Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas & 2019 Prowler Year End Wrap-Up

Hello Everyone,

Merry Christmas from Prowler Aviation.  I had every ambition to get more blog updates done this year - but, before I knew it, the end of the year arrived and I wasn't able to get nearly as much done as I'd hoped.

 The closest thing I have to a Christmas themed picture this year is from a recent BOS to LAX trip.  We crossed the Rockies just south of DEN after a recent snow "event".  I got a pretty good picture of the new snow on the Rockies:
Those folks know about snow!  They know how to deal with it and how to have fun with it!

Well, to wrap-up 2019 for Prowler Aviation I only have the following few items:
1.  Making A Set Of Cockpit Floor Stringer
2.  An "Artsy" and Creative Prowler Project
3.  One Builder Update from Francis

Before I get started with the update, I wanted to rant a little and then do some follow-up on a project that I completed a few years ago.  By now, many of you may have heard on the news about the power outages in CA.  Well, that would be us!  This fall, we had 4 of what PG&E calls "PSPS's" - that would be "Public Safety Power Shutoffs".   I call them ridiculous and a result of decades of corruption at (and between) PG&E, CPUC, and the State of CA.  For decades the profits have been sucked off of PG&E to pay huge bonuses and to pay off politicians and CPUC members.  Nothing was ever put back into maintaining the infrastructure.  Now, all the towers, wires and poles are falling down any time the wind blows and the customers are left to pay the cost - again.  Soon, we will all have to endure significant rate increases to pay for infrastructure "upgrades." Just watch, in the near future, Gov. Nuisance will let PG&E off the hook and they will be allowed to charge significant rate increases. (So glad I bought a solar system!)  That money should have come from properly managed maintenance funds over the past 4 decades, but instead went to myriad corrupt causes.  OK, rant over.

Anyway, I am (now) really, really happy that I committed to spent the time, money and effort to build the backup diesel generator that I've mentioned several times in this blog.  This is what it currently looks like installed in the "Gen Shack":
I never really thought that I'd be using this to keep us up and running when PG&E repeatedly fails so miserably.  All I ever had in mind was having this system available for the family during the occasional power outages that happen when you live in a rural area.  In particular, I wanted a system that the girls could run when I was gone on trips and not at home (sometimes for weeks).

Overall, it has worked flawlessly and provided us with great, perfect power during all of these PSPS's (most have lasted 2.5 - 3 days).  Over the course of the past year, I've figured out that it burns about 1/2 gal of diesel fuel per hour and costs about $25 per day to run it.  We usually run it from 5:30am until about 10:30pm and turn it off at night.  At $25/day it is fairly expensive to run the gen, but it is worth it compared to the alternative of no power for 3 days!  Between the week long power outage we had in Feb 2019 and these PSPS's this fall, this generator has REALLY earned it's keep!

On a related note (dry, windy, wildfire conditions), we finally got our winter rains in the CA north state during the 1st week of Dec.  It's a great thing!   All through Nov everything was crispy dry - everywhere!  Even the animals were getting desperate for water.  We had a lot of wildlife coming to the watering hole in the back yard:
The wildfire danger was really high and we had already had several close calls this past summer and fall.  One particular fire, the Red Bank fire, started in early Sep from a dry lightning strike just west of Red Bluff, CA about 1130am.  By midnight (roughly 12 hrs later) the fire had consumed 6,000 acres!!  Fortunately, the winds died down the next day and CalFire was able to get control of it by the 3rd day at about 9,500 acres.  But, it could have been much worse and our home and the shop would have likely been in the path of that fire - had they not gotten control of it.

All of this has gotten me to thinking more about wildfire prevention at home and helping to protect my house and shop.  I have a few areas on my property that I never got around to clearing off the brush and undergrowth.   They are mostly on the north side of the house and the shop.  If we ever did have a wildfire come through our place, it would most likely approach out of the north.  So, after this past fire season, I decided to clean up these parts of the property.  I had a good block of days off before the Xmas trip that I'm on right now.  So, I got busy with cutting, clearing and burning off the brush.

All in - I spend about 4 days on this effort.  CalFire recommends cutting tree limbs off from the ground to 8 ft up, and then, cut and burn anything that is dead or anything that is laying on the ground.  Turns out, that is a lot of stuff!!  But, by doing this, you help prevent the spread of fire from embers landing in dry grass and propagating into the trees.  And, if there is a fire, the CalFire crews can get through the area much easier to do their thing and fight the fires.  It makes the property more "defensible" in case of a wildfire - and CalFire is more likely going to be able to save the structures (home and shop).  Here is one burn pile (out of 6) that I got going while it was raining one day recently:
As I sat and watched these piles burn, it seemed odd to me that now it was no big deal - but, had I started a fire like this just 3 weeks earlier it would likely have burned down 1/2 of Tehama County!!  However, now I can safely contribute to global warming, and my property will be better prepared for wildfire season next summer. Glad to have this done!

