March 29, 2018

My eyes, my eyes!

We awoke this morning to yet another grey, misty morning and it was only later when I went outside and was blinded by a strange golden orb burning in the sky that I realised that, quite unexpectedly, the sun had come out. We haven’t seen it for many days – possibly a week or more, I haven’t been counting – and we’ve almost got used to the sight of low grey cloud looming over the landscape.

I am so thankful that I had a few days in the sun in Egypt back in early February because otherwise I think that by now after having slogged through many months of treatment, with this weather I’d have been on the verge of a nervous breakdown!

So the unexpected pleasure of a bright spring day was not to be missed, starting off with a bike-ride. I soon found that although it might have felt quite warm in the sun when standing still, it was a different kettle of fish as soon as you started to move through the air, which still felt pretty cold.

Nevertheless, I got in a ride of about half-an-hour and in the process, found an unmettled but smooth earth road through the woods to the north-east that I’m pretty sure will take me all the way to Fanlac. I rode down it for a mile or so but then turned round because of the chilly air and will have another go when the weather warms up a bit more and I have more time.

I had a ham salad for a late lunch after returning home and putting my bike battery on charge and then headed over to Malbec. I didn’t expect the runway to be anything like flyable just yet but wanted to see if it was on the way to drying out and also to do a couple of things involving 28AAD, my Weedhopper.

Here’s a shot that I took looking down the runway. The quality of today’s shots are rather poor I’m afraid, because I didn’t take my little Nikon Coolpix camera with me and had to use my phone instead which I think is a very poor substitute.

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As the picture shows, the runway grass is now very lush and green, which is not surprising given the watering it’s been getting, of which there was still much evidence. Although the ground is a bit firmer than it was, it’s too soft to use and there was still quite a bit of standing water to be seen. But bad news for me, the area in front of the hangar door is still very boggy and it would be impossible getting the Savannah out over it without some kind of bridge arrangement, which would be far too much trouble as I mentioned in a previous post.

But at least the aircraft are all well out of the weather. Funnily enough, I think that although the barn is open-fronted, the Weedhopper and X-Air are having a better time of it than the Savannah. This may be because the barn has a dry concrete floor, whereas the hangar is closed with a bare earth floor, a combination which I think might encourage condensation even though the hangar’s roof is thickly insulated. There seem to me to be many signs of water drips in the dust on the Savannah’s wings which lead me to come to that conclusion.

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So what did I want to do this afternoon? Two things actually. The first, and the more important, was to see if I could tighten the cables on the Weedhopper’s hand-operated braking system to see if I could improve its effectiveness. This is especially important because with Malbec’s runway being so short, if I’m going to be able to test the effectiveness of the Weedhopper’s new prop and, hopefully, get the odd hop in I’ll need to be able to hold it on its brakes while the engine gets up to full power, which I haven’t been able to do up to now.

I did succeed in pulling some cable through at the hub end on each side which resulted in quite a bit of improvement, although the brakes still wouldn’t hold at anything over engine revs of 4000 rpm, so I’ll have to see whether that’ll be good enough. And if I get the chance in the meantime, I may see about removing the hubs and overhauling the brakes, probably with some new shoes, to see if that will do the trick.

Then it was playtime and with the sun still out, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to fire up the Weedhopper and taxy it around the yard in front of the barn. It’s been 4 weeks since the last time and it was good fun just to be back at the controls again!

Then it was time to put it back to bed. Before I ran the Weedhopper back into the barn, I thought that I’d try to see if turning the X-Air slightly would give a bit more space. Well, it did but not much, and the following pics were taken afterwards with the Weedhopper back in and now tied down, just in case.

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So that was a day well spent. Still no prospect of flying from Malbec for a good few more days yet, but the Weedhopper will be the first to go, because (a) it’s in the front in the barn and (b) even when I can get it onto the runway, it’s likely that I’ll still be unable to get the Savannah out of the hangar. But that’ll do me and I look forward to it happening, whenever it might be 🙂

March 27, 2018

Tea time – again

It’s just coming up to 4.00 pm so it’s time for tea yet again after doing more work on my old oak table. Today was supposed to be the end of it, bar fitting the new handles that I’m still waiting on being delivered from China, but actually I think that I might have to do a little bit more.

