September 29, 2011

Twin tank problem cracked!

Last time I found that the main problem causing the slow transfer between the tanks was the collapse of the plastic outlet on the main tank when the fastener connecting the fuel tubing to it was tightened. I thought I might have solved it by moving the connector closer in towards the tank body where collapse would be less likely but I found when I added more fuel today that the transfer rate was better but still not good enough. When I removed the tubing I found that this was due to ‘memory’ in the plastic and even though the section of the outlet was beyond the fastener, it was still collapsing but not by quite as much.

I then decided it was time to move to ‘Plan B’ and went off to buy some small-bore copper tubing to insert into the tank outlet and work in the same way as a stent does for heart patients. I got two diameters and was delighted when I got back to find that the larger of the two did the job. The result was that when I added fuel, the transfer from the main to the second tank was not instantaneous, but was hugely improved to the extent that it will be very workable. Also, when I drained the tanks afterwards (remember that MYRO will have to be re-weighed for permitting and the tanks should therefore be empty for that), both tanks drained at the same rate. Here’s how the set-up looked at the end of the job – I am very pleased with it, I must say.

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This is a real result because it means that when MYRO takes to the air next time, it will have a duration with full tanks of over 3 1/2 hours! Full tanks will only be possible when flying solo (legally you must trade fuel for weight to remain within the maximum permitted total) but I can hardly wait 😀

September 27, 2011

Two tanks now

It was ‘end of month’ quiet today so I decided to take the afternoon off as ‘personal time’ and do a bit more on MYRO. The reason is that I would like to get the wings back on by the week-end at latest as both Ken and Peter will be there to give me a hand whereas after that, only Peter will be available and then only at certain more limited times. So I scooted round to get what I needed – I got some large bore fuel tubing on Sunday but I was worried that it wouldn’t be quite enough (and I was right too) plus although I bought a ‘T’ piece yesterday, I also needed some more hose clips. Then I got myself over to Ken’s and started work.

First I had to drain what little fuel was left in the tank and while that was happening, I gave MYRO’s rear fuselage framework a good clean. I also did the seat backs too and afterwards it looked a great improvement. Then I got to work installing the second tank. It was so much easier working from the rear and at the end of it, the job looked much better and neater than before. I also found out why the transfer rate between the tanks was so slow. It was because the stub to which the tubing is attached on the main tank is an extension of the tank itself and is, of course, made of plastic. When the hose clip had been tightened, it had collapsed in on itself reducing its bore to a fraction of what it was supposed to be, so the problem had nothing at all to do with the connecting tubing. This time when I connected the tanks I moved the clip up tight against the tank body where, in theory, the outlet can’t collapse. I won’t know whether the current arrangement works any better until I add some fuel so I’ll need to do that before I re-fit the rear fuselage cover.

Even so, I’m toying with the idea anyway of doing a similar thing to what I did previously when the tube collapsed on the second tank outlet which is to insert a short length of copper tube where the collapse happens. It will slightly reduce the bore of the tube at that point but the amount of reduction may be less than if the outlet itself is allowed to collapse, even slightly. The only way I will be able to find out will be to add some fuel and see how quickly it transfers and then I’ll be able to make a decision. What is heartening, though, is that at least it looks as though the flow problem is solvable

So it was a good afternoon’s work. If I can get the rear cover back on tomorrow, the wings can then be re-fitted immediately after. I seem to have lost one of the large clevis pins that attach the wing roots to the fuselage but rather than order one from P & M straight away, I’ll phone and see if Medway Microlights has one. If they do, it’ll save me time and I’ll know that I have it in my hand and it’s not in the post somewhere. So that’s my first little job tomorrow, and here’s hoping that when I check the tank flow (also tomorrow maybe?) it is fast enough to make the current set-up permanent. Pics next time which will (hopefully) show both the tank arrangement and the rear fuselage cover going back on. And the wings? Not next time, but probably the time after I would think 😉

September 25, 2011

Useful stuff today

I got several fiddly things done today so when I get over to Ken’s next time I should be able to make some good progress. The main thing was that I did the stitching on the cover and it turned out pretty well. It means that I can now get rid of two rather unsightly plastic patches – two, because although the stitching had only gone on one side, I put a patch on the other side too to match them up 🙂

