I got the airplane reassembled after the paint shop had it for 7 weeks. My daughter was home for her abbreviated summer break after completing her first year of grad school. We picked up her best friend, along with my daughter’s new pet dog, Cooper, and drove up to Corona Airport on May 5. I’m sure they were keen on just dropping Dad off with all of his tools and then getting out of there, but I really needed their help to get the tail put back together. After a couple of hours we had the elevators back on. That stupid middle bolt and all of the washers that go in between the two weldments is excruciating work. I thought that the rudder would be easier, but it too gave us problems. Lots of over-spray on the rod end bearings had one of them locked up and not able to rotate. I had to do some scraping with a razor blade to free up the paint from the surfaces. Putting the washers and nuts on the rudder bolts requires fingers smaller than mine. Daughter to the rescue. She had no problem getting them on. Getting the trim tab re-wired up was another task that took up some time. The girls went and got us some lunch from In-N-Out Burger and then we then worked on trying to get the canopy and cowling back on. The canopy pins are difficult to line up, but we got it done after struggling for 30 minutes. One of the hinge pins for the cowling just wouldn’t go in easy. I later discovered that there was some clear coat over-spray that kept the hinge eyes just enough out of alignment to make it impossible to smoothly slide the hinge pins in. Around 4pm, it was obvious that the airplane wouldn’t be ready to fly that day. We drove back home (with a stop for ice cream), and the weather in Ramona was IFR anyway, so I was glad we bailed out and drove back. Cooper was chilling all day in the hangar and he got walked over to the nearby Dog Park a couple of times. He loves car rides and was a good boy all day.
I ordered some undersized hinge pins for the cowling from McMaster-Carr to make sure that I could get the cowling secured. The next several days were rainy here, so the next opportunity to get back to Corona ended up being Thursday 5/11. I didn’t have anyone available to drive up there with me, so I just took off early by myself and figured I would just leave my car in Corona if I could get the airplane all reassembled to fly it back home. It took another full day to get the wing tips, ailerons and flaps on the wings, and all of the gear leg fairings and pants on the wheels. I worked straight through from 8:30am to around 3:30pm and got everything done. It definitely takes longer than you think it will to get everything back on correctly. The guys at the paint shop took a bunch of photos before I took off. It came out looking great. I taxied over to the gas pumps, filled up and headed back home. Thankfully, the weather was clear and sunny. The next day, my older daughter had the day off work, so I flew her back up to Corona around lunch time, so she could drive my car back home. It is a half an hour flight for me, but a 2 hour drive for her!
That weekend we got to fly up to Cable Airport to have brunch with my in-laws for Mother’s Day, and then we flew over to Long Beach to visit my Mom. My APRS tracker wasn’t showing any of these flights, so I took off the wing tip and did some trouble shooting. Everything was powered up and seemed to be connected just fine. I used my handheld scanner to listen in on the frequency and I could hear the APRS burst of data and see that the LED on the unit was sending out packets. I did some night flying this week to get night current again, and the APRS was working OK again. This Saturday I flew my oldest daughter down to Brown Field for the monthly EAA Chapter 14 Pancake Breakfast, then we flew up over San Diego Lindbergh Field and up the coast on the way to Fullerton Airport where my brother, his wife and my nephew picked us up and took us over to my Dad’s for a sushi lunch. Sunday I took my wife up to Hemet for breakfast at Hangar One Cafe. I’ve been eating well since the airplane is back flying. The paint job sure gets attention. I’m sort of getting used to that now. It certainly stands out from the crowd.