Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Irland's Cub

For once I'm not a day late.
Click on the pics to see them full size
Irland has this wonderful Wag-Aero Cubby that was previously owned by another friend, Richard. The thing is, Irland has a full stable of airplanes and so decided to sell this one. We've been talking around this for a couple of months and now it's come to decision time. Last Saturday I got a chance to fly it - my first taste of a Cub in a couple of years and I'm just wishing it had been available before now.

 Clean? You could eat off any part of it. Richard is a very meticulous guy and kept it beautifully - Irland knows Cubs and it's in tip-top shape. The fuel system includes a mixture control for reasons to follow ...

Once, on a whim, Richard decided to fly his Cub to see the Pacific Ocean so he installed a supplemental fuel tank in the wing, enlisted a fellow enthusiast and launched forthwith on a great adventure. The mixture control enabled them to ask the most power available from the Continental A-65 as they crossed the high ground that stands between the east and west coasts.

The Cubby is an experimental airplane, built from plans. An improvement, many would agree, over the standard production Piper Cub is the use of a trim tab on the elevator rather than a jackscrew-adjustable stabilizer trim system.
All in all, a very nice airplane and one I'd love to own. If the CallAir weren't so close to completion, I'd buy it. Whoever does will have a good one.
Ain''t nothin better

Monday, September 12, 2016

Triple Tree !

When you need an aviation boost, go somewhere that lives and breathes it and the people are friendly, the skies clear, and the runways are like a golf course.

Bring a tent - you can stay up late that way and you don't have to drive to some cushy, air-conditioned place with color TV. This is only a fraction of the campers - there were many RVs, pop-ups and motor homes.

Click on the pictures to get a full size view
I only took pictures at one end of the field ... to get a full picture of this wonderful place and their noble mission, go to:

For me, the best part is catching up with old friends and making new ones ... Chuck was there with his Interstate Cadet, Jack drove up from Florida as did Gary and Dick, denizens of Hobby Hill airport, near Weirsdale.

Chuck's Cadet cowling - I'm doing comparisons

 The Cadet, me, Jack and Chuck

 Three happy guys ... The day was perfect.

 The City of Monroe NC sponsors this C-46 ... crew are all current or former airline pilots

If ever a fellow needed incentive to get his airplane in the air, this is it. Find a fly-in near you or, better yet, organize one. There's nothing like it to relight the spark.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

My Friend Bob

First off, my friends are pretty far-flung since I've lived in more than a few places but distance doesn't diminish the pleasure of their company, however long the interval between visits. 

So it was that I planned a trip to Bayport Aerodrome on Long Island to celebrate my friend, Bob's, 90th birthday. Certain my airplane would be finished with its restoration by then, I planned to leave for New York in mid-August to rendezvous at the Sheep Shagger Baa with native New Zealanders Stu and Craig during the Antique Airplane Club of Greater New York fly-in and pig roast, and stay over for the merriment of Bob's birthday on September 1. All this in the year 2017.

Oops. Bob's 90th was THIS year - 2016. Apparently the math skills of a theatre major aren't up to the job. So the party had to go on without me.

Now meet Bob through the photographs of Michael DeMita and Annemarie Bain

That fellow on the right end of the back row is Bob. The airplane is his Stearman, which he still flies regularly.

In addition to his regular duties of Commanding Officer of the Royal Vulgarian Flying Corps, a NATO force, Bob mows the grass around the Bayport Aerodrome Society hangars.

Bob was a Navy brat, later a Navy man and joined the fleet aboard the USS Monterey, CV(L) 26, toward the end of World War II. The Monterey was caught in Halsey's typhoon in 1944 and steamed to Bremerton WA for a refit before rejoining the fleet. Former President Gerald Ford, then LT Ford, saw Bob coming and managed some orders to get himself off the ship. Actually, that's not true, but Ford went ashore in any case and Bob went aboard.

Bob saw combat in the waning days of the War, endured kamikaze attacks, celebrated the end of it and returned home. Eventually he landed as an executive at Purolator and Ford Motor Company before retiring to the peace and tranquility of Long Island and the Bayport Aerodrome. He always participates in Memorial Day and Veterans' Day flights over the Calverton National Cemetery.

Kids of all ages, grandkids, old friends and new friends have enjoyed those lazy afternoon flights with Bob in his beloved Stearman, including one mathematically-challenged blog writer.

Over refreshments at the Wednesday wine and cheese gathering, you might learn what makes the wheels of the Ford go 'round or delve into the mysteries of horsepower lost in an automotive drive train. You may also learn the intricacies of rib stitching fabric on an airplane wing or patching a heat exchanger shroud on a Piper Cub. In any case, there is no shortage of knowledge or variants thereof to be found at Bob's hangar.
Happy Birthday, my friend.  And many, many more.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Carlton Builds my Wall Hanger Prop

First off, I'm something of a packrat, but get special inspiration when I see something potentially interesting just lying around. Jeff had these unairworthy, red-tagged prop blades off a Baron or Bonanza over in the corner of the maintenance hangar and gave them to me, probably glad to get rid of the clutter. All maintenance hangars are staffed by packrats (you never know ...) but sometimes Mrs. Packrat has to see some cleanup progress and so that was that.

As usually happens, things like this sit around for awhile, waiting for the little grey cell filaments to light up and when they do you have to have the right people in the right place at the right time.

Enter Carlton Hawkins, master machinist, airplane builder and all around great guy. Carlton knows how to do stuff.

My idea was to join the 2 prop blades to display as a wall hanger in my barn/workshop. Doing what I really didn't know how to do, I routed out a couple of sockets in the opposite sides of a block of wood but couldn't figure out how to secure the blades. When I took my idea to Carlton, he immediately came up with a better solution: Shrink fit the flanges of the blades inside a steel cylinder, much the same as old car engine flywheels are fitted to crankshafts, among other things. Brilliant. All we had to do was find a steel cylinder that would fit around the prop flanges and so on and so on, far beyond my skill or imagination.

Carlton is, among other things, a superb scrounger. He found a hydraulic cylinder at a junk yard for $5. The outer diameter was five inches and the inner diameter was four inches. He needed a few thousandths less than 4 1/2 inches inner diameter so he simply milled off what he had to. THAT was something to see, precision work at its best. When steel cylinders are heated, they expand. When prop flanges are chilled in ice water, they contract a little, much the same as aircraft builders chill their rivets when bonding metals. As the heated cylinder cools, it contracts; as the prop flange warms, it expands, making the fit very, very firm indeed.

So here we go. Carlton has already fitted one blade in the cylinder. Fitting the second blade is more a two-man job since so many things have to happen at the same time. My job is to hold the second blade in a bucket of ice water until the steel cylinder is heated, then jerk it out, dry it off, line up the indexed pitch markings so the prop won't look out of whack on the wall, and slide the cold blade into the hot sleeve. Simple. Until then, I just have to stay out of the way.

 I'm not real good at staying completely out of the way...

 When the cylinder was cherry-red, Carlton secured the torches and had me position the prop blade a couple of inches above. He stood by with a mallet and a block of wood in case the fit needed a little persuasion. It didn't.

 Everything came together just as he planned, and within a few seconds, the blade was firmly secure.

A little welding to attach a back plate to secure the prop to the wall, a couple of roll pins for insurance and presto, that's how you make a nice wall hanger. Simple, see?

Thanks, Carlton. You're the best.