Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays - We're Makin' Some Chips Here

Happy holidays everyone. Thanks for checking in on us again. It is, once again, time for the year end wrap-up. The big news for this post is the MotionMonster is working. We're making Prowler parts using the same processes that we will (hopefully) eventually use in production. Here's the list of items I have to cover in this update:
1. The MotionMonster is Makin' Parts
2. Short Term Plan
3. The (Pseudo) Hydroforming Process
4. Long Term Plans
5. FWF Update
6. Builder Updates:
   a. Chuck Has Gotten His Experimental Certificate
   b. Bud's Engine Parts Are Fixed
   c. Ray's Engine Work Continues    
   d. Roy's Airplane is For Sale
   e. Bryan's Cranking On His Fuselage
7. XP Talon Info

1. The MotionMonster is Makin' Parts - I've been able to get some time in the shop that past couple of weeks finishing up the installation of the machine and cutting parts. Yep! After 7 months of researching the various components of the machine, figuring out an electric power scheme for it, doing hook-ups, tracing wires, fixing parts, cleaning pieces, getting tooling, figuring out the spindle systems, plumbing chip vacuums, etc. etc. - I finally made some outboard wing spar cap strips with it. These parts had been cut out of a full sheet last March before I knew that I'd be getting this machine.  Here's what they looked like then:
I used the CAD drawings that I had made for these parts to run through my CAM software and make the G-code for the machine. But since these parts had already been cut into strips (instead of cutting these out of a full sheet), I had to make a fixture and cut them individually while mounted in the fixture. Here's the fixture I fabricated (with the old pattern laying on top):
Here's a video of the machine cutting the 1/8" rivet holes:
video
And another video of the machine doing the profile cuts to shape the pieces:
video
I was hoping to have some pics and/or video to post of the machine cutting production pieces out of a full sheet of aluminum. Unfortunately, the learning curve on the machine is still pretty steep - as evidenced by this:
Since I broke all the endmill/cutters that I had in the shop (and the new ones I ordered hadn't arrive before I had to leave to go to work), I couldn't get the outboard wing spar channel pieces cut out.   I'll have to get those done when I get home again next week.
Before I left, however, I was able to get another fixture made to put the holes into the center wing spar parts. Here's a couple of pics:
The pic above is the fixture installed on the table.  Below is the main center section spar web that I made years ago installed in the fixture.  I used the machine to router out a pocket so that the pieces will just fit into the fixture.  This will ensure proper rivet hole alignment of all the spar parts (shear web, top cap strips and bottom cap strips).
As I mentioned, I have had these main spar center section parts cut out and laying on one of the benches in the shop for several years. It was while I was making those pieces that I decided that there had to be a better way to more accurately and quickly produce these parts.  This got me started down the path of researching and learning about CNC production techniques.  The buying, fixing, and installing the various machines that I now have machines then followed.  The plan is (slowly) starting to come together.  Speaking of plans, that's the next couple of topics.   

2. Short Term Plan -
On the near term horizon I have three goals:
A.  The first goal is to go back and create the G-code part files for all of the parts of the airplane that I have already made using manual techniques. When I finish the first "new" Prowler plane, I want to have ALL of the parts made using the CNC production processes. Going back and creating the part files for all the parts that I've already made will get the production processes "caught-up" to the parts that I have already made for the first airplane. I've actually gotten most of this done already for the outboard wing spar parts that I drilled and profiled the past several weeks (mentioned above). I'll get the center wing spar parts done in the next week or so.
B.  The second goal is to get the 8 foot press brake that Pop and I built last year dialed in and cleaned up. I need to have it working in order to bend the outboard wing spar channels to meet the next goal.
C.  The third goal is to get all of the wing spar parts (center and outboard) cleaned up, treated with Alodine, and assembled before the end of March. That's when Pop will be out for the annual visit and he can help me get the spar installed into the wing jig and leveled up. If you go "way back" in the blog posts, you'll see that we built the first phase of the wing jig almost 4 years ago (Mar 2007)! The pieces of the puzzle are SLOWLY starting to come together.

