Monday, June 23, 2008

Did you pay attention in THIS class?

Dumpster Diving 101...

NO! That's not me. Dumpster Diving is why we keep young guys around.

My young friend was looking for new parts that he thought might have been thrown away.

He didn't find them.

I did.


Too much fun.

You want it when?! Part II

There are actually two Frankensteins (Cobbled together). Or, Peters ("Robbing Peter to pay Paul") airplanes in the hangar.

It's neck and neck as we come down to the wire.

One will get ahead but have fuel leaks.

The other jumps into the lead but has no ITT indications. Basically, ITT is engine temperature and it dictates operations like simply starting the engines. If you can't tell how hot the engine is running you can't or shouldn't be running the engine. The PT-6 starts and runs quite a bit hotter than our water cooled auto's.

Lots of nit noid parts are or were MIA.

One guy asked me Saturday, "David, did you find the parts that I'm missing?"

"They're not MISSING! I know EXACTLY where they are! They're in Indonesia."

There has been some cannibalism going on BETWEEN the two planes also.

I fixed the wing ice lights on mine this weekend.

Today I asked one of the guys closing up panels about the L/H O/B cowl.

It was MISSING an ice light!!!

It was working again before I left. ;-)

I need some parts and placards for the airstair door.

I'm going in early tomorrow because I know exactly where to find some!!!

Weird recollection/ connection for the day...

Something you acquire while working in a hangar full of planes and people is the ability to ID people by their shoes.

Much of the time you can only see someone from the knees down as you scan the deck.

It's always seemed amusing to me. Is that weird enough?

Of course not!

Ya have to add the recollection.

Mama Wanda has told me a few stories over the years that made me quake. Sometimes a little. Other times a lot.

Once she told me that her Father, my Great Grandfather had been a early member of The Klan. (Apparently there were some redeeming qualities to the group, early on.)

He denied, to her, being involved.


She polished his good shoes every week. When the Klan would march, she recognized the shoes.

60 years later and I still ID folks by their shoes!

She told me that Grandad Walter quit the Klan when they, 'started doing bad things...'. She didn't elaborate except to say that when he quit there were repercussions...

One night someone came to his bedroom window and called his name. When Walter went to the (open) window the caller threw acid in his face.

I should do a series on Mama Wanda. She had a few tales! More important, I tell some of these tales around my little Brothers and hear, "I never heard THAT one before!"

A few good titles would be:

"Mama Wanda Meets Jessie James"

"Mama Wanda Meets the Rattlesnake"

"Mama Wanda 'Fixes' the Fine Cabinetry"

"Mama Wanda Sweetens the Homebrew"

"Mama Wanda and the Burglar"

"Mama Wanda Slaps the Base Commander"

"Mama Wanda and 'My Father's Eyes'"

"Mama Wanda and Great Great Grandad"

"Mama Wanda Becomes a Women" (She's 80 something and that one might still get me spanked. WHY she told ME about it is still beyond me!)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My Boy

A recent post by Hal Johnson had me rolling in the floor and reliving my own amusement part nightmare at the same time.

What follows is an email to my three younger brothers after a (mostly) successful trip to the park with my son several years ago.

""...Lesson Number ONE, Ein, Uno!!!

When your six year old says, "Daddy, I don't want to ride the 'Mind Bender', I'm scared."

It does not matter that he said the same thing about the parachute, the mine train, and every other ride.

Nor does it matter that you stood in line for an hour with unruly ill mannered people and kids.

Much less that you are next in line to ride in the front seat of the first car.

Lesson Two-

When taking your six year old for a 'temporary' tattoo ask the girl,

"How temporary is temporary?"


Just thought ya might benefit from my mistakes.

The big boy 'coaster was a big oopso'!!!

As we got to that last clickety-clack before the pause before it all breaks loose...

We had sobbing, screams and croc tears...

(He did pass the height req. by a coupla inches.)

All day long he'd said the same thing, "I'm scared of that one Daddy."

Even Disney rides!

All but the train of 'big rig trucks'. He really wanted to 'drive' those.

Hope he's not scarred..."""

Monday, June 9, 2008

"The Western Inn"

Lightly edited and added to. It pretty much gets through day one.

I'm still trying to figure out what to incorporate from work and how.

There were a few uh, interesting moments at The Western. Not too many but too many to cram into one nights worth of tale.

What follows is a fictional account. Any resemblance to places or people; living or dead is their own damn fault.

Rated R for Adult Language and Situations.

The Western Inn
7666 NW Route 66
Bethune, OK

William George arrived in Okay City, OK with his truck and his toolbox.

William George made his living as an itinerant aircraft mechanic. Rolling from town to town wherever the work lead him.

Once again the road lead to Okay City.

The license plates say, “Oklahoma is OK!” That summed it up for William George. Oklahoma IS ok. It’s not bad and it’s not great. It’s just ok.

