Foolin’ Around with Design and Fabrication


It’s a quiet week between Christmas and New Year’s, since my outstanding magazine staff guys got ahead of the schedule and made it that way! So I’ve had some extra shop time to work on a few projects I’ve been wanting to get around to.

tundra_airplane_bike_rackThe first are bike racks for our Tundra. This might seem like a joke, but its not. I have flown the Murphy Radical with bikes hanging on the wings, and our racks use their plans, wth a a few modifications to adapt it to what I could fabricate, and how it fits to the Tundra. This picture is of the first “fit-up” – there is still some fine tuning, then painting and final fastening to go. After that, it will be flight testing – first with bare racks, and finally with bikes. Testing will be over uninhabited areas of course, and there’ll be extra safety straps on everything. Then we can fly off anywhere we want, land, and take the mountain bikes on an excursion. Perfect for Nevada! Building from plans is fun, and I’ve made good use of my Smithy mill and lathe to make some of the parts – making chips is a great way to spend holiday time.

DIY oxygen mask

The second project is finally putting together an oxygen system that I can use above 18,000′ – the lightweight, efficient systems usually found in GA airplanes use nasal cannulas that aren’t supposed to be used above that altitude. So, out comes the heavy iron stuff – military mask that works with the helmet I use when I am test-flying. It took some searching for bits and pieces to find the appropriate first and second stage regulators, adapters, and hoses – but here’s a shot at 17,500′ yesterday on a test run. Using a pulse oximeter to measure my blood saturation, I proved it was working great – 98% in the “normal” regulator setting. Without O2 at that altitude, I’d be at around 81%. The system is portable so that it can be used in any aircraft in which I need (or want) to go excessively high, or use a mask for smoke or bird strike protection.

Look for articles on these and other projects in future issues of Kitplanes – and if you have one of your own, we’d love to see it!

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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and SubSonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra and an electric Xenos motorglider they completed. Currently, they are building an F1 Rocket. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 6000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, FAA DAR, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor; he was formerly a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.


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