Monday, April 27, 2015

Biplane Season Is Alive And Well In Arizona

We touched down at San Francisco International shortly before midnight Tuesday evening.  The weather was five hundred overcast, four miles visibility with fog.  A note on the ATIS said the weather at the San Mateo bridge was clear, with ten miles visibility; typical Bay Area weather.  It was "Junior's" first landing after IOE (Initial Operating Experience,) and a good one too; after a well executed ILS to runway 28 Left.  A nice ending to a long day that started in windy New York City, and changed airplanes in snowy Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Three of the five basic weather groups conquered on the first day!  The other two, thunderstorms and rain, would have to wait until we crossed the Sierras the following afternoon, on our way back to Minneapolis.

Midnight Pacific translates to three am (body clock) for those of us based on the east coast.  I expected to be "dragging" by the time we reached San Francisco.  Before we departed Minneapolis I grabbed a large cup of coffee, and nursed it for most of the flight; a sleep mitigation technique that has worked well in the past.  True to form, I was wide awake for the van ride to the hotel.  With nothing better to do (Junior was dozing) I turned on my not long for this life iPhone 4S, and began sorting through emails.  There were a couple from Big D, mostly Flight Ops stuff, and one from Brother Baker that was too large for the cellular network to download.  It would have to wait.

One hour later, still wide awake, I agreed to the terms and logged online.  Brother Baker's email was a forwarded message titled:  My Yesterday.  It was from his father, Brian, out in Arizona.  There were four pictures attached---and why the file was too large for the cell network to download.  Here's the message:

Finally got to fly the Stearman with Billy Walker.  I gave him some dual in 1959.

Here are a few pix.

Brian Baker

Billy Walker & Brian Baker

This looks like so much fun!

Billy Walker

Like father; like son. . .

Viewing Pop Baker's Stearman photos reminded me of a picture that I had taken several years back:

Joe Baker, Roxboro, NC, 2010.

The apple doesn't fall very far from the tree. . .

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Winter Projects

Tax day has come and gone, and so it appears, has winter---never mind that Brother Baker says he saw snow in Salt Lake City the other day.  Utah is a couple of time zones away from Jellystone Air Park.  We're probably safe to put the deice truck back in the hangar.  Now if it would just stop raining. . .

Winter 2014-15 was a bit of a challenge for the Jellystoners.  Our winter airplane (Brother Baker's 1947 Luscombe 8A, Four Three Bravo) was in the shop for most of the season. The short version goes something like this:  New cylinders were installed on Four Three Bravo's mighty 85 about a year ago.  The rings seated in about eight hours and all was right in the world.  After sixty hours---say around mid August---massive quantities of oil began to appear on the belly.  Blow-by was suspected.  The cylinders were pulled and low and behold; ring gaps had aligned on three, out of four, pistons!  I know what you are thinking; what are the chances, right?  We loaded all the parts in Brother Baker's Jeep Cherokee, and hauled them out to our engine guy in Waxhaw, North Carolina.  A month or so later, Four Three Bravo was ready to fly---with freshly honed cylinders, new pistons and rings, and a do it yourself crankcase pressure tester made from parts scrounged from our good friends, Russ Farris and Rick Maury. (It's the goofiest thing you ever saw:  An old pressure altimeter connected to a hose connected to an old oil filler cap; but it works, and is an approved procedure!)  The next few flights looked promising, just a misting of oil on the belly---but the Farris-Maury-Baker Crankcase Pressure Gauge indicated otherwise, and the blow-by continued.  The Luscombe Guru (out in Arizona) was consulted.  He said Four Three Bravo had a cooling issue.  The cylinders were too hot for the rings to seat. "Fix your baffling and see if that doesn't help with seating the rings."  We've been working with sheet metal for three and half months.  Four Three Bravo flew again on April 9th. Test results are inconclusive.  Our engine guy says seating the rings can take up to fifty hours. That seems excessive to me, but I'm not a small Continental engine expert.  Hopefully we haven't glazed the cylinder walls.  Stay tuned. . .

In The Sheet Metal Shop:

Right front.

Left front.

Test fit.

Time to clean up the cowling.

Door hinges were replaced.

They look pretty good!

Both doors installed.

Top aft trimmed with fasteners installed.

New lower lip.

The Farris-Maury-Baker Crankcase Pressure Gauge.

Meanwhile, Life Goes On. . .

Just because the Luscombe was out of commission doesn't mean everything was quiet on our side of the airfield, quite the contrary.  Over the winter Jellystone Air Park neighbors, Forrest Walton and Russ Farris, replaced the engine on their 1957 Cessna 172.  Forrest and Russ are hoarders.  For several years now they have been collecting Continental O-300 engine parts.  Eventually the sum of the new (and overhauled) parts equaled a new engine.  Expert pilot-mechanic, and fellow EAA Chapter 961 member, Bob Cabanis (who keeps saying he's going to retire, but never does) put it all together.  I personally haven't seen it fly, but Rick Maury assures me it has.  He also said something about a grease job landing at Chester, South Carolina, but that is unconfirmed.

Walton-Farris 172

Speaking of Rick Maury. . .

Down the way and around the corner from Jellystone Air Park sits Rick Maury's RV-7 factory. Over the winter it was the Jellystoners' favorite hangout.  Not just because it's heated; although I have to admit it was nice having a place to warm up in February.  Who knew trimming sheet metal could be so chilling?  (Sorry Joe, I couldn't resist.)  The main reason we like to hang out at Rick's Place is because he's a super nice guy---and he lets us borrow his tools!  Better stated:  He usually has the correct tool for the job we are trying to accomplish.  Mostly though, it's because he's a super nice guy.  Rick's RV-7 is ready for inspection.  Here are the photos from our tool scrounging, I mean, winter visits:

Release the hound!

Air Intake

Intake Cover before filling & sanding.

Final airframe rivet was driven in March.

10 O'clock view.

Brother Barbeau looks on while Rick programs the FMS.

Captain Maury programing the label maker.

And Finally:

When the weight of the paperwork equals the weight of the airplane, it's ready to fly!

Now if it would just stop raining. . .

Update 1, April 23, 2015

Photo by Joe Baker

Seats are back from the upholstery shop. . .

Photo by Joe Baker

The hangar floor is clean. . .  Six Five Eight Romeo Mike is ready for inspection!