Tuesday, July 6, 2021

16 hours into Phase 1

Well in the past couple of weeks I have managed to get about 16 hours of flight time in on N88DA.  Since the engine is new I have had to do most of those at high power to ensure seating of the piston rings.  High power means lots of heat during the hottest months of the year including a few days of record breaking VERY high temps.  

A few squawks (issues) have come up as expected but so far nothing major.  

  • A 'buz' during high power operations at certain yaw orientations.  Turned out to be one of the skin panels near the copilot knee panel was "oil canning".  I fixed that with a little j-channel and some pro-seal.
  • Lots of mixture issues as I learn to use my new SDS EFI system.  This is just a learning curve and I'm slowly getting comfortable with what is required to fly this airplane and keep the engine CHT's down.
  • Trim indication was backward.  Easily fixed with a setting in the G3X touch settings.
  • Autopilot pitch trim as backward.  This was an interesting one...I enabled the Autopilot in "heading" mode and "Altitude" modes and the airplane immediately started to descend when it was supposed to climb.  Ooops.  The roll AP servo was also controlling the roll trim backward...again an easy fix.
  • CWS button does not seem to work.  Still haven't dug into that one.
  • A couple of oil leaks (seeps is probably more appropriate of a description).  Still working on those.
  • Oil pressure was still too high.  Had to adjust it a couple of times to get it where I wanted it.
  • Throttle position sensor failed at one point.  Not particularly important to safe engine operation but it does help with throttle response.  This one turned out to be a crimp issue where the heat shrink connectors I used didn't fare well between the two hot exhaust pipes.  I re-did the connection and then surrounded it with a heat protective cloth sleeve.
  • G3X EFIS would not update to the latest databases.  My fault...I had entered it on the Garmin site as a non touch G3X.  An email to Garmin support resolved that issue.
  • Com 2 does not transmit.  Another one that I am holding off on for now.  When I tried to do a transmit test with my Com 2 I was not getting a satisfactory return.  In addition if the engine was running it caused some electrical interference with my SDS-EFI system.  I'm pretty sure this is just a routing of the coax problem.  SDS is very clear in the instructions that it's wiring harness should be insulated by about 1" of air from other power source wires.  A coax during transmission is definitely a violation of that rule...if it turns out to be the case.  For now I have been operating with just one comm radio.
  • Fuel flow indication was WAY off.  A couple of re-fueling's and I think I have that number dialed in now.
I also did a couple of stalls to set my baseline stall speeds.  With the flaps up she stalls at 62 knots indicated and with the flaps down that number is 51 knots indicated.  Pretty close to the published numbers from Vans.

I still don't have the gear leg fairings or the wheel pants installed yet so I don't know the true performance.  I did find that at full throttle and 2700 RPM I was getting about 160knots true.  If the numbers pan out I expecting the same configuration with the fairings on will be about 175 knots true.

Oh, I mentioned heat... well the biggest issue I am dealing with right now is keeping the CHT's down and keeping the under cowl temps down.  On a couple of my flights the backup battery (under the cowl) was reporting excessive temps.  When I pulled the cowl this past weekend to do another routine inspection I found that the primary alternator ANL fuse holder had melted due to heat from both the exhaust as well as the heat generated from the electrical load.  I am going to try a couple of things to fix this.  For now I plan on installing a heat shield over the exhaust pipe on the right side.  If that doesn't completely resolve the issue my next step will be to move the backup battery, it's solenoid, and the cross connect solenoid to the tail cone next to the primary battery.  I may do this regardless of the outcome of the shielding simply because this airplane has turned out to be very nose heavy.  I'll know more when I do the W&B after installing all the interior pieces.

Overall I am very happy with how things are progressing.

Finally, I am excited to announce that I have moved N88DA to the Fall City airport!  I needed the longer/wider runway for my initial testing but now that I am comfortable with how the airplane is flying I figured it was time to move a little closer to home.

Sorry, I don't have any pictures to post this time.  

Sunday, June 20, 2021

It Flies!!

