August 29, 2011

Ready for the pod

At last! I finished off painting the trailing link and left it hanging up in my garage before dashing off over to Ken’s place. It was still a little bit breezy but the sun was quite warm when it came out through the gaps in the clouds, so I really couldn’t miss the opportunity to do the painting on the side tube.

And it all went well so when I left, MYRO was at last ready to have its pod put back on. I also took the opportunity to give the top plastic a bit of a clean and remove all of the rubbish that has built up under and around MYRO, so this is where I now am with the repair.

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I should have the pod graphics by tomorrow and when I’ve put them on, the pod will be finished. This pod doesn’t have as many holes around its top to hold the panel and screen as MYRO’s original pod had and I want to make it more or less the same. I haven’t decided yet whether to temporarily fit the panel top before or after fitting the pod, so I can drill the extra holes. It’ll probably be best to do it with the pod fitted because then it will be held more rigidly than if it was just placed on the ground or my patio table. But in any case, before the pod goes on, I will need to do a lot of detail cleaning of tubes and nooks and crannies which are now filthy. I knew they were, but I especially noticed it today when I cleaned the top plastic which was thick with grime and came up sparkling again afterwards. Well, almost … 😉

August 27, 2011

Sometimes you wonder

Too cold, breezy and showery to do the little bit of painting but I may nip over to Ken’s later on to (temporarily) fit the rudder pedals and bring the trailing link back home for spraying. I thought I might as well see about cutting out the new screen but as soon as I got everything out to make a start, the sun disappeared and we had a torrential shower of rain. Luckily I saw it coming and managed to put everything away again in time.

So I thought I might as well revert to Plan B, which was to do the screen on my lounge floor. I’ve had the plastic since Tuesday and as it scratches easily, it’s best to leave it packaged up until you need it. As soon as I unpacked it I was astonished to find that whoever had packed it at the supplier’s end was obviously trying to pull a fast one. Sheets of polycarbonate come with protective plastic film on both sides which you leave on until you’ve finished working on it. When I received plastic from the same supplier last time the film was all all intact and in place but this time not only was most of it hanging off but the sheet had also been scuffed as a result. Here are the shots I took which I’ve already sent off to the supplier.

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Apart from ruining my plans for this week-end because I’d hoped to get the pod and screen fitted by the end of the Bank-Holiday, I’ve now got all the hassle involved with getting rid of this sheet and getting hold of a replacement. The damage to the sheet was so obvious that whoever packed it must have been fully aware of it. You have to wonder what motivates some people sometimes 😡

August 26, 2011

Just like last August

I’m waiting for a weather window so I can move on 🙁

Every day since I sprayed the pod and left it hanging outside, we’ve had nothing but rain and more rain. And it’s been very cool as well. Yesterday we had several absolutely torrential downpours and today, would you believe, we have a weather warning her in the South-East because of the risk of prolonged periods of heavy rain and possible local flooding. Not where I live because my house is on the top of a hill, but if it keeps raining the way it is while I’m typing this, home-owners on lower lying land will begin to sweat a bit, I’m sure.

I’m ready to fit the new pod, except I can’t because there are two fuselage tubes that I need to spray paint first, and that’s impossible all the while the weather stays as it is. I have no choice but to do the work in the open at Ken’s and all I need is one nice, warm sunny day like you expect in August and that would be it, but that won’t be today or possibly tomorrow, even. It’s very frustrating and I’m sitting here beginning to stew a bit 😕

One thing that has occurred to me though, is that if I put a clean sheet down on my lounge floor, I could use the time to cut the new screen out. From my experience last time, it won’t take that long to do and at least the time then won’t be totally wasted. Yup, I think I’ll do that …

August 24, 2011

Paint crazy

The new darker grey arrived from the paint company today. Hopeless again – still too light. If only I’d made them match the original colour sample I sent them. The trouble is that the colour references I have to work with are very small and in reality it’s impossible to see which grey is the closest match to MYRO’s panel as I’m now proving.

But not to be deterred, as I’m not going to try again (I’m already over £22 down on paint all for the sake of a couple of relatively tiny panel repairs) I thought I’d see what I could do to make my own match that I could then brush on. All I did was spray some black gloss into an aerosol lid followed by increasing amounts of the latest grey until I got a grey that I judged was about right. I started off by doing the filled holes in the panel top that won’t be seen actually and after deciding they looked OK, I then did the main panel repairs this evening. It’s too late now to do any pictures, but I’m absolutely delighted with the results 😀

All I’ve done is T-Cut them in and as my old granny might have said, a blind man would be pleased to see them. You’ll hardly be able to see the main repair on the pilot’s side anyway as it’s underneath the front, but in fact it’s come up very well. And the repairs on the panel feet are hardly noticeable at all in the light in my conservatory, so I just hope they look as good tomorrow in daylight.

