Saturday, September 03, 2005

Back In The Saddle

If not in the air, anyway. After a restful day free from the alarm clock, Gail and I went out to Cherry Ridge for an early supper, and to walk around and plane-watch. We missed the midday crowd, but had a nice chat with the Airport Cafe owners, Sue and Rick. They are working very hard, seven days a week at the little diner overlooking the runway; the reviews prove that they are doing a great job. The Cafe is a big draw for the airport, with pilots flying in from hundreds of miles away for a meal. The dining area is all glass, looking out over the parking apron and the peaceful woodlands that surround the airport.

Afterwards we wandered around, me looking over the parked airplanes, and Gail taking pictures of whatever caught her eye. She found a long-retired steam roller that was just a bounty of wonderful textures, rust and peeling paint. We pulled 02P out of the hangar and checked her over, since it's been over a month since my last flight. I made some minor repairs to an oil-line grommet, and we actually hopped in and started the engine, just to see that the battery was charged.

The Master Tinkerer
Originally uploaded by gail on the web.
I let it run for a few minutes and taxiied to the ramp, and discovered that the brakes were very weak; so I switched off and added some hydraulic fluid. The Tri-Pacer has a tiny, rudimentary brake system - one small piston on the firewall, operated by a hand lever from the cockpit, with a pair of hydraulic lines to the small drum brakes. Most heavy motorcycles have more stopping power, but this plane lands very slowly, and the system is simple and adequate. Since the volume of fluid is so small, even a slight leak will let the brakes go soft - and they all leak.

So we put the plane away, just as the sun went down. Later in the weekend, if I'm still feeling well, I'll shanghai one of my pilot friends and take her out for a flight. It felt good anyway, to be tinkering under the cowl, and to hear the engine rumbling away again.