Thursday, April 19, 2012

Head Banger Blues

Building an airplane should be a joyous and fun experience … right? As more time has been spent in the DOG Aviation assembly facility, it has become painfully obvious I have a case of the “head bangers” blues.  Nope… not a punk rock band or a song, it is an engineering defect that attacks unsuspecting heads leaving one with the head banger black-n-blues.

When initially inspecting the future DOG Aviation facility, the 4 foot wide shelf that spans the width of the rear of the facility appeared to be a great feature. It seemingly promised to offer plenty of (almost) overhead storage for seldom used tools, longer parts and/or a location to keep larger assemblies awaiting final assembly.

                                                 The shelf has a vengeance for unsuspecting heads attached to
                                                 individuals such as myself that are not vertically challenged.

Honestly, don’t think I have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times in the last few weeks that shelf has inflicted damage or at the very least tauntingly let me know it was still there.  So from this point on it has been officially declared an “engineering defect” and will be dealt with immediately.
Hate to say it, but there will have to be yet another delay to starting the assembly of the empennage kit … that shelf MUST be raised! No more head banger blues! Hopefully, it will go fast … looks like the shelf can be easily unscrewed from the 2x4 frame and then the frame can be raised higher without to much difficulty. It appears the shelf was assembled using all screws, so should be able to reuse all the components.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Grand Opening!!!

It has been a few weeks now since the delivery of the empennage kit and assembly work is still not under way. However, the construction of the second “Transformer” high and low workbench is well under way and should be completed by the weekend despite the issue I am having with lumber purchased a couple of weeks ago twisting big time.

Our old neighbors from California decided to spend their spring break by visiting us … so being good hosts, we’ve been busy showing them some of the sights in Ohio. As a result, not much was accomplished for the last week except for doing the “Grand Opening” and inventory of the contents of the shipping crate.

                                              The Grand Opening… Michael on vacation from California did
                                              the honors of cutting the banding straps on the empennage crate.

                                              Parts and more parts. Amazing how well Van’s packs all the items.

                                                                          Inspecting parts.

                                            Michael checking off parts on the inventory sheets. Yep, all there.

                                                     As you can, see Van’s packs the crate with plenty of
                                                     protective wrap around the parts.

                                          While helping my friend Pete build his RV-9A we discovered leaving
                                          parts in the brown paper bags created a time sucking abyss during the
                                          build ... that is until parts bins were used. So while watching TV, all
                                          the small parts were sorted and placed into parts bins. Of note: Picked
                                          up a Dymo Rhino 4200 label maker which makes fast easy to peel labels.
                                          It can do various fonts and print sizes, multi line text on labels as well
                                          as print onto heat shrink tubing … which may come in handy labeling
                                          wiring runs.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Power Tool Bench Complete

Yesterday, the power tool bench was assembled and placed on wheels. The bench has a top made from 2 X 6 boards sitting on a 2 X4 frame.  The height is 33 ¾” … so it is the same height as the EAA benches in the high position just in case it is necessary to roll it next to the main assembly workbench. The photo was taken before 4 gusset braces were added.  It is solid and will be used for drilling parts, hammer and vice work, grinder, drill press, band saw and buffing station with a 3M Scotch-Brite wheel. I also plan on additional bracing under the lower shelf boards so they will be able to easily support heavy items.

                                                 Workbench and power tool station is on locking casters. Note
                                                 the rolling mechanics stool ... picked it up at Harbor Freight
                                                 and must say it has come in handy building the workbenches.
                                                 Thinking it will also prove useful when working on the fuselage,
                                                 landing gear wheel pants, tires and brakes, ect. My back votes
                                                 $20 well spent.

Also of note: Earlier in the week DOG Aviation's procurement department picked up a chrome shelving unit that is 6' tall X 4' wide and has four adjustable shelves. It can be seen in the back left of the above photo. The threaded levelers were replaced with locking casters so it now rolls as well. My friend Pete had some of these shelving units and they are very handy for storing the many parts and aluminum pieces of the kit. Pete discovered when building his Van's RV-9A that the more things you have on casters the better. Pete had the luxury of building in a three car garage and even with all the extra room he had, when compared to the much smaller DOG Aviation facility, it was necessary to rearrange Pete's work area a few times during his RV-9A build and having everything on casters made that a snap. That knowledge is going to prove beneficial when dealing with the much smaller assembly area here.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

More Power Scotty!

It took far longer to iron out the details of the High-N-Low “Transformer” workbench than expected. If that wasn't bad enough, the opening of the empennage kit has been further delayed due to various issues which also required attention … the ever pleasant time of the year called tax season, assembly and setup of the band saw (unexpectedly needed for the workbench hinge cutouts), “fixing” the new air compressor prior to using it and discovery of the inadequacy of the electrical system at the DOG Aviation assembly facility. While constructing the first workbench, it became painfully clear adequate power was a major issue.  DOG Aviation maintenance got right on the problem and added three more power outlets inside the facility along with replacing a faulty electrical switch.

