# Finishing your airplane - The Commitment

Discussion in 'Workshop Tips and Secrets / Tools' started by Little Scrapper, Jun 11, 2017.

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1. Jun 11, 2017

### Little Scrapper

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I just found out a friend and fellow builder died, old age. I'm really gonna miss him, I kick myself for not reaching out to him these last few months. What a fool I was. I blame myself for being busy but that's not the truth, it just wasn't a priority. It should have been, he was an awesome guy who spent his life as a mechanic all the way back in to the 1930's. He left behind unfinished airplanes. I started thinking of this in the last hour or so, in my head I can name about 8 or of 10 builders I know that have stopped building. Myself and 1 other guy are still plugging away.......but very very slowly. Why is that I wonder?

None of the guys have money issues, money is seldom the issue with building, it's usually just an excuse. I'm 45, the other 9 people are over the age of 65, most over 70 in fact. I didn't visit my buddy because it wasn't a priority, and now I regret that. I wonder how many people will regret not finishing an airplane. It could be me? I don't know. I do know that there's unfinished airplanes all over the country sitting in garages and hangars. I wonder how many people will regret not setting the priorities to finish them. I do know for a fact my friend who died regretted not finishing his airplanes.

I realize I'm writing this post right now with a great deal of emotion and regret so bare in mind my post is rather biased and single sided.

I talk a big game but my Cassutt is sitting right now. That is a fact. If I'm really honest with myself I can't come up with a single dam reason why I'm not working on it right now other than a lack of priorities. The only reality here is that I'm getting older by the second, and I'm surrounded by the things in life that pull me constantly. Sometimes everything I'm surrounded by seems like a pain in the azz to do, including my Cassutt. Maybe i'm overworked? Are others overworked? I don't know.

I'm thinking as I write this, and I'm coming to the conclusion life needs a balance. We think we have balance but do we actually have balance? I use to be very balanced, I'm starting to think I've lost touch with my true balance in life.

The title of this thread is "finishing your airplane" so I think in order to finish we need to first draw a line in the sand and set some life boundaries. If not, I fear the end result will not be what we want. And the more I think about this the more I realize I haven't set enough life boundaries. Life boundaries are where freedom is found. None of this that I'm writing might not make sense to others, but it certainly does to me. It makes sense right now.

If building is truly a priority a person needs to map out a plan to finish it, I have not done this. This is a real problem that needs to be corrected. I need to come up with a plan of attack that gives me an hour a day minimum. For me, in my life and with my situation, I can find the extra hour in the morning before anyone in my home gets up and I can find another hour right before I go to bed, maybe not every single day but doing this 3 times a week can easily get me 6-8 hours of build time minimum. Without a priority and a plan all I'm left with are good intentions. Good intentions don't build airplanes.

Building is suppose to be enjoyable, if not, why do it right? Wouldn't it be a nice way to start your day doing something you really love before the everyday stress of life starts in? I think so, for me at least. With the time set all I need is to commit. period. I committed when getting married, I committed when having our 3 kids, I committed when starting my business, I have failed to really commit to my airplane project. Which is ridiculous, an airplane take a long time to build in terms of hours. Committing to an actual plan of commitment , which includes an actual plan to achieve it, is probably more important than any other portion of the airplane questions that get asked here on the forum. Very few do this, including myself. Instead, what we do is live life as normal and just "try to fit it in". This is not a successful plan, it's just good intentions. Trying to fit a commitment such as building an airplane in your life with a plan is kinda ridiculous if you think about it. It's a big deal to build a airplane, it needs committment.

So here is my commitment.

Because I have a business I have a schedule I keep in a 3 ring binder (sorry, no phone apps for me, lol). My schedule is everything to me. Every week on Sunday I write out my entire week so I can keep on track and get everything done. I have never once planned or wrote down which days and times I was gonna work on the Cassutt. That all ends today. In fact, I'm changing my schedule so it has time slots for building. I'm making it a priority, no different than scheduling a job or meeting with a customer. We all have the same amount of hours in a day, it's what you do with that time that matters. So today is Sunday, my scheduling day, and I'm writing in which days this week I'm allowing time to work on it.

I have monthly financial goals in my business, as any business owner knows you're pretty destined to mediocrity if you don't set financial goals, you leave it up to chance. Financial goals are a priority. So beyond just scheduling I also need monthly or weekly goals for the Cassutt. Similar to financial goals with a business or life I need to actually prioritize my numbers on the Cassutt, which is time!. How much time am I allowing to my goal?