Today’s jobs were to give the whole table a final rub down with a fine sanding pad, give it a complete wipe over with acetone to make sure it was fully clean, degreased and dust-free, give all surfaces bar the top a coat of satin varnish and finally to give the top a good soaking with teak oil.

So that’s what I did and the results per se were more than acceptable, especially bearing in mind the state the table was in when I got it, as the following pictures show.

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But there’s just one thing – it’s colour is slightly different to that of the other one, the latter having more of an orange-brown ‘glow’ compared to this one. The solution, should I have to go down that route, is pretty simple. The water-based satin varnish that I used was clear and it just means that I’d need to give the varnished surfaces a second coat with a brown tint.

And when I bought the teak oil, which isn’t half as nice as the small bottle of Topps that I brought with me from the UK as it’s much more watery and totally lacking in that gorgeous teak smell, I noticed that there was an alternative with a bit of colour in it. So if I bought a can of that (what I’ll do in the future with 2 litres of teak oil I have no idea) I’m sure that will solve the problem.

But I think that I’ll put off moving to Plan B at least until the handles arrive from China, because sometimes you find that wood darkens a bit in the few days after being treated. But if it doesn’t, what the heck, it’s only money 😉

March 26, 2018

Work in progress

It’s just gone 4.00 pm here so I’ve stopped for a cup of tea. I’ve been working on my old oak table today. I haven’t done as much as I would have liked as I keep getting distracted and doing other things but that’s one of the prices you pay for being retired – there’s never enough time to do everything you want to.

I love working with wood, especially old wood and especially old oak of which there’s plenty here in France. I borrowed an electric sander from Victor but in the end decided to stick to Plan A and rub the whole table down by hand. I prefer that because then you can feel how the wood is responding – I can’t explain how, but you just can and I think that almost everyone who enjoys working wood with their hands would agree with me.

I’ve now just about finished ripping as much of the old surface off as I need to using 40 grade glasspaper. It sounds a bit crude but in my experience oak can stand it, although you must make sure that you always move the paper with the grain, even on the smallest of areas, so as not to leave visible scratches. And it’s coming up a treat as the following pictures show.

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I had to spend a little time digging grease and dirty old wax polish out of the mouldings around the drawer face for which I used a small screwdriver and a scalpel, but it didn’t take too long to do and the results were worth the effort. In fact I haven’t yet been over the whole table, just an initial wipe over the top, with acetone to remove any old grease that’s left over which will clean it up even more.

Even so, I think that it’s still pleasing to the eye and with further work will only get better. In fact I have a sneeking suspicion that this older table which has been in regular use for 10 years and has its share of honest marks to show for it, may end up with a nicer patina and look better as a result than the newer one. But I’ll have to wait and see. Meantime, time for another cup and back to work.

The next job will be to complete the rubbing down with ever finer glasspaper until I get the whole table completely smooth. Then I’ll give everything apart from the top a mist coat of clear matt varnish so it matches its newer brother. I don’t intend to varnish the top – that will just get a periodic wipe over with teak oil to enhance the beauty of its grain as it’s in regular daily use over the coming months and years.

March 25, 2018

And then there were two

24 hours after picking up the low oak table that I talked about in my last post I happened to be looking on Le Bon Coin to see what I might be missing when, lo and behold, I spotted exactly the same table again, but this time on sale in Bordeaux. But not only that, whereas I’d paid the last seller 100€ for the one I’d bought in Tonneins, the latest one was on offer for only 40€!

Sure, it was described by the seller as being ’10 years old and well used’ and the pictures he’d posted looked to support that, plus it was also missing its drawer handles, but it didn’t look as though it had suffered any deep scratches while being ‘well used’ and as it was again made of solid oak, restoration would probably only involve a bit of elbow grease – cleaning years of polish and surface dirt off it and rubbing it down back to smooth, clean wood.

So as I’d be in Périgueux on Thursday afternoon, I had the idea that I might as well continue heading west to Bordeaux to take a look if the table was still available, which it was. So after a brief lunch-time snack in Périgueux, I found myself heading off on a chilly but otherwise beautiful afternoon in the direction of the Atlantic coast and the city on the banks of the river Garonne.

