Archive for the ‘Fuselage’ Category

Top Forward Skin Riveted On – 4 hrs

Sunday May 4, 2014

I waited as long as I possibly could to do this but today I finished riveting the top forward skin onto the fuselage. With this on access to the area behind the subpanel is only from below and it is much harder to get under there to work but I had checked everything else off the list of things to do before moving to the airport. So now this bird is ready to go to her nest and get her wings attached for good. I just have to nail down the arrangements for a hangar.


Categories: Fwd Fuselage

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.

Made Access Panel for Fwd Upper Skin – 12 hrs

March 23, 2014 Leave a comment

Sunday Mar 23, 2014

I find my list of things to do before I move the airplane to the airport is getting shorter although I occasionally find things I overlooked to add to the list. This weekend I took on the mini-project to add an access panel to the upper forward skin of the fuselage. I mean the skin immediately in front of the tip-up canopy. There are quite a few components under this skin, like the VP-X Pro unit, EMS module and the entire array of ground terminals. I have been concerned about access to this area after the skin is riveted on, which will be soon, and I have seen other builders install an access panel or two here so the idea got under my skin (pun intended).

I started by laying out the location for the panel on the skin itself with a sharpie. I also made a scale layout in AutoCad to lock down the dimensions. I cut the new access panel and the doubler I needed from .032 stock sheet. Then I cut the opening in the top skin with the thought that if this does not work out well I can always order a new skin from Vans.


To ensure a good fit I put the skin on the fuselage to match drill for the rivets that will attach the doubler to the skin since the skin is curved when installed. I started in the middle of the opening and worked my way out to the edges.


This is how it looked with all the rivet holes drilled and clecoed. There are lots of rivets to help reinforce the skin around the perimeter.


After deburring and dimpling the skin and doubler and spraying on a coat of primer I put the skin back on the fuselage and riveted the two parts together.


Then I laid out the hole pattern on the cover plate for the mounting screws, match drilled it, and installed countersunk nutplates for #8 screws.


This is how it turned out, with only four screws installed for now because it will come off again for a while before the skin is riveted to the fuselage. The access hole is not huge but it provides good access to the VP-X, the ground block and several connectors that would be really tough to get to without the access panel.


I also finished wiring up the Nav/position lights and landing light on the left wing tip.


Intersection Fairings – 20 hrs

March 2, 2014 Leave a comment

Sunday Mar 2, 2014

I was out of town last weekend with the wife and for a couple more days this week on business so progress was delayed.

With the gear leg fairings aligned it was time to start installing the lower intersection fairings on the wheel pants. I purchased mine from Cleaveland Aircraft but they are actually made by RVbits. These are supposed to be better quality than the Vans parts. After aligning them to the leg and wheel fairings I match drilled a set of #40 holes to cleco them in place. I then marked a line to cut the intersection fairing into three pieces so it can split with the front and read wheel fairing sections. After wrapping the gear leg fairing with packing tape I mixed up some epoxy with heavy flox and bonded the three pieces back onto the wheel fairing as well as bonded the aft edges of the intersection fairing together. I did this all in place on the gear leg to make sure everything was fitting well. Here is one clecoed together and set up to cure.


After the epoxy was set I  sanded the surfaces to remove excess epoxy. I applied more packing tape over the aft section of the intersection fairing and laid down three layers of fiberglass overlapping the seam between the front and rear sections to make flaps attached to the front section that overhang the aft section along the gear leg fairing so the air stream cannot get under the aft fairing and lift up the forward facing edge. I took this picture after I removed the fairing sections from the landing gear and clecoed them back together. Here you see the raw fiberglass layup.


With the two sections separated you can see the fiberglass is bonded to the front section and simply overlaps the aft section. The edges of the layup are still raw.


After trimming the edges to leave 1/2 inch overlap and sanding the surfaces the parts look like this.


Here I put it back together again to show the finished overlap on the bottom edge.


When I was happy with the flaps on the left side fairing set I mixed up more epoxy with micro and smeared it on to smooth out the transitions between the parts including the front and rear wheel fairings which are not very flush along the seam. This photo is before sanding the micro.


