August 31, 2009

Screen at last

Today was the single hardest day of the job so far and as I type this I’m feeling pretty whacked. Before I did anything I measured and re-measured the positions of the tube cut outs, especially the side tubes, and I then realised that even though I’d ‘adjusted’ them, the markings I’d made based on the old screen were not symetrically positioned, in fact nowhere near it. Clearly they ought to be, so I looked closely again at the old screen still in position on the pod, made a note of the exact adjustments that were necessary and re-marked them symetrically this time.

Eventually I had to take courage and start cutting and as it happens, the results in the end didn’t turn out too badly as the following pics show.

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Based on measurements, I made the nose tube cut out wider than I instinctively wanted to and my instinct proved to be right on this occasion, although it’s really only a matter of degree. I’m very pleased with the side tube cut outs which were not at all pretty originally. Now they are a nice tight fit without actually touching the tubes and I doubt I’ll need to put any ‘filler’ around them to take up the gaps. The left one I cut slightly longer than the right because there has to be a gap for the fuel tube to pass through.

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Unfortunately I had to cut most of the cable ties that I had put in place yesterday holding the wiring to the front tube and I also had to drop the panel down to jiggle the screen into place. Drilling out the holes to match those in the pod and panel was not difficult once I’d got everything exactly lined up, but fitting the nuts to to the plastic bolts that I used to secure the whole thing was very tricky and very tiring as I had to lie on my back inside the incredibly cramped cabin and grip the nuts while my son screwed the bolts up from outside. That’s what I mean about it being a hard day, as well as the difficulty of the job. It was bad enough getting in, but getting out was a nightmare 😕

The cabin is now beginning to look a treat and I’m very proud of the way it’s come on compared to how it was when I started. It all looks so much cleaner and brighter than it was and it’ll be nice to be flying in that environment.

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I didn’t get around today to re-securing the wiring with new cable ties so that’s one of the next jobs. I’ve also got to borrow another smaller tank cutter from my stepson to cut a hole through the screen for the lower vacuum fuel pump and after that I’ll be able to run the fuel system up to the engine. I couldn’t do anything about the door plastics this week-end because Bill Brooks was on holiday last week and P & M need to confirm with him exactly what rivets they need to supply for the doors. However, I couldn’t have got round to them even if I’d wanted to because my tank ran out at just about the same moment as time did. So they also go on the list for next time 😉

August 30, 2009

Exciting developments

The first thing I did today was nip across to Damyn’s Hall Airfield just over the Thames in Essex to meet Ian and pick up the Arplast from him. Ian is a microlight instructor there and just as I arrived I saw him taking off with a student in a flexwing. This was my first visit to Damyn’s Hall and not the last, I hope, because it’s a smashing little field with two runways, good facilities and a very nice cafe. Despite its being a slightly chilly, blustery day, there were quite a few members of the public with their kids watching what was going on, going off for helicopter rides and generally enjoying themselves. That’s what General Aviation should be like in this country but Damyn’s, like many other small airfields across the country, is under the usual planning threats. Let’s hope that the killjoys don’t succeed in their aims 😕

After a couple of circuits Ian stopped briefly to dig out the prop hub (Ian’s wife and I had already found the blades) and having done so we did the deal quickly so Ian could get back into the air. With this weather he needs to get all the hours in he can. I think I’ll have to give him a call later on and see if he’s got any paperwork for the prop because I think I’ll need some to fit it as a Mod to MYRO. After I got home I gave it a quick clean up and although it’s obviously done a few hours, it came up very nicely.

Then I was able to make a start on the next big MYRO job, namely the screen, but first I took a few pics of the work I did yesterday. Yesterday’s main job was routing the cables and the next pics show how I’ve routed them out from under the panel, up the front tube and along the main tube where they will join up with the cables from the engine and the battery.

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The black tube that you can see in the pic immediately above connects to the fuel pressure gauge and will eventually connect via a T-piece into the rear carburettor’s fuel line. The transparent tube in the top two pics connects to the airspeed indicator and will eventually connect to the pitot tube on the port wing.

The other important job I did yesterday was add a fuel filter into the fuel line which I ran down as far as the electric fuel pump. The following pics show the detail.

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The electric fuel pump is bolted in but I haven’t yet completed the fuel line connection from it to the vacuum fuel pump and will not do until the screen is in and I know just how long the fuel pipe should be.

