Sunday, April 27, 2014

One for the road

I'm getting ready to head out on some travel for work but I got a few things done yesterday so I thought I would post the update before I forget what all I did.  Even though I am traveling and not able to work on the airplane today I did get about 13 hours of "airplane time" in today so I feel better about not losing my entire weekend.

I started out the day by mounting the ANL fuse.  Its under the clear plastic piece you see on the lower left of this picture.  Not much here, just lots of head scratching trying to decide the best place to mount it, then drilling and screwing it down.
Next up on the task list was the spacer behind the brake fluid reservoir.  Originally I had a stack of washers behind each bolt but I thought this would be a more stable mount.  Its really hard to see but its just a piece of .090 aluminum cut and drilled to fit the mounting bracket.
This is what took up most of the day.  I am mounting my oil cooler on the firewall and this picture is taken about 2/3 of the way through that process.  I also added a 45 degree fitting to the manifold barely visible at the top of the picture.  This will be for the oil pressure sensor that drives the hobbs meter.  I actually had to remove the manifold to screw in the new fitting.  Also Travis came over and we riveted the parking brake bracket to the firewall.  Those rivets are under the oil cooler in this picture so not really visible.

I am adding this picture here because I need to contact Van's support.  There is a gap here that I have seen other builders fix by shimming behind the engine mount.  The problem is the hole that I drilled in the firewall to install the main gear leg attach bolt is too high up and wont allow me to install the bolt with the firewall sticking out like this.

I spent a lot of time on this little bugger in the past couple of days.  This is the switch panel that mounts under the instrument panel.  I decided I liked the looks of square rocker switches but they are not looking so good right now.  Each of those holes is about and inch square and have to filed by hand... my arm is tired and I still have 3 to go!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mid week musings

This weekend I will be traveling unfortunately so I wont get to do much on the airplane.  So, I am going to do a quick update on a little progress this week.

More happy mail...I got my five point seat belts!

Brake lines are installed finally.  You can see the parking brake valve behind the left rudder pedal.  A close up of the valve is in the next picture.  You may notice that I am using stainless braided hoses for my brake lines.  I didn't really like the plastic lines that Van's provides.

This is the parking brake valve.  I had to fabricate the mount you see and it includes an arm that I will attach the push-pull control cable to.

Here is a shot of the fuse panel hanging down from the panel.

I slipped the side panels in to check the location of the lights.  Looks like a good spot.

This is the right side of the brakes where they attach to the reservoir.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Electrifying week

So this week I didn't actually spend as much time in the garage as I usually do.  I spent a large portion of my airplane time sitting at the computer working on my wiring diagrams.  I am at the point where I need to start running wires and I don't know what wires I have to run so I sat down and finished up my electrical plan.  That includes the switches and all of the lights, both interior and exterior.

I also had a bit of great news from SteinAir, my avionics have arrived in their shop!  They have me on a list to build the wiring harnesses so it will be a bit until I actually see them but I'm one step closer!  I don't think I have listed what all is included on this blog so ...

GDU 460 - EFIS.  This is the display screen you see in the pictures below.  This also includes the ADAHRS modules (for flight data), engine monitoring module, and the magnetometer for magnetic heading.

GTR-20 remote communication radio.  This is the main radio I will use to communicate.
GTX-23 remote transponder.  This tells radar towers where I am and what altitude.
GDL-39R ADSB.  This is a new gadget that gives me current weather and traffic information while I am in the air.
GNS400- This is a precision WAAS GPS that can be used for IFR.  I don't have my IFR rating yet but I plan on getting it as soon as possible after the plane is flying.
Heated Pitot with Angle of Attack.  This is a new stall warning system.

I did get a few things done on the airplane ... see below.

If you look closely in the middle of the picture you will see my Vertical Power VPX installed under the front deck.  Below it you can see the rudder pedals if that helps to orient your view a little.  This picture was taken from the front of the airplane where the engine will be ... soon.

I went ahead and installed the instrument panel again.  This time I riveted the frame in for good because I need to fabricate those two side pieces.  More on that in the next couple of pictures but its starting to come together again.

Ok, see that little piece of aluminum in the lower left corner of the instrument panel?  It has the vent "eyeball" installed in this picture but that little bugger took me almost all day Saturday to get fabricated and installed correctly!  Actually I started on it Friday evening and spent the majority of that time standing around himing and hawing about what I wanted it to look like.  In the end I am very happy with how it turned out.  The one on the other side didn't take nearly as long but it still took a couple of hours to fabricate.

Oh yea, Easter dinner was in there somewhere...

I also managed to get the vent hoses installed on both sides.  Its not hooked up right now because I had to remove the metal brackets I fabricated (the ones with the vent "eyeball's") to be powder coated.

