If you’ve been wondering what’s been going on, here’s a digest of events.
The winch engine, which had been struggling to start for a while, finally croaked. A large hole was discovered in the inlet manifold, which even the least mechanically adept might appreciate is a major problem. The engine, already past its sell by date, was beyond economic repair. Our spare engine needed chassis modifications, etc. to make it fit, so there could have been a protracted period of down time. However, by fortunate coincidence we had just purchased a ‘slot straight in’ reconditioned engine. So engine out – engine in – ‘simples’, or so we thought.
It had earlier been noted that on odd occasions the winch was failing to change gear, dragging gliders halfway down the field in the process. The new more powerful engine exacerbated the problem. Theories abounded, but on removing the oil pan, shards of metal were discovered in the oil. So now gearbox U/S! Manic ‘phone calls located a recon’ box at the Skylaunch factory. This was secured by an early morning dash up to Shropshire. Unfortunately it didn’t quite fit – so more work required.
A lot was learned in the process of a major rebuild. Among other things this resulted in the addition of a cab mounted transmission oil pressure gauge. This might sound a bit geeky, but it should massively improve the quality of our launches and longevity of our launch equipment. More about that later.
We hope for the winch to be operational in the next few days, but it will still require some tweaking. So if all goes well it’ll be ready by Wednesday when launches will initially be sporadic, while adjustments are made.
To spare James H’s blushes I have not attributed names to every action, as all of them would include his. But our thanks should also go to the handful of people who shared in his blood, sweat and tears.