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102. Grrrr!


Sunday 11 May

It’s been something of a disappointing day today. The first job on the agenda was to try and skim down the standard treaded motorcycle tyres to the slicks that would have been fitted originally. Directional control is always something of a problem on landing, and it was a benefit to have smooth tyres that didn’t grip too well, and this helped to keep the aircraft pointing the same direction when it came to a stop as it was when it first touched down!

We knew that the Shuttleworth collection achieved this using a wood chisel to remove the bulk of the tread, followed by sanding it down finally.

Rick had the brilliant idea of using his electric planer to speed the job up, and indeed it worked a treat.

He also established that an electric belt sander would give good control and a nice finish.

The canvas started showing through the rubber even before we'd got to the bottom of the tread...

The canvas started showing through the rubber even before we’d got to the bottom of the tread…

Unfortunately, he also came across some canvas protruding into one of the treads, and this made us think that it was a bit risky to carry on. Even if there was no more canvas showing when we’d finished, we would really have no idea how much rubber was protecting it, and a puncture is one way of wrecking the aircraft that seems perfectly avoidable. We’re going to have another look round for some smooth tyres of the right size…


So the next job on the list was to take a look at the plywood cover that goes from the back of the petrol tank to the cockpit surround. It’s fitted to two laminated hoops which Theo spent ages making last summer, and now need final fitting so that they perfectly match the back of the petrol tank. In order to do this, we set up our sanding bench, consisting of a bench belt sander set into a flat table that’s perfectly aligned with the top of the sander. The system worked brilliantly for making the wooden formers for the petrol tank, and we got it set up and started sanding. But every time we started the sander, the house fuse blew. Rick dismantled the sander to see what was wrong, and when he got the motor out and tried it on its own, smoke started to come out of it, and we could only retire to the computer to order a new one.


Meanwhile I’d been remaking the aluminium inserts for the heel troughs. We’d spent a deal of time trying to think of ways to modify the heel troughs to get me some more legroom ,and decided in the end to leave them as they were; but we weren’t happy with the aluminium liners and I remade them in something a little more durable. I was quite please with them when I’d done them, but we took them outside in the light ,and while I’m sure they are serviceable, they aren’t as neat as I (or Rick) would like.


But while we were tinkering with seating positions, we established for sure that the seat in the position it’s shown on the drawings is uncomfortable and likely to get damaged very quickly with use. What it needs is to be tipped back a little, and it becomes a whole lot more comfortable. We can do this without making permanent modifications to the structure, and so we made the chocks, which we’ll try and fit tomorrow.

So three steps back and one step forward.

Theo’s bringing the wings tomorrow, and all our efforts will be concentrated on getting them fitted. The other bits will have to wait for a bit.


From → Building, Technical

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