Saturday, October 03, 2009

Carpet, Continued

I pass on the free food vibe by bringing chocolate for the engineer and apprentices. It looks like technicians are just as fond of free food as pilots. Not too surprising, that. Is there anyone who doesn't like it when you bring them food?

I like doing new things, and laying flooring in an airplane is a new thing for me, but I know if do this poorly in any way I'm going to have to look at it every working day, so the pressure is on. I have the old carpet to use as a template, but the carpet is more flexible, and if I assemble it at a slight wrong angle on the linoleum before I cut it, then my linoleum will be crooked. I measure everything so I can double-check my template. I reassure myself that no matter how bad it is, it won't look worse than the old carpet, so I should just go for it.

Meanwhile the engineer is preparing to install the new electronic tach gauges in the panel. The old panel has a two-in-one gauge: one gauge, two needles. The new system has slightly smaller gauges, but there is one for each engine, so the old hole in the panel has to be covered and new ones made. The engineer has the piece of the panel in a vise and in order to make the right sized opening, he drills small holes all around the perimeter of the big hole required to fit the gauge. It's not an easy job.

For a pilot, it's much easier to confirm that a needle is at the right angle or that two needles are at the same angle than it is to read, interpret and compare digital numbers. Our chief pilot had expressed that concern about digital tachometers, so they show me the new gauges. In addition to the big digital display in the centre of the unit, there is a ring of coloured LEDs around the outside, to simulate the position of the needle. I can see at a glance that the 'needles' match, and are in the green. I ask to confirm that the brightness can be dimmed for night, and they say yes, it will hook into the same control as I use to dim other engine instruments. I approve. Some illuminated aircraft equipment, like my fuel transfer light, doesn't dim at night and it's very annoying.

I find a big straight edge with which to guide my knife as I cut the flooring. There are a couple of places where it abraded the edges instead of making a clean cut, but fortunately those are in an area where there is flashing that screws down over the edges. So far, so good. I roll it up, transfer it to the airplane and roll it out again. Yes! It isn't crooked. It's a bit long in a couple of places, where the carpet could probably be compressed, so I take it out and trim those places, then put it back in. Works. Good. Now for the hard part.

There are a number of small, oddly shaped holes in the carpets for various equipment-attachment fittings to go through. I have to get these in exactly the right places and exactly the right size and shape, or I won't be able to put some of the seats in the plane. I spend a long time fussing about before I plunge the knife in and make the holes. The last part is to put holes in all the places where the carpet was screwed down to the floor. For carpet, you can just stick a screw through without pre-poking a hole, but for this I have to line the holes up with the holes in the floor where the screws go. I get it all rolled down with the holes lined up and it looks great.

Getting all the screws back in is harder than you might think. While I'm sure they were originally all the same size screws in all the same sized holes, something has happened in the intervening years to make them individualistic. I share my theory with the apprentice. "Every screw has its own unique personality. You have to find some place that it wants to go, because if it's not motivated, it won't doa good job. She agrees heartily, but the engineer overhears and opines that he finds a big screwdriver to be a powerful motivational tool. "But maybe that says something about my management style," he adds, glancing around the shop at the apprentices.

Once I tighten the screws on all the fittings, I'm not quite as happy with it. The floor creases a little from the distortion of the fasteners, where the carpet just gave. The PRM says the creases will settle out after it's been in place for a while. He says it looks great, and that he'll have to get me to redo the flooring in another airplane. The maintenance guys and gal laugh at me and tell me that's the peril of doing a good job, but I don't mind. I'm prouder of this than I would have been of two days spent lounging around at the hotel.

15 comments:

Chad said...

Good for you :). I spent some time working in an AMO, and one of my least favourite jobs was re-installing carpeting/flooring. Matching the screws and getting them all to line up drove me crazy, and that was with pre-existing holes. So kudos to you for tackling the job of making a NEW floor.

CandyMan said...

I've got to tell you that when your posts hit my reader, I'm pleased to read them. The trials, tribulations and daily grind from a world removed from mine is relaxing in an interesting way. Please keep on.

Thumbs said...

