Restoring a 1965 Ford Mustang

My latest project is restoring a 1965 Ford Mustang Coupe. I found a nice starter project from a guy in Raleigh back in late November, rented a U-Haul trailer, and dragged it back home. It was reported to be in running condition, although we could not test that theory, but is very complete. Here is what she look liked when I brought her home.

The data plate shows she was originally Wimbledon White, which is still visible in some places, and was built in August 1965 in San Jose, CA. I suspect this car was restored, at least partially, once before in the 80s and that is likely when it was painted blue. It has the 200 cubic inch inline 6 cylinder engine, C4 automatic transmission (with a severe leak), and no power steering or brakes. It’s about as simple as a car can get, and will make a great restoration project for me.

I am in the process of tearing it down now and finding all the things she needs. To my surprise, I have found (so far) very little rust damage. The floorboards look very good, with only 2 spots needing patches welded in, and they are original. There is rust on the rear left quarter panel that will require a patch panel, but the body looks to be amazingly straight, original, and rust-free. There is a mild dent in the driver side door that I think can be fixed. The front seats have been recovered and look good. The back seats looks good but is torn on the bottom rear. You can’t see it, but I will likely fix or replace it. There wiring is mostly good with a few crappy splices to repair. The carpet is shot, but the sound deadening rubber underneath is fine. The dash will need replaced, but all the glass and original brightwork is in good to very good condition. I have bought a set of American Racing 14″ wheels to replace the poverty caps it came with, and will repaint the car in its original white color.

As of today, I have removed the hood, engine, transmission, exhaust, front fenders, doors, and interior.

My plan is a full frame-up restoration, so I have to completely strip the car down to the unibody frame. I have designed a Redneck Rotisserie (tip over jig) that I will build to allow me to roll the entire chassis 90 degrees to clean, repair, and paint the undercarriage. Once that is complete, I will start the process of restoring and reassembling everything from the ground up. I expect this will be a 1 to 2 year project. I am not building a racer or hotrod, and will rebuild the 6 cylinder engine and automatic transmission, probably hopping it up just a little bit with headers and maybe fuel injection.

How to Mount Garmin CV (ClearVu) Transducer to Hobie Lowrance Ready Kayak

I recently purchased a 2014 Hobie Outback Kayak for fishing. It came with the “Lowrance Ready” transducer mounting plate on the bottom, which is great, if you use Lowrance fishfinders and GPS. I don’t. I’m a Garmin guy, so I needed to figure out how to mount my Striker 4’s CV transducer in this area. There are people who make custom mounting plates using 3-D printing with carbon fiber, and these are between $25-$30. I am sure they are nice, but I came up with a solution for less than a quarter using an old AC outlet box that I could cut up. Any similarly sized piece of plastic (or metal) would also work, I just used what I had.

Using a Dremel, I cut out 2 rectangular pieces of plastic
Place the plastic strips along each side of the transducer mount and align with front edge of Hobie mounting uprights. Drill hole for bolts through the existing Garmin mount hole and between the Hobie plate uprights.
You need to fill the area between the Hobie upright pieces with something Anything would work, I chose a bunch of stainless washers that I already had in my pile.
You want the transducer to “float” just a little about the Hobie mounting plate, not sitting on it. I put a thin piece of cardboard between them. I used the Hobie metal clips that go up against the uprights, between the bolt head on one side and the nut on the other. This adds a lot of strength to this area and prevents the small upright plastic parts from separating. Tighten all the bolts.
Final cleanup. Cut bolts to correct length, trim excess plastic, etc. It doesn’t have to be pretty, nobody will ever see it again.
These big transducers will not fit completely under the Hobie plate. They will stick out about an inch, but will not do any harm. Notice in this picture that the mounting plate does not touch the kayak at the rear. This is a problem.
It is possible to bend the Hobie plate down and screw it in. This puts a lot of pressure on the Hobie mounting plate and transducer. I did this only for a test and did not like the results, so I took the rear screws out.
The final solution was a short stack of 8 stainless washers under the Hobie mounting plate on each of the rear screws. I had to buy longer screws than the Hobie ones, about 1″, and then shortened them a bit before installing them. These screws had smaller heads than the Hobie screws, so I put a washer under each of them.

