Friday, October 17, 2008

Winterization of the Holy Rosary Rectory

By Father Scott Joseph Garrett

With heating fuel going through the roof, literally, (about $7 per gallon plus tax) we at Holy Rosary decided to replace the windows in the rectory. We filled out some paper work and sent it off to Catholic Extension Society. They graciously donated money for ten new windows, some storm doors, blinds, and all the material and labor necessary to winterize the rectory.

Here is a picture of a window that is ready to by pulled out. The 60 year old window basically was ready to fall out after we removed the inside trim.



Construction work is expensive in Dillingham, Alaska. Most of the good contractors are so busy that they can never be contracted. The parishioners decided to do most of the labor saving, and this is not an exaggeration, thousands of dollars.

There are ten windows in the rectory. They were probably installed in the 1940’s. I decided to measure and order the windows and have the parishioners help me to install them.

To make a long story short, I ordered the wrong size windows. My philosophy was one size fits all. After consulting one of those hard to find Dillingham contractors I realized that I should have measured the inside of the 2X4 frame. After spending about $1,000 for shipping and a couple thousand for the windows, I had to sell them.

I put an add on the TV and announced the windows on the radio. They sold much faster than I expected. I almost broke even. Within a week after putting them up for sale I tore off all of the outside trim and hunted for the 2X4 frame and measured each window again, this time the right way. I then called up Spenard Business Supply in Anchorage and gave them five different measurements for the ten windows.

During the first snowstorm the second set of windows arrived. We unpackaged them and set them in the old church. For the two large windows (one was about seven feet by four feet) I hired King Construction. I was able to get Scott King to spend four hours helping me before he went goose hunting. We had to install the windows two stories up in the upper room above the garage. It was quite a learning experience for us. Scott King only charged me $150. I was expecting about $600. Thank you so much Scott!

After the two large windows were sealed up with silicone, screws, and foam insulation, I contacted Bernie and Pat, the Holy Rosary volunteer maintenance crew. Bernie actually took a day off work from Nushagak to help out. It was a comfortable 15 degrees outside when we started at 9:30 in the morning October 16th, 2008. It was just starting to get light outside.

Here are a few pictures of the work. Click on them to make them larger. After pulling out the old window, Bernie sizes up the situation.


Next, the old tar paper is pulled of, the nails taken out, and the frame is primed for the new window.


Bernie takes a well deserved break before attacking the fifth window of the day in 15 degree weather.


Pat Durbin inspects the installation and is well pleased with the progress.


The next morning (October 17th, 2008) I got out of bed and looked at the thermometer. I silently said a prayer thanking God for the donation of money, time, and talent to our mission out here in Dillingham. The temperature was seven degrees. Although there is still lots of trim work to do both inside and outside and a couple of storm doors to install, I was grinning from ear to ear. This year I will be ready for -30 degrees.

Please leave a comment below! Thanx, Fr. Scott

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bush Pilot Tips (2nd of 7) Gravel Strips

By Father Scott Joseph Garrett, Pastor

One fear of the bush pilot is nicking the propeller with rocks. Flying to the villages in the Alaskan Bush, the bush pilot must land and take off on gravel strips. When a propeller gets nicked with a rock a qualified A & P mechanic must file it down to prevent the crack from becoming larger. This is similar to stopping a crack on the windshield of your car. Parts of propellers have been known to break off in flight if the cracks where not properly cared for. A propeller breaking off 2000 feet above the ground is tragic.

The more filing that is done to the propeller, the smaller it gets. Imagine a boat propeller. If the blades of a boat propeller were filled down the propeller blades would be smaller and the boat would not go as fast through the water. Not a big deal. But when the blades of an aircraft propeller become smaller, the speed and power are less, and the aircraft may eventually stall out in midair. A very big deal!

Here are a few tips that I have picked up from numerous different bush pilots in the Bristol Bay area. They are shocking in their simplicity, yet extremely important in there implementation.

One: If there is no wind the bush pilot has the option to land on either end of the gravel strip. Chose the end that will enable you to taxi to the parking area without having to do a 180 in the gravel. Turning around on a gravel strip kicks up rocks that could nick the propeller. In the picture below, set up your approach for the end of the runway at the top right. After landing you should have plenty of time to slow down and turn into the parking spot, which would be on your right if actually landing(shown in the picture below on the left). No 180 necessary. CLICK ON THE PICTURES TO MAKE THEM LARGER.


Two: While taxing on a gravel strip, keep the yoke pulled back as far as possible. The propeller is higher off the ground when the yoke is pulled back and there is less chance that the spinning propeller will suck up rocks.

Three: Make a concrete slab for your home base parking spot. For small aircraft, Dillingham airport does not have a paved parking area. However, thanks to the late Father Jim Kelly, several concrete slabs have been made. Gravel can get sucked up into the propeller when the aircraft is first started up. The concrete slab prevents that from happening. I was lucky enough to rent a space that had one of these concrete slabs. As you can see in the picture, I always park with the propeller over the pad.


Four: Park the airplane into the wind in graveled parking areas. If there is no concrete pad available, parking into the wind helps prevent gravel from flying up into the propeller at start up. As you can see in the picture, the windsock shows little wind so I was not concerned about the direction the nose of the airplane was pointed when I chocked up.


Five: Try not to stop after landing until you have reached the parking area. Each time a bush pilot stops and then starts back up on a gravel runway, there is potential for loose rocks to fly up and crack the propeller.

A propeller for my Cherokee Piper Warrior II is about $2,500. I will be getting my propeller replaced at my next annual inspection in February of 2009. I do not know when the last time my propeller has been replaced. Since I have owned it, my mechanic has been filing it down for three years and says its time for a new one…no complaint from me.

Next Bush Pilot Tip will be about winter flying. Please leave a comment below (click on comment) and if there is anything you would like me to discuss, or have any tips of your own, please let me know. Have a fantastic day and safe flying in the Alaskan Bush!