So after being driven a bit crazy by this paint matching lark, it looks as though I may at last have come out on top. I left a couple of holes in the panel top which I thought lined up with their counterparts in the pod but now I’m not so sure. Tomorrow I’ll check and if either or both don’t, then I’ll fill them and paint them in too, effectively starting panel fitting from scratch. The panel top came from MYRO and the pod holes are a legacy from MYFI so in the long run, it’ll probably be the best way.

Just returned to add a couple of shots of the repaired screen.

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I’m satisfied with the results. They are not perfect by any means but it’s a compromise between time and finish in this situation – if you had time to fill, rub down, fill and rub down again, try a coat of paint, fine fill and rub down again and so on, you could get results that would be much better. But in any case, it’s a well-used panel now and there are quite a few other marks on it, so I don’t think that the most recent repairs stand out too much 😉

August 23, 2011

More small steps

I was hoping that I’d be able to get across to Ken’s later on yesterday and do a little bit of painting. The old screen had scratched the right hand riser tube and that needs to be done. Also, I scratched one of the main fuselage trailing links when I stripped the old pod off and I thought that I’d bring that back for painting at home rather than do it in the open at Ken’s. As it happened, though, the weather was too poor and I didn’t get over there.

What I did do, though, was order the plastic sheet for the new screen and also some different dark grey for the panel repairs. I established with the paint company that the RAL grey reference that I’d quoted for the colour I’d bought is actually a lot lighter than what I thought it was, so no wonder what I received was wrong. I just wish I’d asked them to stick with matching the MYRO-grey.JPG that I’d sent up to them in the beginning 😕

Today it’s rainy and miserable (typical August some might say…) and the pod is still hanging outside, soaking wet. However, earlier on the car roof bars arrived that I need to transport the wing and aileron tubes for Chris to inspect before I fit them, and a few minutes ago the screen plastic was also delivered. So I’ve now got more or less everything lined up. The only bits left to buy now that I can think of are the propeller bolts, which I need to order from GS Aviation, but they can wait for now until I’m almost ready to fit the prop.

So another few small steps nearer to getting there 🙂

August 21, 2011

Now I really am seeing red!

Because I finished spraying MYRO’s new pod today 😀

I checked the weather forecast last night and light winds were forecast for this morning, so I was up early and raring to go. Got the pod out, wiped it down and then wiped it again with a cloth with some turps on. Then wiped it yet again with a tack rag and I was ready to go.

The red looked delicious in the can – almost good enough to eat – and I mixed up two jars so I didn’t have to stop for too long when the gun ran out. I found it amazingly easy to spray and it went on much easier than I thought it would do. Within an hour or so and another four or five jars later I was finished – and it took me the same again, maybe more, just cleaning everything up because it’s amazing how a colour like bright red travels everywhere 😕

It was only after I’d given it a quick inspection and pulled all the masking off that I noticed that since I’d finished, a few small bubbles had appeared. By that time it was getting on for lunch time and I thought, what the heck, worry about them when I come back and nip down to the flying club and grab something to eat. So that’s what I did. I’ve been a bit cut off at home doing the work on MYRO so it was great seeing a few of the guys again. And it was worth leaving the little bubbles until after I’d got back, because if I’d tried to do anything with them before, I know I’d have ended up messing the pod up and spraying it again. As it was, by the time I got back, the ‘bubbles’ were hard and I was able to lightly rub them with ultra fine wet-and-dry paper and T-Cut them in. In the end, I could hardly see them and the job ended up much better than I’d dared hope before I started. Here are a couple of pics of the finished pod.

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I’ve decided that rather than put it back in the garage where it might get scratched, I’ll leave it where it is for a day or so for the paint to harden off. It will eventually be standing outside and I can’t see what harm it can come to. I think the ‘new’ pod now looks much better than MYRO’s old one did after I’d repaired it because the last time I’d avoided respraying it. This time, it’s the respray that ‘makes’ it and looking at it now, it’s hard to believe that MYRO’s lovely shiny new red pod started out as MYFI’s tatty old blue one. I’m very satisfied with it 😉

August 20, 2011

How things can change…

… from one day to the next. I obviously tempted fate a little bit too much by my comments yesterday about things going like clockwork because today it has been completely the opposite. Mind you, things started well… it’s just that they then went downhill fast.

