Adding Rigor

Im sure that most VFR aviators have heard over and over again that adding an instrument rating will make them a better pilot. It's not that adding the rating is going to let them launch into ay kind of weather, and make their flying as reliable as buying an airline ticket—it won't (unless they can afford a true all-weather aircraft, and in that case, they can probably afford to hire a full-time pilot as well). But adding the rating gives a person a totally different framework for their flying—a rigorous structure that centers on being procedural, doing things the same way every time, and sharpening up their precision in all of their flying. Sure, you can do all of those things as a VFR pilot, and many do—but getting the instrument ticket forces the process. Continue reading "Adding Rigor"

It’s Not That Bad...

Sheet metal repair – that’s what I am talking about. I’ve written a couple of notes in the past few months about repairing the minor skin buckles in our Dream Tundra. It turns out that Dream has re-designed the belly skin, doubling the thickness, then adding another doubler over that. We asked them to double the skin thickness for the chin skin – and when all three part showed up, the number of holes to be matched, and the number of rivets that had to be drilled out and replaced was daunting. Continue reading "It’s Not That Bad..."

Drill, deburr... repeat!

After several months of waiting on new pre-punched parts to be made and delivered by Dream Aircraft for our Tundra, we finally received a big box of belly skins and repairs are underway! If you remember, we (and other owners) discovered some buckling under the chin of the aircraft that were attributed to torque loads on a very thin (0.024”) skin section. The repair is to use much thicker material, and eliminate a couple of inspection panels that further weakened the area. While we could have made these parts (and indeed, we began fabricating them after the long delay – but stopped when informed that they wee ready for shipment), the pre-punched components fit perfectly into the existing holes in the framework, and require far less tweaking.

Yesterday we drilled out hundreds of rivets holding the cabin and nose belly skins in place, completing the removal process we had started a while back. Our arms are feeling it today, I’ll tell you! Lying on a creeper and holding even a lightweight air drill for a couple of hours is tiring. With all of the rivets removed, we were able to drop the skins and start cleaning up all of the rivet tails, aluminum shavings, and accumulated dirt that seems to creep into a structure over the years. The good news is that the fuselage framing is in great shape, and (most of) the holes aren’t enlarged from the rivet removal process. A few will need oversized rivets – but that’s the life of aircraft repair.

We had already made a smaller doubler plate ourselves using a Mylar pattern technique to match holes, but Dream supplied us with a new belly skin, doubler, and the thickened chin skin all of which fit perfectly, with only the need to up-drill the pre-punched pilot holes to final size. More drilling while lying on our backs – yippee! A good solid work day saw us to the point where all the holes are done on the bottom of the airplane, and we only have to work our way up around the sides – that will require some blocking and wrapping with cargo straps to bring the skins in tight.

Drill, deburr... repeat! That’s aircraft sheet metal repair. It takes the time it takes, but we can see some light at the end of the tunnel. Plus, we found those missing screwdriver bits and determined that there were no mice living under the floorboard of the airplane – so we’ve got that going for us!

Injector Cleaning


Guess what we're doing here. If you own a fuel injected aircraft engine and do your own maintenance, you probably recognize the process – we’re cleaning fuel injector nozzles.

Our RV-3 has purred as smooth and soft as a kitten from day one. With dual P-Mags and a Bendix-style injector set-up, you can pull the mixture back until well after the EGT peaks, and it stays smooth – right up until about 200 degrees lean of peak when it just stops firing. Really a sweet engine. Continue reading "Injector Cleaning"

The New Aviation Rituals


It used to be that anyone who worked on airplanes knew how to time a magneto, clean an aviation spark plug, and safety-wire an oil filter. In fact, they could do those things in their sleep. They were the basic rituals of aviation - along with applying a fabric patch and tightening flying wires. But times change. Continue reading "The New Aviation Rituals"