                                                  Purchased a Kobalt 30 gallon 110/220 volt air compressor
                                                  (made by Sanborn) and while checking it over, I noticed the
                                                  belt was not alligned correctly (bad camera angle, it was off
                                                  more than it appears in the photo) ... also note the pulley key
                                                  protruding from the end of the motor pulley. Great quality
                                                  control here! NOT!! The pulley was already a little beyond the
                                                  end of the motor shaft as it was, so I had to remove the pulley
                                                  and turn it around on the motor's shaft to enable getting the belt in
                                                  perfect alignment with the motor pulley fully seated on the shaft.

The EAA “Transformer” Workbench

It has been said many times, necessity is the mother of invention.  While building a slightly modified version of the EAA workbench (6’ x 3’ as opposed to the standard 5’ x 2’) the DOG Aviation fabrication department used assembled research as a starting point for what morphed into an EAA based “Transformer” High-N-Low workbench. Height including the ¾” top is 33 ¾” in the high position and 21 1/8” in the low position. Basically, the 33” legs of the standard EAA bench are now 20 3/8” for the upper leg and 12 5/8” for the lower leg.  Another deviation from the standard EAA workbench consists of the top overhanging the frame by 3” on one side and one end of the workbench to allow for easier clamping of parts to the work surface. The reason for not overlapping all the way around the workbench is to allow the clamping of two workbenches together either side by side, or end to end.

                                                                          Workbench in the "High" position

                                                    Workbench in the off wheels legs folded "Low" position

                                                              Workbench on wheels in the "Low" position

                                                  A cutout is necessary on the upper leg to keep the hinge flat
                                                  on the upper leg. Note: hinge is mounted high to keep it off
                                                  the floor when the upper leg is on the floor in the "Low"
                                                 off wheels position.

Rube Goldberg would be proud of the ergonomic “Green” design which saves a fraction of one pine tree due to the High-N-Low being two workbenches in one. It was decided the locking casters would be better utilized in the Low profile “wheels down” position because once the wings are assembled, they are typically stored in a rack and all but forgotten for at least a year. Having the wheels functional in the Low profile should allow the ability to easily move the fuselage around to accommodate various phases of construction.

Of course, there were inherent issues that needed to be resolved … a flip down leg lock was needed to keep the wheels down on the floor … a latch is necessary to keep the lower legs from flopping around when rolling the workbench on uneven surfaces (one would think there would have been enough weight on the leg lock, but not so) ...  and lastly as a precaution a piece of EMT tube is used to prevent the lower leg from folding in while in the “Hi” position.

                                                  In the center is the flip down leg lock for keeping the wheels
                                                  down. The gate latch prevents the legs from bouncing when
                                                  rolling over uneven surfaces. The two blocks with the cutouts
                                                  are for holding a piece of EMT pipe which locks the lower
                                                  legs open while in the "HI" position.

                                               EMT leg lock in place while workbench is in the "Hi" position.

                                              Three inch overhang for easier clamping of parts to work surface.

                                                 One might think that the wheel hanging from the lower leg
                                                 when the bench is in the "Hi" position would be a nuisance ...
                                                 not so! The wheel is high enough you never hit it with your
                                                 shoes and because of the 3" overhang on the workbench the
                                                 wheel does not come close the shin because the overhang
                                                 forces you to stand back. So yes, the wheel hangs out but it is
                                                 not in your way at all.
Return from the future – A few thoughts. First- If I had it to do over again I would have made the overhang go all the way around the bench it would make clamping items much easier. For building the RV-12, I really have not had to clamp the benches together except for working with the flaperons and now feel a clamping overhang all around the bench is a more useful option. Secondly- Although pleased with the bench in general, I have found I use the benches now exclusively in the lower position. Early on when the bench was in the high position, I was doing a lot of standing and leaning over the work … of which my back was not appreciative. After purchasing a rolling mechanics stool, the benches were lowered and now I can sit and do most things quite easily. If I were doing it again, I would forget about the high position all together and make the top extend the base all around the bench. 

Mowing meditation

Those of you following the Blog can see it has been a while since I have posted anything. Admittedly, progress has been slow so all of today's this posts will cover the later part of March to present.

While mindlessly mowing the lawns in a meditative like trance, trudging across the tundra pass after pass, I found myself thinking about the details of the workbenches I was about to build. (Yes, mowing the lawns in March ... I know, unheard of in Ohio, but not this year). Anyway, I began pondering the findings of DOG Aviation’s research department which discovered many RV airplane builders start out using an EAA style workbench at the beginning of the build and, more often than not, opt to build a much lower work surface when working on fuselage components... so that got me thinking.