The weather forecast was good for today so I was up with the lark to get going. I started by rubbing the pod down to flat the primer coat that I put on yesterday and I was really pleased with how well it came up. There were a couple of little bobbly bits that I’d sprayed over and when I rubbed over those, I went through to the blue of course. My fault, I should have got rid of all of the bits like that before I did the priming. I tried brushing a bit of primer on after I’d flattened them but the trouble with that is because what you put on by hand is thicker than what you spayed, when you rub it down you then go through in the area surrounding the bit you hand painted. No harm done, just a nuisance, so I decided to bite the bullet and get the spray gun going, but before I did it began to lightly spit with rain. I just couldn’t believe it – here we are, August, no rain forecast, not much wind and I can’t spray!

I then thought I’d turn my attention to the panel so I could at least get something done today. Starting with the top in which I’d previously filled the bolt holes, I thought I’d see how good a match the grey I’d had mixed was before I used it on the repair I did. SHOCK HORROR!!!!!!! What came out wasn’t dark grey at all – it was more like grey primer! So I was stymied again! I’ve emailed the paint company but nothing can happen now until Monday, of course.

As I type this it’s mid-afternoon and the rain has started to fall quite heavily and I’m now beginning to wonder just how much progress I’m going to be able to make this week-end, after all 😕

Just came back to say that shortly after I typed the above, the rain stopped and almost in an instant, the sky cleared and we had scorching sun for a short while. I took the chance to get everything back out of my garage and get the spray gun going. I managed to spray the patches in that I needed to and also do a little bit more stopping of one or two more small blemishes that I had found. By the end of it all, the pod was beautifully smooth and ready for its finishing coat. Incidentally, I don’t know what I did differently, but this time the patches I sprayed in came out lovely and smooth with hardly any overspray and I don’t know whether it was due to the mix of the paint, the gun setting (which I changed very slightly) or my technique. I just hope that the same happens with the red finishing coat when I eventually do it!

August 19, 2011

Singin’ the blues (not)

Because at last the new pod is no longer blue! It’s a delicate shade of grey. The weather forecast was for a warmer day than yesterday but with a little bit of wind, but I couldn’t let that worry me. I had to get the pod primed!

What can I say? Everything went like clockwork for a change. My idea was to mount the pod nose upwards (of course) on our fold-up clothes line and it worked like a charm. The actual spraying I found a complete doddle – didn’t get even one run or anything like it. The only problem is that working outside, there’s an awful lot of tack flying around in the air and even though I gave the pod a good wipe before starting, the paint has a lot of light ‘fluff’ on it. That shouldn’t be a problem with this primer coat because I’ve made it nice and thick and I’m going to give it a careful rub down all over, to flatten it. But it will matter when I do the finishing coat, so I may have to have a rethink of how, and where, I’ll spray that.

Here are a couple of shots taken shortly after I finished.

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I was even surprised at how quick and easy it was to clean the gun up afterwards. My aerosol can of grey for the panel also arrived today as well as the two new bolts for the rudder panel base plate, so now I’m ready to make some really great strides forward. Just hope that the weather keeps holding and I might still make my August target to get MYRO back together again.

August 18, 2011

Absolutely typical

I worked yesterday evening and cleared my (business) decks so I could spend the whole of today between phone calls on MYRO work. But as usual the weather has had the last laugh. It’s turned out to be a dull, cold, windy day, a bit like last August when I was waiting two weeks for a weather window for MYRO’s check flight, so I’ve managed to do almost nothing. If today had been like yesterday, as I’d hoped it would be, my plan was to get the pod primed up and ready for top coat. As it is, all I’ve been able to do is spray the cabin floor cross tube in gloss white finish.

Compared to when I was working on MYRO last time, my garage has managed to become full up with stuff again, a lot of it off MYRO I should add, so there’s no chance of working in there. I have to have a warm, fairly calm day so I can mount the pod and spray it outside. I just hope I don’t have too long to wait but on today’s showing I’m not too optimistic. Saturday is forecast to be dry and warm with low winds but with occasional strong gusts and I just hope that they are wrong about the gusts. If I’m lucky, it might even be possible to get the priming done tomorrow evening which is also forecast to be warmer and less windy once the weather we currently have clears away, so yet again I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping 😐

August 16, 2011

Engine – great news!

I just phoned Mark at Galaxy Microlights about my engine. If you have a propeller strike, you must have the engine shock load tested in case it has suffered internal damage. For example, a few teeth might have been stripped in the gearbox, the woodruff key attaching the heavy flywheel to the crankshaft may have been bent or even sheared off and worst of all, the crankshaft itself might have been damaged. The one bright hope for me was that although I lost my lovely Arplast prop in the accident, its lightweight construction means that in theory, the force required to shear off its blades is less than the force required to do damage to the engine. I’d hoped that this was the case because after the accident, the engine was still running quite sweetly, albeit a bit out of balance because the prop blades had not all sheared off at exactly equal lengths.

