Archive for April, 2014

A Tale of Two Suppliers – 9 hrs

April 27, 2014 Leave a comment

Sunday April 27, 2014

This is a tale of two suppliers. The first is which is a maker of data plates. I found in a Google search on the web. They advertise plates for aviation and other markets like classic cars.I liked the look of their plates and the price was attractive so I ordered one. It arrived in less than a week and I was even more pleased with how it looked when I saw it in person. I installed it a few weeks ago and was happy until I read in a DAR inspection checklist that it had to be fireproof. The plate I ordered was aluminum and clearly would not survive a fire. In frustration, I fired off an email to the company complaining that they should have told me it was not a legal data plate and it should be steel. To my surprise I received a response from the owner of the company within a day saying I was the first to call this to their attention, he had done some research and found that the FAA had changed the regulations on data plates a few years ago and they had missed it. They would send me a refund and were investigating new materials. I told Scott the owner that I was interested if they could make it fireproof. To make a long story short, I received a replacement data plate in about a week in a brass plated steel material. I actually like the look with a brass background color in a field of black anodize (see below). I commend for how they responded to my complaint and could not ask for more. I’m not sure how the DAR inspector will respond to this material. It’s not like other data plates I have seen. Scott claims it is fireproof but the anodize looks like it could be a painted surface which would burn off. I asked Scott if he could send me a report on the flame testing he has done on this material. I have not heard back on that yet but it would be handy if the DAR asks. All in all, I would recommend but stay tuned to find out if mine passes inspection.


The second supplier is ACK Technologies. They make the E-04 ELT I installed behind the baggage compartment. I bought my ELT for just under $600 in November of 2012. I needed it at that time to make a custom shelf to mount it but I wasn’t going to install it until further in the build process. I wired it up recently and I did not test it until two weeks ago when I found it was completely dead. I checked the battery voltage and it was only 0.2 volts, not 12V as it should be. Not good. So I called the company and the representative I talked to said mail it in and they would repair it under the 2-year warranty. I packed it up and sent it to the factory in San Jose and three days later I got a call telling me I must have triggered the ELT at some point and let it run dead. It was going to cost me $65 for a new battery.  But I argued I never turned the ELT on because I had not registered it until two weeks ago and since it was switched off I can’t see how I could have triggered it. The switch was still off when I went to test it two weeks ago so I hadn’t accidentally turned it on. The only thing I can think of is it may have been dead when I received it in 2012 from Chief Aircraft. Since I did not test it then I never realized it. After talking to the technician for a few minutes he agreed to put a “used” battery in it with the same shelf life as my old battery and send it back to me at no charge. That’s more than fair and I appreciate ACK Technologies standing behind their product. The lesson I learned for next time  is to test the ELT as soon as I receive it. And I’ll do that when I replace the battery in 2017.

This weekend was the time to charge the brake system with fluid and bleed it. I purchased a quart of Mobil 1 synthetic automatic transmission fluid on the advice of many on VAF instead of the typical Royco 782. I also bought a pump-type oil can off Amazon along with some vinyl tubing from Home Depot. In short I connected the oil can to the brake bleeder valve via the vinyl hose and started pumping fluid into the lines from the caliper to the reservoir. The right ride was easy. The fluid flowed in quickly and in a minute or two I had pushed fluid into the reservoir. When I closed the bleeder valve and check the firmness of the right pedals they were rock hard. Charging the left side was much harder. The fluid did not want to flow easily with significant back pressure for unknown reason. It took a lot of slow pumping to get the fluid all the way through and it was hard to push out the bubbles visible in the lines. When I closed the bleeder valve and check the firmness of the left pedals they were a little squishy. And when I pumped them I saw bubbles come out of the master cylinders. I disconnected the hose at the top of the landing gear and pumped fluid through that line and the brake caliper but it was still hard to pump. It must be some restriction in the caliper. I reconnected the hose and pumped the brake pedal with the bleeder valve open to push fluid backward through the caliper hoping to discharge anything that might be in the line. That seemed to help a little. So I pumped more from the bleeder valve to the reservoir and after more time than I expected all the bubbles were gone and both sets of pedals are now very hard.


