Tuesday, October 25, 2016

End of Another Crazy Busy Summer!!!!

Hello Everyone,

Well, this is my first opportunity to post a blog update after another "Crazy Busy" summer (like they always are!!).  The day-job goes bonkers during the summer months and that, combined with the need/desire to squeeze in some trips to visit friends and family, (and, of course, to get to AirVenture) makes for non-stop travel for me in late June through early August each year.  This year, I lived out of a suitcase for nearly 5 weeks.  I left home on June 30th to start my first work trip in July and didn't get home until Aug 4th (after the work trip that followed my trek to AirVenture 2016).  Ugh!!!

Since then, most of my off time in Aug was dedicated to helping my wife take care of her mom's trust/estate things (she passed away this summer).  In Sep I got some forward progress on the EAA simulator project and also had to study for (and do) my annual recurrent training/check rides for the day job.  So far, in Oct, I have just worked a few trips for the day job and then squeezed in a short trip back to my home in WI.  I was there to attend a reunion with the guys that I got commissioned with from the NROTC Unit at the Univ. of WI in Madison (we were year group '86).  This Dec it will have been 30 years since I completed college and started my career as an officer in the U.S. Navy.  Man, it's amazing how time flies!!  I don't feel that old, but I guess I am.

So, anyway, now I can finally catch my breath and hopefully get a few weeks in the shop and get some Prowler stuff done......at least until the Thanksgiving rush starts.  The Prowler projects that I currently have hanging fire includes:
-> Find a rubber pad for the 400 ton press;
-> Build a new hydraulic system for the 400 ton press;
-> Finish fabricating parts for Kit #18;
-> Cut remaining wing nose rib dies.

Ahead, in this update:
Prowler Items:
1.   AirVenture 2016 
2.   Ray's Airplane Update
3.   Ernest's Prowler Update 
4.   Francis & Robert's Prowler Update 
5.   Bryce's Prowler Update
6.   Update on George Morse
Non-Prowler Items:
7.   EAA Mobile Simulator Work
8.   Max's Power Hammer Progress
9.   Gantry Crane Completed and Put Away

Prowler Items:
1.   Airventure 2016 - This year was another great year at AirVenture.  I included AirVenture in the Prowler related items this time, because this year it did have a pretty close connection for me.  It was a special AirVenture this year for two reasons: 1) The company that I work for was bringing the first Airbus aircraft assembled in the USA to KOSH (the company named it "Bluesmobile" after Mobile, AL - where the US plant is located); and 2) My dad saw an article about this in a local newspaper.  He really wanted to see Bluesmobile was able to join me on the day that it would be at AirVenture.  On Wed we made our way to Boeing Plaza and here is a picture of dad sitting in "my" seat:
Bluesmobile is one of our HD (High Density) A321 aircraft that carries about 200 and it had only been online less than month when they brought it to AirVenture this year.  About 2 months later (after AirVenture) I showed up at the airport in JFK for a flight to San Juan, PR (I think).  When I went down to do the preflight walk-around I looked up and saw this:
When I realized that I was operating "Bluesmobile" that night, I texted this picture to my folks with a note that said "Guess which airplane I'm flying today??"  Of course, they thought this was pretty special.  What a great experience that came full circle that night!  I'm glad that dad got to share a little of what I do.  He has been such a great help to me getting so many of my Prowler projects over the finish line.  Thanks Pa!

Here is Ray's favorite airplane - the Bell P39 Airacobra.  I'd never before seen one of these aircraft in person, close up.  It's a beautiful aircraft:
Here's another unique aircraft.  I believe it's the only flying Prescott Pusher out there.  There is an interesting story behind this airplane that the owner shared with us.  It was actually a kit type aircraft that had some issues and the company ended up closing it doors.  Still, it's a beautiful plane and he did an awesome job on the build.  The airplane is for sale!  Dad and I used the shade of the tail to watch the afternoon airshow from that day:
This is the airplane that stole the show this year.  It's the Martin Mars water tanker.  This is a BIG airplane.  During a few of the afternoon airshows, it did a water drop alongside the runway.  It was an impressive sight.
Here it is at anchor at the seaplane base on Lake Winnebago.  Tours were available, but they were kinda pricey.  What an incredible airplane, though!  Unfortunately, on Thursday it hit a submerged piece of FOD in Lake Winnebago during a taxi and was damaged.  I don't think it flew again for most of the show.  It might have made a final weekend show - I'm not sure:
I'm always amazed by the size of the C-5A Galaxy.  It's just always an impressive sight:
Of course, no trip to AirVenture is complete without me crawling all around my all-time favorite aircraft:
If I could have any airplane that I wanted....I would be an F4U Corsair.  I just think they are the best looking, best sounding, most unique design, and all-around hottest ride on the planet.  Just my $0.02.

