Sunday, July 26, 2009

I worked on clearing the airstrip about 2 hours today. Progress is certainly being made. I stopped at a local equipment rental place on Saturday and learned that I could rent a tracked Bobcat skid-steer with a bucket for $225 a day. If I pick it up at closing time on a Friday, I don't have to return it until they open on Monday. I think this is what I'll do instead of hire someone with a bulldozer. Here is what the airstrip looks like at the moment:

The start of runway 24.

Midpoint of runway 24. Those trees at the end will be removed to provide clear access to the end of the runway.

Midpoint of runway 6. There will be some fill required on the right side near the end. The higher side of the clearing will be cut away to provide the fill and eventually the runway will start very close to my front yard. All the trees that will interfere with the runway will be removed on both sides.

These trees at the end of runway 24 will all be cut down. As you can see, I've already started.

As it stands right now, without any cut or fill, it appears that I'll have 300 feet with both ends clear. It will certainly be tight on both take-off and landing but I believe it will be do-able!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Working on the runway!

On June 30th, the spot that will be my runway looked like the pictures below. I've been putting in some hours clearing this small spot in hopes that it will serve as my ultralight runway. After this weekend, I'll post a picture of my progress, but it is substantial. I have only owned this property for about two years and I've been concentrating mostly on building my home. I've discovered that this spot has about a 4 foot elevation difference from one side to the other over about 100 feet. I hope this won't really be a problem because the only solution is a bulldozer.

I stepped off the distance from one end to the other and came up with about 370 feet plus or minus 25 feet. I could possibly gain another 60 feet on one end after removing some trees that would interfere with my wings when taking off.

I have learned that the local radio control (RC) airfield was 568 feet. I have successfully taken off and landed on this field. It has tall grass on either end of the mowed area and from what I can remember, the landing roll was a bit long and I went into the tall grass on the end before I stopped. Keep in mind, the grass on the runway itself is almost like a golf green, short and smooth. I'll have taller grass on my strip so I'll probably stop in a shorter distance. Who knows, might be the right time to get brakes! Somebody suggested that I have two different lengths of grass on my strip, short for takeoff and longer for landing. Sounds like a good idea. Airstrip progress photo coming soon!

The runway looking towards 243 degrees (runway 24). All of the trees you see at the far end will be removed to allow a clear approach to the short field.

The middle of the runway looking towards 243 degrees (runway 24).

The opposite end of the runway looking towards 63 degrees (runway 6).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ultralight People

Well, I've been doing a bit of reflecting on my time spent at Mark Smith's fly-in. It's really strange. Many of the people who were at the fly-in I've met before. I remember their faces but not their names. When you have to ask, it can be embarrassing. If you still don't remember, it can sometimes be so awkward that you decide not to ask again. During the year I communicate with them through the Yahoo Quicksilverultralightowners group, but won't actually see them again for another year, or two or more.

Take Lester for example. I spoke to Lester at length at the fly-in. I didn't know his name and I didn't ask. I didn't learn until I got back that he posts as Bobo_MX on the Yahoo group. I'm certainly familiar with his posts, but I didn't associate a face with a user name. Isn't that strange? I'm sure a bunch of people at Mark's associated faces with user names and given names for the first time this weekend. Dan Umbarger is one whom I now associate with his Yahoo group name of "BOATDOC54". He said it was his first time at the Fly-in, but I would have sworn that I've met him before. Oh yeah, by-the-way, My Yahoo group name used to be RustyUL. It's now gr.weldon and the group doesn't display my actual name, even though I think my profile setting says that it should. "Norm in Cherokee Village Arkansas" told me his last name several times. Do you think I remember it? NO! I guess I'll just use the excuse everybody else does...I'm getting old, which is true.

It would be helpful if somebody could put together a list (a blog even) of peoples names, Yahoo group name, the city they live in and a picture of the airplane (or airplanes for those who are extremely blessed) that they fly. I know that some people are a bit leery of the perceived security issues, but you would be surprised how easy it already is to find somebody without anything more than a name and possibly a state. I think I could easily associate a name and face with an airplane. What do you think? Post a comment and let me know! I'd be willing to start another blog if a good deal of people would like to send their information to me. It would be like a ready reference to people who post on the group. I suppose I could even withhold real names if people wished. Like I said, let me know!