It's these two things that build airplanes in a timely manor. My commitment is now completly different than it was when I started my Cassutt. It's a priority now, I'm scheduling for it and I have a monthly and weekly goal how much time I am scheduling.

If anyone has anything to add please do. I don't want to just work on my Cassutt, I want to see progress and finish it. I want to fly it. And I want to fly it in under 24 months. Again, lots of emotion in my head right now after hearing about my friend. I don't want to end up like all these guys who die having never finished the airplane. I enjoy the process but that's not good enough for me, I want to enjoy it after it's built as well.

Anyone else here willing to commit to making a weekly schedule?

Last edited: Jun 11, 2017
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2. Jun 11, 2017

### BJC

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Within their physical, mental and financial abilities, people do what they want to do, and set the priorities that really matter to them. Those priorities may not be obvious to others. It is easier to tell someone "Yes, I really should have spent yesterday in the workshop" than to explain everything that goes into setting personal priorities. In the grand scheme of life, airplanes are important to many of us, but not the most important thing.

Having any kind of project is a good thing, even if it never is completed. People should die with projects uncompleted, but with nothing left unsaid to a loved one.

BJC

3. Jun 11, 2017

### dcstrng

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First; I'll sadly admit been there, did that... at least twice squandered the opportunity to keep up with very good, long-time friends, only to have them lost beyond retrieval. As we used to say; "jerks ya up by the short hairs..." for awhile at least.

Second; my shop discipline is terrible... no management, only the sketchiest of completion plans, and several running sub-projects (fuel, FWF, instrument panel and wings...) which I attack depending on the whim of the moment -- grabbing the low-hanging fruit; sorta depending on which will give me instant gratification I guess... yet, I fantasize of being in the air in 18-months... hmmmm...

When I retired from the military (nearly 30-years ago...)I consciously flipped a switch; tired of the restraint of being a platoon sergeant, weary of being chief of this that or the other thing and nursemaid to a bunch of snot-nosed kids, I sought out analytical jobs where I mostly just worried about me... To that end, I'm very good at collecting information and analyzing it for my (various) flying project(s), but abjectly miserable at organizing and completing a project. Fortunately I have a good friend who lives in another state, who at least weekly prods me... My work/commute schedule is such that I rarely get any shop time through the week (up at 3:15, off to work, home at about 7:30PM or so and to bed by around 9:00PM), Sunday is the day and he usually checks to make sure I did something productive -- which i verify with an occasional picture...

So, I'll bite -- not sure how; "Day-Timers" and I are from different solar systems and smart-phones and I are like oil and water, but I do need a plan... and a gun to my head.

4. Jun 11, 2017

### Little Scrapper

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Of course you're right BJC I just can't answer the "life" stuff for others. But on a home built airplane forum we can come up.with solutions for finishing an airplane......assuming that's the goal.

I think budgeting time and having clear goals on a schedule actual does help in other life areas. These are the boundaries I mentioned.

I could die with out finishing my Cassutt and I'd have very few life regrets, but as it concerns the topic of airplanes I'd regret it. While working on it is certainly fun it would be heartbreaking to spend thousands of hours on something in a life with limited time never to see it finished.

Anhow, I'm writing out my schedule this very minute and for the first time I'll be including "cassutt time" on it. Should be interesting.

5. Jun 11, 2017

### don january

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Lil Scrapper. My Dad died Aug 2015 and like you I thought about the speed of getting my Taylor-mono built in his honor. I tried to follow a schedule of hours worked but found that little thing's like waiting for parts, Glue to dry, and most of all the depression of not sharing the build with the one person who gave me the most drive was gone! This Forum helped me the most threw the darkest time's and to this day I depend on it for ambition. I learned real fast that peer pressure of any type on a build can be hazardous to the quality of the craft. I believe many airplanes are not finished because of this reason. A man bust his a to get the craft done and gets frustrated because it is not coming together as he thought it would and cost was more then expected. For me what works is NOT to worry about time and cost just build for one reason. "The Plane or air Craft" If you finish and are able to fly your build that is a big plus but I like to keep in mind life is short and who knows what tomorrow will bring for you and I.