Believe it or not, I have about 2 hours time in one of these fast movers!!! During my midshipman days I got one flight of .9 hrs in a TA-4 out of NAS Miramar during my NROTC freshman summer training cruise.  Later on, during my junior year, I was in Beeville, TX on an aviation training trip and got a 1.0 hr flight in another TA-4 during an ACM training hop!!  What a total thrill!!  To this day, I've never seen the windscreen of any airplane turn alternately green and blue so many times as I did on that day.  Wow!
After all the years I've been to AirVenture, I'd never been to the Seaplane base.  So, this year, Bryan and I took the bus trip one afternoon and headed out to see it.  It was a very different and unique EAA experience, but by no means any less interesting!!  Here's a panorama of a large part of the seaplane base:
When the fun was over and I had to head back to work,  I commuted back to LAX through ORD.  During my stop over there I got to see another favorite again.  If you ever get there and have the time, try to check out the Edward Henry "Butch" O'Hare memorial.  He is the Navy pilot (and Hellcat driver) that KORD is named after.  It's located in the United terminal near gate E1.  What an incredible individual!  It is truly amazing what some will do, and give, so that we can live in peace and freedom.
Anyway, this aircraft and memorial display are well worth a look (and a read) if you're at KORD and have a few minutes.

2.   Ray's Airplane Update - The Prowler Master is at it again!  I got a chance to visit with Ray again on one of my days off in LA between trips.  He had just completed modifying the MLG so that the strut extension was a little more limited and keeps the wheels from coming so close to the inner doors.  He was afraid of the tires possible catching on the inner doors and causing damage.  So, he modified a sleeve in the strut that shortened the extension of the strut by about 3/16".  Here's the plane up on jacks for testing and cycling:
Here's a look at how close the gear does come to the inner doors and the wells themselves:
and the other side:
Ray also finished the modifications to his TW strut.
 He did some very smart work to get the proper caster on the strut.  Here is a pic of the stiffening of the structure above the TW strut linkage.  This is the area that Ray found cracks:
He also had to find just the right springs for the over-center lock that would provide enough force to hold the lock when the TW is extended.  Yet, it is light enough pressure to not "bog down" the hydraulic actuator during retraction of the TW.
Nice work, Ray!

With all this work done, Ray asked me if I'd like to try it out!  Well... HECK YA!!!!  Here is the plane after we got it out of the hangar.  Ray took my pic:
And, I took one of him with his AWESOME aircraft:
We ran the airplane for about 30 mins.  The taxi steering is much improved after the changes to the caster on the TW strut.  The engine ran very well.  All the pressure and temp parameters were well within limits.  The plane ran great.  We even did a few, short, simulated take-off runs.  The acceleration and the control during the early acceleration is a total kick in the pants!!! 

Ray, I cannot thank you enough for sharing your airplane with me and giving me the opportunity to experience these taxi tests and engine runs with you!!!  It is such an huge motivation for me to keep pushing and working to get the production of this airframe going again.

3.   Ernest's Prowler Update - To say that EZ has been on a mission over the past year to get his Prowler flying again would clearly be a huge understatement.  I get texts, phone calls and emails from him regularly!!  Here is a recent picture with the airplane out for some engine runs:
He and his mechanic have been working doggedly at getting his airplane ready to go, again.  Now that they have finished the repairs directly related to the previous forced landing, they are going through each system and each area of the airplane and thoroughly looking for any problems or issues.  They have corrected several problems that they have found and, in some cases, just changed some things to make them more the way that he'd like them to be.

