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43. Frustration – and satisfaction



I hate painting. I hate painting pretty much anything, because I’m so dreadful at it. I hate painting the house (with the possible exception of emulsion on the walls, which I can more or less do okay). I’ve hated painting the steel with etch primer, which comes out all blotchy and streaky, although it does seem to stick to the metal very well. I hated painting the empennage black. I used Smoothrite, which is a one-coat preparation and in my experience does an excellent job of rust prevention, which is all it’s there for. But until it gets covered up with fabric, the drips, gaps and blemishes stare at me every time I look at them, and set my teeth on edge.

For the small brackets, I’m not going to get too worked up about them, and I think Smoothrite applied with a brush will do fine. But the engine mounts are quite big, and while they won’t be seen much on the finished aircraft, I’d like them to look something like, and decided to try the aerosol cans of Smoothrite instead.

Paint Blemishes

The first coat looked pretty good, though it took 24 hours to get even nearly touch dry (and that was in a heated room!), but when I could begin to move it around, I’d missed big bits. I applied a second coat, and of course that’s messed up the first, in addition to adding some drips of its own.

But my knight in shining armour, Peter Crownshaw, has come to my rescue. He paints metal quite a bit and has promised to do my stuff for me. Whew!


So instead, today I shall mostly be concentrating on – the tailskid. It’s the piece of wood that stops the tail of the aircraft scraping on the ground, and has to do quite a lot of work, so it’s made of hickory, which is one of the most flexible woods – indeed, it’s commonly used instead of yew for making longbows.


In the picture, you can see it attached to what will be the tailpost – the bit at the very back of the fuselage. On the left is the bit that sits on the ground, and it’s protected by a steel plate which is held on, according to the parts list, by a couple of brass screws. We are building it exactly in accordance with the plans, and so that’s what I’ve done, but I have to say that I think they will give up within the first ten yards of taxiing, so I shall be happy to switch to some ordinary steel ones if necessary!

In the middle is the fulcrum which does the bulk of the work. I spent most of the day making the bearings for this, and I’m quite pleased with the result. There’s a 1/2″ (12.5mm) tube brazed into the fitting on the skid. I didn’t want to have to order anything specially, and was delighted to find a short piece of pretty nearly the right size knocking about in one of the sheds at my Dad’s farm. The drawings indicate a 3/8″ (10mm) tube passing through that and into the bracket at the bottom of the tailpost, but I couldn’t see how that would be removable, and came up with one of my better ideas. I found a couple of 10mm bolts in the workshop and cut them off short so that they could be pushed in from each side without touching in the middle, and then I drilled a 1/4″ hole through the middle of each so that a bolt can pass through the whole assembly and keep it together.

The result, I can say in all modesty, is robust and a good fit without any slack.

I still think it will have to be treated very, very carefully – trying to turn the aircraft with the skid on the ground would, I suspect, cause it to collapse sideways, and even going straight will be need to be done with some caution. The Scout was designed for a situation where the aircraft was manhandled to the starting point for your takeoff, and all airfields were round so that you could take off in any direction. We’ll need to respect that, I’m sure.

Shortly after 1915, aircraft were fitted with skids that were steerable – or at least could move from side to side a bit, so that they could be turned. Nowadays, most aircraft of this configuration have a little wheel instead, which is altogether more practical!

At the right hand side of the picture, there’s a bracket with a loop on it, which is used to attach bungees to the airframe, thus providing a certain amount of suspension.

The loop is supposed to be covered in a tiny strip of leather sewn into a tube, and there’s a leather patch just in front of the fulcrum. We’re hoping to use one of Dad’s old shoes for these. And yes, he does know!

There’s one more job to be done. The brackets at the fulcrum and front are only temporarily fitted at the moment. They will need to be attached with copper rivets which we get from a traditional boatbuilders, who use them on clinker built dinghies and the like. You drive a copper nail through from one end, slip a cone-shaped washer over the other end where it comes out, then carefully hammer the end of the nail down so that it swells out and starts to squash the washer down. That’s supposed to keep the whole thing taut, like fastening a bolt.

The rivets are on order, but it’s another area I’m not convinced about, and will happily switch to bolts if they start to stretch!


From → Building

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