Lastly, remember the pics I showed a couple of weeks or so ago of the underneath of MZEL?. Well here is a similar pic of MYRO. MZEL has the ties between the fuselage cover and rear of the pod done with parachute cording whereas I used cable ties for MYRO. I think that MYRO’s has ended up being a slightly neater job 😉

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But the main job today was MYRO’s screen. I have to say that I approached it with some trepidation because I had visions of working with horrible brittle plastic and having cracks and splits appear whenever I handled it and tried to make cuts. I could not have been more wrong. I’m not saying that 1.5mm polycarbonate is a joy to work with but it was far less daunting than I expected. I laid a thick cloth sheet (an old bedspread actually) out on the patio and placed the polycarbonate sheet onto it. The plastic is protected on both sides but it still pays to handle it carefully.

I used the old screen as a template by drawing round it in ball point and then made careful measurements to even the sides up in size. The I placed a sheet of ply underneath, took a wooden straight-edge and scored it with a sharp Stanley knife. In some places where I was particularly enthusiastic I cut through but my aim was to score through roughly half way and then finish the cut with scissors. This method worked beautifully and as my stepson said, it avoided the possibilty of causing little splits or tears that could have been caused by a jigsaw, especially one that was too coarse or a bit worn.

After I’d got the main shape cut I needed to get the precise positions and dimensions for the cutouts for the tubes to go through. The originals were all a bit too large but did at least serve as useful indicators, so having no more use for the old screen I cut two big chunks out of each side to make it less unwieldy and replaced it in MYRO. Then I could see exactly where the adjustments to the cutouts needed to be made and marked them accordingly on the new screen. That was as far as I could go because to make the holes I needed tank cutters of the correct sizes. These will do a good, safe job and avoid any damage to the screen. My stepson who has a set was out so as the evening was already beginning to draw to a close I decided to call it a day and doing the cutting is a job for tomorrow. The main beneficiary of the early close was Toddie who jumped at the chance of an early evening walk. And why shouldn’t he 🙂

August 29, 2009

Getting there

As I’d hoped, the screen plastic did arrive yesterday so if the weather holds, I’ll be able to make a lot of progress and this will be an excellent week-end. I didn’t get on to the screen today but I did get a lot done, nevertheless. Unfortunately I finished too late to take any pics so they will have to wait until tomorrow.

First job, I routed the cables from the cabin, up the front tube to where the electrical connections will be made up on the main tube. This immediately made the cabin look much tidier and I also cleaned some more muck and grease away that I’d missed originally from under the fuel pump on the pilot’s side of the cabin. It’s surprising the difference little things like that can make. Then I got underneath and secured the rear fuselage cover to the back of the pod. Originally it was done using parachute cord but Mark said that cable ties are just as good if not better nowadays for jobs like that, so that’s what I used. Looked very good and was nice and taught at the end of it.

I also got started on running the fuel system. First I put in an in-line filter just along from the tank and then I routed and secured the fuel line down the back of the passenger seat, across the cabin behind the sets and round to the fuel pump. The fuel system components I bought from Mark included the electric fuel pump and the hand primer bulb. However, there have been some slightly alarming postings on the BMAA forum lately about engine failures as a result of blocked primer bulbs and there have been recommendations that they should be removed. So that’s what I’ve decided to do, especially as I have an electric primer pump anyway. But today I only got as far as fitting the electric pump and connecting it to the lower fuel pump before time ran out.

But I’ve also got one last, excellent bit of news. The final item I need to complete MYRO and make it flyable is a prop. When I last flew MYRO it was fitted with the bog standard two-blade wooden prop. Mark still had the hub and one blade of the three-blade Arplast prop that was fitted to MYME when it had its accident and I dearly wanted to have something like that because as well as being newer and more modern, it’s also more efficient. So you get slightly better performance and/or fuel economy. However, when I checked the cost of acquiring two more new blades, the total cost was well above my budget, so I’d resigned myself to getting hold of a standard wooden one.

But the fantastic news is that I’ve come across another Arplast three-blader at a price I can afford. It was originally fitted to a Rotax 503 like mine on an old Spectrum microlight so I know it is the correct one. I’m absolutely delighted with this development and I’ve arranged to take a trip out tomorrow morning to pick it up.

So now it’s just a matter of putting all the bits I’ve got together and I really am getting there 😀

August 27, 2009

Dohh…

… in the words of Homer Simpson. Rosie very kindly rang me today to tell me where she bought the plastic sheet that she’d made the last screen from. She told me and then just happened to read out what the invoice said … 1.5mm sheet 1025mm wide and 2050mm long. I said that I couldn’t see how she could have made the screen from that as it’s 2300mm wide. She said, ‘Oh yes you can, you cut it diagonally.’ 😕

What a twerp I am – that hadn’t occurred to me. The screen isn’t an oblong shape – it’s more the shape of an eye with an elongated bottom. I checked by marking out a space the size of a sheet on the lawn and then placing the old screen on it. Loads of room around it if you place it diagonally as Rosie said. What a clever girl! That’s saved me a lot of hassle – I then ordered the plastic I need straight away and who knows, if I’m lucky, it might even arrive tomorrow in time for the long week-end. Then anything could happen because as you’ll see below, things are moving briskly along 😉