Once the spar is in the wing jig, then the focus will shift to setting up the production processes and making the parts that will eventually attach to the spar. The most significant of these will be: wing ribs (nose and mid); parts associated with the landing gear; and the fuselage floor pieces. The production process I'm hoping to use for the wing ribs is going to lead to the next big phase of production set-up for the "new" Prowler Aviation.   I'll outline this in the Long Term Plan below.   But first, more on the wing rib forming process.

3. The (Pseudo) Hydroforming Process -
The process that I'm hoping to use for making wing ribs, bulkhead formers and similar parts is best described by Brian Carpenter in a video that he made for the EAA Hints for Homebuilders. Check this out:
video
The process that I would like to use is going to be virtually identical to what Brian demonstrated in the video, just on a bigger scale. The main problem with "bigger" is that the forces involved become huge very quickly. The press size becomes enormous as the area increases.
Here's how the math works out.   It takes a pressure of about 800-1000 PSI to form the metal that you saw in the video above.   Let's be conservative and use the 1000 PSI as our target pressure to ensure our parts get bent completely and properly.   Now, the largest part that I need to be able to bend using this process is the fuselage former right behind the cockpit.   This part is approx. 34" by 22" which will require a "box" that is at least 36"x24" and gives an area of 864 sq. in.   Now, if you want to get 1000 pounds of force in every sq inch, that will require a total force of 864 x 1000 = 864K pounds of force. That means you will need a press that is capable of 432 tons!   That is a massive press.   If you have a minute do a google search for 600 ton hydraulic presses. You'll see that they are massive and expensive. But, I have a plan.
Once the spar is complete and installed in the wing jig the next step will be to begin to "decorate" it with wing ribs and parts mentioned earlier. Creating the production process for making the wing ribs will be a challenge, but it is do-able. In order to be able to practically and feasibly make parts using this "rubber hydroforming" process, the size of the "box" has to be reduced to the smallest size possible.   After reviewing all the alternatives, I have decided (with the help of some of my "advisers") to produce the fuselage formers in two parts.   The largest 3 of the 8 fuselage formers will have to be made in two halves and those will have to be riveted together by the builders before installation. Not an ideal solution, but it is an acceptable compromise.

So, by doing this, the size of the "box" is reduced to about 36" x 12" and will require about 200 tons of force. Now we are down to talking about two 100 ton presses possibly configured side by side. Or, we may be able to use four 50 ton bottle jacks in a distributed, purpose built press setup. One way or another, doing this makes the production process a lot more practical and a lot less costly. It's doable. Here's a snippet of an idea that I have:

4. Long Term Plans - Looking a ways down the road, the setup for the production of pressed parts will be become the big project into next year.  Getting, buying, or building a press with the capability to make these parts (and not break the piggy bank here) will be the next big challenge for me.  I'm fairly certain that I can come up with a home-brew, purpose built press like the snippet shown above.  But before I spend the time, effort and money to tackle that, I want to try some of this process on a smaller scale.

To do that, I plan to remodel a hydraulic press that we got from George with the sale of Prowler Aviation.  Here's a pic of it as it currently exists:
In a "way back" post I talked about getting that press set up for pressing wing ribs using a male and female die process on soft 2024-O aluminum. That was before I discovered this rubber hydroforming process and after I went through the heat treating process that I also discussed in a previous post.  To be able to make these parts in a two step process (#1 cut from a full sheet of 2024-T3 and #2 press into shape in one operation) will greatly simplify my production.

Anyway, I'm going to first test this process out with this smaller press.  I plan to remove the wood platens and replace them with the largest steel "box" that I can use in this press, given the 100 ton ram that is in it and the physical size of the press between the left and right columns.  I hope to be able to make a box just big enough to be able to form almost all of the wing ribs for the airplane.  Then, taking what I learn from this endeavor, I will set out to design and build a purpose built press big enough for all of the Prowler parts I will need to "squish."

Before  I can squish out any of these parts, I will need to make new dies similar to what you saw in the video with Brian.  Since I plan to (hopefully) re-use these dies many times (meaning lots of kits), I will need to make new dies for any part that has to be squished to become a real Prowler part.  That's where this guy comes into play:


Remember the summer before last, when the opportunity to get this machine for a really good price came along?  Well, it's time will come (soon), and the overall plan is slowly coming together.  I'll be using this to make those dies out of thick aluminum, or maybe mild steel.  Also, while I was doing all the CAD work and making the drawings of all of the parts of the plane, I knew that this would have to be done - so I also made the necessary drawings for the dies (to perfectly match the parts) at the same time.  Now, I will have those readily available when I need to start cutting dies.  The pieces of the puzzle ......