As I had plenty of time in hand, I decided not to use the ‘payage’ but to stay instead on the Route Nationale and although the journey was slower it was much more pleasurable, taking in the towns of Mussidan, Montpon-Ménestérol and Libourne (thankfully now by-passed) among others and the wine growing areas with famous names like Pomerol, Saint Emilion and Graves. It was only when I arrived In Bordeaux itself that my problems began, and then some.

There’s no easy way of putting it other than to say that Bordeaux is VERY car unfriendly. It has a superb public transport system comprising dozens of fantastic new trams and buses and there is also a myriad of extremely well-used cycle lanes that, unlike in London say, where cyclists have to run the gauntlet with other motorised vehicles and frequently end up paying for it with their lives, are separated from the roads and tram tracks by concrete barriers.

This is all great for the local residents, but not so great for the occasional visitor, like myself, who has arrived in the city by car, especially if, like me, they are also relying on their satnav to get to their destination. The problem is that so many changes have been made to the road layout to allow for the free passage of the public transport, many roads have been barred to other traffic that satnavs just don’t know about.

And so it was that I kept arriving back at Place Stalingrad, where there’s a bridge linking the right and left banks that my satnav obviously wanted to take me over as it was only 3 minutes from my ultimate destination, when access was barred to all traffic other than trams and buses!

I eventually solved the problem by driving ten minutes downstream along the quayside to the next bridge – twice actually after I’d convinced my satnav lady that it was the sensible thing to do after deciding to totally ignore her advice to ‘turn back where possible’ – eventually arriving at the table seller’s house almost an hour after I said I would, having started from Périgueux with a couple of hours in hand!

We did the deal on the spot and I paid him the full 40€ he was asking as he was a polite student type who looked as though he could do with the money. We then had to carry the table over a 100 metres down the road to the place where, blessedly, I’d managed to find a parking space after which it was time for me to find my way out of the city. This proved to be not much less of a nightmare than getting in in the first place, but eventually I did, arriving home with my prize at about 10.00 pm.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the table before I started work on it, and the following shot that I took a few minutes ago shows it with its top partially sanded. I’m already really pleased with how its coming up but see for yourself what you think.

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Because this table is, as you can see, missing its drawer handles, I’ve already ordered four new antique style handles for just over 7€ including delivery from China. This means that I’ll be able to replace the handles that I don’t much like anyway on the other table so they’ll both match, hopefully making them attractive and fitting additions to my salon furniture. I’ll post more pics and info as the work proceeds.

Just a final footnote – the reason I was in Périgueux in the first place on Thursday was for a consultation with my oncologist following the two scans that I had a week or so ago. She greeted me with a broad smile and declared that I am now fully cured and free of all traces of the Lymphoma that has dogged my life for much of the past year.

As you can imagine, this was an enormous relief for me and I’m now as safe in the knowledge as it’s possible to be that I can start making plans again to get on with my life. And that, she told me, is exactly what I should do, bless her 😉

March 20, 2018

Good fortune

One of the pleasures I derive from living in rural France is seeking out and buying old furniture for my house. I’d been thinking for a while that I needed a low table to go in the seating area of my ‘salon’ and started looking on Le Bon Coin about two weeks or so ago to see what I could find.

One of the problems I’ve found is that whatever I’m looking for, there’s never anything suitable for sale in the Dordogne, or even in the surrounding area, and I always end up having to drive for miles to buy it. And in south-west France that usually means that the journey there and back takes about twice as long as it would do in the UK because of the kind of roads that you have to drive on.

And so it was with my table. Dozens of low tables are listed every day on Le Bon Coin but the great majority are not what I decided that I wanted, which was something in solid oak with no open shelves to catch dust and at least one drawer for some storage.

I spotted one that was ideal and at only 90€ but it was way down south in the Haute Garonne, a journey there and back of some 640 kms (400 miles). That would have added a fuel cost of around 94€ to the deal, which didn’t seem to me to be worth it.

And then, a few days ago, I spotted the same table but this time in the Lot et Garonne, a distance of only 256 kms there and back (160 miles), making it a much more viable proposition. However, the seller had listed it this time for 130€ and I anticipated that when I went to see it yesterday I’d have some hard bargaining to do.