1996 Corvette

While I am mostly an airplane guy, I do have a love for cars as well. Not all cars, most I merely tolerate, but there are a few that I have owned, or would like to own. I can annoy my wife all hours of the day watching Velocity Channel shows like Garage Squad and Wheeler Dealers. I have owned several very nice cars in my life: 2 Porsche 944’s, 35th Anniversary Edition Ford Mustang GT Convertible, and 1971 and 1992 Chevrolet Corvettes. Some were in great shape, others were projects, but I loved them all. And while I am mostly a “Ford Guy” (that currently drives a Dodge Ram 1500), my all time favorite car is the Chevrolet Corvette. There is just something magical about the American icon, our only true sports car, that just gets to me. I mean seriously, how can stuffing a powerful V-8 engine into a tiny 2-seater with gorgeous curves not excite the normal, testosterone-fueled man?

I have been looking for a new-to-me Corvette for a while now, keeping on eye on AutoTrader and Corvette classified web-sites, waiting for the right one to come along. I am not rich, so my budget required me to look mostly at the 4th generation Corvettes (C4) that were built from 1984-1996. I’m not a huge fan of the C5’s, from 1997-2004, though I did look at one. I really love the 6th and 7th generation Corvettes, but I’d have to rob a bank or run some blow out of Florida to afford those. The first and second generations (Up to 1967) sell for more than my house, and the C3’s (Shark) that were popular in the 70’s and early 80’s were, with a few exceptions, terrible cars that the government, and GM mismanagement, almost killed. Within the C4 years, I limited my search to 1992 to 1996 Vettes because I wanted the higher horsepower engines, the curvy body style, and none of the problems associated with the 80’s cars.

I found what I thought was the perfect Corvette for me, a 1996 Coupe in Torch Red, 6-speed manual transmission, the powerful LT4 engine from the Grand Sport (1996 was the only year this was offered), and in as mint condition as possible for a car with 115,000 miles. It had been owned for over 18 years by a retired engineer at Disney and spent most of it’s life in central Florida, but was now in Blairsville in northern Georgia. I sent an email to the owner, Bruce, to get more information about the car and we started a lengthy email chain of questions and answers, as well as a few phone calls.

It was time to talk to Missy about it. While she would never be completely on-board with the idea of adding a car we don’t really need (I “needed” it, but WE didn’t), she was understanding, so the conversation about price and shipping with Bruce started happening. We were very nervous about buying a car that we had never actually seen, much less drove. Bruce took more pictures for me, and even posted 3 videos online for us to review. He pointed out the problems as well, showing us the good and bad things with the car, though there were very few bad. We agreed on price and started trying to figure out how to actually get the car to us in North Carolina.

I thought about moving it myself, by driving to Blairsville or flying into Chattanooga. I looked at Greyhound, Amtrak, and the airlines. I thought about renting a Uhaul trailer and towing it home. Our schedules did not align, and all options were expensive and had logistical issue to solve. In the end, I posted an ad on to try to find a commercial driver that could pick up the car and drop it on my driveway for a reasonable price. I immediately received a TON of quotes, most around $1,000. That was just too much, it’s only 441 miles between Bruce’s house and ours. Once the big auto transport companies got out of the way, smaller 1-man operations started giving me quotes. One man, Dion Gomez with XGSK Transport, quoted me $400 and said he was already in north Georgia and could pick up the car within 12 hours. He was scheduled to come to North Carolina for a pickup, so this meant he didn’t have to deadhead the trip here. It worked out great for all of us. Dion and Bruce coordinated the pickup and at 3PM yesterday the Corvette was in my driveway, less than 20 hours after first contacting Dion!

The Corvette itself is a 1996 Coupe with the LT4 (330 Horsepower) engine, 6-speed manual transmission, and has chrome wheels from the C6 Corvette. It came with the factory service manual, a couple of magazines with reviews of the car, bra’s for the front and mirrors, a car cover, extra air filters, a canvas removable top, and various other bits and pieces. The valve covers are signed by Corvette Chief Engineer Dave McClellan, as well as race drivers Steve Park, and Andy Pilgrim. It also came with the original (laminated) window sticker showing a price of $44,224 ($71,056 in 2018 dollars)  and is also signed by Dave McClellan.

As I said, I was very worried about buying a car from a stranger on the Internet, especially without having seen it first. Once I actually saw the car, my fears were alleviated. It is absolutely beautiful, in incredible condition, and far exceeded my expectations. Without further delay, here she is!