On with the update.

1.  Making A Set Of Cockpit Floor Stringers - My new focus here in the shop is to try to get all of the parts fabricated that I need to complete Kit #18 that is inhabiting my shop office.  I hope to get this kit sold in 2020.  The next set of parts on the list was the floor stringers under the aft part of the cockpit floor.  For reference, here is a pic of the under side of the Prowler showing the placement of these floor stringers:


In the last update, I posted about mounting and fixturing these dies in the mill to prepare for machining them.  But, then I determined that somehow I had cut the stock for these dies too small.  (BTW - I figured out why I cut these die stock piece too small.  I used the old part pattern to mark them for ruff cutting.  The new parts are a bit larger because all the builders were having to cut shims to fill between these old parts and the skin.  After seeing the work Ray had to go through to make the old parts work, I corrected the sizes/shapes of them and they should fit much nicer in the future).

I took these die stock pieces over to a buddy who added some aluminum weld to them in the areas where they needed it.  Here is one of them with the added weld:
Here is that die stock mounted to the fixture plate:
Here is the whole assembly back in the mill and after I'd centered it up and taken the 1st ruff cut around the die:
After the face cut and the 2nd ruff cut you can see that the welded area really helped fill in the needed material.  But, it was still looking like it was going to be too small in that area. Yikes!!
Here is the die after the 3rd profile cut.  Just the very top edge was looking too small:
Finally, after the round over cut there was only a few small voids that were still showing:
Fortunately, these voids are not big enough to affect the part while pressing (these voids are too small for the aluminum to flow into when under pressure).  I might still take them to my buddy had have him TIG a little weld into these areas.  Then, I'll just file them all flush with a good file.  Here is the die with all the profile work completed:
The last step was to cut in the pockets for forming the flanges on the lightening holes.  Here is cutting the 3rd pocket:
This is cutting the largest of the 4 pockets:
Once the die was out of the mill, I had to file down all the sharp edges and break the sharp corners, especially on the pockets (to make sure that the bends on the lightening hole flanges are not too sharp):
The 1st of the two floor stinger dies completed:
At this point, I held up on cutting the 2nd die.  This was because I have not yet made a part with lightening holes or formed the flanges for them.  I came up with an educated guess to make the pockets for forming the flanges 3/16" deep and then leave a flange length of 1/4".  In other words, the pockets cut into the die are 3/16" deep and 1/2" diameter larger than the actual lightening hole in the blanks.  I wanted to test this recipe before I cut the other die.  That way if it didn't work well, I'd only have to try to fix one of the dies - instead of both of them.

Next, I had to fire up the router and cut some blanks for forming over the dies.  That took the better part of a day - I ran into several obstacles and had to re-CAM each of the cut files for the router control.  Once I got that done, I grabbed the die and pressed the part.  It came out awesome!  Here is the formed part and the die below it:
I was really happy with how this part turned out.  Here is the inside of the part:
And the top side of the part with the tabbed edge along the bottom:
Satisfied with the lightening hole flanges (and totally satisfied with the part as a whole), I got right on cutting the matching die for the other part.  Here it is mounted in the mill:
This die also came out with one area that had a void from the weld that my buddy added to the stock.  Turns out, it is in an area that doesn't have a flange anyway - so no problem:
Here is the completed die:
Within minutes of completing the 2nd die, I grabbed the other blank cut from the router and pressed the matching part.  Here are the dies on the left and the set of these parts on the right:
Here are the two parts (sort-of) oriented as the would be when mounted in the airplane:
Another view:
Overall, I am really happy how these parts turned out.  I am getting a process down for machining these dies in the mill.  I'm also thrilled with how the 400 Ton press is working.  It's forming really nice parts.  Now, I only have about 300 more dies to make!!

2.  An "Artsy" and Creative Prowler Project - After George Morse passed away, I was in contact with his family and they ended up giving me a lot of Prowler related stuff that no one in the family wanted.  One of the things I got was a large box full of aircraft and parts drawings.  At some point, I went through all the drawings to see what was there.  Most of the drawings were Prowler parts that I was already familiar with, but I came across 3 drawings in particular that really intrigued me.  I am still not 100% certain what these drawings are.  But, I believe that they are all hand-drawn by George and I believe that they are all concept drawings that he did when he was trying to come up with his idea for what eventually became the Prowler aircraft.

