Sequoia 300# 0019, N48BL, has been a resident in my hanger here at home since 9/15/15. I purchased her as a 'cosmetic improvement' airplane project to entertain myself when my wife went to Pennsylvania to help her aging mother for a few weeks that turned into five years. Long story.
I saw her in an ad, and had to have her so I cleverly offered John Bell every cent he was asking for her to make sure I was at the top of the list... sight unseen. You can probably see where this is going.
Born in 1949, Mother made a paper plane for me when I was four, Dad took me for my first ride when I was five, I had my first lesson when I was twelve, made and crashed every kind of model imaginable, was never interested in anything else, attended LeTourneau's A&P school at eighteen, turned down a job with United, (Airliners aren't really airplanes) happily went broke fixing other peoples airplanes out of the back of my car, demonstrated the eternal truth, 'If you want to make a small fortune in aviation... start with a big one,' so I should have known better. I packed my favorite rose colored glasses and booked the next flight to Phoenix where the glasses did their job.
I'd read the report from Al Aiken, and had little apprehension about doing my own delivery (test) flight home after John refused to check me out, "I'm not current." Hummmmmm, me either.
Through fault of its own, the airplane tried to kill me five different ways on the trip home. To be sure, by the time I landed in my backyard, I knew I'd been successful in my quest for a project, maybe more so than I'd planned.
After reading every word of every one of the thousands of pages of documents she came with, I've come to the conclusion I might have been the first to do so. Many hands have been inside the plane since Jim Baugh built her. The plane doesn't respond well to people who think she's a simpleton. I've removed every bolt, while working my way through a daisy chain of fixes, on fixes to get to the root of a hundred issues I won't bore you with here, but suffice it to say... I've had a blast!
I've been following this airplane since before you drew it up. While recovering from the aftermath of a freight train wreck in 1971, (and people think airplanes are dangerous) I sat down at my drafting table to lay out what I thought at the time, would be my perfect airplane. A few years later, there was my drawing in Flying magazine with your name attached. I always wanted to get involved, but other expensive decisions interfered, so I watched from a distance until you put the project up for sale.
Fortunately, I was unable to follow through with my first insane reaction because I was busy learning an expensive lesson a retired two star army general tried to teach me over the dinner we shared that I would be paying for. From across the table, General Alexander looked at me, "Mike, you're an altruistic little SOB, aren't you?" A rhetorical question, he continued."Here's some advice, when dealing with the US government, the military, or any of the alphabet soup agencies you're tangled with, never underestimate the power of ignorance!" I laughed. It was a mistake.
All that was to say, thank you. I'm having the time of my life, probably my last big project as I intend to fly the time invested (4000+hrs so far) out of this project. Here's a few pictures.
|Clean Out the spiders... literally.|
|New nose gear steering that works. Long story.|
|Main gear doors, and hub caps.|
|Main gear after-body fairings.|
|Nose wheel door.|
|Nose gear door, and outflow exciter/wheel after-body fairing.|
|Hartwell latches replaced 60 screws in cowl doors. Five seconds to open.|
Dedicated inlets to induction, oil cooling, inter cooling, and cabin air guarantee the greatest possible pressure in the high pressure plenum.
The often overlooked big hole behind the spinner has been sealed as well.
|Oil cooler waste heat collector.|
|Waste heat and pressure from the oil cooler, intercooler, and cabin heat dumps are all collected then added to the cooling outflow stream ahead of the outflow exciter (Not shown here) and not to the secondary (low pressure) plenum. Air cooled engines are cooled by differential pressure, not just volume.|
The aircraft 'darted' on landing, had very heavy steering, and, I learned in the air, a frozen rudder. Cable tension of 125 lbs, steering cables binding in out of alignment fairleads, monstrous tension springs (to improve steering authority?) a loose steering arm (because it didn't fit), and gaps between steering rollers and steering arm, conspired to make for some fun times.
Realigned the fairleads. Replaced the tension springs with tail wheel compression springs and turn buckles for adjustment to 35 psi. Fixed the misfit steering arm, and turned new rollers. Self aligns, and steers like a baby stroller now.
On the way home from Phoenix I found construction equipment on the runway at my fuel stop, Elco, NV. I think I vaguely remember thinking about checking Notam's. Only ten gallons in each tank, the fuel pickup un-ported when I turned (with no working rudder) and the fuel sloshed outboard. The momentary silence close to the ground was unsettling. The noise was restored as soon as I switched tanks, but made me determined to fix this.
|Ingress and egress. Jude is too short to hop up on the wing (claims it's an embarrassment to the plane, very undignified) so I took a page from my Navion. Designed a steel, flap mounted step and flap reinforcement.|
|Note: also cleaned up the wing/fuselage joint.|
|Stop block to transfer the load from the flap system into the root rib.|
|New paint. Don't screw this up to bad cause, like the landing, it's the only thing people will know you did or comment on. In the shop light it's hard to see but the colors are dark cherry, dark metallic red then light metal red with gold accent stripes. Also built a new, one piece fiberglass canopy skirt. That sounds so easy when I say it.|
|I fiddled around and raised the apparent lower canopy line with paint my and the new skirt. Also didn't like the dorsal joint so I built a glass, radius dorsal fin.|
Not perfect, but better than the blast of cold air that blew down my neck while I admired the view of the earth between the fuselage and the old skirt.
There's lots more, but you get the idea.
Happy holidays, stay safe in this crazy time. I know that our plans often appear to run to folly, but in this case, your blood, sweat, tears, printless finger tips and ruined finances, closed a nearly fifty-year-old loop for a total stranger, me. Thank you so much! I've enjoyed the vicarious, and now real ride with you.