Foolin' Around with Design and Fabrication

It's a quiet week between Christmas and New Year's, since my outstanding magazine staff guys got ahead of the schedule and made it that way! So I've had some extra shop time to work on a few projects I've been wanting to get around to.

The first are bike racks for our Tundra. This might seem like a joke, but its not. I have flown the Murphy Radical with bikes hanging on the wings, and our racks use their plans, wth a a few modifications to adapt it to what I could fabricate, and how it fits to the Tundra. This picture is of the first "fit-up" - there is still some fine tuning, then painting and final fastening to go. After that, it will be flight testing - first with bare racks, and finally with bikes. Testing will be over uninhabited areas of course, and there'll be extra safety straps on everything. Then we can fly off anywhere we want, land, and take the mountain bikes on an excursion. Perfect for Nevada! Building from plans is fun, and I've made good use of my Smithy mill and lathe to make some of the parts - making chips is a great way to spend holiday time.

DIY oxygen mask

The second project is finally putting together an oxygen system that I can use above 18,000' - the lightweight, efficient systems usually found in GA airplanes use nasal cannulas that aren't supposed to be used above that altitude. So, out comes the heavy iron stuff - military mask that works with the helmet I use when I am test-flying. It took some searching for bits and pieces to find the appropriate first and second stage regulators, adapters, and hoses - but here's a shot at 17,500' yesterday on a test run. Using a pulse oximeter to measure my blood saturation, I proved it was working great - 98% in the "normal" regulator setting. Without O2 at that altitude, I'd be at around 81%. The system is portable so that it can be used in any aircraft in which I need (or want) to go excessively high, or use a mask for smoke or bird strike protection.

Look for articles on these and other projects in future issues of Kitplanes - and if you have one of your own, we'd love to see it!

Paul Dye

Paul Dye, Kitplanes® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the space shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen, and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and a Subsonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra they completed. Currently, they are building a Xenos motorglider. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 5000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, EAA Tech Counselor, and Flight Advisor, as well as a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.

6 Replies to “Foolin' Around with Design and Fabrication”

  1. I'm really interested in the oxygen system you rigged up. I've been looking into using an oxygen concentrator the same as old people and emphysema patients use as a poor mans OBOGS. What did you use and why?

  2. In that tundra you’d hope there’d be room inside for a bike. Spin the bar and pull the front wheel or fork mount it. Let us know what your bike looks like when you get to your destination? Sometimes these ideas are better on paper than they really are.

  3. Paul:

    Can you email me a list of the parts and their suppliers for your high altitude O2 system? I've been trying to put together a similar system, and have had a devil of a time finding vendors.

    Thanks, Jerry Jackson

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