Collaborative Homebuilding

I used to belong to my local EAA chapter. One thing and another, I haven't been to meetings for years; I don't even belong to the EAA anymore. But I digress - the main point I want to make today is that, aside from meetings, homebuilding in this urban, affluent area was as solitary as adolescent masturbation. The actual building seemed to be a one man job.

It doesn't have to be. Sensei and I were having a conversation about forms and patterns (for metal airplanes):

Put the work into your patterns & form-blocks, you can build a whole squadron of identical aircraft, quick like a bunny & cheep, too. Same principle applies to welding, making props, etc.

Back in the late fifties and early sixties all of the homebuilders understood the techniques above. One guy would do the patterns & formers, another would procure the material, someone else would do the shearing & brakeing, somebody else would do the routing -- the Midget Mustang group had standard shipping containers they kept floating around via USPS, used a Special Fourth Class rate because it qualified as Educational Materials. They shipped the form-blocks from one guy to the next according to their priority list which was attached to the inside of the lid, along with an envelope filled with the appropriate shipping lables. Ditto for the metal blanks, chemicals and so forth. Pope Paul and the Oshkosh gang were late-comers to the scene. You should talk to Ray Stits or some of the other guys at Chapter One in Riverside.

There still is plenty of evidence of this type of cooperation. I have all the Sport Aviation articles on the T-18 - there is quite a lot of talk of group buying in particular. And in Pazmany's book, he talks about a gang from San Diego building a bunch of PL-2s, including stretch molding the canopies, definitely a job for a mob.

In these times, there is the Dawn Patrol, and the Noon Patrol, among others.

So, we built a box:

The Box is 46-1/2" long, 4" deep and 8-1/2" wide, measured on the interior. It weighs about nine pounds (!) Came out heavier than I wanted but it's a good, sturdy box (I hope). Exterior is 1-1/2" larger in all dimensions (ie, 48x10x5-1/2) so the USPS size is 48 + 31, well within the 102 Rule (Length + Girth). But nine pounds (!) I was hoping for about six but the only 1/8" ply I could find was heavy as hell.

Under this scheme, I'm wondering what I'll send you back. Bagels? Sex toys? I can't think of too many other products of my shop, or this geographic area in general, that you might conceivably need or want.

Metal. We still have the aft ribs ahead of us, the stabilizer and so forth. If it works out, you'll be plenty busy with assembly work.

Once you have spars, ribs and landing gear, the rest is fairly straight forward. Keep your camera going. I set mine up, forget to take pictures :-) I built a little jig to do the sides of the box, planning to record the steps. Then the cat jumped on one end of it, toppled it off the saw, knocked things all to thell. Got it sorta back together, the parts made, then realized I hadn't taken any pictures :-)

Oh well... you'll see the finished product soon enough.

Ain't no way I'm gonna get fourteen midribs and fourteen nose ribs into the Taj Mabox. Without any packing material, nesting things as well as possible, I can get half the mid-ribs and all of the nose ribs... but they're gonna rattle.

Instead, I think I'm going to send it in two shipments, left wing & right wing, plus some packing material.

I've got some scrap nose-rib blanks and some too-short mid-rib blanks and I still have some good stuff to form form my ribs, but the forming goes real fast -- it's the prep work that takes the time. Anyway you hack it, I'll be out material about Tuesday next. Soon as you get it, turn it around and shoot it back, chock fully jelly beans or aluminum. One of those.

Posted @ 11:09:58, Vista PO, 09/10/2001 to OAKLAND CA 94602 PP (Parcel Post?) =$8.17

They tried real hard to get me to send it Priority Mail (about $20), hinting it would not only arrive sooner but in better shape.

Should take about a week. We'll have to see how it goes.

Between my parents home town (Iowa) and here (Oakland), Priority, Parcel Post, and First Class all take the same time.

She sails into port:

Box left today, should be in your neck of the woods later this week. No 2019-T8, I just didn't get enough time to chop any into convenient bits, but it has several pounds of the good stuff, 2024-t3, in handy coupons.

Some suggestions:

There is some splitting evident in the ends of the longitudinals on the lid. I'm not totally sure what to do with that. Wrap some mat and resin around it?

The drywall screws should to be replaced with something with a bit of smooth shank. I noticed the lid "gapping" where it had skipped a whole thread pitch as I screwed the lid down. I like the plastic coated screws used for decking - they have a sharp thread like drywall screws, but a bit of smooth shank. They drive nice, and resist corrosion really well.

Good news about the box. I'll be looking for it.

The fasteners on the box where taken out of the junk bin. Ideally, the lid should be fitted with sleeved holes. I just shot some deck screws into it to get it outta here. Wrap some wire or tape around it if it gets too floppy.

The thing arrived last Thursday with one end broken. Be sure to put the lid on correctly (match the splash of gray paint). Otherwise, one edge extends about an eighth of an inch, takes all the stress when the USPS does their thing. I epoxied the split rail but didn't sleeve the fastener holes. Maybe next cycle.

Pounded out enough ribs for your tail feathers, and put them in the Taj Mahbox. The car goes into the shop for a checkup tomorrow, so it won't get mailed till Thursday at the earliest.

TajMahBox has survived many cycles up and down the California Coast, and lives on to carry ribs, landing gear parts, stabilizer spars, fuselage bulkhead pieces, etc.

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