Hurricane Florence

As I write this blog entry, many of the people in our community are still having a very hard time. Things are not perfect here either, but we are blessed and far better off now than just a couple of days ago. I won’t be writing too much about the hurricane, or posting any pictures, since those are plentiful online already. I just want to recap the last week for myself to remind me later of the power of Nature, both Mother and Human.

Florence was originally forecast to hit us nearly directly as a Category 4, and possibly 5, storm. As such, like most reasonable people who don’t want to die, my wife, daughter, dogs, and I evacuated a day before the storm hit to my sisters house outside Charlotte. As the storm approached, the forecast changed. It would be much weaker, “only” a Cat 1 or 2 storm, but would lose all forward speed after making landfall and would likely remain over the Carolinas for several days. This meant upwards of 30″ of rain would fall, creating catastrophic flooding. Since I work with the Oak Island Police Department and Water Rescue, I felt a strong responsibility and desire to return as soon as I could to help out. It was killing me to remain in Charlotte when I knew people here were in need. I stayed until Saturday morning and then drove back. It was a treacherous drive, constant and hard rain, gusts of wind around 70 MPH, and miserable conditions.

I almost made it. I decided to take highway 87 from 17 through Boiling Spring Lakes. Standing water on the road made it very difficult to get to BSL, and one car was already off the road in the ditch and almost completely submerged. I stopped to make sure nobody was in it, then continued on my way. I got into downtown BSL and found a police car blocking the road, which was between 2 lakes and about 8 feet deep. Damn. I turned around an headed back to highway 17, ending up at Han-D-Hugo about 20 minutes later. I pulled into the parking lot and waited for a few hours with several other people for conditions to improve. They did not, and the flooding was getting worse.

Seeing the water rising quickly around Town Creek, I decided to make a run for my church in Supply. I was told by a lady that south 17 was closed, but I could get around the closed part using Old Ocean Highway, so I left. In several places the water was deep and my old Dodge Ram had to go very slow to get through the water. Near the government complex in Bolivia, everything was underwater, it was as if a lake had formed around the whole place. I came upon a section of road that water covered for about 800 feet and waited for a deputy in a Charger coming towards me to get through. I then went into his lane and made my run for it. I was surrounded by water, so even though this was a dangerous decision, it truly was the lesser of all the evils. With a few hundred feet to go, my truck started getting pushed sideways and I could feel the rear tires slipping as the pucker-factor went through the roof. I plowed water ahead of the truck and off to both sides as I slowly found a sweet spot around 4 MPH and finally came out the other side onto dry concrete. Several lights on my dash were lit. Check gauges, check brakes… My heart was beating through my chest and it took about an hour for my blood pressure to return to normal. This was honestly one of most terrifying moments in my life.

The rest of the drive to the church was relatively smooth. I pulled in under the awning just before dark and sent a text message to my pastor to see about getting a key to get in. Supply did not have power, but I figured I could at least use the restroom and stretch out on the floor for the night. Unfortunately, no key was to be had. Everyone that had a key had evacuated (because they were smarter than me), so I decided to spend the night in my truck. I got as comfortable as a 6’5″ 270 pound guy can get in the cab of a truck and dozed in and out of sleep throughout the night. I turned on my EMS radio at one point and heard the military doing water rescues at Han-D-Hugo, the same place I had left a couple hours before. Other water rescue teams were doing rescues at the Buddhist Temple not far from me, and there was even one crew doing a rescue in the Lowes Food parking lot! Yes, in a parking lot.

Throughout the night my cell phone alarm would go off with a tornado warning. There were at least 3 of them, countless flash flood warnings, and various other emergencies. I finally turned my phone off, reckoning that if this was my night to die, it was my time. Several times I was awoken by my truck getting shaken by the strong winds. At first I would sit up and make sure everything was okay. After a while, I just rolled back over and went to sleep, content to allow fate to run its course. This was no act of bravery, it just was what it was.