Well, the great news this morning is that my highest hopes have been realised and the shock load tests that were carried out have come up with ‘no fault found’. I am really pleased about this because my Rotax 503 has been a great little engine and through all the hours flown it has never missed a beat. It was one of the reasons why I was so confident about doing my low level flights over the sea and I’m very pleased that once refitted, it will continue giving great service, just as before.

Anyway, I’m thinking I might nip across to Ken’s and fit my nose strut now I’ve drilled it out and pick up some more cable ties while I’m out. Then when I get back I can rub down the pod re-repair that I did yesterday so it’s back ready for spraying and also cut down the nose wheel spacers so the nose wheel will fit into the forks. And hopefully I’ll also be able to find time to fill the existing holes in my rudder pedal base plate so I can drill new ones at the new, correct spacing. If I can get all that done, it’ll end up being another very good day I reckon 😉

OK, it’s now just gone 8.30pm and I thought I’d come back and add an update to the above which I posted this morning. I can report that I got all of those things done, so the day worked out well. It only took a few moments to rub down the pod repair so I got that out of the way first. Then not only did I get the nose wheel spacers cut down but I also fitted the nose strut and the complete nose wheel forks assembly to MYRO this afternoon. When I eventually fit the pod, the nose wheel and forks will have to come off again, but it’s good to see MYRO back with 3 wheels again.

I also completed the work on the rudder pedal base plate – it was a nice warm day and the fibreglass filler and paint both cured very quickly, so I was able to do everything I needed to. When I positioned it on the fuselage base tubes, the new holes lined up beautifully as well. I couldn’t re-fit the rudder pedal assembly because I’d forgotten that there’s a metal plate that goes under the rudder pedal mountings that the bolts also pass through so its holes will also have to be elongated a bit. But the bolts are bent anyway, and I’d forgotten to order replacements so I couldn’t have fitted the unit anyway.

By the way – the man from Autopaint also phoned this afternoon. The grey JPG that I’d uploaded I’d called MYRO Grey and he asked what a MYRO was. Well, I told him and he said that it’s difficult to closely match an uploaded colour, although they’d do it if necessary, but did I have a colour reference? The pod colour I ordered was RAL3020, Traffic Red. I said that I’d check, and when I did, I found RAL7042, Traffic Grey that I think is so close to the panel colour (and also the JPG I created) that that’s what I’ve now ordered.

And yes, I also remembered to pick up another large pack of cable ties, so things are now getting really close to the point where I’ll soon need to re-fit the pod. So now I need a bit of warm, calm weather for me to get the spraying done and then things really will be looking very good indeed 🙂

August 15, 2011

Another useful day

I got the stuff out of my garage as soon as I could this morning and was pleased to find that all of the repairs I did yesterday had worked a treat. The main ones, of course, were on the panel. I found that the foot piece that had snapped off in the accident and that I replaced yesterday had moved a fraction after I’d put the panel back in the garage for the night. I thought at the time that the resin was hard but evidently it was still soft enough to move a bit. Anyway, no harm done because I was able to add a bit of filler to the front which tidied it all up and also made the repair thicker and even stronger.

I was delighted to find that when I removed the clamp that had been holding the main split together while the resin cured, absolutely nothing moved, so that meant that the panel front was now back in its proper shape. During the day I added some more fibreglass cloth to increase the thickness even further and with a little bit of judicious filling on the front, that repair also turned out very well. While I was doing the little bits of extra filling, I also filled up from the front the holes in the panel top that I filled from the back yesterday, and they also came out as well as they possibly could have. Incidentally, at times when I was working in the direct sunshine, the fibreglass filler I was using flashed off in minutes, so I had to make sure that I was as organised as possible and didn’t make up any more than I could use before it began to harden. So that was three out of three so far 😉

Next was the repair of the split in the back of the pod. I have to confess that it looked a bit ‘chunky’ compared to my other pod repairs because of the amount of cloth I’d used, but no chance at all that it will go again, I think! But after I’d rubbed it down a bit and painted it, it didn’t look too bad, and it’ll be under the seat where it will never be seen anyway. Four out of four and going strong!

Finally, I thought that I might as well start on the cabin floor cross tube while the weather was so fine. Well, to cut a long story short, I got the tube filled (the deep scratches caused by soles of boots), rubbed down and nicely primed with no runs before I finished for the day. So another successful job, making it a full house 😀

Here are a couple of pics showing the finished pod repair and the panel repairs with just primer on.

