Ultralight Adventures III: The workshop

Hello!  I’m back.  I’ve been working an awful lot so…………..

New years resolution: Post more.

maybe if i say it enough times it will come true

But yes.  So I anticipated just tugging the airplane outside when I wanted to work on it. Simple, right?

One word. COLD.

It’s very windy and cold here and I hate it.  So my landlord graciously gave me a garage bay to work in for the winter.  I have to be out of it by June.  THE RACE BEGINS.

Here is the final product!

2018-12-31 01.42.55

Pretty nifty, huh?  I added a lot and cleaned a lot!

Keep in mind, this is what it used to look like:

2018-11-04 19.26.14

Yeah, pretty big difference.

So the main things I did were to add five 48″ LED bars to the ceiling + 1 on the workbench, wire up two outlet boxes to provide useful tool power around the space, and most importantly, insulate the door, divide my bay from the other bay with thick plastic drop.. cloth.. stuff, and add two 2000W electric heaters!  Gloves suck to do work in and I hate cold so here we are.  I also got rid of a very, very old dead fridge that was eating up a lot of space.  Now I can push the wing cart back a couple feet, allowing a good sized work bench.

There was already switched light power in the garage as well as a high amperage 240V plug, so that was the heaters and lights taken care of.  To power the rest of the outlets, a normal 12ga armored cable was ran from the workshop (further to the right of the garage) electrical panel to the garage.  … That’s pretty much it.  It’s outlets.  Woo.

The heaters were nice.  My landlord again graciously lended me a smart thermostat that I can control from my phone so when I plan on doing work in there, I can fire it up an hour before and warm the place up! It manages to hit 60F pretty easily and hold it there, and that’s perfect for me.  Hoodie temps, but no gloves required.  70F is a bit much, and the heaters never turn off.


Opinion? Love the heaters.  The heater in the workshop is a PTC style heater with a large thermal mass in it, which kinda stinks to be honest because it means that the heater ALWAYS needs power because the fans need to cool the element down. If you just cut power to the whole thing when you are done heating, the inner hot core heatsoaks to the outer casing and the thing ROASTS and gets super dangerously hot and the plastic parts on and near it start to get a bit soft.  Normally the fan is controlled by a thermal switch that turns it on after the element gets warm and then holds it on for a minute after it shuts down to cool it off safely.  But this is annoying to add a smart thermostat to.

The nice part about these cheaper cadet ones is that they have what is essentially a hair dryer element inside, so when you cut power, bam, its all good.  Easy to control externally.

I can’t believe I just wrote that much about wall heaters…

Anyway!  So now we have power, heat.. Workbench time! I put way too much stuff down and it just sits on the plane, which is fine until I bump it and then everything topples over.  So I designed this quick bench to use some scrap cuts of 3/4″ plywood that I had laying around from when I made my desk in my living room.


After that, I went to assemble it, aaaaaand…

2018-12-30 21.38.15

Oh dear. I hope this isn’t going to reflect my level of craftsmanship for the rest of this project, or the flying coffin warnings I constantly get from everyone might turn out to be correct…

One realizing I lined the marks up with the bottom of the bench-top instead of the top of it and re-doing it later….

2019-01-03 20.53.10

We have a nice complete bench!  Got a cheap power strip.. thing from Amazon, clipped one of my several extra M12 chargers onto the side, mounted a socket holder because why not..  Cheap amazon chair.. Amazon is going to be a common theme.

Finally, my girlfriend helped me clean out the whole place and vacuum it a bit and then drag in some unclean but now somewhat clean stall mats.  Now its quite a nice place!

2018-12-31 01.24.12

Doing the foam insulation on the doors was a bit of a hack job but.. it worked.  The room went from never being able to crest 50F to easily hitting 60F and the heaters can actually turn on and off at roughly 50% duty cycle.  Nice!

That’s honestly it for now.  Now that I finally have a nice warm clean place to work, I have no excuse but to finally work on the airplane.  First things first, I’ll be tearing it down and pulling lots of parts out of it, to start remaking them to be tall person friendly.

Stay tuned!

6 thoughts on “Ultralight Adventures III: The workshop

  1. Hi;
    Have you made some progress on the Mini-Max? I have always liked the Mini-Max line, especially the Hi-Max. Good luck on your project!

    1. Yeah I’ve been making good headway! I’m actually very close to having the engine ready to run for real. Im hoping to fly this summer.

      1. Good for you! Are you getting some tail-wheel time or do you already have some? Sadly all of my time is tricycle and that is one of the barriers between me and a Mini-Max. I know there has been a few built with tricycle, but they don’t like as cool to my eyes.

      2. Heh, I’ve never had a chance to fly yet. I’m waiting to get any kind of proper training until I have a plane ready so I can just jump into it. I agree though, none of the tri-wheels look as cool, though I do wish I had one. The problems a tail wheeled plane can have are somewhat scary.

        Sorry for the double comment, by the way. This site is weird.

  2. Ok, so I am hoping you mean you are going to get some dual instruction in a 2 place trainer. I learned in a Cessna 150 but if you can find a tailwheel trainer to learn in, so much the better. Learning to fly is not difficult but definitely not a single place aircraft self taught process!

    1. I’m not sure what the trainer aircraft will be but it’s a course specifically advertised for learning to fly ultralights so hopefully a tail dragger!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s