Dawn came early and with relative calm. Rain showers and some wind were punctuated by a few minutes of peace. A black man, his elderly grandmother, and his adorable young daughter drove up and parked under the awning near my truck. We talked for a while, shared some cookies and cigarettes, and told each other our similar stories from the night before. I knew the bridge at 211 and Lockwoods Folly River was underwater, and that highway 17 north and south were blocked by water, as was Green Swamp Road. I knew we were trapped in about a 1 square mile area, but he and I would still walk out to the highway every 10 minutes or so to make sure. Yep, always a river running through it. At one point I noticed it had not been raining for a few minutes and decided to go for a walk to help pass the time. I came upon the Supply Fire Department. I was really just looking for a place to go to the bathroom, but was wearing my Oak Island Water Rescue hat. After talking with their chief, it was decided that I would be drafted to help them with water rescues, even though my experience level is extreme novice. I returned to get my truck and gear from the church and drove to the fire department.

The chief had to make some calls to FEMA and others to get me on board, which only took about 10 minutes. He said I would be getting paid the same as a firefighter. I told him in Oak Island we were strictly volunteer. He said it didn’t matter, now I was a Firefighter with Supply, NC. I would spend the next 28 hours with them. We did 3 water rescues in that time, all swift-water, something I have never been trained in, and even had one rescue that ended in a guy getting arrested. Now that was a first! We joked that things are different in Supply, here you get dinner and a show!

I cannot say enough good things about the fire department in Supply. This is one of the finest group of people I have ever had to the pleasure to meet. They took me in, took exceptionally good care of me, fed me, washed my clothes, gave me a place to sleep, shower, and provided many of the comforts of home. The men and women of the Supply Fire Department are true heroes, wonderful people, and I’m happy to call them new friends. The same applies to the many Brunswick County Sheriff Deputies that were there as well. You guys, and gals, rock.

Many of the firefighters were on a fire call the next morning and I was outside sweeping the floor and just hanging around, enjoying the sunshine that was interspersed with thunderstorms. A deputy pulled up to sleep for a while and said he had come there from Oak Island. Wait, what? You came from where? How? He told me the route he took and I quickly gathered my belongings, forgetting my water rescue gear of all things, said some quick goodbyes, and took off for home. 30 minutes later I arrived at my home on the island. The bridges were still closed to the public, but having Oak Island Police Department and Water Rescue ID’s would have gotten me in, though knowing the officer at the checkpoint was sufficient.

I arrived at home and found it very dirty, but unharmed by the storm. Despite taking a direct hit from the eye of a hurricane, we lost no trees, the flood waters had not reached our house, and we were good. I was mostly worried about the cats, which we had to leave behind. Windy, our cat from the hood in Chicago, barely noticed me when I walked in a went back to sleep. JoJo however told me all about the hurricane by meowing throughout the day and night! He was even happier to see me than usual. I took pictures of our house and sent them to Missy in Charlotte to let her know I made it home, and that everything looked almost as good as we left it. She was very relieved, even though the storm was now battering Charlotte and flooding was severe there as well. Several neighbors and friends had asked me to check on their homes when I get there, so I did, and sent them pictures as well. All of their homes were also in good shape.

I unpacked the truck, which was basically a mobile Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms store, and headed down to the police department to see what they needed help with. As expected, they needed help checking IDs for people coming to the bridges, since only folks with addresses on the island would be permitted. I came back home, cleaned up the best I could since we still had no water or sewer, put on my police shirt and went back to HQ and was sent to check IDs on the new bridge. At 4PM the town decided to allow locals to return. There was a 6PM curfew in effect, but it was understood that people could cross the bridge and drive straight home and not be in violation. Another officer and I worked there until well after dark.

I checked IDs and passed out pamphlets the town printed to people for the next 2 days as we transitioned from locals only to the island being open to everyone, from having a curfew to it expiring. I ended my work with them yesterday by patrolling the beach on the ATV, and shot some video of the damage to the beach and dunes as well.

Major kudos the the local restaurants and business’. Even though nearly all of them are closed and suffered substantial damage, they were constantly trying to feed us. Seems like every time we turned around someone was bringing us baskets of food, boxes of pizza, and offering us water and soda. It would have been impossible to starve or even go thirsty on this island thanks to Bob’s Dogs, BBQ House, Domino’s Pizza, Swains Seafood, and several others.

Thank you to my sister and her family! They took in not only my immediate family, including 2 dogs, but also Missy’s sister and her 3 kids, for a week. I know it was tight in your place, but we all appreciate it very much. In return, you can continue to stay at our beach house whenever you like 🙂 Missy, Halle, and the dogs finally made it home on Wednesday as well. Flooding has closed or destroyed many roads, and they made it through South Carolina just ahead of flooding that has now closed that route. Kris, Missy’s sister, and her kids also made it safely back home to Jacksonville.

