Monthly Archives: September 2016

Moving day!

This weekend was the Big Move.  It was finally time to lease a hangar and bring the fuselage of A17-370 home.  For a couple of weeks I planned as best I could and stockpiled supplies.  I had an amazing crew of volunteers along the way: Dave, Jeff, Aaron (not pictured) and of course Cham.

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It ended up being a grueling 48 hour saga, but I have to say that we had amazing luck on our side, and many thanks are owed to the following people and organizations for generously lending a hand: Tradex at Abbotsford for the use of their loading dock, Country Save Products Corporation of Arlington for the use of their loading dock, and Mac of Arlington Flight Service for towing the Moth on the final stretch home.  I’d also like to thank the U.S. CBP for making my border crossing, if not fast, at least relatively painless despite the complexity involved.

Anyway, summarizing events:

Saturday I picked up the moving truck and finalized the “crew” list for both loading at Abbotsford and unloading at Arlington.  I also moved all of the supplies I would need from my apartment to my new hangar (got the keys that morning) at Arlington, and then loaded them onto the truck.  Aaron was a huge help here!  I was running on little sleep so I tried to get home and rest, departure wasn’t until mid-morning.

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I ended up getting an early start on Sunday so I went with it, driving up I-5 with little traffic.  The Canadian Customs process was smooth and easy, but since I’d taken my time on the road I only arrived around 10:30am.  Jeff and Cham joined me and we started to work on the airplane and plan how we were going to load it.  I needed to remove the entire upper section to fit it in the truck, fuel tank and struts.

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Dave arrived heroically in his Cessna 140 with lunch at just the right time.  He spotted a loading dock we could use so we rushed to get the airplane set up to be towed over to the Tradex.  I rode in the back of the pickup, watching the airplane and keeping it stable during stops and turns.  It rolled great, and loading it at the dock was a piece of cake.

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The major hurdle overcome, we went back to the hangar and Dave whipped up a delicious lunch of Fettuccine Alfredo, amazing honey ham, tomatoes, the works.

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Eventually we got back to work, Dave and Jeff expertly loaded and secured all cargo for the drive south, while Cham and I got to work moving the wings from one hangar to the other.  This task was not completed on this trip, but we got lucky and stopped before the rain that had been forecast for all day actually arrived.

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I started my drive back home in the dark, with sporadic intense rain showers.  I was exhausted, and had to stop and check the cargo frequently at first.  By the time I got to the border I had total confidence in the tie-down job by Jeff and Dave, so all I had to worry about was Customs.  That took a while, but everything went smoothly and I was granted entry into the U.S. around 10pm.  As they say, it was all downhill from there… at least for that night.  Just a nice slow drive down to Arlington, and then I spent the night at the hangar with my Tiger Moth still in the truck parked just outside.

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In the morning, with my move about 12 hours behind schedule, I started to unpack the truck.  Still very tired, I didn’t have a lot of strength for the heavy stuff, so I focused on the little things while also probing friends and acquaintances for any nearby loading docks where we could offload the airplane.  Nothing… nothing…  But just as I ran out of small items to move and really needed a hand, Aaron showed up and took over.  It was great having a fresh back to carry the larger items, I could not have done that on my own.  This left only the fuselage left.  And… it started to pour down rain.  Not good.

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Running out of time on the truck rental and with the weather radar predicting we’d soon have a break, I started driving around the airport.  I quite literally was knocking on doors asking if they had a loading dock I could use.  Quite a few were willing to help but either had equipment in the way or didn’t have a ramp out of the building.  Finally I found Country Save who did not hesitate at all.  Of course I could unload there!  Then I needed to find a tow-truck (pickup truck) to tow the airplane, and that I found at Arlington Flight Service, from their mechanic Mac.  I can’t say enough about his enthusiasm to help, and his expertise made everything such a smooth process.  With a plan cobbled together, the sun broke out and dried all the roads.  I followed the tow for a while and really enjoyed seeing the reactions of construction workers and other drivers as they came across our unusual convoy.  She’s a special little airplane.

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Next thing I knew it she was home in her new hangar, dry and safe.  Again, I can’t say enough about all the amazing folks who lent a hand.  There is no way I could have accomplished the move without you.

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My first flight in a Tiger Moth!

Yesterday I took my first flight in a Tiger Moth, and all I can say is that it was heaven!

It was a beautiful late summer’s day at Harvey Field near Snohomish, WA and there were two Tiger Moths on the field.  We took off to the north and made the noise abatement turn to the left, then flew up along the river and the edge of town for a ways, gently banking left and right.  The airplane was bobbing along on the thermals with the engine purring away.  After only a couple of minutes we had to turn back to the field and we made our way, slowly, into the pattern.  The approach was beautiful, I couldn’t think of more lovely countryside to be flying over at such low altitude.  It is so quiet when throttled back that you really can’t hear the engine at all, just all the wind noise.  As we came in to land we hit some more thermals and then a crosswind just at touchdown, so it was a bit sporty but the Tiger didn’t care, it just soaked up the beating and rolled out like a champ.

When we landed we found a car waiting for us, a local gentleman had heard our engine overhead and drove out to the airport to confirm his suspicion that it was a Tiger Moth.  He was from South Africa, and had always loved the airplane.  I was happy to see that the Tigers drew an admiring crowd all day long, both from those knowledgeable about aircraft and those who simply enjoy them.

I don’t think I needed any extra inspiration, but the day and the experience certainly ratcheted up my desire to get my Tiger Moth restored and flying!

Making Connections, Leaving Impressions

Saturday I spent the day displaying some Tiger Moth parts at Vintage Aircraft Weekend.  I brought along my broken propeller, a spare cylinder and a wheel.  It was great meeting everyone and having something tangible to show to those who have been hearing about the airplane for months.

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The stand that I made for the propeller out of PVC and plumbing fittings worked beautifully, I have a few improvements in mind for the next iteration but I think it will make regular appearances whenever I set up a display.

Of course, being the tinkerer that I am, sitting around all day with these parts on hand quickly wore through what little patience I have.  At the end of the day I grabbed a convenient screwdriver and began taking the wheel hub apart to see what was inside.

Nothing on this airplane is as simple as it could be.  The plates that protect the bearings look pretty complicated to machine, hopefully I won’t have to replace any.  The screws looked rusty but, as with everything else on A17-370 they came free easily and the threads are in fact perfect.  Sort of an odd thread pitch, will have to do some research there.

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The real surprise came in the bearings themselves.  One looked quite old and I couldn’t find any markings on it, but when I opened up the other side it has a very modern-looking STROM bearing, made in the USA.  I’m assuming this was a replacement part installed around the 1970s?

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Even cooler though was what I found when I looked at the under side of the plate that had covered this bearing.  Check it out:

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Talk about leaving an impression!  That’s a “grease stamp” left by a previous bearing.  It’s too bad the make and model of the bearing wasn’t likewise left behind, but it’s still pretty cool, eh?

I’m still in the process of collecting tools and equipment for the restoration, some of which have required some restoration work of their own!  It’s good practice and keeps me busy.  I’ll be attending a small gathering of de Havilland aircraft on Saturday, September 10th at Harvey Field.  If you’re interested in coming, drop me a line!

Finally, I have signed a lease for a hangar at Arlington Municipal Airport.  It’s a 40′ T-hangar in a building that is only a year old.  I look forward to moving some of my things in on the 17th and starting to finally “set up shop”!  I will have to schedule a “hangar-warming party” sometime soon… if you have any ideas for the festivities let me know!