Laboring daily (1 of 2)

Yes, it’s been a long time since the last Update! Fortunately, we have been making lots of great progress, and taking care of a lot of big things that need to be done to make gliders. Here’s the first of two stacks of photos of what has been happening.

I spent the weekend before Labor Day welding up parts of the iron bird jig that orients the two wings with each other so that we can drill the spars for the main pins and bushings. Here I model one of Cindy Brickner’s T-shirts while holding one of the iron bird bulkheads.

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Here’s the completed forward and aft bulkheads.

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And here I’m jigging the bulkheads up together using the fuselage mold.

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As usual, I spent the Labor Day weekend at Tehachapi and nearby. I drove down on Sunday morning and gave the usual “still going” talk about the project to the ESA crowd, and then hung around to see what else was going on. They’re still in the process of morphing the ESA acronym into “Electrical Soaring Association.

On Monday I drove over to Cal City and hung around with Marty and Cindy and the usual suspects. I’d intended to head up to China Lake and see their museum, but then I learned that it is closed on major holidays, of which Labor Day is one. However, Tom Serkowski volunteered a good friend to take me on a tour of Edwards Air Force Base relics, the which I did enjoy immensely. I got this photos of one of the gate guardians.

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On Tuesday I gave a Lunch & Learn talk about the HP-24 project at Scaled Composites. This was at the invitation of Michael Reid, whom I’d met at the Avenal contest where I’d crewed for Steve Smith. They were a great crowd, and though polite were pointed in their questions about some aspects, which was a welcome change for me. Afterwards, I was rewarded with a tour of the facility where Spaceship Two and White Knight Two were being prepared for their maiden flight together, the which has since been successfully accomplished. Unfortunately, I was asked to take no photos inside the facility proper, which request I did of course honor. I did get a photo of the X-Prize trophy inside the Scaled lobby, though.

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After getting treated to lunch at Scaled, I toured all of the parts of Mojave airport that are open to the public to see what’s out there. I encountered this lot of six or eight trim little two-seat jet trainers, and I’m still trying to identify them.

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Then it was another weekend at the shop, finishing welding the iron bird together.

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Here’s the two wing stubs loosely joined in the iron bird.

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Here I’ve joined the wing stubs to the fuselage plug, and bridged between them with nice rigid connections glued down to the stubs with Bondo.

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The wing stubs removed from the fuselage plug and then rejoined.

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I spent the weekend after that at the Reno Air Races, which I’d never attended before. I went with Steve Smith, whose friend Mike Hoke of Abaris Training had box seats for us. We spent most of our time in the pits on Saturday, and watching the racing on Sunday.

This is the remains of Kevin Eldredge’s Lycoming IO-550 after the engine came apart on Wednesday of the race week. Apparently, an oil fitting broke, allowing the prop to go to flat pitch. That caused the engine to overspeed a lot. Then the number 5 connecting rod and the nearby counterweight came through the crankcase, bringing everything to a screeching halt. And after that, I guess the prop shed all its blades and then the hub broke off.

There’s slo-mo video of the whole thing on YouTube, and it’s pretty amazing. If you do watch it, remember that the camera is a mile away, and so what you see and what you hear are not properly synchronized.

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This is the front of Eldredge’s Nemesis NXT. He did a great job of reeling it back in from over the yawning chasm after the engine failure.

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Somebody brought this Allison V-3420 to show off. It’s basically two V-1710 twelve-cylinder engines sharing a crankcase and outputting to a common gearbox which drives contra-rotating propellers.

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Oh, right, there was some racing, too. The races to watch seemed to be the Super Sport Class.

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Here’s the rowdies in Section 3. They certainly had a good time together, and had a better view of a lot of the show than the box seats did.

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Entertainment included t-shirts launched by air cannons and slingshots.

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The Snowbirds put on a great show.

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Then it was back to work in the shop. Here on 3 October I’m potting in the tubes that embody the actual lift tube locations into the rough-welded iron bird fixture.

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Here’s the finished iron bird.

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And here I’ve plugged the iron bird into the fuselage molds so that I can use a piece of monofilament to scribe the longitudinal axis of the fuselage onto the front and back bulkheads.

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You can also track the project on Facebook.

Homebuilt aviation is not for folks who don’t try things at home.

 

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