And lastly, thank you to the residents of Oak Island that I had the pleasure of dealing with. We were all very aware that nerves were rattled, many people were upset about being kept off the island for so long, we were hot, smelly, tired, wet, and just wanted to go home and rest. We read the plans on Facebook about storming the bridges, and I wouldn’t have tried to stop you if you had! But thank you all not only for not doing that, but for all of your kind words of support as you made your way home through the checkpoints. I am happy that in the end you did not see us as the enemy. Every person I know in town government, police, and fire was truly doing the absolute best job they could given the situation and conditions, and I know they all appreciate your understanding and support as much as I did.

Endangered Species Act (Human Version)

This is a letter I wrote today to a member of our (Oak Island, NC) town council and mayor. I posted it here as an open letter to all members of the town council and residents of Oak Island…

Good morning Mrs. Bell and Mrs. Brochure. I am writing today to request your help in providing protection to the volunteers that make up the Oak Island Sea Turtle Protection Program. Through federal and state law, and local ordinances, we have excellent protection for the sea turtles that many of us work very hard to protect.

That is great, but what we are lacking seems to be legal protection for the volunteers that perform this work. I am referring currently to an incident last night (8/21) that I experienced while working on a nest at 10th Place West, where we had 2 intoxicated men smoking cigars and harassing the female volunteers. I stepped in to redirect their attention towards me, and after several minutes of “lively” confrontation, their wives talked them into leaving and we continued with our work of handling the hatching turtles in relative peace. I say relative, because we had at least one woman who refused to turn off her cell phone when requested (a very common problem), creating additional white light that can confuse and disorient the turtles. The 2 men previously mentioned also made it a point when they returned to the rental home near the nest to turn on their very bright back porch light. We were too busy at that point with the turtles to call police or request help. To make matters worse, one of the men claimed to be a game warden, though I highly doubt that claim.

The previous nest a few weeks ago, there was also a drunk kid causing problems. He was well past the “do not cross line” we had established, and was carelessly walking around the area while over 100 hatchlings were scattered around and trying to make their way to the ocean. I was able to remove him myself, and avoid stepping on any turtles, but during this time all volunteers are extremely busy and taking time to deal with issues like this is unsafe, for both the volunteers and turtles.

What I am requesting is that the town create new ordinances for the protection of our volunteers. This should include harassment of volunteers, failure to follow directions, harassing or bothering volunteers or others trying to enjoy to the hatching process, and generally being a nuisance during the very busy 30-60 minutes of active hatching. I did not have time last night to call the police or I would have, the turtles were already out of the nest and making their way to the water when we started having problems with some of the guests. It would be nice to have a police officer present during any hatching, but I feel that having at least town ordinances with financial penalties may suffice. A warning to visitors about the ordinances may be enough to settle them down.

I work with the police department issuing parking and beach violations for town ordinances on a part time basis. On my nests, I could write violations if the ordinances existed, though I realize this is not a viable solution for all the other nests. And, of course, I could not write them anyway while I am busy with my volunteer work of getting the turtles to the water. They would have to be issued after the turtles are safely in the ocean. But a police officer could write those citations, as well as handle more serious matters such as intoxication and communicating threats.

I hope you will take my suggestions seriously before we end up having a serious problem involving our volunteers. I believe we need just a little “teeth”, an actionable ordinance that we can use to educate our visitors, and punish when needed.

Thank you both for your time,

Todd Osborne

Donating Blood Pressure

I often donate blood, have been doing it for 3 decades now. My blood has an enzyme that is needed for treating premature babies and burn victims, so I try to always make myself available when the vampires (Red Cross) call, something they never seem to forget! I have often been curious if donating blood lowers (temporarily) your blood pressure, so I decided today to do a little test. I have a blood pressure monitor that I use everyday to keep me inline, doctor’s order, so I hooked myself up this morning at it was 122/74 with 50 heartbeats per minute, slightly elevated. The Red Cross checked it before donating as well, 124/70 with 54 beats/minute. After donating blood, and eating lunch, I tried again. Now it is 115/63 and 59 beats/minute, normal pressure. I realize this is anecdotal, subjective, and not very scientific, but following the blood donation my BP was in the normal range, something I have not seen in months.

