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Q-talk 20 - SUN 'N FUN


If you fail to plan...plan to fail. That seemed to be a snippet of wisdom running through my mind on this year's trip to Sun 'N Fun, Lakeland, Florida. This time I was hitching a ride with two fellows in an '88 motor home. Nice, cushy, awfully new, but there was another hitch: it had been sitting for over a year with no maintenance; the owner just jumped in, turned the key and took off on a 1200 mile trip as natural as you please. But then, the unnatural.

Twenty miles out of Dallas the cruise control stuck at 65 MPH. A tow truck and 2 hours later, a mud dauber's nest was removed from the throttle linkage, and we were trundling back down the road. Fat, dumb and happy to be (20 hours later) less than 100 miles from the show, our wheeled home started an almost imperceptible deceleration. At 50 mph and 40 miles out it started backfiring periodically; the transmission felt funny too. We coaxed it into Lakeland and within smelling distance of avgas. At a precautionary stop, we found the transmission 3 pints low. We topped it off, forgot the rest of the problems (after all, didn't we just add transmission fluid? Shouldn't that cure all?) and rushed off to stake out a camp spot.

It was worth the rush. This was the finest Sun 'N Fun for QBAers yet! John Groff kept us from a shutout last year, but for this starting show of the decade there was something for everyone. TWO Quickies, Q-2, Tri-Q2, Q-200's, Tri-Q200's and a good crowd of QBAers. Here's the breakdown of attending planes up to Thursday morning when we left (Oh, yeah...we broke down on the return due to a clogged and crudded pair of fuel filters discovered one at a time. PPPPPP: Prior Planning Prevents P--- [4 across, means urine] Poor Performance).





This Fly-In had many interesting features. One of these concerns a subject on which I have sorely hankered to do an editorial comment. And here it comes.

Building an airplane is a wonderful dream. Like all dreams, it can be shared equally by young, old, rich, not-so-rich, smart, not-so-smart, crafty and clumsy, artistic and not. Just why one dreamer gets his done while another quits will never be easily determined. What is clear to me is that it takes a great deal of physical, spiritual (if you will), emotional and financial "stuff" to get the job done. The majority fails. Completing the task is a wonderful and satisfying accomplishment. A gratifying reward for crossing the finish line ought to be a gaggle of admiring onlookers at a major airshow like Oshkosh or Sun 'N Fun. This should be the end of the rainbow FOR EVERYBODY! Why is it, then, that most of the completed airplanes never show up to be admired? Is it written somewhere that only those builders with the glassy smooth surfaces, the plush upholstery, the IFR panels may enjoy the thrill of victory?

Nope, it is NOT written. What is unwritten is sufficient: if the aircraft is less than beautiful there will be chuckles, whispered comments of scant praise and even some incredulous stares. Does a guy with less artistry who has labored long and hard to finish a SAFE, sound; airworthy aircraft of unremarkable appearance deserve this? He HAS completed a job that many (or most) of his critical onlookers will never do and probably never start in the first place. You can be sure that these strolling critics who have never had their hands into an epoxy cup will have a lot to say about "what I would've done is..." Maybe we should have a special showing of GO planes not SHOW planes. Let's spread the recognition around.

All this thought was precipitated by a Sun 'N Fun Q-200 that was not a show plane. Its builder knew it, and I encouraged him to bring it. My comment to critics was: "There are two important things about this airplane. A) It IS finished and flown off per FAA regs and B) It FLEW to Sun 'N Fun. It is not still in a garage somewhere." I believe that some builders can get discouraged viewing all the beauties when they know their craftsmanship won't measure up. They may not even CARE to measure up. They only want to fly a safe (and that is a most important point), airworthy airplane that will give them pleasure. At Sun 'N Fun '90 these builders saw a plane to inspire them, a plane surrounded by beauties that all got there through the same effort and dedication, a plane that flew through the same skies carrying a builder with the same happy smile.