After patching the holes in the instrument panel, all I then had to do was mate the top and bottom together. Easier said than done. With the instruments in, the panel is quite heavy and very unwieldy and you need at least two pairs of hands to hold the two parts in the correct position while you drill the bottom part through the holes in the top. I solved the problem by hanging the instrument panel upside down from our clothes dryer so it was more or less in the correct position in the panel top, which was lying also upside down on the patio table beneath. I won’t bore you with the details but it worked OK. I found at the end that one of the old end holes in the panel top had been drilled too close to the edge and had split when I secured the fastener so I had to remove that fastener and also the adjacent one and spring the panel parts far enough apart for me to do a repair using fibreglass cloth and epoxy resin. Annoying, but you begin to get used to these continuous snags – it’s an old aircraft after all. Here’s a pic of the panel on the table after I’d finished.

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I couldn’t wait to get it into the pod, of course which I did fairly quickly and easily, and here are two more pics showing the final result.

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I was very pleased with the outcome – now it’s beginning to look much more like a microlight again. I also think it’s a huge improvement over what was there as well. It’s only fitted in temporarily as the pod is still suspended on string while there’s no screen. But the panel won’t need to come out again so my next job will be to route and cable-tie all the wiring and tubes. That shouldn’t take too long to do and the next job after that will be fitting the screen. So if the plastic does arrive tomorrow, there’s a very good chance if the weather holds that I might get that done on Bank Holiday Monday. Then things do start to get exciting, because at that stage I can start thinking about fitting the engine 😀

August 25, 2009

For every nice surprise…

… there’s at least one nasty one. At least that’s how it feels at the moment.

I had a very useful conversation with Ben in the BMAA Tech Office today who I found to be very pleasant and approachable. I’d sent him an email about the TIL107 three socket problem and wanted to ask him about it personally. One of the suggestions I’d received on the BMAA forum from Andy Buchan who knows a lot about these things is to put in a 2-pole switch between the car cigarette lighter socket and one of the DIN sockets so that either could be selected but only one of them could be in use at any time. Ben said that he would have no objection to such an arrangement which as far as he was concerned would then meet the requirements of TIL107 as a Standard Minor Mod so long as they were fused accordingly. However, he said that there was an alternative which was to keep all three sockets working, and which, so long as they were also fused accordingly, would be acceptable as a non-standard Minor Mod. The latter is slightly more expensive to be approved but even though I’ve already sourced a 2-pole switch it’s the one I’m going to go for. Having all three sockets and no future hassles is a much better arrangement and hopefully will mean that I’ll need make no additional connections for example, for a radio 12V supply or a supply for an intercom or other radio interface. Either or both will be plug-in and totally removable, which will also save all sorts of other approval hassles.

So that was the nice surprise. Now what about the nasty ones?

Well, there have been two. The first one, which is quite major and hit me totally out of the blue, came when I measured the sheet size of the polycarbonate that I need to make a new screen. It needs to be at least 2300mm wide. However, the largest standard size 1.5mm thick sheet that you can get in the UK is only 2050mm wide. A larger width is available but only if you order a minimum of 20 sheets, which isn’t acceptable, of course. I’ve put out a couple of feelers and have a friend who works in the plastics industry making some enquiries for me so I’m waiting to see what the outcome will be. I’ve also looked at buying sheet in from the USA where 0.06″ (1.5mm) x 4′ x 8′ is the norm but I’m keeping that on the back burner for now.

The other nasty surprise is more minor. When I came to mate up my new panel (that came from MYME) with the panel top (that came from MYRO) I found that the fastening holes do not match up. I suppose when the AX3s were built the parts were undrilled and the builder just got his electric drill and put the holes in where he wanted, by eye, so they were more or less evenly spaced on each side. I almost called Mark at Galaxy to ask about buying MYME’s panel top but then it occurred to me that if I did that the holes in that would not match the fixing holes that are already drilled in MYRO’s pod. So as they will be almost totally covered by the panel top, I decided to fill the existing holes in the instrument panel and effectively start all over. As I type this I’ve already patched the holes on the back of the panel with fibreglass cloth and epoxy resin and I’m just waiting for it to cure before I fill the holes from the front with fibreglass. Then I’ll have yet more colour matching to do! I’m getting quite good at it now 😉

August 23, 2009

Very productive few days

Quite a few things have come together over the past three or four days which means that MYRO has really moved along. And one of the good things as far as I’m concerned is that it’s been too windy to fly anyway so I don’t feel as though I’ve missed anything. While I was working outside today a flexwing flew over looking decidedly side-ways in the wind! Hopefully he found somewhere to land that’s a bit more sheltered than where we live.