So here is my plan. Instead of taking my blood pressure medicine, I will just drain a pint of blood each day, I seem to have too much 🙂

Remember, always give 100%, unless you are donating blood!

A Little Catching Up…

I know I have not been great about keeping up my blog, and as always, I will try to do better. That said, this post will try to bring it up to date so that going forward only daily updates and news will be needed.

As for my airplane project, I have completed the Zenith CH650 tail kit and have disassembled the Corvair engine that I bought in Chicago over Christmas. I am in the process of cleaning and painting the engine now, at which point it will be in storage for a while until it gets closer to the time I need it. I plan to attend a Corvair College to assemble and test the engine when that time comes. I ordered the rest of the airframe kit from Zenith in July and was given a ship date of September 22, 2018, so I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of a whole lot of aluminum!

My experimental avionics package, GlassPack, is done for now. I have it working quite well and will be adding more features to it in the future, but unless some community support develops around it, I will likely only be building this for my own plane.


I joined the Oak Island Water Rescue Team a few months ago. I am still very much in training, but learning quickly. This is a great team of 20 volunteers that respond anytime someone calls 911 for people struggling in the ocean or waterway, boat accidents, and basically any time rescue on the water is needed. We also have a U.S. Coast Guard station on the island. They are used more for offshore rescue since their boats need 16′ of water depth to operate. We handle the shallow water calls and so far I have been on about 20 of them. Fortunately most were not serious.

OIPDPolice Car

I also joined the Oak Island Police Department, originally as a volunteer to do parking enforcement on the weekends. The town council decided they wanted us to be part-time employees and migrated us to employee status. The Police Department also trained us on ATV’s and we now do enforcement of many town ordinances on the beach as well as parking. We also help patrol the island and assist police officers with their calls.


Lastly, I volunteer with the Oak Island Sea Turtle Protection Program. I have been assigned to 2 nests so far this year, with the first nest hatching a couple of weeks ago. We helped 117 baby Loggerhead turtles make their way to the water. This is an important program because these turtles are very endangered and because Oak Island is a prime nesting place for Loggerheads. In a normal year, about 8,000 Loggerheads are hatched on Oak Island, and only about 1 in 1,000 will survive to adulthood, primarily due to predation. We will be setting up the second nest this evening.

So, I am managing to keep myself very busy, but I like busy. The volunteer work with Water Rescue and the Police Department will go way down in the off-season, and there will be no turtle work once the season ends. My free time will then be dedicated to building the Zenith CH650 kitplane and suffering through the 50 degree cold North Carolina winters. Sorry Wisconsin peeps!!!

BuildLog is Now Available

I just released a new (free) software application named BuildLog that makes it easy to track time worked while building an experimental aircraft. Please feel free to download it and let me know what you think. I created it for myself to use while building my Zenith CH650 kitplane and am hoping it may be useful to other homebuilders. The web site is

New Tail Kit

In the last couple of weeks I received my new Zenith CH650 tail kit and started building the rudder skeleton. Since we now live at the beach, I decided to do a lot more corrosion protection than on previous planes. So I quickly got stopped because I needed to order Alumiprep 33 and Alodine 1201, both hazardous materials that had to be shipped on a slow truck. I now have both and am looking forward to making some good progress this weekend.

Workshop Construction

After several other home improvement projects at our new beach house (Fence/Pool/Deck/Landscaping), it was time for me to turn my attention to building a workshop. If you know me, you know I can’t go more than a year or two without having a kit plane project to work on. Even though living at the beach is allowing me a lot more time for fishing, kayaking, bike riding, etc. the old aviation bug was bound to bite again, and it did. I decided to build another Zenith CH650 Zodiac kit plane because it is large enough for Missy and I to fly in comfortably, has good cross-country capabilities, and is easy to build and fly. As far as airplanes go, it’s also fairly inexpensive to build and maintain, and I have quite a bit of experience with this design and construction techniques.

Because of local building and zoning laws, I was limited to a shed that is no more than 150 square feet, so I designed a 12×12 building using SketchUp. This is a very small place to build an airplane, so my goal was to maximize the available space as much as possible by having 8-foot ceilings and a steep roof with large overhead storage lofts. The area should be large enough to build most sections of the plane, though I will certainly have to move it elsewhere for final assembly. After initially designing the building with a Gambrel roof, and even building the required 4 piece trusses, I decided that roof was going to be too difficult to build, mostly because I am so scared of heights. I changed it to a Gamble roof after installing 3 of the 10 trusses. Here is the final design drawing.