To catch any overflow from the reservoir I attached a straight AN fitting in place of the vent screen on top. To that I attached a short aluminum tube with a flaired AN fitting and a vinyl hose going into a clean water bottle. This worked perfectly to prevent an overflow. When I was done I opened one of the bleeder valves and pumped the pedal enough to drain any excess in the vinyl tube back into the reservoir so it would not spill out when I took the AN fittings off. Then I pumped enough out of the reservoir with a syringe to leave the fluid level about an inch below the vent screen.


I had a couple of plastic lines that are close to rubbing against the braided stainless steel lines so I put some split vinyl tubing on them for protection.


My wife helped me remove the canopy one last time (I hope) to install the rubber seal strips and to make it easier to rivet the front top skin on.


Installed Rudder Fairing, etc. – 9 hrs

April 20, 2014 Leave a comment

Sunday April 20, 2014

Easter weekend, so happy resurrection day! I had the chance to fly an RV-7 (N223J) on Saturday with Jake Lewis, a neighbor in Mission Viejo and resident of a hangar at KAJO. We flew out to San Clemente and up the coastline to Huntington Beach. He let me pilot from the right seat most of the time. It was a blast. So much different than the C172 and I am anxious to put the spam can days behind me.

Back at home after lunch I completed the final installation of the lower fairing on the rudder. I had drilled pilot holes but I needed to install nutplates and countersink the fiberglass for Tinnerman washers. Here is a view of the nutplates installed along the attachment strip.


And here is a view with the fairing installed with the washers. I guess I could have spaced the screws out a little more and used fewer. This thing is on solid.


I also made and installed a tab for the local electrical grounding of the strobe light. I needed to ground the cable shielding on both ends to minimize EMI concerns but there was no convenient place to screw down the ground lug. So I made a tab, installed a nutplate on it, and riveted it to the bottom rib of the rudder.


On Sunday evening after getting home from my daughters place I installed the nutplates on the horizontal stabilizer for the empennage fairing. Here is a view of the fairing test fit.


The list of things to do before moving to the airport is getting shorter and shorter.

Installed Fitting In Fuel Tank Access Plate – 8 hrs

April 13, 2014 Leave a comment

Sunday April 13, 2014

When I ran the purge line to the right fuel tank access cover I had to remove the cover to install a fitting. That is when I realized that the fitting interferes with the anti-hangup guide on the inside of the cover. So I ordered another blank cover from Vans along with a ProSeal kit and some Poly-Gone AG300 ProSeal remover. Yesterday I put the right wing on the work bench so I could get to the cover to work on it. It is not accessible in the wing rack.


PolyGone is a jelly-like substance that breaks down ProSeal. I brushed it onto the rib of the fuel tank and let it work for a few minutes. Then I scraped it off with a piece of plastic. After a few iterations and cleaning with acetone it looked pretty good. It should be adequate for a good seal. I also went over it with scotchbrite again to make sure to get good adhesion with the new ProSeal.


I had to remake the flop tube anti-hangup guide inside the cover. Since the purge line fitting ended up right in the middle of the guide I put a hole in it to allow the fuel to pass through without significant obstruction. I put a bulge in the guide to compensate for the area removed by the hole. I also used the guide support to capture the AN fitting so it cannot rotate on the inside of the cover (since I’ll never be able to put a wrench on it again). The support is riveted to the cover so the fitting cannot turn.


I mixed up the small ProSeal kit and applied some to the interfaces as I riveted the cover and guide parts together so there should be no leaks around the rivets. Then I applied a layer to the mating surface on the rib and screwed on the cover. I put a dab of ProSeal on each screw also. I tightened up the screws and let it sit for the ProSeal to set up. I will leak test it in a few days.