Rumor has it that I just might be in the right place at the right time in the SEA area on the 31st of OCT and get to witness the re-christening "first flight" of the airplane after all the previously mentioned work has been done.  I'm thrilled!!  I can't wait to be there and I will report back with much more info and pics on the next update. 

Also, I think it's safe to say now, that you might expect to see this airplane at AirVenture 2017!!  I will have more details as the year progresses, but I hope to see you all there.  Stay tuned!!

4.   Francis & Robert's Prowler Update - Clearly the hardest working guy in the Prowler world right now is Francis.  He has made some significant progress on their Prowler this year.  The past several months Francis has framed out most of the main wing of their Prowler.  Here are a few pics he has sent me.  Here's the aft outboard wing spar of the LH wing (I think):
Aft wing spar junction area:
An overall look at the wing framing:
Working on the aft spar wing junction:
A few more good views of the entire wing framing:
Notice that the torque boxes have been missing in all the previous pics and are also missing here:
But, here he is, beginning to fit the torque boxes:
and more torque box installation here:
You have been making excellent progress, Francis!!! You have far and away passed me up on my wing building.  I've had nothing but the spar sitting there for about 3 years now!!  Just too busy working on rebuilding a 400 ton press and supporting the current Prowler builders.  I am looking forward to the day when I can catch up to where you are right now. 

Well done!  You are doing an excellent job.  Especially, working pretty much buy yourself in different country with no one else (with a Prowler) close by to collaborate with.  Keep up the awesome work!  Thank you for the updates and always supplying me with photos of your progress.  I/we all really appreciate it!

5.   Bryce's Prowler Update - I have been chatting with Bryce a few times recently about his airplane progress.  His new plan is to use one of the engines that he got when he purchased the RW&B airplane and attach a very strong, light and bullet proof reduction gear to it.  It is a reduction gear used on airboats, so it is very stout and pretty inexpensive.  The trade off is that it does not have provisions for a controllable pitch prop.  So, he is going to make due with a fixed pitch prop - for now.  He is just eager to get the airplane flying and, for him, this is the most reliable, practical and cost effective way for him to do that at right now.

I think it sounds great.  It will be interesting to see the data and information that comes from this.  It may give me some good ideas for a future version of the Prowler that has a flat motor, fixed gear and a fixed pitch prop!!

6.   Update on George Morse - George turned 89 years old this past Sept!  Overall, he is doing very well.  However, a few days after his birthday, he was in a pretty bad traffic accident.  The accident was not George's fault - a car pulled a U-turn right in front of  him as he was coming over a hill doing about 50mph on highway 299 northeast of Redding .  He had no time to react and collided with the car.  Then, the car went off the left side of the road down a 40 ft embankment.  He and his passenger were a little beat up, but both came through it OK.  His right leg and hip were very bruised, but he is getting around OK now.

George has been holding onto one last crankshaft that he has for the Rodeck engine blocks that he used to build up for the Prowler and other airplanes.  He asked me to take it and hold onto it in the event that I can sell it for him.  It came in a dilapidated cardboard box that was not doing a very good job of containing it or protecting it.  Also, I figured that if I ever did sell it, I would need to ship it to someone.  So, I spent an afternoon making a crate for the crankshaft.  Here are some pics of the crankshaft itself:
with the stamped number in it:
The other side:
Here is the aft end of the crankshaft with the small shaft that fits in the splined ID that is used to drive the accessory gear drive:
Finally, the crate that I built:
And, the crankshaft safely stored away in its new home:
I suspect that this crankshaft will eventually end up in the engine that Bryce has for sale.  It would be a perfect fit to rebuild Bryce's engine block and could be used to power a Prowler project.  If you're interested, please let me know.  Send a message here.

Non-Prowler Items:

7.   EAA Mobile Simulator Work - Last year, I took on a project that came out of the Redding EAA chapter.  Specifically, it is the brainchild of Mr. Bill Hill.  His idea is to have a flight simulator mounted on a trailer that can be taken to Young Eagles events or any aviation related activities in the California North State.

