Airplanes and Boom-sticks

They both have a set ratio of use to cleaning. In fact, I’m starting to think that two handgun makers in particular are wholly-owned subsidiaries of Beechcraft, because the handguns are just like a C-90 King Air. Two flights and then we washed the plane. Two range trips and then I clean the handguns.

Airplanes and firearms also lead to getting accessories. You know, headsets, knee-boards, cleaning supplies, manuals and guides, rule-books, bags to carry all of the above. A second headset because the first one wasn’t quite right, or you have a passenger/family member/friend who needs to have ear protection.

Airplanes and firearms eat a lot. Avgas and jet-A are, oh, about five to ten times as expensive per gallon (or pound or kilo, depending on how your plane is fueled) as car gas. Ammunition prices are starting to descend from “will trade fancy house in high-demand gated neighborhood for 100 rounds.” However, they are not a penny a round, like some calibers used to be. DadRed comments on this. Frequently. Especially after the Brown Truck of Happiness leaves a small, heavy box with a certain hazard marking on it.

Planes and firearms are both finicky about what you can use to clean them. I’m grateful for modern stuff, because I remember reading the Little House books and how Pa Ingalls poured boiling water down the barrel of his rifle to clean it. I’d just as soon not do that with a handgun! However, plane-washing and gun-cleaning are both messy, have to be done outdoors in some cases, and leave distinctive scents surrounding the individual doing the work. Some things [Simple Green among other products] are absolutely verboten for aircraft. So you end up with hot water (one hopes), a bucket of smelly soapy stuff, a scrub brush on a stick, and elbow grease. Oh, and the plane’s belly has to be done as well, so get ready to lay on your back on a creeper and scrub. A lot. Wear goggles – seriously, wear safety goggles. Solvent in your eye, or de-greasing soap in your eye, is pure h-ll. Trust me on this! Ideally, you won’t get firearm cleaning stuff in your eyes as easily, but I’m sure there’s a way if you work at it. You will end up with dirty bore patches, a bit of oil on your fingers, and the need to scrub your hands after doing firearms. No, do NOT take coffee or other things out with you when you clean firearms. Planes are a little different, but I’d still leave my drink of choice well clear of the bird and the cleaning effort.

Oh, and you’ll find that you need something odd. Leather cleaner for the King Air. You have no idea how many bottles of leather cleaner I went through. Not quite one a week, but it was close if we were busy. The air-ambulance had a white leather interior. The med-crew and some pilots wore combat-style EMS boots. Finding waffle-stomper prints on the upholstery was not rare. And of course just general dirt and grime got into the plane. With the firearms it is having at least two sizes of cleaning cloth bits, because the big ones won’t quite go through the smaller gun, especially if they have solvent on them. And a bit of oil for the moving bits (planes are supposed to take care of this themselves.*) And a silicone wipe for the wood and metal after you finish, especially if you are going to store the firearm for a while.

Oh, and there’s always someone who will be happy to tell you that you are flying/shooting wrong, and to show you the One True Way to do it. And if you are of the distaff persuasion, being associated with an airplane or firearm gives you +20 attraction points. Especially if you have a source of cheap avgas or ammo. Strange, that . . .

*Certain aircraft sling oil out all over themselves so that they go faster. Sort of self-lubricating in the atmosphere. Really. And if you believe that, I have an R-3350 that needs an oil change. The truck full of quart bottles is over there. I’ll tell you when you can stop opening them.


17 thoughts on “Airplanes and Boom-sticks

  1. *snort* Only +20? I shan’t mention how many marriage offers I’ve gotten after the gents realize I’m female, a pilot, and have own plane and can do maintenance on it. sinal salute By the way, double that for certain groups of gents when they know you’re a pilot *and* you shoot. Strangely, some seem to view this as an intimidation factor instead of an attraction factor. Takes all types to make the world go ’round, eh?

  2. Trying to fill the oil tank for an R-3350 from quart bottles? The mind boggles. I’ve never done anything with an R-3350, but I have poured oil into the thirty gallon oils tanks on a pair of R-2600s. I would imagine the 3350 needs even more. As for oil slinging…yeah, it never ends.

  3. “+20 attraction points” – yup, you mention two of the things that make a gal much more attractive. Also on the list: proficiency in welding, machining, physics, etc. Might be a combination of enthusiasm, competence, and relatability? Or is it that being good at something gives you confidence, and that shows through?

      • I don’t have much in common with Miles Vorkosigan, but when it comes to women, “tall, strong, smart, and heavily armed” are right in my comfort zone. Weak women scare me. (No, I don’t care to elaborate on the latter.)

    • Inara vs. Kaylee in Firefly.

      No doubt Inara’s skills between the sheets were legendary, but a woman who can rebuild a starship engine with hand tools is exponentially more desirable. Well, for some values of Odds and geeks, anyway.

  4. The industries I’ve worked in don’t worry about bottles – they go straight to 55 gallon drums, or sometimes a tanker delivery of oil!
    I’ve worked with lube trucks that carry 500 gallons of oil and go through it in a week…

  5. If I remember correctly, the Connie had a 40 gallon oil tank on EACH engine, and a 65 gallon aux tank. On a long flight it would burn/throw out ALL of the oil… And yes, we had an oil tanker in addition to a fuel truck. I cannot imagine doing 160 cans of oil per engine on a post flight… As far ammunition, no comment… LOL

    • Both the cylinder walls and piston ring faces were hard-chromed to reduce wear, to get mean-time-before-overhaul up to meet military or civilian customer requirements. You could hone the chrome surface to get a good oil seal, but then the cylinders were likely to ‘glaze’, that is, form a hard, slick surface of cooked oil. (oil companies managed to mostly solve that problem by the 1970s, too late for the big aero engines) A peculiarity of oil tribology is that more oil will pass by a ring sliding on a very smooth surface than on one with some “tooth”. Honing patterns and roughness are critical on car engines to minimize oil consumption, but car engines had to meet local ideas of “exessive smoking” as well as customer expectations of oil consumption, even before the emissions controls became a thing.

      Oil was cheap, though it cost fuel and payload to haul it up into the air and fly it around. And continually topping off with fresh oil was a good thing as far as engine life, considering how poor even aero oils were, back in the day.

  6. That explains Britain and Jaguars. They built the cars just like high-performance aircraft. You calculated MPG and MPQ (Imperial and American).

  7. > Ideally, you won’t get firearm cleaning stuff in your eyes as easily, but I’m sure there’s a way if you work at it.

    Irregularly shaped objects (firearms) and cleaning solvents in spray cans are two things not really meant for each other. Though handy for getting crud out of tiny crevices.

    I always figured if you left the gun dirty long enough, it would become “patina” and removing it would decrease its value… hey, it works for coins.

    • No it doesn’t… sigh… Just makes the gun unreliable… and inaccurate… Just sayin…

      • Or makes the ejector rod on revolvers . . . reluctant to carry through with its assigned duties. Thus having negative effects on its reliability.

  8. Er, I will admit my first glance at the title was “… and Broomsticks”, thinking it was a discussion about the magic involved in flight, or perhaps some sorcerers and a coven went “hold my wand, I’m gonna try something.”

    Nope, just the joys and minutiae of care and feeding – OK, clean glasses FIRST, next time! (New prescription coming, not soon enough)

  9. My first assignment in Germany was working with a group that flew C-97s through the Corridors. Those old birds used so much oil they carried extra for the flight. Four R-4360s “used”a lot of oil.

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