April 2017 Media and Progress Notes


April 2017 Image links are below (and more might be added soon).
Shigatsu 2017 shashin wa shita desu (soshite tabun sukoshi ato de mo shashin wa kuwawaru).

(Last update: (12 April 2017 JST)

Click on a thumbnail to see the media.  Some browsers might present portrait oriented media sideways, sorry...  The higher resolution images 69 through 82 were very kindly contributed by skilled photographer Samuel Koesling (with me in image 77) of SekdaPhotography.com.  If republished those particular images must retain his watermark and be credited to both him and, as usual for all republished images from this site, AirplaneHome.com.

A movie might be added later.  Important:  Please view movies on Vimeo.com rather than here.  If viewed here too frequently I'll have to disable them here to avoid overloading this server.

Some 2017 progress highlights follow.  (2016 Work progress notes are posted here).

I finally completed fabrication of the second green wing tip position light fixture and mounted it.  But the now temporary connecting wire harnesses for both the right and left wing tip position lights must be upgraded to permanent connecting harnesses, reflective material added to the background structure panels, the acrylic covers and replacement trailing side aluminum tip structures need to be installed, and white trailing edge lights still need to be installed or upgraded.  So more work remains.  But the primary red and green wing tip position lights are both operating at full illumination capacity now.

I also added a more robust wire connection from the position lights circuit breaker to the position lights toggle switch on the overhead (P5) control panel in the flight deck, reducing voltage loss and improving electrical efficiency and safety.  I hope to perform considerable additional upgrade work for the P5 panel later too, including addition of a permanently mounted tablet computer in the upper left area which will supply a digital video signal to the center display.  (The signal for that display is currently provided by a tablet computer temporarily set in the small rack just forward of the engine controls which the weather radar screen originally occupied.)

The air stair, wing and trailing edge area external emergency exit, landing gear bay, and ceiling mounted lavatory light fixtures were all upgraded to resistor regulated LED type lamps years ago, but they quickly degraded due to overdrive conditions which are common because a simple resistor provides quite poor regulation of an LED lamp's current.  I upgraded all of them to precision actively regulated LED fixtures which are quite bright, significantly more energy efficient, and provide very long and highly reliable service.  I utilized COB (Chip On Board) type LED modules for their optimal light projection (directional rather than omnidirectional) and other benefits, but this required semi-custom fabrication for each fixture - it's not simply a matter of replacing a single piece lamp, but rather mounting the COB type LED module to the inside of the transparent or translucent fixture window with transparent RTV (silicon rubber), installing a very small regulator circuit board either into the inside of an empty lamp base or adjacent to the LED module, then connecting them with two flying wires either directly or through connectors.  The wing tip position lights, flight deck red and white lamps, and the relatively new anti-collision beacons were custom fabricated with precision actively regulated LED drivers from the beginning and have performed flawlessly.  The fabrication task time for each fixture is rather substantial, but the results compellingly superior.

I plan to implement similar lamp fixture upgrades in the cargo holds, electronics and other service bays, and other locations, and similarly upgrade numerous lamp fixtures which were originally implemented with florescent technology (including the two galleys and the fixtures adjacent to each lavatory mirror) in coming months and years.

I installed a protectively coated new inlet air humidity and temperature sensor module in my primary cabin air dehydrator to replace the original which corroded due to exposure to ordinary moisture (a clear design flaw - the circuit surfaces should have been protected from moisture).  But perhaps the new module isn't functioning correctly or some other flaw developed in the device since the dehydrator now reports a higher than actual humidity most of the time.  I ordered another new module, but I'll await much warmer weather before investigating the performance of the existing module and the entire dehydrator further because quite cold weather is an abnormal baseline environment and thus it's difficult and unreliable to discern flaws in performance metrics under such conditions.

In the interim I used a portable air conditioner in dehydrate mode to control cabin air moisture.  It's effective but I suspect is much less power efficient, and it can't be used with a timer because it doesn't automatically activate when power is applied - it must be started manually.  Thus it can't be used when I'm in Miyazaki.  So while away my dedicated dehydrator on its battery backed electronic timer is used, sometimes on a 40 minute duration 50% duty cycle (on for 20 minutes, then off for 20 minutes, repeating), which allows the dehydrator's cold surfaces to thaw and the water to fall to the drain pipe before the next on cycle if the cabin temperature's reasonably above 0 °C, thus crudely but sufficiently overriding the need for a functioning inlet air humidity and temperature sensor module.