I received two hoses I ordered from TSFlightlines for the brake lines down the landing gear legs. I installed the left hose to verify the length. It looks good so I installed it using three short pieces of plastic tubing and electrical tape to strap it to the leg.


I sanded the micro on the left wheel pant and intersection fairing using several coats of epoxy to get it well blended and smooth. I also sanded the entire exterior of the both the left wheel and leg fairing. Then I installed K1000-6 nutplates on the aft wheel pant section for the screws that hold the two sections together. After more hours of work than I expected this set is finally complete including the lower intersection fairing and is ready for primer. I just need to get the right set up to the same point.


Another task on my list was to run a 1/4 inch tube from the firewall to the right fuel tank for the Airflow Performance fuel purge line. I had been dreading this task because there is no easy way to do this. The routing from the firewall to the tank is anything but direct and I knew bending the tubing would be difficult in these tight quarters. I decided to go through the right longeron with a snap bushing and get the line behind the right interior side panel trim as soon as possible, then go downward under the right rudder cable into the area of the right gear weldment which is covered by the carpet. You can see my final routing in this photo before I installed the side panel. I bent the section in front of the longeron first. Then I inserted the free end of the tube through the snap bushing and bent the remainder of the tube run to the tank in situ which was a big pain. I used a coil spring tube mandrel to prevent the tubing from flattening during bending. One of my goals was to keep the tubing away from the copilot’s feet and this accomplishes that goal.


The tubing comes through the side of the fuselage with a rubber grommet and points straight at the access cover of the right tank. I will have to line up and partially install the right wing to locate the correct spot to install a bulkhead fitting for this line so that will have to wait a while. For now I left the tube a little long so I can cut and flair it to length at that time.


Finishing the Center Subpanel – 6.5 hrs

October 13, 2013 Leave a comment

Sunday Oct 13, 2013

To mount the radio stack to the subpanel I first drilled four equally spaced holes in the two aluminum angles on each flange as guides for match drilling into the ribs and subpanel. Then I clamped the angles to the ribs and drilled through the holes installing clecos as I went. Then I drilled through the angles into the subpanel. These holes will all be riveted.


The next step was to remove the middle subpanel from the fuselage which requires removing the canopy as well.


A section of the subpanel needs to be cut out to allow clearance for the GTR 200 radio and the future option of a GTN 650 or similar IFR GPS. The GTR 200 needs a couple of extra inches for connectors/cables and a GTN 650 needs even more depth than that.  I don’t have to cut this hole for the GTN 650 now, but it will be much easier than trying to enlarge the hole after the subpanel is riveted to the fuselage. This just makes the future upgrade easier. I marked out the size of the hole I needed and began to cut with my dremel and cut-off wheel. This is how it looked after the rough cut.


And this is how it looked after cleaning up the edges with hand files.


While I was working on the subpanel I installed these nutplates for the adel clamps that secure the control cables and riveted the bracket to the subpanel.


Here is a view of the radio stack clecoed to the subpanel as I checked the clearance for the radios.


Categories: Avionics, Front Deck

Finished Copilot’s Control Stick – 1.5 hrs

September 23, 2013 Leave a comment

Monday Sep 23, 2013

Tonight I finished assembling the copilot’s control stick including termination of the wires to D-sub contacts on an 8-inch pigtail.


Last night I potted the pin side of the molex connector inside the lower control fitting while it was plugged into the socket side which was potted into the upper tube a few weeks ago. So now all I have to do is depress the release button on the side of the fitting and extract the upper tube to physically and electrically disconnect the copilot’s stick and remove it.


Categories: Cabin Area

Riveted Rudder Cable Fairings – 1 hr

July 25, 2013 Leave a comment

Thursday July 25, 2013

Tonight I riveted the rudder cable fairings onto the side of the aft fuselage. I also worked on the electrical schematic for the annunciator lights.


Categories: Aft Fuselage, Fuselage

Installed Nutplates for Access Covers – 1.5 hrs

Wednesday May 1, 2013

I am still waiting for the ProSeal to set up in the filtered Air Box top mount so I worked on installing nutplates for the aft fuselage access plates where the elevator linkage is located. Here is a tip: Install the nutplates before you rivet the skins onto the fuselage bulkheads. I cannot get my squeezer yoke into the opening to dimple or set the rivets. If I had a small yoke it might work but mine is 3 inches and it is too large. I needed to dimple for #6 screws so I rigged up a dimpler from a small C-clamp in a pinch. I drilled #12 holes in two small aluminum blocks and glued them to the jaws of a C-clamp. The blocks hold the dimple dies.