 Here is the way it currently looks outside my shop:
At the last update, I'd gotten a frame around the aft end of the fuselage.  The next step was to add the aft door:
Then, I fabricated a plywood floor for the baggage compartment and the aft seating area:
I went in search of seats at a local junkyard.  I found some good seats out of a Chevy mini van.  I had to fabricate some tricky mounting brackets, but I finally got the front seats mounted.  They turned out pretty nice:
Here's the aft floors after painting and re-installation:
And, here is the front seat floor that I fabricated out of 16ga diamond decking - then painted it:
I still have the fwd portion of the front floor to do.  But, here I am test fitting the rudder pedals that will be used with the computer simulator software:
Next, I started fabricating an instrument panel from scratch.  I made a narrow shelf that will be used to hold the computer yoke assembly.  The instrument panel is fitted and ready to install instruments:
Several members of the EAA chapter donated old instruments to be used in the simulator.  The idea here is to provide basic aircraft instruments that work - that way the kids can play with the instruments.  Bill really wants the kids to be able to get hands on and  flip switches, pull and twist knobs, etc.

Here I am using the CNC mill to machine holes for the six-pack instruments:
After we got the computer hooked up and operating, we were going thru options for monitors.  Here we are with dual side-by-side monitors:
Here is our tech expert, Jeff, checking out a single, large screen monitor:
After, weighing pros and cons, we all decided to go for the largest single HD TV monitor that we could fit into the area of the fuselage just aft of the firewall.  Here it is after I had it temporarily installed and while we are testing it.  The other fellas in the pic below are Jeff (IT guru in front seat) and Jim (EAA prez).  Unfortunately, it got late that night and it was in the dark when we finally got it running:
This is the 32" HDTV monitor that we decided on in its mounting that I fabricated to fit into the upper fuselage:
We decided to counter-sink the TV into the fuselage to give the simulator a more realistic feel.  When it's working, the scenery from the simulator software seems to move under the instrument panel just like it does in an aircraft in flight.  So far, it's turning out quite well.  Stay tuned for more.

8.   Max's Power Hammer Progress - Nearly two years ago, I did a bunch of CAD work for a friend to help him build his own version of a Yoder power hammer.  He has been consistently working to have the various pieces fabricated.  The most recent addition is the shaft tube in the upper arm of the power hammer.  Here is the freshly painted upper arm with the new shaft and shaft tube assembly setting in place:
It is so great to see this machine become reality.  It's amazing to see these large, heavy pieces sitting in his shop that were once just 3D CAD renderings on my laptop:
Here's a view of the lower arm already attached to the column/base and the upper arm sitting on the shop floor nearby:
Eventually, the upper arm will be attached to the mounting pads at the top of the column you see in this picture:
The next steps are to weld the shaft tube assembly in place and then begin making (or buying) the remaining mechanical components - such as the eccentric hub, the hammer slide, slide base, the motor, the clutch, etc.  Awesome job, Max!  This machine is really coming together. 

9.   Gantry Crane Completed and Put Away - In order to work on the  400 ton press I had to build a gantry crane.  I used the crane to take the press apart and, later, re-assemble it.  With that job done, it was time to disassemble the gantry crane and get it out of the shop.  However, when I started on that job, I discovered that I had not completed several of the steps I needed to be able to store the gantry crane.
So, I spent an afternoon fabricating a cradle to span the A frames that would support one end of the beam in the vertical postion.  I drilled holes in the upper spool piece to hold the top end of the beam when the crane was in the "storage" configuration.  Last, I added some angle brackets to the lower spool piece that gave me an area to hang the trolley from and allow me to store the trolley and chain hoist with the crane.  Here's what it looked like:
The crane can be broken down and put in this "storage" configuration.  In this configuration, the crane takes up a lot less space and can be stored in one, compact unit.
Once I got this far, I decided that there was no time like the present to put a decent coat of paint on the crane.  Here is the beam getting a couple coats of gloss black:
Here are the A frames getting some coats of green Rustoleum:
And, finally, here is the whole gantry crane, painted, and stored away in my shed:
This was a big project, but it made the work on the 400 ton press very easy to accomplish.  Now, I just wonder if I will ever use it again!?!?

Well, that's all I have for this update.  I hope to get some things done around here, then get another blog update done soon.  Thanks for checking out the blog and following along with what's going on at Prowler Aviation.