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I’ve decided that because of the extent of the repairs, unlike last time when I just touched bits in by hand, this time I’ll have to spray paint them. The problem, of course, will be finding a reasonable colour match. The way I’ve tried to get round it is to take a photograph of the panel and then create a JPG image that’s as close to the colour as I can get it, by my judgement anyway. I’ve then uploaded the image to Autopaint at St Helens from where I bought my red for spraying the pod and primer. As well as supplying paint in cans for spraying, they can also mix any colour for you and put it in an aerosol. How handy is that! I should receive it in a day or so and one thing’s for sure. It must be much better than the match I knocked up last time I painted the bits on the panel – mustn’t it? 😯

August 14, 2011

All round good day

It’s not often that you get a day when everything more or less seems to go right so when you do, you need to make the most of it. I started off with the new nose strut. I decided that it wouldn’t be a good idea to drill out the top bolt hole ‘in-situ’, because for a start I’d need to take the generator over to Ken’s, so I thought I’d go over there first thing and bring it back home. Why I didn’t think about it yesterday I don’t know because it didn’t take that long to get it home and drill it out – job done!

The other jobs I wanted to tackle today all involved resin repairs because it was a nice warm day without too much wind. The main ones were the pod repair (the split I caused yesterday when I checked the positions of the bolt holes) and, of course, the panel repair. I thought for once I’d try some of the ‘corrosive’ paint stripper on the pod to remove my new paint so I could do the repair. It was a bit of an eye-opener. Nitromors paint stripper is described as ‘not suitable’ for fibreglass. In fact I found it worked very quickly, much quicker than the ‘eco friendly’ stuff I originally used, and by washing it off as soon as it had done its job, it caused no harm to the pod whatsoever.

Next I prepared the panel repair including the repair to the foot that had been snapped off when MYRO’s nose bent upwards with the impact and lastly, having checked the holes around the panel top and finding that practically none of them lined up with the holes in the new pod, I also prepared those for filling. The first batch of epoxy resin I made up I used to do the pod and the main panel repairs. I then started off on the panel top holes and I noticed that the resin was by then going off so quickly in the heat of the sun that it was smoking! That meant I had to throw a lot away together with the brush I was using because that also went hard. The next batch went off a bit slower and with it I was able to add a bit more strengthening to the main panel repair, do the repair on the panel feet and also fill all the holes in the panel top. So I was very pleased with the results.

Then I turned to the cabin floor cross strut. The first thing I found was that the brackets, as well as being slightly misshapen as a result of the accident, had also become stretched around the side tubes. I think this might explain why the bolt holes had moved outwards towards the side tubes making the brackets appear too short, so I reshaped them both and I hope that when I come to re-use them that I will get enough tension in the cabin cross tube as I mentioned in my previous posting without having to spring the outer tubes inwards excessively.

That just left the cross tube itself. I had tidied it up when I did MYRO the last time but it was already showing some signs of wear, and not surprisingly as you use it to put your foot on when you enter the cabin. I had a bit of time left at the end of the afternoon so I used it to start on a repaint of the tube. And that was it. I’ve left all the resin repairs alone to give them a chance to cure overnight and go hard and I’m optimistic that after today I’ve broken the back of them. The main ones are on the panel, of course, and I’m pleased with how they have turned out so far today. I’ve also got to finish off the pod repair but as it’s on the back edge and will be under the seat anyway, I’m sure that I won’t have any problems there. So like I said in the title, today was a pretty good day all round and although there’s not much to show in terms of final results, everything I managed to do was another step forward in getting MYRO back in the air 🙂

August 13, 2011

Now I really can press on

After finding that the holes on my rudder pedal base plate (that came out of MYRO) don’t line up with the holes in the fuselage base tubes (that came out of MYFI, I think), I was a bit worried that the holes in the pod floor wouldn’t line up either. So it was essential, already having painted the interior, that I checked before going any further with my pod exterior respray. So that was the main job today.

I’m grateful that I’ve got somewhere to keep and work on MYRO after the accident but there’s no doubt that having MYRO some way away does slow things down a lot and even small tasks like this can take so much longer than when I had MYRO in my garage like last time. Anyway, after padding out the back of my car I put the pod inside for the trip to Ken’s. I’m so glad that I bought this Little Astra Estate as it’s a god-send when it comes to transporting stuff like this around. I’d never have been able to do this kind of thing with my old Honda.