A week or so ago I started a thread on the BMAA forum asking how I should wire up MYRO’s engine hour meter. It expanded into talking about the wiring in general, which is why I posted my wiring diagrams, and I got some very good advice. Amongst other things, whereas I wasn’t going to add any electrical sockets to the panel because I don’t know what I’ll be needing in the future, the consensus was that I should add some now. The one I especially didn’t want to add is a car cigarette lighter socket but it turns out that that’s actually the one you should have because so many accessories (eg GPS’s) come with a car cigarette lighter plug. So I decided to go for two DIN sockets and a car cigarette lighter socket and the bits arrived on Friday.

I did an extension to the wiring diagram that had them all fused and connected on the switched side of the master switch so in MYRO the master switch really is just that. Nothing will become live unless that switch is turned on. I also placed them in a stack on the right hand lower part of the panel so there’s a nice space to the left where I can position my radio. Originally in MYRO the radio was mounted far too low down for my taste and the old Icom that I was using was far from being the easiest model to use anyway because of its small, hard to read screen and horrible tiny little buttons. Don’t tell Rosie I said so, though 😉

Following a very informative thread on the BMAA forum by Rick Moss about installing the CAA charts in a cheap car satnav I’ve also bought and converted one myself. I’ll talk about it in more detail in another posting but it works brilliantly and my initial experiments indicate that it will mount extremely well right in front of you where you want it using its suction mount on the top of the panel. Another small step forward 🙂

I was a bit disappointed actually with the new panel sockets and fuse holders. The fuse holders were bigger than I expected them to be and not of very high quality. The plastic thread of the first one I fitted almost stripped when I tightened down its metal nut so I was very careful with the other two. When I’d finished, I also ‘locked’ them by adding a few drops of epoxy resin to the threads and to the nuts where they were in contact with the back of the panel. and I did the same to be sure with the other sockets too.

I was also disappointed to find that although the DIN sockets looked very nice with little flip up covers, because theye are designed to mount in a metal fascia, they have no earth tags. This meant that I had to solder my earth connections directly to the bodies of the two sockets which was time consuming and also involved their getting very hot. However, it worked and no harm appears to have been done. If I’d thought maybe I should have soldered the connections to the nuts instead while they were removed, but I didn’t 😕

Here are a couple of pics showing the absolute final, finished panel. The first is a composite showing close-ups of the panel back and front and the second is a general shot of the whole panel.

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The only small point of concern is that since I finished the panel wiring, Andy Buchan with his Inspector’s hat on, said that he thinks the relevant BMAA TIL only allows 2 x power sockets, with fairly low total currents drawn from them. He suggests that I put 3 on the form and see what happens – there is a degree of give and take – but check what current I want each power socket to be able to draw and placard and fuse accordingly. So I’m hoping that the worst I’ll need is a placard saying that only two should be used at any time and the maximum load must not exceed 12 amps (say).

Now what else? Today I removed the starboard main undercarriage hub, repacked the bearings with grease and lubricated the brake mechanism, which was luckily in good working order. I also adjusted both brake cables up. Then I got under MYRO and gave the undercarriage cables, which were very dry, a light coating of grease.

Earlier on before I got ‘dirty’, I finished off the last little bit of painting at the front of the fuselage main tube and the tops of the two tubes that support the engine mounts. This is all extremely good news because it now means that MYRO is ready to have its panel and wiring loom installed.

Like I said, things really are now moving on apace 😀

August 18, 2009

More panel wiring

Got some excellent advice from Andy Buchan and Andy Anderson on the BMAA forum – we’re very fortunate that blokes like them take the time to offer advice and share their knowledge. As a result I’ll be correcting two errors – switching the positions of the fuel pump fuse and switch and adding a 15A fuse upstream of the master switch – and making a couple of really useful additions to the scheme. These are a common earthing point (I’ll fibreglass a small metal bracket to the back of the panel for a bolt to go through) and a busbar for the +12V supply downstream of the master switch. This will make it very easy to add sockets etc for any new accessories in the future because with an earth and a 12V supply easily accessible it will only be necessary to put in a fuse for the new circuit.

I’ve shown these changes in the diagram below.

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Now looking as it should do, I think 🙂

August 17, 2009

Panel wiring

I haven’t been able to do any ‘real’ work on MYRO today but I posted my wiring scheme on the BMAA forum in the hope of getting advice and guidance from people like Dave Smith who are more expert in these things than me. Here’s the diagram I posted.