I began disassembly of my gasoline powered pressure washer's pump to locate the degraded components so replacements could be ordered.  (Output pressure and thus cleaning performance is currently substantially lower than normal.) But the work is proving difficult due to partially seized bolts, and I'm not certain disassembly will be possible sans damage to the pump.  I intend to replace this pressure washer with an all electric 240 Vrms powered model which will be located out of sight inside my right landing gear bay as soon as I can reasonably justify the expense, which might be quite soon.  At that time I'll retire my original pressure washer - RIP - it performed a great deal of work for 17 years.  Thus a visually unappealing device now residing on the top of my right wing will disappear, leaving that wing entirely clear.

Starting in early June tangible progress on the years long deferred fabrication of permanent landing gear support pillars, starting with the nose gear, then the left gear, should finally begin.  When complete all the railroad ties and other wood support structures will be fully removed and relocated out of sight or discarded.  In addition my hideously ugly west storage van will be moved to an out of sight location near the west border of my property, and all the unsightly separate items (many of which are wing components) near its south side (near my right wing tip) will be moved to the same out of sight location as well.  And I hope to remove my private well's pressure tank and replace it with a new composite type mounted inside my aft cargo bay and thus out of sight.  Completion of all this work should result in a highly clear aircraft environment - one consisting of my Boeing 727 home, a bit of open grass area, Douglas Fir trees, and precious little more - the area should then be very clean and elegant in appearance.  This matter of aesthetics is very important for both Concert on a Wing events and to demonstrate more compellingly the potential of my v2.0 project.  More about this as progress develops...

As usual a notarized copy of my last will, revoking all previous versions, is posted on the refrigerator in my cabin.  Please honor only that document after I draw my last breath.  (A task which won't require attention anytime soon I hope.) It's adjacent to popular Nihon-jin (Japanese) actress and occasional product pitch gal Arimura Kasumi-san, who will remain prominently displayed in my cabin for the foreseeable future.

This last narrative is a long but focused story which I view as significant enough to warrant extra detail:

I extoll the virtues of living in an aerospace class sealed pressure canister enthusiastically and believe my prattle well warranted.  And with similar conviction I relate my immense regret with my decision to allow salvage of components from my aircraft in the course of acquiring it, a strategy I will absolutely never repeat, and believe my prattle about that equally warranted.

An aerospace quality pressure canister allows a person to live in a superbly safe and clean environment - it's a very strong and highly effective and reliable barrier between a clean, well managed, and civilized environment and a dirty, chaotic, and often uncivilized external environment (at least insofar as insect and rodent life is concerned).  If intact.  But the process of removing components from a jetliner devastates the pressure canister seal - numerous openings are created when the many components which involve pressure seals are removed.  (Climate control, water, fuel, and toilet related items are just examples - many other pressure canister related components are typically removed as well.) I will never consider any such partnership with any future project - Airplane Home v2.0 for example will be a full bird project with the sole exception that the engines will be removed if still of significant flight value, but by strictly enforced normal operational aircraft service procedure which of course causes no damage.  Then all engine related conduits will be rigorously sealed.

But of course the damage was done to my 727-200 home long ago, and as a practical matter can only be mitigated in modest measure.  One serious repercussion was that the numerous violations to my pressure canister had to be located and resealed.  In the course of my restoration and upgrade work I vigorously inspected every interface with my aircraft's pressure canister I could find and felt confident I had located and sealed all of them thoroughly.  However, mice, perhaps the greatest test of such work, appeared within my cabin a few years later.  Yikes...  After multiple reviews of my previous work I finally concluded that some obscure component salvage related openings might have been created in the wing to engine fuel lines somewhere within my pressure canister which were beyond reasonable access, and thus not discovered.  So I sealed all the fuel lines on both the wing tank related ends and the engine ends.  And that resolved the problem - once my current furry residents were relocated to the woods my sanctity was restored (using live traps as far as possible, but sadly by lethal traps in some cases).  And the solution seemed permanent - my cabin remained mouse free for years.  Until last summer...

At that time I heard a mouse chewing, then later confirmed that he was inside my cabin.  And the intrusion persisted, though seemingly only occasionally and at a low level.  I subsequently live trapped a mouse and escorted him to a distant forest location.  And no further intrusion seemed evident, nor was any evidence of occupation apparent upon my return from a two month cycle in Miyazaki.  But then clear evidence reappeared - my cabin was infested again, and I was truly mystified about how they could have possibly gained access.  But since my air stairs were in fully retracted position while I was in Miyazaki, then extended to the ground upon my return, I suspected a relationship.  But nonetheless I could find no pressure canister breach.