It also turns out that the controller that I'm learning to use to run the MotionMonster is a Fagor 8025M controller.  And, the controller on the 3axis CNC Ganesh mill is a Fagor 8040M - same company, just a few versions newer.  So, much of what I'm learning on the router will apply (and flatten the learning curve) to the Mill.  That was kind of convenient!  You'll see more of this toward the end of 2012 and into 2013 - I suspect.

5. FWF Update - In the past few months, there has been some things happening at GearedDrives.  Larry, who worked for Bud and Phylis, has taken over as moderator of their Yahoo Groups site.  Some of their builders are discussing their installations, etc.  But, no word yet on what will become of the company.  In order to plan ahead conservatively, I've taken some time to follow up on some suggestions from some of my "advisers" and I've looked into the company called EPI again.  I had checked out their website several years ago, but hadn't for a long time.  Well, now I think it will serve me well to investigate this as a resource for possibly obtaining a good FWF solution for the Prowler.  I have only looked over the information on the website, but I have not contacted the company directly.  It's on the list of to-do's.  But I'd thought I'd share the info.  If any of you have information about EPI and/or Jack Kane - I'd be interested to hear your insight.  You can check out their website here:  http://www.epi-eng.com/index.html and specifically the PSRU gearboxes here:http://www.epi-eng.com/gearbox_products/gearbox_products_contents.htm
6. Builder Updates:
A. Chuck Has Gotten His Experimental Certificate - Chuck called me recently to report that he got his airplane put all back together after his gear-up landing incident and that he has received his experimental certificate. He still  reports that the airplane flies beautifully. He is really impressed with the great handling characteristics of the airplane and it's responsiveness. He's looking forward to taking his wife out on a few short trips soon. Congratulations Chuck!   Thanks for the update and enjoy the rides!

B. Bud's Engine Parts Are Fixed - Here is the body of the most recent email that I got from Bud:
"After six months, I finally have my engine back and will begin reinstalling it tomorrow. Along the way, I have learned a lot about Chevy SB engines and mine in particular. I think I know most of what George did to produce it. In a way, I am lucky to have had this opportunity to disassemble and rebuild the engine; I feel more comfortable with it now."
Good Luck with the re-installation of your FWF setup Bud.  Please send updates with your progress.  And, let me know if I can help in any way.

C. Ray's Engine Work Continues - Ray is continuing to make good progress on his airplane.  I was able to make a run up to see him this past week (crew services was leaving me alone for a while - finally).  He has gotten a lot of cockpit re-installed to near military specs.  The camera blurred a bit, but check this out:
His engine is still apart while he has his heads re-worked, but he's done a awesome job working on the systems and the engine hook-up.  Here's some examples:

 And, here is his new composite propeller that will grace the front of his airplane.  It's a really nice prop, and composite for this application is a good choice.

Unfortunately, Ray is sked for surgery in Jan and Feb.  So, it won't be until after his recovery that he will be able to get his engine work completed and run it for the first time.  He is estimating at he might get his first runs done in April or early May.  I can't wait to hear his plane start.  I plan to be there if I possibly can.  I'll report with pics and video.  Good luck with the surgery Ray.  We all hope you recover well and quickly.

D. Roy's Airplane is For Sale - Sadly, Roy reports that he must put his Prowler up for sale.  Here is the text from a couple of his emails:
 "I sure hate to have to do it, but I have no choice. I am going to have to put kit# 13 up for sale. If you guys know of anyone that might be interested please give them my contact info. (Please use the Contact page on our website and I will provide the contact info if you are interested).   I have included a couple of pictures of the project
I purchased the project about 2 years ago for $30,000 I haven't touched it except for putting it together to look at. The workmanship is very good and I believe its worth the price. The A&P that was working on it has 5 years of full time work in it. It will significantly reduce the build time for the next owner. Let me know if your interested and we can talk further."
Here are the pics that Roy included in his email:
I am really sorry to hear this bad news Roy.  I hope your airplane finds a great home! Again, please use the Contact page on our website if you are interested.  I will send you Roy's contact info.

