About the Author

Who am I? I am a John Harrell, a mid-fifties engineer in the aerospace industry who has wanted to build and fly his own airplane for many years. Better late than never.

  1. Joe
    March 15, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Do you happen to have an email address that I could use to contact you? I am considering an RV-9a, so I have some basic questions about the tool package you used, how you got prepared to begin the tail, etc. Also, I would like to bounce some lessons learned questions as well. Thanks! chiefsr (at) yahoo dot com.

  2. Craig
    May 8, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    When you mounted the c-shape of the brackets mentioned below, did you drill through the rib and reinforcement ring?
    I have already riveted the rib and ring together and the pic listed only shows the inside of the tank.


    Sunday Oct 24, 2010

    Today I made the flop tube anti-hangup brackets for the access cover. I did not like the Vans design because it is permanently mounted inside the tank where it blocks the access hole. So I based my design on one made by Jason Beaver that mostly mounted to the inside of the access cover so the view is wide open when you take the cover off. The trick is how it is split into two sections to allow the majority of the bracket to come out through the access port hole.

    I spent a few hours planning it and cutting out pieces until I was happy with it. Once I had one made, I copied it for the other tank. Here is the result. It is actually four pieces of 0.025 thick aluminum strip. 0.8 inches wide. The long strip is mounted to the access cover with two pieces bent into Z shapes. The fourth piece is a C-shape and it is there to prevent the flop tube from getting under the longer piece.

    Once those were made I was able to rivet the reinforcement rings and nut plates to the rib along with the short C-shaped pieces. Here are both inboard tank ribs with the nut plates installed. The Z-brackets won’t be riveted until my fuel tank sealant arrives because these must be sealed.

    • May 8, 2011 at 7:47 pm

      In my case the c-shape bracket is mounted to the reinforcement ring only, not the rib. As you can see I made brackets before riveting the reinforcement ring to the rib. I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t rivet through the rib also. You might want to use NAS 1097 “oops rivets” so you can machine countersink the holes in the relatively thin material of the rib. When you ProSeal the access cover on it should seal everything up tight.

  3. June 8, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Hey John-
    Tim in Chino, CA, here. Aerospace engineer in my late 40’s. Just thought I’d drop a line. I to am building an 7A and will will bending the longerons in the next week or so. Will be following your progress.

    • June 9, 2011 at 7:11 am

      Hi Tim,
      Mechanical engineer also in aerospace, mid fifties. Good luck with those longerons. Bending them wasn’t as bad as I expected. I’ve flown in and out of Chino many times since I got my pilot training in Corona and we often did tower training at Chino. Enjoyed the RV Fly-in at Chino last year but missed it this year due to a conflict with my daughter’s graduation. Thanks for dropping a line. Do you have a blog or web page for your build project?

  4. June 19, 2011 at 10:44 am

    I have no public forum. Just plugging away on my own but do want to start getting more engaged with other builders. I assume you in the SoCal area? Successfully formed the longerons yesterday.

    • June 20, 2011 at 12:52 pm

      I am in Mission Viejo, and congratulations on your longerons!


  5. Tim Cook
    February 23, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Hello John-
    I am interested to know where you ‘build home’ is based on your Angel’s references. It looks like you are just a bit ahead of me. I am in Chino. Let me know if you want to hook up. cook_ts@msn.com.

  6. Frank Huber
    March 3, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Hi John, I am too building an RV-7A, fulfilling a long term plan I have had as I approach retirement in June. I want to commend you on your great website and thank you for the great information and pictures of your fuel line fabrication. I had been scratching my head and bending a lot of tubing trying to make the lines from the valve to the wings for a while. Your site and Bruce Swayze’s site gave me the information I needed. Thanks! Frank Huber eaap51@comcast.net

    • March 3, 2012 at 11:07 pm

      Thank you Frank. I have learned a lot from other builder’s web sites so I am happy to return the favor.

  7. Jan
    September 1, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Hi – I am building a RV6 – Looking at your rear window – Does the Plexi but up against F-732F reinforcement plate onto the F-732A channel – Or do you cut out around the F-732 reinforcement plate ?

    Best regards


    • September 4, 2013 at 7:04 am

      The rear window is not notched around the F-732. It is basically flush against it. Check out the post on Dec 8, 2012 and you can see the aft edge of the window just before I permanently installed it. No notch.

      Good luck with yours,


  8. Jan
    September 4, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    thanks for the reply … I keep pounding them rivets !

  9. July 11, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Hey John,

    I see you’re using Ekoprime – so am I and I love that stuff. I’m also looking at Jetflex or Jetflex WR for the cockpit interior. Did you run into any problems or compatibility issues between the two products? How do you like the Jetflex? My big concern is that it needs to be tough as nails, I don’t want chips and scratches in the interior.


    • July 12, 2014 at 6:20 am


      I found no compatibility issues between the Ekoprime and the JetFlex WR paint. I tried the Jetflex WR primer also but I could not control it as well as I could the Ekoprime. If you let the Jetflex paint cure for a few days it is quite tough. Not what I would call fragile at all, although you can scratch it if you try hard enough. I have abused my interior paint quite a lot working in there but it still looks almost like it did originally. I would use the Jetflex again if I built another RV.

  10. July 12, 2014 at 7:30 am

    Great! Glad to hear that. I was skeptical of Ekoprime at first — the original owner of the kit used it on the empennage, so I got about 3/4 gallon when I bought the kit. I tried it, and it’s really nice to be able to shoot primer without the solvent smell and needing to use a bunch of solvent to clean up the paint gun. It seems to be about as durable as other primers I have used.

    Sorry to read about your ring gear, I saw that on VAF too. Enjoy the plane… hope to meet you at a fly-in some time!

  11. M.
    September 20, 2014 at 9:44 am

    I’m doing 2 sky views and trying to create a schematic. What program did you create yours in and would you share your schematics. I’m not doing VP. i have a GTN650.

  12. Gary R. Kohler
    February 28, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    Another aero engineer here, now retired. Many thanks to you for your clear explanations and


  13. ben
    March 14, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    G’day. Watched your flight today on my ADS-B receiver. Googled your tail number and found your YouTube’s and this blog. Spent a very enjoyable few hours reading a lot of your build notes. Thanks so much for taking the time to blog about the process. (Always wanted to build my own plane, but get airsick).
    You can find my receiver on my website if you (or the wife) are interested.

  14. Gudmundur Ingi Jonsson
    October 17, 2018 at 9:39 am

    Hi John.
    Awesome build!
    Any chance you could send me a link to the annunciator lights/momentery switch ? 🙂 I would love to have them in my set up.
    Best regards,


    • December 12, 2018 at 10:15 am

      I bought them on MPJA.com back in 2012. They had rectangular lights back then but I only see round lights on the website now.

  15. Eric
    December 8, 2018 at 12:38 pm

    John, Just came across your posts. Excellent outline!!
    Would you remember where you purchased your annunciator lights or model number for the lights?
    Thank you

    • December 12, 2018 at 10:14 am

      I bought them on MPJA.com back in 2012. They had rectangular lights back then but I only see round lights on the website now.

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