In desperation I could think of no means to try to reveal their entry path other than to pressurize my aircraft then search for air leaks revealed by sound or tracer smoke.  But of course my bird has no engines and thus no pressurization turbines.  So I was reduced to mounting the delivery side of an over 50 year old but very thoroughly pressure washed and thus scrupulously clean 240 Vrms squirrel cage fan removed from my old mobile home furnace into a very tight fitting opening I cut in the window of a spare wing exit hatch.  You can see the proud result in images 18, 19, and 43 through 47 below.  Image 47 is best.

Frankly I felt this effort would likely prove ineffective - I thought it unlikely the fan, very nicely designed and in excellent condition though it was, could develop enough pressure to render leaks in my pressure canister reasonably easy to find even if dense smoke tracers were enlisted to aid the effort.  But in fact it proved wonderfully effective even without smoke tracers - it developed enough pressure to make all significant leaks rather obvious by their sound alone.  (And enough pressure to render my air stairs entry door quite tough to open due to the pressurization force.)

And it quickly solved the mystery.  There are three large titanium conduits which delivered quite hot air from intermediate stages of the engine turbines to the climate control bay where that air is mixed with cold air from an articulated forward ram inlet, then delivered to interior cabin vents.  I sealed all those ducts shortly after my aircraft was delivered to my property, and of course mice can't chew through a robust titanium conduit.  But I clearly heard air leaking from the area where all three conduits pass through my aft pressure bulkhead (the same pressure wall which the air stair door is mounted in), and though I'd observed that those conduits incorporate heavy fiberglass fiber reinforced RTV accordion seals at the bulkhead hundreds of times in past work, it finally dawned upon me that they might represent a vulnerability - it's a material mice can chew, and if there was otherwise a gap between the outer walls of the titanium conduits and the thick aluminum bulkhead they route through of sufficient size for mice to pass through, access would be possible.

I could see no breaks in those accordion seals nor any other structure, but I could see slivers of old plant or spider filaments wiggling in turbulent air behind the number one engine heat conduit, which is the most distant and difficult to access, so I knew a leak was very close.  A telescoping mirror and flashlight told the story - on the opposite side, impossible to see directly, a chewed hole was clearly visible.  A strained stretch of body and arm allowed a finger feel confirmation (but the visual evidence was already perfectly clear anyway).  Another strained stretch allowed me to fill the hole copiously and tightly with a new stainless steel pan scrubber mesh ball which no creature can chew through of course.  Due to time limits I didn't seal the hole against air flow but will do so later.  I then covered all three RTV accordion seals thoroughly with roughly 1 cm window size steel wire cloth, protecting them from exterior chewing.  I'll seal the hole against air flow and replace the wire cloth coverings with a more elegant metal cloth (such as expanded aluminum) this summer, but in the meantime the temporary protection is rodent impenetrable - it won't be breached from the outside.  Nor from the inside because, with a Miyazaki trip looming quite soon and thus no time to be patient, three mice were lured to lethal traditional neck crushing mouse traps, then pitched into the woods.  In subsequent days the trap lured no others, nor did any evidence of mouse activity ensue - I'm pretty sure my beloved aircraft is free of mice again.  I absolutely loathe killing an innocent wild creature - it breaks my heart.  But due to lack of time and their destructive capacity I had no practical choice.

In the course of this exercise I also noted a few door seal leaks - minor leaks but worth sealing with RTV embellishments to gaskets when time permits.  And I now have a far more thorough and detailed knowledge of the integrity of my pressure canister, and a sense of confidence which comes from being able to test it easily yet rather rigorously at any time.

The adventure revealed two important new elements of knowledge:

1.  A proud owner of a new 'full bird' jetliner home, even though bereft of noxious damage from component salvage work, must nonetheless check for RTV seals around conduits which pass through her pressure canister, and if any are found they must be over wrapped with protective metal barriers which render them reliably inaccessible to rodents.

2.  A 240 Vrms squirrel cage fan is a remarkably effective tool for revealing pressure canister leaks.

Due to the surprisingly high effectiveness of the squirrel cage fan for this task I feel confident the same technique would prove very efficient for revealing important leaks in most modern conventional homes as well if in generally good condition and most exterior surfaces are reasonably accessible.  So if you have an animal or large insect access mystery I recommend considering the technique - it's relatively easy to implement and might resolve your mystery very quickly.

Again more media might be added later.  O genki de ite kudasai!


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Copyright 12 April 2017 JST, Howard Bruce Campbell, AirplaneHome.com.

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