Van’s found an issue with the canopy pushing out during accelerated flight, so their solution was to add a pin to an existing canopy so it wouldn’t push out. I thought it was going to be a real pain, but it wasn’t bad at all. Took about 2 hours total time. Here is the top of the pin in the canopy.
Here is where it comes down and sits on the side of the fuselage. Originally I thought that part sitting up was going to be a pain, but it’s really no big deal.
I’ve done as much as I can with the parts I have, so time to move her to the hangar and attach the wings and tail.
Here she is leaving the comforts of my garage for the last time.
Going down the road:
Unloading at the hangar in Hammond.
I am not sure if I am going to use the Alt Air and I don’t want to put it on the bracket. So if I do use it, I will put it below the air vent on the pilot side, well within reach if needed. This gives me plenty of room between the controls and I made sure the Throttle is close to the flap switch so I can do both with one hand.
Now I need prime the part and send it off to Aerotronics to put the carbon finish on it and label it.
I thought it would be a good idea to use some shrink tube on the bus bar to help eliminate anything hitting it and shorting something out. I used the ⅛” bus bar between the starter and master solenoids and 1/16″ on the other two. I wouldn’t have been able to bend the ⅛” in that short area. I’ll have to remove the ones on the shunt to be able to get to the two small screws to attach the other wires, but this way everything can stay in one place for now.
I received my exhaust from Vetterman and installed it. One of the mufflers had a couple of dents in it and Clint is not sure this is the final design. It is different from Van’s, it has two pipes verse the one that Van’s has going down the center tunnel. I will have to cut a couple of holes in the bottom cowl to allow for them to come out the bottom.
My finishing kit shipped and the freight company had a truck break down and they were not going to be able to deliver it until Monday. Ah, no. I went out to New Orleans East and picked it up in a friend’s pickup truck. As you can see, it was a tight fit. Unfortunately Van’s backordered the bolts to attach the motor mount, so I couldn’t get the wheels on today. I made do and did some other tasks until I could get the parts.
I installed the seat backs, but I may take them out again just to make it easier to finish up the wiring under the panel in case I have to get on my back. It doesn’t sound like I will be able to order my seats before year end. I am planning on getting them from Classic Aero, but they are swamped with other orders and haven’t even tried to measure for the seats yet.
I had finished crawling into the back cone of the airplane, except I still have to connect the elevator push tube to the empennage once it’s installed, so I closed off the back and installed the back window. I don’t like the way the black proseal shows through, but that’s how Van’s said to do it. I wish I would have used some sort of clear silicone instead of the proseal.
I decided to use the bus bar to connect the starter relay to the master relay. I used a ⅛” thick bar on that one. Then I created another bar 1/16″ thick from the master to the shunt and another one to the ANL Limiter which holds the 60AMP fuse for the alternator. That bottom post will have a 8 AWG wire attached to it leading to the alternator. I’ll go back and add some sort of shrink tube over the area that is exposed so nothing hits it and throws off sparks. There will be a couple of other wires attached as well, a 2 AWG coming off the battery to the Master, a 20ga going from the panel to the Master and another 20ga from the panel to the starter. There is also a 8 AWG going from the master by the yellow diode to the panel. I’ll remove the stickers on them once I have everything wired. It helps to remind me which one is which.
Here’s where it will sit below the manifold. I haven’t drilled holes in the firewall to mount it yet, I want to make sure there is nothing else going in that area, but I think that will be a good position.
Here is a picture of the firewall with the fittings I currently have on it. I am trying to plan any additional penetrations now before I receive the engine mount and actually mount the engine. With the help from Matt, who’s building a RV-14a for Van’s, I was able to determine what the existing nutplates will be used for.
I am working on all of the wiring that goes to P-1 plug. All of the wiring for the lights, starter, battery master, fuel pump, P-Mags, accessory power plug, map & cabin lights, flaps and Alt Field. Some I can’t do yet until the engine is mounted, because I don’t know exactly how long to make them, but whatever I can wire, I am doing so.
These are the wires for the lights and the fuel sender.
I received the panel front from Aerotronics and installed it back in the plane. Good news about the CO2 detector, the company checked it and no problems, plus they replaced the cover with a new one, so just like new. I’m waiting on that return to install it, then I will be finished working with the panel for now.
Here is the finished left side of the panel with the CO2 part installed.
