Archive for July, 2012

Engine Arrives!

July 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Thursday July 26, 2012

The engine is here! After nine days in transit from Kamloops B.C. by Vitran Shipping it was delivered to my garage this morning. The crate looks good. No shipping damage.

The lid was held on by a couple dozen drywall screws and inside is the 180 HP, port and flow balanced machine with AFP fuel injection and dual Pmags. Here you see it after I removed the plastic bag and two large dessicant bags. There was also a box inside that contains various components yet to be installed; the fuel servo, spark plugs and wires, various brackets and hardware. There is also a log book, instructions for the AFP fuel injection and two surprise T-shirts with the Aero Sport Power logo.

She looks great. The gold color is very subtle. More like a champagne color and the black components provide a nice contrast. Very classy looking. I like it, although I care a lot more about how it runs than how it looks on the outside.

Dear engine, you will stay in the crate for now, but your day to be installed is coming soon!

Categories: Engine, Firewall Forward

Miscellaneous Firewall – 2 hrs

July 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Monday July 23, 2012

I made a few more holes in the firewall tonight. First was the 3/4 inch access hole for installing the landing gear attachment bolt nut. I drilled this with my unibit. Spent more time deburring the edge than drilling the hole.


I also drilled out two holes along the top of the firewall recess and installed nut plates. These will be used to support the oil pressure lines from the engine to the VA-168 sender mount.


I also drilled the holes to mount the VA-168 sender mount to the firewall. No deviating from the plans in any of this. Right by the book.

Categories: Firewall, Firewall Forward

Installed Engine Mount – 6 hrs

July 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Sunday, Jul 22, 2012

I ordered some edge seal material from McMaster-Carr last week and it arrived so I tried installing it to see how it would work with the canopy. I want it to seal the gap along the sides to prevent major air leaks and stop water from leaking in but I don’t want it to interfere with the latching of the canopy. The material is pretty nice with a reinforced edge grip and a soft hollow round seal attached. The part number is 1120A812 for those interested. It attaches nicely where the edge is .062 thick. In the overlap areas where the seal is thicker the edge grip does not work so I cut pieces and installed them where the edge thickness allowed. I also cut short pieces and removed the edge grip so I can bond them on in the other areas, but I will wait to install those. You can see the strips installed along the two sides in this photo.

Afterward I reinstalled the canopy on the fuselage and tried closing it. It turns out the seal is a little too thick near the aft end where the gap is the least and it prevents the canopy from seating flush without a significant amount of force. I pealed the seals back about one foot from the aft end and the canopy closed fine so I need a slightly thinner seal for the rear foot or so. I’ll have to see what McMaster-Carr has that might work.

Next I primed and painted a few parts; specifically the battery clamp and spacers and the doubler strips for the rear canopy window. Here are the battery parts painted flat black. I forgot to take a picture of the doubler strips but they are gray on the inside surfaces and black on the side that mates to the plexiglass to give it that “black-out” look.

Moving on to more meaty issues. I had thoughts of drilling the engine mount to the fuselage today but I was uncertain about the best approach. First the mount is unwieldy and hard to securely clamp to the fuselage. Second, the holes must be drilled 3/8 inch through aluminum and steel and you don’t want the drill to wander or the holes to end up oval. I did some research on the web and found multiple recommendations for doing this. Some said just line it up and drill, one used a ¼ ID and 3/8 OD drill busing to drill ¼ holes first then enlarge to 3/8, one used a piece of aluminum tube that was ¼ ID and 3/8 OD as a bushing, and one pre-drilled all holes to 3/16 using the firewall holes as the guide, then installed the engine mount with 3/16 bolts and drilled out one at a time to 3/8. No clear consensus on the best way. Whatever way someone used it seemed to work out OK

I started by clamping and taping the mount to the firewall as best I could after aligning the mount holes to the pre-drilled holes in the firewall. I was leaning toward ordering a drill bushing from McMaster-Carr but that would cost me $20 and another week so I decided to give the simple approach a try. If it didn’t work well on the first hole I would stop until I could get a bushing for the rest of the six holes.

I picked up a new 3/8 inch cobalt drill bit at True Value along with some cutting oil. Then I marked around the pads of the mount on the firewall so I could see if the mount shifted and began drilling the first hole. The advice for drilling steel is drill at slow RPM with high pressure and lots of cutting oil so that’s what I did. My arm was tired after the upper left hole from pushing hard against the drill, but it went through cleanly leaving a nice round hole visible on the inside. I deburred the interior hole edge and put a bolt in with a washer and nut and tightened that corner down. Somewhat encouraged, I moved to the upper right hole. Again watching the markings around the pad to make sure the mount did not shift on me, I drilled the second hole with similar results. After that it was easy. With two corners firmly anchored down I did not worry about it shifting. My drill got tired after the first hole and I had to give a break for about an half hour to recharge a bit. Continuing later, I finished all six holes, all done and looking good.


For the lower middle holes I had a small gap between the pad and the firewall as most do. I happened to find some 1.25 OD stainless steel fender washers at True Value hardware that are .045 thick. One of these on each side was perfect after I drilled the center holes out to 3/8. The one on the left below is the original, and the one on the right is drilled.


I am very happy to have the engine mount drilled to the firewall. I was hoping to have it mounted before the engine arrives (any day now). I took the engine mount off the firewall and deburred all the holes on the outside and cleaned away any chips. Then I hung it back on temporarily because I still need to drill some holes in the firewall for other accessories. After that I cleaned up the garage to make room for the engine crate which should be here before next weekend.