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I think everything is OK but we’ll see, hopefully. I just tested the master switch neon and I’m glad to say it worked beautifully, lighting up with a nice red colour as soon as I turned the master switch on. Oh, and yes, it did go off when I turned the switch off 😆

In fact I’ve just returned to add that actually I’ve had a very productive evening after all. Whenever I see insulating tape on an electrical connection I know that it’s covering a bodge and usually the neater the tape, the bigger the bodge it covers 🙂

That hasn’t quite been the case with MYME’s old wiring but there was certainly plenty of tape over the EGT and CHT connections and it covered more than a few bodges. If you don’t have a good quality, well made connection, you can’t expect the gauge it connects to work reliably, not in the long term anyway. So I did a few over the weekend and I knew that there were several more needing attention. And that’s what I got done this evening. One or two were very poor and the connectors themselves actually snapped when I separated them. Luckily the new dual EGT gauge came with a short length of connecting cable with connectors on each end and I was able to use those to do the necessary repairs, by cutting them off close to the connector, soldering the connector to the wire in question and then covering the joint with heat shrink that I’d previously placed on the cut wire.

Lovely job – I’m very pleased with the results 😉

August 16, 2009

Brakes off

Brake off, actually, but I’ll come back to that in a moment.

I had to make a late start today so I had a fair bit to do in quite a short time. The first thing I wanted to do was finish off the panel. All I had to do was fit the remaining gauges (slip ball, airspeed indicator, altimeter and vertical speed indicator) none of which have any electrical connections, but it wasn’t that straightforward because I wanted to re-use the existing mounting screws all of which were quite serviceable but a bit tatty. I decided to give the screw heads a light wire brushing followed by a coat of Hammerite mixed to match the colour of the panel. Judge for yourself if you think the result was successful.

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I like it and the slightly annoying thing is that unlike the paint I mixed for the panel repairs, the screw heads have stayed nice and shiny! Why couldn’t the panel paint have done so as well 😕

The next job on the list was to remove the main undercarriage wheels, check the brakes for serviceability and regrease the wheel bearings. I started with the port side and here is a pic of the stub axle with the wheel and brake drum removed.

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I was glad to see that there is still plenty of meat on the brake shoes but when I checked the mechanism I found that it was seized solid. As you can see in the next pic, the mechanism is very simple. The cable operates a lever which causes the small plate against which the bottoms of both shoes rest, to rotate forcing the bottoms of the shoes apart. The tops rest against a round pivot so by forcing the shoes apart they are pushed into contact with the brake drum. Simples 🙂

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Trouble was the spindle connecting the operating lever and the rotating plate was seized where it passes through the back plate. Nothing for it – spray on WD40 and work the spindle without causing any damage until it was free. Luckily I was successful and I’m glad to say that I got the brake working again. I also checked the other one, although I haven’t stripped it yet, and I’m pleased to say that that one is free and working properly.

While the wheel was off I took the opportunity to re-pack the bearings with fresh grease. Lucky I did as they obviously hadn’t seen any for years! I was then able to reassemble the hub with all of the work done. It should be a doddle doing the other side (famous last words) and with all of the ‘under-panel’ work then done I’ll be able to look forward to refitting the instrument panel, gauges and wiring. That really will be progress and I’m looking forward to it immensely 😀

August 15, 2009

Panel fitting

When I last flew MYRO it had a pretty good fit of instruments and gauges including the electric fuel pump, of course, and carburettor heat as well as all the usual items like an altimeter, airspeed gauge, cylinder head and exhaust gas temperature gauges etc. However, when I bought MYRO, the carb heat and fuel pump wiring had been removed to go on MZEL, the complete battery side with accessories and wiring had been removed for the same reason and other bits and pieces were either missing or had had wires cut.

That wasn’t a problem, I knew about those things and they were all part of the deal when I bought MYRO. So that’s why when I bought the engine off Mark at Galaxy we took great care to preserve MYME’s wiring loom as far as possible so I could have that along with MYME’s panel and the instruments and gauges it still contained. It meant in effect that MYME’s wiring, instruments and gauges would become MYRO’s and the only problem was that although I was there when many key items were disconnected, for several (notably engine related equipment and accessories) I hadn’t been. And there’s no such thing as an AX3 wiring diagram!

So I’ve had to find and work things out for myself. This was the ‘inventory’, so to speak.

MYRO’s panel still contained a slip ball, airspeed indicator, altimeter, vertical speed indicator, RPM gauge and a dual CHT gauge, still connected. It also had the starter switch still in place and connected but no master switch cabling and although the fuel pump wiring had been removed, there was still a useable fuse holder for it. The dual EGT gauge had been removed and the connections for both temperature gauges had been cut at the engine end.