Here is the corner bracket after I drilled the hole for the auxiliary power port.  One of these on the other side as well.

And this little dude is my fuse panel.  This is actually the auxiliary avionics bus, battery bus, and accessories bus.  I took a page from my friend Jeff's airplane and put it on a hinge so I can drop it down for accessibility.  Oh, I also powder coated it and once again my job of powder coating sux!  I spent at least 4 hours on this dude!  It started life as a .090 piece of aluminum, which is rather heavy, so I had to drill a bunch of "lightening" holes in it.  

Finally I installed the cockpit lighting in the side panels.  One on each side to shine light into your lap or on the instrument panel if needed.  I also bought two of these to install in the baggage compartment but I didn't get around to installing those yet.  You will notice if you look closely that the eyeball part of these lights swivels around.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Super Sunday

My week off is coming to a close and it was a glorious day in the neighborhood.  Temperature was in the low 70s today, the garage door was open and I made progress on the firewall forward section of the airplane.  I have to say that not doing things by the standard plans that Van's puts out has some great benefits but also a few drawbacks.  For example I have to purchase things as I find I need them which has led to several small orders from various vendors.  Lots of packages on their way home in the next week or so.  Only a few pics for today.

Here you can see the master contactor and the starter contactor.  These two little guys took me most of the day to install with all the backing plates and plate nuts.  You can also see the fuel line and associated backing plate that I installed later this afternoon.

In this picture you can see the firewall pass-throughs that I finished installing in the morning.  You can also see the brass bolts where the ground buss comes through.  you can see the ground tabs in the picture below.
Aft side picture of the firewall.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

No more porcupine!

Ah, I know its only Saturday but I have been off this week and the pictures are starting to stack up so I thought I better post an update.  I actually feel like I made progress in the past couple of days.  Travis came over yesterday and we riveted the aft top skins on, and we riveted the ADSB and Transponder antenna doublers to the fuseage.  Lots of other updates in the pictures below.

Oh, big news, my wheels came back from Antisplat Aero all balanced and sealed bearings!  No packing of wheel bearings for me!  I also ordered and received the Nosejob which you can see in the picture.  They also included a nice hat as well.

Look Ma, no cleco's.  Here it is all riveted together.  

Now that the top skins are riveted on I was able to install the seat belt anchors on both sides.

Here you can see both anchors and the plywood platform I was using to do the riveting and other tasks in the aft end.

This is the ADSB antenna.  Its not tightened down yet because I don't have any star washers for the bolts.   The ADSB antenna will allow me to get weather and traffic information while in flight.   The other side of the fuselage is another antenna that looks exactly the same but its for the transponder.

This is the antenna doubler for the ADSB antenna.  You can see the antenna connection coming up through the midddle.

This is the same doubler but for the transponder antenna.

I bought a sand blaster from harbor freight that I used today to remove the powder coating from the battery box before I run it through the powder coating process again.

And speaking of battery box.... here it is after I powder coated it and hung it on the firewall.  I had to drop the battery in just to see if it fit.  I think its just fine.  You can also see the first hole I drilled through the firewall for wire pass-through.  Look at the top left of the firewall.  I will be installing the pass-through tomorrow.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Two for One

So far this has been a great week.  I took this week off to spend some time with Amy and the airplane.  I've got to do lots of both.  First let me tell you about our trip to Friday Harbor on Tuesday.  We started out a little concerned about how Amy would handle the flight.  As you may remember her first flight last month did not go so well.  She ended up being sick for a couple of days which we knew was not necessarily related to the flight but it didn't help for sure.  Anyway we arrived at the hangar in Puyallup around 10am, prepped the plane, fueled up and then launched off to the North.  We flew up the Sound west of Seattle at about 2500', up past Bangor and then across the inlet to Friday Harbor.  We circled around to the north and entered the traffic pattern for a landing on runway 35.  After landing and a short taxi run we parked the airplane and walked down to the waterfront to have some lunch.  Amy was doing great, no stomach upsets at all!  Now the real challenge came, in fact there were two.  First we had to see if her stomach could handle some food for the return flight, and second we had to see if the airplane could handle Amy's shopping spree!!  :-)  The answer to both was a resounding YES!  About an hour or so later we once again took off and this time we flew down over the Skaggit valley.  A few flowers were out and we did pass near the land slide that killed several people a couple of weeks ago but Amy didn't see much of it since she was doing what Amy does best while traveling....she was snoozin!  I snuck a picture in below....we will see how long she lets me keep it there ( didn't take long to get in trouble so the picture is gone... ).  Anyway we landed back in Puyallup about 3pm, fueled up the airplane for our next adventure and then put it away and headed home.  What can you do to top a day like that off you ask?  Well let me tell you...Dairy Queen Blizzards!

