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Work Log 2

Mears Spitfire

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No, I haven't given up on the Spit at all. Been getting ready for a combat competition in Phoenix this week. Flying Fast Combat and that takes some preparation. Will be back on Spit Tuesday night I hope and flip her over.

4/10/2005  rolled her over today. (that's what you do when you get tired of looking at the top) just took two nephews, a brother, and a cousin to do it. Like everything else, it took longer than expected. the 15 minute job took about an hour. I have the firewall mounted on an engine stand that lets me rotate the fuse. But, when its upside down, it wants to rotate back since the wings are on top now, making it tip heavy. Had to run and get some square tubing and mount to the main spar to stabalize it. Mounted one retract arch today. Trial fitted the bottom wing skins. Used the breast plate to tie everything together and it all fit very well. Primed 3 of the false ribs and fitted one doubler around landing gear. Wont be much to write about on the bottom side. Lot's of fitting and lots of dimpling. Planning on painting the bottom of the plane before I flip it back over. Gonna try to take some classes at Loehle in Tennesee at the end of the month (252hrs.)

 

4/47/2005  Spent most the day on the Spit. Even tho it doesn't show it. Cleaned up and primed flap tubes. Drilled and clecoed flap tube bushings. Trial fit, drilled, primed, and installed flap motor support. All this on the right side...haven't started left side yet. Had to split flap motor to turn mounting hole 90 degrees. No big deal, just worth noting for other builders. Don't sound like much again. but took about 6 hours. Got more pics. will try to get them on this week.(258hrs)

4/23/2004 Had a great visit with Mike O'Sullivan, Clint and George. George has logged many hours on his Spitfire and was a bundle of information and tips on constructing mine. Mike and Clint grabbed a-hold of my flap motor upon arrival and showed me some tricks on assembly that I will continue using throughout the build. They assured me that my progress so far was looking good and to continue what I'm doing. Clint brought a replacement caliper and assembled it for me while he was here. I challenge anyone to top that service! Hand deliver a replacement part and install it! From Australia! GET ME A BUD LITE.....IT JUST DON'T GET NO BETTER THAN THIS! Had a great dinner and shot some pool, and shot some shit...was a great time for me. Hope they enjoyed the stay. They left early this morning headed to Midland Texas to go to the Commemorative air force museum. I'll get started back on the Spit in the morning. (Clint, enjoy those shit-kickers!)

4/24/2005   Well today was interesting. After Mike and his cohorts installed my flap motor, I was feeling confident to get the other side done trouble free. Which it was. Couldn't figure out why I had so much trouble before. Part of the problem was I mounted the control horn like the manual showed in pics.  Mike, Clint, and George all decided it should mount with the shoulder outboard, opposite of the pic. Mike let me know that the pics cant always be trusted as a guide for assembly. That was a bit troublesome to me. Anyway, after the other flap motor was finished today, I went on to mount the stiffeners on the bottom of the wing. Hmmm..problem here, the control horn will hit the stiffener in its current location. I study the manual some more. Ahhh, here's the problem. I will give those guy's hell for the rest of their lives for this. THEY mounted the flap motor assembly and the control horn UPSIDE DOWN!!! Now that's funny! It goes to show, anybody can make mistakes. Even three experts at the same time. So now I must un-install the motors and control horns and reverse everything. That was only about a 30 min. job. Would have been easier if I hadn't already mounted the flap tubes and bolted it all in. O well. The whole experience makes me more confidant in my own work. Lucky for me that Clint passed on to me not to rivet on the wing skins till I build outer wings. My plan was to finish the complete fuse and center section before I even started assembling the wings. I think I learning that the best way to assemble this plane....Cleco the complete assembly before ever putting in a rivet. Of course that's not the way it gets done, but it would allow fitting the whole thing before you find out you did step 7 wrong when your already on step 40. (264hrs)