MYME’s panel came with a complete wiring loom except some connections had been broken by handling. There was the odd anomaly – for example, MYME had a fuel pump with a fuse but apparently no switch to operate it! Also, Mark had removed both temperature gauges but their connections were still in place so based on how MYRO’s dual CHT gauge was connected up, it wouldn’t be difficult to drop two replacements in. MYME’s panel contained a fuel pressure gauge, RPM gauge, a slip ball, airspeed indicator, engine hour meter and a master switch with fuse and wiring.

So my problem was to fill MYME’s instrument panel and successfully connect up all the necessary wiring, to go in MYRO. To do so I had had to buy a new dual EGT gauge to match MYRO’s existing dual CHT one and as MYME’s fuel pressure gauge showed signs of a slight but very oily, dirty leakage and was also stuck at just over 0.2 Bar, I thought it better to replace that with a new gauge as well to save possible future problems.

I worked out that MYRO’s master switch as it had been wired apparently only controlled the accessories – the main 12V live lead was connected straight to the starter switch before then jumping over onto the main fuse holder to which the accessories as far as I could see (as most had already been removed) had been connected. This meant that with the master switch off, you could still start the engine, which I did not like one bit even though it would still need the key to do so. The Rotax 503 wiring diagram does not show any form of master switch so I had to devise my own wiring set up. This has the main 12V supply connecting to one side of the master switch and the other side to the main fuse holder. The other side of the main fuse then connects to the starter circuit on the starter switch which then connects to the starter solenoid. So the starter cannot be activated even with the key in unless the master switch is turned on. A connection is also taken from the switched side of the master switch to the fuel pump switch. This in turn then activates the fuel pump via it’s own fuse.

I’m very happy with the results. I don’t have the faintest idea how this part of MYME’s wiring was done – I’m pretty sure it wasn’t exactly as I’ve done it – but hopefully it will all work as I intend without any future problems. I’ve also tidied up a lot of rather poor connections by removing some pretty awful connectors and making soldered joints enclosed in heat shrink sleeve. This considerably improves both appearance and quality and I believe should lead to good future reliability. I still have a bit more to do in that area as well.

As usual, the job started with ‘repairs’. When I stripped MYME’s panel I found that the RPM gauge it contained was a total bodge being held in place by a thick black goo even though there were some screws in place. So it had to be chucked and MYRO’s one used instead. Trouble was MYRO’s RPM gauge didn’t need holes. The same went for the temperature gauges. The ones that had been removed were screw fit whereas mine were not, so the holes that remained needed to be repaired. The fibreglassing bit of the job was a doddle – the problem was colouring the filler used to match the rest of the panel. I didn’t expect to be able to make the holes invisible but I also didn’t want them to stick out too much like a sore thumb. In the end I managed to get a reasonable colour match by mixing grey and white car paint with a trace of blue emulsion that I had in the garage but unfortunately try as I might I could not get the paint to shine. Oh well, I don’t think I’ll notice that too much when I’m actually flying MYRO 😕

I’ve not finished the whole panel yet but at least I’ve done all the electrical work. Here are a few pics to finish off showing where I’ve got to. First, a general view of the back of the panel.

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On the whole I’m very pleased with it so far because I’m a great believer in the old maxim ‘if it looks right, it is right’. Now the backs of the hour meter and temperature gauges.

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The connections on the back of the new dual EGT gauge in the centre aren’t up to scratch, unlike those on the dual CHT gauge on the right, so I still have to redo those. The hour meter on the left has a reading of over 5000 hours on it, considerably more than MYRO’s 2000 or so. It doesn’t really matter because the gauge is only used to calculate the figures for the log books but I may replace it, I don’t know. I couldn’t use MYRO’s old hour meter because it was the wrong shape. Next, here’s the wiring for the master switch, main fuse and starter switch. I’m very pleased with it – I think it’s quite neat 😉

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The same goes for the next shot which shows the backs of the RPM and fuel pressure gauge and the wiring for the fuel pump switch and fuse.

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The original RPM gauge connections that I replaced were awful, to put it mildly 🙂

Finally, a shot from the front of the panel. You can see the repairs I mentioned earlier, four little blobs around the RPM gauge and each of the temperature gauges.

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The fuel pump switch is over on the left with its fuse next to it. The master switch is to the left of the starter with a neon that I hope will illuminate as soon as the master is switched on above it. I haven’t been able to test that yet. The main fuse is to the right of the starter.

Rotax specify that a 16A fuse is inserted in the line between the voltage regulator and the battery. There is one in the wiring I’ve taken from MYME but if I’m not mistaken, it’s in the wrong place! That’s a job for next time I think.

August 11, 2009

Blossom Dearie

This has nothing to do with microlights or G-MYRO but everything to do with the passage of time and the passing of youth. I just heard today that Blossom Dearie, the American jazz singer, passed away in February.

