Sunday, December 28, 2014

Its been a good week

I have to say that I am happy with this weeks progress.  I took care of several items that are on the list of things that need to get done before the move to the hangar.  I got to go flying with Jeff and Harry again which is always fun and a great motivator.  And last but not least I had a wonderful Christmas thanks to Amy.  She really takes Christmas to heart and the house is nicely decorated, there are presents under the tree for everybody and there is true Christmas spirit in the house.

Back to the progress of this week.  You recall that last week I made the decision to give up on the center console and that means I had to redo the throttle and mixture cables.  I had concerns that the brackets I fabricated for the engine would have to be re-done but I am happy to report that the new cables use the same ends as the old cables and seem to be the same length so it looks like my brackets will work!  That should save me about a day of work.  Along those lines I also had to re-do my switch panel because the one I had did not have enough room for the holes that the throttle and mixture controls go through.  I decided to try out a local company that did a presentation at one of our EAA chapter meetings.  They have some software that you can use to design any panel and then order it directly.  They will mill it to specification and even fill in any engraving you have.  I'm excited about getting that next week...hopefully early next week so I can finish up the cockpit.

Its a little hard to see unless you click on the picture to go full size but this is the new switch panel design that I sent to Front Panel Express.  I can't wait to get the final product.
OK, on to the pictures...

After lots of work on the induction system I think I am going to call it good.  I have a little work on the alternate air portion but otherwise it is ready.  This is a shot of the inlet with a nice gap.

And here is the clearance from the lower cowl.

Taking a page out of Jeff's book I decided to put small windows in the inspection covers for the elevator push-rod ends.  This is a picture of the inside with the new windows installed.

And this is a picture of the inspection cover installed.  I think it is going to work nicely!

I finally got a chance to set up my "paint booth" to prime the baffle parts.  I ended up cutting the paint booth down a bit so I could easily put it away and take it out when I needed it.

I also took the time to "glue" the finger pull to the top of the slider canopy.  This should help with the opening of the canopy when its fully closed.

Finally I spent Sunday doing nut-plates on the wings since I have to wait for the switch panel to get finished before I move forward on the fuselage.  Yes, all day (except for the time I took off to watch the Seahawks game).  There were 78 nut-plates installed today.  That doesn't sound like much but stop to consider how much work that is...I had to match drill three holes per nut-plate, debur and dimple those 234 holes, and then rivet the nut-plates to the wing.  Oh and since I was working blind I ended up missing one end of the nut-plate on 4 holes that meant I had to drill out the rivets and try again.

These are the wing root fairing nut plates. 30 nut plates and about 18 more on the fuel tanks yet to do.

One of the six lower wing access plates.  Can you see the boo boo in this picture?  I caught it after I took the picture.

Test fitting the cover plates.

And one of the access plates finished including the screws.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas is coming... take a few week-long steps back.

So this week is Christmas and I in a way I am glad for the upcoming break from building the airplane.  This was not a good week to put is succinctly.  I spent a huge portion of the past week and even more time in the the past working on the center console.  Well this week I finished it and put it in the airplane and all I can say is it looked great!  However, that's when the problems started.  As I was installing it I realized that it was going to be very hard to get the fuel valve hooked up correctly and then once it was hooked up it was going to be a problem every time I had to do an annual inspection on the airplane.  Couple that with a few other smaller issues that I found or that have been bouncing around inside my head and I finally made the decision to nix the center console.  I am so frustrated with that decision but its the right decision.