This first drawing is large (36" x 44") and is of a tricycle gear aircraft that has a turbo-prop engine in it.  At first, it didn't strike me as being anything related to a Prowler - but, after looking more closely, the wing planform and the tail planform (top down) certainly gives the impression to that of a Prowler.  The canopy also looks the closest (of the 3 drawings) to what the Prowler eventually included:
This 2nd drawing is 20" x 24" and is of a tail-dragger design with a folding wing and a flat aircraft engine.  The wing folding hinge point looks to be very closely located to the wing joint location of the Prowler.  The tail looks to be of P-51A design and the cockpit looks almost of a Mooney descent.  However, look at the forward swept main landing gear and the engine compartment - those are clearly the silhouette of the front end of a Prowler!
Here is the 3rd drawing.  It is 24" x 42" and is also a tricycle design.  The tail also has a P-51A look to it as well as the canopy area.  The parts of this drawing that I can easily identify as Prowler are the windscreen and everything forward of that, except for the nosewheel landing gear.  Look at the engine compartment and you see the George Morse PSRU and motor mount design.  The wing tips, wing dihedral and the taper of the forward and trailing edges also indicate Prowler to me:
I could not find any signatures or any other identifying markings on any of these drawings.  But, I know that George did enjoy doing technical drawings.  I think that these drawings have historical importance with regard to Prowler Aviation and the development of the Prowler aircraft.  If any of you have any information or thoughts about these drawings - please send them to me.

I really want to preserve these drawings.  So, recently, I got into a creative "mood" and found myself at Hobby Lobby looking for something practical and economical to frame these drawings with.  I pretty quickly found an "off the shelf" frame for the 2nd drawing.  Here is what it looks like after getting it framed up:
Unfortunately, "off the shelf" frames only go up to about 36" x 40".  And, it turns out that getting a custom frame made for something that is 36" x 48" is pretty pricey.  At this point, I was not inclined to invest almost a 1/2 day's pay into a frame for the large drawing.  So, I set out to find another option.  I was cruising thru the area of the store that had painting canvases and saw that they had "build-your-size" frames for making a painting canvas.  I bought a set of 38" frame sides and a set of 48" sides ($14).  Here they are:
I put them together in a rectangle and glued and nailed the corners.  Then, I painted the frame.  Next, I cut hardboard triangles and glued and nailed them to the corners to square the frame and stiffen it.  Then, I cut down a large piece of foam board ($12) and fit it inside the frame.  Here is what that all looked like from the back:
With that done, I placed the drawing in the frame.  Then, I found a 48" x 48" piece of acrylic plexiglass at Home Depot ($50) and cut it down to fit inside the frame.  The last step was to cut down some screen molding pieces in the table saw to make some glazing strips that would hold the plexiglass in place.  I painted them black for some contrast and nailed them into place to hold the plexiglass.  Here it is:
The final result turned out pretty nice, I think.  I only had to spend about $75 for materials and about 2 hrs or time to make this frame.  Sometime in Jan, I'll work on hanging these in the office.  I still have to find, or make, a frame for the 3rd drawing.  I'll update on that next time.


3.  One Builder Update from Francis -  I've gotten a couple updates from Francis recently.  His first was to let us know that he was working on the many access panels for the wings.  Here are his panels after cutting them out:
 And, here are his access panel doublers after he did an alodine process on them:
 Looks like a great way to separate them and still hold them all together for the alodine process:
 Then, just a few days before Xmas, I got an email from Francis telling me that he got his inspection and sign-off (thumbs-up) from OSAC (which I believe is the French form of the FAA).  With that, he is now cleared to close up and put skins on his wing.  Here is the OSAC stamp of approval on his wing spar:
That's AWESOME, Francis!!  Great job!!  Looks to me like Francis gave himself an excellent Christmas present this year!!  Well done, my friend. 

Well, that's all for this update.  I hope you all have a safe, enjoyable holiday season and a happy, healthy new year in 2020.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

AirVenture 2019 Was AWESOME!!! Original Prowler For Sale & 2 Missing Prowler Kits Found!!

Well, AirVenture 2019 was a great one!  The XP-82 was outstanding and the Wed & Sat night airshow were typically excellent - with a new finale!!