Edit:  Here is a link to the video I compiled from all the cameras.  https://youtu.be/-o84bVuDo_Q

 This is just a quick post to let everybody know that N88DA has taken to the skies!  On Saturday morning the 19th of June, 2021 at about 10AM the airplane broke ground for the first time.  She flew beautifully with no trim changes, no heavy wing, and nothing less than a smooth climb.  As expected I did get some high CHT values but with a slight reduction in power and RPM I was able to limit the highest to 421 and even then only 3 of the 6 cylinders broke 400 degrees.  As soon as I leveled out all temps dropped nicely and I had no more issues with temps.  The oil temps never got above 185 during the entire flight and that's with prop and throttle at max.  I'm happy with how the engine is cooling so far.  Airspeed and altimeter tested out perfectly against Harry's chase plane.  The fuel flow is off considerably but that's to be expected and is an easy correction on my next fuel up.

The airplane is a dream to fly but its definitely on the heavy side for controls compared to all the other RV models I have flown.  You actually have to push the stick instead of just thinking about it.  :-)

I had one surprise during the flight, and that was the huge amount of aft stick needed to land.  My approach was over the dump and that always has a bit of updraft followed by a significant down draft on short final.  My approach was on target but I found that was almost unable to arrest the decent in time because the control stick was full aft and bumping into my belly!  The landing was actually pretty good but it was very close to being a bouncer.

I have a few squawks (issues) that need addressing.  One was discovered on flight three today.  The prop control cycles just fine on the ground but in flight there is enough wind pressure on the cowling that it pushes it aft enough to block the governor control movement such that I can't bring the prop down below 2350 RPM.  I should have that one taken care of in time for the next flight.

I also had some oil door issues.  Most people have their oil door pop open on the first flight, and I knew that, so I reinforced the door so the latch would not flex.  However, I did not reinforce the corners opposite the hinge and as a result those corners were bulging up due to the extreme air pressure in the cowling.  Nothing that a little duct tape couldn't cure for flights two and three.  :-)

I'm still chasing a couple of minor oil leaks and one grease leak from the starter.  Otherwise the engine seems to be in good condition.

Oh, I should mention that on the runup for the first flight my coil (MAG) check failed on the right side (bottom plugs).  This required a taxi back to the hangar where a simple cleaning of the plugs resolved the issue.  Too much very rich run time on the ground.  However, I mention this not only as a warning to others but also to let you know that I had great plans for lots of video of the first flight.  Well, I did get good video but not from inside the airplane.  In fact I had a 360 camera set up on the VS top as well as a GoPro camera installed in the cockpit.  The 360 camera only caught the initial taxi out to the runup and the interior camera I forgot to turn on until I was already airborne and doing my initial circuits of the airport.  Oh well, I had a few people there and still got some video so hopefully I will have a video to share in the near future.

A big thanks to the ground and flight crew for the day!  

  • Harry, chase plane pilot
  • Ben, the ground crew and videographer
  • Randy the flight photographer and note taker
  • Bob the ground crew car driver

Ok, on to a few pictures of the day.









Monday, June 14, 2021

The last N88DA build phase (planned) update

As the title says I expect this to be the last update on the build phase for N88DA.  This past week I have managed (with lots of help) to get all of the build phase tasks complete.  That list includes things like resolving the leak on the oil filter adapter.  That leak turned out to be an interesting one...the oil filter housing itself had a microscopic crack near the upper outboard bolt hole.  The only way to see it was to watch it very closely with a light and a mirror when oil pressure came up.  Then you could see it seep out of what looked like a tiny line about 1/8" long and very thin.  After replacing the oil filter adapter the oil leak was gone!

In addition I was able to finish up the wing tips, wire up the landing, position, strobe lights and get all of the required bulkheads and fairings installed.  Last Sunday I took her out to the runway (first time moving on her own power!) and did a brake burn in.  That was a bit challenging because I did not want the CHT's to exceed 350 degrees.  I sure wish I had recorded the run because that 540 really sounds amazing and is soooo smooth.  Can't wait to run it up for the first flight.

So, if all goes as planned this is it....its on to phase 1 and flight testing.  That's certainly not the end of the build process though...there are hundreds of hours of finish work ahead so stay tuned.  Besides...I'm already planning my next build.... ;-)

I will leave you with this photo...its N88DA as she sits waiting for first flight!




Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Not quite there ....

I've got a surprising number of people reaching out to me to see if I have flown the 10 yet....and unfortunately I'm still working on a few issues that I want resolved before it flies.  From a readiness perspective I am just about there.  Last Tuesday N88DA became an official airplane through the blessing of Charlie Cotton (and 4 of his closest FAA friends).  AKA... I got my air worthiness certificate.  