That Sunday afternoon in February after he made his way off of I35 and headed West on I40, he picked the first motel that looked reasonably safe and convenient.

His tool box, lashed to the bed or the pick-up was foremost in his mind. To lose it to theft would be an overwhelming loss. Not just the expense of replacing it but the work lost without it. Without it, he couldn’t work to replace it.

The last place he stopped for gas in Texas was just south of Dallas. It had been breezy but still shirt sleeve weather.

Okay City was another world. The wind was hard out of the north and bitter.

William George hustled into the motel office and scored a room for the night.

He backed into a space in front of his room and hustled inside.

Once inside he immediately cranked up the heat and threw open curtain, to keep an eye on the tool box.

With the bed pillows stacked and a cold beer on the night stand he made a few phone calls and fell asleep with the TV on.

At six am. He lurched out of bed and looked out the window. “Still there.” the tool box was still closed and lashed in place.

The recruiter had told him to report at seven-thirty a.m. Having worked in the same facility previously he remembered the start time as seven.

With plenty of time but no coffee pot in the room William George hurried to get ready and get a few cups from the lobby before he had to leave.

He pulled on a light jacket and stepped out the door.

“Shit!!!” 20 degrees a stiff wind and the truck windows frosted solid.

Once again he hustled to the lobby.

No coffee ready.

He checked out and hustled to the truck.

“Shit!!!” The inside of the cab was a deep freeze.

William George put the key in the ignition and turned it.

‘rauhh rauhh rauh rau’

The cold had sucked the life out of the battery.

He hustled once again to the lobby to call a taxi for a jump start.

“Yellow Cab.”

“I need a jump at the Overnight Motel.”

“Twenty dollars, up front, whether it starts or not.”

“I figured that. About how long?”

“30 to 45 minutes.”

“Great. I’ll be waiting.”

At least there was coffee brewing now. He took a Styrofoam cup and pulled the half full pot from the burner. Still brewing, the stream of hot coffee made a huge sizzling puddle on the burner, the counter and the floor.

He made a half hearted effort at cleaning up the mess and hustled back to the truck, ‘Maybe if I try one more time…’

‘rau, rau.’

“Damn it!”

Funds were tight and a twenty dollar “whether it starts or not” jump start was not in the budget.

A couple came down the stairs and began to get in the car in the next stall.

“Excuse me! Good morning. Do ya’ll have any jumper cables?”

“No, I’m sorry.”, the woman replied from over the roof.

“But, we’ve got a jumper box at home.”, the man added before getting into the passenger side.

“I could go get it…”

“She’s got to take me to work first…”

“But, I can be back in about twenty minutes.”

“Great. I’d really appreciate that. I just got to town and today is my first day of work.”

“Oh man, I’ll be back. We only live a few blocks from here.”

“I’ll be here. Thanks!”

William George hustled back to the lobby for another cup of coffee.

He stood there, peering out the plate glass window at the sunrise and the building traffic, “This does not bode well for my last trip to Okay City.”

For William George, EVERY trip to Okay City was to have been the last.

He’d grown up 90 miles from the spot where he stood.

1981 had been his first attempt to escape.

Again in 1982.

Finally, he thought, he’d made his break and gone to Dallas. Once there he’d started a new life and career.

That career took him first to Selma, Alabama. From Dallas County Texas to Dallas County Alabama overnight.

Eight years later that career brought him back to Okay City for a year.

At the first opportunity he was gone again for nearly four years.

He had returned to lick wounds and get back on track in 2000 and got stranded in the Okay City for several years.

Atlanta provided a year or so respite until he got angry and quit a job where he was caught up in “Political Crossfire” and budget crunching.

He’d returned for another year and it was back to Texas. San Antonio, Texas.

San Antonio was the place where he’d long ago decided that if he had to live in the United States of America it would be in San Antonio in the By- God- Republic of Texas.

19 months later he was back again, in Okay City.

Every time it carried a lump of defeat.

‘I can’t do any better.’

‘I can’t make it anywhere else.’

“I’ll have to go back to the Okay City. Goddamn it!”

Not yet late for work but the inevitable approached with the sun.

‘Wait a minute?’, They live right around the corner but are staying in a motel? How or why does that work?

William George returned to the freezing pick-up. He didn’t want to miss the rescue. Whoever it turned out to be. He just hoped that the cab and the lady with the jumper box didn’t arrive at the same time.

As it turned out the lady that just lived around the corner form the motel returned before the taxi showed. You can almost always count on those pirates to take longer than they estimate.

She rolled the back window down and said, “There ya go!”

William George snatched the box and connected it to the already exposed battery.

“Come on baby doll…”

He turned the ignition switch and the engine responded with the usual growl.

“Any wonder why I love you. I’ll get you a new battery.”