In the title I made reference to a few weeks of work down the drain.  With the decision to remove the center console I have several tasks that I will have to do again including the following:

1.  Re-fabricate the switch panel to hold the throttle and mixture controls that I have to buy.
2.  Re-wire some switches (fuel pump, flap controls, and probably a few others that will move with the switch panel re-make).
3.  Throttle and mixture engine brackets may have to be re fabricated depending on what the new throttle and mixture cable's fit is like.
4.  I will have to put some sort of cover over the area between the seats where the elevator push-rod tube is.  The original plans called for a cover that I fabricated and then subsequently destroyed.  I may put some sort of modified center console with some storage in that location....not sure.
5.  Rewire the heated seat controls.  I may not do this right away.
  I did manage to finish up the fiberglass work on the empennage fairing, and after a few trips to Puyallup to try to find the correct 90 degree steel fuel line fitting I managed to find a fitting that should do the job.  Not nearly the progress that I wanted to report this week but as I keep telling myself, it will get done when it gets done.  There is no hurry.  With that said, here is what I have on tap for this week...

Here it is, all ready to be installed.  It looks great!

Another view from the forward side.

See the black fitting on top?  Well thats the one that I have been trying to find with the correct machining on the threads.  After trying 7 different fittings I have finally opted to use the silver looking fitting below the black fitting.  It will swivel which should allow me to install the fuel hose in the correct location.
This is the induction system with the lower cowl installed.  I had to move the whole assembly up about a quarter inch to get that clearance you see.  Without that clearance the movement of the engine would cause problems.  Still a bit of work to do on this piece.
Here is the empennage fairing pretty much completed.

And here is the other side.  After I took this picture I noted that there is a slight bulge between the two aft screws on the horizontal stabilizer.  I will have to do a little adjusting to get that to lay flat like the rest of the part.
This is the fuel overflow drain tube.  It comes from the mechanical fuel pump and is dumped overboard just aft of the cowling where you see the aluminum tubing going through.
Ok, last but not least...I have some work to do with the fuel selector valve.  When I purchased the valve it had an extension that was designed for the center console so I have to reconfigure the valve for no extension and I will probably have to buy a new label plate since the one shown is drilled for the expansion.  I am also going to have to replace my switch panel that is shown in this picture.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ok, it will not be this month

Sigh*  I've been telling everybody that I wanted to move to the airport this month.  Well it isn't looking like that will happen.  I have been using a composite primer called UV Smooth Prime that requires three weeks of curing time before I put the final coat of epoxy primer on.  That three week window alone puts me in early January before I can move to the airport.  I don't think the electrical system in the hangar will support an air compressor large enough to run an HVLP spray gun.  I am getting so excited about flying this airplane but there are a number of tasks that are still on the agenda that are really out of my control...the airworthiness inspection comes to mind as a big one.  :-)

So back to the weekly progress report.  I am still working on the cowling this week.  Another coat or two of epoxy to seal up the pin holes and then another coat of bilge-coat and I think I am going to call it ready for the next steps.  I finished up a few details on the engine...installing plug wires, tightening oil cooler hoses, etc.

Also got some work done on the empennage fairing this week.  I had to trim the fairing in a few places and do some glass work but its starting to come together nicely.  I also had to install the lower empennage fairing which is actually a small aluminum strip that gets screwed to the longerons after drilling and tapping out some nice #6 screw holes.

I had to trim the area outlined in black on both sides.

The other side.

Here the fairing is back on the airplane and I have laid some fiberglass up to form a new forward hook around the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer.
The short aluminum strips outlined by the yellow is the lower empennage fairing.  These get trimmed down a little and then a rubber seal is put between the strip and the bottom of the horizontal stabilizer.

This is the vacuum bagging process that I used to form the center console cap out of carbon fiber.  In this picture I have laid two layers of 9 oz carbon fiber cloth and then one layer of 9 oz fiberglass into the mold.  Then I put some peel ply down followed by some absorbent cloth and then finally I wrapped it all in plastic and sealed the edges.  Just before I seal things up for good I install the vacuum flange so that I could use the pump sitting on the edge of the table behind the yellow coil of hose to draw a nice 28" vacuum on the bag.  This forces the cloth into the mold and holds it there while the epoxy dries which is about 24 hours.
And this is what the final product looks like sitting on the center console.  It took lots of trimming, cutting and sanding to get it this far and there is more to come.  So far I like the way it looks.

