Project Update

Hey Guys,  

First off: Happy New Year!

With both Christmas and New Years in the rearview mirror, I’m forging ahead to get the workshop done.  Yes, there’s still a fair amount left to do… yet every day the list gets a fair bit shorter.  

Although I now have the compressor electrical ran to the box and the HVAC unit installed and tested out, I’m now thinking by the time I finish the workshop upgrade tasks, get stuff organized and moved into the shop, it will be mid-January.  Yep, unfortunately this stuff just takes a bit more time and effort than it seems it should.

But I’ll keep pushing until I’m back on the build!  

Soon . . .

Chapter 22 – New Battery

Earlier this year as I was perusing Nate Mullins blog I noted a nice write-up that he did informing us all that Odyssey downgraded –without notice– the cold cranking amps (CCA) on their PC680 battery from 220 to 170 amps.  Nate said with a new PC680 he was having a hard time starting his plane’s engine.  He got a different battery with a reported 300+ CCA for ~$80 that was close to the same size, but had to modify things a bit to mount it. 

For us big spenders I found a battery with the same footprint as an Odyssey PC680, that returns to us the originally claimed 220 CCA: the Powersafe SBS J16.

After a discussion about Nate’s find, Marco was in the midst of some electrical machinations reworking some battery and power issues on his flying EZ. In the process he bought a new Powersafe SBS J16 battery. He subsequently determined he didn’t need it and asked if I could use it. Since I bought my Odyssey PC680 back in the spring of 2013, yeah, I will probably need a new battery when I actually get ready to fly this thing. And 50 extra CCA is always better!

AND… it just so happens that besides a social visit, Marco’s special direct aircraft parts delivery service was in full tilt! Ha! Here’s Marco with my new battery!

And a shot of the new Powersafe SBS J16 battery on my work bench. As you can see, it has the identical size, shape and configuration as the Odyssey PC680.

Tooling Up & a VIP Visit!

Over the past few days I’ve been hard at work tying up a bunch of loose ends on the workshop that really makes it feel like I’m not getting much done. Doing new stuff seems like things are progressing more quickly while finishing up all the fine detail on previous tasks really doesn’t seem like progress at all!

Hmmm??? Sounds a lot like building an airplane!

Earlier I was able to get the front half of Bay 3’s lights installed, but when I went to pick up another 4-bar LED light from Lowe’s I quickly learned that it was twice as much as one off of Amazon. Being cheap and willing to wait a few days to finish the back half of the lights in Bay 3 I ordered the light from Amazon on my phone while standing in the middle of Lowe’s.

In addition to cutting and putting up quite a few blue-green foam panels (no pics) I also got my epoxy station assembled… which required cutting a new middle shelf and installing the upper shelf straight to the wall vs having it attached to the actual shelving unit as I’ve done previously. Also, instead of wrapping the work surface with multiple wraps of big packing cellophane, I had some white kitchen shelf contact paper left over that I used to help protect the tops of the work surfaces, making for easier cleanups of epoxy spills and such.

I was gearing up for another round of installing foam insulation and wallboard this morning when I got a call from Marco. His holiday break is coming to a close Sunday and he wanted to come down for a quick visit. He wanted to get back home before dark, partly just to get back at a decent hour and also so that Chris Cleaver could come along in his own Long-EZ… since Chris had dinner plans with his wife tonight.

Thus the visit would be a short hour-long one.

Since it’s a 25-30 min drive from the airport to my house, it was simply not feasible to bring the guys to the shop to see it for 5-10 min and then head back… too rushed. So we simple decided that we’d hang out at the airport and chat for a while.

Here’s Marco arriving and getting ready to enter the traffic pattern.

And here are Marco and Chris with their respective Long-EZs built by the infamous Ohio Gang (Terry Lamp and Mike Toomey)!

I took them over to show them my now-empty hangar and the damage caused by the tornado that spun off of Hurricane Dorian.

And here we are on the back side of the FBO chatting. Yep, it was a short visit but it was great to see these guys!

So I didn’t really get anything done today between visiting with the guys and then going out to dinner with friends here, but I’ll get back on it tomorrow [I did get a new battery that Marco delivered, see the next post for details on that].

Tooling Up – Lights & Power

On the heels of running the power to the HVAC system and the air compressor, I finished connecting up all the electrical circuits to the main panel. The added lines were a 250V/ 50A circuit and plug for the welders and red cube shop heater, a 250V/20A dedicated circuit/plug for the milling machine, and a 120V/20A circuit that added 3 plugs to the back wall, one plug on the left side wall and one in between the 2 big bay doors… all single gang.