Then I turned my attention to the second tank which I want to fit while the fuselage cover is off because it makes access so easy. The first thing was to sort out some large bore connecting tube but by the time I’d finished the work on the cover, our local car spares shop had closed. After trying Halfords without luck, I remembered one that was ‘open 7 days a week’ when I was much younger and used to mess about with cars. I drove there and sure enough, it was open and I was able to buy what I’m hoping will be the perfect plastic tube for the job. When I attached it to the second tank it was ‘just right’ which is always a good sign. It occurred to me that I should also have bought a ‘T’ piece of the same diameter while I was at it because if I can get that to fit nicely to the main tank’s outlet, then I’ll have a job that’s probably as good as it could possibly be without doing work to modify the tanks. Anyway, I’ll have to see about that tomorrow.

I then turned my attention back to the fuselage cover to finish off the afternoon. I’ve always had to put plastic patches on the outside under the fuel inlet where people in the past have allowed the fuel to overflow and it has damaged the Mylar surface. With the cover off and clean(ish!) I was able to replace some nasty black tape on the inside that someone in the past had applied as backing and with that done, I was able to re-do the lower patch on the outside. I bought some extra red exterior vinyl from the people who did my pod graphics and I’m hoping that this will stay on and last longer than the more light-weight stuff I’ve used up to now. Only time will tell though… 😐

So that was that. I’m now ready to fit the second tank (more or less) and re-fit the fuselage cover. The next stage after that will be re-fitting the wings and that really will be a day to celebrate when it happens, hopefully one evening this coming week 😉

September 24, 2011

All targets achieved today

I had to scoot around before I left for Ken’s this morning trying to remember everything I needed to take with me. My aims for today were to get MYRO’s left wing full assembled ready for fitting back on again and remove the rear fuselage cover so I can do the little bit of stitching that’s needed on it. In the event, I managed to get everything done but it was a long, tiring day and I seemed to do everything twice because of the little cock-ups and setbacks that kept happening. It took me the best part of four hours to get the wing assembled and its cover on which I think was even worse than the first time I did it down at Linton. Admittedly that time I hadn’t completely disassembled the wing whereas this time I had to do the whole thing from scratch. But I did it and it ended up looking just as it did before the accident which was the most I could hope for really. I’ll save any pic-taking until both wings go back on again 😉

It was quite late in the afternoon when I’d finished and I debated with myself whether I ought to tackle the rear fuselage cover or leave it until tomorrow. In the event I decided to crack on and here are some pics of MYRO when I’d finished taking the cover off.

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In the pics you can see just a little of how filthy it was up in the the back of MYRO. Before it got dark I spread the cover out at home and gave it a scrub with warm detergent using a brush and it was incredible how much muck came off. Hopefully I’ll now be able to do the stitching tomorrow before I return to Ken’s. The weather forecast is for a pretty calm next couple of days and I hope its right because I’ve had to leave MYRO’s wings and ailerons leaning up against a wall outside. If I get the stitching done early enough, I might be able to get the second tank fitted tomorrow and the rear cover back on again and if I did, I’d then be ready to re-fit MYRO’s wings. If I did, how great would that be 😀

Just to finish off, a couple of pics showing what point was reached after last week-end’s work as I didn’t have my camera at the time.

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September 19, 2011

Another small step

But a big one in terms of getting MYRO back flying. I took the aileron and wing trailing edge over to Stoke this morning for Chris to cast his eye over them and he gave them the go-ahead. Chris is definitely no push-over, so it was good news when he gave them the nod. I took a little bit of time out this afternoon and as a result I was able to get the little tear in the aileron cover caused by the accident patched and the cover back on. Here’s a pic I grabbed just before the sun went down this evening.

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You can see the little repair, on the top surface adjacent to the hinge (the hangar rash on the tip was there already but I thought I might as well do that at the same time while I was about it). The aileron is therefore complete and ready for service. If the weather is fine tomorrow afternoon and it’s not too busy, I’m thinking about going over to Ken’s and re-assembling MYRO’s left wing. If I was able to do that and bring the rear fuselage cover back with me I could well have MYRO all back together again this coming week-end. As always, it all depends on how the weather turns out this week and it’s forecast to be fine every day but quite breezy . It’s a nice target to aim for though 🙂

September 18, 2011

Perfick!

