Saturday, November 8, 2008

Closing up

It snowed in Lake Wobegon this week. The geese started flying south -- or at least over to the next lake -- and Minnesotans who are lucky enough to have one, closed up the cabin for the last time. For those of us who have unheated, uninsulated hangars, we "closed up" our getaway spots, too.

The international sign of the end of the RV building season -- at least for me -- in Minnesota is shown above. The whiskey barrel that serves as a rain barrel at the house, gets loaded into my wife's car, and taken to the hangar. This is also the time of the year when I get to apologize to my wife for making her car smell like bourbon.

At this time of the year, a lot of the lawn furniture and other flotsam that occupies my garage in the summer, heads for a corner of the hangar. This year, with an engine arriving and the RV-7A project going up on its gear, and the tail surfaces mounted for the last time (I hope), there's a little less room.

The RV-7A was moved from the side of the hangar back to the middle. I'd moved it earlier this year when James W. French's Acro Sport honored my hangar by staying overnight last summer. Soon the barrel will be surrounded by lawnmowers, and boxes, and whatever other junk needs to get out of my garage so that the car can scoot in for the winter. One of these days, I'd like to figure out how to use all of that wall space there. Rumor has it the airport management will supply all the material if I'd like to drywall things. But I have absolutely no idea how to put drywall up in corrugated aluminum hangar.

But it wouldn't bother me a bit if the management fixes the leak in the roof. The fine cement floor is the same kind used in a hockey arena, and when the rain comes, and then the cold, I've got better ice in the hangar than the Minnesota Wild have at the Xcel Center.

Unfortunately for my neaten-the-house plan, as much stuff ends up coming back from the hangar as goes to the hangar.

Anything that can freeze up -- it'll get to be 20 below in January if history is any guide -- needs to depart the hangar. The fiberglassing season is over until spring, because the epoxy resin needs to come back inside the house. Same with the rattle cans and other touch-up paint bottles. The rear "window" of the RV-7A, which never got touched after it took it to the hangar last spring, is heading back to its perch on a shelf in the former family room, too. There's no reason to leave a piece of acrylic hanging around in a hangar where it might get bumped during the winter.

To be sure, I'm not done working on the RV-7A until spring, but my options are limited. I won't touch the canopy again until spring, but I've still go an electrical system to design and some wires to run. I've got an engine sitting in a crate and a few more holes to punch in the firewall before I mount it -- and, in fact, I'm not really sure at this point what to do next on that front. How much stuff needs to be done on the firewall before you hang an engine? Anyone?

I've purchased a Vertical Power 50, so my electrical system will be a little different. But it's not ready for delivery yet and, presumably, neither are the other components I've ordered from SteinAir (Garmin 327, Dynon 180), and that's OK, because I'm clearly not ready to install it anyway. I don't know if there's a VP-50 installation blog out there yet, so maybe this will be it.

I've got a propane heater in the hangar, but in an uninsulated hangar, that's mostly good for rethawing frozen fingers.

I'll be out to the hangar to "futz around" a little bit here and there, but for the most part the RV airplane building season over the winter will be like other winters: Me sitting on the couch reading AeroElectric Connection again, and wondering what the hell it's talking about.

Spring can't come to Lake Wobegon soon enough.

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