Friday, June 26, 2015

WING-X Part 1

As I mentioned in the last post, I have been pulled out of the engine shop to help add WING-X wing extensions to a Cessna 182 for a mission in South America. The original goal was to complete the work today, but the project supervisor (Jim Newman) ended up being out of town yesterday and today. This left me to work on the project alone, as the interim supervisor (Mike Dunkley) finished up his own projects. Needless to say, this change (and the fact that the airplane arrived later than expected due to weather on Tuesday) set the project back a couple days.

Despite working solo, I was able to make reasonable progress on fitting the wing extensions. The purpose of the wing extensions is to improve performance by adding wing area and increasing lift (you can read more on the WING-X web site). I also prepared to install wing spar reinforcements that strengthen the wing and increase the max gross weight of the airplane. Here are a few photos from this week. If you're interested in the technical aspects of the project, make sure you read the captions.

The Cessna 182 we're working on has several other modifications, including a composite propeller, larger tires, a Sportsman STOL (short takeoff and landing) kit, and vortex generators.
Wiring modifications and rivet replacement, in preparation for wing extensions.
Fitting the wing tip (darker gray) to the wing extension (lighter gray). The wing extension has to be custom-fit for this installation. I'm not sure where the horoscope cushion came from, but it worked well to prevent scuffing the wing tip!
Using a straightedge to get the wing extension aligned with the rest of the wing.
Several flush rivets had to be drilled out so the spar reinforcements can be installed. The rivet centers can be challenging to locate due to being covered with paint. They are easier to see if a light is placed at the correct angle.
A variety of Clecos (temporary fasteners) holds everything in place after the rivets are drilled out for the spar reinforcement. The gray reinforcements (behind the clecos) will be drilled to match the existing hole pattern, then riveted to the spar cap inside the wing.
To install the spar reinforcements, we have to work through two inspection holes on the bottom of the wing. It's always fun to try to reach and see into the same five-inch inspection hole (especially when you have your arm in the wing past your elbow).
To make clearance for the spar reinforcements, I had to grind away part of the wing rib, while ensuring that I didn't damage the spar. The small cutout in the center of the photo was made using a Dremel tool with a rotary file, and then finishing with a hand file. It may look easy, but working in close quarters, through an inspection hole, makes things interesting!

Thanks for taking the time to read about my work. I appreciate your prayers as Jim and I try to get this job finished up early next week!

Monday, June 22, 2015

In (and out of) the Engine Shop

For the past several weeks, I've been working in the engine shop overhauling a Lycoming IO-320 for a ministry based in Texas. This ministry currently works in Africa, and is expanding into Mexico. To facilitate this expansion, they have purchased a Piper Twin Comanche and sent one of the engines to MMS for overhaul.

The past few weeks have been spent disassembling, cleaning, inspecting, repairing, and sending out various components for inspection and overhaul. Here are a few photos of the project:

The engine as it came to us on a palette

The engine on the stand, with some parts removed

More parts removed, including the rocker box covers.

Cylinders removed; crankcase and crankshaft remaining.

The crankcase was sent out for overhaul, and we painted it after receiving it back from the overhaul shop.

The crankcase is painted and ready for reassembly.

There's a lot more to this project, from paperwork to small repairs, making new hoses, and more. These photos are just a small glimpse into the work I've done so far.

Now, for the "out of the engine shop" part of this post: tomorrow (Tuesday), a mission-owned Cessna 182 is coming from Chicago to MMS to have wing extensions installed. Unlike many of the projects I work on as an apprentice, this job requires a quick turnaround because the airplane needs to be displayed in mid-July at EAA Air Venture (the largest aviation event of its kind in the world). Since Jim Newman and I have done this job before on another Cessna 182, we were assigned to the project with the goal of completing the work by Friday (about 3-1/2 day turnaround).

I appreciate your prayers as Jim and I work on the wing extension project this week. On the last project we encountered some complications that required extra work, and we are hoping things will go a little smoother this time! I'm a little anxious due to the time constraints, and the fact that this airplane will be displayed for as many as 250,000 people to see! However, I know I'm well prepared for the project by my prior experience at MMS, and trust that God will give us the ability to do the job well for His glory!

After I finish the wing extension job, I'll be back in the engine shop working on the IO-320. I will also be spending a week at EAA Air Venture in July, but before long, I'll be building the engine back up. Keep an eye on Facebook or Twitter for more frequent updates, or check back here every now and then to see how things are progressing!