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57 Sssituation

08/05/2013

Seat

The seat’s arrived! Over the weekend, Theo brought our wonderful wicker seat for us to admire. It looks exactly like the pictures in the parts list, and Theo’s all inspired to get on and make the seat supports so that it can be bolted in place. It’s snug and comfortable to sit in on the rear sill of an estate car, though until it’s bolted into the airframe we shan’t know what the seating position is like for flying. Nevertheless, once it’s in position, we’ll be better placed to know whether the carry-through cable is likely to be a problem for your feet.

Side view of the seat. Apparently there are very few people in the country who are capable of making this type of wickerwork, and they are getting fewer all the time.

Side view of the seat. Apparently there are very few people in the country who are capable of making this type of wickerwork, and they are getting fewer all the time.

The original stick grip, looking a little the worse for wear.

The original stick grip, looking a little the worse for wear.

 

It’s been made for us by English Willow Baskets, who’ve been working in willow since 1819. In fact you can see a picture of an identical seat made for a two-seat Bristol F2B Fighter on their website, and we are very pleased with the one they’ve done for us.

 

Standard practice with nuts in those days was to tighten it up and then hammer the end of the bolt over. It wouldn't come undone but there was no way of adjusting it or using either of them again!

Standard practice with nuts in those days was to tighten it up and then hammer the end of the bolt over. It wouldn’t come undone but there was no way of adjusting it or using either of them again!

Stick

Another piece of skilled craftsmanship is going to be involved in the grip on the top of the stick. As you know, it’s one of the three bits we found in Grandad’s workshop after he died. Unfortunately the plastic grip at the top has got a little damaged over the years, as you can see, so I started looking for replacements. Unbelievably, I’ve come across an outfit in Kent who offer the identical grip. Dial Patterns stock a large collection of vintage motorcycle grips, and lo and behold, their type 4 is exactly the same. I’ve spoken to Dick Pettet who is the grip king, and he’s even agreed to take a look to see if he can try and repair the original – which would be nice, since it’s the actual part that Grandad held. I’ll be going there in June to let him take a look at it.

Incidentally, while you’re looking at the stick, you might be interested to notice the nuts on the elevator cable fitting part way down. Nowadays we’d use lockwashers or a locknut to stop the nut coming loose, or maybe one or both in combination with Loctite adhesive. This insure you can remove the nut and bolt in future. In those days, they weren’t so bothered. Look how the nuts have been tightened up and the end of the bolt flattened with a hammer. It won’t come undone in a hurry, but there’s no way of using either nut or bolt again!

Struts

We’ve also made some one step back and two forward on the struts. These are being made by Hercules Propellers, who manufacture wooden propellers using modern CADCAM machinery.

When Rupert Wasey (proprietor of Hercules propellers) started going through the detailed information I’d given him for the chassis (undercarriage) legs, he found that they really didn’t make sense. The only detail drawings we have are those for the 1913 prototype, which were unlikely to be much help, and the American transcription of the later drawings, which were likely to be more reliable.

As I’ve probably explained elsewhere, the drawings we have were sent across to the US in 1917 with an example of the aircraft in order to evaluate its potential as a licence-built training aircraft. Because the Americans don’t understand metric dimensions, poor dears, someone was tasked with redrawing the originals and converting everything into inches and fractions, and this is one of those.

Detail from the American transcription of the strut drawing. Trying to work get all the 16ths, 32nds and 64ths in your head is a lesson in mental arithmetic, and it's no surprise that the draughtsmen who did the conversion made mistakes!

Detail from the American transcription of the strut drawing. Trying to work get all the 16ths, 32nds and 64ths in your head is a lesson in mental arithmetic, and it’s no surprise that the draughtsmen who did the conversion made mistakes!

We sometimes like to hark back to the good old days, but I’ve already found some mistakes in other American drawings, and this one proved to be an absolute stinker – so much that we’ve decided to take the main dimensions and redraw all the cross sections from scratch. I don’t know if the draughtsman had something else on his mind, or they gave it to the apprentice to do, but it’s not an example of the highest standards of US workmanship!

I’m not an expert in Autocad, or 3D drawing in general, but I do like using Google Sketchup, and it’s proved invaluable over the weekend in producing a sensible skeleton for Rupert to flesh out in order to go ahead with manufacture. Once made, we have another really ticklish bit of work to do to trim the ends – very, very carefully – to fit the wings. They, in conjunction with the rigging wires, define the precise attitude of the wings, and therefore the flying characteristics. The difference between the rigging wires and the struts is that one can be adjusted and the other can’t!

They are also the most visible parts of woodwork on the aircraft, so we’ll be taking particular care of them and getting the varnish applied by experts.

Which reminds me – we’ll need to be starting on splicing of the rigging wires. That’s the Royal ‘we’ – in practice, of course, this means Theo…

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