E. Bryan's Cranking Away On His Fuselage - Brian sent this update with some pics:
"Any previous builder can sympathize with where i am at with this project... those pesky tail (aft fuselage) skins! Having evaluated all the previous experiences builders have had trying to make this work I decided to English wheel the skins prior to fitment. I have had some success with that idea as the limited number of tie down straps attest. The side skins are troublesome because of their 8' length. Trying to stabilize them while rolling only one edge is unsettling to say the least. The question most asked... Yes, I also had to shim the bulkheads (up to 1/4" in one place) to get a good fitment. So, two steps foreword and one step aft as i discovered i had over tightened several of the hydraulic lines under the cockpit floor. Fortunately I can still lift the floor and re-do those lines before access to that area becomes severely restricted. I would have attached a big red bow for the season but have to run off and ream my motor mounts at a friends house before he leaves for a trip."
Great progress Bryan!  Thanks for the pics.

7. XP Talon Info - You might remember that I mentioned the XP Talon in my last blog post.  I didn't have a picture of Chuck's unfortunate gear-up incident, but I did have a pic of a similar incident that the XP Talon was involved in.  Well, that post prompted an email to me from Vern Goodsell.  Vern's a real nice fella.  In one of his emails he said:
"I talked to Chuck the day he skidded his Prowler in and we both felt sorry for each other. I had done the same thing two weeks earlier!  The Talon is back in the air and flying well. I hope Chuck is close to flying the Prowler but I haven't heard from him.
There is quite a story about how and why the Talon was designed and built but the original owner never finished it. I purchased it in 1997 and worked on it off and on 'til it flew last January.
I always liked the Prowler and actually flew the Jaguar with George years ago. You prowler owners are lucky to have at least some kind of back-up and support, I have the only Talon in the world and no spare parts or support to go with it. But I like a challenge and when something gets bent, I get to work and fix it.
The Talon will be for sale when I finish flying the hours off so if any of you pilots out there are interested, just give me a call or email me."

Thanks for the email's Vern.  We're happy to report (above) that Chuck has indeed gotten his Prowler back in the air.  Congrats on completing such a unique and beautiful aircraft.  It looks like you've done a fantastic job.  You never know, maybe 1 of my 2 blog followers might be interested in buying your airplane!?!?

That's all for this update.  Thank you for stopping by to check in on us.  Merry Christmas from Prowler Aviation.  I hope you all enjoy a happy and safe holiday season.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Summer's Over - Finally Some Time In The Shop!!!

Well, another crazy summer has gone by - and it was a pretty good summer.  I've got a lot of items for this update - so let's get started.  In this update:
1. Loss of Bud Warren and his daughter Phyllis Ridings of GearedDrives
2. Introducing the "MotionMonster" 
3. Making Room In The Shop 
4. AirVenture 2011
5. Builder Updates:
    5A. Builder Visit with Bryan 
    5B. Builder Visit with Rick 
    5B. Chuck's Accident
    5C. Bud's Oil Problem
    5D. Steve's Mods
    5E. Nicolas Inventory
6. My Kids Experience EAA Young Eagles

1. Loss of Bud Warren and his daughter Phyllis Ridings of GearedDrives - The experimental aircraft and alternative engine community suffered a great loss this past May.  Bud Warren was the owner, designer, and chief technician of GearedDrives, a company that makes a PSRU (and FWF solutions) for experimental aviation alternative engines.  His daughter Phyllis was his business partner and assistant.  The were both fatally injured in a crash of a customers aircraft.  Here is the NTSB's preliminary report:
http://www.ntsb.gov/aviationquery/brief.aspx?ev_id=20110505X90031&key=1
As you might recall, I built a Prowler FWF mock-up using a full size mock-up of Bud's PSRU to see if it would fit into the un-altered Prowler engine compartment.  It will work and I was really planning on using the GearedDrives FWF solution to power our Prowlers.  This plan is now on hold pending the disposition of GearedDrives.  I have been told that there are at least 2 individuals that are insistent on keeping the company going.  Time will tell.
Regardless the final outcome, we are saddened by the loss of these two wonderful individuals and we would like to convey our condolences to the family and friends of Bud and Phyllis.
    
