October 27, 2009

Good news, bad news

The good news is that with Winter approaching, MYRO’s fuselage is under cover in my nice dry garage and I’ve been given permission to leave the wings where they still are, hanging safely on a wall out of the weather inside a dry hangar. The bad news is that as I still haven’t managed to sort out a place where I can keep and fly MYRO from, that’s where they’re now likely to stay until the Spring. But that’s better than last Winter when MYRO’s fuselage was outside partially covered by a tarpaulin in what seemed like never-ending rain.

The Credit Crunch which I had hoped would be beginning to recede by now is also actually getting worse, and not just for me I suspect. So budget is coming under quite a bit of pressure too and with Christmas only a few weeks away and taking everything into account, I think that MYRO and microlighting will have to go onto the back burner until the New Year. I’m very sad about that but I have to face facts and there’s not a great deal I can do about it.

I asked a few questions about inhibiting MYRO’s engine against internal corrosion as it has now been standing without being run for about a year. Although my garage is dry, there’s still an outside chance that crankcase condensation could cause corrosion to start on any internal bearing surfaces that have lost their oil protection. A can of special oil that you spray through the inlet and exhaust ports only costs a fiver but it means taking the exhaust and inlet manifolds that I’ve only just fitted, off again. I’ve been advised on the BMAA forum that just squirting 2-stroke oil in through the spark plug holes and turning the engine over a few times will probably be sufficient under the circumstances because the guys who know about these things say that it still manages to get where it’s needed. So I think that’s what I’ll do – I’ll leave the inlets and exhaust on and see if I can spin the engine on the starter. As the prop hasn’t been fitted I’ll have to be careful though.

Damn the Banks that caused all this grief and suffering for us all. Thanks to the dollops of taxpayers’ money that have been doled out to them, they aren’t feeling the pain. It’s just the rest of us who are the victims of their scheming and greed 🙁

October 14, 2009

Right prop-er

Here’s a picture of my prop

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I love this prop. When I last flew MYRO it had the standard wooden 2-blader and I’ve been told that this one will give it a distinct edge in performance and/or fuel consumption. I got it off Ian MacAdam, a microlight instructor at Damyns Hall in Essex, who got it off a Rotax 503 like mine that was on a Spectrum which was blown over in a storm (sounds a bit like MYME, doesn’t it). So I more or less knew that it was going to be OK but had to make a quick decision to buy it because it was on offer at a very attractive price and would soon have been snapped up by someone else. Then the fun began.

I contacted LTS Ltd in Hampshire, the UK agents for Arplast. After some faffing around at my end I followed the instructions I was given and found the prop serial number which confirmed that the prop was indeed the correct one for my engine/gearbox/airframe combination. Then I looked on the BMAA web site and located the relevant MAAN for the approval only to find that the prop it specified was different. Back to LTS who confirmed that my prop is indeed the correct one and that there is therefore an error in the BMAA documentation! So onto the BMAA Tech Office who were initially sceptical and asked for a certificate of conformance. Back to LTS again who said that they were unwilling to issue such a certificate as although they do so now, they didn’t when my prop was sold (9 years ago).

Hmmm… decided I needed to be a bit more assertive as otherwise it looked as though too many petty barriers were being erected that could well have prevented me using this prop – and I was also by now getting a bit annoyed. Ian came back to me and confirmed the registration of the Spectrum that the prop had come off. I had already established that there was only one such aircraft on the G-INFO database but it was good to have the confirmation. I then found who the owner was when the prop was sold and – voila! – LTS managed to locate a copy of the actual sales invoice proving its bona-fides. I then suggested that Tech Office talk direct to LTS to confirm all this and back came an email in a day or so confirming that the prop had now been approved. Oh, and could I add an aircraft registration to the paperwork in due course as a precedent – that aircraft, G-MYME 😕

I was not amused by this. I knew that Mark had the prop hub and a single blade off MYME but it had proven too expensive to buy two more new blades to make a complete unit. It turns out that they are for exactly the same model prop as the one I have. My question is, if BMAA Tech Office knew that, why did I have to go through all that rigmarole to get THE SAME PROP accepted for MYRO? Just not an acceptable way to go about things in my book 🙁

Anyway, it’s done bar sending in the paperwork – oh, and a fee for £40 for the privelege!

PS… Want to hear a weird story? The person in whose name MYME (storm damaged, written off) was registered was also once the owner of the Spectrum (storm damaged, written off) that the prop came off. Strange but true 😯

October 13, 2009

So far, so good

I’m sitting in my (home) office and looking outside at the gorgeous still, sunny Autumn weather we are having that apparently will be with us for the next few days. Then I have this idea.

