Welcome to a work in progress

This blog is dedicated to the restoration and modification of a Glasfl├╝gel Standard Libelle H201B, and a tribute to those who have dared to do the same, and to those who are helping with seeing this dream take flight.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Surprise, surprise, surprise!

On the weekend of May 8, I began to remove the contents of the cockpit.

The seat pan was covered in canvas.

And bolted to the floor, there were two canvas covered bags of lead used to correct the weight of the glider.


                                          Twenty pounds of it!

While I was working on removing the seat pan, I noticed something strange with the sides of the fuselage. At the widest point around the cockpit, the sides were flat! 

While the glider was sitting in the trailer, in the hanger for two years, the fuselage cradle squished the sides in.      Who ever made this rig, did a horrid job.

The cradle was constructed out of thick fiberglass, but when they made the shape, they did not take in account for padding, especially for the heavy indoor-outdoor astro-turf type crap carpet thickness they chose to use. The carpet was glued in the cradle, and then forced the fuselage into it, which over time changed the side wall contours.

Since the fuselage was finally free of the constricting cradle, the sides were gradually starting to push back out to the original shape.
Here is the problem, my measurements for my jig where based on the measurements made while the glider was in the cradle, and now the strap and 2x4 uprights where digging into the expanding glass sides.

I removed the fuselage from the jig, and worked on widening the upright supports. When this was corrected, I replace the fuselage back into the jig.

I pondered over the flattened sides and was disheartened to think of this deformity. I called Robert and told him of my findings. His recommendations were to take measurement of the Albuquerque Soaring Club's Libelle 201B there at the Moriarty Airport, and then create an expandable press to push the shape back out. Also, I would need to create templates of the contour to ensure an accurate shape.

To help the shape to expand, the fiberglass would need to be carefully heated while the press was in place. He also suggested the possibility that painting the outside of the cockpit sides with black paint, and setting it over turned in the sun. There might be enough heat to cause the sides to return to their natural shape without creating the press, but a contour template would still be a good tool to have.

While all this planning was going on, the fiberglass started to return to it's natural shape on it's own, after I corrected my jig, that provided a wider span.
As soon as I noticed this, I tried to warm the sides with a heat gun to see if that would cause the sides to widen even more. To my surprise, it did!.

It's funny how the cradle dolly doesn't fit on the undersides of the fuselage now. I removed the astro-turf and retried fitting it, but it is still too tight a fit. I even used a belt sander to thin the glass down, but it's still too tight.

There is no way in hell I'm using this cradle the way it is. It will need to be cut corrected, or refabricated.

Now, lets get back to gutting the cockpit!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The work has started

The following weekend after I brought the glider home, I began working on making space in the garage to create the room necessary for this project. My plan was to work on what I believed to be the most complicated part of the restoration, the fuselage. I had to create an elevated cradle. I measured the fuselage width at the widest area, forward of the leading edge pins.

I modeled the cradles from the ones Robert Mudd had at his hanger, where he used the same style to work on the repairs in work shop. 

As soon as the cradle was finished, I pulled out the fuselage from the trailer, and carefully rolled it into the garage. With the help of Louise, I lifted the forward portion of the fuselage, and slid it into the jig.

I still needed to build the wing dolly, which I finished the following weekend. 

With the cradle made and the garage cleaned up (for the most part), it wasn't until the first weekend in May that I was ready to start the restoration.

The first thing I tackled was removing the registration numbers, pilot name, and a thick US flag. This was an easy task since the lettering was vinyl. A heat gun and a plastic scraper made short work of that!

Before the day was over the lettering was removed, and also the tail wheel!

Now the most exciting task ahead of me, clean out that cockpit!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

From 42 Charlie to Naughty Nixie!

A little history during the early stages of the restoration

As soon as we started the process of new ownership registration of 7742C with the FAA, I moved to change the N number from 7742C to 623NX. It's funny, that during the time I spent looking up the history on 42 Charlie, (an not finding any history with the NTSB),  it wasn't until I looked at the aircraft records first hand to discover that the original registration was 41R.

They say when you are looking to buy an airplane, it's best to contract a broker to run a history on the plane you are interested in. The problem there is timing. It's a Catch 22, while you are in the works on running history and title report, someone can jump in an grab the plane you are interested before you hear back from your broker.

The NTSB did have at least one record of a hard landing with 41R. So, I knew that she had a sordid history, and since 41R already had a register change once, I felt that there was no bad luck in changing it again, like renaming a ship.

Just before I picked the glider up, Louise and I discussed possible new registration numbers. I was also looking at the contest registration at the SSA. Since our balloon was 623KL "Kolibri", we settled on the same number, but it was the last letters that jumped at me, "NX". It reminded me of all of the early aircraft that pioneered advances in aviation, Their prefix registration always began with "NX". Also, the SSA had the NX opened in the registry. So we reserved the N number 623NX with the FAA.

Later we pondered on a pet name for the bird. A few days after we received the new registration papers and the confirmation of the N number change, I sang out "Nixie is ours"... The strange thing is, the name Nixie , or Nixe in German, are river or stream Nymphs (river mermaids) from old German Folk Lore. Libelle in German means Dragonfly, and a juvenile dragonfly is known as a nymph. How fitting!

So, say hello to Nixie!

Our unfinished, unofficial Nose Art