Back to the issue of people you only see once a year. It's amazing how you bond with some people even though you only see them very few hours over a long period of time. As I said in my previous post, Ultralight fliers are a really different type of people. They live different types of lifestyles and tend to be almost any age. Just about every single ultralight flier that I have ever met has been very warm, open and receptive. I know we think that it should be that way with everyone at any time, but for whatever the reason, that isn't the case. Ultralight fliers can disagree about everything...and I do mean everything. As long as they agree that flying ultralights is where it's at, they can be great friends at the flying field. They may not want to (and probably don't) associate with this person any other time, but the sport of flying brings them together. It is indeed an amazing thing.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

At Mark's fly-in, Dwight told me that I needed to set aside one day a week to work on my runway. I'm beginning to think that he's right. Up to now it's been house, house, house. I think I need to direct some of my work toward the ultimate end of flying. The fly-in re-ignited the flame. All I really need to do is cut down a five or six dozen trees and mow the lawn and I possibly could have 300 usable feet. If the strip is open on both ends, I'll should have no problem taking off and shouldn't have too much difficulty landing.

On Google Earth it looks somewhat like this, but these pictures are about 5 years old. The outline is 500' long and will need some fill on both ends.

Once I get the runway workable, I'll have to assemble the pile of tubes sitting in my minivan into an airplane. I can't wait to get started.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Car almost finished

When re-installing the new EGR tube, I had to remove the DPFE sensor from the old tube to put on the new tube. Wouldn't you know, the plastic was old and brittle and broke where it connects to the vacuum likes. That will be another $35 or so plus the car will throw the check engine light until I put the new sensor on.

When testing that everything electrical worked, I discovered that neither the radio nor the climate control fan worked. Nor the rear window defroster or the windshield wipers. I'll have to troubleshoot and find out what gives but tonight, I just had to call it quits at about 6:30. At least it's drivable and gets much better gas mileage than the 13MPG F250 truck I was driving while putting the car back together. I guess I know what I'll be doing tomorrow night. I really thought this project would be complete by now!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Replacing the AC evaporator core in a Merc Sable

This 4th of July weekend was relatively productive for me. On Friday, I worked on the last bit of roofing that need to be finished. I'm still not done. It gets tricky working 20 feet above the level of the deck. I have just a few more pieces of roofing material to install. After the roofing material is all done, I have some flashing to install where the walls meet the roof. After that, the roof will finally be complete. I figure about 4 to 6 more hours.

Saturday, I started the miserable task of replacing the air conditioning evaporator core in my car. I had to remove the steering column and dashboard completely, then remove the air handling unit which involved 2 quick disconnects (they weren't quick at all), two heater core hoses, and three large nuts from inside the engine compartment. I had to remove the intake manifold from the engine to be able to get room to make the majority of the disconnections. In the process I broke the EGR valve tube and the gear selector display, the little plastic piece that shows what gear you are in. I also lost the two screws that hold the multi-function switch (turn signals, hi-beam) to the steering column.

Screw access panels and glove box removed.

Steering column, radio/climate controls and glovebox removed

Air handler still installed in car

Air handler removed

Bare naked interior firewall!

Saturday night, my wife Sharla and I went to see fireworks in Montgomery. I have to say that it was shameful! I know budgets are tight, but the show didn't even last 7 minutes! We drove 40 minutes to get there, spent about 40 minutes waiting for the show to start...for what? 7 minutes of fireworks? As I said, shameful!

Sunday morning about 9:00, I started to disassemble the air handling unit to replace the evaporator core. Because I didn't want to be taking the dash out again for any reason, I replaced the heater core as well. I then started to put things back together. About 11:00 I started to re-install components back into the car. At 5:30PM, I had to stop because of impending rain, which was the first rain in 3 weeks. When I stopped, I had the air handler back in, the dash back in, the steering column mounted, and the radio/climate control unit back in. I still have to mount the multi-function switch (when I get the screws), install the glove box, re-connect the AC hoses and heater core hoses, replace the EGR tube, reinstall the intake manifold, upper motor mount and put the passenger side tire back on. If I can easily get the old EGR tube to come off easily (doubtful), then we should be talking about 3 hours to complete. I've got about 12 hours into the project already. With the cost of the evaporator core, the heater core and EGR tube, two freon recharges (the first one told me I had a leak), the total will be just about $550. After I already paid $160 for the first freon recharge, they told me it would be at least $600 to replace the evaporator core. This wouldn't have included the heater core. You know how things like that go...It would have been more in the end. Any way you look at it, I saved about $200. If I hadn't broken anything and cheaped out by using my old heater core, I could have saved easily $300 or more. Hopefully when I take it to the service center, it will hold a charge. Then I'll have AC again! Woo Hoo! It only quit working 2 months after I bought the car about 30 months ago.

Engine compartment with intake manifold and other things removed