Well, I did and I didn’t. When I arrived at the seller’s home at about 6.00 pm he took me out to the adjoining garage to show me the table and immediately tried to impress me with how good a condition it was in. But it wasn’t.

I pointed out a couple of scratches on its surface that he had somehow omitted to mention in his advertisement and said that as it needed quite a bit of work to get it into shape, the maximum that I’d be willing to pay was 100€. He said that it only needed to be rubbed down and blah blah blah… something similar to what French sellers always seem to say whenever you start to haggle with them. I always think every time, well, why didn’t you do it then before you put it up for sale, and then I just hold my ground.

I insisted that the maximum I’d be prepared to pay was 100€ and he suggested, what about 110€? I said that no, I wouldn’t pay more than 100€, knowing that he’d had the table up for sale for at least 10 days or so. But I didn’t force him and I gave him the chance to say that it wasn’t enough, but instead he reluctantly agreed and I came away with my table.

This morning I spent about half an hour rubbing the top down to reduce the scratches and then applied teak oil to it, which still smells lovely as I type this. I was very pleased with the results and although I originally intended to rub it down a bit more, I probably won’t as I think that an old table needs a few marks on it.

See from the following shots if you agree.

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For now I’ll just buy some more teak oil as I ran out of the small bottle of Topps that I’d brought with me from the UK, and give it an application every day to see how it looks after a week or so. But I’m very happy with my purchase and think that the 2¼ hour journey each way to get it was well worth it, helped by a little bit of good fortune when it came to doing the deal 😉

March 18, 2018

Malbec today

The pictures tell the story.

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So after yet more showers the airfield is still waterlogged and there’ll be no flying for several more days at least.

Here are a few shots that I took while I was there of the Weedhopper and the X-Air sitting gathering dust together in the barn.

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I came home via the ‘Cote de Jord’ from where the paragliders fly when there’s a favourable southerly breeze and took a couple of shots of the valley below looking towards St-Léon-sur-Vézère from the point where they jump off the top of the hill.

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So I just have to stay patient as there’s nothing I can do until Malbec dries out. But at least we’re not getting blasted with icy winds and snow the way they are in the UK 😉

March 12, 2018

Pleasant surprise

Malbec is far too wet to fly from at the moment and will probably remain so for a couple of weeks given the amount of rain we’re currently getting, but all of my ULMs are now flyable and it’s about time that I dealt with all of the ‘paperwork’ to ensure that when the time does come, I’m doing so legally.

Compared to the expensive and tortuous process that ULM owners in the UK have to go through on an annual basis to have their aircraft inspected and permitted in order to continue flying them legally, we are most fortunate in France in that the only requirement is for ULM owners to declare every two years that their aircraft are airworthy and that no changes have been made to their specifications.

The last time I did this for the X-Air just over two years ago, I had to download the relevant paperwork from the DGAC’s web site, fill it in and send it off. This was the system when I first came to France and eventually you received a new ‘Carte d’Identification’ for your aircraft which lasted for the next two years, after which you’d repeat the process.

Since then the system was streamlined making the lives of ‘Cartes d’Indentification’ indefinite and it only necessary for owners to make a two-yearly declaration that their aircraft were airworthy (Apte au Vol), a system that was free but that still involved downloading and sending off the appropriate form.

But no more! When I logged onto the DGAC’s web site yesterday, I was presented with the option of logging onto my ‘personal’ ULM space (MonEspaceULM) and when I typed in the requirements to identify myself for the Savannah, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the details for both it and the X-Air came up against my name.

And not only that, I was then able to complete the procedure for re-validating both aircraft automatically on line without the need to send forms off in the post and also print off the proof of having done so for filing in each aircraft’s dossier.

The system is very user-friendly, quick and best of all, free, so what’s not to like? I’d dealt with both aircraft in under 10 minutes and I suggest that it’s a model that could, and should, be applied elsewhere.

It makes a mockery of what poor UK pilots have to go through annually within a system that’s both time-consuming and expensive. Littler wonder that there are four times the number of ULM pilots in France compared to the UK, for about the same population.

