Thursday, May 6, 2010

All for the love of tools



Here's a question for experienced RV airplane builders: If I spend more time at the hangar scratching my head, am I getting closer to flying?

Clearly I've got a lot left to do on the project; there's no propeller yet, for example, and I hear those are quite important, but if you ignore the money required to finish (which I don't have) I get the sense I could be flying soon.

How do I know this? Because I usually stop at the hangar on the way home from work for an hour or so and find I have nothing to do. To be clear, it's usually because I lack a tool or something else needs to be done first, but I do feel as though I'm running out of things to do. That's a good thing.

Last night, for example, torquing the four bolts on the Lord mounts that hold the engine on was the only item on the list (well, OK, so was fixing the rudder fairing that cracked when I stupidly got in the baggage compartment to try to fix an ELT that wasn't transmitting. See if you can figure out what happened.).

I don't have a good torque wrench for foot pounds and the bolts need to be tightened to about 32 foot pounds. I have an old torque wrench but it's not the clickable type and, frankly, I don't trust it. That didn't keep me from using it, mind you. But when my building buddy, Brad, pointed out that the hole on the bolt for the cotter pin was now outside of the slots on the castle nut, I gave in to my inner voice that said, "this is a bad idea."

So I ordered a clickable torque wrench from Sears. That's $85 just to torque four bolts.

"I think you just like to buy tools," Brad said. He's right. I do like to buy tools. I could run around the field borrowing them, but what fun is that?

I need to torque these bolts so I can move on to running wires into the cabin for the engine monitor, and reinstalling the newly painted instrument panel, reinstalling the heater cable, installing the mixture and throttle cable and then beginning work on the cowling. Oh, and I have to figure out how to get that ELT transmitting so I can rivet on that top skin and install the "window." And then I need to put the wings on.

"You can get those engine lines installed in one day," my friend, Darwin Barrie, told me in an e-mail last week. Darwin kills me. For me, it'll be a three or four month process. It amazes me how little information there is available on this step. Plus, I want to make my own hoses and I have to figure out how to do that.

Oh, and I need to buy the tools to do that.

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