I used that tool to dimple the #6 screw holes and the #30 rivet holes as well (with the #30 dimple dies of course). It worked like a charm and is much easier on the hand than the pop rivet dimple die method.


Here is a closeup showing the dimples. Looks good. After that I riveted in the nutplates using my rivet gun with a flush set and bucking bar. Covers are now installed.


Categories: Aft Fuselage, Fuselage

Installed Fresh Air Vent Hoses – 1 hr

December 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Wednesday Dec 19, 2012

I was really cold in the garage tonight and I couldn’t bring myself to stay out there that long so I just cleaned up a few minor details. One thing I did was measure and cut two sections of SCAT tubing for the fresh air vents and installed those.



I also modified took a picture of the plug I installed in the firewall where the nose gear bolt protrudes. If you look closely you can see that I put a bulge in the center of the plug to allow more room for the bolt. I did that by drilling a slight hemispherical dimple into a piece of 2×4 wood with a 5/8 inch drill, placing the plug on top of the dimple face down, placing the butt end of my ratchet handle on that (it has a domed shape end) and whacking it with a hammer. That worked nicely.


Installed Transponder Antenna – 9 hrs

November 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Sunday Nov 18, 2012

This post summarizes most of the things I did this weekend on the project.

On Friday the transponder antenna I ordered from Delta Pop Aviation arrived in the mail. This is a low drag blade antenna that I will mount on the bottom of the fuselage just behind the baggage bulkhead. Delta Pop also has a UAT ADS-B antenna that looks identical that I also plan to install when I get around to ordering it so I made two identical doubler plates. I want to get the metal work done now before I install the rear canopy window.

Because the antennas are narrow I bent the doubler plates on each end to add ribs to help spread the loads laterally into the skin. I would have used .040 thick alclad for these but all I had was .032 so I used that.

I used the doubler plates as templates to drill the holes in the fuselage skin. This view shows the transponder antenna doubler location on the right side of the fuselage.

Here is the UAT antenna doubler on the left side. At these locations the two antennas will be two feet apart – the minimum recommended distance. The will also be about 3 feet from the comm antennas which I plan to put under the seat pans just aft of the spar.

For installation I followed the recommendations on the EAA website for this type of antenna. I used star washers under the lock nuts to get good electrical grounding and I put a bead of Alex Plus siliconized caulk on the face of the antenna to seal out water. The benefit of this material is it won’t interfere with paint adhesion around the antenna when the day comes to paint this baby.

After I torqued down the screws the antenna seemed pretty solidly attached so I think the .032 alclad was adequate. Still this thing is somewhat vulnerable sticking down here no matter how thick the doubler is and I’ll have to be careful not to bang into it.

I also riveted the outboard subpanel ribs to the forward fuselage. This photo shows some of the more difficult rivets. I left the center subpanel clecoed because I will need to remove it to cut a hole for the radio stack trays which are longer than about 8 inches. Right now I expect that will be the SL-30 and GTN-635 trays.

I also played around with a bracket for the headphone jacks. I’m trying to decide where to put these and one option is on a small bracket slightly recessed behind the panel near the air vents. My only question with this location is whether it will be in the way of passenger knees. I made a sample bracket and clecoed it to the panel edge as an experiment. Still undecided. I wish I had seats installed so I could judge it better.

I also did some electrical work. Since I installed the Skyview network hub last week I cut the wires on the ADAHRS I had routed to the forward fuselage and terminated them with a Dsub connector. Now the ADAHRS plugs into the hub. I also installed another Dsub on the remaining 15 foot long run of wires I cut to make a network cable for the run to the panel.  I mated that connector to the hub also and ran the wires down the right side of the center tunnel. So far it does not look like I reduced the overall wiring with the hub located here but I still have wires from the pitch and roll autopilot servos to run. The control signals for those will also get routed to this hub so it will ultimately have four out of five ports occupied.