I then installed the glass storage box & cutting table after reinforcing the wall with a mounting bracket (two of the added aft wall plugs can be seen in the pic below, one each side of the glass storage box).

One issue was that the bottom of the box had gotten wet on the inside, and there was a good bit of mold and dirt. I pulled all the glass out and gave it a good cleaning then left it to dry overnight.

I then installed the new LED light bars in Bay 1, the first bay on the left side of the workshop. As with Bay 2 I simply surrounded the 4-bar fluorescent light in the middle with 4 interlinked LED bars. It’s quite amazing how much light this adds to the shop… nice and bright for building an airplane!

[In the pic below right you can just make out 2 of the 5 added electrical receptacles: one at lower left edge of the pic, and one at the lower left edge of the white pegboard…]

A good month ago as I was in Lowe’s buying Lord knows what, I ran across a rolling workstation that I thought might just be perfect to serve as the lathe’s new mount. I liked the back wall with peg holes, the solid wood top and the deeper lower drawers. The size was near perfect… but the price wasn’t: a bit too steep for my blood.

Then, over the holidays they had a sale price going which was nearly 40% off. I never saw any more of these in the stores and although the price was valid, they weren’t anywhere around — even unavailable to be ordered online. I talked to my local Lowe’s and they showed one store south of Wilmington, NC had them. So I set out on a mission that ended taking nearly the entire day to get this now much cheaper workstation. It was actually a beautiful clear day and the drive was long but nice.

When I got it back to the workshop it did take me a good half hour to slowly unload the crate off the trailer (I didn’t want to damage it). I then had to install the wheels and back wall panel… and then, Voila! The new (and improved!) lathe station.

After unloading and assembling the lathe station, I then unsheathed all the BID and UNI rolls and put them in the now clean and DRY glass storage box.

I also spent a good hour tacking up all the electrical wires to the newly installed LED light bars. Here’s the before pics with the wires hanging down . . .

And the after pics with the wires nicely tacked up out of the way. With the wires tacked away I can now insulate the ceiling without getting tangled up on the wires.

As an FYI, I’ve already had the mini-split system heater running, and without insulation it typically is getting so warm I have to turn it down or off!  Still, I will be installing weather stripping around the doors as well to minimizing air gaps on those, in addition to the wall and ceiling insulation.

Tomorrow I’ll continue to work installing more lights in Bay 3, where the long workbench, milling machine, lathe and tool storage chests will be located. That will be the final section that needs to be completed before I can finish insulating the entire ceiling.

Tooling Up – Shop Heat/AC Install

Again, a multi-day review of my shop upgrades . . . as you may be able to tell, I’m not as motivated to provide updates on the status of the shop as I am on the build. But clearly I consider this a necessary evil to get the workshop in a workable state — so here goes!

First, I finally got around to unboxing the inside unit of the mini-split HVAC system. I had drug the outside unit around back a day or so back.

Here it is unsheathed . . .

I located the mounting bracket template and tacked it in place above the door to the air compressor closet…

And then first screwed the mount in place, and then drilled the massive 3.5″ hole that will allow the big HVAC conduit (also, 25′ long) to pass through the wall … or shall I say the first wall.

I then unboxed and mounted the massive –and quite heavy– exterior condenser unit.

With the exterior unit in place, I then had a good bead on where to drill massive 3.5″ diameter hole #2 in the side of the air compressor closet. This was of course the plan pretty much all along.

I then mounted the external quick power disconnect box, which at this point was wired up with the #10 ga cable that connects to the main power panel.

Before I could go any further with the HVAC install, I had to finish up insulating and installing wallboard (or foam) on the inside of the air compressor closet.

I added insulation to the inside of the shared wall, all around the compressor closet door.

I then added 2″-thick foam to help suppress any loud air compressor noise as much as possible.

I did the same thing over the door, again adding the thick foam over the rather copious amount of insulation.

Then came the last holdout… the left wall of the compressor closet. Since it doesn’t face the neighbors (as far away as they are) I went ahead and framed this out with 2x4s vs the other two 2×6-framed walls. Thus, I used the cheaper loose insulation for this wall.

Also, just for ease I cut and attached the wallboard in 3 different segments. Here’s the bottom of 3 wallboard pieces going in.

Then more insulation and wallboard segment #2 installed.

And even more insulation and the final top piece of wallboard installed.

Although the roof joists on the air compressor bump-out are 2x4s, I used 2×6 insulation on the ceiling to help deaden the sound even more.

I then prepped the interior HVAC unit to be installed.