As I mentioned in my last blog update I ran the engine for the first time and during that run we detected the oil leak at the oil filter adapter.  Well, it turns out that the two small dings in the mounting pad were not the source of the leak.  We tried several different methods of sealing the leak (about 5 gaskets worth!)  In the end I asked Harry to hop in the airplane and start it while I was looking at the exact spot where the oil leak was occurring.  What I saw was a bit of a surprise...there was oil coming out of a very small, almost invisible, crack in the oil filter adapter housing.  It was near the upper outboard bolt hole and when the engine was running you could see oil seeping out of the crack.  A new adapter should be arriving in the next couple of days and that will hopefully be the last of the issues to resolve before first flight.

In the past week I have fixed a number of small issues that came up after completing the assembly process.  One of those issues was related to the LRU's (Garmin Line replaceable units) that I installed in the tail cone.  The Magnetometer, Pitch AP servo, and the Yaw servo were showing up on the EFIS as 100% data failure on the CAN bus.  I then started trouble shooting one device at a time starting with the Magnetometer at one end of the bus and working my way to the other end of the bus (Roll AP Servo). What I found was a bit frustrating!!!  I had forgot to install the termination jumper on the Roll AP servo....at the exact opposite end of the bus!  Once I installed that jumper everything came online as it was supposed to.  

I also found a couple of wires swapped on the tail light that was a simple fix.  I will say that I am glad that today's electronics are so well protected from installer stupidity!

Finally, during my air worthiness inspection Charlie mentioned that the elevator trim did not look like it was operating to full extents.  The issue was that I had what appeared to be full nose up trim but the trim tabs only moved up to being in trail for full nose down trim.  I spent a significant amount of time troubleshooting and researching, including a call to Vans support, only to find that I had installed the wrong Servo.  A couple of years ago I had purchased an extra trim servo to use as a rudder trim servo.  In the mean time I had decided to try something different for rudder trim and didn't use the servo.  Come time to install the elevator trim mechanisms I had two servo's and the instructions don't tell you which one is correct so 50/50/90 I chose the wrong one.  After installing the correct servo (a huge project) I now have full elevator trim movement.

The next step is to prepare the weakest part of the project....the test pilot.  Time to get my pilot brain back to full fitness and then its time.....


Charlie (left) going over my operating instructions with me.  The guy on the left is one of the 4 other FAA guys that came along to observe the EAB certification process.

See the servo (black box) T2-7A?  That's the wrong servo for the elevator trim.  This picture is taken by reaching down into the tail from the far aft end.  Its almost impossible to see unless you crawl down the tail and that is a painful process.  But this picture combined with the one below is how I discovered I had the wrong servo installed.

In this picture you see the servo in its full extension mode.  If you look closely you will see that the servo cable that is visible is not in the position required for full extension.  That bolt attachment should actually be below the level of the mount plate.  This tells me that the servo was not extending far enough.  The T2-7A servo has about 3/4" of travel where as the T3 servo that is the correct servo has about 1.25" of travel.


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

The rush to the finish line (threshold)

 The past few weeks have been a blur of tasks to get the airplane ready for its air worthiness inspection next week.  As with the RV-9A it seems every time I get one task done another one pops up on the list.  So, here are a few of the items that have occupied my time recently.

  • Install and torque the wing bolts.
  • Hook up the wing wiring bundles
  • Hook up the fuel system in the wing roots.
  • Fix a couple of small fuel leaks.
  • do first engine start
  • fix a few wiring issues that cropped up
  • broke both control sticks (trying to bend them to fit properly)
  • engraved, installed, re-engraved with correct info, re-installed aircraft data plate
  • riveted in pitot tube mast
  • installed and wired up pitot tube
  • installed Autopilot roll servo
  • rigged control surfaces
  • configured VPX
  • configured G3X with engine parameters
  • troubleshot ID10T errors (multiple) on SDSEFI system
  • fixed oil leak on oil filter mount to accessory case
  • installed primary alternator
  • installed, torqued, and lock wired the prop
  • calibrated fuel tanks
  • weighed the aircraft and completed the weight and balance calculation.
  • etc etc etc

I'm sure there were a number of other items on that list but that's all that comes to mind right now.

Coming out of the hangar for the run to the fuel pump for tank calibration.  Harry is your chauffeur for this trip.

Long run past Mount Rainier on the way to the fuel pump.

Fuel filter on the co-pilot side...and the source of one small fuel leak.

First incorrect data plate.  The "Make" of this airplane was supposed to be my name.

The correct data plate before I trimmed it to size and installed it.