Ok, so that's was the first of many of those types of trips and it went wonderfully.  Today we are going to try another trip up into the San Juan's and land at one of the other airports.  Amy really likes it up there so we are going to explore a little.

As far as the plane goes, I have a few pictures for you...

Selfie of Amy and I on the flight up to Friday Harbor

Amy taking a picture of the harbor where the ferry lands.

What can I say...isn't she just adorable!

Makes my heart sing!

Ah yes, the crafting station as we call it.  Actually its the dinner table we never use so it often gets converted to a crafting station for Amy when her friends come over.  I took it over to start wiring up some airplane parts.

This is a DB-9 DSub board that I ordered from a PCB company.  I soldered the DB-9 connectors to it and it has room for two more if I ever need it.  This little guy allows me to interconnect wires in a very simple and removable way.  Thanks to Bruce over at gave me the details and even sold me the DB-9 connectors that he had left over from his project.

This is the roll trim servo with my first DB-9 soldering job.  

Here is the same thing on the pilot stick.  Actually there are two on this one, one goes to the trim/Autopilot control circuit and one goes to the radio control circuit.

I took this picture because I have to plan where exactly I will be mounting those DB-9 boards that I talked about above.

Ah yes!  I got the plenum from Sam James on Tuesday.  Looks great doesn't it?  Now I just need to get my engine assembled so I can see what it really looks like.

I also installed the rudder cable exit fairings and although this picture does not show it I also installed the Adele clamps that hold the rudder cable plastic sleeve in place.  The empty hole you see there is where that bolt goes.

Here is my first attempt at powder coating.  This is the battery hold down bar and it actually came out pretty good!  I need to sand blast the battery box to clean it up a bit before I can do it.

Here is my make shift powder coating station.  I did a lot of learning in the first 5 minutes....hence the big mess.

Finally I installed the hold down brackets for the tail wiring runs in preparation for riveting the top skins on later this week.  Travis is coming over on Friday so we can knock this one out.  After that I only have one skin left to rivet!!  The cable ties are not tight in this picture but I later came along and tightened them down and cut them to length.  I used the cheap Harbor Freight tie wrap gun for the job and it worked nicely.  You will notice I have two wire runs here.  The one up on the fuselage side is the magnetometer wiring and I didn't want it anywhere near the strobe and trim wires.  The Magnetometer is very sensitive to magnetic interference.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

April foolin'

I know its been a while since I posted anything substantive here but I do have an excuse...well actually several but I won't bore you with the details.  Suffice it to say that the merger my company is going through is taking more of my energy than I want to expend.  Nothing bad, just busy which really is actually a good thing.

On the RV I have made some progress but most of it is pretty small stuff that take a lot of time.  One disappointing thing to mention... today I decided to see if the carbon fiber layup I did last month was going to be usable.  I don't remember if I mentioned it but one of the epoxy pumps came apart when I was doing the work and as a result the mixture was wrong.  Well, it failed.  The panel was not usable and in fact it was very soft in the middle.  Too bad...expensive lesson.

Ok on to the pictures for the past week or so...

Lets start with this roll bar.  It actually fit "ok" but not great.  I had to shim the aft end of the co-pilot side and the forward end of the pilot side.  Then I had to "bend" it about 3/16" of an inch.  The instructions say to be careful bending because it bends "easily"... yes they used that exact word.  Well, let me tell you that this sucker DID NOT WANT TO BUDGE.  I jumped on it, I used my pipe clamps on it, I finally got out my pipe wrench with an extender, clamped the roll bar to my workbench, then I jumped up and down on the pipe wrench.  Finally it budged just slightly.  So I did it again...and finally I got it bent enough to fit nicely.

Next I had to install the support bar that attaches to the front deck and the roll bar.  This was another challenge for a different reason.  I forgot to drill out the holes for the base of the darn thing!  I had to spend way to much time finding the holes and getting them lined up correctly.

Next up was the battery box.  Note that it looks a little beat up... well I guess I am going to try my hand at powder coating.  The Shorai battery that I bought for the plane is just slightly larger than the normal RV battery.  So I cut the box and extended it enough to fit the battery.  I also cut the lightening holes and all that work really scuffed the box up.

Here is the canopy frame when I first started fitting it to the fuselage.

And here it is after I manged to do a little wrestling with it.  Nothing that a nice tubing cutter couldn't handle.  In this picture you can see the shim I had to add to the aft end of the roll bar to get it perpendicular to the fuselage.

This picture shows the roll bar and the canopy frame from the front co-pilot side.  Pretty good actually.

And here it is from the pilot side.

And finally after drilling the holes for the slide tracks I decided I needed to start running some wires.  I want to get the tail wires run so I can rivet the aft top skins to the fuselage.  I need these skins attached so I can finish up the canopy frame.  It wont be long before the temperature is hot enough that I can start working on the canopy.