He quickly disconnected the box, slammed the hood, coiled the cords around the box and returned it to the reopening window, “Thank you so very much!”

Immediately back in the cab, he jammed the truck down into second gear, hauled ass out of the parking lot and immediately hit the first traffic light red.

“Damn”, he immediately felt guilty, “I should have at least offered her some money.

After having to stop at each and every traffic signal between the motel and the hangar he arrived 15 minutes late.


He punched in and asked the first guy he saw, “Where do I find Don the contractor coordinator?”

“That’s me. You George.”


“Lemme introduce ya to Keenan, he’s the Floor Supervisor.”

“Uh, I know Keenan. I’ve been here before.”

“Great, yeah, he’s right in here. I’ll introduce ya.”


William George knew Keenan very well.

When Don said, “Keenan, this is…”

Keenan looked up from his desk and said, “Get your tool box and get to fucking work.”

Don thought, ‘That’s just Keenan.’

William George just grinned and went to find the fork lift.

“What the fuck are YOU doing?”, it was Stavros.

“Looking for the fork lift.”

“Oh goddamn you’re not here to work are ya?”


“Pull the Dodge around. I’ll unload it for ya.”

With the Snap-On treasure chest on the old familiar floor William George scanned the deck for work to do.

Don the contractor coordinator approached, “We’re wrapping this one up for storage.”, and walked away.

‘Bullshit’, thought William George, ‘There’s gotta be something better to do.’ It was then he spotted James, the sheet metal lead man on the next airplane over.

“Hey! I heard you were coming back. How was San Antonio?”

“Had it’s ups and downs.”

“Mostly downs?”

“A couple of deep downs.“

“Glad you’re back.”

“What have ya got going? Need any help?”

“Spar repairs. I need some sealer scrapped.”

“Beats putting plastic on windows. Which fuel cells.”

Eight A.M. and he was back at work.

Most of the old cast of characters were still around. William George enjoyed the welcome he received. He really liked it a lot. It began to bring him up from one of the ‘deep downs’ of San Antonio.

It didn’t set well with some of his fellow contract employees.

Contractors are expendable. They can be fired in less time than it takes a NASCAR Cup driver car to shift gears.

A couple of the guys felt themselves drop a notch in the standings without even a race being run. Penalized, so to speak.

It really didn’t help that the F.N.G. just buddied up with a NASCAR Official.

James has no qualms about firing contractors and has the full support of management. He earned it. James made his bones as a contractor and is a sheet metal artist.

William George set about scrapping sealer from the seams of various fuel cells. It was a really crummy job but all the crummy jobs have to be dooe before the plane gets out the door.

One thing about scrapping sealer from fuels cells is you have to look inside with a flashlight and mirror and identify your target.

You can’t see a thing once you shove your arm in the hole but you can see what’s going on around you.

William George began to notice; these two guys cliquing up over there, that guy on the computer more than anything or anyone else, that guy wandering around with a parts requisition in his hand, that guy walking from place to place talking to whomever was around.

‘Sucks to be you guys.’

At Two P.M. James was packing up for the day.

“James, what time do you come in?”

“Five-thirty. You can come in early if you want to.”

“See ya in the morning.”

Four P.M. finally ticked around.

William George headed back out to the Dodge, “Crap, I don’t have a place to go ‘home’ to.”
He headed towards Route 66. A piece of what was left of the Mother Road anyway.

Having been in the Okay City too many times before he knew that the farther East he went the more expensive it would be to find a room.

He turned West not knowing what might remain of his memories.

Less than a mile down the road Mother provided.

An ancient tourist court with a yellow banner flipping and flopping in the incessant Oklahoma wind, “Free Cable and Wireless Internet”

“The Western Inn”

Sunday, June 8, 2008


My phone rang yesterday morning.

It wasn't one of those O'Dark-Thirty calls but I was at work...

"I know you're probably at work but your Brother had a heart attack last night... he's in room 918..."

Seconds later the phone rang again, "Did you..."


"Where are you?

"At work. You?

"At work.



100% blockage of the main vein. JUST the main vein.

Guess What?

"That Shit Hurts Like A Mother Fucker."

I don't know that first hand but when I see one of my younger brothers strapped to a hospital bed. Plumbed up, wired up and monitored up...

When he says it's so. It is so.

There ain't a wimp amongst us. If there's a runt, it's me.

I'm the oldest and the smallest.

He's going to be OK.

They say it was a "Mild" one.

Another screwed up thing is that he's been watching his diet and exercising.

And!!! He'd had blood work done and his cholesteral checked in the last few weeks...

"It's all OK. You're healthy."

So much for regular check-ups.

All those bastards care about is their mortgage, alimony and Ferrari payments.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Blogger pains

Blogger is being a pain in the butt!!!

