Wednesday, May 19, 2010

For everything there is a tool

Progress on getting the twin out is not quite as fast as I'd hoped, but getting better. Saturday I spent three hours getting inspection panels back in on the outside of the plane, and tackling the tailcone. What's so hard about screwing a cone on the back end of an airplane? Well, there's an upper half with a strobe, a lower half with a capacitor, and a mess of wires that are supposed to connect to plane or to each half, and not all of them are long enough to be connected easily before the cone halves are mated... but once mated, there's no way to get more than three fingertips inside to blindly try to connect them.

Monday we tested the lights, took the tailcone back off, and my IA soldered a new, longer ground wire on so that won't be a problem again. Then it was back to trying to bolt two flexible pieces of fragility together. Today, I put in floor panels - the interior of the airplane is starting to look like it's nearly done! Tomorrow will be an upper body strength day - that is, lying on the creeper putting panels back in under the wing.

Notes to self:

Seat all screws in their holes before tightening any.

Screws, bolts, and similar hardware fall under the category of things that are easier to replace when they're starting to look bad than to try to deal with reusing. Stripped heads or threads == chuck it and put in a new one.

The airplane is over 50 years old. Parts and pieces change over time, so when you find two inspection panels with Tinnerman nuts, meaning they take #8 machine screws, stuck on a floorboard in an airplane that otherwise has only taken two very consistent sizes of AN bolts for all floor panels and other inspection panels - it doesn't have to make sense, it just has to be put back.

ALWAYS PAY MORE ATTENTION TO DETAIL WHEN YOU TAKE A PIECE APART THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED TO. After all, airplanes are mechanical jigsaw puzzles with a history of workarounds, modifications, and improvisations, and once you take it apart, you never have all the pictures you need to put it back together easily.

Sharpie notes on the underside of panels by prior mechanics are awesome. God bless whoever left the clues for which floor panels went where.

If I'm having a hard time accomplishing something, ask for help - chances are, there's a tool for that. Like a scribe! Corollary: if the Snap-On truck has pulled up to the shop next door, for budget's sake, tuck your head down, grit your teeth, focus on your work and Don't Look Outside. That way lies many toys tools your budget and useful load do not need.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

aaa... good ol' YA. :)

I think I remember finally settling on tailcone fixin' by loosely screwing in the top, then working underneath...

... or was that on one of the 206s? Hunh. Anyhow, scribes rock. Who would have thought you could find so many uses for a little pokey metal stick?