Back in the late 60s when I was very young, footloose and fancy free a few of us used to go to Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho, London and we heard Blossom Dearie sing live there many times. How sad to know that she’s gone. Every time someone who you knew and loved in your youth passes away they take a little bit of your life with them that can never be replaced.

Here’s a Youtube link to Blossom singing live at Ronnie Scott’s at about the same time as I used to go there. She sounds exactly as I remember her. What a lovely lady with a smile in her voice.

August 10, 2009

Oh for some Summer weather

This afternoon I thought I’d get out the two instrument panels and wiring looms (MYME’s and the part of MYRO’s that I have) and start to trace cable colours and connections. Almost as soon as I put MYRO’s panel and cabling onto my patio table the wind suddenly whipped up and it began drizzling.

This continuous appalling weather is so depressing and it’s really slowed things down. I’ve lost so much time in the past few weeks. If it had been more settled I’m sure I would have been pretty close to having MYRO nearly finished by now 😡

August 10, 2009

Painful day

I just wish now that I’d never bothered fitting the electric start to the engine on Friday. It’ll be some time yet before I fit the engine so it wasn’t a job I had to do, but it severely messed up this past weekend. Sure enough, I woke up on Sunday still with a lot of discomfort in my back and having had two consecutive nights of badly disrupted sleep, so there was little chance of me getting much done on MYRO. Naturally the weather was perfect – sunny, not too hot, not too cool and just a light breeze. Just my luck – but I couldn’t let the weekend pass by without doing something.

Obviously I couldn’t do anything too heavy, and even bending over to pick anything up was very painful. That meant, of course, that almost everything I handled I dropped and then had to pick up again 😕

Everything I did was slow but by the end of the day I had managed to get a fair bit done. The starboard undercarriage drag link had been replaced at some time in the past and was still black, so I took it off and painted it white. Then I removed the nose wheel assembly and as well as cleaning everything up, removing some light corrosion from and painting the two small dampers and painting the fork tubes, while I had the wheel out, I also removed the bearings and re-packed them with fresh grease. So that was good 🙂

Unfortunately, when I refitted the nose wheel assembly I found that because the pod is not fully supported with the screen not being in place, it had dropped a bit and the edge of my nicely repaired and resculpted pod nose wheel hole had beem nipped by the steering stop when the wheel had been turned. This had slightly damaged one edge. When I lifted the pod and supported it from the fuselage top tube with string, it was well clear of the steering stop but by then it was too late. So it could have been avoided – I’ll know next time I fit an AX3 pod! The damage is only slight and could be left but as it’s fairly accessible with MYRO tilted back I’ll probably see if I can repair it again.

So the day ended up being far from a total loss, which is more than could be said for my back. With all the bending I had to do, it ended up very painful indeed and I couldn’t wait to get into a long hot shower.

August 8, 2009

There’s more…

Late yesterday afternoon, before I tackled the undercarriage link refit that I wrote about below, I fitted the electric starter to the engine. Mark had removed it because originally he was looking to sell it separately, but I bought it as part of the total package because I need the whole engine with its ancillaries.

The engine has the carbs and exhaust manifold already fitted so it weighs a goodly amount but not too much to lift. So I moved it to where I could do the job and then carried it back into my garage afterwards.

I first noticed yesterday evening that I was feeling a bit stiff but this morning I could hardly move because obviously I’ve managed to pull a muscle in my back. Just my luck! The weather forecast for today (Saturday) and tomorrow is perfect for me to get lots done on MYRO and that’s what I’d hoped to do. But in fact, today I’ve been able to do almost nothing at all. OK, not quite nothing – because I couldn’t do any physical work I thought it would be a good idea to nip down and take a look at MZEL to check that I’ve refitted MYRO’s pod correctly. Let’s face it, if I installed MYRO’s instrument panel together with all the instruments and electrics and then had to take them all out again, that would give me a really bad day, so it was well worth doing 😕

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All looks deceptively simple under there doesn’t it? I could hardly stand up again after taking the pic but in fact all was well and it also gave me a chance to talk microlights for an hour or so down at the strip, which was nice. I just hope that my back isn’t as painful tomorrow and that I can get a few things done. I have in mind a little bit of light painting to finish off the tubes 🙂

August 7, 2009

Feel like a complete pillock

I just put the following up as a post on the BMAA forum.

“On the AX3 there are links each side the tops of which are connected to the cockpit frame tubes and the bottoms to the main undercarriage wheel hubs. Because they pass through the pod, to remove the pod you have to disconnect the top of each one and let it drop it down.

