Sunday, May 13, 2012

Two steps forward, one step back...

Today's post title is a reference to an exercise in humility. I had been somewhat upset over the overall progress, wanting to be further along. In retrospect, I am much farther along than I was, and the job is moving forward. This "lesson" came about after purchasing a 14 ton shop press to separate the booster fins from their brackets. As last week's post showed, I had to remove the cross bracing from the press in order to fit the fins, the press had to erectyed on large blocks  and I was not able to use the supplied press platform steel since the fin would not fit through it. Then I went to the IFC and gave tours with Bill so I was expecting to come back this week and breeze through the fins like a hot knife through butter. Ha! During the week I used one of my lunch hours to go to a shop I had not been to in probably 30 years; Victory Iron Works. The place was just as I remembered it and though all the staff are new to me they were absolutely courteous and helpful, even after I told them I was working on missiles <grin>. They cut me some angle iron to press against and let me pick up a bunch of cut-offs for spacers. Well the first thing to greet me Saturday morning was the ugly fact that the bottle jack had no hydraulic oil. The trip to the nearest Auto Parts store came up empty (unless I wanted a 5gallon can). The second nearest store was about 12 miles away, so off I went. They had a quart and I went back and filled the jack.

The next surprise was when the fin refused to separate and bent the presses securing pins:

It turns out that I had the angle iron too far outboard. The levelling plates got the fin in place but kept the iron too far away from the centerline. Breaking out the oxy-acetylene torch I reconfigured the angle iron to get closer to the center.

That did the trick, along with a bunch of hammering, Kroil, sweat and swearing  (not necessarily in that order).

So at the end of a full day's work I have one booster's fins added to the refinishing pile:

And one more Booster waiting to be started.

That's part of the joy and aggravation on a project like this. Working alone I get to make up my own tasklists. I have always done this in a seat of the pants fashion. I can't tell you why the booster fins got to be such a burr under my saddle. The rest of the project was going along nicely and I could have had a better "visual progress" day had I just kept working on the missile body dis-assembly. But the truth is, I knew that this was a difficult part of the project and it had to be brought into a similar timeline for refinishing. Besides, I want to be in a good mood for painting the twins. So I worked on a more difficult part to move it forward. Ther will be lots more to come.

Til next time....... Blazing Skies!!

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