Suffice to say that I had to do a little bit of jiggery-pokery with bungee cords to support the pod and in the process split one of my small repairs on the pod back edge, but when I got it into place I was relieved to find that the holes all line up perfectly. And with the pod in place, although only temporarily, MYRO began to look like an AX3 again 🙂

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The rudder pedal base plate is shown back-to-front in the last picture above. That was because I had it that way round when I was checking the line-up of the holes drilled in it with those in the fuselage base tubes. I also found another couple of strange, and slightly annoying things. Although the holes in the pod are drilled at the exact distance to match those in the horizontal cross-tube, you can see that the ends of the tube are some way away from the fuselage base tubes. This means that the brackets that join them all together are too short. It could mean that in MYFI that the pod came from, the cross-tube was set slightly further back or it could mean that the fuselage base tubes need to be sprung inwards so there’s always an element of tension in the cross-tube. I prefer the latter idea because it would mean that there would be a greater degree of stiffness in the floor structure, so when I come to fit the pod later, I’ll see if I can spring the fuselage base tubes inwards enough to use the existing brackets. I would have to make sure that the top holes where the rudder pedal base plate fits don’t move, though, as they line up perfectly with the holes in the pod.

The other thing I found when I came to fit the nose wheel within the forks for the first time is that the new wheel’s hub is obviously wider than MYRO’s was because the spacers that fit on the spindle each side of the wheel to centralise it between the fork legs wouldn’t both go in. How strange (and inconvenient) that ostensibly identical wheels can be so different. It means that I’ll have to measure the width of the hub and cut the spacers down so they fit snugly and hold the wheel central. Just another mild inconvenience I suppose, but at least I’ve now got all the information I need so I can really start pushing on and making some progress 😉

August 13, 2011

Pics from last time

Because I forgot my camera last week-end, I thought I’d take a couple of shots as a record because I do like to look back from time to time. And while I’m actually doing the work, I like to see how much progress was made day by day. Psychologically it works as a form of motivation or self-encouragement, helping you to keep pushing on while you’re in the middle of it all, because you can see things moving on each time. Anyway, here they are.

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As you can see, the basic airframe structure is back in place and it’s still a wonder to me how little was damaged in the accident, actually. The ‘cost’ of the repair is not so much in the parts as the time in doing the work, not forgetting that Mark at Galaxy still has my engine and he’ll have to be paid for shock load testing it soon, too.

August 7, 2011

Awful day…

… but got lots done. Everything that I wanted to actually. There are no pictures as I forgot to take my camera – there’s so much to remember, working on MYRO at Ken’s instead of in my garage – and it was just as well because most of the time I was rolling around on the ground and my hands were filthy.

I started by snipping all the cable ties holding the wiring loom going from the main tube into the cabin and disconnecting the wires that I needed to, to get the panel out. I’ve decided that it’s crazy to even imagine that I can repair it properly in the open so I’ve brought it home to do a proper job indoors where it’s clean and warm. As I was doing it, naturally the heavens opened, so I had to hurriedly cover MYRO up again, put all my tools back in my car and wait the shower out. Luckily it only lasted 15 minutes or so and then I was able to get on with stripping the damaged parts. I started with the doors because I needed to remove the screen today now that the panel is out. It was very breezy after the shower had passed through and there were some huge gusts later in the afternoon that could have done some damage, especially to the doors, but luckily I’d put them to one side in a safe place.

Then came the screen and after that I could turn to the structural stuff. After placing a prop under the front of the main tube, I took away the support that I’d placed under what remained of MYRO’s front end. I needed to remove what was left of the cabin floor tubes after I’d cut their front ends away and to do that I had to rip off the rear part of the pod which was still attached, take out the seat bases, remove the trailing link brackets on each side and one other bracket on each side that supports the fronts of the seat bases and holds the throttle bar mountings. It doesn’t sound like much but it was quite a lot of work.

Having done that and removed the ends of the cabin floor tubes I was then able to start fitting the new ones. Just a bolt in the rear of each one and with the nose strut hanging in place, I was then able to attach the fronts also. This meant that the basic cabin structure was back in place. I found two things while I was doing it. The new nose strut has a smaller bolt hole at the top than the old one did so I’ll need to carefully drill it out, and the bolt that P & M had supplied for it was hopelessly wrong anyway – much too long. Incidentally, I also found that the ones they’d supplied that go through the cabin floor tubes and hold the pod up were hopelessly wrong too – much shorter than what I’d asked for, so a rather poor show from P & M on this occasion.

In order to attach the cabin floor tubes to the bottom of the nose strut, I also had to fit the bracket that takes the spindle for the forks and nose wheel assembly. With this on, I was then also able to temporarily fit the forks – but not the front wheel too, unfortunately, as this was another thing I’d forgotten. So things were beginning to look good. All I then had to do was refit the throttle tube mounting brackets, the throttle tube itself and the two seat bases, leaving the trailing links detached as these have to be removed anyway to fit the pod. But that’s when it all began to go pear shaped.