I also started modifying the nose of the engine cowl to provide a tiny bit more clearance for removing the lower cowl with the 3-blade prop. I had between 0.20 and 0.25 inch clearance all around and the gap looked nice but it makes it that much harder to remove the lower cowl. Since I will be removing the cowl frequently during Phase 1 I decided to modify this now while it is easier to do. I want another .06 to .12 clearance if possible. I sanded the nose down with a long sanding block. Since I sanded through the top layer of fiberglass into the foam wedge I had added a long time ago I chipped out the foam.


After I sanded down to my goal I mixed up some flox and filled the open area where the foam was as a base for a top coat of micro.



Followup: On Tuesday night 4/15 I finished filling, sanding and priming the cowling. It’s hard to see the difference in the photo but here is the finished modification with the spinner plate on. The gap is now a little bigger and it is slightly wider toward the lower cowl since that is the hard one to remove. In this process I also learned that half the battle of installing and removing the lower cowl is getting the rubber seal strips on the inlets out of the way. I found that if I pulls those back with blue painters tape I could raise and lower the cowl much more easily without scraping the spinner as much. Eventually I’l get the process down to where it is not a pain.





Categories: Cowling, Fuel Tanks, Wings

Installed N Number and Data Plate – 12 hrs

April 6, 2014 Leave a comment

Sunday April 6, 2014

My objective this weekend was to complete the wiring of the tail strobe and to connect the rudder cables including making the links that connect the cables to the rudder pedals. All did not go as planned but it was interesting nonetheless. First, to get these objectives done I needed to put the tail feathers back on. This means rolling the fuselage far enough to get the tail all the way outside the garage door. Of course I get crazy looks from neighbors and people passing by in cars. Here is another photo that my neighbors says looks like an aviation accident happened.


The good news is I got the Aveo strobe wired up with knife connectors and I even tested it. It started flashing immediately when I flipped the switch. And yes, it is bright! I used knife connectors so I could pull them through the small hole in the rudder spar to remove/remount the rudder without cutting wires. I also drilled the lower fairing through the rudder for nutplates so I can easily remove the fairing for inspections. The bad news is I discovered that I had installed the rudder cables backwards. The cable fittings that are supposed to mate to the rudder horns are in the front by the pedals and vice versa. What I pain! I can’t remove the cables to flip them around without removing the little fairings on the side of the aft fuselage. So I drilled out the rivets that held those on and pulled out both cables. I also had to pull out most of the Classic Aero interior panels to get them out. What I pain! That detour cost me several hours just to get the cables turned around like they are supposed to be.


That pretty much killed Saturday and I had to remove the tail to pull the fuselage back into the garage and close the door for the night. But before I did I installed the N-numbers and data plate on the aft fuselage. Here you can see my numbers on the left side. EW stands for eagle’s wings (Isa 40:31), 7 is for the model RV-7A, and 14 was just a prefix that happened to be available from the FAA. The decals came from Of course they will be replaced when the airplane is painted.


My data plate has only the required information on it and no more. I ordered this one pre-engraved from and I riveted it under the horizontal stabilized on the left side.


On Sunday I had to work at my real job so my accomplishments were limited to measuring the lengths required for the rudder cable links and riveting the rudder stops to the tail. Of course, measuring the lengths for the rudder cable links required putting the tail back on one more time so I could set the rudder at the neutral position then measure the distances from the ends of the cables in the cabin to the rudder pedal mounting holes when the pedals are aligned at the nominal vertical position. I got 3.2 inches on the left side and 3.3 on the right. Of course, this is based on how my pedals are set up and will vary from plane to plane. I made some aluminum sample links and installed them to verify these measurements. I now need to transfer the dimensions to the steel strap material provided by Vans and cut, prime and paint them to be installed in the cabin.

Categories: Last 10 Percent