After refitting the pod you have to reverse the procedure. The tube from which the links are fabricated is of course round and because the tops are enclosed in the brackets that secure them to the frame, which are an inverted simple U shape, there has to be a shaped plastic spacer on each side of the tube, within the brackets. So the bolt that holds them passes though the side of the bracket, through a spacer, through the tube, through the other spacer and out of the other side of the bracket. And access is through a restricted space at the side of the pod, from above and below.

Well, this evening I’ve spent about 2 hours just getting one of them reconnected. Getting all of the holes lined up was virtually impossible and I’ve been heaving, pushing, cursing, swearing, sweating – just about everything you can think of except get the job done. I got to the point where I was just about ready to set fire to MYRO and walk away but then I thought, what happens if I disconnect the bottom, undercarriage end.

So I did and it all lined up and went together in about 10 seconds.

I have never felt such a total pillock in all my life. I think it’s what’s called a learning curve” 😕

August 2, 2009

A podacious weekend

And one when for the first time for many weeks I managed to get everything done that I wanted to. Late on Friday afternoon I had been doing a bit more to the gel coat and had left the pod standing up on its end leaning against something. It was a bad mistake because the wind was gusting quite strongly and as soon as I turned my back, I heard a thump and it had been blown over onto its bottom. I thought that being fibreglass and it having fallen onto grass, no damage would have been done, but when I inspected it later I found that not only had one of the gel coat splits that I had repaired low down towards the nose cracked out again but now there was also another similar one on the other side. And to make things worse, the force involved had been sufficient for the underlying cracks to also penetrate the fibre mat beneath.

I was really mad but there was nothing I could do except repair the gel coat again and add strengthening inside. So that’s what I did on Saturday as well as get the whole pod ready for finishing and order a replacemant electric valve for our washing machine, but I won’t go into that 😀

So by Sunday the pod was ready for final finishing. Here’s how it looked inside with all of the cloth patches that I’d added for strengthening and repairs.

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And here’s how it looked on the outside after I’d finished rubbing it down with very fine wet and dry to remove the old lettering.

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The bottom still looked a bit of a mess though, as you can see from the next two pics.

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In the above pic you can see how I’d repaired and re-shaped the hole for the front forks but what you can’t see is how I’d also added a lot of thickness and strengthening around it. Also visible are the repairs I did to the screw holes around the slots for the rudder pedal extensions. No matter how hard I tried, it was impossible to disguise these and I found in the end it was best to leave the gel coat filler a bit proud as every time I rubbed it right down flat the holes became visible again as black circles.

In fact the repairs to the pod bottom didn’t come out quite as badly as I’d first feared. The next pic shows the how the big split repairs came out.

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And after a bit of buffing and polishing, even the nose section didn’t come out too badly either.

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And it looks even better if you stand back a bit as shown in the next pic because, of course, nobody will ever see the bottom of the pod close up, unless I run over them that is 😕

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Now one final shot of the pod taken from one side, after buffing and T-Cutting but before final finishing. As you can see, the old lettering came off pretty well really.

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And now a shot from a similar angle after finishing. I went for a shade of grey for the inside that was lighter than the original as I think it will make the interior, which is a bit cramped at the best of times, a little bit more light and airy. I also cut the outside back again with the coloured T-Cut that you can get now – in this case dark red, of course. See what you think.

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I’m quite pleased with the results, especially given the age and original condition of the pod and the fact that I’ve managed to avoid spraying it. The next pic shows the lighter shade of grey that I used for the interior.

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And now to finish off, a shot of two of the smaller repairs that I showed right at the beginning, now completed. Although they are still a bit ‘bright’ at this stage, I’m confident that they will tone down and fade back to be closer to the colour of the surrounding old gel coat.

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Now onto what for me was the best bit of the day. I dearly hoped that the weather would hold long enough into the evening for me to get the pod refitted to the fuselage frame and for once my wish was granted.

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It was a bit tricky getting it on and with everything lined up so bolt holes matched bolt positions. Luckily just as I was lifting the pod up and wondering how I was going to support it while I tried to jiggle it into position, Steve, a neighbour, walked by and was quickly pressed into service. Things became slightly harder because by now I was beginning to tire at the end of a fairly long day but I’m glad to say that I got the pod refitted with minimal damage. I was also glad that the resculpturing work I’d done around the nose wheel hole and also the holes at the back (which I’d reduced in size and reshaped so they matched) went on perfectly without needing any adjustment of any kind.

Now one final shot showing the pod interior.

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I’m very pleased with the new lighter interior colour and I also love the way the now shiny white pedals show up against it. But the very best thing of all is that this now means that I’m firmly into the rebuilding phase. I expect that it will not be without its problems but it’s great to know that from now on stuff is being stuck back on because everything that’s refitted means that I’m a little bit closer to the time when MYRO will be back flying again. And that just can’t come soon enough 😆