As Pop Larkin used to say and it’s as good a way as any to describe the outcome of my day today. When I had a good look at the replacement aileron after picking it up from Ken’s the other day, I unfortunately found an area at the inboard end which had been rubbing on the aircraft on which it had been fitted. It had been worn so badly that for a length of about 1/2″ from the end, the metal had been worn right through. The rest of it, the trailing edge and all of the connecting cross struts, was all in good condition though, with the exception of the three hinge points which were also all quite well worn. On the other hand, the leading edge tube of MYRO’s damaged aileron, including the hinges, was still in excellent condition and it was only the tip tube, which is connected to the trailing edge, and several of the rivets connecting the cross struts that were broken.

So the obvious conclusion, which I came to the other day, was to make one perfect aileron out of the two naff ones and that was why I ordered the items I needed for the job off Ebay on Thursday. However, they didn’t arrive in time for the week-end, so I went out today and bought the same things locally. The good thing, of course, was that I was able to see what I was getting in advance and the amount of money involved was pretty trivial compared to the importance of getting the job done.

The job was tougher than I originally expected because not only must the trailing edge of the aileron end up straight when you look along it but it also mustn’t ripple from side to side (or up and down if you can imagine it fitted in its proper position). I started by stripping everything off both ailerons’ leading edge tubes and then tried mating up the trailing edge tube and cross struts from the replacement aileron to MYRO’s aileron’s leading edge tube. It was a case of almost but not quite so then I had to swap some of MYRO’s original cross struts over (none were actually damaged, although I didn’t need any from the outer-most end which had taken the biggest knock) and I even made one up myself by shortening an old longer one that was no longer required using the existing one as a pattern. In the end the job came out perfectly and I was very pleased and also very relieved at the same time because this was more or less the last ‘tricky’ job still outstanding. Here are a couple of shots of the new aileron mated up with the replacement wing trailing edge tube.

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I phoned Chris during the afternoon to see if he could inspect both items today so I can press on with the re-assembly but due to a family bereavement he couldn’t. However, I’m hoping to get them over to Stoke first thing in the morning while things are still quiet so I’ll be able to press on if I can find a bit more time during the week. Not long now, hopefully, before I’ll be thinking about getting MYRO inspected for re-permitting. I can’t wait and to be honest, I’m finding the job pretty tiring now and I’m looking forward to having a rest at the end of it 😉

September 17, 2011

So frustrating and annoying

Yet again I have a list of jobs to do to move MYRO forward and I’m sitting indoors watching the rain lashing down outside. I picked up the ailerons and trailing edge tubes from Ken’s a couple of days ago and I was all set to do what I have to do before getting them over to Stoke for Chris to inspect them. I then planned to get the wing reassembly work done, ready for them both to be re-fitted. I also now have the prop bolts so that can be fitted as soon as I’m ready to. I’m so close to getting finished now but at this rate I could lose yet another week. I’m getting so fed up with how this keeps happening, time after time 😡

I just came back to add a bit more to this post. The day turned out not to be a total loss after all. Once the rain stopped I got across to Ken’s and got cracking doing what I could despite the horrendous wind that was still blowing after the rain had passed through. I forgot to take the hole cutters with me last time so couldn’t fit the lower Mikuni that needs a hole cut through the screen to match the one that’s in the side of the pod, so as well as doing that and fitting the Mikuni, I also drilled the two holes for the electric fuel pump and fitted that too. I had to get a short length of fuel pipe to connect the pump to the Mikuni because the stuff that was fitted was cracked and perished even though I only fitted it in 2009. It was made by Trelleborg and there was an official bulletin about it and as I’d had to inspect it every month and make a note in my engine log book that it was still in serviceable condition, I was glad of the chance to get rid of it for good.

I then had to lie on my back in the cabin with my legs in the air and my head under the panel to tighten up the fuel pressure gauge. This had to be done after the panel was fitted so I had no choice but I just hope that it’s the last time I’ll have to do it. I’d also fitted a replacement engine hours gauge while the panel was out. It was a cheap and cheerful Chinese unit and unfortunately its fixing system leaves a bit to be desired. I’d hoped to tighten that up too but I’ll have to find another way of doing so – probably just wrap the body of the gauge in a bit of black insulating tape and push it tightly into the panel hole which should be sufficient.