The building would end up having internal bracing using OSB sheets in each corner and hurricane straps to hold the trusses to the top plates and foundation. Everything was built on 16″ centers, and is at least as strong as my house. In the end, the actual building was VERY similar to the drawing, though I did make a few tweaks here and there.

Construction began on August 6, 2017. I did not, yet, have my permit, so I was limited to what I could build under the house. I framed the walls, without the OSB bracing so they would be light enough to move when that time came. A few days later, I built the roof trusses that I would eventually not use.



I received my building permit about 10 days after I applied for it, so it was time to start building. I wanted the foundation to be similar to my house. Since our yard is primarily sand and can flood easily, that means building off the ground is needed. I decided to go with 9 4×4 posts sunk deep into the sand, sitting on top of a crushed rock foundation and mounted in concrete.



12′ 4×4’s were attached to the foundation to make an elevated skid, and 12′ 2×4’s were placed on 16″ centers to form the floor joists. These are all pressure treated.


The following week, Missy and I installed the 3/4″ plywood floors. They are not pressure treated, so we did our best to keep water out. That ended up being a losing battle, but a valiant effort.


Moving the walls from under the house to the platform was not real pleasant, but Missy and I managed without any help. Standing up the walls and temporarily bracing them only took about an hour.


The walls were internally braced with 7/16″ OSB. Even though the exterior sheathing is structural, negating the requirement for internal bracing, I wanted the internal bracing both for added strength (we get hurricanes) and for a place to mount shelves, pictures, drawings, etc.


We started installing the trusses for the Gambrel roof. As it turns out, this was incredibly difficult to do. First off, I am scared of heights, and the top of the roof was well over 15′ above the ground. Second, because we were working so close to fence and pool, it was a major PITA to handle these trusses and get them to stay put while adding more.


So, before this project got any uglier, and before anyone got seriously hurt, I changed the roof design to a simpler Gamble roof. It would have a steep pitch for maximum storage space in the lofts, and I designed it so that each side used exactly 3 sheets of plywood, with no long cuts required. Thankfully, by brother-in-law, Mike Daniel, sacrificed 3 days of his vacation to help me in the very hot and humid summer sun while doing the roof.



Now it was time to install the exterior sheathing/siding. I used the pre-primed composite sheathing from Lowes for this. I can’t say enough great things about this stuff, though at $30/sheet it is pretty expensive.


Paint, windows, and trim installed. Almost done! This was September 17, 2017.


After getting really tired of water getting inside everytime it rained, Missy and I struggled to get the roof paper installed. Somehow managed to get it laid down. No more leaks!


I did pay a local builder $225 to shingle the roof, which I felt was a very fair price. I turned my attention to completing the doors, entry ramp, trim, and paint.


September 24 was the “done” day. That marked the end of major construction, and of the backyard looking like a construction zone! It would pass inspection a couple of days later.


I needed electrical service, and while I would love to have installed a 50-amp sub-panel in the workshop, I had already spent more money on this project than I had planned. I had to cut a corner here and run a single 20-AMP 120 volt line from the house to the workshop. The 125′ of #10/2 UF-C cable cost over $100 alone, but is certified for direct burial, so long as you go at least 12″ deep. I had to cut a deep trench about 110′ around the pool to the house to bury the cable. I thought I was going to die 🙂 The line feeds into a 20-amp switch that I can use to kill all power to the building. Previously, our pool used an above-ground wire that ran along our fence for power. That wire was removed and the pool now plugs into an exterior outlet on the shed, which looks a whole lot nicer. Behind the building is a small resin shed that holds my air compressor, which I can turn on and off from inside the workshop. This means I won’t go deaf when the compressor kicks on, and the neighbors will probably appreciate the extra quiet as well! I also didn’t lose working space inside to the compressor.


In the end, and less than 2 months after starting the project, I have a very nice workshop where I can build my next kit plane. It’s tight (cozy if you’re in real estate) but will work. The total cost was about $2600, including the $100 or so I wasted trying the Gambrel roof first, and the $225 I paid to have the roof shingles installed. Now that I am moved in, I just need airplane parts to arrive!