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115. Getting Slick


Meanwhile, back at the fuselage, if we were going to get the engine fitted, we’d need to get a number of other things done first.

Currently you can lift the fuselage by hand if you need to. Once the engine’s in place, that’s no longer an option, so it was important to finish off whatever needed doing on that front.

The first thing is to sort out the tyres. We’d bought treaded tyres, knowing that they would need to be smooth ultimately, but assuming we’d be able to skim the treads off. Our first attempt had thrown up a bit of canvas before we got to the bottom of the tread, and we’d spent a good while trying to source tyres actually manufactured with no tread, but this had proved impossible.

So on Friday I set about removing the treads from our current tyres, and hoping the canvas was just a one-off. In the end, it was a long slog using an electric plane and a belt sander with the wheel set up on the axle and rotating it slowly by hand. It’s tempting to set the tool at a slight angle so that the wheel is rotated for you, but in general there wasn’t enough control. In the case of the electric plane, I found it best to have the axis of plane rotation parallel to the wheel axis, and pulling the wheel round against the direction the plane wanted to rotate it. It was very hard work, since the depth of cut is very dependent on the pressure you put on the plane, and turning the wheel was hard too. But the pile of rubber chippings steadily increased, and when I got down sufficiently close to the final surface I switched to the belt sander.

I found it best to have the belt travelling parallel to the wheel axis this time. The depth of cut was again very dependent on the pressure applied, but the force needed to rotate it was less. An afternoon saw both wheels completed.

Tread removal complete, with the pile of rubber alongside, and the collection of broken sanding belts!

Tread removal complete, with the pile of rubber alongside, and the collection of broken sanding belts!

The following morning, I reassembled them onto the chassis, including a couple of rubber blocks and a leather wear strip under each side of the axle. I haven’t fitted the bungee suspension yet; it’s going to take two people, and in the meantime we’ll continue to use the short luggage straps which have done very well so far.

The next job on the agenda was very tedious. Fitting the aluminium undershield to the fuselage had identified that the front engine mounting frame wasn’t quite perpendicular to the fuselage centre line, and so I had to undo some of the wirelocking on the internal bracing cable strainers and tweak them. In fact the readjustment was more straightforward than I’d hoped, but the really tedious bit was removing the wirelocking. I’d done it originally without the use of wirelocking pliers on the basis that they probably didn’t exist in 1915, but the doing and undoing were both so laborious that I’m afraid I resorted to the pliers when it came to refitting them.

2014-06-20 Wire locking pliers

Wirelocking pliers are one of the most satisfying of tools to use. They do the job of about three or four different tools, and do all of them very well indeed.



From → Building

  1. What size are your tyres?

  2. Fir dos, I see why you’ve been having trouble sourcing slicks…

  3. Andrew Willox permalink

    Hello. Just discovered this blog and have read it from ep1. Firestone rickshaw tyres from Vietnam are the answer to slicks. They were perfect for my exhibit – a BE2a – which I seem to have started building around the same time as you started. Can send photos if you email me at address provided.

    • You sad sap. Read the whole thing? You should go and get a life. Go and build your own WWI aircraft!


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