Friday, 5 October 2007

The build begins!

Well the time has finally arrived to start building my frame. Quite a lot has happened since my last post, so I'll do my best to fill you in on the details. Originally I was going to be building a Skybolt but in the time it's taken me to get the parts together, Jeff the designer of the Skybolt has designed version 2. This incarnation is much simpler than the original using 100 less machined parts. It's still a bolt together construction and most importantly just as strong. Also the design is much better suited to my engine choice and needs very little modification to mount it. So even though its seems like it's taking ages to get things going it's worked to my advantage, so I suppose good things really do come to those who wait! Thanks again Jeff.

The frame is mostly made of aluminium with some chromoly steel tubing used in the joints, lower hoop and harness mount. The aluminium used is a grade known as 6061-T6 which is aircraft grade, cheap in America but expensive and difficult to get hold of over here in the UK, so after some discussions with various people I was advised that normal 6063-T6 grade with a wall thickness of 1.6mm would be a good substitute. It's cheap, easy to get hold of and bends real good. It hasn't got the same springiness as 6061-T6 but because of the bolt together design of the Skybolt V2 any part that gets bent is easily replaced.

Another compromise I had to make was with the chromoly steel, Like the aircraft grade ally I found this very tricky to source in the UK so I decided to use 1.5mm wall thickness mild steel instead, it will make the frame a little heavier but hopefully this shouldn't be a problem.

All I had to do now was try and find someone who would sell me the small quantity's I need, as most aluminium and steel stockists will only sell you around 5 or 6 metre lengths. After lots of phone calls and emails I finally found a place in the Midlands who would sell me exactly what I needed and at a very reasonable price of £65.00 including delivery, this also included the aluminium I needed for the engine and re-drive mount that I've got to make. I managed to get 11ft of 19mm mild steel tubing through a friend of my Dad's for only £3.00 which is remarkable as the cheapest I was quoted was £28.00, thanks Dad.

Nuts, bolts and washers were the next thing to source, on the plans American spec aircraft grade AN bolts are specified and as they do such an important job I didn't bother looking too hard for a cheaper alternative. I found quite a few companies in the UK who stocked all the nuts, bolts, and washers needed at a fair price (about £25.00) but I thought I'd shop around to see if I could get them any cheaper, which I did. I found a company in the States called who quoted me around £16.50 which included shipping and a few extra nuts, bolts and washers to boot. They were extremely helpful and quick in answering my emails and delivery took just 5 days, amazing. Also the money I saved would buy me my harness plastic end caps that I will need, (I'll tell you more about them in a later post).

All I need now to start construction of my V2 is a copy of the new plans (thanks again Jeff you're a star!) a couple of hole saws (19 & 22mm) that cost me about £15.00, a new blade for my saw, another £5.00 and a pipe bender which I brought many months ago off of ebay for £16.00 plus a 8x4 sheet of 22mm thick MDF to use as a work surface £16.00, oh yeah and some Scotch-brite pads to polish up the aluminium which cost me another fiver (ebay again).

So hey ho, away we go, I've been waiting a long time for this!

Build cost so far £725.00

Download a copy of my Shoestring Pilot ebook 
and read about the entire build --->