I finally got around to priming the slider skirt.  It took several coats of UV Smooth Prime and lots of sanding but I am ready for the epoxy now.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Troubleshooting and some progress

This week started out with a little troubleshooting of the electrical system in the airplane.  As I mentioned last week I installed and tested the EICommander.  Well I found during the testing that my right PMag was not indicating correctly on the instrument.  In addition I found that my right PMag switch did not work.  So Monday evening I set out to remedy both situations.  For the switch I found that my ground screw on the switch itself had some foreign material between the screw and the copper grounding bar.  I couldn't see exactly what the material was but once I removed it and re-installed the switch everything worked as expected.

Next up on the list was the right PMag.  I ended up pulling apart the wiring pig tail that I created to allow updating of the EICommander and found that for the right PMag I had swapped the ground wire with the wire used to sense engine RPM.  After putting the wires in the correct location everything worked well with that.

Oh one more thing, I re-installed the horizontal and vertical stabilizers again this week in preparation for finishing the fairing the covers the gaps between the two of them.  Expect pictures of that in my next post.

I finally managed to get a somewhat decent picture of the instrument panel.  At least its as good as I am going to get until I can get the airplane outside or at least in a better lit location.  I took this picture when I had everything powered up.  Still lots of updating of the BIOS for many of the instruments in this panel.  The center screen (GDU460) looks particularly out of date as there should be a nice 3D image of the surrounding topography showing on the screen with the indicators you see overlaid on top of that image.  I also have the lower center panel off so that I could run some wires and also I think I may replace it with one that has the same pattern as the rest of the panel.  Incidentally this picture was taken before I fixed the issue with the wiring on the right PMag hence the series of X's on the EICommander.

Next up on the agenda is the cover for the center console.  I had to break out my wood working skills that may have atrophied a little since I started this airplane building business but I managed to get a serviceable mold for the console cover.

Here is is after I put it all together.  I still have to smooth the inner surfaces so that the carbon fiber surface will be smooth. Its probably pretty easy to figure out but I will lay the carbon fiber cloth inside this mold and then apply a suction to a plastic "bag" which will force the cloth into the mold.

A side view of the same mold.
Here it is as of Sunday evening.  The paint is there to make a nice smooth surface for the epoxy/carbon fiber.  Next up I will give this one more smooth sanding and then spray it with a mold release compound that will ease the process of popping the finished part out of the mold.  Then its time to lay up some cloth!

I think the plenum is about as far as I am going to get it for the foreseeable future.  I am testing a product called Smooth Prime and it has to sit for three weeks before I can put the epoxy primer over the entire thing and call it finished.

Here is is after I sprayed a coat of "Smooth Prime".  I will sand this down to a smooth finish and then set it aside and wait.

Oh, and the remaining parts I needed to finish the throttle and mixture cable mounts on the engine came in so I finished it up.

Here it is ready to go!

This is the inside of the top half of the cowling.  Following Jeff's example (and using his product) I am painting the inside of the cowling with a special paint for boats called Bilge Coat.  It is designed to be applied to fiberglass and when dry is resistant to fuel and oil.  However, I found that the inside of the cowl has a LOT of pin holes (normal for fiberglass) that I will have to fill with another coat or two of this paint, or some epoxy.

Having learned my lesson on the top cowling I decided to put a layer of epoxy on the inside of the bottom half of the cowling.  Its hard to see it in this picture but the shiny stuff is the new layer of epoxy that should fill the pin holes...or at least most of them.  Once this dries I will roll on some Bilge Coat.
The last thing on the agenda for this week was the canopy latch hook.  The kit manufacturer sends this out a little large so that it can be custom fitted to each install.  Well tonight I finished trimming the hook so that the canopy will close and latch properly.  I am still having some issues with the canopy being a little too tight when closed.  It takes a pretty good push to get the canopy rolling up and back again.  I will have to do some trimming of the aft nylon latch blocks I think.  Another day....

