Spring 2006 PAGE 208.

March 13, 2006: This was a work day in the office and off to the UPS office to ship a package to a customer.  I could not help but enjoy the short trip across town with the first blooms of spring in the trees, etc.   As the official "office hours" came to a close today at 5 PM, I was sitting here at the computer and decided to review my collection of photos on my airplane construction project.  I realized that I had taken this photo and not posted it in any of my web pages.  I climbed up a tall step ladder at Wendell's place back in September 2005 to get this shot in the afternoon sun.  I had gone over to Wendell's shop yesterday to drop off my Dremel tool kit and a can of spray paint for him.  He and his wife were out to Sunday lunch when I arrived.  The weather was threatening rain and I did pass by a light rain shower when I was driving over there.  Before I left the grounds, I went in the hangar, flipped on the lights and went over to my airplane.  I put my left hand on the fuselage just in front of the windshield and spoke to the airplane (to myself really) to express my thanks for becoming the airplane I have always wanted.  As I write this, I am having the same emotional reaction I had yesterday when I was alone in the hangar with my "Enterprise".  I guess you have to be another RV-builder with a flying airplane to understand how I feel about this project and the wonderful experiences I have had since it first flew on June 9th, 2005.
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I received another inquiry from another builder who is working on his firewall forward kit.  He provided some photos showing the current status of his project.   Larry Bialecki has his RV-9A approaching the day when it will have to go to the airport.  He wrote me in January asking about oil filter clearance issues.  His latest email was about carb heat components.  I gave him some references to the items available from Van's web store and the pages in this web site showing how I installed those items on "Enterprise".
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Here is the other view Larry provided in his email.  That fixed-pitch prop up front does not require the blue knob that is part of my panel.  It looks like Dynon is providing heads-up status and engine monitoring in Larry's panel.  The larger unit below the two Dynon displays appears to be the same GPS unit now in use by David Edgemon.
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I realized that some of you may have VOIP service via Skype.  If you do and want to find me via Skype, my user name there is "n2prise" of course!   So if you feel an email exchange is not enough, I am sometimes available via Skype to talk about issues you may want to discuss in building your Van's Aircraft project and my experiences from building my RV-9A.

March 19, 2006:  It is a quiet Sunday morning as I get the time to update these pages and talk about the past week's activities.  My day job had me on the road for some "day trips" last week.  One was to visit a corporate customer in Atlanta for a morning meeting and lunch with the promise of future business for the company.  I will be on a road trip for the company next week up to Virginia, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia before returning home by Friday evening.

The best day trip this week  was down to Ocala, Florida and back in the airplane.  A 50-MPH tail wind helped my departure from the Chattanooga area at 9,500 feet MSL.  The GPS ground speed topped out at 220 MPH during my first course leg to a point northeast of Atlanta.  The fuel stop at Alma, Georgia was 1.7 hours after takeoff, where the 100LL price is still below $3.00 per gallon.  The lunch meeting at the Ocala airport restaurant went well and I even answered a few customer phone calls while I was there.  The return flight was down lower to avoid the headwinds and it was quite bumpy due to thermals.  I even had a chance to circle my sister's house on the way home.  I could see her car in the garage since the door was open, but she did not come outside during my two orbits over her neighborhood.  I had not thought about the flyover until I was almost there, so there was no prior contact via phone before my flight to advise her of my route back home.   The weather was clear all day.  I was back home at the hangar by 5 PM with 6.1 hours added to the Hobbs meter.  Since I have posted photos of both airports previously, there are no new airport photos to show you in this posting.  This home airport photo was taken on the ramp in front of the workshop where Wendell's RV-8 is under construction.  The hangar is the next building south of this one and out of the photo. 
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I was home Thursday evening for the regular monthly meeting of EAA Chapter 150.   The monthly fly-in breakfast at the Collegedale Airport was held yesterday morning (Saturday).  After the breakfast was over and my duties were completed (scrambling eggs and washing pans), I helped Richard Nadig to complete the riveting of the top skins of one wing of his Harmon Rocket.  This was a payback for some of the help he provided when I was building my RV-9A.

I ordered a pair of fuel tank port gaskets, some tank sealant, and the aluminum tool box from Van's earlier in the week.  I expected the UPS package to be on my doorstep when I arrived home Friday afternoon.  I also had a couple of boxes coming from the company, but did not expect them to arrive until Monday.  I found a UPS delivery attempt notice on my front door indicating THREE boxes needed a signature for delivery.  I would assume the shipment from the company came a day early.  All of that stuff will come Monday, and I will head out on my road trip on Tuesday.

Here are my thoughts about that advisory from Van's on the fuel tank pick-up tubes.  ONE builder had one of his tubes inside the fuel tank vibrate loose and come off the bulkhead fitting at the inboard rib of the tank.  Van's is always cautious about these things and that is a good thing.  I assembled my tanks for the final pressure check at David Edgemon's shop.  He advised me about using a torque wrench and claw foot on the blue AN-fittings on the fuel pick-up tubes.  I used his torque wrench for those two critical fuel connections inside the tank.  Neither of us can remember whether I put any sealant on the AN fittings or their threads during that process.  You can see where I was putting on the fuel tank access ports in a photo David snapped of me on my PAGE 15 back on August 3, 2003.  During weight and balance testing after my airplane was completed, I found the fuel pick-up tubes were properly oriented to leave only two-ounces of fuel in one tank, and about four ounces of fuel in the other tank with the airplane leveled on blocks in the hangar.  I had pumped the tanks dry using the internal electric fuel pump, then drained the unusable fuel through the sump drains at the inboard side of the each fuel tank.