Mr. Early Bird this year was Art Jewett who had the first Q to arrive and thus got himself a photo in the local paper. Art's plane had a multicolored trim stripe used on autos. He paid $60 for it and said it's hanging on really well at his near-200 mph speeds. Also notable was the tailwheel method he used to get the proper angle: he used a Tri-Q nose fork assembly with some homebrew weldments to adapt to the removable 4130 tailspring. It looked very attractive. Jewett locks his canopy and fuel filler door with hex-keyed bolts - simple and light. In addition, removing a hinge pin on the right panel allows him to take the whole filler door off. Inside, he replaced the Mickey Mouse bottle cap with the Ken Brock type Long EZ gas caps. During a weight and balance exercise with full fuel, Art's plane started leaking fuel when he let the tail down. The new cap has a tighter seal.



A pretty Weishaar/Doyle C-85 powered Tri-Q arrived with an unusual cowling housing updraft cooling. They say it works very well but are still poking holes in it to kill some small bugs. For temporary upholstery, Doyle went to a Lawn and Garden shop and bought a slip-on upholstery pad used on an outdoor chaise lounge!



Ron and Patti Whetsten's refinished and resplendent yellow (more accurate, YELLOW), home-brew Tri-Q was radiating on the line. This plane was beautiful 2 years ago, but Ron totally refinished it anyway. He still ain't totally happy. Patti toned down the original shouting-red crushed velvet interior with some accenting black. I think it's terrific. Ron has fabricated a molded fiberglass baffling that essentially encloses the cylinders in a box to carefully control airflow. It works great, Ron reports. His CHT dropped from 400 to 300 and EGT dropped 100 as well. Now his oil temp. is too cool so he'll close up some inlets (its running about 165). He says that just after he shuts down the heat builds and he can poke and move the glass but that it has memory and retains its shape during cool down. We'll get more details at Springfield. Ron also built his own electronic ignition for his Revmaster from motorcycle parts.



Fulpar's bird was interesting! We've seen externally adjustable sparrow strainers, but he went one better, using a servo to infinitely adjust them from the cockpit. Dave says he uses the servo all the time and finds he resets with each new flight attitude. He is quite pleased with it. Dave flies with the Waddelow Wing just as proposed by Waddelow. He static tested it successfully by flipping the plane over into a cradle, packing sand around the fuselage to distribute the load evenly, loading the wings (on supports) then lifting the whole mess off momentarily with a crane. Yipes!




Noble and another pilot commented on 0-200 cowling intake details. It was found that if the intake tunnel was carefully baffled to keep ram air pressure on the carb intake, engine revs and speed went up. Noble suggests that discarded printing "blankets" at your local print shop make excellent baffle material. He's using it. A successful filter for the car intake is one of the conical types found on motorcycles that cost about $20 (see the photo of Howell's Rotax Quickie in last Q-TALK). Noble also commented that he was giving a ride when his passenger noticed that turning various switches on and off changed the readings on his Westach oil temperature and pressure gauges. The supposition is that the wire bundles running near the gauges create a magnetic field when activated and this causes gauge readings to read high. Check it out.


SUNDAY FORUM NOTES: There was about 80 people on hand to hear fly-in pilots give briefings on their planes. Duane Swing updated us on the Tri-Q mods. About 150 kits have been sold and are still available. For economy, he has to place multiple orders so that as kit sales slow down there will be some delays as he waits for enough sales to place a volume order. Incidentally, the Swing's purchased an airport in Ohio where they will locate their business. And... Scott's wife is pleasantly pregnant. Cheers from all us admirers!

A question came up about flying the Tri-Q off of grass. Duane said it did just fine in prototype testing. Another pilot mentioned difficulty in that the springiness of the nose gear causes it to bounce excessively. Duane said the newer nose legs are stiffer. Whetsten added that he uses forward elevator on takeoff to positively stick the nose down until he has liftoff speed. The smoother the grass, naturally, the better. Duane related an incident where a pilot slammed his Q down so hard on landing that he broke the main wing at both roots; the Swing main gear held. The Tri-Q guys mentioned that the nose leg should be bent back at the "knee" to 3-5 degrees for better results. One builder rewelded his firewall mounting plate to get the right geometry and flush fit for his plane.