In this update:
Prowler Stuff:
1.  Original Prowler Is For Sale
2.  Two Missing Prowler Kits Located
2.  Builder Updates:
2.A.  Francis Building & Sealing His Forward Fuel Tanks
2.B.  Bryan Has Retired
3.  Making Cockpit Floor Stringer Dies

Non-Prowler Stuff:
4.  AirVenture 2019
5.  Fixing 5th Wheel RV's
6.  Hardinge CNC Lathe Progres


I hope everyone is having a great fall season.  I've been trying to clear some projects off my "To-Do List" that have been hanging around for quite some time now.  Not the least of which is the Hardinge CNC lathe project.  With the kids all out of the house now, I'm able to devote more of my days off from the "Day Job" to getting some of these things done.  The kids have been doing the holiday yard decorations for years now, but with them all moved out it's mom's job.  But, I decided to have a little fun, too .... HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!
On with the update........

Prowler Stuff:
1.  Original Prowler Is For Sale - In early Sep, I had a fella send me an email asking about the Prowler for sale on Barnstormers.  What?  I didn't know anything about it, so I went to the Barnstormers website and sure enough, I found this....
Turns out, this is the original Prowler that George Morse built and eventually sold to Curt Hughes in North Carolina.  I have had a few email exchanges with Curt, but I have not talked with him.  Bryan has talked with him on several occasions however.  In fact, Bryan bought his kit from Curt.  I have not heard if this Prowler was sold to anyone, but I checked Barnstormers again last night and there are no longer any Prowler ads posted.  If anyone knows any more about this Prowler, please send me an email, here.

2.  Two Missing Prowler Kits Located - So, until early this past Sept, there were 3 of George's original 15 kits that I have not located or did have any contact with the last recorded owner.  One of these kits (Kit #8) I had no information on at all.  The other two I had sent letters to the last owners on record a couple of times and never gotten any response (Kit #2 & Kit #3).  I am now happy to report that 2 of those 3 kits have been located!

First, during my discussion with Bryan about the original Prowler for sale (above), he mentioned that Curt had sold "the other kit".  I always only knew that Curt had the original Prowler and the kit that Bryan had bought from him.  So, I asked, "What other kit?"  Turns out, that was Kit #8.  Apparently, Curt had bought the original Prowler and TWO additional kits!!  At some point, Kit #8 had been sold to a fella named Fred who lives in GA.  Bryan just never knew that I didn't know about that "other kit!"  So, one more missing piece of the puzzle had been found!!

Then, out of the blue I got another email from a fella named Darian in Vernon, BC, Canada.  Turns out Darian now has Kit #3 that formerly belonged to Ed Radu in Calgary, Alberta Canada.  Darian reports that this kit is still new in the crates and has never been opened or touched.  He says he has the canopy and the MLG and everything firewall aft.  This kit is FOR SALE, so if you are interested, please send me a note via the feedback link and I will put you in touch with Darian.

That leaves only Kit #2 that I have not located or have had contact with the owner.  The last recorded owner of Kit #2 is Mr. Everett Reynolds in Missoula, MT.  If anyone has any info on the status of this kit, please send me an email via the feedback link on our website, here: Feedback

So, right now, to the best of my knowledge, here is a list of the
CURRENT PROWLER KITS / AIRCRAFT FOR SALE

Kit #A (Original Flying Aircraft), Curt, NC, USA
Kit #3 (Un-assembled Kit), Darian, BC, Canada
Kit #16 (Flying Aircraft), Bud,  FL, USA
Kit #18 (Un-assembled kit), Todd, CA, USA

Also, Kit #8 might possibly be for sale, but I have not been able to confirm this with the current owner yet.  More to follow.

2.  Builder Updates:
2.A.  Francis Building & Sealing His Forward Fuel Tanks - Let me start out by saying that, currently, Francis continues to be the most active Prowler builder and that I really appreciate him sending me periodic updates with pictures to share.  (Eric is probably also very active with his Prowler, but I don't have his latest status).

Most recently, Francis has been building and sealing his forward (outboard) fuel tanks.  It looks like the first order of business was to locate fuel sumping fittings:
Then, he either had someone machine these for him or he did it himself (not sure).  But here is his drawing and the stock to make the flanges shown on the upper left:
Looks like the following pic shows him countersinking the flange mounting holes for installation into the wing skins:
And, here is one of them installed on the fuel tank skin:
Here is a fuel tank cap installed on the fuel tank skin:
And, here he is checking the fitment with the skin placed over the forward side of the outboard wing spar:
That looks awesome, Francis!! Then, the real fun began.  In his August email to me Francis tells us again how much he likes his friend "ProSeal".....

Fuel tank drain
Fuel cap
And starting fu..🤬 sealant


And then, in early Oct his email to me with pictures was titled "A Day With My Friend...ProSeal" in the subject line. I'm not sure that I have the timeline of these following pictures exactly right, but here is where Francis sealed the forward side of the outboard spar with ProSeal:


And, the following pictures are showing the job he did getting the fuel tank skins cleco'ed to the nose ribs and sealed with his "friend"......




