Monday, September 29, 2014

Fall begins

We rolled into Fall this week and it made me look back at the last 18 months.  Fall always feels like things are "winding down" and as such its a good time to reflect on where we have been.  In relation to this dream of mine to build an airplane I have nothing but wonderful memories.  I am so unbelievably fortunate to have the life I have and the people that are in it.  OK, now for some progress report pictures.

First I have to follow up on my "issue" from Thursday.  So in the post I mentioned that it was going to set me back "hours" or possibly "days".  Well fortunately it was only hours.  I was able to separate the cowling halves with just a little extra "force".  We are now back on track!

The 'glass has been laid in this picture.  Now its a matter of fill and sand, followed by more fill and sand...
After a little sanding the transition from the skin to the windshield is looking good on the forward edges.

The Top and sides still need a little work.  In fact I had to add a few more layers of carbon fiber and fiberglass to the roll bar lip to strengthen it a bit.  In this picture I have just added another layer of flox to be sanded down.  Another couple of iterations of flox and sanding should get me close to complete on this task.

If you look closely at the spaces between the inlets in the middle of this picture you can see where I laid several layers of fiberglass to form the flange for the front of the cowling.
Hanging the cowling so the fiberglass can set up on the inlet rings.

A bit hard to see but the white section is my new inlet ring grooved seat.  There is one very similar on the bottom cowl and when the two are mated it creates a very nice and secure mount for the inlets.

This is part of the induction system.  The induction system allows fresh outside air to pass through a filter and then feed the engine.  In this picture I had to add some fiberglass (ok a bit too much I agree) to the end to lengthen the inlet.  In the next picture you can see what it looked like when I was done.

Sanded and ready for more work.

One aspect to all the fiberglass work I am doing is I have to wait long periods of time once I do a layup waiting for the epoxy to harden.  So, I decided to get started on the baffles.  The baffles help direct the cool outside air over the cooling fins on the cylinders.  The engine is air cooled so its important that as much cooling air as possible flows where it will do the most good.  That's a lot of parts!  I thought I was about done with deburring, dimpling and riveting....ha!

So I got the back part of the baffling installed temporarily.  Then I set the James air plenum on the engine to see how much work it will require...Lets just say I have my work cut out for me....  Fit is not good.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I guess I was due...

Things have been going along so well lately.... until tonight.  I goofed.  Its not a hard fix but it will set me back several hours or possibly days.  So what did I do?  Well, part of my cowling requires these aluminum rings to be installed in the inlet holes.  You have seen the pictures before.  Tonight I got to the point where I was glassing them in which requires a mixture of flox and epoxy that gets poured into the space between the rings and the cowling inlets.  So I fussed greatly about sealing the seams with clay so that I wouldn't glue the two halves together.  After putting the clay in I went ahead and mixed up the slurry and poured it in.  Then I happily went on and started working on the induction system.  About an hour into the process I had one of those "Oh My GOD!" moments.  I forgot to wax the rings before I put them the rings are attached to the cowl and I can't separate the cowling halves..... GRRRRRR

Ok, this is not unrecoverable but it is going to take some time ....

See the pretty clay?  The rings are suppose to come apart.

On a side note, this is the induction ring and it is suppose to be permanently installed.....and it is...

Monday, September 22, 2014

Still working on the cowling

This weekend was great!  I had lots of time Friday evening and all day Saturday to work on the cowling and the windshield.  I got lots done but still have plenty to do on both.  The cowling is fitted and all quarter turn fasteners are in.  I still have to lay up (with fiberglass) the flanges that go on the front between the air inlets and the propeller opening.  That should happen Monday evening. Then its a matter of fitting the air inlet rings and cutting/fitting the oil door.

The windshield is getting ready for the fiberglass fairing that will surround it and provide a lip that the slider will sit under for weather seal.  I have cut the strips of fiberglass for the front but still need to do the top part with both fiberglass and carbon fiber.  I will be using carbon fiber for two of the layers to add extra strength to the lip in case somebody accidentally pulls themselves up using the lip.