2. Introducing the "MotionMonster"   -  After searching for months, I finally found the next machine for Prowler Aviation.  It is a 4' x 8' CNC router system that was built by a company called MotionMaster.  Since this machine is pretty large (13'x8.5' and 5 tons), we have nicknamed it the MotionMonster.  MotionMaster no longer exists, but there are quite a few of there machines still out there, both in use and for sale at used equipment dealers.  I purchased mine in a liquidation sale from a specialty plastics company in San Bernardino, CA in an "as is, where is" condition.  This caused a very impromptu, 3-day excursion to get the machine and haul it back to the shop. Here is the machine as it sat in the plastics shop before the move:
Here are some pix of the move:
 Here is the MotionMonster after about a 10 days of reconstruction in the shop.  The work required to get the machine to this point included; days of searching info online, 3 days of tracing individual wires, splicing a GOB of wires, building an RS232 patch cord and loading laptop software to talk to the controller computer, reformatting the X and Y axis servo controllers, cleaning and lubing X, Y & Z linear motion components, remounting the spindle, more days of reading the controller manuals (installation and programming), etc., etc., Here's the pic:
 It's taking a lot of work to get the machine ready to make Prowler parts.  From above, the list of repairs and modifications to the machine are pretty numerous.  Also, there was not much information available online - so I have had to rely on help from various machining message forums for help getting the machine set up correctly.  You can read the more complete info on the work in these threads:
a. http://www.cnczone.com/forums/commercial_cnc_wood_routers/129173-anyone_have_any_motionmaster_documentation.html
b. http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb/cnc-machining/home-search-offsets-question-230940/
c. http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb/cnc-machining/help-8025m-tool-change-subroutine-230672/
d. http://www.cnczone.com/forums/fagor_automation/133869-help_8025m_tool_change_subroutine.html

So, at this point the machine is operating in X, Y and Z axis (servos).  However, I have not run the spindle yet.  The machine was designed to operate on 460V 3 phase power, but I only have 220V single phase power in the shop.  The most important components needing the 3 phase power are the spindle and the vacuum table motor.  I am now re-wiring the power distribution panel to operate all of the machine's components on 220V 3 phase power.  In order to do this, I also need to finish building a 20HP rotary phase converter.  I've purchased the components for the RPC and I just need to put them together.  Here's the idler motor and the RPC controller:
Put these two together and you get a RPC that will power the spindle and the vacuum table motor.
  Here is a pic of the table moved to its (hopefully) final position in the shop:
This re-arranging of the machines in the shop to make room for the MotionMonster has gotten the shop a bit over-crowded - which leads to the next topic.

3. Making Room In The Shop - The last few days in the shop were devoted to trying to get several projects out of the shop that have been "hanging fire" for too long.  I was finally able to sell my 1st metal lathe that was replaced with a larger, more capable machine last year.  So, this went out the door this past week:
Craigslist is great!  Then, I worked on getting the 8ft sheet metal brake ready to list.  Here it is all ready to go - no calls yet though:
The last project completed before this commute back to work for a week was the mobile parts bin rack that has been taking up space in the shop for about 3 years.  Finally got the shelves and bins put in. 
Now it needs a coat of paint and then it will go out in the shed until I can find something else to get rid of in the shop to make room for it back in the shop.

A tool that will not be leaving the shop is the 8ft press brake.  I was actually working on designing and building a back-gauge for it when the deal for the MotionMonster popped up.  So, that hanging project is next on the hit list.  Well, it might be worked in conjunction with the RPC and getting the spindle powered on the big machine.  Here's a couple pix of the press brake DRO installations:
 If the DRO's look a lot like cheap Chinese digital calipers (with the calipers cut off) from a place with initials HFT - then that's 'cause that's what they are! These will allow precise control of the amount of plunge with the upper die. The depth of the plunge is what will determine the angle of the bend in the lower die - it works like this:
This drawing represents a 90 degree bend in the 0.040" piece of 2024-T3 with a 10 degree over-bend to account for spring-back of the material. After some research I've found that a change of just 0.003" (three thousandths of an inch) will change the bend angle by 1 degree. So, you can see that if I want to make accurate and repeatable bends, I have to have a digital method of measuring the plunge of the die while making the bends.
Here's the beginning of the back-gauge installation.  There will be a long piece of rigid aluminum tubing that will be mounted onto the brackets you see here.  This will allow for accurately setting the flange size when bending the long pieces of aluminum for the outboard spar web channels, the fuselage longerons, etc. etc.
I hope to have this machine stripped down, cleaned, painted, re-assembled and ready to use in the next month.  The outboard spar channels will be the first parts made in this press brake.  But, before they can be bent-up in the press brake they will need to be cut on the MotionMonster.  The goal is to get the spar channels cut and bent up by the end of the year.  My next two weeks in the shop will be busy.
   
