Cheerful Curmudgeon

Comparing Health Insurance (ObamaCare vs. Company Health Plan)

Comparing health insurance plans

Image credit: Alan Cleaver

For years, I have offered health insurance to the employees of my company, Hen’s Teeth Network. December 2014 is the last month that HTN will provide health insurance. This blog post explains why and includes the spreadsheet that I used for my analysis. It is all about the numbers; this is not a political rant. Most of this blog post is plain English and you don’t have to be a math major to understand it. Read on. Read more ›

Posted in Business, Health

Finished the Bede BD-4C Rear Seat Frame

The first brace for the rear seat frame of my Bede BD-4C airplane took so long that I thought the remaining three would take quite awhile. I was wrong. With help from my friend, Dave, I got them all done on Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving. Here are photos of the complete set of braces and Dave test fitting the two braces on the right side of the fuselage.

Rear seat braces.

Braces for the Bede BD-4C airplane rear seat frame.

Test fitting the rear seat frame.

Test fitting the braces on the right side of the fuselage for the BD-4C rear seat frame.

Since we had our family Thanksgiving get-together on Friday, I had time on Thursday to tack weld the frame together.

Seat frame tack welded together

Seat frame tack welded together

I have trouble tacking the ends of the tubes. The metal is so thin that it is easy for me to blow holes right through. Here is one of my “problem welds.”

problem weld

Problem weld with hole blown right through the tube.

My welding machine has only two voltage settings, high and low. Low is too low and I don’t get decent penetration so I have been using high voltage but with a very slow (1.5) wire feed speed. Usually it works OK for me but not always.

The remaining part of the seat frame is just a bar that goes across the fuselage. The top of the sling attaches to this bar, the bottom of the sling attaches to the frame that is pictured above. This bar was much easier. It is only three pieces and I was able to tack it up on my table; I didn’t have to weld it inside the fuselage. Here is the finished piece. Exciting, huh?

Top bar for the Bede BD-4C rear seat

Top bar for the Bede BD-4C rear seat

I am done working with steel for awhile. Next job is to make a new tail cone that fits properly. The one that I made a couple of years ago (before I remade the tail of the fuselage) is not quite right.

Posted in Bede BD-4C

Fabricating Steel Parts

Now that I am a “master welder” (hah! :-P ) I am moving forward with fabricating steel parts for my Bede BD-4C airplane. My first attempt was the tail skid. I had to have the tube bent for me, since I do not have a torch, but then I cut the tube to length and sanded the ends to the angles necessary to mate up cleanly with the end plates. I made the end plates out of flat steel and then tack welded them to the tube. S.S. Welding took over from there and did the real welding for me. Here is what the skid looks like on the bottom of the back end of the fuselage.

Tail skid clecoed to Bede BD-4C fuselage.

Tail skid clecoed to Bede BD-4C fuselage.

With the tail skid done, I can now fabricate the ventral fin. Before I do the fin, though, I am going to finish up the frame for the rear seat. Read more ›

Posted in Bede BD-4C

Rear Seat Frame Progress

I made some progress on the rear seat frame for my Bede BD-4C airplane today. The rear seat is a surprisingly comfortable sling. I cut the tube which is the cross bar. I clamped some wood onto the fuselage to hold the tube in position. Then I continued fabricating the angles which will be riveted to the fuselage.

Here is what I have so far. Click any photo to see it larger. Read more ›

Posted in Bede BD-4C

I Made a Welding Table!

It’s done :-) I welded together a welding table using my flux welder.

Art posing with his welding table

My welding table ‘n’ me

Here is the previous post, Welding a Welding Table, where you can see some of the in-process photos.

Posted in Cabbages & Kings, Fun

Welding a Welding Table

When I started cutting up steel for the back seat frame of my Bede BD-4C airplane, the chop saw threw off so many sparks that I singed the top of my wooden workbench. Being a bright boy, I thought that moving the saw to a metal table would be just a wee bit safer. :-)

I went shopping and found the cheapest possible welding table at (no surprise) Harbor Freight. $79 seemed like too much money for a crappy tool, though, so I decided to build a welding table. It would be fun (I love flame!) and educational (I would learn more about welding) and less expensive (I’m cheap). I found a set of welding table plans at Lincoln Electric to use as a guide. Read more ›

Posted in Cabbages & Kings, Fun


For years, I have joked that, I don’t weld. Well, now I do. There are a few steel components on my Bede BD-4C airplane that need to be fabricated to fit my plane. The main ones in front of me now are the door frames, the rear seat frame, the brackets for the front seat, and the tail skid. I talked to several people I trust and all advised me to just hire the welding done; that for the small amount of welding required it would not be cost-effective for me to acquire good equipment and learn to use it properly. Fortunately, I have found an excellent local welder so taking this advice is easy. (Hat tip to S. S. Radiator & Welding Service in Saint Peters, MO.)

But I was stymied because all of these components are made up of several bits of metal and, for most, I need to have the first few pieces fabricated and stuck together before I can fabricate the next few pieces. The solution, I decided, was to learn to do a tiny bit of welding, just the “tack welding” to temporarily hold stuff together while I fabricate. Then I can take the tack welded components over to S. S. Radiator & Welding for final welding.

So I acquired the bare minimum equipment and set to practicing and… ta da!… here are my first two pieces of steel, tack welded together:

First successful tack weld

First successful tack weld

So what do you think? Do I need a little more practice? :-)

Posted in Bede BD-4C

Bede BD-4C Rudder Controls Access Panel

The Bede BD-4C airplane has a whole bunch of hardware inside the back end of the fuselage. The two rudder cables (one from each rudder pedal) are attached to a steel bellcrank. The bellcrank operates the front end of a push-pull rod (the back end of which is attached to a control horn on the bottom of the rudder). There are also four set-screws in this part of the plane, two for the rudder and two for the horizontal stabilator. And if that isn’t enough, there are bolts which hold the tail end of the stabilator push-pull rod and a whole bracket for holding the back end of the trim cable. It is a lot of stuff. Read more ›

Posted in Bede BD-4C

Fabricating the BD-4C Dorsal Fin

In our last episode, our intrepid BD- had built a bending brake but been forced out of his airplane factory by the sweltering St. Louis summer heat. Once the temperature dropped, I was able to make the bend for the middle of the BD-4C dorsal fin and then cut it to shape, ready to have the flanges bent. It looked like this (you can click on this photo, or any other, to see a larger view): Read more ›

Posted in Bede BD-4C

Sheet Metal Bending Brake for Dorsal and Ventral Fins

I made a little progress on my Bede BD-4C airplane this week, though it is not photogenic enough to show here. I made two small steel plates which will attach the tail skid to the fuselage. They are drilled and clecoed in place, waiting for the welder to bend the ½ inch 4130 steel tube into the proper shape. I’ve tried bending this stuff cold and there is no way I can do it so every time I need some of the 4130 steel tube bent, it goes to the welder where he fills it with sand and heats it with a torch.

I then turned my attention to the dorsal fin and the ventral fin. I get to fabricate these out of sheets of .025 and .020 inch aluminum, respectively. The trick is that the dorsal fin needs a .25 inch bend radius and the ventral fin needs a .5 inch bend radius… and they each need to be bent to about 160 degrees, which is way more than the 100 degrees or so that my bending brake will do. Read more ›

Posted in Bede BD-4C