March 8, 2018

Excellent day

For starters, warm and sunny with the temperature getting up to an unexpected 18 degrees Celsius. About 14 degrees had been forecast with it rising to 20 degrees by Saturday so today was a nice surprise. I wonder what Saturday now holds in store 🙂

But today of all days my interests were all about heating wood. I didn’t buy any to take me through this winter because quite honestly, I didn’t feel well enough to cart it into the house on a daily basis, let alone have the strength to cut and split the amount of wood that I’d need to ready it for burning. So up to now, I’ve been relying on heating my house with electric convection heaters knowing that I’d incur a big hit on cost but realising that I had very little alternative.

I actually had a small quantity of wood left over from what I purchased the best part of a year ago and now that I’m feeling so much better, I’d been working my way through it for the past couple of weeks during our coldest spell of the winter. And having a roaring fire throwing out heat proved to be a huge advantage, because I was then able to turn one or more electric heaters down, or indeed, off completely.

However, with only enough wood remaining for a few more days, things came to a head at the end of last week. I contacted my friendly wood supplier and asked him if he could supply me with 3 stères of wood, dry and ready to burn straight away and also cut and split down to size so I didn’t have to do it. He said that he’d be delighted to, and today was the day to go and pick it up as I knew that we’d have no rain and that the wood could be unloaded into my store without getting wet.

I had help filling the first trailer-full but not the second and obviously I had to unload both of them myself when I got back home. So it was quite an effort and I was surprised that I managed to do it in a reasonable time without any physical ill effects. The loads included a few large diameter lengths that will need splitting before I can burn them and whereas I put all of the ones in the first load straight into my wood store to be split later, I split the ones in the second load before putting them into store as by then I thought that I had nothing else better to do with my time.

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So now my wood store is pretty well stocked again and although it may appear a bit perverse stocking up just as we are approaching the end of the cold weather, I’m sure that there will be a few more cold nights to come after this week-end when it will be handy having a good stock of wood that I can burn without having to think about eking it out. And in any case, it means that there will always be plenty left over for when the cold snaps of next winter start rolling in.

March 6, 2018

Got there at last

Went back to Malbec this afternoon and as I didn’t intend to do any work requiring tools, I left my car at the entrance to the airfield and walked to the hangar. This gave me the chance to stomp down a few of the larger muddy ridges that my and Philippe’s tyres had left behind so they aren’t left when the field does eventually dry out.

This could be some way away because we are now getting intermittent, but very fierce, showers that could continue right through next week, and possibly beyond, and it doesn’t take long for them to leave behind pools of standing water and large soggy areas.

Nevertheless, I was able to half-open the hangar doors and give the Savannah a try on the key and sure enough, as I’d suspected it might, its engine started as though its battery had just been charged up. So I was able to give it a run for several minutes until 80-90 degrees was shown on the water temperature gauge with all the other indications showing good.

I was also very pleased with how smooth the propeller felt, although I couldn’t take the engine speed up much beyond 4-4500 revs as the aircraft had to stay in the hangar with chocks in front of its wheels.

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So that’s it, I’m there at last. All three ULMs in full working order bar needing a good clean, and all now having had their engines run. That’s just where I wanted to be and things couldn’t be better – except for the weather 😉

March 5, 2018

3 out of 3

I decided today that there would be no more pussy-footing around and that the stupid idea that I’d had to put a spacer behind the Savannah’s spinner back plate was precisely that. Stupid. I’d found an old prop hub among my stuff but it would have meant taking it to the local machine shop and getting it machined down and that would have involved a cost and also waiting.

There was plenty of ‘meat’ still to grind off the back plate and although it would mean also taking the grinder to the base of the spinner itself, I decided that that was the way to go. So just before lunch I fired up my bench grinder and got stuck in.

The amount that could be ground off was only limited by the heads of the screws securing the spinner to the back plate and on that basis there was more than enough that could be removed to give me the space that I needed between the spinner back plate and spinner and the engine cowling. I had to take great care, mind, but after half an hour or so, the job was done and looked good.

Then I was off to the swamp, because that’s what the airfield and the hangar front entrance in particular, are beginning to resemble, to see how the results of my work measured up. Pretty well, actually, as the following pictures show.

The first two shots below show that there is now at least as much space between the spinner back plate and the engine cowling as there was for the original and possibly slightly more, which makes removal and refitting of the cowling a little bit easier.