In his own words, here is the current status of Francis' fuel tank assembly:

Hello Todd
Last Saturday I had Prosealed and riveted on fresh Proseal [on] one rib,so😬🤯🤬🤢🤮
[In] The time [it takes] to squeeze the rivets the Proseal is not useable (dry) for the other ribs, so I [had to] discard the 3/4 of material!
In accordance with advice of some "choumack" [French word for "a sheetmetal guy"] today I have Prosealed and clecoed the other ribs and waiting [for] them to dry! I [will] rivet [them] next Saturday.
Less dirty [messy]!

Next Saturday, I hope that I can remove the clecos!😁
Thanks for all


Just last night, I got another quick update from Francis.  He sent these pics:

It looks like those clecos did come out.  The pic above shows the clecos out and rivets installed along the nose rib lines!  Sweet!
From the side view above, it does not look like the rivet lines have any buckling or warping. It looks like the ribs that he did by just using Proseal and then putting in clecos to hold the rib in place  until it was dry did well.  Might be a technique to keep in mind.  Thanks for sharing that, Francis.  Here is his note with the latest pics:

Hello Todd,
In [while] waiting for the visit of OSAC inspection [French form of FAA] to close the spar I start[ed] the riveting of the leading edge [fuel tank]. I use ms20426 -4-3.5 instead -4-3 ,i think -3 are too short and -4 are too long!

Nicely done, Francis!!  Thanks for the update.  Great work, as always!!!

2.B.  Bryan Has Retired - Recently, while emailing with Bryan, he told me of his upcoming final flight.  Specifically saying:

Getting busy around here as the whole family is coming in for the final flight, even family I didn’t know I had... They will all be on the ramp parallel to the 9-27 Rwy awaiting the block in. I have a plan. Shoot an ILS to 9 circle to land 36. That should qualify as a fly by without registering a go around for performance metrics, I hope.  Bryan

He later told me that the date was Sep 21st and that he was flying one of his shortest flight leg ever in the B777 for his last flight - OAK to MEM.  I checked with him later via text about how it went and he reported this:

Ha!  They closed the runway while we were enroute. However, I did overfly the 50 people that were on the ramp while landing on Rwy 18L and they were all impressed with the flyover.  We have some awesome video.  For one fleeting moment I had some emotion about the event.  I'm over that now - on to a new life!

Bryan started working as a delivery driver for FedEx over 40 years ago.  He worked as a FedEx driver while he built flight time and eventually got hired by FedEx's internal flight department.  After getting hired to that job, he waited for the next application window for FedEx line pilots and was given an interview and hired to the line.  He was also allowed to keep all of his longevity time as a FedEx employee!  So, in total, he has flown the line at FedEx for over 31 years and retired with 42 years of longevity!!

CONGRATULATIONS, Bryan!!!  You have had an incredible career!  You have also been a wealth of help and information for me with regard to Prowler airplanes.  You have also been a great friend!  Enjoy your retirement!!

Bryan had an engine for sale during AirVenture.  He displayed it at the RFA building during the show.  On the last day we had to get it back to the RV's so that he could put it on the trailer.  We decided that the easiest way to get the engine back to camp was to have Bryan ride in the back of the golf cart and hold the cart that he had the engine mounted to and pull it back.  Here's what that looked like:
It was slow going, but it worked great!  And, Bryan eventually sold the engine!

3.  Making Cockpit Floor Stringer Dies - Last week, I was having a frustrating time in the shop trying to get some equipment projects finished.  So, I decided to switch up to working on a Prowler project.  The project currently at the top of the Prowler list is getting some floor stringers (part FFA22 & FFA23) made for Kit #18 that I have for sale.  Before I can make the parts, I have to get the dies (form blocks) made. In a blog update in April I mentioned cutting the large pieces of 1" thick aluminum bar to make these dies.  Here are the two rough cut dies on the bottom and the old pattern for the floor stringer part on top:
Eventually, the dies should look something like this:
The circles represent pockets that will be cut into the top of the die to allow for forming the flanges on the lightening holes.  These pockets will be slightly larger than the lightening holes in the parts and when placed in the press, the rubber will bend the center edges of these holes down into the pockets and form flanges around them.

