After nearly two months from the day she left the factory, my Sling 2 quick-build kit has found its way to my shop.
We were on the clock to get everything unloaded and to restore the container to a completely empty and clean condition. Heartfelt thanks to my good friend Charlie, my wife Mary Ann and our nephew Brandon for their indispensable assistance. We extracted the contents of the container with great care and had no issues of any kind. It all went perfectly. Nevertheless, the process certainly called for a good bit of thought and anticipation of the challenges – there are some, to be sure.
Everyone pitched in, including the truck driver. He was very intrigued by the whole affair and happily offered to help. He had no idea what was in the container and his eyes were almost bigger than mine when the seal was broken and the doors opened to reveal an airplane inside! Wow! How cool is that?!
The fuselage, two wing panels and four wooden crates were sequenced out of the container. Initially, the three biggest crates had to go in to the garage. The wings fit perfectly on my handy EAA stands. The fuselage is still perched (and bolted) on the shipping structure, just as it was inside the container. I did loosen the bolts holding the rear [wooden] shipping structure, just prior to extraction from the container. This was to allow some play between the framework and the empennage mounting points on the fuselage, where it had been tightly bolted during shipping. I didn’t want anything on the airframe to get stressed or bent as we moved the unwieldy payload from the container to the shop.
It’s all very exciting. The next steps are to complete parts inventory and build inspections.
I’ve been tracking the progress of my shipping container since it left the factory at Tedderfield Airpark, near Johannesburg, South Africa on December 19 – just hours before the factory closed for a 3 week holiday.
The container found its way aboard the Xin Ri Zhao and sailed from Durban on December 24, bound for Singapore. Upon arrival on January 6, the container transferred to the YM Upsurgence and departed on January 13. The Upsurgence made several port calls in Thailand, Vietnam and China. Finally, on January 26 YM Upsurgence departed Yantian, China. Next stop – Tacoma, Washington USA!
The last position update I was able to find for the ship, before it was out of touch from the free online tracking service was January 30 – abeam South Korea, west of Japan.
During the Pacific crossing – Yang Ming route PN1, I was able to determine – the ship’s ETA in Tacoma was being updated. It looked like it would enter the Strait of Juan de Fuca during daylight hours on February 10. I live just a mile or so from shore and was hopeful I’d be able to see YM Upsurgence sail past.
Up early on the Monday morning of the 10th, I checked my tracker and it was updating the ship’s position again. Just as I’d hoped to see, the ship was reportedly churning along just a few miles west of where I live. We drove ourselves to the near by Ediz Hook in Port Angles, WA and had a perfect view of the strait. There she was – the YM Upsurgence was just where the telemetry said she was.
It was a beautiful morning, sunshine poking through the clouds. The ship passed very close to us and it was exciting to see.
It’s been quite a long journey, but my Sling 2 quick-build should be in my shop very soon. I’m waiting for a call to learn the day.
Completing the horizontal stabilizer went smoothly and turned out beautifully – ultimately. The fine folks at TAF, now Sling Aircraft, were super-supportive. Without going into great detail, I’d found that the leading edge bends of both HS skins were not on centerline – root to tip. They just wouldn’t fit properly – imposing significant stress and twisting of the structure. Sling Aircraft stepped up to quickly provide replacement HS skins and that saved the day.
I’ve been impressed with how precisely the holes in the skins match with the assembled structure. I’ve made a very conscious effort to take advantage of the kit precision. I try to get the skins initially positioned with very few clecos. I want to be able to move the skin slightly, until I can see that nearly all of the holes in the skin and structure are concentrically aligned. Starting the fitment process with fewer clecos makes that easier – possible. In practice, I’ve found that good overall initial skin position, relative to the underlying structure, allows the great majority of rivets to drop in – effortlessly. Once I’ve got the skin in place, I can further anchor things down with alternate clecos and hand-inserted rivets for the entire HS assembly.
I used a vertical HS working orientation that allowed me to evaluate skin fitment on top and bottom surfaces at the same time. Once the skin was in place, very few rivet holes needed attention – and then, only the slightest dressing with a chucking reamer in my lithium battery-powered drill. With a relaxed final fit of skin, rivets and structure – I’ve seen that when the rivets are pulled, nothing really moves. The permanently fastened skins are remarkably free of surface deviations. I’m quite pleased and anticipating that the contours of the final painted surfaces will be excellent.