June 11, 2008

Back In The Our Trike Workshop

WOW! 2 postings in 2 days. Something of a record for Our Trike!!

The past weekend was glorious here in South-East England – first Biggin Hill Airshow for many a year that hasn’t been ruined by low cloud and rain. Anyway,  I felt that I was owed a  bit  of ‘me-time’, so after completing the inevitable chores that always seem to come first, I got myself back to the Our Trike Workshop for a few hours.

First job was to fit the replacement RPM/CHT gauge. All went pretty well – very neat job actually even though I say it myself 😉 – but just one problem.

I had made a note of the  order of connections on the old gauge so I would know how to connect up the replacement. But – and it’s a long story involving Toddie, my Springer who goes bonkers wth the sound of rain on our conservatory roof, the paper pad with the notes on and a paper ripping spree brought on by a heavy overnight rainstorm – these had been lost. So I had to make the connections as best as I could remember and when the engine is run again, we’ll have to see what happens. Hopefully, even if they are wrong no damage will be done and it’ll just be a matter of switching things around. But we’ll see.

I also decided  to refit the wheel spats. Blimey what a job. I hadn’t managed to find any suitable aluminium to make replacement brackets from (all the lovely little hardware shops that used to sell such things 20 or 30 years ago are long gone, put out of business by the global multiples who have no interest whatsoever in supplying such items) so I had just tidied up the existing ones and refitted them. Getting the holes to line up was a nightmare made even worse by the incredibly limited access to the inside-rear of the spats themselves.

However, I persevered and eventually got all 3 bolts on both sides in – but on weird-looking angles. Couldn’t tighten them up because although I’d dashed around picking up all the tools I thought I’d need before leaving home, I’d managed to leave both of my socket sets behind.

Hopefully when the bolts are tightened, they’ll pull into place but  care will be needed as the spats are only fibreglass and it’ll be easy to split them.

But that’s for next time…

June 10, 2008

It’s All Up In The Air…..

Well, not quite …… but see the next post.

After our thoughts of a few months ago about the merits of an enclosed cabin compared to an open one, we decided to look around the market to see what was on offer. Well, whether it’s because of the Credit Crunch or some other reason, compared to a few months ago (let alone last year when we bought the Trike), second-hand prices for many microlights have plummeted. In particular, we found that there were several Xairs around with various engine options and at various quite attractive price levels.

We started by considering two that were on offer from the same seller ( a group who were moving onto bigger and better things), one with a Simmonini two-stroke engine and the other with a Verner four-stroke. Only trouble was, both had had engine blow-ups in flight and had dumped their owners in fields from a great height! After taking a bit of impartial technical advice, we decided to give both a miss.

After considering a very attractively priced Xair with a BMW R100 motorbike engine (not a bad choice if the installation is done well, but quite a few aren’t we learnt), we decided that the best thing would be to go for an example with a Rotax 582 two-stroke engine. Now this is not a ‘touring’ engine for getting from A to B quickly – it’s more for pootling around the sky in your local area admiring the view and having fun. But really that’s what we want to do – to just get in some cheap flying hours.

We then homed in on a lovely little red and grey Xair being sold by a group in Lancashire. My research revealed that it will need an engine overhaul and new crank in about 50 hours or so, but after negotiating a price that took that into account, the deal was done. And here she is.

It really is a delightful little machine. Ken and I both had a chance to take the controls from the right-hand seat and it really was great fun. Here’s a pic of the cockpit – two sticks unlike some models which is a nice touch.

This is the so-called wide door model but as you can see from the next shot, that’s pretty relative really and getting in and out is something of an acquired art.

Just one last shot to finish off from the left-hand side.

So as things stand, we have had to find temporary hangarage down here in Kent (not an easy thing as there’s not much around at the moment) as the hangar at Ken’s hasn’t even been started yet. Insurance cover has been transferred over from the original owners and now all that remains is to get her flown down from Lancashire (remember, we don’t have our licences yet). But there’s just one fly in the ointment

So now we come to the whole purpose of the title. Ken and I have had a bit of a falling out. At the time of writing, after finding her, researching her and negotiating a selling price for her, sadly my involvement with the Xair has now ceased. I’m going to press on again now with Our Trike and get that to Permit stage and I’ve set a personal target of end of July for that. I’m also going to go ahead with my training for my NPPL (microlight licence) and then see what the future holds at the end of it.

So you see, things are all a little bit up in the air……