So that was it. I had hoped that some items I’d ordered from Ebay during the week to do the work needed on the aileron would arrive in the post today but they didn’t. Ruddy nuisance but it was lucky I didn’t wait in for them. I’ll probably have to resign myself to buying them locally tomorrow and then seeing them arrive too late on Monday. Trouble is, if I don’t do the work this week-end, I might end up losing a whole week which I’d really like to avoid now I’m this close to finishing. It’s yet another inconvenience – as I say, frustrating and annoying… 😕

September 11, 2011

Did it!

It’s been a long and tiring couple of days but I’ve just about managed to achieve everything I set out to do this week-end. Things went more or less smoothly today and although there were a couple of minor hic-cups, they weren’t too serious. I was a bit concerned about how well the doors would go on as they and the screen were based on a different pod, but I needn’t have worried. The screen doesn’t extend quite as far back on the passenger side as MYRO’s original did and if anyone makes another new screen in the future, it should be extended back a bit on that side. But luckily, because I’d made the door such a nice tight fit, everything fitted together nice and snugly. Also, although it took a bit of time and care to pull all the panel tubes and wiring through, fitting the panel top first did turn out to be the best way to do it. I’ll let the pics speak for themselves.

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The doors are a bit dirtier than they appear in the pic and I might need to get hold of some Plexus to polish out a couple of minor scuffs on the passenger one. But the best thing is they fit nicely. The exhaust is now also a little bit rusty and could do with a coat of heat-resistant paint. It’s very satisfying to see the interior shots of the panel after seeing the depressing images of the damage to the cabin floor tubes and panel after the accident. It didn’t take that long to re-connect all the wiring and after cable-tying everything into place, it now looks little different to how it was before the accident. And that’s what I’m aiming for – except I want MYRO to look better than before because then at least some good will have come out of it 😉

September 10, 2011

Coming together

My aim for this week-end is to get the screen fitted, the panel installed and all of the electrical connections to the engine etc made. And if I can get the doors on too, that will be a bonus.

I wasted a bit of time because I had to return home from Ken’s to get the old screen so I could check on a couple of things before making some important cuts in the new one. Then I had to leave again to buy some superglue to repair a small split that appeared for some reason in the tube padding on the passenger side which if left would have held me up and stopped me fitting the screen and door. Even so, and despite the showers that kept coming through making me stop work and cover my tools and MYRO up so they didn’t get soaked, with a bit of help from Ken who helped me with the drilling for the plastic bolts and cable ties that secure the screen in place, by the end of the afternoon I’d got the new screen and the panel top fitted.

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This time round, I’ve tried fitting the panel top first which gives easier access to all of the securing plastic bolts and I hope that it will then be a relatively simple job to feed all of the panel cabling and tubes back up through and then pop the top fixings into place to secure the panel. Time will tell if I’m right or not. And the adjustments that I made to the sizes and positions of the nose and side strut slots have also worked perfectly and now for the first time more or less since I’ve known MYRO there is a nice even gap all around the struts and the panel isn’t able to chafe on the tubes.

As I was clearing up it began to shower quite hard and instead of putting the doors inside MYRO, I placed both of them in position and attached both their bungees to hold them in place. MYRO then looked even more as it should and things are certainly coming together now, as you’d expect given the time I’ve been working on it again. Who knows what next week-end might bring if I achieve my target for this one … 😉

September 4, 2011

Some hope! Some weather…

So much for getting my new screen on MYRO today. It’s stopped raining now but too late. I ended up cutting out the screen on my lounge floor including the slots for the nose strut and side tubes. What a mess! I laid a sheet out over the carpet but it’s amazing how much stuff still ends up over the edge. The new screen is now ready for fitting but it’s far too late to do anything now. I just hope I get the time to do it during the week.

Anyway, clicking on the image below will show a short video of the progress of the repair to date.