I remembered the problems I’d had refitting the seat bases the last time and although one side went back on easily enough, I just couldn’t get the holes to all line up in one of the brackets on the other side so the bolt would go right through. It was highly frustrating as it became the longest single job I did today, and it wasn’t even part of the repair work proper either. In the end it took me I would estimate at least two hours to do it, and along the way I ended up having to completely detach the bottoms of both seat back frames and loosen the throttle bar mounting bracket on that side. What was really annoying was that visually all the holes appeared to be in line but with metal-to-metal, you only need things to be a fraction of a millimetre out for the bolt to stick and not emerge.

However, I succeeded in the end so when I’d finished, MYRO’s front end was more or less back in place. In fact it’s at the same point I was at the last time, when I had the pod removed, so I’m now in known territory. I did have a small cause for concern along the way. I dropped my rudder pedal assembly into place in the hope that I’d be able to leave it on, but I found that the holes in my base pad, that I recently repaired, didn’t line up with the holes in the cabin floor tubes. I would have thought that the floor tubes would have been jig-drilled so the holes are always in the same position so maybe the rudder assembly was drilled ‘by eye’ when the AX3’s were originally assembled and each one is therefore slightly different. I can easily fill my one’s holes and re-drill them but I only hope that the pod holes will line up properly. I think maybe I ought to take the pod down and try it before I do the respraying as I’d hate to find that the holes don’t match and I have to drill new ones in the freshly painted pod!

So although I didn’t enjoy today at all, really, I managed to get a good bit done. I also rolled the screen up and bunged it in the back of my car so I’ll have that ready to use as a pattern for a new replacement when the time comes. So lots of progress and I am very pleased about that, at least, even if I had to go down a rather long and painful road to get there. But get there in the end I surely did 😉

August 6, 2011

Tooled up ready for business

No, I’m not off to wreak mayhem and start a brawl with a rival gang (for those who like to plumb the depths of East London slang). In fact I popped down to Toolstation this morning and bought myself a spray gun to use with my new compressor, so now I’m all prepared to get going on spraying the pod. I actually went into Screwfix who had a spray gun I fancied in their catalogue but as before when I went to buy a heat gun, they didn’t have it in stock. So on two recent occasions Toolstation have got my business instead, for both the heat gun and the spray gun, and Screwfix have missed out.

And both times I’ve ended up buying modestly priced items from Silverline and both times I’ve turned out very surprised by just how good they are, let alone for what they have cost! For example, the spray gun cost only £17.72 including VAT and having tried it out, it seems to do everything I need it to. The Screwfix one I wanted was a bit more expensive but I’m very happy with the one I ended up buying, for less money. After all, I’m not exactly a professional sprayer and the results I’ll get from a £20 gun will probably be no worse than if I paid £100 for one 😕

Here’s a shot of it.

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As you can see, it’s what is termed a gravity-fed model which has its paint pot mounted above the body of the gun. I mentioned previously that I already had a spray gun in my garage but that’s the old suction type with the pot below the body of the gun. I’ve found out that the gravity fed guns are much better for what I want to do. They are referred to as HVLP guns – high volume, low pressure – and as you might expect, they work at lower pressures than the suction type, some (but not mine) at very low pressures indeed, actually. And because of this, you get much less ‘bounce back’ from the item you’re spraying resulting in less paint mist floating in the air and more staying on the item. The difference is of the order of 2 times as I recall (2/3 of the sprayed paint from the HVLP gun ends up on the sprayed item compared to only 1/3 for a conventional gun), so the saving in paint can be quite considerable on a big job!

My new gun matches the output of my compressor very nicely and when I first looked, I was concerned that the connector it came with didn’t match the air line on my compressor. It was only when I switched over the connector from the tyre inflator that came with my compressor and went to pop the spray gun’s original connector back in its box that I realised that another, correct connector was in there already and had come with the gun! So I was doubly pleased. So the next time I use it will be ‘in anger’ (but not literally I hope) when I come to spray the pod. I’m looking forward to it 😉

Just came back to add a quick PS. Looks like the more expensive Screwfix spray gun is (wait for it….) also the Silverline, or is the same as, anyway. So I saved myself a few pounds there. Makes a nice change 😀 Mind you, that’s as far as my luck goes today. Today has been duller and cooler than recently with a little more wind, so not the best day for me to either start spraying the pod or attempt the panel repair which is something I have to do before I can start the repair work proper on MYRO. So I thought in that case, best to spend the time rubbing the outside of the pod down ready for spraying (the interior is finished, of course) and then get it masked up so when there is a suitable weather window, I can get onto the spraying straight away. Well, I got the rubbing down done OK and – yes, you’ve guessed – it’s now raining.