Once the panel was installed, I put the canopy back on to test everything. The one thing we didn’t account for was the tunnel of the canopy and the length of the CO2 detector. It was too high up and stuck out too far, so when you bring the canopy down, it hits. So I had to pull out the unit and send it back to be checked for damage and rearrange the panel to put the smaller items, the ELT and Hobbs above it.
Now that I think I am finished with the aft fuselage and bringing the wires forward, I went ahead and installed the transponder right behind the baggage cover. That way it will be easy access when it needs maintenance. Then I ran all those wires up to the panel. Here you can see the location of the transponder and the shelf in the back with the magnetometers on it and how neat the wires are.
I only have those two white wires on the left from the elevator trim that I have to deal with. I think I will bring them up the right side of this picture and insert them into the molex connector on the pilot side.
I climbed in to the back of the plane and worked my way forward tidying up all the wires since I am pretty sure we have all the wires that are coming from the tail section. The only two wires I need to address are coming from the elevator trim and tail light up to the bulkhead, then the wires coming from the bulkhead up to the instrument panel. I also received the wire harness coming from the Garmin magnetometer and I ran that up to the panel.
Wired the new aileron trim relay and terminated in P-7 and P-15. Installed empennage to verify elevator fits correctly, drilled elevator horns. Tested elevator trim. Empennage is complete. Wired white and green glare shield map light. Installed Garmin 625 antenna behind the back window a little off-center on the pilot side due to the support going down the middle of the top skin. Installed Garmin EFIS antenna in canopy on the glareshield.
Finished wiring GRT mini magnetometer.
We finished riveting the right wing after installing the AutoPilot and figuring out what to do about the aileron trim. Aileron pushbuttons were installed. Also installed the Garmin and GRT OAT fittings in the wings, one in the left, one in the right. Ran wires from the ELT to the panel. Both wings are finished and being sent to the warehouse to give us more room to work.
Instead of waiting for UPS to deliver the panel, we had them hold it and we went and picked it up. It came well packed in a huge container.
Once we got the crate unpacked and all inventory done, it was time to start installing it in the panel. Because some of the items were pre-wired, it was quite tricky, but once we had a chance to think about it, we got it in there.
Well it didn’t smoke, which is a good thing.
Another milestone achieved. Now it’s time to wire up all of the radios, etc. To see the panel up close and the quality of work that Jason at Aerotronics did, I could not be happier. Those with much more experience that me, were very impressed with the workmanship. Thanks Jason!
Well, my expert helper is back in town, so it’s time to take off of work and get some work done on the plane. I’m amazed at his breath of knowledge and don’t know how I could complete this build without his expert help and advice.
First he attached the rudder cable fairings that I fabricated from another builders plans.
Now the canopy is attached. There are a few odds and ends before I can start the fiberglass fairing process. I need to put in on the plane and check the fitting of the canopy, then attach the clips to hold it down while it is being fiberglassed. At least the pool table is getting some use, other than for folding clothes.
Time to pucker up and drill some holes in the canopy. It actually was not bad at all. Once I got the good fit to everything and drilled the initial holes, then you had to go back and widen them with a #27 to fit a #6 screw. That was nerve racking because the drill bit kept wanting to twist as it entered the plexiglass. I didn’t get any pictures of the process, I guess I was too focused on getting the holes right and not damaging the canopy.
Here is a pic of the canopy in place with the back window. The back window is finished and will be installed in the end. That will allow for easier access to the back of the plane until I finish all the wiring.
I am waiting on some assistance on painting the inside of the canopy frame, because the back roll bar has to be the same color as the roll bar, which is Fighter Blue. I can spray the primer, but I don’t have the correct gun or talent to paint the roll bar. Once I get the canopy frame painted, then I can attach it all and start working on the fiberglass fairing on the front of the canopy and the frame. Once that is finished, I will be waiting again for the rest of the finishing kit to be delivered.
Now for the scary part, the canopy. I put the plexiglass on the frame and measured everything and the back part needed a little trimming, so I used my dremel tool, then my perma-grit sanding block, then 400 grit sandpaper to get a good finish on the end.
One I put the canopy on the frame, I outlined where it was going to lay on the front part. Then I used the epoxy slurry to fill any holes, then I painted it flat black like Van’s recommends to cut down on the glare.