4. AirVenture 2011 - I was able to make it to Airventure again this year, although it was only on Mon-Wed this time.  As always, there was way more to do than time to do it.  Monday and Tues were beautiful and it only rained a significant amount on Wed morning.  Bryan and I were able to get together with Rick again this year for a short while and talk Prowlers. We also tracked down several Prowler parts for Bryan.  There were LOADS of Naval aircraft there all week for the Centennial of Naval Aviation celebration.  Monday was the tribute to Bob Hoover day.  Our girls found this parked on the new Warbirds Ramp:
Areoshell Square (it's actually called something else now - but I can't remember what that is) was "littered" with Burt Rutan airplanes.  Wed was tribute to Burt day.  Here's my favorite:
This was a first for me:
Overall, it was a great show.  And, as the saying goes: Even the worst day at Airventure still beats the best day doing ANYTHING else.
 
5. Builder Visit and Updates:
   
    5A. Builder Visit with Bryan  - After my annual trip to Orlando for recurrent training this Sept, Bryan and I planned a builder visit.  I'd seen his airplane for years in pictures, but I wanted to see it up close and personal.  Bryan and his wife Lee were wonderful hosts, and we had a great time talking Prowlers for a few days.  He is doing a great job on his build.  Here is a shot of his tailwheel section with the tailwheel strut that I had built for Bryan about a year ago:
Bryan has been able to incorporate some fixes to the Prowler design that the previous builders have warned us about.  He has also recently confirmed several of these while trying to fit-up the aft empenage area.  I will attempt to incorporate much of this into the new Prowler design (CAD drawings).  Here's an example.  It's not a great pix, but several of the builder's have found that the Elevator frame must be made smaller.  They are finding that the elevator is rubbing on the aft end of the vertical stabilizer skin and that they have a reduced amount of rudder swing.  This pic is pointing at the inboard rib of the elevators to remind me to move it outboard by about 1/4":
The old radiator door operating system was a rather large collection of torque tubes and linkages all connected together to operate the two radiator doors with one motor.  Bryan has incorporated the use of small linear actuators that are electrically controlled.  It is a wonderful design and it greatly reduces my production parts count.  Overall, it's a great improvement.  Here's an external pic:
Here's another example.  Bryan and I discussed the possibility of taking the largest fuselage former just aft of the cockpit and tipping it aft just a bit to allow for a little more room and a little more reclined seating of the aft pilot seat.  Well, he's doing it!  I'll be watching closely on this improvement to see if I can incorporate it into the new Prowler design without having to change and/or re-design a huge number of parts.  We'll see how it goes.  Here's a pic:
One other change that Bryan has incorporated is the elimination of the inner gear doors.  Every builder has commented on how complicated, intricate, and futzy they were to build and operate.  So, Bryan has opted for a B737 style setup with outer gear doors and brushes about the wheels.  It will look great.  Whatdaya think?:
Overall, Bryan is building a beautiful airplane.  The design is well thought out and the workmanship is impressive.  It will be a great airplane.  Here's an overall shot of the plane in his garage:
Here's a shot of the Davies Estate:
You have a wonderful home Bryan and you are doing a excellent job on the Prowler.  Thank you for your hospitality.  I really enjoyed the visit and meeting the family again.

