Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Big Jack Attack

The MiG-23 ground equipment is due to be returned this weekend to the place where we rented it from. Since we have the aircraft basically put together this is "mission accomplished" for us with one minor reservation... jacks.

The MiG-23 jacks are pretty beefy and have a couple of interesting features. In addition to the convenient tow handle (with wheels), adjustable foot plates and plumb-bob for leveling found on most Soviet jacks, these jacks have a ratchet mechanism (rather than the usual shaft clamp) to provide a little safety on the way up. About every inch or so it goes "click" at the next tooth — this is particularly handy in that you can say to the person on the other jack, "Ok, up two more clicks." They also have a nice "break over" feature where when the going gets tough the jack switches modes to an easier pumping but slower going... kind of like putting your 4x4 in "low"; pumping the jacks quickly seems to encourage them to switch gears. It makes it a lot easier when you've got 1/3rd of a 27,000lb aircraft sitting on them.

We have our own jacks (on the right) which are in better shape than the rented jacks (on the left).

This would be all find and dandy except for the fact that the top of the rented jacks is a bit different than our jacks. Again, rented jack top on the left, ours on the right. Ours fit nicely into the jack point under the wing root (by the swing pin) but don't fit at all in the nose or the jack points under the engine. With the tail on, the airframe has to be jacked from the engine location.

We'll have to locate or manufacture new jack tops before the MiG can be hoisted up for a gear swing.

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