Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Build Begins!

May 28, 2009
The cutting and filling begins.......

One thing I forgot to mention is I decided to start building this plane BEFORE I build a real plane. This way, I'll be more familiar with working with wood, power tools, etc. While composite construction is VERY different, the attention to detail is similar.

Originally, I was going to buy the plywood kit from Aviation Products, Inc. and assemble it as fast as I could. The problem was it was going to cost me (with the other kits) damn near $450 shipped for everything, and while my daughter's laughter and smiles from "flying" this thing is worth the cost, I simply don't have that kind of cash lying around. Plan B, build it from scratch!

Recently, my power tools arsenal had grown since I am preparing my house to be rented out while I'm in flight school in Pensacola. I bought a scroll saw, belt sander, and a circular sander a week or so ago to finish some of the house issues that i put off, neglected, or didn't have the tools for. I won't include those cost in this, but I did have this project in mind on purchase!

This afternoon I ventured out to Home Depot in Hampton (the most unhelpful and unfriendly hardware store I have ever been to!) and picked up $75 worth of material to build this beast. Ouch, luckily I get paid tomorrow! I bought the following:
  • 3/8" Sheet of Plywood - $10
  • Wiss Tin Snips - $19
  • 20"x10' roll of aluminum (for the panels, cowls, etc) - $14
  • Gorilla Glue (the best stuff on earth!) - $8
  • Routing bit for my Dremel Tool - $9
  • Router attachment for Dremel - $15
  • Diginity - priceless
I was actually going to buy two pieces of plywood and make at least enough parts for two planes (I want to keep on at her grandparents house in Virginia Beach) and one for Florida. The other one is either going to be Dago Red or Miss America...I'm leaning towards giving my daughter a complex and going Miss America. The reason I didn't buy two pieces was a logistics issue. I should have taken a photo of the plywood hanging out the back of my Jeep at an angle with a bungee cord around it, it looked ridiculous, but I made it the 4 miles home!

One of the unique things about these plans is you can build the standard P-51D tail, or the later F-51 tail (or Apache, Cavalier, etc tail. It's a taller vertical fin). PAUL I has the F-51 tail, so the plans offer that one. I think the taller tail would actually be more appealing on this, but I'm going to do a contrast and compare by building BOTH tails.

The first thing I did was trace the rudder on a sheet of printer paper for a template. I want to build another one, so I do not want to cut up the plans. I initially had an issue when cutting the wood as the template was moving around. I tried using tape and gorilla glue, but clearly I needed to trace the part out on the wood to do it safely. I found that a felt-tipped Blue Sharpie would transfer through the paper, so I used that when I cut out the parts. The parts were cut using both the Dremel and the Scroll saw.

As a storm was coming in and my shed (which has no power) was getting darker, I called it a night, but not after cutting out the majority of the big components. The plywood that Home Depot had was crappy at best, but I bought the one that had the least amounts of blemishes, knots, dings, etc. After cutting out the parts, I used some Elmer's Wood Filler on parts that needed filling to cover up blemishes. Tomorrow after duty I will sand those down and finish cutting out the parts and using wood filler as necessary.

Notice the 12" straight edge (aka "ruler") to note the size. The filler is clearly visible on the parts. The Blue lines across the fuselage will be for the routing to accommodate the formers, dowels, and some sanding. The air scoop is cut AFTER bending the fuse (which I'll do Saturday) . A lot of sanding is needed at this point, but I can almost hear the "Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat... yeeeeeeeoooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhnnnnnnnnn!!!!! Machine gun and Merlin engine noises that Jocelyn will make as she does ground loops in the driveway!

I am anticipating a 3 week delay while awaiting the metal parts from Aviation Products. This may cause the plane to not be completed before the move, but I will do my best to have everything else completed before the anticipated leave date (July 5th, but it may be pushed back a few days). I do not have welding equipment available to scratch build the metal pieces, so I will just fork over the money for that, and I've decided to go ahead and purchase the sheet metal kit as a back-up to what I'll do. I could not verify the thickness of the aluminum that I purchased today, and I don't want to compromise this project with a bad component.

Realistically, this is a 200 hour build to make it right, and build it correctly. The bulk of this will be all the sanding that is required, and that "fun" starts tomorrow and will not stop until the final coat of paint goes on. Truthfully, completing this project in 5 weeks is possible, but not probable. Where there is a will, there is a way!

This weekend is also the EAA Fly-in at Suffolk (SFQ). DD2 should be there, and I hope to take some more pics! Hopefully the plane will be built up and final sanding completed by next weekend. The Hardware kit, Spinner, and MAYBE the Sheet metal kit will be ordered tomorrow, as well as the Decal set for Paul I (I need the Stars and Bars, windshield, and some of the decals for the cockpit). I will also start the dummy throttle quadrant this week as well.