Lathe Bauble

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Let’s state right up front—you do NOT need a machine shop, lathe, or mill to build any kit aircraft you are likely to find. Well… maybe that dusty old half-complete BD-5 you found in a barn, but there are exceptions to every rule!

Occasionally, having the ability to turn or mill a part is handy, especially when you get to doing modifications or prototyping. Take, for instance, the other day when I was doing some temporary plumbing work on one of our airplanes, and decided to cap off the fuel return line which is no longer being used. You never want to rule out potential future use, so I figured I’d leave the plumbing in place but disconnect and block off the hose after removing the fitting from the tank.  But how to plug a hose that was designed to fit over a barbed fitting? Hmmm…

With a lathe, it was simple enough—I measured the barbed end of the hose, chucked up a scrap of aluminum rod in the lathe, and duplicated the barb in solid form, leaving a “button” on the end to make it butt up against the end of the hose. The same cable clamp used to secure the hose to the barbed fitting secures the plug in place.

Like I said – you don’t NEED a lathe, but it sure can be fun making chips once in awhile.

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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 that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra they completed. Currently, they are building a Xenos motorglider. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 5000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor, as well as a former member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.

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