Sunday, 29 July 2012

Let the games begin!

As couch potatoes we were spoiled by the visual feast of the football world cup.  Now it is time, once again, to create a bum groove in the couch as we settle down for the games of the 30th Olympiad.  Yes four year have passed since Beijing and we have been in training with many hours in front of the TV.  The hard yards have been done and now it is time to rejoice.

The Olympics are a great event.  Hundreds of sports, though many we have never seen before are thrust onto the screen and we become instant experts.  We will watch in anticipation of disaster through diving and track cycling.  Admire the agility of the gymnasts.  Wonder why we don't play handball more often, and consider whether Dressage and Walking really can be classed as sports.

There will be highs and lows, tears and celebrations.  These won't be confined to whether McDonalds has the correct coloured cup to complete our collection, some will also be on the TV.  Already we wonder who will be the first competitor caught cheating?  What scandals will be revealed?  Will Paul McCartney still be singing "Hey Jude" come the closing ceremony.  We will be up at strange hours to try catch a glimpse of Gold and we don't care what the sport is.

As a TV couch potato this event is great, it is real reality TV and we can only admire the strength and determination of the competitors as we reach for another packet of chips.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Sydney timber and working with wood show

I woke up like a kid on Christmas morning today, why?  Yes it was the Sydney Timber and Working with Wood Show.  So much possibility lay ahead.  I have been looking forward to this event since my first visit last year, and hiding some cash away too.

This was the first year in a new venue at Sydney Olympic Park. There was great parking and a large cue to get in, but after the wait it was great to get it.  If you are into timber and tools, this is the place to be.

My first port of call was to look at the exhibitions of the fantastic and far too talented work of the wood turners out there.  I am blown away at how clever they are, and how much I have to learn.

One piece of equipment that really caught my were the lathes of the ornamental turns group.  They are something I had never seen before but something I will need to set my father upon.

After checking out the displays it was time to flex the cash and if need be the credit card (and yes, it was needed!).  There were of course stands from the leading wood shops, tool makers, and suppliers.  I was especially keen to check out the Arbortech stand and look at the carving tools.

There was also a great stand from Timberbits with some fantastic examples of Davids pens.

And of course there was plenty of wood in all shapes, sizes and varieties.

Some of the Red Mallee burls even managed to find their way home with me.  Luckily a new toy jumped into my bag to use on them (and I will review that soon).

If you have an interest in wood, get down to the Dome at Sydney Olympic Park this weekend (27th-29th August) and check it all out for yourselves.

Sydney Timber and Working with Wood Show

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

A day in the life

4:50 am the phone rings stirring me too life, who could want me at this hour?  Hang on, as consciousness waves in, I'm in a hotel room.  That's right I'm in Brisbane.  Must be time to drag myself out of bed and shower and get dressed, and so begins another glamorous day at Qauckadoo Airlines.  Today is day three of a three day trip, so the thought of getting home driving me on.  Thirty minutes later I, along with the Captain are on the way to the airport.

It's definitely too early.  I wonder what the passengers would think if we delayed an hour for some more sleep? No time to think about happy thoughts of bed, time to get flight planning.  Today we are operating three flights; Brisbane-Sydney-Cairns-Sydney (total distance of 2580nm or 4800km), so we gather all the information, weather forecasts and flight plans for all the flights.  After digesting the information we look at the fuel orders and weather we need to order more than the minimum required and send the information to the dispatchers.  This takes about twenty minutes, forty minutes to take-off.

I head out to the aircraft to begin my pre-flight procedures while the Captain diverts to the coffee shop for a caffeine injection.  The sun is starting to make an appearance and it looks like its going to a great morning for flying.  I'm pilot flying for this sector so once I have loaded the flight management computer and run through the other checks its time to brief the other pilot.  The pre-take off briefing is very important.  We discuss the departure route to be flown, how I am going to fly it, the speeds and thrust calculated for take-off and what we will do in an emergency situation.

The flight to Sydney is 416nm (770km) and scheduled to take 1 hour 30 minutes.  For the information geeks the fuel order is 11 300kg with a planned burn of 6600kg.  Once all the 252 passengers have boarded we push back on time, now the fun begins.  It doesn't take long before we are airborne and heading south.  Not much to do in the cruise but monitor and finally get some breakfast, well food that the catering department claim is breakfast, me I'm not so sure.

No delays today going into Sydney which is good though unusual.  This time of morning normal is heavy for arrivals and departures but we seem to be near the head of the cue.  The clearance is straight in for runway 16L, the computer is programmed, what could go wrong?  Nothing today!  The touch down is smooth and after a 10 minute delay waiting for a car parking spot we shut down and get ready to go again.