I also got to do some flying this weekend.  Jeff organized a "last of summer" hurrah of 5 RV's (two RV-7's, one RV-8, one RV-4 and on Harmon Rocket) and we flew up to Friday Harbor for lunch.  Of course no trip to Friday Harbor is complete without some ice cream so we had that too before we made the trek back to the airport to fly home.  On the way home we had some great flying weather so we did lots of interesting flying.  We started with some formation flying followed by some extended trail flying.  The extended trail was a lot of fun because its essentially follow the leader in the air.  We were on our way to Snoqualmie when we did this so the scenery was spectacular.  I took a ton of pictures with Jeff's camera so I don't have any to post here but Jeff promises he will post them on his blog.  We followed that up with a couple of trails of smoke over Snoqualmie and then some close trail which is a very close trail formation that had some very cool views.  I really hope I can get some of those pictures soon. (EDIT:  I linked a couple of pictures from Jeffs website below)

Lots happening right now in the aviation part of my life including a couple of friends who did their first flight in the past month.  One guy flew his RV-9A (same airplane I am building) this month and ended up with a "heavy" wing.  That means that the airplane wants to slightly turn all the time in one direction as if that wing was heavier than the other.  He troubleshot the cause down to a slightly twisted right flap so he borrowed mine to see if that solved the problem, and it did!  So now part of my airplane has already flown.  :-)

Anyway enough chat, on with the show!

Sunday evening status picture.

Started working on the windshield fairing this week.  Here you can see where I have sanded the excess Sikaflex glue from around the edges.  I also taped off the glass and put a green band of electrical tape where the edge of the fairing will be.  Then I roughed up the plexi so that the epoxy would stick nicely and then I put a layer of epoxy and flocking down.

Here it is after I had finished the epoxy and flox.  I don't think I mixed the the flox into the epoxy well enough because it came out somewhat lumpy, or maybe it was a result of the black pigment I put into the mixture but in any case I put a second coat of epoxy and micro (microscopic glass beads) to smooth things up after I had sanded it down to make sure there were no air voids.

Moving on to the cowling I managed to get the quarter turn fasteners installed on the lower cowl in this picture.

Part of the process of installing quarter turn fasteners requires some kind of backing be attached to the lower cowl for the receptacles.  There are two options, one is to install an aluminum strip similar to what I did on the firewall.  The other is what I opted to do and that is to lay up a nice fiberglass lip.  This required me to rough up the lower cowling along this horizontal seam and then apply two coats of mold release to the top cowling.  Then I mated both halves together using scrap aluminum and cleco's (I have a few holes to fill in the cowl now).  Once the outside edges were flush I layed up five layers of 3" glass "tape" and applied it to the seam between top and bottom cowl.  In this picture you see the result after the epoxy had hardened and I had separated the two halves.  The black line is where I later went in and trimmed the "flange" to the size I wanted it.

Here you can see the new flange after I had trimmed the edges and drilled the holes for the quarter turn receptacles.  I needed some soft rivets to install the receptacles so I stopped at Spencer (Thun Field) and picked up an ounce of them.  I have to say I really like the look of the flange.  Not only does the top cowl fit like a glove but I don't have to worry about puckering that some people have when they try to use the aluminum strip.

Here you can see the top cowling after I installed the quarter turn fasteners.  Still have to wait until the receptacles are installed before I can start working on the big cooling air rings and the forward section of the cowling.
Here are the strips of fiberglass that will be used for the windshield fairing that goes around the front and sides.  The strips start at a half inch wide and go up to two inches a quarter of an inch at a time.

See that space between the openings on either side of the propeller opening?  That's the space I need to lay up two more fiberglass flanges that will allow me to use a platenut (an attached nut essentially) and screw to hold the front of the cowling together.

A little hard to get perspective on this picture but I took a picture of the inside of the seam between the two cowling halves.  The quarter turn receptacles are installed in the fiberglass flange you saw earlier and the cowling is fastened together off of the airplane (for more work).  In this picture you are looking at the inside of cowling through the propeller opening.