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The next two shots show the Savannah with its new spinner in place. Being new, it looks a lot better than the original which had some nasty deep scratches in it.

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And finally, the aircraft with everything back in place.

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That means that the Savannah joins my X-Air and Weedhopper in being fully assembled, airworthy and ready to fly, the first time that this has applied to all three of them since I’ve had them. After fitting the Savannah’s prop and its having been turned over several times by hand, I gave it a spin on the starter and I have a sneaking idea that it may even start without needing to charge its battery.

All we need now is for the damn rain to stop so not only can I do just that with the hangar open but also so I can give all three aircraft some extended engine runs and some taxying up and down the runway. Regrettably, it looks as though I could have to wait quite a few days for that to happen 🙁

March 4, 2018

Total nightmare

No good news today. Fitting the Savannah’s new prop is turning out to be much more tricky than I expected. The problem is the spinner. Its design includes a very deep skirt that extends some way behind the prop towards the engine cowling as I showed in my previous post. It has been on and off three times today and each time I have ground a little more of the skirt away. However, it still hasn’t been enough to provide adequate clearance of the engine cowling.

The reason for this is that the original spinner back plate was made of metal rather than the carbon fibre of the new one and was therefore much thinner. It was also of a design such that the spinner itself was mounted further forward on the back plate compared to the new one.

I’m now in a slight quandary. I’m reluctant to grind any more of the new spinner’s back plate away, although in theory I could take a bit more off. However, even if I did that, the spinner itself might still be much too close to the front of the engine cowling for comfort.

This leaves me with one other choice, which I think I’m going to have to make, namely to fit a small spacer of say 3 or 4 mm behind the spinner. This will mean that the prop itself will also move forward by the same distance, but I don’t think that that will be a problem.

If I’d known about this, I might well have purchased a spinner from another source, but it’s a bit late for that now 😐

March 3, 2018

So near! Too close!

I’ll explain the heading in a moment. Today at last, it was the turn of the Savannah to get the attention, specifically to have the crossbar for its towbar attached and its new propeller fitted. But the first problem was just getting onto the airfield.

After having had a couple of days of sunny, windy weather which started to dry the airfield out after the usual winter rains, although today was sunny and warm with a high of around 15 degrees Celsius, we had another downpour last night that took us back again to square one.

The airfield was again so soft that I reversed my car slowly through the entrance and then down one side and stopped a few yards away from the hangar to minimise the damage. This worked pretty well, but here’s a shot of the hangar front entrance after I’d been working on the aircraft for an hour or so. It was like stomping around in thick soup.

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The first task was to see if the towbar crossbar that I’d ground out yesterday, would fit, and it did. So then it was simply a matter of adding a couple of plastic spacers and tightening the fixing nuts, which only took a few moments and the result was a nice neat job. Victor made a light-weight towbar for me which will work OK, but I also want to be able to push the aircraft and I’ll therefore need to have a solid towbar fabricated that will positively connect to the crossbar.

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At the time the Savannah was laid up, its engine was already beginning to look a bit dusty just from normal use and between then and now, even though its nose had been covered with an old sheet, its engine had become even more grimy. So before fitting the prop, it was time to give it a good clean-up and here are some shots that I took after the job was completed and I’d given it a few squirts of damp-start here and there.

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I’ve found that as well as being a good way to protect rubber and plastic, this is also a good way to stop older aluminium components and surfaces oxidising after you’ve given them a light wire brushing and clean-up. The shiny film wears off eventually but when this happens you can just lightly wire brush it again and reapply it to keep the engine looking shiny and clean.

Then it was time for the big moment – the fitting of the new scimitar blade carbon fibre prop. This turned out to be a little bit more tricky than I’d thought as today, of all days, I’d taken my files out of the back of my car and the spinner back plate’s centre hole needed easing a bit. However, after a bit of a struggle involving careful manipulation and rotating, eventually it was done and the prop was on.

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It’s too late now because there’s no choice, but for me the jury is still out appearance-wise. I don’t know – maybe it will grow on me in time, but the factor that will be totally convincing will be how it performs, and that will come later.