So I move the car and pull MYRO out. I can’t resist taking a couple more pics in the sunshine.

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Then I get a 12V car battery that I have in the garage and connect it across MYRO’s battery terminals using jump leads. I flick the Master Switch and the neon glows. I try the fuel pump – yup, it starts so I switch it off immediately as it’s running dry, of course.

Then the big one. I turn the key to Mags Both and then turn it once more. The starter kicks and briefly turns the engine. OK, it’s what you would expect, but that’s the point.

My wiring, which was all done from scratch don’t forget, has passed its first big test. I won’t know for sure until there’s a proper battery fitted, the engine starts and runs and the electrical system charges. But so far, so good. That’ll do me for now 😉

October 11, 2009

Rain stopped play

Not quite, but almost.

By the time I’d done all the other little things I needed to for a Sunday it was 2.30-ish by the time I got out to the garage with a dull and threatening sky overhead. I pulled MYRO out, not too far luckily, and quickly whipped the exhaust silencer off to reposition the engine safety cable. After I’d done that I wanted to put the cylinder head air scoop on, so I grabbed it and gave it a good clean up. I couldn’t get the original colour back because, let’s face it, it’s been stuck up there in a pretty inhospitable environment exposed over the years to full sunlight (sunlight?) and a hot cylinder head. Even so, with a good rub over with turps followed by a polish with T-Cut I was amazed how bright and shiny it came up!

So I then clambered up on my small stepladders to begin fitting it and … you’ve guessed it … down came the rain. Only drizzle mind, but really heavy. I pushed MYRO back into the garage and tried to work inside but I couldn’t find my lead light and my large torch wasn’t bright enough. So after jumping around and cursing for a bit, I noticed the rain had stopped momentarily. Good game this – so out went MYRO again and on went the air scoop. Then I began to finish off all the cable-tying but before I could complete the job, down came the rain again. Really good game … back went MYRO but only under the opened garage door this time because now I could do the work under the shelter of the door. Hah!

So that was it – game over. I was very pleased with the way it turned out – by carefully cable-tying electrical wiring, fuel tubes and throttle and choke cables together I finished up with a neat arrangement that was also nice and firm so nothing could be chafed by vibration. You can see the finished article below.

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The final job is securing the throttle cable to the cabin fuselage side tube so the throttle lever works but I had to leave that as I couldn’t open the door wide enough inside the garage to do the job. So next time I’ll have to do that and I’ll also have to sort through all the brackets etc for the tail assembly that I placed in order on the garage floor, where they have stayed since I removed them back in June. There are a few leaves and things on them now but they are all still there, laid out in order.

Amazing – only four months ago but it seems much longer. Not a bad Summer’s work I suppose, really 🙂

October 10, 2009

Carbs on

Just a quick post to mention that I stripped, cleaned and fitted the carburettors today. One had a little bit of a chalky deposit inside that was similar to what I found when I cleaned Our Trike’s carbs all those weeks ago, but nowhere near as bad. I got all the fuel hose connected, including the section that goes off to the fuel pressure gauge, so bar tidying everything up, the engine is more or less ready to go.

It didn’t take long to fit the choke cables but it was a devil of a job connecting the throttle cables. The reason was that the throttle slide is held down by a very long spring that has to be held fully compressed while the cable is passed through the carburettor top, the spring, a plastic sleeve that keeps the needle located, the needle clip itself and a small hole in the slide and then pulled over to one side to lock in place. There must be a trick to it that I don’t know about 😕

I cable-tied quite a few tubes and cables before it got dark this evening and I’ll finish the job off tomorrow. I also need to remove the exhaust silencer and re-fit the engine safety cable which I fitted the wrong side of the rubber exhaust mount. Then all I need do is clean up and fit the engine air scoop and MYRO is more or less done as far as the work I can do at home in my garage is concerned.

I’ll take pics tomorrow when I’ve done all that and you can bet I’ll find something else that will need doing. But I can begin to glimpse the end of the road in the distance …. 😉

October 8, 2009

New page added

I few months ago I commented in one of my posts about WordPress plugins. They’re the little extra pieces of software that are written by individuals and usually released for free that you add onto your main WordPress software to make it do clever things that weren’t originally built into the program. There are some cracking good ones out there (and some not so good ones too, but the least said about those the better) and I’ve been fortunate in finding several that I’ve used in My Trike. For example, the neat way that images open in a blacked-out screen in a choice of resolutions is done by a plugin called Shutter Reloaded.