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6. Jun 11, 2017

### TFF

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I am not a schedule person. I live in a world that requires it, but I hate being scheduled. Because of this I note the way people do keep things in a row, because I have to play within the system. What you describe is every friend I know who is a doctor. From kids I played with in grade school to ones I have recently met all schedul their free time. To them free time is not free, it is scheduled time for them to do what they want. I have learned that if you are part of the plan or it's a layed back time they don't mind you there, but anything but pleasantries you are intruding. Get in the way is like getting between a drug addict and their fix, and the lost time is like a surfer missing a wave, it's gone forever. The more high pressure the Dr's job along with funky schedules the more protective they are of free time.
As for the older crowd, they might have the free time, but they don't have the free energy. Every step slowed down is an unrecoverable loss. My dads parents had an extremely long retirement 1974-2000. My grandparents were busy with projects. Almost all I know who retired to the couch lasted ten years at the most. One older friend was doing just fine at 93 living buy himself. He was made to stop driving because he could not turn his head and his son made him move in with him. Doing nothing along as being weakened by doing nothing took him out.

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7. Jun 11, 2017

### TFF

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Oh why do doctors do this? Because they can't survive the demands of medical school or the job without free time. It demands 200% of their time, and if they don't control the free time, the will only live the job.

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8. Jun 11, 2017

### Little Scrapper

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I'm not trying to avoid free time or anything like that, I sincerely want to build my airplane, haha.

My biggest issue is I'm always busy with lots of balls in the air. I can hardly make it to ups store to ship stuff, it's crazy. Besides scheduling my customers I leave everything else up to chance, which means I shoot from the hip day to day.

I spend a ton of time with our 3 kids. Summer started Friday, it's gonna be a great summer for us. With family being important it's critical I don't steal time from them for the airplane. Maybe once in a while but with balance. That leaves me primarily with early mornings.

As a plumber I can tell you nobody wants a visit from a service call before 9:00. This is good news. Normally I use my mornings to hang with my 3 kids before school, do some reading, planning etc. With summer here I can change up a few things now and they can sleep in a bit.

With some better planning I can set-up my material deliveries differently than I'm use to. No more mornings, I can free those up for building. I just fired off emails to my distributor reps so I can get evening deliveries.

My schedule is done and I found 17 hours of build time next week.not including Sunday.

Tuesday 5:00-10:00am / 5 hours
Thursday 5:00-8:00am / 3 hours
Friday. 5:00-9:00am / 4 hours
Saturday 5:00-10:00am / 5 hours

That's 17 hours of early morning time before going on 1st calls which are scheduled by customers. The summer rules are the kids can sleep until 8:00.

Now, I'm not saying I can use all those 17 hours for building next week but I'm sure as hell gonna try. The moral of the story is that I had the same 17 hours of free time last week.........and every week for the past year. I.just did a kids poor job of prioritizing it.

I'm about to go through my schedule and set some soft goals to accomplish for the weeks building schedule. This will force me to stay on task and plan ahead so I can accomplish things.

Last edited: Jun 11, 2017
9. Jun 11, 2017

### BJC

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My friend from many years ago, who built several airplanes, including a Cassutt completed in 4 months, was able to complete projects quickly because, when he got interested in something, he was totally focused on it. Before airplanes, he raced motorcycles. When I first met him, he had just gotten interested in homebuilt airplanes, replacing horses. He offered to give me three thoroughbred horses, his previous interest, because they took time away from homebuilding. After building five or six homebuilts, he got his A&P and opened a maintenance shop. Once it was up and operating, with three or four other A&P's working for him, he got bored with it all and sold it. Then he got into off-shore salt water fishing. I'm certain that he was good at it.

The point is that to complete an airplane in a reasonable time requires a total commitment to that purpose above everything else. Some are willing and able to make that commitment, others are not. People should do what is right for them.

BJC

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10. Jun 11, 2017

### Hot Wings

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I like schedules for the things I need to do. Fun things need a bit of spontaneity.

Scrapper:

If there is one thing I could/would learn from you is: "How in the world do you manage to schedule your week"?!?! The only time I've ever been able to have such a schedule is when I was working for wages. Being self employed has always meant I had no idea what, or when, the next job was gong to be that walked through the door or called. Using your profession as an example: It's one thing to be able to plan for a multi day kitchen remodel but what do you do about the old guy living alone that calls at 4:55 pm with a leaking water heater - and he has no idea how to turn off the supply? That was the evening I had planned to do XXY on my Quickie. :ermm::depressed

Life, for me at least, is just too messy to plan. I could get a lot more done on my project by moving it up the priority list. To do so would mean that I'd run the risk of, probably rightly, being called a narcissistic A.H.