The delay onto the gate has cut into our 40 minute turn around time, but the crew and cleaners work quick to get ready to depart.  The same ballet goes on on the flight deck and around the aircraft.  Cleaners, caterers, engineers, re-fuelers, ground staff, cabin crew and of course ourselves get the job done and start getting the passengers back on.  The last flight was mainly business people heading South, this time its mainly holiday makers searching for some sun and the atmosphere is a little more relaxed, though we are now nearly 20 minutes late.
(again for the geeks a distance of 1096nm (2030km) with a fuel order of 18400kg and burn of 13000k, take-off weight 131000kg and 241 passengers, flight time 2hours 52 minutes).
The flight up is uneventfully and very smooth, again time for some sight seeing with the above Air Nuigini 737 passing behind us as we over take and a nice view of Townsville before descent. 
A bit of extra speed on the way up and we land in Cairns back on schedule.  Again with forty minutes until departure the ballet begins again.  This time though there is time for a quick leg stretch and chat to the cabin crew before we set course for home. (nerdy bit; fuel order 18 500kg, burn 12 500kg distance 1069nm)
Suddenly we have loaded another 237 passengers and are underway again for the 2 hour 50 minute freedom flight home.  Nothings changed, the weather is still good with a forecast for showers in Sydney.  An un-eventful flight is a good flight.

 Before too long we are on descent again into Sydney.  A quick brief on what we can expect with the Captain and we are ready too land.

A high speed descent into Sydney is the perfect way to end the day.  We touch down smoothly and ahead of schedule.  Taxi to the gate to park the aircraft one minute early and run through the shut down procedures.  We have flown for seven hours and ten minutes, burnt 33700kg of fuel and carried 739 passengers.  Not a bad days work.  Time to go home and have a beer.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Red Gum Clock

I love hunting for wood.  I can't resist it when a fellow turner is selling some of his stock.  A while ago I came across a slab of what looked like Red Gum in such a sale.  As soon as I saw it, it screamed "Clock".  I hadn't delved much into clocks before and was excited about the prospect.

The wood was a relatively flat slice so all I needed to do was sand it smooth and finish.  I worked it with the orbital sander and some elbow grease from 120grit through to 1500grit.  At 1500 grit I rubbed it with some sanding sealer to raise the grain and repeated the sanding process a few times to get a silky smooth finish.

Being quite a thick (the wood not me) I bought a mechanism with a 24 mm drive shaft from Carbatec.  I used a suitable sized Forstner bit to drill a recess for the mechanism to fit in, and a smaller hole for the shaft to fit through and sanded the inside.

I gave the clock a few coats of Danish Oil to bring out the colour and shine plus it helps protect the wood.  The next step was to build the clock face.  I took a while to think about how this was best done.  I didn't want the numbers looking crocked or in the wrong place, how to get it round and spaced correctly?  My wife as always is the real brains of the operation and came up with a simple suggestion only seconds before I had the same thought.  Why not create a cardboard template to fit over the shaft.  To do this (wish I had taken photos!) I cut a circle of card just smaller than the diameter of the face I wanted.  I used a protractor to mark out 30 degree lines of bearing for the numbers and made a hole to fit over the clock shaft. Putting that on the face I decided where twelve wood be and taped the template into place.  From there it was easy to stick the numbers to the clock face. 

I used 20mm Gold numbers and straight gold hands that screw onto the shaft.  Although the mechanisms come with numbers and hands you select, I had chosen poorly at the time so these additional ones came from timberbits, my favourite on line pen store (and also clocks and many other wonderful things!).  I think the clock turned out fantastic and I can't wait to hang it, now I just need to wait for the new house to put it in!

What sort of clocks do you like?

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Quackadoo Airlines

After a brief break here is the next part of my flying story

After six years of flying small aircraft it was time to move into heavy metal. I had survived the interview process, been measured for uniform, now it was time to train.

Training consisted of three parts. First was ground theory, then flight simulators then a check to line flight. Ground theory was mainly computer based training, with some lectures. I soon discovered to get the work done early, as after lunch was much more conducive to a nap, and better to be seen doing it in front of the computer. The lessons covered all aspect of the aircraft and emergency training. Emergency procedures was fun, jumping down slides, floating in rafts and putting out fires. Unfortunately at every stage there were exams. Exams on engines, exams on checklists, exams on navigation. Fail any of these and the threat of an early exit hung over our heads. After a month of ground school the twelve on my course were cleared for take-off in the simulators.

The simulator centre runs twenty four seven, and as we were a low priority we got to enjoy the pleasures of the 11pm and 3am time slots. Each session was four hours long.  You were teamed up with a partner (crash buddy as they are known) for the duration of sim training.   You both take  turns in flying the plane and helping the other  fly. It was great, not quite the same as a real plane but fantastic fun. We covered the basics then more advanced manoeuvres and then went through every possible emergency. After about ten sessions it was time for the check. This was a terrifying ordeal, you don't want to make a mistake here.  After an hour long grilling from a Check Captain and a four hour session in the simulator to see what we had learnt and that we could cope with what may lay ahead we were done.  It felt like a huge weight of the shoulder.  Now we had just one more hurdle to jump; the line check.