Since I first got MYRO I’ve been keeping a photo record, starting from when it first arrived on its trailer right through every step of the work I’ve done towards getting it ready to fly again. It’s not been perfect – when your hands are covered in grease, the last thing you’re thinking about is dashing off to get your digital camera – but it’s been pretty thorough. In fact with duplicates, I’ve taken hundreds of shots. I’ve always thought that I’d like to get them onto My Trike in an organised way so visitors could view them but without being involved in a lot of fiddly effort, and every now and again I’ve cast my eye around looking for some kind of Slideshow plugin. Well, my quest has ended at last 🙂

Over the last few days I’ve downloaded and tried several that I thought might do the job. As usual,a few of them just didn’t work and gave ‘fatal errors’ when activated (yes, I know 😕 ) so they went straight into the recycle bin. A few more looked as though they might work if only I could fathom their almost non-existent instructions. Some developers seem to think that people have the time to play little mind games working out how to run their software rather than waste their own time creating explicit instructions – in fact all that happens is that people like me just bin it. Finally I was left with two, both of which worked although one of them didn’t look as good to me on the screen as the other one. So that left me with just one. Hobson’s choice you say, but far from it! The final one was called WordPress Gallery Slideshow – not very glamorous but by the time I’d worked out how to get it running in the way I wanted it to and tweaked its settings, I thought it was amazing.

And so, Ladies and Gentlemen, I can now announce the proud addition of a new page for My Trike. It’s called My MYRO Project and it’s all about the work I’ve been doing since I got G-MYRO to change it back from being almost a wreck into a flyable little aircraft. The link to it is under the heading ‘Pages’ in the right hand menu. Take a look and see what you think 😉

October 4, 2009

At last!

The engine is now in place and MYRO is looking like a serious microlight once again. Except better this time 🙂

First of all though, as I mentioned in my earlier post today, I drilled the doors as I’d planned and then made up and fitted the little bungees that hook together behind your head and keep the doors closed. I made them slightly tighter than the old ones that they replaced because I assume they will stretch and ease a little with use. I must say, it’s great to be able to chuck away the strips of masking tape that I’ve been using to keep the doors closed!

Then I had a shift around and moved the engine from the back to the front of the garage where I removed the carburettors and fitted the engine mounting plates to the four studs on the bottom of the engine sump. Next I dug out all of the mounting bolts, nuts and washers that I had got off Mark at Galaxy with the engine and the time had arrived to lift it into place.

Luckily just at that moment my stepson turned up and before he knew it he’d been coopted into engine lifting duties. In fact with the drawing from the manual in view, it only took a few minutes to get it into place and lightly bolted on. Weeks ago I’d sorted all the nuts etc and wired similar items together eg all the washers of the same size, all the nuts and so on.

What I couldn’t fathom was why there were so many of a certain size plain washer especially as they didn’t seem to be shown in the drawing. It all became clear when I came to bolt up. On the left hand side, 80mm bolts are used while on the right hand side the drawing specifies 90mm. The drawing is crazy – both sides need 80mm and the washers are all needed to pack out the longer bolts so the nuts have thread to bite onto. If I’d realised that, I’d have got hold of two 80mm bolts and ditched the 90mm ones but as it was, I had to do the same as had been done previously and add a stack of washers as packing. Stupid or what 😕

You can see what I mean if you look closely at the next two pics which show the engine just after it had been dropped on.

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After that, as I’d always anticipated, progress was pretty quick as it was just (he says!) a matter of connecting everything up – generator and engine wiring, CHT and EGT sensors, the main earth, the starter live and battery earth lead and, of course, fitting the exhaust. I don’t know why, but I’ve always seen fitting the exhaust as being a kind of milestone, as will fitting the carbs be also, so I was delighted when I’d got the manifold all nicely tightened up with new silicone sealant and the silencer on with its joint nicely copper-slipped. Final job of the day was fitting the exhaust springs which went on surprisingly easily but still need wire-locking.

So to finish off, here’s how the engine looked at the end of the day, as it was just beginning to get dark.

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I’m very pleased to have got this far and I’ll tell you something else I’m pleased about too. After I’d dropped the engine on I checked to see if it would still be able to get under the garage door. And d’you know what, it does. And not only that, if I push MYRO right back until it just touches the rear wall and lift the door up while I close it, it then just clears the top of the engine.

