Firewall Forward

December 8, 2012

Putting the Plane on Her Gear! - 4.0 Hours

I'll tell you what... I have some really good friends. Have I mentioned that before? I have some REALLY great friends! My friend Bill, who rides a Harley and lives right around the corner from me, stops by once in a while to chat and see how the project is coming along. He's a great guy. Some time back, months ago, he mentioned to me that he had an engine hoist in his garage that I could borrow when I was ready. Just let him know, he said, and it was mine for as long as I needed it. So today I made that phone call. I couldn't believe it. He was right in the middle of something, but he said he'd be here after that. He showed up in about an hour with it in his truck. It's a really nice unit, folds up when you're not using it so you can push it out of the way against a wall or in a corner. How nice is this?

So after he dropped it off and left, I got busy and did a bunch of cleanup and re-arranging things in the shop. I had an idea that I thought I'd try, and see how it worked. I bolted the engine mount back onto the firewall. This has come on and off several times now, and it's no big deal. The bolts push right through, and I just finger-tighten the nuts. Then, I got out a nylon strap and made a loop through the top two holes in the Dynafocal mount. The hook on the engine hoist lifted on this loop as I positioned everything to see how this would work. My shop is tight, but here you can see the hoist in place in front of the firewall, ready to lift on the loop.

Here's a closeup of the loop I made through the top two holes on the mount, and the hook on the hoist lifting it.

So I pumped on the handle and lifted the whole front of the plane up off the sawhorse it's been sitting on forever. I was hoping to be able to get high enough to see if I could slip a gear leg into the mount. This worked like a charm! The left side of the plane was a bit higher than the right side as I lifted it, so I thought I'd put that leg on first. I had to wiggle it and work on it a bit, but it eventually slid right in. I was able to stand on a crate and reach inside through the opening in front of the canopy, and slip the AN5-22A bolt right into place. A washer and nut, just finger tight for now, will hold it on just fine.

Next, I had to lift it a bit more to get the right side high enough to put that leg on. Here's the leg on the floor, waiting to be pushed into place.

And here it is, moments later. I couldn't believe how easy this was! I did it all by myself in hardly any time at all. While everything was up in the air like this, I carefully pulled the sawhorse out of there. Very soon, I will also be relocating these carpet remnants I've been saving and clean it up under the plane.

I was cautious about just lowering it onto the wheels, not sure where the balance point would be at this point. So I carefully lowered it, slowly, to make sure it wasn't nose heavy and wouldn't nose over if I just let it down. This is an "A" model after all, designed with the mains behind the center of gravity. To my delight, without the engine and nose gear on the front, it's still back-end heavy and the tail sits just fine in the cradle. Here's another shot from another angle, just before I pulled the sawhorse out and let it down.

Wow! How about this! My baby is growing up. She now has legs and is on her own gear! It's kinda funny to see her sitting at an angle like this, with the tail lower and sitting in the cradle. It almost looks like a taildragger here. No worries... I'll fix that soon enough. For now, I just had to stand back and stare for a while. Jamie came out and celebrated with me for a while, couldn't believe how cool this looks!

When I calmed down and got rational again, I went back to the tail and lifted it. I wanted to see just how much weight was on the tail at this point. It lifts very easily with one hand. But it definitely isn't going anywhere. Nevertheless, for safety's sake, I took the motor mount back off and set it aside. That puts a bit more weight on the tail, but mainly, it will prevent my precocious little granddaughter from coming out here and grabbing the motor mount and pulling on it. If she plays around innocently like that, she could easily nose this thing over. Besides, I still need to think about riveting the firewall recess in place sometime soon before hanging the engine. So the mount has to come off anyway. As I mentioned, it's no big deal.

Speaking of my engine, now that I have this hoist here, I've been wanting to pick up my engine, get it off the floor, and up onto my workbench where I can more easily work on it, examine it, and have it at a more convenient height. So I moved some things around, and in a while I was able to lift it up onto the bench.

This is really great! I'll be happy to have it here for just a short time before putting it on the nose of the plane.

December 9, 2012

I came out in the shop tonight for just a few minutes and got a wild hair of an idea. I thought "why not?" So I grabbed the nose wheel gear leg and slipped it into the motor mount, tightened the tapered pin finger tight, and then slipped the motor mount onto the firewall. It only took a few minutes. I just really wanted to see her on all 3 legs. I was surprised that she's still tail-heavy, even with the nose gear on. I had to stuff some stuff under the tail to bring the nose wheel down to the floor. Nevertheless, it's very exciting to see her on all the gear for the first time!

I guess there was a small practical reason that this was worth a few minutes of my time. It enabled me to look around at my shop and everything that's in here, and visualize how I'm going to have to organize and rearrange things in order to be able to work on the engine and firewall forward, cowl, etc, once the engine is in place. It's kind of tight in here, but it will work out just fine.

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