Here she is ready to go up . . .

First I had to run the thick, 25-foot long HVAC conduit (2 copper tubes and an electrical cable) through the hole in the wall.

After fighting the conduit to get it through the hole in the wall for well over half an hour, I then bundled it up and attached it around the upper portion of the air compressor closet.

And ran the conduit out to the exterior HVAC unit (the extra white tubing is the drain line)…

Where I attached the two copper tubes to the exterior unit and performed a successful leak check.

Here are a couple of shots of the physically installed indoor HVAC unit of the mini-split system.

Today I finished up the HVAC system install by focusing on the wiring, starting from the exterior unit to the quick disconnect box, and then running the cable to the main power panel at the front of the shop (I also concurrently ran the 8 ga cable for the air compressor).

After a good 30+ min of wiring in both the HVAC system and air compressor to the main power panel, replete with new circuit breakers, I then did one final crosscheck before firing up the workshop’s freshly installed mini-split HVAC system.

I’m happy to report that so far the HVAC system is powering up and working as designed, and after another leak check all looks good!

Tooling Up – Compressor closet walls

It’s nearly the New Year and I thought I’d provide a status on the workshop upgrades. Being a bit worn out from endless days of working on the shop, I actually stayed an extra day in Greensboro just to relax.

Still, over the past week I’ve been focusing on getting the exterior of the Air Compressor closet bump out paneled with metal siding. It took a bit of time on each panel to measure and cut the overall dimensions, let alone cut out the access holes for the vents and then deburr the cut edges.

Below are the two sides of the compressor closet bump out paneled up to a straight edge at top. This was pre-Christmas.

As was the cutting and installing the panel siding on the aft wall of the bump out.

Upon my return from Greensboro, I cut and added in the top triangular panels on both sides and added the treated lumber corner trim.

I then got to work on the interior of the air compressor closet both insulating the walls and then cutting and installing the black sound board.

Here’s the right interior wall.

And the finished aft wall.

Clearly that leaves the ceiling, left wall and the areas on each side/above the door to insulate and install sound board.

After the interior of the closet is finished I will then install the mini-split HVAC unit, followed by the air compressor itself.

Chapter 23 – Engine Move

After getting back from Greensboro, NC and celebrating Christmas with Stacey, I finally got around to hauling my engine over from my local friends’ garage to mine.

It’s always quite the lengthy ordeal to attach the transport base to the bottom of the engine, remove the engine stand (red) and then secure the engine in the truck. While transporting the engine to my garage, I hauled both the engine hoist and engine stand as well on my trailer (since there’s no room for them in the bed of my truck).

After I got to my house the process was reversed: engine came out of the truck on the hoist, then the wood transport base was removed, and finally the engine was once again attached to the roll-around engine stand.

This seriously makes it so that all my aircraft components are back in one location: my house.

Tooling Up – Roof Cleanup

Yep, more boring stuff… especially the inevitable cleanup of the old roof panels. The good news is that some friends of friends run a horse rescue farm and said that they could seriously put these panels to good use… and seriously wanted them.

“Great!” sez me, so I loaded them all up into my trailer (man, am I getting my money’s worth out of this thing!)

And delivered them to the farm. That was a good 4 hours of total time and a lot of work!

On the way back home, with trailer attached, I decided to grab a big load out of my small storage unit before it got dark. This load contained a couple of the big/heavy items that would be way more difficult to grab with just my truck… which I normally just do a bed full to ease unloading time and effort at the house [Case in point: It took over 3 hours to unload all this at the house].

The workshop roof I consider build related, my stuff out of the storage unit is not. But it is “Wade’s time” related so I thought I’d throw it on this post. Here is all that remains in my small storage unit. I’ll have it cleared out by 31 Dec and thus more money every month for plane and tool toys.

Not bad considering 6 weeks ago I wouldn’t have been able to stuff a medium sized box into this storage unit. It was seriously full to the hilt, floor to ceiling.

My larger 10×20 storage unit is about 25% full. But I don’t honestly think I’ll get the big furniture out of there until about mid-January. Too many things to get situated in the house and not enough time in each day as I focus on the workshop!

Tooling Up – Back to compressor closet

After messing around with planning out the Triparagon top shelf mounted components install, I then got back to work on the air compressor bump out.

First up, I used the remainder of the new roof underlayment to wrap the exterior of the compressor bump out. The amount remaining after I finished was literally just a few square feet so it worked out perfectly and I used up the entire roll of wrap/underlayment.

I then set the first panel and tacked it in place with a few screws.