Now that for me really is a result 😆

October 4, 2009

What’s next?

I fitted the new door tube and put the door back on yesterday. The wind was gale force while I was doing it and it wasn’t much fun at all. In fact the wind was so strong and blowing so many leaves into my garage, I put everything away and that’s all I managed to do.

I was very pleased to get the door back on and have MYRO back in one complete piece again, but I have to say though that my pleasure was somewhat tempered. Because the door has now been on and off several times and had this additional work done on it, it’s lost that ‘totally new’ look. In fact there are now several surface scratches on it where it’s been laid face down on my patio table even though it’s plastic. I tried to polish some out with rubbing compund and Brasso but it seemed to leave a bit of a bloom – lucky I chose an area that’s not that visible. Obviously it’ll pick up a lot more scratches when it’s in proper use so I suppose the only thing I can do is just get over it 😕

So in answer to the original question – today I’m going to fit the little bungees on the doors that hold them closed and then… wait for it… I’m going to start on getting the engine fitted. After all these little setbacks and hold-ups, about time too in my mind 🙂

October 2, 2009

What a relief!

I thought I’d better take the bull by the horns this afternoon and do something about the broken door tube as otherwise it would be a block to getting much done this week-end. So I removed the left hand door, got it onto my patio table and drilled out all of the new pop rivets that I only put in a week or so ago. First sigh of relief – they all came out cleanly without damaging the new plastic and released the damaged door tube.

Then I laid the tube out and tried to straighten it a bit where it had fractured but as expected, the bottom bit just fell off. No worries as the lower section is almost completely straight – all the bend is in the top third. Now came the tricky and very nerve-racking bit… using the old tube as a template and bending the new tube into shape.

Why was this so nerve-racking you may ask? Well, when you bend a length of copper tube over your knee, you usually insert a length of spring that stops the tube collapsing. If you do the job properly, with a bending machine, you use a former placed over the tube to do the same job. I had neither of these to help bend this length of aluminium tube – its diameter was too small – and as anyone who has worked with aluminium knows, even the more malleable grades like this one bend so far and then just snap when over-stressed, as I had already found with the door tube. I also had only my knee (and any other suitable body parts!) to bend the tube around and it was important to get a long sweeping curve of just the right shape to match the bend of the cabin tube.

So how’d I do? Rather well actually 😀 I managed to match the shape of the old tube more or less perfectly, even though I say it myself. And when I held the new tube up against the cabin tube, I could see where a little extra bend was needed in the lower section to match the curve of the cabin tube and prevent the door ‘catching’ when it was closed, as it was doing originally, before I tried to bend it in situ and damaged it.

So at the end of it all I was highly relieved to say the least. Then I nipped down to the local car accessory shop and bought some more gloss white spray paint and gave it a good coat, so it’ll be dry tomorrow and I’ll be able to redrill, pop rivet the plastic back on and refit the door.

And yes, I also checked – luckily P & M supplied a few more pop rivets than I originally needed. So I have enough to finish the job and that’s a relief too 😉

October 1, 2009

Possible re-think needed

I short while ago I did a posting about my friend’s property in Kent where there’s a chance I might be able to keep MYRO. I put up some pics and gave some dimensions of the ‘runways’ that would be available and my microlighting pal Tony said that he thought they’d be a bit short. I said probably not for an AX3 but bearing in mind Tony is current and I’m not, I think he may be right.

In the last couple of evenings I’ve knocked up a scenery for Microsoft Flight Simulator X (don’t laugh 🙂 ) based on my friend’s property and in which I’ve tried to place trees and bushes as far as possible in their correct places and of about the right heights. Just so you can see how close it is, here are a few comparison pics and I’m sure I won’t need to say which ones are real and which are not 😐

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I won’t bother showing the reciprocals and I hope you’ll agree that the scenery is not too far out. The aircraft in the sim, by the way, is a Quad City Challenger that I’ve given flight characteristics to that are very similar to those of an AX3. What I’ve found is that in the sim, it is possible to take off without too many problems. However, landing is much more tricky and speed control on the approach has to be VERY accurate. I haven’t been able to model the up-slope that would help you to slow-down once landed in an easterly direction but stopping does not seem to be a problem in the sim. But what I have found is that whereas the ‘runways’ look totally adequate at ground level, on landing approach they are much foreshortended and from the air they do look very short indeed!

This is something I’ll have to think about. My friend himself said that he thought the space might be a bit small and mentioned that he has another area of land nearby that could possibly be more suitable. I think I may need to find out more 😉