CHAPTER 30 - Moving the Project

(August 2000) My apologies for the length of this chapter and its pictures, but we moved twice and I will be covering both moves. The pictures from the first move were lost, but the second move was similar and the pictures should give you the idea. For the textual explanation that goes with the photos, you can skip down to the second move.

At this point, Judi had been selected for residency in Chicago and was about to graduate from medical school. The project was going to have to move.

When the first wing was completed, and before I could start the second, I had to build a wing stand. I took some cheap 2x4 and built a square frame for a base and attached wheels I had found at a junkyard. I then attached a row of uprights with a crossmember, achieving a side view like an inverted capital 'T'. Finally, I added shorter uprights and crossmembers to the edges, giving the profile a Roman 'T' appearance. Over the crossmembers I draped a piece of scrap carpet (gleaned from the apartment complex when they remodeled an apartment) and attached it to the tall center crossmember. I then attached the ends to the lower crossmembers on either side, allowing it to sag and keeping it even by using a piece of 4x4 to weight it down. Once completed, a wing could be placed in the carpeting leading edge down and leaned to the center upright; both wings would lean toward each other without touching. The whole thing could be rolled around easily. Unfortunately, the arrangement could not be rolled out of my sunken patio area.

With a 16-foot van rented, what we did was lay blankets on the grass near the truck, making sure no stones, sticks, or other objects were underneath. We also lay blankets over the cement retaining wall that the wings would be passing over. Judi and I would pick a wing up and place one end on the wall. One person would hold the free end while the other would climb up and pick up the end on the wall. Then we would move the wing until the other end could be rested on the wall (on the blankets, of course) and then the person in the patio would climb up and pick up his end. Now the wing could be easily moved to the blankets on the grass. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that two people could easily handle the wings.

With the wings near the truck, the wing stand could be brought up. The stand was placed in the van centered so that the wings would be parallel to the sides. The wheels were chocked in place with 2x4 nailed directly to the floor. (About an inch of nail was left free of the board to facilitate removal at the other end. Chocks were place to prevent lateral movement as well as fore-aft. Next, cargo straps were used to secure the stand.

The rudder and elevator fit in the cab-over section and the stabilizer went down one side while the jig went down the other. The tail parts were all covered with blankets and bungee-corded in place. Finally, the wings were brought on and placed in the stand. The spar stubs and the tip ribs were bungee-corded together to keep the wings on the jig. Fore-and-aft movement was prevented by long cargo straps running across width of the van at both ends, padded where they crossed the wing ribs. Nothing else was carried in this trip; I would bring the truck back for our furniture and goods.

It was a long drive to Chicago from Ann Arbor. I had decided not to exceed 55mph, which took a lot of discipline. I had left the interior door into the body open so I could monitor the state of our packing arrangements, and between watching that, the speedometer, and the mirrors, I was worn out by the time I got to my destination. However, there had been no problems and the parts had stayed in place, steady as a rock.

When we had been looking for a place in Chicago, our requirements had been two-fold: a place for the cats to run and a garage for the fuselage construction. The two turned out to be incompatible, at least within our budget, and so something had to give. It had to be the project, so we rented a storage area and unloaded everything there. Unloading revealed absolutely no damage, and the storage is apparently not harming anything either.

I had hoped to locate a suitable building location for the fuselage, like an unused garage, but nothing turned up. I did run into the Chicago area builder's group, which meets every Friday informally for lunch at Clow International Airport. They provided help in the form of leads and encouragement, but I finally decided to put the project on hold until Judi is done with her residency. The project resumed in the summer of 2002.

This time we were moving a longer distance and with more things at once (in moving to Chicago from Ann Arbor, I used my pickup to bring many of the household items). We rented a 26 foot U-haul and headed for the storage locker to load the airplane parts first.

The first photo shows most of the empennage, tools, and other stuff moved out of the storage unit but not yet packed into the truck because we wanted to load the wings first. With all the other stuff out of the way, the wings could be rolled to the door of the unit (but the cradle does not fit through the door!) The second photo shows us with access to the wings at the door. Judi was able to walk along the cradle rails to get inside and reach the outboard wing tips so that we could take the wings off the cradle. We laid pads on the pavement and carefully placed the wings on them, as you can see in the next two pictures. Two people can easily move these wings.