Just got back from Tennessee today. Went to Mike and Sandy Loehle's school of coatings for aircraft. They're really nice folks and taught me a lot about painting an airplane. Mikes special blend of paint (coating as he prefers it) is amazing! His kits are mostly fabric and most of his school revolved around fabric construction. I was really impressed with the process, and could see possibly building one of his kits in the future. His process eliminates all the hassle I was worrying about in a fabric kit. He seals the fabric in ONE coat. And its real thin...don't how it works, but it does. Then he shot a black primer, then white...right on top of the black...in ONE coat! It dried in less than an hour. Was impressive. Anyhow, it looks like I'll be using his system when the time comes. I'm still going to paint the bottom while its inverted, and Loehles coating will be my choice.  They gave me the tour of their factory, and they're kits are also very impressive. Anyone not wanting to invest in the Supermarine, all metal Spitfire, might look at the Loehle. I don't think you would be disappointed. http://www.loehle.com/

 

5/05/2005  Spent 6 hours lining up the bottom wing skins and drilling 3/32 holes in skins, ribs, spar, and stiffeners. All wings skins fit very well, as the breast plate lines everything up for you. Also installed the false ribs. (270hrs)

5/08/2005 Only had a couple of hours to work on the Spit today. Just drilled lots of holes. (272hrs)

5/09/2005  Drilled the bottom, front, starboard wing skin to 1/8th. Re-positioned inboard false rib for better fit. removed panel to clean up. (273hr.)

5/11/2005. Drilled holes. Fit starboard bottom stiffeners (276hrs)

5/12/2005    Still on starboard, bottom, rear wing skin. Drilled it all 1/8th and dimpled. drilled and dimpled doubler and riveted in nuts. Counter sink in main spar for skin dimples. (282hrs).

5/15/2005  Spent most of the day on the Spit. dimpled the bottom starboard wing skin, and the ribs. Front and back. Riveted in the nuts for the flap motor cover and the gear instection cover. Don't sound like much...but DAMN...that's a lot of holes! Everything fitting great. No need for new pics, just  looks the same.
 (289hrs.)

5/23/2005  trial fit and drilled 3/32. port, forward bottom wing panel. Built stiffeners for port, bottom rear. (290.5 hrs)

5/24/2005 drilled all the 3/32 holes in the port-aft wing stub. finished dimpling the starboard-bottom-forward skin. Hmmm...dimpled the foreskin...maybe I should have been a doctor! (292 hrs)

 

6/7/2005  Only had about an hour to work on plane tonight. Drilled about 1/2 the 1/8th holes in the port-bottom wing stub skins. (I've already drilled them 3/32) Installed lots of 1/8th cleco's. Will remove the 3/32 cleco's and drill the rest of the holes tomorrow I hope. (293 hrs)

6/9/2005 Finally got some time on the Spit. Got the port and starboard wing (center-section, aft, only) drilled and dimpled, and primed. Installed with clecos and ready to rivet. Now the fear is here. Scared to death I forgot something and will discover it after I get it all riveted in.  I'm a little confused on the anchor nuts on the outer wing ribs. One page shows them only in front of the main spar, the other shows them all the way to the trailing edge. Gonna have to get with SM for details. Should be able to rivet it Sunday. (298 1/2 hrs)

6/12/2005  Got about 7 hrs. in on the Spit Sunday. Got both rear wing skins riveted down on the center-section. Finished my 1st box (of two) of countersunk rivets. (8000) Looking at what I've done so far with the center-section, it looks like a couple hours of work. Actually, so far, I've spent 53 hours on it since I've turned her over. And I'm still not finished with the bottom. Wow! Maybe I'll be a hermit someday, cause spending 7 hours in the shop just drillin' and dimplin' and clecoing and riveting was very relaxing. I think I'm understanding why my wife and daughters enjoy putting together a puzzle. Always looked like a waste of time to me. Course there's a fat chance they will ever FLY a puzzle! (305 1/2hrs)

