Building an airplane – July 6 & 7, 2017

Between the actual build and getting ready for my trip to Germany, I fell behind on my posts, so this time I’ll simply link to Chip’s own blog post, as it includes progress from Thursday and Friday:

The first parts (rudder and vertical stabilizer) have been covered with Dacron fabric. The fabric will be heat-shrunk and then painted to seal.

Not much more is likely to happen until I’m back home on July 17, unless Jonathan decides to keep plugging away on his own.  After that, we’ll be working for the time being without Chip’s guidance, but he briefed us on Friday as to what we’re looking at next and how to do it.  Chip will return at some point (TBD) to oversee the final touches and first test flights.

In the meantime, a few passing thoughts for others starting in on a Zigolo build:

  • It’s well worth your time to organize parts ahead of time by subassembly so that you can find them quickly. Organize bolts, washers, and nuts by size (e.g., 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, etc.), as you know when you need an M5x30 bolt, you will also need a 5mm washer (or two) and a 5mm stop nut. There were times when I spent more time staring at the table looking for the right parts than I did actually building!
  • It seems the ideal number of people working at any one time is three – e.g., Chip plus two others (me and Craig or Jonathan). Chip provides the guidance that allows us to proceed efficiently, as interpreting the plans and identifying parts is time-consuming for anyone who (like me) has never built a plane before. It is essential that all those involved be comfortable with drilling, grinding, riveting, and bolting, as that’s 90% of what we do.  As I mentioned before, this is not an IKEA project where you simply screw together a bunch of pre-drilled parts!
  • There are a lot of tools and materials that are basically essential to getting anything done efficiently, some of which (e.g., red Scotch Brite pads) aren’t explicitly mentioned on any list we got ahead of time. Over four days, I drove over 200 miles just to chase down items that I hadn’t already purchased before we started!  If I were to do a project like this again (and had enough lead time), I would try very hard to have all of these items on hand before starting!  At some point, I’ll try to post a complete list of things we needed for others to refer to.

Greetings from München!

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