You don’t have to be mad to work here…

WP_20130528_006I just can’t seem to resist tinkering.

Which is to say, once I’ve built something, you can pretty much guarantee that I’ll come back and re-do it later. If you subscribe to the theory of learning by doing, then this is merely a learning experience. If you subscribe to the theory that I’d rather chase perfection in the bits I’ve already done than actually get any further forward in the project, well, then draw your own conclusions.

Over the last few days, I stripped the top part of the shell frame back completely. I removed the window framing, the overhead support frame, and the top part of the rear arch. Why? Well, I had suspected for a while that something was not quite right with the right hand side of the shell, and I’d already had one go at fixing it, but it still didn’t look right. Finally, I measured the angles at the rear arch and discovered that the left hand side mid-arch is at 30 degrees from vertical, while the right hand side is at 20 degrees. Oops.

So, I cut new parts for the mid-arch at a compromise angle of 25 degrees, and a new capstone, and re-assembled it. Now it’s straight and true. But the other framing parts are now no longer viable. And then there’s the overhead support frame and the shrouds that go with it – basically, the cockpit roof – which have always been, well, crappy. Which made the decision to redo them an easy one to make.

I briefly considered making the whole window set a self-contained structure that could be fitted in and taken out, but this would require the top half of the shell to be self-supporting; or else it would collapse with the windows removed. So I settled on something not dissimilar to what I already had, but less amateurish and piecemeal. I’ve already cut a couple of support struts and have developed a new technique of notching the top so that the baton that runs along the top of the windows sits in the notch and there’s no abrupt change from a sloped to straight surface. I’ll post a picture to show you what I mean soon.

Sadly, I then ran out of the appropriate size of pine baton, and forgot to place an order online early enough to get a delivery when I wanted. Cue one trip to Wickes in person and the fun experience of trying to get a taxi firm to send a cab to Wimbledon to pick me up with a large bundle of wood in tow. The perils of not driving, I guess. However, I succeeded, and so now I have lots of wood, but precious little time to do anything with it. That all changes next week, when I’m on holiday! Not that there aren’t other major demands on my time during that week…

In other news – it’s become obvious that my retracting pedestal solution won’t work properly because of the height of the thrust levers on the throttle quadrant. Which leaves me scrambling for another solution. Worst case, I may just have to somehow remove the quadrant / levers before retracting the pedestal. Best case, I may be able to devise some kind of mechanism to raise and lower the TQ in situ. Mind you, I only need to worry about that once I finally decide to stop re-building the damn shell and get on with the contents…


The revamped rear arch


The offending part – these were at different angles on either side, skewing the entire shell frame


I used aluminium strips and plates for extra stiffness in the joint


My ‘notch’ system for keeping a steady slope right to the top


The centre post is now very rigid


I left the front frame batons long so I could make final adjustments in site. The excess length now needs cutting off.