6/19/2005    Got in another good 6 hours on the Spitfire today. Finished off the center-section, bottom wing skins. Installed all the anchor nuts in the end ribs and the landing gear inspection cover. Pulled all the tape off the aft fairing skins (man, that's a lot easier in the summer....101 today) Got them all primed and doing the trial fitting. Drilled a few 3/32 holes and got a few clecos in place. Found a couple of oil coolers that I'm going to install in the wing scoops. I'll have to build the wing scoops also.   (311 1/2hrs)

 

6/21/2005    trial fit wing farings. After much measuring and sweating bullets....I drilled the holes. (312 1/2hr)

7/04/2005 I've actually worked on the rudder a few hours here and there, but wasn't anything worth reporting. I decided to do the rudder since I've ordered the oil coolers and they're not here yet. I decided to build the wing scoops and put a couple of oil coolers in them. That's all that's stopping me from turning the fuse back over. Anyway, I look at this rudder and think, well that will burn up an hour or so. You would think by now I would have a better concept of time on this project. Lucky for me that Supermarine sends the rudder with the framework already assembled. The skins have the normal 3/32 pre-drilled. So no biggie, outa have this done pronto! Well, I had already spent about 3 hours on it earlier, and spent a total of 7 hours on it today. WOW! And its till not quite finished. I still have to rivet in the leading edge. But it looks great. I must finish it off on the plane with epoxy filler in the edge.

I've been looking at some of the other kits being built around the area, and keep a growing appreciation of all the work Supermarine has done to this kit. To me it was just should be, not having any experience on building an airplane kit. Most things fit, and fit nice. Pilot holes are pre drilled to line everything up, and with a little patience, they do line everything up. I think that should just be standard. But after looking at many other kits, it just ain't that way. Lots of cases, you get the metal and a manual, and its good luck! I think the manual needs some work, but damn.....its a lot better than some others I've seen lately. So, Hats off to Supermarine. I don't know if I would EVER have made it this far without their efforts in this kit before it came to me! (312  1/2hrs)

7/14/2005 Oil coolers still not here, so I move on to installing the wheels and brakes on the legs. I built an alignment tool that worked great. It let me measure to the center of the fuse to align the axle. I'll double check the toe in after i get the starboard set up on. If I've done it right it should have about 1/4" toe in. Hope this is right, just kinda took that spec outa my ass. Just sounds right. Had to grind on the calipers some more to get them to line up right. They're just a little too tight. had to tak off about 1/6" to get them to fit straight with the disc and let it move freely. (317 1/2hrs)

7/31/2005  Spent most of the day in the garage tinkering with the Spitfire and with some combat planes. Actually only did about 3 hours work on the Spit. Also did some more tear down on the 20B. Kind of a general tinkering kinda day. But, back to the Spit. I installed the springs and dampeners in the landing gear and bolted it up. Will weld it after I turn her over and check the alignment with the weight on it. So far I'm satisfied with the alignment, but still want to see if it changes when its standing on its own. I installed the bottom plug without the dampener and drilled the bolt hole first. Of course I marked it first so it would go back in the same as it came out. After drilling I checked the bolt alignment and fit. All is well. So I used a steering wheel puller (pics coming) and just pushed the assembly back in. Easy. I started to used silicon on these parts, but decided that if any moisture got in the leg, it would be best to get out the bottom, so I just etch primed and installed. (320 1/2hrs)

9/11/2005 Well, after 6 weeks of preparation, lots of practice, lots of planning, and lots of work for the USA Team Trials for FAI combat....I got about 12 minutes of competition, got my ass kicked, and it was over....man...that was worth it!

Finally back to the Spit...

Made the air scoops for the oil coolers today. They look ok....not as good as I would like them to, but good enough. will definitely be functional. Thinking that after I get her put together I may trim some off the front to shrink the frontal area. Drilled out the rivets around the stiffeners and installed a new, larger stiffener under the oil cooler. Drilled the holes in the wing skin for the oil cooler lines. This is all just on one side. Will drill out the rivets on both sides where the scoop will attach tomorrow. (326 1/2 hrs.)