See those two small gouges beside the two holes in the middle?  Those were the source of my small oil leak.  



Sunday, May 2, 2021

The big move is in the books

 Saturday morning was a big day for N88DA!  The day started very early for me (2AM) when my brain kicked in and starting considering all the things I had to do before the "crew" arrived.  At about 6 AM I was headed out to buy donuts for the crew....and me...and Amy.  :-)

At just before 9AM people started showing up.  First was Harry and Bob followed closely by Jeff, Ben and Randy.  We gathered around the donuts and coffee (not nearly enough donuts were eaten) to strategize for this mornings activities.  "Should the trailer face this way or that way?"  "what about getting out of the neighborhood?"  "Do we have enough blankets and tie downs?"... one by one we figured it all out as you will see from the pictures below.

A really big thanks to Harry, Jeff, Ben, Randy and Bob for what turned out to be a very exciting and successful trip to KPLU (Puyallup airport)!!


Clutter cleared out and the first movement out of the garage.

Down the driveway...

Prepping the trailer.

Waiting in the street for loading

Harry seems to be saying..."Is that thing going to fit???"

Yup, it fit. Now we have to tie it down...and load the various parts that are going with it.

The "Crew"...Amy took the picture...and a video of the process.  Plane tied down and parts loaded in the various 5 vehicles that were part of the parade to the airport.

Guess who!

On the road!

At the airport where it took much less time to undo everything we just did at home.

First "landing" at KPLU!

Parked in the hangar where the rest of the magic happens.

Figured I might as well get the wings hung since we have all these hands around.

Wings on with temporary bolts!

The "wing" crew.....looks a lot like the transfer crew minus the photographer.  :-)

At the end of the day Bob and Harry hung around to help install the tail feathers.  It finally looks like a complete airplane!


Saturday, May 1, 2021

The last garage update...

Well as the title states this will be my last update from the garage.  I have scheduled the move to the airport for Saturday the 1st of May.  That's just over a week away!  Ben has a trailer all ready to go, Jeff and Harry are going to be here to help, and Bob (silver Super 8) is a possibility if he doesn't have to fly.  Its going to be a great day.

Looking at the date of my last post I guess I have lots to catch up on.  Not all are related to N88DA (the tail number of this RV-10 I'm building).  So lets start with the most impactful news...I've decided its time to retire from Senior Living.  I should probably call it semi-retire because I don't think Amy could stand me wandering around the house looking for something to do.  Not 100% sure what I will do next but I do know it will be something I really enjoy.

I also have to add that Harry, Jeff, and I took a last minute trip to Florida for the annual Sun-N-Fun fly in.  It was a whirlwind trip but we got to see a couple of F-22 demo flights, the Blue Angels with their new F18's, and of course a ton of other aircraft.  Vendors were a bit light but better than I expected and RV-10's were scarce.  There was however lots of beer available which went well with the high temps down there.  :-)

So, on with the RV-10 stuff.  In the past month I've knocked out a bunch of smaller tasks and the list is actually getting shorter.   For a while it felt like I added two items to the list for every one I removed.  some of the items that I managed to complete include wiring up the overhead console with lights, switches, and dimmer's to control the cabin heat; installed the SCAT hoses for the heating/ventilation systems; finished the filtered air box; installed most of the baffle seal rubber; installed the temporary N number on the empennage; finished hooking up the SDS controller; finished and tested the pitot/static system; installed all fuses and tested as appropriate; painted the interior of the snorkel with epoxy primer; installed the lower cowling heat shield material; adjusted my backup alternator voltage regulator to about .2 volts lower than primary; installed the lighting controller and wired it up to allow me to adjust the brightness of the switch lights, and I'm sure there was more but that's already quite a list!


Looking outboard from the spinner opening at the inlets to see how much of a gap I have to fill.

This is the #2 cylinder with the slight proud injector assembly.  I think there is just barely enough room in there with the rubber baffle material.

This is the beginning of the wing root control rod air gap seal.  The paper is the pattern for cutting the black rip stop material.  I used Amy's sewing machine to sew the material into a cone shape, then I put the backing ring around it.  This assembly then gets glued/riveted to the fuselage side as you see in the picture below.

Air gap seal is cleco'd on after I glued the ring to the rip stop cone.  Next up is to pop rivet the ring to the fuselage and then seal the small end around the control rod with enough play that it can move back and forth without binding the controls at all.

Overhead panels installed, labeled, and wired up.