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Fuel Vent & Cowling

I guess I didn’t take a picture of it, but I finished the installation of my new fuel vent system. To recap, I somehow messed up my originally installed fuel vent system such that I was losing approximately 20% of my fuel capacity. When you’ve only got 3 hours fuel to empty, 20% loss is not an acceptable situation. The significance of this picture is (a) it’s related to the fuel system and (b) more importantly, it means that there’s hope I’ll be able to run auto gas after all. This Shell station in Ft. Collins claims that their 91 octane fuel doesn’t have Ethanol. I’ll test it to be sure, but I’d love to be able to run 91 Octane auto gas for $2.83/gallon rather than the more expensive 100LL. I’ll need to run 100LL for the first 25 hours engine break-in anyway, but after that, I might be good to go!

I am EXTREMELY happy to report that the paint shop called today to say that my cowling is finished. I picked it up this afternoon and it looks FANTASTIC. I think this cowling will absolutely make the airplane whole. Honestly, maybe it’s because I’ve been staring at it day in and day out for the past 6 years, but the mostly silver paint job seems boring to me. I think the checkerboard and red nose will add just the right amount of pizazz! Stand by for pictures of the completely assembled bird… Maybe tomorrow, we’ll see.

I knocked off at the airport a little early today to go on a motorcycle ride with a few friends from here in Loveland. We drove approximately 20 miles to the southwest to the small town of Lyons for sandwiches at a blues bar. A good time was had by all and I enjoyed the diversion. My bike is the one in the middle. Mine is a K1100LT and the other two are K75’s. They’re all about the same age. Mine’s a 1996.


Cowl Cheeks, Gas Tank Cover, Canopy

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted. Been busy at work again. I’ve got a fair bit of time off again this week so I’m hoping to finish up a few of these nagging last minute details.

I decided to line the insides of my cowl cheeks with felt. I figure I might use the cheeks to store an extra quart of oil, rags, a funnel, and maybe even a soft overnight bag if I need to avoid the aft baggage compartment for C of G reasons. I taped off the perimeter and sprayed adhesive where the felt will go.

I cut the felt to rough size and then laid it over the still-tacky spray on glue. Once it was smoothed down, I used a straight-edge and a razor blade to trim the felt to the exact size.

I also taped off the side of the fuselage so that I wouldn’t get any glue where it shouldn’t be.

This is sort of a dual-purpose photo. You can see the cowl cheek installed with the felt on the inside. I don’t know if I’ll ever use the cheeks as a baggage compartment, but if I do, at least things won’t be rattling around against the paint. You’ll also notice that I’ve installed the skin piece over the gas tank. This seems like a minor little task, which I guess it was, but it represents a milestone in that it means that I’m done tinkering with the wiring behind the instrument panel. Woo, hoo! Progress!!!

Before I installed the forward fuselage skin over the gas tank, I applied a generous bead of Permatex #2 around the gas cap filler neck ring. I’m hoping that the Permatex will provide a seal such that if the tank is overfilled, the extra gas will run down the outside of the aircraft rather than seeping between the fuselage skin and the tank itself–eventually running down to the floor near the rudder pedals. Ugh. What a mess that’d be!

The Permatex oozed out around the perimeter of the gas cap ring. I carefully cleaned off the excess using a paper towel and a little bit of acetone. I think it cleaned up nicely. It nearly killed me to wipe my newly painted black skin with a paper towel. Black shows every hairline scratch and I think the only time black paint is truly scratch free is approximately 30 seconds after it originally comes out of the paint gun! I’m one of those freaky people, however, that notices the scratch left by placing a styrofoam coffee cup on the roof of the car. It really does leave scratches. Look closely…

A random picture of two of the ugliest planes I can ever imagine. They share a hangar with a friend of mine. The guys who built/own these things are really nice guys, but that doesn’t change the fact that these are butt-ugly! I’ve removed the N-numbers to protect their identity!

This is what I settled on for my canopy latch levers. These things attache on the inside of the canopy skirt to a couple of steel rods that engage into a simple bracket mounted on the top longeron. It’s simple and lightweight and the canopy is definitely held down securely. If I had built the canopy and canopy skirt from scratch I probably would have used some sort of a single lever cam system, but this will do.

This is my 1996 K1100LT BMW motorcycle. I’ve owned it for about 18 months. It’s kept me away from the airplane project for a few days over the past couple of weeks. The front fork seals were leaking fork oil and needed to be replaced. A friend offered to help me replace the seals. How could I refuse? We finished up late yesterday afternoon. If you look closely, we also installed rubber boots over the exposed portion of the forks. This should prevent the forks from leaking in the future. What happens is that bugs and/or road debris contaminate the smooth part of the folk. This contamination then erodes the fork seal and eventually causes a leak. Cherokees have similar problems with their landing gear struts. Maybe they need rubber boots, too?

Here are all my remaining fiberglass parts wearing a first round of primer. I’ll need to do a little more sanding and filling and then spray another round of primer before they’re ready for final paint. I should have these ready for primer as soon as tomorrow afternoon, but the actual priming session will be weather dependent. Hard to believe I’m still waiting for a warm day to paint outside in mid-May. Welcome to Colorado, I guess.


Motorcycle Day

I did a bunch of Beech 1900 checkrides this week so I spent considerably less time out at the airport working on the MIdget Mustang. The weather is starting to be a little warmer these days so it is time to break out the motorcycle. Late last fall my 1996 K1100LT developed a small leak in the fork seals. Jim, a friend of mine, is very experienced in working on motorcycles and offered to help me replace the seals. I know almost nothing about replacing fork seals so I was happy to accept his offer.

Jim’s got every tool known to man when it comes to working on motorcycles. One of the coolest tools is the air/hydraulic motorcycle lift you see in this picture. It lifted my 700+ pound motorcycle without so much as a creak or groan.

I’ve been taking things apart since I was old enough to crawl, but I’ve never worked on a motorcycle. I must say that it was a little scary seeing my motorcycle in this condition.

Jim used a little extra fork oil and his 50 ton press to force the old seals out of my fork tubes. It’s possible to just beat them out of the tubes, but this was more civilized and a little less noisy! ‘Course you gotta have a 50 ton press so not just anybody will be able to do this!