Slack Time – Part 1


There’s no doubt about it—this has been a strange winter. Here in northern Nevada, we have gotten weather (and snowfall) in the lee of the Sierra like we haven’t in years. It closed our airpark runway for almost a month because, well, we don’t usually get enough snow to justify buying a plow! When the runway did melt off, our taxiways were drifted or the weather wasn’t good enough to open the hangar doors. So I flew a total of 30 minutes in my own airplanes in January. Like I said, a strange winter!

So what about keeping busy in the shop? Well, our shop work is in transition. We managed to move the eXenos project into a neighbor’s hangar that was big enough for the 46+ foot wingspan before winter really descended—and finished assembly. The airplane was weighed, paperwork filled out and everything is ready for an airworthiness inspection (since completed). But arranging that with the holidays and a number of other constraints has been problematic. And, of course, the hangar isn’t being used for anything else and the ramp is in the shade so there is now a good foot of frozen slushy ice trapping the airplane until we get a good thaw. Even if we get the airworthiness certificate soon, it’ll be hurry up and wait….

An empty shop means slack time.

So the shop is fairly empty, and we even cleaned things up—put away tools, resurfaced a workbench, sorted and stored a bunch of parts. But that just means that there really isn’t much to do between condition inspections on all five family airplanes. Those do come around!

But lest this sound like nothing but complaining, there is an advantage to “slack time.” It can be used for education (and recreation, I suppose). Everyone builds different skills in their lives and one of the skills I have missed along the way was welding. So that was on the list—picking up a multi-purpose welder and learning how to stick scrap metal together. It’s been a fun time learning how to MIG and TIG—a lot of random pieces of shop steel have been sacrificed in the pursuit of knowledge and skills. Lots of inadvertent holes have been burned into some pieces, but every day we get just a little better—and yesterday, I made my first actual “thing”—an adapter for my slide hammer that allows me to pull Lycoming case through-bolts. It could be prettier, but its functional!

Slide-hammer for removing through-bolts.

Next time: fun with the lathe…

Previous articlePilot Not In Command
Next articleGlass Blowing
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.


  1. It has been a long time since I’ve read any articles from kit planes hope I got things in line love to read kit aircraft books


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.