In order to machine these dies, the first thing that has to be done is figure out a way to fixture and hold the die on the mill table rigidly.  I have a fixture plate that I have been using to make all of my dies so far.  I figured I could still use this fixture plate, but I was going to have to make some other provisions to hold the fixture plate to the mill table (since the die is so large and covers most of the fixture plate up).  Here is RH die sitting on top of the fixture plate sitting on the mill table:
It is not easy to see in the pic above, but there is just enough of the fixture plate exposed at the top (RH side) of the die to allow counter sunk screws to be put into T nuts in the top slot of the mill table.  This will hold the top of the fixture plate to the mill table.  However, the bottom of the die and the bottom of the fixture plate hang over the front of the mill table.  I was going to have to devise some means to hold the bottom of the fixture plate (LH side as pictured) to the front of the mill table.  So, I made up some steel blocks with thru holes for 3/8" bolts into T nuts in the front table slot and then have threaded holes vertically down through the blocks.  Here is what those look like:
The bolts through the fixture plate have to have flush heads counter sunk into the fixture plate, but for measurement you can see a regular hex head bolt on the left above.  I figured out later that the die will cover the hole in the fixture plate on the right front corner.  So, here below, I had to thread the 1/4" all-thread into the bottom of the fixture plate and locked it with a jam nut.  Then the all-thread passes through a clearance hole in the steel block.  A nut on the bottom of the block that is bolted to the front of the mill table pulls the fixture plate tight down to the mill:
Here is pic of the left front side of the fixture plate showing that I did not have any flush head cap screws long enough to reach the anchor block:
I would have to get longer bolts the next day, but I continued on with the mounting of the die onto the fixture plate.  Here is the ruff-cut aluminum die clamped in the correct position onto the fixture plate:
Then, I flipped it over and put it on blocks so that the clamps cleared the top of the table:
That allowed me to transfer punch the holes in the fixture plate onto the back of the die:
These are the transferred punch marks on the back of the die that will be used to drill and tap blind holes:
Once I completed drilling and tapping the holes, I mounted the die to the fixture plate.  Then, I could mount the fixture plate onto the mill table.  Here it is:
Now, the bad news.  With the die mounted in the mill, I did the programming and did a test cut on the profile of the die.  To do this test cut, I set the cut depth to zero and run the profile program.  The cutting tool drops to the top of the part and then moves around the outside profile of the part.  When I did this for the die, I found out that I ruff-cut these dies too small!!!  Ugh!!  More frustration!!

After making a few adjustments and running the program a few times I determined that one die was only too small along approximately 14 inches of the bottom curve.  You can see it here:
Then, buy placing the other die on top of the one that I mounted, I found that the 2nd die was a little too short on the overall length by about 1/16" and that it was also too small on the bottom curve along about 16" near at the narrow end.  I marked approx how much material needed to be added (see markings in the pic above) to these places.  I took them over to buddy who is going to add aluminum weld to these dies for me while I'm on the road for the next several days.  Next time I'm in the shop, I should get these dies cut out successfully.  More to follow.

Non-Prowler Stuff:
4.  AirVenture 2019 - For me, this year, AirVenture started the week prior to opening Monday.  I headed back to WI a week early between work trips to get my RV and move it down to Camp Scholler.  I wanted to get my/our campsite set up prior to my final work trip for the month of Jul.  That way, once I was done with my last trip, I would be able to head back to OSH for the start of AirVenture and not have to worry about getting all set up.  Turns out, that was a good call as the weather on Sat prior to AirVenture was crazy and definitely hindered the beginning of the show this year.  It was well worth the cost of an extra few days to know that the rig would be all set up and waiting for me.

You might recall that last winter my dad's RV got crushed under a collapsed building that got a huge snow load from the harsh weather last winter.  While his RV was out of commission, I offered my RV to him to stay in at his sawmill this season.  He did use it until I needed it for AirVenture.  So, the first thing we had to do was get up to his sawmill where he works in the summer months and unhook my RV from the parking spot where his RV normally is and pull it out of the way.  Here is my RV after we got it moved out of the way:
Then, we were able to drop my rig and move his RV back into its normal parking spot and get it hooked up.  Here is his rig moved back in it's spot and all hooked up again:
Then, the following day, we pulled my RV down to Camp Scholler and got it set up in my favorite parking spot under the big Oak tree:
Notice how empty Camp Scholler is on the Tues before AirVenture begins!!  It's crazy how quickly the campground fills up as it gets close to the Sun before opening Monday!  In the pic above you might also see the stakes and tape I put up to save a spot for Bryan to park his rig next to me too!