But it was only after having fitted the prop and then moving on to refit the engine cowling that I was hit by today’s problem. The Savannah’s engine is angled slightly to the right to help mitigate the effect of engine torque, especially when the throttle is opened wide eg during take off, and this means that the clearance between the prop flange and the engine cowling is smaller on the right than on the left.

As a result, I found that the skirt on the spinner back plate, which is quite deep, was much too close to the engine cowling and in fact was fouling it. Indeed, the fit was so tight that after having taken the above shots, I couldn’t get the cowling back off again without removing the prop first.

Here’s a shot that shows what I’m talking about.

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It’s not that serious. Having removed the prop again, I’ve brought the spinner back plate home with me and I’ll be able to grind a few millimetres of its skirt away before taking it back and refitting it. Hopefully that will solve the problem and I’ll also be able to ease its centre hole a little bit, which will make me feel better as my experience is that if things are too tight a fit, they eventually end up breaking. And that I’d like to avoid if I can.

March 2, 2018

For old times sake

I couldn’t resist dipping back into the photo archives this morning where I came across the following shots. So here’s a little bit of nostalgia.

First, 288AAD then and now. The first shot below was taken by its previous owner, under very different weather conditions to now I must say, before it had its accident.

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The next shot was taken yesterday and shows the little Weedhopper back in its prime again, fully repaired and airworthy and ready to go. And I can’t wait to get it back into the air where it belongs 🙂

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And looking back even further now, to when I’d finished rebuilding MYRO right back in July 2010. The next shot was taken at Linton in the UK when MYRO was fully back in one piece for the first time with its new engine and instruments.

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But what a coincidence, I happened to take an almost identical shot of 28AAD yesterday, once again under rather different weather conditions. And as it happens, this picture shows the Weedhopper with the same engine and various other MYRO parts including its panel and most of its instruments, so pure nostalgia for me.

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I was greatly saddened when I lost MYRO after its accident shortly after I came to France. It may have taken the best part of 6 years, but having now made one good aircraft out of the two damaged ones, I at last feel that the situation has been redeemed, the page can be turned and the book finally closed 😉

But before doing so, one last shot of MYRO taken after its final rebirth in October 2011 before I flew it the following spring all the way to its last resting place, back in the country of its birth here in the Dordogne in south-west France.

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So it’s so long old friend, we had some really good times together and you’ll not be quickly forgotten. But after all this time, it’s finally time to move on.

March 1, 2018

Taxy!

After I’d moved 28AAD, my French Weedhopper, over to Malbec from my garden in October 2016, I did power it up and down the runway a few times. This was mainly to get an idea of the thrust that the engine/prop combination was developing as the prop was one I’d bought second-hand and trimmed down to what I hope will be a suitable length for its pitch.

But ‘driving’ an aircraft’s fuselage without wings is totally different to taxying it with its wings attached and today, after completing the final couple of outstanding jobs (fitting the last few security rings to the aileron attachment bolts and replacing three batten cords that had snapped), I at last had the opportunity to do just that.

I’d hoped that after the sunny, windy but cold conditions that we’ve experienced over the past few days since Wim and I were last over at Malbec (too cold with an icy northerly wind that had persuaded me to stay home in the warm) that the runway would be dry enough to taxy on, but although it was firm enough at the top, it was still too soft from its middle downwards. And there’s no point making grooves in the grass because the next thing we’ll know is that the ground will be rock hard and the grooves would still be there.

So I had to content myself with starting up the Weedhopper and taxying it round and round in the yard outside the barn. There is plenty of room there and after all this time, it was great fun being able to sit inside with controls at hand and foot and be able to do it

It’s been a long time since I’ve taxied an AX3 and I’d forgotten how much lighter the Weedhopper feels compared to the X-Air. With its comparatively huge nose wheel steering lock, it feels as though you can turn it on a sixpence – sorry, a 20 cent piece 😉

Here are some shots I took at the end of the afternoon before returning it to the barn and leaving for home.

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There’s still quite a bit of cleaning and fettling to do. I gave the panel a wipe over for the photographs but the exterior and interior of the aircraft are filthy, although cleaning should not take too long once the weather warms up. But I can now finally turn my attention exclusively to the Savannah and I’m looking forward to finishing the work on its new tow-bar attachment and fitting its new prop at long last 🙂