Friday, November 26, 2010

Thankful for... Meijer?

Yesterday was a rainy Thanksgiving day. It almost felt like fall temperatures as 2-3 inches came down during the afternoon and evening hours. I was celebrating out in Cashibo, with some friends from the mission. When it came time to go home, we all piled into our vehicles and headed back into town. That is where the fun started. My friend, Randall, managed to get stuck in the mud along the road. I whipped out my $20 tow strap that I had purchased from Meijer, and withing 5 minutes we were both slogging through the mud once again.

In the USA it would have been a classic, "Ford pulling Chevy" kind of thing, but in Peru it was "Kia pulling Toyota". In all fairness, the 4 wheel drive on the Toyota was not working as it should. Nonetheless, 4LOW in 1st gear was enough to liberate the Land Cruiser.

The soil here is namely clay. That makes for some VERY slippery traction. It also fills in the treads on even the most aggressive tires, and stick to shoes really well!. While driving, the key is to stay on the crown of the road and keep the momentum up!

This morning, my friend Randall called me and said that he was stuck yet again! This time it was off a side street in Pucallpa. The Landcruiser was buried up the axles and I was not sure if we were going to be able to free it from the clay ruts. Out came the Meijer tow strap as we first tried going forward, then backwards. All we managed was 2 feet of rearward progress. We then put rocks and chunks of cement in front of at the tires and tried one more time going forward. Sure enough, it came right out and I kept pulling until we were on solid ground! So this year Randall and I are thankful for 4 wheel drive... and a $20 tow strap from Meijer.

(Meijer is store just like Wal-Mart... only better)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Why Rebuild?

In a recent e-mail from one of my friends and supporters, this question was fielded...

It seems it would be less expensive to buy a whole new one considering how many man hours you're spending. There's no part of the plane you won't know intimately by the time your done.

The simple answer to that question is basically that it is cheaper to rebuild our airplane than buy a new one. For those of you who want the details, keep reading.

This Cessna is a model 206, it was built in 1980... a great year to be born as well. =) Back then, the airplane cost $75,000 new from the factory. Now a days you can pick up a 1980 Cessna 206 for $130,000 to $180,000 depending on condition, hours flown, etc. A brand new Cessna 206 costs about $570,000. If we were to sell our airplane, we would have to come up with an additional $400,000 of capital! Not only that, but we would need to modify the airplane for bush use. A list of some of the options would be, cargo belly pod $3000, crash-worthy seats with 4 point safety belts $2000, auxiliary fuel tanks $5000 and Short take-off and landing kit $8000, float plane reinforcement kits $2000. (Roughly $20,000 total, and that does not include labor!). Even if we purchased a used airplane, we would not come our ahead because of the cost of modifying it. So buying a new airplane, or a used one, and modifying it would not be the wisest use of the funds which God has given us at SAMAIR.

The complete budget for the rebuild project of our "old" airplane is $20,000. Since we are not paying for labor, all the mechanics and pilot/mechanics (like me) are supported by a whole host of churches and individuals, the only cost we have is for parts and shipping. Parts being $15,000 and shipping/import taxes making up the remaining $5000. Since aluminum structures (like airplanes) can continue to be built and repaired, there is no reason to believe that in another 30 years the same thing might take place again!

Oh Pete, your right, we really are getting to know the airplane very well!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Small places

This past week I was worked on fixing damage to the firewall of the airplane. The firewall is a piece of stainless steel that is designed to protect the cabin area from the engine compartment in case of an engine fire. Where the hangers (supports) for the exhaust stacks attached to the firewall and there were cracks in the firewall from the constant vibration. I stop drilled the cracks so that they would not continue to get longer, and then made a patch which was riveted to the firewall to give the strength and integrity back to that area.

To buck the rivets, I had to crawl into a small place which is normally where the pilots put their feet, on the rudder pedals. Of course the pedals have been taken out, but it was still hot (with a shop light right next to my head), loud, and camped working in that small space for 2 hours! But, the damage is fixed and now it is ready for another 10,000 hours.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bucking rivets

After removing all the paint from the airplane, we were able to begin with the major work of replacing some of the aluminum skins. In the rear of the cabin, we knew there was a problem with corrosion. Battery acid, soda pop, and other unmentionable fluids had found their way below the floor and into the belly of the aircraft. After drilling out the rivets that held the aluminum sheets in, we took a new sheet of 2024 T3 aluminum of the same thickness (0.032) and used the old skin as a pattern for holes, drilling and clecoing it to a table. The outline was then traced and cut with tin snips. After a phosphoric acid etch and a conversion coat of Alodine, all skins received a covering of green zinc chromate primer. Then they were fit into place on the airplane, and riveted back on. The same process was used for the flooring from the rear of the baggage compartment to under the pilot/copilot seats.

All of this took about 3 weeks of work but went quite smoothly as we had the help of Don, an aviation mechanic on loan from JAARS for three weeks. Don is a sheet metal wizard! I learned some new techniques working with him for a week. Nathan got in on the act as well helping to buck rivets. Those long arms come in handy! He may not be Rosie the riveter, but his wife thinks he is just as cute.