As you can probably tell, I have rats in my airplane, the wings to be exact. Initially, I stored my wings out back, under a tarp. Then, the rats moved in, so I built an extention on to the front of my garage, so I could store the wings in a semi-protected environment. Of course, the rats could care less if they were living out back, or in the front of the house, they moved right back in. I think an intelligent person could have predicted this, but...
Here now, the saga of the Rats!
We were supposed to get a hurricane this weekend (9/24/05), so I decided to make sure that the cover was properly secured over my wings. I have the wings stored on a wooden platform in the back yard, with a plastic tarp over them to keep the rain out. Unfortunately, the tarp does nothing to keep out rats. That's right, I have rats living inside my wings. Rotten little vermin!
When I was securing the tarp, I smelled something bad. I have 3 big dogs and a little Dachhound, so this would not normally be unusual, but this smell was worse than my dogs--it smelled like urine. So I looked under the tarp, and there was this big rat staring back at me. Oh, no, this is exactly what I was afraid of when I put the wings out there.
With the hurricane coming, I was not going to be able to clean this out until the next weekend. I could hardly sleep that night, thinking about those stinking rats, peeing inside my wings and corroding them. Fortunately for us, Rita moved north and did not even rain on us here in Austin, so we moved the wings out front, and proceeded to clean up the mess.
Here's a few pictures of what things looked like.
It looked like my power-coated aileron bracket was starting to rust. Fortunately, after cleaning-up this mess, there was very little rust on the aileron bracket.
We were supposed to get rained on, but we ended up without any rain, and 108°F weather on Saturday. Perfect conditions for cleaning-up this mess. First, I vacuumed out the rats nests and all of the feathers, straw, and sh-, uh, I mean other stuff. Then I hosed everything down several times. Next, I mixed a bucket of dish soap, and wiped-down every rib, as much as I could reach. The clean-up was a success.
So, now I have these wings sitting in my driveway. No way, that I am going to put them back out in the back yard. And, you can bet that I will be inspecting them a little more often. My neighbors are going to love me.
Almost done with the fuselage, so I pulled the wings inside so I could fit them to the fuselage. Unfortunately, the rats are back. It didn't look too bad at first, but then I found some corrosion on the inside of the leading edges. This was really depressing, and I thought I might have to disassemble the wings to clean up the mess and stop the corrosion. I lost all motivation to work on the airplane, and this ended up costing me three months where I did nothing on the airplane.
|Unfortunately, as you can see, the rats are back. Notice, however, that I have a plan to deal with the little bastards.|
| Doesn't look so bad after being vacuumed out.
| After a little clean-up with some lacquer thinner.
| A few scratches, but not too bad up above.
| I got really depressed when I pulled the plastic off the end of the
wing and found some corrosion in the leading edge. My fear is that
I may have to remove the whole leading edge section and rebuild it.
I still have not removed the tanks to see what may be between the
tanks and the spar. This is not a good vacation.
A few weeks later, I finally went out into the garage and started cleaning up the mess. I pulled the fuel tank on the right wing, and took a good look inside. I think this is what really killed my motivation. Things looked worse than what I first saw back in December. After this, I didn't go out in the garage for two months. I did, however, manage to buy a new computer and get it all working right, plus, I got a lot of work done on my LED Strobe/Fuel Sensor controller board (see Capacitive Fuel Gauges Project).
|Pulled the right fuel tank.|
|Not that bad.|
|Oh crap! It's worse than I thought.|
|Rottin little vermin.|
|Corrosion on the inside of the skins where urine has run down the side of the skins. At least the spar looks good. That anodizing really does work.|
|Here, you can see where the filthy little rats have been crawling through the holes in the ribs.|
|This does not look good at all.|
|And, I think this is the second bay that can be reached. Imagine the middle bat where I can't get to. That's it, I'm done for the day. It's too damned cold out here to deal with this crap.|
Well, I finally got off my ass last week, and got back working on cleaning up this mess. It should be noted, that we have had some incredible March weather this year, and there is no longer any excuse to stay in the house and work on my pansy controller board. Time to get back to work. It'll take a few weeks, but at least I am back to work. Also, note, that I did not log this time, because it has nothing to do with building an airplane. Although, I do need to complete this task before I can proceed with the building part.
|Last week, I managed to clean, prime, and top coat the two inner bays and the two outer bays. Today, I need to figure out how to clean out the middle bay. Hard to see here, but this is how we have to see what the third bay looks like. Using the inspection mirror is an art. Ok, it's not exactly an art, but it does require some technique.|
|The problem is that my arm is too short to reach far enough into the third bay to clean it out.|
|The solution is this Fancy Schmancy arm extender apparatus. Very tedius work.|
|About an hour later, the Fancy Schmancy arm extender was upgraded to the new Super Arm Extender II.|
|Super Arm Extender II in action.|
|So, how did we do? Here, you can see that after rubbing with lacquer thinner for awhile the AFS primer has started to be wiped off of the ribs. You can wipe it down with lacquer thinner, but if you rub enough, the primer will come off. But, I already knew this. Looks like we need to do a little more clean-up here.|
|The other side is much better. Starting to look ok.|
|First coat of primer on the left.|
|And on the right. Note, that I am using some SW 988 that I still had from when I started on the empennage. There's no way to get a paint gun inside here, so I am having to do this with my left hand, reaching in as far as possible, and spraying blindly. So, I don't want to hear about any runs. Given the circumstances this is an outstanding job. At least, I'm happy.|
|An let's not forget the top coat. Remember, primer without a top coat is worthless, unless the primer is a primer sealer, like epoxy, or AFS. All-in-all, I'm pretty satisfied with the results.|
|Left wing all taped-up. And, no, I don't think this will keep the rats out. I think I will cut some pieces of plywood and attach them to the ends, and put the access covers on. But, that's one wing done, one to go.|
|I cut 4 end pieces of wood from the box the fuselage came in. Two to cover the outer end of the wings ...|
|... and two for the other side.|
|That just leaves two small holes between the fuel tanks and the main spar.|
|Well, those two small holes, and these 3 large holes on each wing. Unfortunately, I didn't install the nutplates for the inspection covers when I did the wings.|
|For now, I just installed nutplates in the two corners (wing spar was done).|
|Unfortunately, the inspection covers were not done either. So, a little drilling, a little filing, a little deburring, a little dimpling, and|
|... eventually you're done.|
|Who's taking bets on whether this will keep them out or not?|