With that done, I headed back to work for my last trip of the month.  After that trip, I got back to my folks very late on Sat before AirVenture.  On that Sat some very strong (65K ft) storms passed through central Wisconsin.  When we woke up on Sunday morning (without power), this was how my folks yard looked:
In total, the storm broke the tops out of 2 dozen trees (or more) on my folks property.  I spent the most of the day on Sunday clearing broken trees out of the yard and driveway.  We finally loaded up and headed to Camp Scholler about 7pm.  We (the crew and I) finally got to the RV about 9pm on Sun night.  Here is a pic of this year's AirVenture "Crew":
That's yours truly (front right), my daughter Alex behind me, a work friend, Jennifer (front left), and her boyfriend, Taha, behind her.  By Monday afternoon, things at Camp Scholler were getting back to normal, except for the several "lakes" that were still standing in many places from all the heavy rain on Sat.  Here is a picture of the flight line crowd on Tues afternoon:
That's the north end of the flight line on the left (above) and the south end of the flight line on the right end.  Here is a picture of the Brown Arch for 2019:
Here is a 1st time aircraft for me (maybe ever at AirVenture, I'm not sure?).  It looks a little like a Spitfire and I little like a Hurricane.  It's actually a Fairey Firefly:
Here is the airplane that stole the show this year.  It was supposed to be at AirVenture in 2018, but got held up.  Well, it was definitely worth the wait!!!  Definitely!!!
It's the XP-82 and it is absolutely an incredible aircraft!!
It's stellar, from every angle:

There is an incredible story behind the restoration of this aircraft.  It's worth the read.
Please check it out.  A simple web search for XP-82 will provide tons of info.

It is as beautiful in flight as it is on the ground:
Here is another fantasist airplane and always a crowd pleaser.  It's the Mosquito:
Here is another favorite aircraft of mine.  I've seen the Beech Starship many times, but it still grabs my attention every time.  This is a Burt Rutan aircraft and there is so much history, mystery and intrigue that is associated with this airplane.  Not many folks know that the building techniques and processes that were created by Burt and Scaled Composites to make the Starship actually laid the foundation for the building of every FAA certified composite aircraft EVER made since!!
This next airplane is no exception.  It also benefited from processes and techniques learned during the Starship certification.  It's the B787 and it's the largest certified aircraft that I'm aware of that is built largely of composites.  [The Dreamliner has an airframe comprising nearly 50% carbon fiber reinforced plastic and other composites.]  By all accounts (that I've heard from among the commercial pilot group) the B787 is an "evolutionary" step up in commercial aircraft design.  This is one of United's B787's that was flown into AirVenture with an all female crew this year on Wed for the Women In Aviation meeting.
The F35 Lightning II flew a bunch this year! And, so did the F22 Raptor.  Here's one of the F35's on Boeing Plaza:
Here's a pic of the multiple military aircraft that flew A LOT this year at AirVenture.  The F22's and the F35's flew every airshow, every day!! 
The active military aircraft and flying at AirVenture this year stood in very stark contrast compared to the years following sequestration.  The military burned A LOT of gas this year!  By comparison, there was not one single active military aircraft on the field for two years during sequestration.  I, for one, am glad their back!  And, if anyone ever complains about the sound of fighter jets, please tell them: "It's not noise, it's the sound of FREEDOM!!!"

It was another GREAT show this year.  The night airshow was phenomenal.  As I have said before, if you can only get to AirVenture for one day - make sure it is a Wed or Sat.  The night airshow (and the fireworks display in particular) is worth the price of admission all by itself!!

So, in years past, the fireworks was the finale for the night airshow, and the "wall of fire" was the fireworks finale.  This year, the wall of fire was only the beginning of the finale.  It's now the "ball of fire" that wraps up the show.  Seriously!  Check this out:
Wowzer!!!

5.  Fixing 5th Wheel RV's - As I mentioned above, over last winter dad's RV got crushed and in May this spring I went to help him dig it out of this mess:
After we got the RV un-buried, we pretty much tore a bunch of stuff apart on the inside to get at everything that we needed to get to so that he could start to fix it.  For example, the bed and bedroom had to be pulled apart in order to fix the bump-out rack gear, the landing gear under the front of the RV, and then put in new carpeting.  After AirVenture, I had some extra days off before having to get back to work.  So, I could stay and help dad get his RV back together so that it would be livable again.  The first order of business was to get the bedroom back together.  Here is the bed going back together after fixing the bump-out gear (he already had the landing gear fixed and the carpet re-installed):
And, the bedroom all back together:
You may also recall this pic of one of the building trusses that came down square on top of the air conditioner.  You can see here how the RV roof was crushed down and pushed down into the living space by the truss and a/c unit:
On the inside, we had to somehow "shove" the roof back up, and then do something to it so that it would stay up and not want to mush back down.  To "shove" everything back up into position, we decided to make up and H frame on top of some screw jacks and use them to push the ceiling back up.  Here's what we came up with:
Once we got the part of the ceiling that was in front of the hole (towards the front of the RV) pushed back up into position, we cut a heavy oak board to the right size and shape so that it would fit inside of the existing aluminum truss in the roof.  Then, we glued and screwed it into place.  By doing that, the broken roof truss and ceiling would stay up in position after removing the jacks.  Here is what it looked like just before we took the H frame back down:
Then, we repeated the process on the part of the ceiling that was just aft of the hole (towards the back of the RV) and got the heavy oak board glued and screwed into place:
This is how the hole looked after both trusses were pushed back up into position and the roof trusses were reinforced:
Next, we filled the empty space with insulation and then put up a full sheet of luan plywood that we had pre-painted white to match the ceiling:
We left all of that to dry overnight.  Then, the next day we went on top of the roof and put a heavy coat of roof tar all around the hole in the roof.  Then, we layed down a 3/4" sheet of marine plywood and screwed it down to the roof trusses and all around the perimeter.  When that was finished, we  covered it all with several coats of white RV roof paint.  I don't have any pics of that, but the repair came out great!