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving week fun

Yep this week was Thanksgiving and what a week it was.  Lots of family, friends and even a few days of nice weather (and our first snow of the year).  For Thanksgiving we had all four kids over plus a couple of refugee's (Jared and Alex).  Amy's mom and Button came along to make for a great evening of food and fun.

I had hoped to get a bit more done over the long holiday weekend but as is normal I ran into a few bumps in the road.  The work that did get done this week started with the throttle and mixture cable mount brackets.   The following series of photo's show the progress of that project.  It started with me fabricating a few different shapes in aluminum and when I found the shape that I liked the best I then changed to mild steel for the actual brackets.  What you see below is the steel bracket work.

Here the mixture cable bracket is installed and the cable hooked up.  Its only temporary but it allowed me to make sure the bracket I fabricated would hold the cable tightly yet allow full range of motion.

In this picture you can see the throttle cable bracket.
Here they are after sand-blasting and ready for powder coating.

Powder coating complete and ready for installation.
And finally the cables are installed.  I have some of the correct bolts on order to complete this install but at least this is a big item off of my checklist.

The next project was the oil separator drain into the exhaust.  I drilled the hole, had it welded, and re-installed the exhaust.

The weld is complete.  

And its installed

Another picture of the installation with check valve.

I started working on the aileron push-rod fuselage seals.

This is the rip stop material that I had to cut and sew...yes sew, with Amy's sewing machine.  The big end gets glued to an aluminum ring that gets screwed to the fuselage.  The small end gets tie wrapped to the aileron push rods.  This prevents cold air from the wing traveling into the cockpit.

Next on the agenda is the center console.  About 2 months ago I ordered a vinyl cover for it.  I got that cover last week and when I went to install it I found that it did not fit.  I guess I shouldn't have been surprised because there have been numerous issues with the console that I have had to overcome but I really want it so I will make it work.  Anyway back to the console.  I decided to pull the stitches out of the cover Abby sent me and then glue the vinyl to the sides as a start.  That way I can install the console in the airplane and work on some of the other items on the list...namely the throttle quadrant.  Next up on the list for the console is a cover for the top.  My current plan is to make one out of carbon fiber which I think will look great but I first have to build a form to do the layup.

There is a pretty heavy shadow here but you can see that I was successful in gluing the vinyl to the console.  I am actually pretty please with how it has turned out so far.  Once I get the layup form fit tested I can go ahead and install the throttle quadrant.

So I have been doing some reading online about people who use the PMag ignition system.  Turns out that there is a very strong group recommendation that those using the PMags should also use an instrument called the EICommander.  It allows the pilot to have finer control over the ignition curve which in turn makes the airplane more efficient in varied flight environments.  Namely high altitude flight is of interest to me.  It also has a few other nice features that will be important during the break-in period on this newly overhauled engine.  Anyway I ordered and installed the EICommander which required my to remove the pilot side instrument panel...again, drill another 5 holes in it and install the EICommander.  Oh, I also had to re-wire the PMags.

Just a picture of the right PMag with the new wires installed.  Keep in mind that I am doing all this re-wiring in the area between the engine and the firewall.  It's kinda like trying to do it while standing on your head and working behind your back!

Here is the EICommander in the instrument panel.  I had to order some bolts for it but I had a couple that I could use to temporarily hold it in place while I wire it up.
 On Sunday I spent most of the day wiring up the EI Commander and doing some "smoke" testing of the ignition system.  I still have a problem with the right PMag ignition not showing up on the EI Commander but the ignition itself seems to be working correctly.  As part of the the testing I also was able to test out the newly installed CO monitor.  Turns out I had a pin wrong and ended up having to rewire the DB9 connector on it.  I am happy I did because I had run out of the crimp pin DB9 backshells when I originally installed it so I ended up using the solder on kind.  Those are probably ok but it sure makes it easy to work with when I use the crimp pin type so I swapped the soldered connector for the crimp pin.