Next came the lengthy process of measuring out, cutting and fitting the lower panel around the inboard support arm for the exterior mini-split HVAC unit. By the time I cut the lower panel, deburred it and then set it in place it was nearly dark. And then after trimming the upper panel to fit and setting it in place with a few screws, it WAS dark.

Tomorrow will be the coldest day yet this year, so I plan on loading up all the old metal roof panels and delivering them to a nearby horse farm that wants them (for some reason). But I’m happy to be rid of them and donate them to someone who can get good use out of them. With my trailer hooked up to the truck, I’ll then grab some more large foam insulation panels for the interior of the workshop.

Chapter 22 – Prepare to mount!

Mount WHAT you ask?? Well, the Trig TY91 remote COM2 radio, the GRT HXr AHARS, and the Trig TT22 Mode-S Transponder.

Since the weather has turned somewhat and it is quite cold during the mornings, I thought I would let the workshop warm up a bit before venturing out and working on it. And not surprisingly, I’m quite tired from the endless days of working on the shop. So I thought I would take the morning off to work on the plane just a bit. It’s been a while!

Of course, the easiest way to mount this stuff to the top shelf of the Triparagon is to remove the shelf itself. The physical removal of the top shelf is the easy part… getting it unencumbered even with the scant amount of stuff it currently has mounted on it is a bit more time consuming.

Attached underneath is the gear/canopy warning horn as well as the JBWilco gear/canopy warning system module. The tricky part here is simply keeping track of the small screws, washers and nuts after removing this stuff.

Then came the airspeed switches. Same thing… I want to ensure this all goes back together nicely and easily!

Here’s a shot of the JBWilco gear/canopy warning system module and the 3 airspeed switches.

Once the Triparagon top shelf was free of stuff, I could then get to planning out just how I was going to mount these 3 devices.

You’d think mounting 3 components to this top shelf would be a fairly simple and quick thing to do… but finding all the hardware, after deciding what you’re going to use, after figuring out what will fit, etc, etc, etc. . . . Wow, a couple of hours had already flown by after I rounded up all the hardware I was going to need.

Let alone figure out how to mount the two Trigs.

Why are the Trig components a question? Well, as I mentioned before in previous posts, I had not planned on using the Trig TY91 COM radio —but rather the MicroAir M760REM–when I finalized my design for the Triparagon over 3 years ago. Specifically, the top shelf where the TY91 is going to be mounted since the MicroAir was to be mounted underneath in order to, if you’ll recall, save space and minimize the width of the Triparagon’s top shelf.

Moreover, since I “Swiss-cheesed” the Triparagon top shelf to save weight, I effectively removed all but one possible mounting point of the 3 required for the Trig TY91’s mounting adapter. Thus, I needed a decent-sized metal plate that will go on the underside of the top shelf to serve as the bottom-half clamp portion opposite of the actual TY91 mount on the upper side of the top shelf. As I was looking for the unused mounting plate for the EFII fuel boost pump since it was the perfect thickness (which I couldn’t locate) I found this old ELT antenna base (or maybe actually for a transponder?) that I constructed back in Germany.

With my L2 transponder antenna in hand and since this is not required for my ELT, I know I’ll never need this antenna base as constructed. It’s a nice thin, yet strong, piece of aluminum so I lopped off the portion I needed and will use it to mount the Trig TY91 remote COM2 radio unit.

As for the Trig TT22 transponder mount… a few days ago while I had the chop saw out working on the roof I grabbed the stock of 2.5″ x 2.5″ x 1/8″ thick 6061 aluminum angle that I just recently ordered from Aircraft Spruce and cut it at just a hair over 4″ long. I would have preferred 0.063″ or maybe 0.090″ thick over 1/8″, which is a bit more robust than I need. But to get the 2.5″ width required this was all they had. Of course after I add some lightening holes it won’t be overly weighty anyway.

To remove as much unnecessary material as required, I angled the horizontal side that will be mounted to the underside of the Tripargon top shelf. I’ll do the same for the vertical side that the transponder mount will be attached to. Again, I’ll then make some decent sized lightening holes to get this as light as possible.

As a reminder, this bracket will allow me to mount the Trig transponder on the right end of the Triparagon top shelf. In the pic below the panel is left and the nose is right. Also, the bottom half of the AHARS is visible in its position at the center of the Triparagon’s top shelf.

I’ll continue to work on mounting these components as time allows. Speaking of available time to do stuff, a few weeks ago I made the decision that I wouldn’t repopulate the panel mockup with avionics until I get these 3 devices mounted on the top shelf.