Close trail picture.  There are actually two planes ahead of us in this picture but it looks like a one with lots of wings!
Here is the group picture we took on the docks at Friday Harbor.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cowl work a few other items.

Another week goes by and here we are...

Ok, lets start with the last picture first this time.  This is what the plane looks like after a week of work.  See the next few pics for the details.

This is the windshield just before I glued it to the fuselage.

And here it is after the glue is applied and everything is clamped down.
While I wait for the glue to set up on the windshield I decided to fit the tail strobe on the lower rudder fairing.  

Pulled the plane out into the sun on this nice hot day so the sun can bake the windshield a little.  I had to "bend" the sides of the plexi to fit the frame and adding a little heat will make it form better.

Front view of the airplane Sunday evening.

Finally got around to drilling the axel and installing the cotter pins that prevent the wheel nuts from coming off.

Installed the brake lines to the brake calipers.  Now its time to fill and bleed the brakes.
Started working on the cowling.

Ran into a bit of a problem.  The exhaust system I purchased was designed with the stock Van's cowling.  Since I am using a James cowling with a slightly different profile the right side exhaust pipe comes into contact with the cowling.  I sent an email to Clint who runs Vetterman Exhaust now and he had me send the right side back so he can reconfigure it a bit to give me some clearance.

What the heck is this?!?  Its a tool I created that allows me to accurately trim the firewall side of my cowling.  It works by sliding the hooked end under the cowling and hooking it on the forward edge of the fuselage.  Then I can use a sharpie to mark the top of the cowling using the flap of the tool on top which I set to be even with the fuselage (minus a little for the sharpie thickness).  It worked out very well on the lower cowl.  Upper cowl has some angles in it so we will see how it works on that.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Last Skin is on!

This week (odd how its become a weekly thing now) was kinda fun because I am starting to wrap up the fuselage.  See what I mean in pictures...  Lots of pictures but they don't tell the whole story as I forget to take pictures until I am needing a break.

See that strip of aluminum in the upper left corner of the picture?  Well, that's what this strip of aluminum looked like at first.  After lots of measuring and cutting this is the rough shape it will take.

And here is that same piece of aluminum after I have cleaned it up and started drilling holes.  This is the strip that will get riveted to the forward side of the fuselage and will hold the receptacles for the quarter-turn fasteners that will hold the cowling on.

I laid the top piece of the cowling on the air-frame just to see what it would look like. Lots of trimming to do yet.

Here you can see the aluminum strip cleco'd in place with plastic covering the engine.

I needed to cut the air vent holes for the 80mm fans that I will be mounting.  Here they are all cut and drilled.  Now I can finish up this last skin and get it riveted on.

hmmm, I might need to do a little more trimming on the wind screen.

Painted the interior portion of the top skin since it will not be paint-able once I put the wind screen in place.  This is the same paint as the interior which is a non glossy dark color so I minimize glare. UPDATE:  I removed the brown paint on Sunday and redid it with a flat back that seems to work a little better.  No pictures of that yet.

Got the skirt support strips riveted in place in preparation for gluing the skirt in place.

And here the skirt is glued and cleco'd in place.  Still have to countersink, rivet and then finish the exterior surface of the skirt but so far its looking pretty good.
Finally, here is the skirt riveted to the slider frame.  Not a bad fit, but now I have to dress up and finish the exterior side of the skirt.  That will have to wait for a bit.

Here is the fit from the back side after riveting.

Ok, this is probably not true but this rivet was the last one that Travis and Mariah helped me put in on Saturday.  The top skin is installed!  The only rivets left are for the firewall and those have to wait until I get the cowling trimmed and fitted.

Top skin riveted on.  Now I can install the windshield.
I took the time to install the handles on the roll-bar before I glued the windshield on.  You would think this would be a quick install but as expected it took much longer than I anticipated to get the holes drilled properly and in the correct alignment.

Sunday Amy and I decided to go out for Bremerton!  We flew Harry's Cessna to Bremerton and had these pancakes, and this is not the big batch!

After breakfast we decided to take a round-about route home that went over the Tahoma Ridge property down in the Eatonville area.  Very pretty country.