Thought for the Day: What Girl Scout Cookies can teach you about Homebuilding.

Builders,

It’s that season again, when little green and brown clad urchins barricade supermarket exits and demand $4 and your will power before they let you pass. I’m against negotiating with terrorists, but I do have a particular problem with Thin Mints and Tag-alongs that makes me a poor negotiator on this subject.

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Wouldn’t it be great if Girl Scout Cookies were good for you? What if they had no calories, were completely balanced nutrition, and you dentist said things like “Your teeth are so white, I see you have been keeping up on your Thin Mints”.  A pleasant fantasy, but everyone understands it isn’t vaguely associated with reality.

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Above;  My 1939 copy of “Your Wings” by Assen Jordanoff, and proof I have no will power around Girl Scout Cookies.  The book is a classic from an era where knowing your stuff was central to being an aviator.  It still is, but most people would rather be wowed by interiors, glass cockpits and paint jobs. They pay little attention to the fundamentals of flying. This $20 used book has more human reward and satisfaction in it than any $2,000 interior ever will. 

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OK, so everyone understands how idiotic it would be if I tried to tell people a diet made of 100% cookies was good for you, why don’t the equivalent fantasies in aviation bring the same condemnation?

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When people say:

“I want to have a totally reliable homebuilt, that never gives me any issues, and I want to safely fly my family around the country in it. I want it done in one year, and I want it to look great.………But I’m unwilling to spend any money on the engine, I don’t comply with AD’s and Service letters because they can’t make me, I never read directions, I only listen to people who tell me what I want to hear, I paid $2,000 for an interior but will not spend a penny on transition training, I can’t tell you the Va of any plane I have ever flown, and I bought my kit off barnstormers because it was 25% cheaper than a new one, and I’m just going to ignore all the ‘snowman’ holes drilled in the spar with no edge distance because I’m not going to fly aerobatics and planes are overbuilt. “

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If you catch anyone in homebuilding saying any part of the above statement, or any variation on it, please treat them as if they are telling you Girl Scout Cookies are pure nutrition.  Well built planes are made of reading, learning, understanding and craftsmanship. Their successful operation is made of training, understanding and good judgment. There are no short cuts to this, there is no magic. 

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There is a certain kind of person who doesnt like hearing what I just said. They like thinking they can game the system, or in modern parlance, “hack” it to allow them some personal short cut. They think paying your dues, learning and real training is for average people who can’t figure out the angles.  After 30 years in homebuilding, I can tell you these are the first people to quit…if they are lucky. In the rare chance they finish, sooner or later, reality and physics show up with a bill that can’t be paid.

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Wewjr

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Dual 50K volt test ignition

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NOTE, Dan Sheradin put a link in the comments to a working 30 second video. I have issues with getting videos from my iPhone to directly work with the blog software.

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Builders,

Not all tests are directly aimed at making a product next month, some are pure R&D to test ideas which may or may not be integrated into later products. Either way, the understanding which comes from afternoons like this is part of what makes my experience valuable to traditional homebuilders.

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Above: On Sunday I let this test ignition run on my 1947 sun distributor machine for several hours. Get a look at that spark, it is arcing over a 3/4″ air gap. It performed flawlessly, but is it something useful? In spite of working great for hours, it would still have to pass three critical tests: Power consumption, elevated heat tolerance and low voltage ability.  My current E/P and E/P-X ignitions do, and they do it affordably.  Looking at a system like the one above, it has advantages, but they come with questions and a different price tag. These are the the things you consider while this hums away in the shop for several hours.

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The Details:

Body: Corvair dual bushing

Cap adaptor: Ford V-6

Pickups : Chrysler slant 6

Reluctor: Hand made

Module A : Chevy V-6

Module B: 1981 Pontiac 301 turbo.

Coil : Echlin 1990s GM E style, ultra low resistance.

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The wiring is spread out a lot to make it more accessible for testing, it facilitates putting the heat gun and thermal camera on individual elements to see how the perform under duress.  Yes, Vice grips have a place in the world of tests and evaluations.

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wewjr

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