With the wings off, the cradle could be manipulated out the storage unit door and then rolled into the truck. In the next two photos you can get a look at the construction of the cradle; basically carpet draped over a frame. You can also see that the middle uprights are canted as a result of forcing it through the storage unit door. With the wings in place, it was stable so we did not stop to fix it at this point. One thing was immediately apparent - the 26 foot truck had aluminum floors, so I was not going to be able to nail wheel chocks to the floor this time. Well, first we had to get the wings inside.

We brought the right wing up first (notice that the flap and aileron are not hung) because that would be the wing next to the truck wall and we did not want to risk the pitot tube. Once the wing was in place, we could move the cradle next to the wall and I used a cargo strap to secure the mount to the wall. Then we brought up the other wing and the next few photos show how we placed the right aileron and flap as well as the horizontal stabilizer in the cradle under the wings. Though you can't see it in the pictures, these parts were padded. The other empennage parts were placed in the 'Mom's Attic' and the long angle stock was placed on the floor under the cradle. Everything else was loaded haphazardly into the back and off to the apartment we went. You can see in the photo with the motorcycle loaded that a pair of bungees was run 'X' fashion through the lightening holes at both the inboard and outboard ends of the wings to prevent them from leaning out of the cradle. The wings were butted against the rubber strips at the front of the truck and a cargo strap run across the truck behind them to prevent them from sliding fore and aft.

Back at the apartment we loaded the motorcycle next to the wings, leaning on its stand and secured to the opposite wall. We filled in between them with light boxes and Judi's boxes of yarn and wool were placed in the 'attic' with the empennage parts on top. In a really dumb moment, I forgot to run cargo strap across the attic to keep things in place - more on that in a bit. We sectioned off the front of the truck with the box springs and mattress and then loaded everything else in the back. When we were done, the truck was slightly rear-loaded, but not dangerously so. In the photo of the full van (would you believe there is part of an airplane in there?) it looks like the tail is dragging the ground, but you can see from the side view how I managed to find a spot that was easier to load. With the air-ride in the down position, the bumper actually rested on the pavement.

The trip across country was hard work. U-haul had given me, I am sure, their oldest truck. It drank coolant and threatened to overheat anyway. (By the way, the U-haul people we dealt with were very nice; my only complaint was the truck. Especially after I parked next to a similar one at a truck stop - except it had automatic transmission, a ton more gross capacity, and a cassette player). Anyway, there were no major problems and after four days of drudgery we arrived. We only had enough time that day to partially unload the truck - just enough to see back where the wing were and to see that about half the stuff in the 'attic', including all the empennage parts, had come down on top of the wings and motorcycle. I went to bed sure I was going to have to scrap the project and start over again.

The next day, we cleared our way to the wings and began removing the items that had fallen. Each airplane part was examined and found to be undamaged. We placed moving pads on the garage floor and laid all the parts out, pretty much in a reverse effort to the loading process. When it came time to move the cradle, we discovered that the castors had not survived the trip; four years of storage had taken their toll and one of the wheels (top in the picture) had completely cracked and would not roll. After spending a few days unpacking and moving in, I spent an afternoon repairing the cradle.

The two shots following the castor photo give you an idea of the chaos in our garage. Following that, you can see how we placed the motorcycle (up on a desk dolly) out of the way; the horizontal stabilizer is between the motorbike and the wall. As we emptied boxes, we broke them down to lay flat and stuffed them between the bike and the stabilizer. Just to be doubly sure the bike could not fall on the stab, I cargo strapped it to the pillar. You can also see how we stored the other empennage parts around the water heater, along with the wing tips.

After repairing the cradle, the wings went back into it and eventually up against the back wall of the garage, leaving plenty of room to park a car (and build a fuselage on the other side). The first photo of the wing back in the cradle you can see some marking on the aluminum outboard of the pitot tube. The camera makes it look different than it actually is; it is simply some black marks due to the parts that fell  and rubbed up against it. There were a couple of shallow dings between there and the trailing edge that are nothing to worry about. The only other damage other than rub marks that I could find was a slight denting at the tip of an elevator - which will be riveted and faired into the fiberglass elevator tip anyway. I was very lucky and my only excuse is that I was tired as I was doing all that packing. It's not a good excuse and if you do something like this I suggest you at least get someone to check over your arrangements before moving anything, just to be safe. Anyway, in the last picture you can see that the middle uprights of the cradle are once again straight and you can see the high quality castors I used for replacements (with locking wheels - they were cannibalized from a broken cart at UofC hospital.) I have since cleaned up the shop, the fuselage kit has arrived, the jig built, and construction has begun. I hope to soon have more chapters and pictures for you.