9/29/05   Still stuck on these coolers and scoops. Once again I must appreciate the ready made parts of the kit. These scoops and oil coolers are not part of the kit so Im not adding the time for assembly. Good thing too! Now I've changed the scoop shape and it looks great. But the oil cooler line ended up being very close to the landing gear pivot arm and I needed a 45 degree outlet. Of course they don't build the fitting I need so I'm gonna have to build one. I have cut the holes in the other wing for the oil cooler. Now I needed to drill out the existing rivets and drill the scoop for the rivets. I found out I needed a fan spanner. So I've ordered that too. Really getting tired of messing with these scoops...want to flip'er over and get to work on the kit again. Using READY made parts instead of this fabrication crap.

10/18/05 These freakin' scoops and oil coolers are wearing me out! I Had to make the fittings of course, since what I need isn't factory produced by anyone. I ordered the # 8 AN fittings and one #8 bulkhead fitting to weld to my # 10 fitting at 45 degrees, as I have already done on the other side. We had a major melt down on the second one before and had to re-order and start over. Well the new setup looked great. Carpenter did his usual outstanding job on the weld. So I spent several hours on the starboard side mounting the oil cooler and the scoop. THEN....not when I should have earlier.....but AFTER I mount everything up...I decide to check if my clearance is good on the oil cooler connection. THEN, I discover that my # 8 fitting is really a #6. Damnit!!! No I've got to remove the whole thing, build ANOTHER fitting and reinstall. Don't guess this would piss me off so bad if I didn't hear from everybody that sees these oil coolers and scoops, that they outa take off about 40 knots off my top speed. But..its a SPITFIRE....It's supposed to have those scoops. And mine gonna have them even if it kills me!!!!

10/28/05 Finally, I have the oil coolers and air scoops mounted! Now I can move on with the kit! Will build a firewall bracket Sunday and hope to get the Spit on her legs Sunday evening...if I can round up enough help.

11/06/2005 Great day spent on the Spit. Friends came over today and we turned her over. Man, she GREW! Up on the landing gear really makes the plane stand tall and look good! Mounted the fin rear spar. Trial fit all the fin parts. All the holes are pre-drilled and fit like a glove. Mounted the tail wheel bracket also. That was 6 hours worth of work. And the fins is just cleco'd on. Haven't drilled 1/8th yet or primed or dimpled. Did spend about 30 min looking in manual for instructions to mount retract motors. Cant find anything so I'll get with Supermarine tonight. Should have an answer in the morning. (326 1/2hrs)

11/8/05 Pulled the stab off the shelf. Its already semi-assembled. Put 3/32 cleco's in every other hole. Drilled the empty holes 1/8th. (there's a LOT of holes). Put the 1/8th cleco's in those holes and removed the 3/32 cleco's and drilled the remaining holes 1/8th. Trial fit the stab on the fuse, drilled holes for brackets and trim cable exit. Removed the stab, drilled out the factory installed 3/32 rivets, removed the skins, dimpled the ribs, counter sunk the leading edge and center spar. Looks like I'm about 15% done with the stab. (332 1/2hrs)

11/13/ 2005   Have the fin ready to rivet. Built the two elevator pushrods. Drilled out the rivets in stab leading edge and removed. Trying to figure out how to install the turtle deck, install front stab bolts, install the stab leading edge all at the same time. Drilled and semi installed rear stab mount. Supplied bolts are too small for rear stab mount. Must purchase some larger ones. Order if installation in manual creates some problems. I've decided to start and new tab on the web page of things that should be different on installations and procedures. Ted (Australia builder) saved me some trouble in the stab installation order. Think this stuff needs to be wrote down for the next guy. All in all, a great day on the Spit. (339 1/2hrs)

11/16/2005    As I've said before, I'm not impressed with the Supermarine manual. But as I have also said, the more I read about other kits, nobody likes their manual either. The Titan Mustang site, which is a really nice site for builders to question back and forth about construction, posted this.

"Dear fellow builders
..... I need your help with the Instruction Manual. Those who watch this Group Website know that I have stated that I was disappointed with the quality of the Manual that Titan supplies because it does not approach the quality of the kit."