It was time to start assembling the canopy frame. Van’s was very adamant about checking for squareness with a digital level as you work on the canopy. Although they didn’t mention what was within tolerance, I finished within 1/10 of a degree.
Here is the canopy assembled and connected to the hinges.
It’s amazing how well the window fit without any modifications. I did need to make the two notches in the back and a little on the sides by the roll bar, but other than that, it’s a very nice fit. I had to wait on the #36 bit that Bob from Avery had made for the 14 builders, but once I got that, I was able to drill the holes in the canopy, then tap for a #6 screw into the canopy and the roll bar. I had one of the taps break off, but luckily enough of it was sticking out that I could get a pair of pliers on it and get it back out.
I went ahead and installed the pitch Autopilot. Garmin sent a solid aluminum rod and it first had to be cut to size. Then it needed a hole in the middle of it and then it had to be tapped to accept the fitting. At first I couldn’t figure out how to drill the hole centered in the rod and Van’s suggestion was to use a lathe. Perfect! But that’s probably the only tool I don’t own, so I put the rod in a wooden block, clamped it on the drill press and carefully drilled the hole. It worked perfectly. Oddly enough the roll install kit comes with a rod that is already threaded. If this didn’t work, I was going to order an additional rod and use it on the pitch, but it worked great. Another skill learned!
I ordered all of the antennas. I got the ADS-B and Transponder Antenna from Delta Pop Aviation and the two Comm antennas from Aerotronics. Here I installed the ADS-B Antenna in the back. First I had to shave off some of the front of the antenna because of the interference with the bottom skin. Don from Delta Pop was nice enough to send me this drawing so I could see how much I could remove for a good fit.
Then I fabricated a doubler to add a little strength in case the antenna gets bumped.
I also installed the bracket for the ELT to put that in place.
I have been working on the layout of the panel and received some trays to fit into the radio stack. We found out you can’t put the Garmin 625 on the bottom, unless you want to cut out part of the back of the subpanel because it is higher in the back by about 1 ½”. This means I will have to put the AutoPilot on the bottom, then the Audio Panel, then the 625. Not my ideal configuration, but I think it will work.
Here is the back of the subpanel
Once I put the two halves together, it was time to work on the fuel system. I tried to bend the aluminum fuel line, but found that it was difficult to get really good bends, so I installed the fuel components and am waiting on the fuel lines. Here is the fuel pump and filter.
One of the more difficult tasks was getting the washers in between this tight area on the control column. You had to do it on both sides of the bolt. I created my “tool” out of scrap aluminum and used double tape to keep it on the tool until I had it in place for the bolt, then yanked the tool loose from the washer. Worked well, just took a while to get the right size washers in that area so there was no left to right slack in the stick. Perfect, no left to right movement at all.
I was backriveting the skin on a 12″ x 12″ steel plate in the middle of a board and didn’t get good results, so I flipped the skin on the bulkhead and clamped it down. I think this method is going to work a lot better, but I am going to have to get my wife to hold the bucking bar.
I wish I would have thought of doing it this way the first time. I will have to remove some of the rivets that did not sit well on the backriveting plate.
It’s time to dimple the bottom skin. The instructions can be a little confusing here because, they are for both the tri-gear and the taildragger. So you dimple or not in certain areas, depending on what you are building. I am building the taildragger, so I have to make sure I don’t dimple in the wrong spot or otherwise mess up what would be a very expensive part to replace and ship.
Then I had to put two of the outboard ribs on the bottom skin and flute them in a curve. Since the bottom skin is big, I needed a big area to work on it. I’m glad the pool table is finally getting some use for something other than a laundry table.
Here’s our brand new Lycoming IO-390 about to get reworked. They are going to Port Flow and Balance Cylinders, alodine heads and paint the barrels black, exchange camshaft for performance grind, O-Ring case and precision re-balance. They are also adding the dual P-Mag instead of the magnetos. Once done, it will be painted this blue. Once all of that is done, test it.
Added the wing tip lights. When I first laid out the template for the navigation lights, it didn’t line up with the “Y” bracket. Had I used the template, the screws would not match. So I put the template down, then placed the “Y” on the template and marked the holes through the holes in the “Y”.
Here is the “Y” piece installed.