Speaking of white RV roof paint, during AirVenture this year, I climbed up on the roof of my RV and found that there was almost no roof paint left covering my rubber roof.  I don't think that it had ever been maintained or re-painted since it was new (20+ years ago).  So, while we were working on fixing dad's RV, and when we got tired of looking up, we'd take a break and go up on my rig and look down for a while.  The first thing we did with my roof was to remove any covers or fittings that could be taken off and then replaced after painting.  Then, we gave the entire roof a good washing and scrubbing to get all the loose junk off of it.  Once it was cleaned, here was dad helping me cut in the roof paint around the edges of the roof and all the vents, etc. on the roof:
After we finished cutting in around everything on the roof with 3 coats of paint, I went up and rolled on 3 coats of the while polymer roof paint everywhere else.  It came out looking really good!
I removed the cover from the air conditioner to make it easier to paint around the unit.  When I did, i found that it was deteriorated pretty bad and broken is several places.  I ordered a new one and by now, dad has probably put the new one on.  I'm really happy to get this job done.  It looks great and the RV will be good to go for AirVenture for years to come now!!

Z.  Hardinge CNC Lathe Progress - I had several days off recently and the biggest project that I have that is physically taking up too much room in my shop is this Hardinge CNC lathe.  So, I got after it and tried to get as much done as possible.

I have a lot of information with this involved project, so I am only going to hit the highlights here.  I will publish another blog update that will give more detail about my work on this project.  So, if you're a die-hard machine type, please check it out.  If you are not, then I'll save you all the details in this update.

One of the main objectives on this project was to move all of the spindle control electrical components out of a huge cabinet and condense them into a much smaller enclosure mounted on the side of the lathe.  At this point, that has been completed and the spindle has been tested and works.  Here is the new spindle components compartment:
Later, I added a door to the new compartment:
It still needs a handle, some body putty and some paint -but, the door works great.

Another big ticket item to get done was to install a cooling fan in the control cabinet as well as a vent to allow the hot air to escape.  Here is the new installed fan:
And, the new vent in the back door of the control:
The Z axis limit switch used to be in a very hard to reach place where it also interfered with other cables and parts of the machine.  I moved the switch to this new location and fabricated a rigid actuator that I mounted to the back side of the cross-slide table:
And, the most important modification - a new X axis drive belt pulley installation with a new servo motor mounting plate:
The hardest nut to crack on this project is going to be to figure out how to re-install the 8 position tool turret and, hopefully, make it work again.  I'm hoping I can use air pressure and some of the original parts and make it work again so that the turret can be rotated to select various tools and then be locked back down into position after the tool change.  Here is what I'm starting with:
And, last, but not least..... Remember that big old huge electrical cabinet?  Well, it became a very nice cabinet for storing my Second Amendment devices - after about a week of 10 hr days of work.  Here is the cabinet as it was when I got it:
After gutting the cabinet (accomplished while installing the spindle electrical components into the new cabinet), the first step was to grind off the steel bars welded to the back of it:
 Cut plugs for over a dozen holes and weld in those plugs, then grind them off as flush as possible:
 Clean off over 40 years of gunk off the cabinet inside and out and prime after cleaning:
 Also, body putty, sand, and prime all the exposed welded up holes:
 Here it is after it was mostly primed and ready to paint:
 After painting and installing some of the carpet:
 And, finally, the finished product - a cabinet to store my 2nd Amendment devices:
I think it turned out pretty good!  Even if I do say so, myself!  Ha!

That's it for this update.  Thanks for joining me and checking out this update.