May 24, 2009

Baggage Compartment Panels, etc. - 5.5 hrs.

Well, if you've been wondering where I've been the last week or so, it's been a very busy but interesting time around here. Last Tuesday, Jamie and I and my parents drove clear down to the southern end of Oregon to Ashland. My youngest son Daniel (you've seen pics of him helping me with riveting and other tasks) is a student at Southern Oregon University and he was the featured soloist for the 100th Anniversary concert of the Southern Oregon concert band. He played George Gershwins' famous piece, Rhapsody in Blue on the piano with the band accompanying his performance. What a thrill it was to watch as they pushed this beautiful concert grand piano out to center stage, then the conductor introduced him, and he took his seat and played the performance of his life. The historic Ginger Rogers Craterian theater has a seating capacity of 750 and it was full. It's the largest audience he's ever played for, so far. I've never been so proud. He received a thunderous standing ovation, and went on to play Chopin's Revolutionary Etude for an encore. Wow! I'll post a picture here if I can get one. Normally you can't take pictures during a performance. Anyway, it was one of the proudest moments of my life and we just couldn't miss it.

The next morning, before driving back home, we stopped at the home of James Haran of Central Point, Oregon. He's a new friend I have been corresponding with. His RV-7A is at exactly the same point of construction as mine. It was interesting to talk, compare notes, and visit in his shop while Jamie talked with his wife Michelle in the house. James... thanks for the hospitality! We hope to see you again soon and we know we will enjoy flying off to faraway places with you and Michelle someday.

Then, on Friday, new friends Snow and Bronwyn arrived here at my home. They came all the way from Kawhia, New Zealand! Snow is in the dreaming stage, wanting to build his own RV-7A and we have been corresponding for several months. They had planned this holiday to visit the U.S. so Jamie and I invited them to stay with us for a couple of days. I took them down to Van's Aircraft Friday afternoon for a factory tour and demo flights. Needless to say, the RV grins were very big for both of them. On Saturday, we went to McMinnville to Evergreen Aviation's museum to see Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose. As close as I live to this great museum, I had never been there before. I can't begin to describe how impressive this mammoth airplane is. The span of the horizontal stabilizer is longer than the wingspan of a B-17 Bomber! And the tip of the vertical stabilizer is 80 feet high. That's 8 stories high! Four 3,000 H.P. 24-cylinder radial engines are mounted on each wing. That's eight engines! The propellors are 17 feet in diameter. I could go on and on with more amazing facts and trivia. One interesting little thing that caught my eye was the word "EXPERIMENTAL" in plain black letters painted above the doors on the side of the plane. This has got to be the ultimate experimental airplane ever built! Anyway, if you're ever anywhere near this area, it is a MUST SEE.

We had a lot of fun with these great people. They are among the most jovial, talkative, fun and friendly people I have ever met. If you are ever in New Zealand, they own and operate a fabulously beautiful small vacation resort on the north island, on the west coast at Kawhia. Stay with them and have a great time! Here's a link to their website. New Zealand is a beautiful place. We can't wait to visit! Snow... it was great having you and Bron stay with us. We will definitely come see you someday when we make it to your part of the world. G'day, mate!

Okay... back in the shop, it's Sunday afternoon of the Memorial Day holiday weekend and I'm finally getting back to work on the project. Today I finished drilling the ends of the forward floor stiffeners to the brackets inside the fuse.

Above, the aft ends of the floor stiffeners are drilled to the brackets on the F-704 bulkhead. Below, the forward ends are drilled to the brackets on the firewall. These parts are now finished.

Then, it was on to the baggage area. The vertical F-724 bulkheads and the F-722 side stiffeners need to be installed and drilled to the skin. Since the F-722's have a slight curve to them, they need to be fluted. So I spent the time necessary to completely deburr and flute them first. Then, they were installed and drilled. Next, the F-750 aft baggage panels were clecoed and drilled in place.

I didn't get a picture of these parts installed in the plane, but I'll get one tomorrow. I ruined one of the F-722's when I drilled the F-750 aft baggage panel to it, because I missed the pre-punched holes. The parts fit very tightly in there. So it's off to Vans again to replace yet another ruined part.

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