There was some talk of the screws on the rudder that hold the lead counterweight in place, coming loose. Once the fairing is attached, there is no way to get in and hold the nut to tighten the screw. So I did what some people suggested on VAF and used Proseal on the bottom of the counterweight, then once the screws were tightened down, I lathered the nuts up with Proseal.
I decided to redo the rudder because I was not happy with the trailing edge. I got all new parts except for the spar. The advice I had was to fly with it and if it gave me issues, replace after the plane is flying. However, since the fuselage kit won’t ship for at least another month, I went ahead and ordered the parts to fix it now. Also if I did that, it would cost me a lot more because of the repainting, etc. Besides, it gives me something to do besides yard work!
There were 2 places that rivets were not called for in the plans. The first one is at the top of the tailcone on F-01407 and F-14131, which I checked with Van’s and they said I could go ahead and rivet the two pieces together. Then the bell crank ribs, F01429R&L where they attach to F-01407. I was able to squeeze the top two, but the bottom one is impossible to get to with the squeezer. I have a call into Van’s to see if I can use a LP4-3 in it’s place.
Since I am finished with everything, except redoing the rudder, I am putting all the parts away safely and getting them out of the bedrooms. Here the tailcone is stored safely up above the cabinets.
J helped me wrap up all of the control services with bubble wrap, styrofoam and packing film. I originally got the idea from KC. The ailerons are on the top shelf, the flaps under that. To the right are the elevators. Since the counterbalance is on the outside, I put some weight on the opposite side to make sure they stayed put. Bags of shot used in a diving belt worked good because there is no chance it will damage the skin. I put the vertical stabilizer behind the flap and the flaps won’t move since the brackets come down through the wire shelving. Then I put the wing tips on top of the elevators. The only thing missing is the rudder, which will be built, again, in the next couple of weeks while I am waiting on the fuselage.
When I initially did the overlap on the rudder skins, I did not make the bend in the leading edge of the R-00901-L-1. The finish did not look good, so I drilled out all of the pop rivets, which was easy and creased the leading edge with my tool from Cleaveland and it came out much better.
I ran out of the AD-41-ABS, so as soon as Van’s gets them to me, I will finish this repair.
While I have some time, I am going over some things that are bothering me on the plane. The rudder had 4 rivets that were sticking up too much. Not sure how that happened, but it had to be fixed. First I removed the fairing, then all of the rivets holding on the R-903 Top rib and removed that. Then I removed the Counterweight to get to those problem 4 rivets.
Then I riveted everything back together and am very happy with the result.
Both wings now have the fuel tanks and Outboard leading edges attached. I need to do the wing tips, lights and add any additional wires, then attach the bottom skins. Since I had to start on the wings and this is my first experience, I misunderstood the priming issue. I thought other builders were saying to prime on the rivet line and they were, but on the inside, not the outside. Oh well, it is getting painted anyway.
Here is one of the wings with the fuel tank, leak free and the Outboard Leading Edge attached. Progress!!
There are several builders that have built these wing cradles. Prior to building these, I had my wings sitting on the garage floor on carpet. Not the best place for your wings. They worked great and I was able to move them against the wall once I finished working on them. Out of the way, safe and sound.
Did I ever mention how much I hate proseal? Some people say it’s no big deal, they lie. It’s a pain and extremely messy. It gets on everything and only sticks to what you don’t want it to. Don’t forget the days you are going to work with it and wear something you want to wear again. Here are a couple of pics of the fuel tanks. The biggest pain is taking a 3.5 rivet and dipping it in proseal, then trying to put it in a small hole with a sticky glove on. Now repeat 500 times.
Luckily I had my expert helper, Dennis helping me get through it.
Starting to put the ailerons together. I don’t think aluminum makes a good drill guide for steel. While trying to “match” drill the holes in the steel bar used as a counter balance, the bit wandered. I was able to use some steel putty to fill the gap and it repaired nicely. That part won’t be seen anyway. Once painted, you won’t even know it had to be repaired.
10/08/2013 – I match drilled the other pieces of the J-Channel that were supposed to be for the right wing while I wait until the other parts come in. Dale came over and went over the CS and attaching the nutplates.
10/08/2013 – I match drilled the upper side and deburred some of the spar. I rotated the J-Channel and drilled the remaining holes. Then I found out the J-Channel needed to be 1/16” above the spar flange, so I ordered two new long and short J-Channels.
The wings have been shipped and are due to arrive on 10/07/2013.