The format etc et al on the "Miracles" post... I keep trying to 'fix' it and Blogger keeps doing it their way.


It's F-R-eakin' hot and WINDY. The Alaskans didn't seem to care for it but I love it.

OK, I DON'T love it but I do much prefer it.

My new A/C unit is great. I leave it on low fan and low cool when I leave in the morning. When I get home it's bearable but I have to crank it up to high to make it through the real heat of the day. During the night I turn it down and eventually off.

Today when I got home it was 93 degrees and felt like 97.

Ref. Previous post... if it Feels Like F-R-eakin' 97 Degrees it IS 97 Degrees!!!

The Frankenstein airplanes (from the "You Want It When" post) are making headway.

All four engines are on and mostly connected. 183 has her props.

OH! Didya know that a 1900 has THREE props?!

Well, of course not but 183 did get one prop installed twice! LOL!

One of the Directs ram rodded the R/H prop install this morning. Good Job!

Then he set about getting the L/H up.

Well, when he uncovered the L/H prop he noticed a plastic plug in the pilot shaft, "Oh, s--t. I hope I pulled the plug out of the other prop... I don't remember. I don't remember seeing it. Crap!"

"Dumbass.", said gentle and caring me.

They pulled the R/H back off and sho-nuff...

No plug in the way.

You can tell by my generous and sympathetic reply that I completely understood the Boys' plight.

He's smarter than he looks.

In my opinion any wrench that doesn't sweat over his every move should not be there.

That is not a very concise or clear thought but...

A certain amount of self doubt is healthy.

To this day not a launch goes by that I don't fret.

I often think back to being all alone with that King Air in Teguc as chief cook and bottle washer.
Mechanic, Book Keeper, Parts Guy, GSE Guy, Inspector... For three years.

I flew on her EVERY chance I got.

I fretted over EVERY launch.

Frequently I woke up in the middle of the night asking myself if I did this or that. (Still do.)

More than once I went back to the hangar to quadruple check.

You can take it to an extreme. Ref. Me last year.

My head was SO So so far out of the business.

I didn't just terrify myself. I terrified my co-workers.

I don't blame them.

This is a totally different environment.

Here I stay engaged. I get handed things and I handle them.

Here I have people coming to me, "David, how do I do this?".

"David, I need these but can't find them. There aren't any in stock."

"David, I've never seen a 1900 before. I'm a sheetmetal guy. How do we hang this engine?"

"Dave, there's a King Air coming in and..."

"Dave' there's a Cessna 152 coming in..." "A WHAT?! Yo no se nada de ninguna 152!!!" "Whatever Dave. Fix it." (I did fix it. I LUCKED OUT! LOL!)

BTW, Rodolfo, if you're out there I lucked out by putting my hand on every electrical connection I could in the starter circuit. When you go to inspect or trouble shoot something, TOUCH IT! Wiggle it, Twist it. Shake it. Etc. You'll be surprised how many things you find/ solve because something is loose.

Do you know why it's different here?

I can TRUST these guys and they TRUST me.

I've been in and out of this hangar since '01 or so. I've known some a couple of these guys for 20 years and a lot of them for 6 or 7 years.

They know me well enough to know that the last thing I would ever do is LIE or COVER something up or OMIT it from my explanation.

If I don't know something I'm gonna make it clear.

If I F-up I'm gonna shout it out.

I do love my job too. Once again.

Now, if I can figure out to move it 480 miles south...

I'm working on it!!! (Really, it's not unprecedented.)

This thing sorta spun out didn't it? All I was gonna do was whine and bitch because Blogger wouldn't cooperate.

Classic Nada I guess!

The sun is going down and I've notched the A/C down a click or two. Maybe it's safe to take out the trash now.

Monday, June 2, 2008


We don't ACTUALLY perform miracles.

It just looks like it.
Here's a 1900C Model. Nice little one owner.

ONLY 51,000 hours and 44,000 cycles!!!
Some Good Guys operate her out of Alaska and take good care of her.

To be honest we just painted her and did an avionics mod.

These pics are from the 2 pixel tool box cam. I hope to get some better shots tomorrow.

This is not one of the planes from the "You Want It When" post. They will NOT be so pretty. 'As is means as is'. Well, in our world it means, "All of the airworthiness items are fixed so... you'll probably get home OK. Buena Suerte!"

Oh, Rodolfo I guess I finally answered your question. No, not King Airs. 1900s are their over grown cousins.

He sat there at idle with the props in feather until he got ready to taxi. At first, I wondered why. Then it all came back... These guys operate on unimproved fields. Keeping the props in feather and the ice vanes deployed helps reduce F.O.D. DUH!!! I miss being out in the field as opposed to repair stations. OP's is where it's at!!!
I've got more photos from Delivery Day but I'm having trouble uploading them. I'll get them up soon but there isn't anything spectacular about them.