I finally broke the seal today and started assembling the rudder from the pre-drilled kit.
It was a slow start, as I needed to get up to speed with the Renton Technical College instructor whose shop I have the pleasure of using as I toy with the idea of building a plane. As you’d expect from a shop that prepares Boeing assemblers, it has all of the tools I’ll need — pneumatic drills and rivet pullers; air chucks at every workstation; all of the right drill bits, tool chests full of files, fussy little clamps, deburring tools, machinist’s rules, well-organized clecos, cleco pliers, and everything else you might need to assemble an aluminum airplane. For a sloppy-workbench guy like me it’s a dream!
I’m starting with the skeleton of the rudder. In the course of an hour I got a groove on assembling the spar, first by cleaning off labels and markings off of the pieces, which all have been cut, bent and mostly drilled at the factory.
So far about two-thirds of the work is done to clean, deburr and drill the holes needed to attach the doublers to the spar. It’s super-easy because the spar already has the holes, it’s just a matter of putting in the doubler holes and enlarging holes in the assembled pieces to the final size. Honestly, as a kid I made more complicated plastic models.
I won’t be back on the project until Wednesday. Next week’s goal is to see if I can complete initial assembly of the rudder skeleton in preparation for adding corrosion protection and starting to pull rivets. I’m guessing that dry-assembly work will take no more than several hours.
Not to confuse matters, the version of the CH 750 family that interests me is the cross-country type. But some builders, including Jonathan Fay, have modified their Cruzers as excellent back-country planes that have great short-takeoff performance, as well. Without much sacrifice of a higher cruising speed.
I present to you my initial work as a student of precision machining at Renton Technical College, in Renton, Wash. These are blocks of carbon steel and aluminum drilled to tolerances of no more than 30 thou. (That’s 0.030 inches.)
Eventually, this course leads to a program in Aerospace & Industrial Production Technologies — it’s a pipeline to Boeing, which of course builds 737s at a plant about two miles away from the college. It also gives me access to resources that will be useful as I build a Cruzer rudder and toy with the idea of building an airplane.
It’s scheduled for May 11 with a brand-new designated pilot examiner. If I don’t screw it up, I’ll then be an Official Licensed Pilot.
There’s an hour-long oral examination on everything I’ve learned as a student pilot, then an hour or so of demonstrating takeoffs, a series of flight maneuvers, and landings. The flying part should go something like this:
It’s an all-metal, two-seat aircraft that meets the requirements of the sport pilot license. The Cruzer is the cross-country member of the CH 750 family, which includes a STOL “off-airport” plane and a stretch “super duty” version.