Discussion developed around leaky fuel tanks. A solution a la Lancair is to pressurize the tank slightly (seal it and attach a balloon to the neck, for example), liquid soap the tank outside and mark the pinholes where it bubbles. Then apply a vacuum (say, with a vacuum cleaner), and daub the pinholes with hot epoxy first then cold, thick epoxy to seal the hole.

Insurance: Someone mentioned a throttle to throttle insurance which is cheaper and covers the plane on the ground only - from throttle back after landing to throttle forward on takeoff. Check it out.

John Hicks again issued a strong caution for all pilots to carefully watch for wear on elevator hinge pins and bearings. His were badly worn after 400 hours. This may have been a factor in Swanningson's accident, even mine.


SUN 60 RACE NOTES: We experienced a steady rain in the wee hours of Wednesday morning that was clearing by 8 a.m. The start of the Sun 60 was delayed until 10:30 and I was tickled to see John Hicks pushing Stroud's Quickie into the starting grid. The Sun 60 is a fun, all out speed race of about 90 miles now. No complicated formulas, just pedal to the metal around the course just for fun. Stroud had 2 Skywalkers behind him in last positions and they were offended that he wasn't last. They knew they'd wax him.

At the wave off, Stroud accelerated, somewhat, and then climbed like a homesick brick. I calculated he should be back in 50 minutes (perhaps with pine needles in his teeth).

In 20 minutes the first smoking dots came streaking low overhead in practically knife-edge flight - 2 Easter Eggs (Ventures) with a Swearingen in hot pursuit. When the numbers were crunched the Venture boys were stunned to find the Swearingen edged them out of the first slot.

Meanwhile a line of showers began to develop along the arrival route NW to SE over the airport. Stroud was still out. I was comforted that he had VG's on. As I crouched under a parked Velocity to avoid a shower I noticed the Swing wives approaching. They were not happy women. I greeted them and they told me Duane and Scott, racing in their Velocity RG, went down in a field. They were heading off on the retrieve. I hustled over to race HQ to hear the bad news. The Velocity lost a prop, shook hell out of the engine and went down in a nice flat field until a wing hit a mound and flipped over. Duane and Scott emerged OK. This was the scuttlebutt and I left Lakeland before any further details came out. I also heard that this was to be the last flight of the plane prior to handing it over to a buyer (for a reported $90,000+). Life doesn't seem to be handing out any free rides to the Swings, and these are people wearing white hats. Curiously, I was on the flight line the day before chatting with Doyle when Duane flew the Velocity by in a fast pass. Suddenly he throttled back and something behind him fluttered awkwardly toward earth. I thought he'd hit a bird. He'd lost a spinner.

Meanwhile, here comes Stroud on an erratic flight path compared to the other racers. The announcer couldn't decide if he was acting like he was in the race or not (had he INGESTED pine needles?). J. P. suddenly seemed to figure out where the finish line was and aimed for it. He finished ahead of the Skywalkers at 103 mph even though he later admitted to losing the field as he poked his way around the rain showers.

That night at the Sun 60 award dinner there was a great deal of kidding and agitating amongst the fire snortin', maximo HP crowd but when the organizer got down to the bottom of the page they were so impressed with Stroud's 103 mph on 20 ponies that on the spot they awarded him TWO trophies - one for participation and a second large one for first in efficiency (an award they've never had!).


FINAL THOUGHTS: This show is really becoming a good one. There are many big and reputable exhibitors with a wide selection of parts and hardware offered very often at "special" Sun 'N Fun prices. New buildings have sprouted including a very large and active FAA Headquarters. The campgrounds are good and now that the event has pushed back into April the weather is mild and less rainy. If the throngs at Oshkosh have turned you off, THIS is the place you want to be. Give yourself a treat and try it out next year.


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