PFM Logo Fokker Triplane Model T Curtiss Canuck

April 29, 2007 Project Update

Interesting day... turn-out was light with Greg Solberg, Tom Gaylord, Carl Canga, Ted Dawson and new guy, Nick Medrano showing up for work. Nick had to leave before lunch, but was replaced later in the day by Dick Schenck, who cruised by to critique our work while he was driving to his girlfriend's house for dinner! Roger Ritter flew his Luscombe into the field for a mid afternoon visit.

The two main projects for the day were the control column and connecting accessories to the rotary engine.

Tubing for the control column grip

Carl and Greg mostly worked on the control column. They plotted out curves and angles and spent part of the day bending tubing, trying not to crush the tube at the bends. They also shaped the tubing to have the curved section welded on. Very definite progress on this component!

control column grip

Ted, Tom, and Roger Freeman mostly worked on the engine. Initially Roger just wanted to hook everything up while the engine was still attached to the airframe, but we persuaded him to yank the motor (attachment bolts needed to be replaced anyway) cause our old joints are not flexible enough to reach through the little access doors to get work done and our decrepit eyesight meant we couldn't see either. So out of pity Roger agreed to let us yank the motor. But first, we needed to time the ignition on the engine. Roger got out the manual to refresh himself on the process.

In setting the ignition we discovered that the magneto first had to be timed to itself... getting the points to break just as the magnetic field was at its peak strength. That done the engine was timed. This entailed getting cylinder 1 to several degrees prior to TDC by rotating the motor till cylinder 7's push-rod was horizontal. Then, with the mag set just at points break, stab it through the hole to engage the gears. Voila, a timed 80-hp le Rhone rotary engine!

Engine removed for work

After that the motor was yanked and left dangling on the chain hoist so we could access both sides if necessary.

We found lots of issues waiting for us; a paper towel stuffed down the intake throat, the castor oil intake port was clogged with a mud dauber's nest, the line running from the castor oil pump to the crankcase wasn't present, intake pipes had loose bolts and various mounting holes needed to be drilled and tapped to accept the accessories.

Eventually all these issues were settled. The photo of Ted was taken while he was working on the castor oil pump.

When Greg and Tom left to head back to Houston, only Ted and Roger Ritter remained, and the last task was to rob a jam nut off the Tommy to secure the carb on the end of the crankshaft and then put the engine back into the airframe.