With over 4,500 Van's RV aircraft that have been completed and flown, only one has been reported to have the fuel pick-up tube to come off inside one of its fuel tanks.   With over 171 hours on my airplane, if I was going to have a fuel problem, it would have been seen by now.  Since I am working with Wendell on his RV-8 construction, I will retrofit my fuel tank AN fittings inside the tank since I have already seen how easy it is to drill the fitting to accept safety wire.  Getting the fuel tank access port off without removing the tank from the wing is possible according to the advisory from Van's.  Since I have capacitive fuel level sensors, my access should be easier than guys who have float sensors.  When I flew out of town last week, I made it a point to not buy fuel on the way home to leave less in the tanks upon arrival.  It will give me less fuel to pump out of the airplane to do the tank modification.  I will post pictures when I do the work.

March 26, 2006:  It is another day of rest from travel on business, and a day when I hope to work on my airplane this afternoon.  Here are a few photos taken during my travels this past week.   I was driving west on US 50 in West Virginia when I came upon these classic diesel locomotives parked on a siding adjacent to the highway.  They have been restored to museum quality with one sporting classic Chesapeake & Ohio colors.  The other one had Potomac Eagle painted on it.  The siding was fenced in and had a posted sign with "State Property - No Trespassing" and this was as close as I could get.
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It was a week of travel in Virginia, West Virginia and the Pittsburgh area of Pennsylvania.  I saw snow on the ground in the mountains of West Virginia and Maryland and had some light snow falling along my route as I was departing West Virginia on Friday.  This was a driving trip due to the poor weather during the week.

There are new photos in Wendell's section of my web site showing another milestone in his RV-8 project.

April 3, 2006:  I missed my usual web update yesterday, sorry to keep you guys waiting.  I have been preparing for a trip this week to Baltimore that looked like it was going to be in the RV-9A, but the weather is probably going to quash the flying and I will be on the road the old-fashioned way.

As for the airplane work over the weekend, I finished my Van's Aircraft aluminum tool box kit.  It was all I could do to keep Wendell from working on it to have something to do.  That white cardboard box is now replaced by this shiny new tool box for traveling in the airplane. 
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Speaking of Wendell, I have put up two new photos of some work he has been doing in his section of the web site.  He is getting ready for Sun-N-Fun and will be taking his Cessna 182 down to see if he can find a buyer.  He will be talking with engine folks at Sun-N-Fun to see about getting an ECI Titan O-360 engine on order for his RV-8.  He has not yet decided which engine company will build the engine for him.  He will be placing an order for the engine very soon.

On Sunday I sat down in the cockpit of my RV-9A to get familiar with some of the lesser-used functions of my Garmin AT SL-30 NAV/COM radio.  There is software available for my GPS 296 that will feed radio frequency data to the SL-30.  I have been thinking about whether or not to open up the radio stack to add an RS-232 serial bus between the GPS and the radio.  For now, I am thinking that will have to wait until I get to the annual inspection in June, but we shall see.  For now, I am prepared for my Baltimore seminar where I will be making part of the day's presentation.

April 4, 2006:  I started my trip toward Baltimore with a short ride (4 hours 45 minutes) to meet a co-worker for a business dinner.  I am now in my hotel room just north of the Roanoke area.  The ride to Baltimore for tomorrow is another 265 miles which should go quickly on I-81, US 340, and I-70 from Frederick, MD to Baltimore.  My technical presentation is scheduled for Thursday afternoon, with the return trip home on Friday.   The weather forecast for Frederick on Friday is now an 80% probability of light rain.  It seems that I made the right decision to drive this trip, rather than fly my airplane.  Maybe next time the weather will work with my business travel plans.   (more later)

April 5, 2006:  The ride to Baltimore today had a fuel stop for the car and a stop at New Market (VA) Airport (8W2) to see the AVFUEL stop I had been considering if I had flown my airplane up this way.  The airport was about two miles from I-81 and easy to reach for a "look see" at this small country airport.   The self-serve pump is open 24/7, but the FBO office was locked.  I also passed by the Frederick (MD) Airport (KFDK) and had a short visit at Frederick Aviation.  A nice facility open 24/7 with two rows of tie-down spaces for transient aircraft.

The weather was very WINDY today.  I was glad I was on the ground and not being kicked around the sky in a light airplane.  I have just watched the local weather here in Baltimore and the forecast is still for bad weather here on Friday morning, which would have been the time of my departure from Frederick if I had flown the airplane.  This time, the choice to drive instead of flying was a good decision, and safer.  I avoided the Washington Beltway with my route up I-81 to US 340, then East on I-70 to the Baltimore area.  The trip home will be the same course.  One nice view on US 340 is the convergence of the Shenandoah River with the Potomac River near Harper's Ferry, WV.

April 8, 2006:  It is Saturday night as I post this entry.  The storms have all passed this area with no damage here in the Chattanooga area.  A number of places in Tennessee have been hit by tornadoes yesterday and last weekend as you may have heard on the news.  Tomorrow is going to be a beautiful day here.  Wendell is planning to return from Lakeland, Florida if the weather down that way is clear.  The weather front that brought our bad weather last night is now crossing central Florida and should be past Lakeland by noon on Sunday.   Wendell could be home as planned if he gets a start after the weather passes by as forecast for that area.

I will go out to the airport tomorrow to check on things after the storm, and possibly have some visitors to see my airplane and Wendell's RV-8 project that is under construction.  I may have some photos to post tomorrow night.

April 16, 2006:  I have worked with Wendell one night last week and all afternoon yesterday (Saturday).  The main landing gear legs were properly aligned and the bolt holes drilled in place.  The details of that process and three photos are on his page 17

My airplane is in the hangar with about six gallons of fuel in the tanks after my last trip to Florida.  The EAA chapter meeting held this past Thursday touched on the topic of flying more Young Eagles, possibly on May 6, 2006.  I will keep you posted on those activities when they occur.

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