Starting out as a third pilot meant the line check was not meant to be to hard.  Rumour had it only one person had ever failed, I didn't want to make it two.  It was a great trip to a foreign country where I got to learn how thinks actually happened in a normal environment.  Had some deep and meaningful conversations with the Captain as he ticked off boxes on a questionnaire, and when on the ground was encouraged to drink and eat far too much in reverse time zones to my body telling me it was.  I was introduced to many Quackadoo traditions, and had an amazing time.  The best experience though was being told at the end I was good to go, I had passed.

After nearly four months of training I was signed off as a relief pilot, it would only take twelve months and I would be back in the Sim for First Officer training.

Friday, 13 July 2012

The Tiger Moth Project

It started as an advert on a woodwork forum. Somebody was selling a piece of wood from a Tiger Moth wing spar. Now I am a Tiger Moth fan, I love them. I was lucky enough to spend a few hundred hours of flying these vintage aircraft and have very fond memories of them. I quickly replied to the advert but he had sold the wood, but he had more. the wood had been reclaimed during an overhaul of an aircraft and few fine cracks meant it was not air worthy. In fact the wood was the original spar from a machine built in the early 1940's as a trainer for the RAF. A few days later the wood arrived and I was excited, but how to combine my hobby with a past love. I wanted a pen, so that's what I made, one pen, for me, to keep. The wood is spruce and not inheritantly featured, so I thought why not get it laser engraved? If I was going to the bother of that I thought why not get some more done to sell, if they sell?
Sell they did! They guys at work were keen to own part of aviation History. In the end I made several batches and sold twenty pens. I was quite a happy little chappy. The pens are called Sierras though I also made some nice fountain pens for a friend too.
With so many pens out there mine was no longer unique so with some leg overwood I made a quick clock. The wood had some holes which were from how it was held within the frame. I madva quick decision to leaves these unfurled as it is part of the woods story. I can't wait now for a new desk to put my clock on.
I do still have a little wood left and am thinking what else to do to keep this wood alive.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Bullet Pen Tutorial

Today I managed to get some study done for the up coming simulator check at work and rewarded myself with some shed time.  I was after a quick project, so a pen was the perfect idea!  This is only the second Bullet pen I have made but they are so easy and quick I couldn't resist.

First is to pick a timber to match the kit.  This is a Gold Bullet from Carroll's woodcraft supplies and needed something rich to go with it.  I know nothing about guns, but I do have friends that do and they told me Walnut is often used in the stock.  A rummage through my blank supply turned up some walnut (good result),

I always lay out the kit and bushing before starting to check the parts are all there. 

The next step is to cut the wood to the correct size for the brass tube and drill the whole.  Its best to cut the blank a few mm to long at each end.  This pen requires an 8mm drill bit (each pen type is different).

Next is to check the tube fits the blank OK.  If the fit is tight then I rough the edges of the tube with some sandpaper before gluing.  There is a lot of different ways to glue the tube in, all seem to work.  My usual method is to run some Medium CA glue into the blank, then a line onto the tube.  I then insert the tube into the blank whilst turning it to spread the glue.  I have learnt to wear rubber gloves when doing this as I am a cluts and have glues a few fingers together.  Usually when I am gluing I do a whole batch of pens at the same time.  The pen now needs time to dry, for me I generally leave them over night but for medium CA a few hours is plenty.

As the blank has been cut a bit long it is important to use a barrel trimmer to square of the edges so the pen kit has a great fit.  You can use a sander to do this, its just important to make sure the edges are square.

Now comes the fun part, time to turn!  Fit the bushes to the blank and then place on a pen mandrel.  You can knock the edges of the blank before turning and when using acrylics I often do, but this time I didn't.

I like to use a spindle gouge to turn do to the correct shape before finishing with a Skew

 Create the shape you want, for a Bullet I keep it fairly straight between the bushes leaving it a little proud.  To get the wood down to the correct size I sand it to the bushes starting at 150 grit moving up to 1500 grit sandpaper. Next it is important to remove any dust with a quick zap of air from the compressor.

You should now have a smooth bit of wood, now time to finish.  There are lots of finishes you can use and it depends on what you will use the pen for.  For a durable but good finish I like CA adhesive (super glue).  I use a few layers of medium to fill any dent in the wood grain.  I run a small bead across the top and use the back of the sanding paper to smooth with the lathe spinning.  Once this has been allowed to dry I use 0000 steel wool to smooth of the ridges before applying the thin CA.  How many coats?  Good question, depends on taste.  Some people go 20 coats or more, and the more you go the thicker the finish.  I prefer about 10 thin coats doing five then letting it dry then another 5.  With the lathe spinning at 500 rpm, even holding the glue on for a second will give many thin layers.

Now that the glue has been applied I let it dry then its time to polish.  I use micro mesh sanding pads.  I wet sand with those and then use Brasso to get out any fine marks and give it a final hit with car polish to make it pop.  Then its assembly time.

This is one of the easiest kits to put together, just screw the transmission into the body.  Squeeze the cap onto the body you have just made, be careful not to crack the body.  The last job is to push the two halves together.  Looks pretty good when finished!

If you like my pens why not check out my etsy store
Use the coupon code BULLET for free postage for a limited time only.