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11. Jun 11, 2017

### Little Scrapper

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Well, I'm 90% service and repair, 10% remodeling. I get from 4 - 10 calls a day? I ask them for availability and write it down for next week. I build in gaps for emergencies and just fill in the gaps. Ive done it so long it's second nature. After 4:00 It's an extra $50 an hour, so people are very certain to define "emergency". That's why plumbers charge extra for emergencies, if we didn't everything becomes an emergency. Scheduling is everything in this business. 12. Jun 11, 2017 ### Pops ### Pops #### Well-Known Member Joined: Jan 1, 2013 Messages: 6,906 Likes Received: 5,822 Location: USA. Like you TFF, I hate a schedule. When I retired I quit wearing a watch or phone. I wake up in the morning and decide what I am going to do that day. I am busy everyday except Sundays, that day is for God and Family only. I raise a garden, its something I love doing. Just finished up building a grape harbor and started a 18' X 30' green house. Also keep about 3 acres mowed with my farm tractor and finish mower. Adding on to my solar system, etc. Have the electric bill down to$28-$30 a month and striving for$0. My daughter also lives on the runway and not married and when you are retired everyone thinks you have a lot of free time, NOT. So she always has things she wants me to do. Since I always have lots of T-88 epoxy, my granddaughter just dropped off a couple wood kitchen chairs for me to epoxy.
No matter how busy doing other things, I work in the hanger/shop at least a couple hours 6 days a week. Have my 81 Chevy 3/4 ton truck all restored except for the doors and tailgate, so I need to finish that project. Rebuilt the airplane hauling trailer and need to do a little more painting and repack the wheel bearing and finish the wiring. When I get the JMR into the Phase 1 test flying I have been thinking about what I will start building. Maybe a VW Trike, maybe a VW Ratrod, maybe a VW Dune-buggy, maybe a real serious STOL version of the SSSC. But at 77 years old I don't have the energy that I had at 55 or 60 years old, but I'm still having fun.
Been looking for some remote land for a camp so if I find the right land and can afford it, that will keep me busy for a while building a cabin. Like to have at lease 15-20 acres of land with a couple acres cleared for a cabin and the rest woods for cutting firewood, etc. Want as far off grid and on a 4 wheel drive only somewhat of a road. Found 35 acres that is in the middle of 22K acres of pulpwood county with a right-a-way to get in and another 37 acres of woods that can't be sold for back taxes except to whoever owns the 15-20 acres. Has a small hunting cabin on it but it would be easy to add on for more room. Out of state owner is asking a little to much for the land. Maybe I'll make him an lowball offer and hope he takes it.

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13. Jun 11, 2017

### Little Scrapper

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Scheduling helps improve your life because you eliminate stress. Scheduling is freedom when you own a business.

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14. Jun 11, 2017

### Little Scrapper

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To be clear, I'm not talking about making it a "higher" priority, or eliminating something as in a kind of sacrifice. Not at all. I just think time has a way of disappearing when you don't make it important. I came up with potentially 17 hours next week, hell, so far in 6 months I don't think I've logged 17 hours total time on the whole project.

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15. Jun 11, 2017

### Pops

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When my wife and I had a business we never knew when you woke up in the morning what you would be doing that day. Had to be flexible. Could be flying, planning another job, doing book work and record keeping, maintenance on airplanes, etc. Some weeks we had some free time and some weeks I have flown as high as 76 hrs in a week. That is Hobbs meter time, not including time at fuel stops and driving to and back from the airport, etc. Every business is different.

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16. Jun 11, 2017

### don january

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In my Semi tarp business I scheduled every job and found I had to change schedule often. To me trying to set a time for building would be more stressful then just building as the time allowed. Is the plane your building for job or joy?

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17. Jun 11, 2017

### Little Scrapper

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It has nothing to do with job or joy, it has to do with not wasting time.

Clearly I'm alone in my thinking which is fine, seems to be a trend here. I have a very busy life so things that don't get scheduled don't get done. I.guess I regret starting this thread, I didn't realize how many people don't use scheduling for an advantage. But that's cool, whatever works.

Peace.

18. Jun 11, 2017

### TFF

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I'm the opposite, schedules make stress. All I can see is a 1000 mile journey and I have to walk. Sure I plan stuff, the trouble of not getting the kids to school or not going to work is too large not to conform. Things have to on time, but those are the only ones I care about. The rest is about flow. That is why I tell my boss all the time I pay him to take care of me. It costs him for me not to be independent by paying my wage, insurance, and a place to work. As for the profit he can have it with the worry, he is definitely not getting rich enough for me to compete.

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19. Jun 11, 2017

### Little Scrapper

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I Have a hard time understanding this. I feel so good right now that for the first time I actually have the Cassutt on my schedule this week. Stress, to me, is not accomplishing it. That sucks! I love shop time, it's a stress reliever for me to know it's officially gonna happen.

Weird how people see things differently.

20. Jun 12, 2017

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