Project planning

So, there was no actual work on the plane today, at least not in a physical sense. After thinking things over, I’ve decided not to continue with the HS SB until I can get my hands on the rivet removal tool I mentioned yesterday. Given the challenges I had removing the existing rivets, I think trying to use similar techniques on the annoying ones just poses too great a risk of damage. Also, the tool is only about $60, which is quite a bit cheaper than what it would cost to replace substantial portions of the HS. Also, it’ll probably come in handy when I get around to doing another SB for the aileron hinge brackets on the wings – that’ll also involve drilling out some rivets with not-perfect access.

So that raised the question: what to do instead? And that question, combined with some discussion with the neighbors over coffee this morning, got me really thinking about how things need to proceed from here. As I’ve probably mentioned before, the goal I’m working towards is to have the plane ready to go to Oshkosh next year, and it’s a pretty lofty goal. Meanwhile, I’m at a stage of the build where work isn’t nearly as well-defined as it was earlier in the build. There’s a lot of stuff that needs to happen, and a lot of the stuff is dependent on other stuff. and some of that stuff is dependent on purchasing big-ticket items that are going to have lead times.

For example, while I haven’t inquired directly, what I’ve read indicates that Whirl Wind is running about a three-month lead time on props, and lots of people have stories of things taking even longer than quoted. Similarly, Van’s will have about a ten-week lead time on my finishing kit. For the engine, James at Titan said it could be as little as 30 days, but they’d be happy to work with me to “schedule” a delivery window that made sense to me. That’s pretty helpful – while I do want to get in on the Oshkosh discount by placing my order and getting my deposit down by the end of August, I doubt I’ll be ready for the engine by the end of this year. And the less time that engine spends sitting around in the Houston humidity without running, the better.

So this brings us to the crux of things: how do I know when to order these items? Waiting too long will definitely delay the project. Ordering to soon causes other problems, even if it’s just storing large items (like, say, the canopy) for a while.

Anyway, with this in mind, I decided to take today and start doing some real project planning. I skimmed through the remainder of the construction manual, writing down major tasks, and noting any dependencies they had. For example, before I can work in fitting the sliding canopy, I want to have the aft upper skins in place, but before I close off major access to the tailbone, I want to have most everything buttoned down back there, which means I want the elevator control system done, wiring runs to the tail completed (for lights, trim, possibly antennas). And on and on it goes.

So far, I just have a big ugly list of tasks – now I need to work out some way to visualize them, so I can get some overall sense of an order of operations. Once that’s done, I should be better equipped to make decisions about when to place these orders.

Making OSH next year is definitely going to be a tall order…but it’s sure making for a good source of motivation.

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