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Q-talk 43 - Jan/Feb 1994 - index

JAN/FEB 1994



by Jim Masal

ED. NOTE: Lord knows I dearly love doing the editorials here, but Brian Martinez sent us this one which he previously contributed to his EAA chapter newsletter. When you read it, I think you'll agree with me that it deserves a wider exposure.




So, you're interested in building an airplane and you're either head over heels in love with a particular design or just searching through the trade magazines with hopeful eyes and not much of a bank account. I know where you are looking to go, but I'd like to discuss the darker side, the things some of us miss in our call to glory. I'll tell you what the slick magazines won't.

The reason I'm writing all this is because I'm in the middle of another of the panic attacks that I have been having for the last three weeks. It occurs every time I even think of what it's going to take to pull through the last odds and ends to get my plane (Q-200) to the airport and make the monster fly. The night before last my wife gently tried to massage the tension out of my upper body, as I was so tight that I was beginning to cramp. You think maybe it's all that epoxy or maybe the toxins in the paint I've been using? I don't think so. You think maybe it's just job stress coupled with an intense desire to finish? Maybe early mid-life crises? Maybe that's it, but I can't be sure.

Older builders will tell you about being 95% completed and having another 95% to go to finish an airplane. Others (generally &*%$# systems engineers) will describe 80/20 relationships of doing 80% of the work in the remaining 20% of an effort. I don't really believe I'm overloaded in this manner, I just feel tired. There is a common saying in homebuilder circles that there is a finite amount of effort that a builder will put into a project, after that he will finish it, one way or the other. I'm there now, guys. I can't truly say that I have hated the process, but it's had it moments and I'm still not done. I must also mention that I will probably continue to build these things until I'm dead cause I'm an obsessive/compulsive guy when it comes to this.

So what does the dark side look like? It looks like buying a kit out of production for 4 years and having to scrounge for parts, which no longer exist. It is finishing a major prefabricated assembly and realizing with your "engineering" mind that you would have had a better part if you had done it from scratch. It is the never ending labor of composite finish spline sanding in a summertime 105 degree F garage wearing a respirator; with sweat streaking through a face colored white with the dust of cured micro slurry. It's investing in lasers and electronic angle finders to achieve accuracy's others somehow find with a simple plumb bob. It's also the frustration of implementing all the "nice to have" and "warm fuzzies" that your non-builder buddies can think up and realizing years later that you really didn't need any of it. You have been adding dead weight and expense to your plane that could have been had with a handheld. Then, it is the horror of watching your 7 years of work packed up on a trailer for a long slow precarious trip to the airport and seeing the restraints come loose on a bump less than a mile from the destination. The dark side is spending more time building the plane than you spend with your family. You have had no weekends off and no vacations, because even though you were physically elsewhere, your mind was still on the project. I am also sick of answering meaningless questions: No, Burt didn't design my airplane, it's not a canard it's a biplane with no horizontal, and you can't go out and buy one for so much money. And even more: No I don't know when it will be done or when I will fly it because I'm not even sure it will fly. AND FINALLY: Use of composites or aluminum in a design is all a tradeoff. The stuff you really want to build your planes out of is called "unobtainium". Now, you show me the Kitplanes ad or article that says all this! Don't get me wrong. I'm not down on the movement, I'm just warning you.

Is there any good in all of this? I'm not sure, but maybe the look on your four-year-olds face when he asks you what you are working on or maybe the open mouthed awe of your ten-year-old when he sees your engine running for the first time. Maybe that's it. I'm not sure. I do know that it is much easier to see how I will design the next one. This is stuff that the Aerospace Engineering curriculum did not teach. I've also learned another thing for sure. And that is, if you are a first time builder, build it simple and cheap. You guys out there who turn up your noses at Tailwinds, Sonerias, and anything without an electrical system have never built an airplane. The guys who build simple airplanes will fly cheaper and more often with less to fix than the guys who spend a megabuck for the latest and the greatest. Airplanes are tradeoffs in performance, time and lifestyle. Think about it.

Brian Martinez

EAA Chapt 1000


It's kind of fun for me to hear from more of you than usual when it's time for you to send in your renewals. I like to excerpt some of these notes/letters so that all of us can get a feel for what you are going through in your life with your Q (and believe me, for some of you it seems it will be the rest of your life ... just kidding ...not!). Anyway, I like to do something called:


Enclosed is my renewal for the year. This should be a good one, my Q-2 is finally out of storage and building is in progress - Ron Wyers, BC Canada *** I am very interested in obtaining a Quickie kit and I think that joining the Assn would be the best way to get one. - Jason Browne, VA *** Recently passed the 650 hr. mark on my Q-200, still happy with it. I'm tooling up to manufacture wood props. I showed the first one to Ed Sterba, and he said it looked better than his first prop. I plan to have them available for Q-200's and Revmasters. - Sam Hoskins, IL *** I have about 180 hrs. on my Onan Quickie and have not had any problems in the past year and enjoy flying it very much when weather permits. - Arden Krueger, WI *** Took nearly a year to refinish the Quickie. Worked on it nearly every weekend. Seems one of the original fillers I used never set up. It reminds one of window putty after 10 years, still pliable. Every time we thought it was ready for paint, a new area would de-bond. Start all over again with a knife scraping the stuff off ... - J. P. Stroud, FL (Ed. NOTE: I shot half a wing with un-catalyzed filler and got the same problem. It fixed my memory on that subject once and for all.) *** Grand Delusions keep flitting through my mind like: If this thing flies (Rotax Quickie, ED) could I do a time to climb record with it? Altitude? Calls to the NAA have yielded no info pack so I'm well on the way with the paper chase! On another subject, I would like to offer a warm floor and a loaner car to any Q guys (Q persons?) playing through Boulder Airport. Our mobile home is a 5 min. walk from the ramp. (303) 440-3579 Ion Hess, CO *** Greetings from sub zero northland. No progress to report, as I have been too busy trying to make a living. I don't see any letup in the next couple of years so I have decided to find another home for the project. Please put my Ad in the next available issue. - Stu White, MI *** Q2 #2827 continues its slow but steady progress ... Recent successes include baffling and installation of CamLoc fasteners in the cowl. Although expensive, I was advised that the regular attention the Revmaster would need will make them worthwhile. I am still very much in need of local (S.E. Michigan) assistance for engine installation and electrical/instrument installation. Any takers please call collect (313) 416-0709. - Jim Porter, MI *** Tri-Q Golf Bravo Charlie has at last flown!! but not by me. Overheard, unless the owner has 10 hours on a Q2 type, an experienced test pilot must be used for the test flying. I have re-read the past copies of the newsletter a number of times recently, each time picking up more information and I promise to write a full report in a few months time. G-BUBC Derek Clarke, England *** As always, thanks again for your dedication to us builders. Your efforts have greatly contributed to the safety of us builders. - Jerry Marstall, MI *** We continue to re-invent the wheel on our engine installation and control hookup, but we still have hopes of flying our Q-2! - John Granzella *** Nothing much doing in the a/c line as I am recuperating from hip replacement. Still love the newsletter it's the greatest. - Jim Mielke, WI *** I haven't lost interest in the Q-2, just time. I'm having too much fun with the T-18. - Bill Bertrand, MI *** Still fooling around with 2390V. If you ever get to Wilmington, DE, Jim, there is a sack available for weary travelers. - Bus Schuckler, DE *** I'm working on N1V every chance I get. Had a GREAT time in Ottawa and looking forward to next year. - Bud Starnes, IN *** Still improving and streamlining/repainting the Subaru installation with belt reduction (EA-81, Formula Power). New pointy cowling, fuel injected, direct fire electrics, 120 hp, projected 220 mph. - Bruce Brown, LA *** Glad to see the Subaru's showing up in print since that's the way I'm going. Not much progress due to the usual excuses. A brief burst of enthusiasm when the Q-TALK arrives is lots better than total dejection. - Bob Lane, WA *** We've moved again. The Tri-Q200 must have 100,000 miles on it by now, all on the road. From Michigan to St. Louis to Dallas to storage to North Carolina and now to Kentucky. Some day ... - Carroll Smiley, KY *** Well, I've made major progress on the airplane by getting the landing gear, gas tank, control console and flight controls installed. The fuselage is pretty much done ... Complete kit? Yeah, right. Home built airplane projects are huge empty places in your garage you fill up with large amounts of money that eventually resemble flying objects. - Gene Cash, CA *** Myself and Jim Harris (we were the guys in the motor home) enjoyed the visit to Ottawa, Kansas. I would say it was a total success. I also hitched a ride in a Dragonfly. What a thrill. - E. L. Puckett, TX *** Sure glad you were late with last issue, I thought I was! - Mack Moritz *** Had hoped to be telling you that my Quickie was flying but it ain't - too much traveling in recent months. Have about decided to sell it after I get it back in the air. It's just too much hassle going thru the darn medical every 12 months. - Ves Fulp *** #2046 (Q-2 kit #16) is now getting closer to completion. Still working 10/12 hours per week. Finally got all the mods done and will start the final mechanical and assembly work and the finishing et al. Like to be done this fall. Time will tell. Please hang in there as the boss until I get done, at the least. - Harvey Nack, AL *** Please hurry up all you guys, I'm wearing down to a nub. - Jim Masal, TX

Other Articles In This Issue

LETTERS - by Jim Masal
CLASSIFIEDS - by Jim Masal
QUICKPIX - by Jim Masal


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