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The weather caused the accident in the first place and it’s doing its darndest to stop me doing the repair as well. What a lousy Summer we’ve had this year – even worse than last year, and that’s saying something 🙁

September 3, 2011

Big leap forward

It was a lovely flying day again today. Bit of wind, but not too much, around mid-day, but it died down later and conditions were excellent with bright sunshine and good vis. But no flying for me again today. Today’s mission was far more important – to get MYRO’s pod back on so I can move on to the screen and panel. First job, though, was cleaning all of the tubes and nooks and crannies as far as the back of the cabin. I know that I haven’t cleaned MYRO properly since last Summer but I’m amazed how much grime is now coating everything. It seemed to happen while MYRO was just standing out at Linton and not as a result of flying so I think when the time comes, I shall need to think about improving my covers so the whole pod and cabin are enclosed when MYRO isn’t being flown.

Anyway, the job didn’t take too long because everything is so accessible with the pod and screen off, and then it was time to re-fit the pod. Very little to say about it really – after my dummy run a few weeks ago, it went on very easily and with no damage. I was absolutely delighted to find that all the holes lined up perfectly, including the two for the cross tube which I was worried about after spending a bit of time a week or so ago straightening and re-shaping the brackets to get them back into shape again. Here’s how the interior of the pod ended up looking.

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After all the work I’ve put in, actually I think it looks better than MYRO did originally. So now I was able to (temporarily) re-fit the lower Mikuni fuel pump and the crankcase vacuum tube and it was great to see MYRO beginning to take proper shape again. I also re-fitted the trailing links for the main undercarriage and was relieved to find that they went on pretty easily. That’s good because it means that there’s been no distortion of the main undercarriage or underside of the fuselage as a result of the accident which was a slight concern up until that point.

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Although it was unlikely that they were damaged in the accident (highly unlikely according to Mark at Galaxy) I then replaced the engine mounts with the new ones that I got from P & M. In fact, the four engine mounts were one of the largest single repair items costing the best part of £150! It was at this point that I began to think about the engine itself, which was still in the back of my car after picking it up from Mark the other day while my phone and broadband were down and I couldn’t think of anything better to do with my time! Ideally, I wanted someone to give me a hand to lift it up onto MYRO’s nose, but Ken was away today and there was no-one else around. I toyed with the idea of seeing if I could do my Charles Atlas bit and just hoist it up by myself but soon realised that that would be impossible. I then found a couple of old trestles and placed them in front of MYRO with a short board across them and that got the engine nearly half way up. I then tried placing the engine on a concrete block on the board and that got it about half-way. I experimented with climbing onto the board to see if I could then lift the engine but it was all too rickety and I had visions of the engine wobbling until it fell onto the pod, smashing it and taking me back to square one, or beyond even if the engine was also then damaged.

As the pics show, MYRO is in the corner of an unfinished building and I had the idea of taking a large scaffold board, placing one end on the top of the adjacent wall, tying the engine in a sling arrangement about three feet or so from the other end and then lifting the other end to raise the engine in a kind of lever arrangement. In fact it worked like a charm 😀

I soon had the engine in position located by the two rear bolts that can’t fall out on account of the two nose support tubes on each side. It was then just a simple matter of tightening all the engine mounts, re-fitting the carburettors which have been kept on a polythene bag all this time and re-fitting the exhaust. Here’s how MYRO looked by the end of the day.

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I was absolutely over the moon. MYRO is beginning to look like a proper microlight again now and today was a really big leap forward. Tomorrow I’ll be able to fabricate the new screen and who knows – maybe I’ll even be able to get it fitted. I’m keeping my fingers crossed 🙂

September 1, 2011

Pod graphics

Everyone in our area lost our phones and internet for the last 3 days so this is my first chance to mention my new pod graphics. I stuck ’em on a couple of days ago and it was quite a tricky job I have to say as I’ve never done anything like it before. I’m very pleased with the overall look – see what you think.

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What made it difficult was that the pod surface curves in both directions – horizontally and vertically – and the graphic starts off flat, of course. The second side came out better than the first as having done it once, I found it easier to do the second one, with fewer little creases in it. But the thing about vinyl graphics is that once they’re on, they’re on, so too bad if you mess it up as you only get one chance! I don’t think I did too badly overall 😉