Turn and Burn


On Wednesday, Jay and I had about two hours to work before it got dark. Loading the engine turned out to be a breeze, since Jay had a reasonably large tractor on site -- we attached a few straps to the engine, hooked the straps to the tractor's front bucket, and used the machine to pick up and load the engine in the back of the trailer. Before it got dark, I tossed a tarp and strap over the engine (I didn't want it to rain and end up with water inside).

We moved the fuselage by hand, and it wasn't difficult to lift it into place on the trailer. I then trimmed down the vertical members so they were just tall enough to clear the fuselage, which turned out to be tall enough to provide attachment space for the wings (I measured before cutting, of course). Then Jay and I installed cross-pieces to help resist any side-to-side motion, and reinforced the joints by installing gussets.

Here's how things looked when I arrived on Thursday morning:


The engine is hiding under the green tarp on the left-hand side of the photo.

Jay told me that he thought all of the pieces probably wouldn't fit into the car. After surveying the collection of items, I had to agree. Before doing anything else, I spent an hour and built out the rest of the "floor" of the trailer in order to have a place to stash everything.

I then spent a few hours walking to and from the barn, puzzling through the best arrangement of all of the parts. The hardest ones were those odd-sized ones, like the landing gear (with brakes and tire still attached to each) or the metal cowling panels (not quite flat pieces of sheet metal). In the end, it all fit, and I used plenty of padding to make sure that nothing would get damaged or vibrate its way off the trailer on the way home. I used some extra plywood and made a "front" and "top" for the box to protect the parts from the wind and possible rain on the way home.

The wings were next. I had done a lot of reading of various web forums where people talked about transporting wings. Everyone agreed that the wings were best supported at their attachment points, specifically because those points are engineered to support the weight of the plane during flight. The following description by Bob Turner made the most sense to me:

Get six 2x4x8 studs, four rather large carriage bolts, washers, and nuts, and four relatively small eyebolts that will go through the 2' part of the 2x4.

Also get a drill and some 1/4" spade bits.

Lay the wings on the ground upside down, and mark a couple of 2x4s so the holes will match the lift strut attach bolts, which you leave in the wing. Slide the eye bolts into where the lift struts used to go, thread them through the 2x4, and tighten with nuts and fender washers. Leave enough 2x4 hanging off the LE & TE to protect both.

Then move to the butt end, and on each wing, turn the remaining 2x4s into a giant clamp - one on top of the spar and one below it. Arrange the giant carriage bolts very close to the spars and very close to the butt rib. Tighten until you are sure the 2x4 clamp will not slide off. You could get clever and put some rope in there to ensure that it will stay on, but I have never had one fall off. The pair of 2x4s acting as a clamp should extend beyond LE & TE just like the one at the lift struts. Then you can haul the wings either vertical or horizontal. I have gone coast to coast this way with no damage. Good luck.

So that's what I did. This picture shows the left wing hanging from the trailer, with the 2x4 "clamp" at the butt end of the wing:


I used a 2x8 for the mid-wing board in order to have enough overlap with the vertical member of the trailer:


In relatively short order, and with a little lifting help from Sam, both wings were on the trailer. I attached my remaining 2x4's to the top of the trailer to increase the rigidity of the upper part of the structure, which worked wonderfully.

Then everything got strapped down. The fuselage got connected to the metal of the trailer via one big strap at the nose end and one smaller one at the tail. The engine got held down against the floor of the trailer via two straps, crosswise. The wingtips got lightly strapped to the front vertical members of the trailer (I protected the wing surface with a few layers of old carpet), which I hoped would prevent any outward splaying while I went down the road and therefore prevent extra load on the wing attach points.

After it was loaded up and ready to go, Jay posed for his picture with the plane:


I'm really happy to have met both Jay and Sam. They were both enormously helpful and accommodating over the two days that I was there. I feel a bit guilty taking the plane away, but Jay tells me that he's got an Avid Flyer on the way soon!

After saying our goodbyes, I hit the road...

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