring. Five holes around the margins (where the foil covering and the underlying fiberglass cloth have been removed) are for the engine mount. The oblong opening beside the lower-center engine mount hole is where the fuel lines will run.

I was puzzled by certain photos in the manual that showed another, rather large, opening in the center-lower firewall. What was that, and what was I missing? I looked through the manual, and finally figured out that this opening was for nosewheel steering. I have a tailwheel, not a nosewheel, and that's why no opening was marked on my firewall! This is simple enough (a lot simpler, actually).

Neighbor Todd Gordon, Patty, and I flipped the fuselage upside down. This allows a number of things to be done such as to install the headliner. I have my father's hoist which I attached to the approximate center--unfortunately well behind the current center of gravity--for just a bit of help stabilizing things. When it comes back over again, the Sinus will be able to rest on its wheels, not on the boxes it's been on.

I could have done this step before the landing gear was bolted in place. The aircraft would have been lighter, of course, but I thought it might be nice to have "handles" in place.

This is the top of the cockpit area. The bare fiberglass will by painted, and the cloth headliner will by installed with contact glue. A few parts will be bolted in place, such as the bracket visible on the left here. At left is the windshield opening. In center is the skylight opening. The rectangular opening in the aircraft's side is where the spar from the wing will pass. The wings will be removable, should that be needed, as for trailering or storage.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Landing Gear

The landing legs, C-clamped to the bench, have been made ready for wheels and brakes. The main axle fits through an opening in the landing leg, and there are four more bolts for which holes must be drilled. The bolts screw into existing, tapped, holes in a flange that's part of the axle. These are nearly done. I'll have to put washers under the bolts here, apply Loctite 243 (blue) to the threads, and torque them to the specified torque (I'm thinking 11 N-m). I'll also Loctite and torque the main axle bolt on each side.

After tightening up the bolts here, I'll safety-wire the brake disk by running safety wire around the whole disk, using hooks that are built into the red wheel. Wheel pants are in the kit for later installation, though one of the bolts doesn't screw in properly. I may have to buy a die and cut the threads again so that it doesn't cross-thread itself.

An upcoming step will be to turn the whole fuselage upside down, to paint the top of the cockpit and do a few other things. Having the landing gear attached then will make it heavier, but it'll also provide good places to lift. Ah, life is full of pros and cons!