Project Update

Hi Folks,  

So, I’m still working on this darn shop.  Getting much closer to kicking off getting back onto the airplane build, but still have at least a week more of shop reno to complete.

But as I mention in my latest blog post: the shop is structurally sound, but not square at all.  This makes for a timely install of both the foam insulation and the wall board over it.  It also makes every section of wall completed a huge triumph!

I had planned on setting a hard cutoff date to swap from the workshop as a priority to the airplane build being the priority, and working on the shop when I could get to it . . .

 . . . then the weather turned much chillier.

This of course means I have to get all the insulation installed to be able to keep the shop at a high enough temp to do layups.

I sincerely plan that the next time I provide a build update here that I will be telling you that the build is back on! 

Tooling Up – Workshop Progress

So here’s another week in review on the workshop. I’m moving forward as quickly as possible and putting a lot of long hours in each day to get this thing done. I’m happy with my progress, however, I am a bit frustrated with how long this workshop upgrade and renovation is taking. Believe me, I’m not being a perfectionist in updating this shop, I just need some minimum standards to be met in pressing forward with the plane build.

The weather has been beautiful lately in the high 50’s to mid 60’s and normally either overcast or sunny, with a bit of rain here and there. However, that appears to be changing and the real winter we should be experiencing is creeping in, with temps in the 30s at night and 40s during the day. Where I thought I might squeak by without getting all the walls finished (insulated with wall board installed) in the shop, I now realize that that’s simply not workable.

So the challenge in insulating the walls with the foam and then covering with wallboard is that although the workshop is overall structurally sound, not one darn thing in this workshop is square.  That means except for the large 4×8′ panels, all around them every piece is a custom cut… and not as in say a 12″ x 38″ rectangle, but more along the lines of a parallelogram, etc.  A royal pain and a total schedule-buster.  

For example, on the back left wall the bottom 2 cross boards were fairly parallel (within an inch, still an issue), but then the top cross boards fan out from the right (aft) side towards the front side, so every long cut is an angle!

Nonetheless, I of course trudged through it and got this wall section completed.

Note that part of my consolidation of STUFF that I am finally able to do after all these years is to incorporate items I own that I have had in storage for years.  I personally haven’t used the industrial 3 level shelf (gray, in pic below) that the cowlings are sitting on since since July of 2011….just a few months after I started this build! 

Also note that I have one of my heaters installed below the big beam on the left and plugged in to the new electrical plug I ran and installed, so a lot of little details and organization that I haven’t previously reported on is all happening in the background.

Part of getting the workshop online has been slowly migrating a lot of build-related stuff out of my rec room in the house to the workshop.  Another week or so and the lion’s share of all the LEZ stuff in the house should be out in the shop.  That of course immensely helps in the organization of my house in general. 

Case in point, all this epoxy stuff below was taking up space in my rec room, and now is in place at the epoxy station.  Also, before I installed it in the workshop, the glass storage box/cutting table was sitting in my garage, taking up a good bit of space and in the way… so I’m slowly getting organized and it feels like (finally) that it’s starting to accelerate a bit every day.

One of my recent tasks was the front center door area between the white poles.  I had already insulated this area and installed wallboard, except for the doors, which I then insulated with an initial 2″ thick blue-green foam. A top, second layer of 1″ foam with the reflective foil surface will be the final surface (see below).  This should keep it insulated well enough and still be lightweight. 

If you look up high on each side of the door, you can see the “outriggers” coming aft and dropdown supports from the ceiling for what is a 2′ deep and 12′ wide shelf right above the door.  I’ll do the same thing for the other big door, which will allow me to store all the bigger, bulkier, lighter stuff like the ton of blue foam I have on hand, baggage pods, etc. 

If you look closely in the center in the pic above, coming down from the big beam is some wiring that I just added that will be for one of the outdoor lights I just ordered off of eBay.  I have a hard time working at night since I don’t have enough lighting in front of the workshop.  Although the days are slowly getting longer, this should help in the near term in that I’ll have a light over every door, and I plan on adding another big light at the far front corner (right in this pic) to extend my night ops out front significantly, if required… since I like to cut all my wood, etc. out front so I don’t make a mess in the shop.

Also note on the right of the door I have a fire extinguisher mounted, and to the left is the big 240V/50A circuit (black cable) for all my welders that I added from the main panel.

Here I have all the 2″ thick foam insulation in the center big door.  Plus the over-door shelf is finished (after I finished insulating the ceiling above it).

I’m in the process of adding the final 1″ thick foam layer with the foil heat reflector.  This really does help as it’s starting to get much colder here and I can feel a huge difference standing/working in front of these doors vs. the bare ones to the right.

Also, I pulled all the spare blue wing foam (minus the one big canopy crate full of it) out of my house rec room and now have it all stored on this over-door shelf.

I’m also pretty close to having the entire ceiling insulated as well…. about 80%.  I’ve still got a few rows to do on the far end and some half insulation batts to put in along the front wall.

Over the next couple of days I’ll finish up the ceiling insulation as I work on the back and side corner walls, lower left in pic above.

Speaking of the back right corner, here’ a couple older pics of the pre-existing back wall (low) workbench that was in place when I bought the house.

I removed the old back-wall workbench and will use just the top for a new workbench underneath the white peg board on the back left wall of the shop.

About centered in front of this window will be where I install my milling machine… hard mounted to the shop floor.

On the wall to the right of the back wall section above, will be where I place my new big gray roll-around cabinet that the lathe will be mounted on top of.  The lathe cabinet will be mostly centered underneath this side window (which will probably get replaced also), so this section of workbench from about where the edge (ends) of the wings are in the pic to the corner will get removed.  Having this big section of workbench removed will also make installing the 2″ foam insulation much easier.

Here I’ve repurposed some of the old rough-hewn wood from the old workbench as side framing supports for the new window. I was planning on putting cabinets on the right side of the window so I used a 2×10 for the window side frame to also serve as support to attach the cabinet. After I installed the window and was measuring things out, I decided to put cabinets on the left side as well…. so, oops! Now I’ll need to add in some more structural support wood to secure the cabinets to on the left side as well.

Within the next day or so I plan on getting the 2″ foam insulation installed on this back wall section, which will require that I first remove the 8-9′ or so of the right wall bench.

Once I get the back wall insulated and covered with wall board, I will then work to finish up the right back sidewall.

Also note that I’ve painted the back corner pole with white primer to contain the quite strong tar smell of these support poles.

I had told my buddy Dave B. that I was trying to call a hard switchover date of around 21 Jan from the workshop being the priority to the airplane build being the priority and then finishing up the shop where I could (say, in-between layups). However, I made that statement right before the weather turned chilly. I will certainly try to make my hard cutoff date, but may have to extend it a day or two… to at least install a good bit of the 2″ foam board since the weather is now turning colder. 

I simply can’t do layups of course if I can’t maintain a good shop temp. Regardless, I will continue pressing forward on the shop… should be done soon. Just, not soon enough!

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.