Thinking of last August when I lost over a fortnight through the weather waiting to ferry MYRO across for its check flight, I just hope that this won’t be deja-vu all over again, Rodney 🙁

August 3, 2011

All good news

You have to make the most of it while it lasts 😀

Ken and I had a super flight in the X’air yesterday. We crossed over the Thames and headed north-east up into Essex, up to Maldon and the Blackwater. It was more or less the next flight I’d planned for MYRO but the accident put the kybosh on that, of course. It was just excellent! Here is the route I’d planned.

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The whole flight lasted for 1 hr 20 mins and except for the take off and landing which I did, Ken flew the whole lot. Apart from quite a bit of haze, which made it not worth my while taking any pictures, conditions were just right for him to get some stick time in – low wind, no gusts and not too many bumpy bits! Even so, I think he was quite surprised how tired he felt at the end of it and this is one of the things I found when I restarted my training after my long break away. You think that you could easily cope with a couple of hours every day, but it takes more out of you than you think 😯

I’d wanted to try out my satnav positioned over in front of me on the pilot’s side but as usual, you invariably forget something and that was it. Without it, of course, we had to do the whole flight visually and as Ken was flying, I had that job. I enjoyed it very much, actually, as even though I’d not flown over the area for many years, the features I’d chosen for our turning points were unmissable, even with the bit of haze we had. And fortunately I’d also fully planned the whole flight beforehand, so we had the headings and times for each leg already worked out.

Now onto today. More good news – my new compressor arrived today and thanks again to the Ebay seller for shipping it off promptly. A bit of oil had sloshed out in transit but I’ve already checked it over and run it. Here’s what it looks like.

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It’s made by Wolf Power Tools so it should be of reasonable quality. It’s ‘new’ and unused and I understand that this model was sold as a ‘special’ in Lidl some two or three years ago, but I don’t know for sure. It doesn’t have the whole kit that it was originally sold with and just came with an air hose and a tyre inflater kit, which is fine by me as I have no need to do any airbrushing and already have a spray gun. I can’t wait to give it a go.

So things are moving forward quite quickly now. Chris approved my fuselage tubes and forks for use yesterday so I can now go ahead and fit them this week-end when I’ve sorted out the panel repair. That’s if I get the parts I ordered over the phone today from P & M. Unfortunately they phoned back with the total cost figure while I was on the phone, so I didn’t get the message until it was too late for them to get them out today. But hopefully they’ll still arrive in time for the week-end. And as soon as I’ve got my paint which I also ordered today I can get going on respraying the pod. That will definitely arrive by Friday so I hope that the good weather we’re currently enjoying holds up because then even if I don’t have the stuff from P & M, I’ll be able to do my panel repair and also make a good start on the pod. That will leave just the screen and wing and the engine to pick up from Mark, so with a fair wind I will hit my target of having MYRO flyable again in August. Here’s keeping my fingers crossed 😉

August 1, 2011

Every little helps

As forecast, it’s been a lovely warm day today. It didn’t look as though it was going to be because it started out rather dull, but when the cloud burnt off it became a bit of a minor scorcher. I had an important email to write this morning so when I’d done that and had some lunch, I thought I’d do the last remaining little job leaving the pod repaint as the next task. I had noticed that although the rudder pedals themselves were undamaged in the accident, the base plate on which they and the heel brake lever are mounted had suffered a little split on the pilot’s side. It wasn’t too serious and hadn’t even gone right through, but I decided that as the weather was so good, I might as well take the chance to repair it.

It’s a joy doing this sort of work in conditions like these. To start off with, I gouged the split out to make it a bit wider and deeper than it actually was and filled it with epoxy resin, which cured in double quick time. Then I skimmed a little fibreglass resin over the surface which also went off like lightning! Then some primer followed by some top coat and the job was done, in no time at all really 🙂

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So all I need to do now is give it a rub over with T-Cut tomorrow when it’s had a chance to harden and that will be that. Not bad, I’m pleased with the way it’s come up and it will make the repair look little different to the way MYRO was before the accident. I made a list earlier today of the bolts etc that I need to order from P & M to replace the ones that were damaged and I’ll phone the order through tomorrow. I’ll then be nicely placed to move forward this week-end and who knows, I might even have the airframe repairs completed at the end of it with just the pod and screen to finish and fit.

And the cherry on the cake is that Ken goes on holiday for a few weeks shortly and wants to fly the X’air tomorrow as the weather forecast is so good. I suppose I’ll just have to make time for it 😉