The Shop

January 2004

Ellen and I removed basement crap left by the crackhead musician former tenants. Unfortunately, the Dalai Lama poster and cheap Madras fabric wall coverings had to go. On the bright side, they wired up four 20-amp outlets and left a not-too-smelly recliner for apres-building relaxation. Bonus!

February 2004

After moving on January 25 – during which the high temperature was -15C/+5F – we rearranged the basement in order to paint the floors. I coudn’t have done it without Ellen. She swept and mopped the floors while I was in a Kaman helicopter training course. Thanks El!

March 2004

In between trips to Oklahoma City and Las Vegas, I built two EAA Chapter 1000 workbenches. One of my co-workers helped me retrieve $120 worth of lumber and hardware from the local Home Depot – thanks Tracy! In between trips, my tailkit arrived, so the rush was on to finish the shop. The DRDT-2 dimpling tool arrived during this time, but I had no place to put it.
After two months, the shop was finally usable in the middle of March. It was time to start inventorying the emp kit!

October 2004

A cheezy old floor lamp left by the previous tenants finally gave up the ghost, and the shop just didn’t have enough light. So, I bought two double-bulb shop lights and a bunch of 2x4s from Home Depot and fashioned a couple of light posts that can be moved around to provide ample light.

May-July 2006

The project has been out of commission since early May because we’ve been in the process of buying, moving into and fixing up our new house; given that only one person has emailed to ask why our website gone stale, I guess nobody’s really surfing out to it any more!

The RV has taken a back seat to sanding, painting, new wiring and phone/cable setup. Captain John and two of his student electricians came over on a Sunday and we installed a new 200-amp electrical service – more power!!! (insert Tim Allen grunt here). John is a good friend, a patient teacher and an all-around great guy – I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done.

Here’s the new panel; it’s quite an improvement from old cobbled-together fuseboxes and the conduit that leaked water into the wiring during rainstorms!

So, we’ve made no airplane building progress except setting up the new shop in our wide one-car garage. As with the last shop, I couldn’t have done this without Ellen; she helped paint the walls and epoxy the floor when I know she really wanted to be working on the kitchen. He’re the shop state as of the end of June. I’m finally getting everything put into place.

We have enough space for all three workbenches and two cheapo metal shelves from Home Depot. The air compressor will hide under the stairs on the left. There’s enough space for individual components – wings now, fuselage later – but we’ll be renting/begging/borrowing storage for things as they’re completed.

August 2006

I finally got the jigs welded up in August at Captain John’s shop. He very graciously showed me the basics of Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW). Here I am using high voltage to melt metal…arrh arrh ARRH!

And here are the final products before priming and painting. I’m enjoying a well-deserved victory beer.

September 2006

We were out of the country on vacation for half of August. We we returned, it was time for the final push to get the shop finished. Ellen wanted to reclaim the office (where the wings and tail were stored), and I wanted to get back to work on the RV.

The biggest issue in the shop is space. It’s in a wide one-car garage with no separate storage area, so I had to figure out how to store all those parts and tools and also how to keep the compressor in the garage without going deaf when it was running. The only space that seemed usable for the compressor was the area under the stairs. It couldn’t be used for much else, and the compressor actually was a good fit. I bought some sound-deadening board and a vent fan from Home Despot, and went to work. Here’s the compressor installed in its new home, without the plywood door in place.

So if the compressor is hidden away, how do you drain the moisture? Some people extend the drain valve out from the tank with pipe; I found this automatic compressor drain kit at Harbor Freight that’s supposed to replace the drain valve and vent the tank when the compressor motor starts and stops. I did some research online and found a writeup by someone who had used this thing – it seemed to work for them, so I ordered one from HF.

The valve is actuated by pressure from the compressor unloader line (see the writeup for more details). On my compressor that required some surgery on the copper line to insert a tee fitting. Looks like this…

The line from the tee fitting goes to the pressure-activated drain valve; the original, manual drain goes on the end of this device. There isn’t a lot of clearance at the bottom of the tank, so I had to add a 90-degree fitting to move the whole assembly to the side.

Does it work? It seems to. Whenever the compressor cycles on or off, a little puff of air is released from the drain valve. Considering the crud that came out of the bottom of that tank when I removed the original valve, I hope this keeps the tank nice and dry.

With the compressor in place and some lighting added, the new wing jigs went into place.

Here’s the shop in it’s (mostly) final state.

That’s quite a change from the state the garage was in before we bought the house….

4 thoughts on “The Shop

    • Hi Kevin,

      I saw a great-looking RV in front of the LL hangar and didn’t realize it’s yours! I’ve got a ways to go yet, but thanks for the encouragement 🙂


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