  5B. Builder Visit with Rick (The RW&B Prowler)  - While I was visiting Bryan, he coordinated an opportunity to meet with Rick and see his airplane.  You might recall that Rick bought Kit #13 and the first production Red, White and Blue airplane.  I've also seen this airplane in pics for years, but it was a real treat to get to look it over, up close.  Here's a pic:
Here's a shot with yours truly:
It was interesting, although probably not unexpected, that much of the airplane is very, very similar to George's current airplane (the gray and black Kit #5).  As we were looking over the RW&B plane, Bryan and I noticed that the inside edges of the elevators had been worked down, with material removed very close to the rivet line where the elevators meet the aft edge of the vertical stab (sound familiar).  So, apparently this is not a new problem!  I can assure you that this will be fixed in the future though.  Here's a pic of Bryan looking over Rick's other airplane - a very well appointed Falco:
That is also a very, very nice aircraft.  Thanks for letting us drop by and check out your airplanes, Rick.  I really appreciate you taking the time to make this possible.  I learned a lot and really enjoyed seeing more of the history of Prowler aviation.

  5C. Chuck's Accident - I am really sorry to report that on one of Chuck's phase 2 flights of his Prowler he performed a gear-up landing.  He freely admits that he just plain forgot to put the gear down.  I talked to him shortly after he started tearing down the PSRU and the engine to inspect if for damage.  He reports that there was no detectable damage to any of the components (up to that point in time).  However, out of an abundance of caution, the were creating a list of items to replace.  According to Ray, Chuck started working on repairing the radiators pretty quickly.  Chuck visited Ray at one point to get a hand with some of the radiator work.  Unfortunately, I don't have any pics to go with this report, but I have to imagine that this scene must have looked something like this:
This was actually an XP-Talon that was being flown by it's builder and current owner.  Here is a link to the FAA incident report:  http://www.faa.gov/data_research/accident_incident/preliminary_data/events01/media/34_420XP.txt
There are some that claim that this airplane is a modified version of a Prowler.  You can be the judge. Investigate this airplane via google searches and look over the information.  Sorry for the sidebar, but the point of all this is that Chuck can hopefully take some solace in the fact that he is (at least) not alone.  Good luck with the repairs Chuck.  Please let me know if there is anything more I can do to help.

    5D. Bud's Oil Problem -  I got a note from Bud recently telling me that he had spun a main crankshaft bearing in his engine.  He had been working on an engine oil modification to his Prowler that he and Steve had researched together online.  They were both experiencing oil pressure and temperature problems and found a modification package from a vendor offering a dry-sump system.  After finishing the installation, Bud was attempting to test his engine and experienced an oil starvation problem.  The net result was a spun bearing.  So, he is in the process of rounding up the needed parts and getting the necessary machining done.  Of course, we are really sorry to hear this bad news, but Bud is making good progress to get the repairs done.  Again, good luck with the repairs Bud.  Please let me know if there is anything more I can do to help you get your Prowler flying again.

    5E. Steve's Mods - As mentioned above, Steve is working on the same mod as Bud.  But, since he is not retired yet, he hasn't had as much time to devote to the mod work.  He is, however, still making great progress.  Here are a couple of pix of his mod work:
and; a file photo of his airplane in the past:
Nice work Steve!  Hope the mods go well for you.  Please let me know how it turns out.
   
    5F. Nicolas Inventory - Nicolas has been working on doing a thorough inventory of the parts in his kit.  We have exchanged emails and he has shared his list of parts that may need to be located or made in order to make his kit complete.  He has said that he will start work on the wing spar first.  Please send pictures when you get going Nicolas.  Here is a "Before" pic:
And, here are some "After" shots:
 
Awesome job organizing your parts Nicolas.  I will make sure that you get the rest of the parts that you need going forward.  Please update me on your progress.

6. My Kids Experience EAA Young Eagles - All work and no play makes..... well you know.  So, in May I took the day off from the day-job and the Prowler job and took my family to the local EAA chapter for their Young Eagles day.  My kids have flown commercial airlines since each of them were babies, but none of them has ever been up in a GA airplane.  So, we decided that the time was right and spent the day with them at my EAA chapter (1148).  Here's a pic of our girls with Andrea the YE volunteer pilot:
The girls really enjoyed the day.  The discussion at the dinner table that night was how we were going to buy an airplane after we got mom's van paid off.  Oh-oh, be careful what you wish for!!
Also, a huge thank you to the YE program and the YE volunteers.  It's an outstanding program.

Well, that's all for this update.  I realize this is a long update, but I wanted to get this info out there.  I will have to try harder to do more of these updates in smaller chunks.  Until next time, I hope you all have a great fall season.