Day 5 or What I Learned About Building Airplanes

Time Card As you might have already guessed, I try to be very organized. Because one of my goals that goes along with building the VP-1 is to get my A&P Certificate, and some of the logged time can be applied towards said certificate, I decided to try and keep very accurate records of time spent on the project, both shop time and administrative time. To that end I picked up a box of time cards. In theory 100 double sided time cards should last 3.8 years.

Why keep time cards? Not only is it a great way of keeping track of how much time I spend on the project but there’s more. For one, it’s a physical record just for tracking time. Sure, the builders log will do that too, along with a bunch of other information, but I think handing over a stack of time cards to an FAA inspector as proof of work as a separate record shows attention to detailed record keeping that is a very important part of an A&P’s job. Also it is an easy record to have signed by an A&P I am doing work with as supervised work.

There is another reason to use time cards. The idea is to have a slot for every day of the year, a new time card every week, staring me in the face ether say “Wow! you worked a lot on the airplane this week” or “Dude! A whole time card and no work on the airplane?“. It is its own incentive to get out to the shop every day or so. If I get hung up waiting for parts to work with, I am still logging admin time, so there is no reason not to do at least something; at least thats the idea behind it.

This first five days I have logged some time and learned a few things. As promised, I started working on Saturday January 1st, 2011. I started by laying out the Doug fir braces for the firewall bulkhead, relatively straight forward, tolerances were tight with the blade kerf and all, but it looked doable. Then I moved on to laying out the firewall itself. Over all I spent two and a half hours laying out everything and measuring everything several times. After that, I called it a day. I have heard so many builders say “Don’t rush things, you’ll only have to do it over.

Firewall Bulkhead LayoutSunday morning, really early, like 2am early, I woke up with a thought, the layout for the bulkhead was wrong. All of the measurements are referenced from one of two places, ether from the centerline/bottom, or from the outside edges. Here in lies the problem, The centerline marks are fine as long as the centerline doesn’t move. The edges however are in-fact going to move due to a beveled edge that trims off a half inch on ether side. So I can ether go back and remark all cuts referenced by the half inch, or, and I think this best, cut the rough, bolt on the Doug fir as is needed before beveling, then recheck the centerline, and only then move in on the edge cuts. It is a lesson in processes. With nothing but schematics and no real guide for process, you have to take a little extra time to think it all the way through.

Another thing I learned was during my shop time on Monday. I only put in an hour, mainly due to disgust with myself. Don’t cut wood with a wrong or bad blade! After all these years of doing workshop type stuff this should be a second nature no brainer. Well, I was a no brainer apparently. I burned up some perfectly good Doug fir and made myself some push sticks for my next time in the shop.

Then Wednesday came. Shop time, two hours. Yup, changed out that blade and made some real nice soft fluffy sawdust. A beautiful sight and smell, much better than the cloud of burning lumber from Monday. Both of the braces came out nice and neat, square and level, and needed only a nice basic sanding to clean off the light saw marks. This really makes up for Monday.

push sticks   Firewall bulkhead braces

Last weeks time card only had two days from the new year. This week is only half over and I have two days with shop time! I am hoping to get the firewall roughed out by the end of the week. Wee shall see if the day-job will accommodate.

Until next time, blue skies and tail winds,