Sweet! Well done. So often jobs I do on my plane end up looking like they were done by a first grader who couldn't color inside the lines. Arrrgh. I suspect you are more of a craftsman. Or craftsiatrix?

Sarah said...

I agree! Nice job. I'm awkward when it comes to mechanical projects but understand the pride and satisfaction in accomplishing a worthy result.

I can handle abstract projects, like software, or electronics ( I love the smell of rosin core solder in the morning ) but cutting, sanding or drilling? Not so much.

MathFox said...

There is one big question that remains: Is Aviatrix a certified airplane carpenter? (If not, who signed off on the paperwork.)

SwL_Wildcat said...

Nice job on the flooring. I need some hardwood installed downstairs. What's your going rate for carpentry? On a side note since you down for maintaince anyway why not ask the engineer to add your fuel transfer light to the dimmer switch, or install a lower wattage bulb?

Aviatrix said...

Chad: Thanks for backing me up on the frustration of the screw-matching challenge.

Mathfox: I don't know what the resulting paperwork said, as the PRM then drove me to another city and a different crew arrived to fly that airplane back to the work. An engineer can sign for work done by unskilled personnel under his supervision.

SwL_Wildcat: That's not a bad idea. They'll probably tell me it's not in the STC or that it can't be done if the equipment isn't designed for it, but it's worth a try. I was going to go with covering it up.

SwL_Wildcat said...

Moving the power wire for a indicator light should have nothing to do with a Supplemental Type Certificate unless the fuel transfer system was installed after the aircraft was built, and the original STC specifically said the power wire for the light must be hooked to a specific direct power point. I'm sure the AME would be more than willing to help out. It shouldn't take more than an hour, and it's a lot safer than putting tape over the light. I have all my AME schooling/courses but never did find the time to finish the hours required to be granted a license.

A Squared said...

Moving the power wire for a indicator light should have nothing to do with a Supplemental Type Certificate unless the fuel transfer system was installed after the aircraft was built,

Aviatrix can clarify, but I believe that she is talking about an aftermarket fuel transfer system. I don't know the details of the system, but just for example, it the light is powered from the same source as the pump, and controlled by the pump switch, then powering the light through the existing dimmer rheostat would require the addition of a relay, which is a departure from the STC. Not a big departure, but if you look at the installation drawing, and look at the installation, they are different. Not that I beleive it presents a real problem, but FAA is pretty anal retentive about things like that for airplanes in commercial service. My understanding is that TC is also.

Aviatrix said...

A Squared has it nailed. The light being powered through the pump is exactly my consideration, and I think it probably is, because a preflight test to see if the appropriate light comes on when I flick each switch is considered sufficient to confirm the function of the transfer pumps.

But as I said, I'll see what they say.

Jimmy said...

@ mathfox: In Canada there are jobs pilots can perform if they have been trained and supervised by a licenced engineer. It is referred to as 'Elementary work and service' (CAR 571.02?). The list is exhaustive, so there are only so many things it applies to, but removing and installing furnishing and the like are included.

All that is required is that it is entered in the logbook and signed by the pilot who did the work. I've done it too many times to count. Everytime seats are taken out for a configuration change (eg pax to cargo) there is an entry made in the log.

That said, signing AMEs are responsible for what they approve regardless of who actually did the work. In this case what Aviatix did will likely just be rolled into the paperwork for what they did. She would almost be like an apprentice in that case...

Chad said...

To correct your reference Jimmy, Elementary work can be found in CARs 625 Appendix A. Also in a commercial service the performing of Elementary Work must be done by someone who has been trained and approved to do that specific task by the company.

Geekzilla said...

Instead of linoleum, how about a nice bearskin rug? You certainly spend enough time up north. While you're at it, I think a pair of moose antlers and some wood paneling would give the cabin a warm lodge feel.

Aviatrix said...

When it comes to choosing accommodations, I recommend regarding the display of an animal's skull, horns, antlers the way you would regard the skull and crossbones symbol when choosing a beverage. All the worst places I have stayed have been so equipped.

Aviatrix said...

We actually DO have wood panelling in some of the interior. This aircraft interior was designed around the time the bar was installed in your grandparents' basement.

Can anyone get me an FAA-certified bear?