With Wings As Eagles: Craig P. Steffen's Blog

The Dropoff

2015 January 06 00:33

So, after I broke the airplane (November 2013), we did all the initial insurance stuff, and got a mechanic involved and got him working on removing the propeller and the engine. Since we didn't have a car there, we drove my father-in-law's truck back home.

So we went back to their place for Thanksgiving. While we were there, I went to the airport and helped with the final removal of the engine, and then we put the engine and the (broken) propeller on the truck, then I drove it to the house. Then the next day, I got up super-early, and drive the prop and the engine to repair places in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and 6+ hour drive each way.

Because I really really wanted to get the engine and prop to their respective places during business hours, I was in a big hurry. I only got a few photos on that trip, and none at all of the back of the truck with the stuff loaded, which totally bums me out. Ah well; here are a few of them (along with a couple of others relating to the electronics).

Patches the airport cat inspects my tool bag; this is the day of the engine removal.

5:22am, I'm about to head out. My GPS is on the windshield, dialed in for Tulsa.

The panel of the truck; my view for most of the day.

That's it. Like I said, a super-busy day.

Later on, the following January:

Before I bundled the wires all in for the new instruments, I had a test setup to make sure all the components worked right. This was the temporary wiring panel. And here's the instrument sub-panel, turned on for test for the first time:

What I did last winter: Fabrication

2015 January 05 00:03

The story so far: On November 1, 2013, I broke our airplane. Due to a combination of freakishly gusty wind and my missing a couple of details, I put the airplane down but we ran off the runway and clipped the propeller. This lead to insurance replacing the prop and helping with engine inspection, to which we added getting the engine overhauled.

Due to various circumstances, that meant that getting the airplane flying again was a several month process. Since it was going to be down all that time, I decided to go ahead and update and fix some things that needed doing.

I was mostly happy with the instrumentation in the airplane, but one thing I was NOT was the ammeter. It was an analog galvanometer, and it frankly barely worked. It had some bias in it, so the zero it read in the air when the battery was all charged was different than what it ready on the ground when everything was off. Consequently, I didn't feel that I could tell reliably from that meter if the charging system was working or not. So I decided to install an EI digital volt/ammeter. However, there's no slot, so I had to make one. There was a blank part of the panel, which it turns out covered up a place where you can put avionics. Over the winter, I fabricated a panel to fill that space.

The new sub-panel was to hold the new ammeter, and the engine monitor which had already been in the plane but putting it there would move it closer to the pilot and easier to see and operate. It would also hold the breaker for the engine monitor, the breaker for the volt/amp meter, and the breaker for the new digital tachometer that I was also putting in.

Here's how the airplane sat for over four months. The engine was gone, being overhauled. Sad.

This is where I was realizing that I could fit two instruments into that space, but not using those inserts.

Test fit of the test panel. The ammeter is installed.

At this point I'd realized that it would make sense to have the engine monitor closer to the pilot (on the left) because you're always looking at that and often using the switches, and the ammeter goes better farther away on the right because it's easier to glance and and you're basically never touching it. Thus the test cuts for the switches in both sockets. This is still the test panel. I've made marker lines on it so that I can use it as a template for cutting and drilling the real panel.

The real panel, cut from 6061-T6 Aluminum. I've cut out one of the instrument holes and I'm in the process of nibbling out the second one. I've drilled the holes for the stiffening ribs (which will have to be re-done).

All the holes are in, including the ones at the top for the breakers.

Final test fit, before being...

painted black.

Here's the panel wired and ready to go in.

These two posts have photos of the final panel in the airplane with the gauges running.

So far, so good with new-year's resolutions. I've blogged for 2 of the 4 days of the new year (including this post) and I've walked on the treadmill for 3 of the 4 days.

Starting off right

2015 January 04 00:09

I've made a bunch of new-year's resolutions...which I've already strictly broken, but I'm going to pursue anyway. I wanted to excersize daily, which I've done 2 out of the 3 days. I've wanted to blog a lot; this is the start of that. More on that in another post.

The airplane is doing well. I'm starting to have reasonable confidence in it for trips, so that increases planning flexibility. I installed a "kool-skoop" (their spelling, not mine) that brings in air on a hot day when you're taxiing on the ground. Great tool, and taxiiing in hot weather is much less annoying.

And I'm finally collecting the tools and parts to put my VW back together. I still need to get a camshaft; I'm using the crank and various camshafts sitting in the left block half to do some camshaft testing.

I'm starting a big cleaning project; that starts today. The plan is that will be finished 2 weeks from today on Sunday.