It went on into much more detail, but I wont bore you with the whole thing.  Seems that nobody ever likes their instruction manual. But Supermarine is doing a fine job sending me updates and answering my questions e-mail. So I'm not complaining anymore. Just a bit of info I thought I would share.

11/17/2005  Same ole shit. worked on Stab and fin about 6 hrs. Sounds like no big deal huh. Well that about 12 hours so far and I haven't stuck a rivet in it yet. And believe it or not, its about and hour and a half just to remove the plastic off the aluminum. And all is going well! Just a lot of drilling, re-drilling, trial fitting. dimpling, trial fitting, and now I've used all of my clecos. I'm satisfied that everything is square and should be able to start riveting Sunday. I HAVE to....I need my cleco's! (345 1/2hrs)

11/18/2005  put some rivets in the fin. Put those clecos in the bottom stab skins. Messed with alignment of stab. drilled the stab rear bracket. (348 hrs)

11/20/2005  Spent all day on Spit. Thought for sure I would be finished with the tail section. WRONG! Lack quite a bit. Got the bottom skins done on the stab. Top skins are clecoes, but not dimpled or primed. Spent hours getting the stab straight. Has to be perfect you know. Good old laser light came to the rescue again. That and a foam pointer to help me out. Got the hinges and elevators temporarily installed. Installed the rudder and discovered a twist in the fin. Nice and straight at the bottom, and the center, but somehow have a twist in the top. bout 1/2 inch too! Gonna have to drill out the rivets in the fin and "un-twist" I hope. Hard to be believe that's all I've accomplished today, and now must undo part of what I've done. O well, that's just part of it. (358hrs)

11/27/2005  I always thought dimples was cute on a woman, but after today, after dimpling about a million holes...I'm sick of dimples. If I was to go to the mall...and a cute girl smiled at me, with cute little dimples...I'd bitch slap her right there in front of everybody!!! Just cause she had DIMPLES!!! Now, back to business. Drilled, dimpled and primed the starboard stab top, top and bottom of the elevator, and riveted all the above. Haven't riveted on the elevator yet waiting for the epoxy to dry in the elevator. Also have to cut out the trim tab. It's hard to believe that took 10 hours, but it did. (368hrs)

11/29/2005  Cut the trim tab out of the elevator. Made the two end plates. Drilled and dimpled and primed. Installed and riveted. No problems. (370hrs)

12/01/2005  Today I finished riveting on the right elevator, hinge, and trim tab. Alsot installed right control horns. dimpled left stab top skin and clecoe'd back on. O, and cut out foam to go inside and glued in place. (373hrs)

 

12/04/2005   Decided to work on something different today. The goal is to install the port landing gear motor. First I must drill out the rivets and remove the passenger footrest. Then after several attempts to install the motor, I must cut out some metal for clearance. Of course I must overhaul the dremel a couple of times to get this accomplished. (going after a new one tomorrow). Then I want to install the gas strut. Back to reading the manual from front to back, looking at the drawing book, scratching my head looking for instructions on this step. They don't exist. Email Supermarine for info.
Try to install the pin in the lever, it don't go. Woulda been easy to ream this out on the bench. Now its a bitch. Not much accomplished in 3 hrs. (376hrs.)

12/05/2005  Drilled the port stab to 1/8th. Got the pin in the port landing gear motor. (377hrS.)

12/11/2005   Good day on the Spit today. Drilled, dimpled, trial fit, primed, assembled, and installed the port elevator. Drilled out the starboard passenger footrest in preparation of the landing gear motor. Temporary installed elevator pushrods. (384hrs)

12/14/2005   Got the starboard landing gear motor in place. Had to go back to the port one and free up the pin. This pin is the emergency release and must move freely. When I installed it the other day I wasn't happy with the way it would stick now and then if I released the emergency key. So I spent about and hour sanding and filling. Its really hard to get to it now that its installed. Discovered also that I will have to remove the port motor to get the emergency cable in the correct position. (385.5hrs.)