Installed Relay Diodes – 1 hr

July 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Wednesday July 18, 2012

All I did tonight is install the diodes on the relays and put a small piece of shrink sleeving on the copper bars that tie them together. I really like the fact that the diode jumpers come pre-made in the Vans firewall forward kit. That saves a bunch of time.

Finished Mounting Relays – 2 hrs

July 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Sunday July 15, 2012

This morning I riveted the contactor doubler and nut plates to the firewall. That is the hole pattern between the two contactors.

Here is how it looks from the inside (behind the rudder pedal).

The two contactors are electrically connected by a pair of .062 thick copper bars that I had to order separately from Vans. I wanted to make sure I got the length right so I made an aluminum template first. That gave me confidence to cut the copper bar and drill holes for the terminals.

By the way I also made the clamping bar that holds the battery in the box with the two 7/8 inch spacers. Here is how this all looks mounted to the firewall.

Started Firewall Forward – 6 hrs

July 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Saturday July 14, 2012

My original plan was to install the latch lugs today for the canopy however, it occurred to me that I should install the weather seals along the sides before doing that so I can get the preload on the latches set correctly. Without the seals I run the risk of setting the latch lugs either too loose or too tight. The plans say “You should be able to feel the latch engage the lug when you work the latch handle, but you should not have to force the handle closed.” I ordered seal material from McMaster Carr last week and it’s not here yet so I decided to work on the firewall forward kit today and put a pause on the canopy.

The first step is to mount the hot air control valve on the firewall. Like most people I bought the stainless steel flapper valve from Avery instead of the aluminum valve from Vans. It requires a 2-inch diameter hole in the firewall. I measured the required distance from the firewall rivet lines and marked it for drilling. My 2-inch hole saw was worn so I ran over to Home Depot and bought a new bi-metal saw. It worked pretty hard to cut through the firewall but did so successfully as you can see below. I also drilled two holes for the mounting screws but I was disappointed to find that they did not come with the valve so I will have to order those from ACS. For reasons I am not clear on, they recommend stainless steel screws.

Next I went to work on the battery box for the PC680 battery. This is a steel shell that is already welded together and powder coated. It comes with steel brackets to attach it to the firewall. I located the proper position from the drawing and drilled out the rivets where the three mounting bolts will be installed. Oh Vans! Why did you tell me to put those rivets in there if you were just going to tell me to drill them out later? Anyway, once I had the holes drilled out in the firewall I clecoed the brackets on an clamped the box to the brackets. When it was aligned, I drilled the side holes through the box using the brackets as the guide. I only drilled a couple on each side then took the box off the firewall to finish the rest.

Then I needed to dimple the holes in the box with the dimples on the inside. The only way I could do this is with the pop rivet dimple dies. My friend Ron came by this morning to help out so he went to work doing the dimpling. Here is Ron dimpling away.

I dimpled the holes in the brackets also but I had to resort to the countersink bit to get them deep enough. The steel brackets don’t dimple that well. Then we riveted the brackets to the box and did a fit check on the firewall. So far so good.

Next we installed nut plates on the brackets for the mounting screws and the battery clamp bracket that will go across the top.

The plans show eight light weighting holes in the box that are optional. I though, sure, why not take out a few ounces and set up the hole saw to do this job. After 10 minutes trying to drill the first hole I gave up. The saw is just not cutting through this material. It is too hard. Later I did a search on the forums and found out this is a common problem. I wish I had read that first. So for now at least I am going to pass on the lightening holes. Fortunately, the first hole I tried to drill in on the back side against the firewall so I won’t show. I’ll need to sand and prime this area at least to provide corrosion protection.

The starter contactor was next on my list. Unfortunately there was another issue. Where the plans say to put it on the firewall it overlaps the doubler plate for the fuel line feedthru. So I had to drill that plate out and cut a notch on the upper left corner. At least I did not have to move the upper left rivet. When the plate was off I used a nut plate to locate the mounting hole for the contactor and I drilled it and installed the nut plate with the doubler plate. That locates the right mounting point for the starter contactor.

Next I located the left mounting point for the master contactor. It is defined by a nutplate that is attached using an existing rivet on the firewall (that I drilled out) and oriented along one of the stiffening ribs. So I used the nutplate as a template and drilled the holes in the firewall, then installed the nutplate in the inside. Next I measured and marked where the other two mounting holes should be located based on the drawing dimensions while Ron cut out the doubler plate to the drawing dimensions. I then drilled the four rivet holes in the doubler and marked the approximate location of the contactor holes. With both contactors mounted on one side only, I placed the doubler under them and shifted it around until it was aligned as best I could with the contactors level and the two inner contact posts overlapping the right amount to mount the copper conductor. When it looked good I drilled the doubler rivet holes, then the contactor holes. When I took of the doubler to deburr it, the contactor holes were almost exactly where I had measured and marked per the drawing.

Finally today, I scuffed the doubler plate, cleaned it an shot a coat of SEM primer on it. This will be well dry tomorrow for installation.

Engine Update – 0 hrs

July 9, 2012 Leave a comment

Monday July 9, 2012

Exciting news from Aero Sport Power today. My engine has been assembled and run on the test stand. It should be ready to ship within the week. They were kind enough to send along a couple of photos of my engine in the shop. This is the top side. You can see the two PMags and the fuel injection spider. No spark plugs are installed in this photo.

This is the bottom showing the vertical intake sump with the AFP fuel injector body mounted.

Now I just need to brace myself for the big drain on my bank account.

Categories: Engine, Firewall Forward