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Made Wheel Chocks

June 7, 2015 Leave a comment

Sunday, June 7, 2015

I wanted to make some decent wheel chocks that are light enough to take on cross country trips. I have some chocks made of PVC pipe but they are heavier than I would like. I priced some chocks at Spruce but at $20 per pair or more I decided to go the homemade route. I started with three feet of 1.5 x 1.5 x 1/8 aluminum angle I bought for about $5 at Spruce. I cut it into four strips of 6-inch length with enough spare material to make one more. I cut two of them down to 1.25 x 1.25 to reduce weight and I drilled a bunch of 3/4 inch holes to reduce the weight further. Here are two completed parts next to two raw pieces.

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I etched, alodined, primed and painted the two lightweight parts to make them stand out as you can see here. The final weight of each part is about 52 grams. I just need a couple of short pieces of bungee cord to connect them and I will have a completed pair of chocks. I admit these are a knock-off of some shock you can buy at spruce but cheaper because I put some time into making them instead of paying someone else to do it.

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Categories: Uncategorized

First Time to Cut Open Used Oil Filters

March 7, 2015 1 comment

Saturday Mar 7, 2015

I recently bought an oil filter cutter to enable me to inspect the inside of my used oil filters. This is commonly done on aircraft to look for signs of excessive or premature engine wear as evidenced by metal particles in the filter. This photo shows the cutter on the first oil filter. It slices through the can with a rolling knife.

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When you open it up you see this.

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Then you pull out the filter and cut it free from the center mandrel and then you can open the pleats of the filter and look inside. The good news is I saw no metal particles I could detect. It is certain that some are there but they are too small to see with the naked eye. So far it seems like my engine break-in has gone well. No signs of problems and my oil consumption is running about 18 hours per quart which is really good for a Lycoming.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Replaced Dynon Heated Pitot Tube

February 15, 2015 Leave a comment

Sunday, Feb 15, 2015

Dynon found a problem with their heated pitot tube that could result in water getting inside and freezing in an area that is not adequately heated so they sent out a notice of recall. Fortunately they will ship out a replacement pitot tube at no charge and allow 30 days to send back the old pitot or send in photos documenting that it has been destroyed. So today I removed the old pitot tube and installed the new replacement. It wasn’t a big deal really. It just took a few hours working awkwardly under the left wing. This photo shows the new pitot tube installed.

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Categories: Uncategorized

9.5 Hours in Phase 1

October 5, 2014 3 comments

Sunday Oct 5, 2014

Today I hit 9.5 hours on the Hobbs in the Phase 1 flight test program. Mostly I am still breaking in the engine so I run at 65 – 75% power and keep the engine rich to make sure cylinder head temperatures don’t get too high. One of the tools I am using to monitor things is the engine sensors on the Dynon display. Here is a screen shot taken today while cruising in the flight test box at 75% power. As you can see the engine is at 2500 rpm, true airspeed is 147 knots, and the density altitude is 8573 feet. I would prefer to test down lower but the terrain altitude is over 3000 ft MSL so I was flying at 6300 MSL. Fuel flow is 12.9 gal/hr and the peak CHT is 402 F which is just rising above my yellow limit of 400 F which is conservative. You can also see from the display that I had the autopilot on Level mode. It’s great to be able to take these snapshots anytime I want by just pressing two buttons.

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I also use SavvyAnalysis to analyze EFIS data logs which I download after each flight. This is a free tool that plots the key EMS data for the entire flight. You can spend hours reviewing the data and gaining a deep understanding of how the engine is running. This plot shows true airspeed on top and all four CHTs on bottom. It is easy to switch parameters of either plot to show EGT, GPS altitude, fuel flow, amps, oil pressure, oil temp, or a host of other parameters. Very cool capability and it makes flight test easy because I don’t have to write down data while flying.

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Categories: Uncategorized

N147EW Flys!

August 31, 2014 2 comments

Sunday Aug 31, 2014

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After four years and seven months of building and preping, N147EW (aka the Eagle) took to the air. It was just me, Denise, and Dave Stevenson at the hangar this morning as we checked the airplane out for the last time before the first flight. I wanted this event to be low key. Spectators would just make me nervous and add pressure that could cloud my judgement. The airplane was ready as far as I could tell and the conditions were right so I decided it was the day to fly. I started the engine with 18 gallons of fuel on board; more than enough for this flight. After a smooth taxi to the east end of the runway I did a standard run-up and mag check. All systems go! I checked for traffic and called out my intention to take-off on runway 25 for a first flight. The next guy in sequence to take-off radio’d back “good luck”.

The winds were calm. On take-off the engine rpm rose to 2100 rpm initially. It’s a fixed pitch prop so I didn’t expect full redline rpm or the acceleration of a constant speed prop. It accelerated briskly enough however and I lifted off at 74 kts. What a rush! The machine I built in my garage was flying and lifting me up into the sky. I climbed out at about 105 kts and about 1000 fpm, keeping the speed up to promote cooling of the cylinders. This is a new engine that is not broken in so CHT’s are always a concern. I didn’t need to worry. They never got above 380F. At 500 ft AGL I turned crosswind while continuing to climb. The engine was running smoothly and only a small amount of elevator trim was needed to keep it climbing with little or no pressure on the stick. Turning downwind I reduced power to 25 inches manifold pressure and climbed up through pattern altitude at 500 fpm while radioing my intent to climb to 2500 ft MSL above the airport for flight tests.

A check of engine pressures and temperatures showed everything was in the green. I checked aileron trim and it was almost neutral. No heavy wing! A tiny adjustment of the aileron trim and I was flying hands off! Leveling off at about 2500 ft I followed a race track pattern above the airport. The air was smooth and  everything was operating normally. The controls were light and responsive but twitchy. I flew five or six big ovals around the pattern, never getting too far from the airport just in case a problem arose.

Maximum air speed was 136 kts indicated (142.5 KTAS) at 2500 ft, 2400 rpm and 25.5 inches of manifold pressure. That’s only 78% power according to the Dynon. Not too bad I think for cruising with no wheel or main gear leg fairings. It will go faster later with the full set of trim on and more altitude.

On the last lap I slowed down and dropped into the pattern. The base leg was a little fast at 78 kts and I held it there all the way to the numbers. As for the landing, let’s just say it was good enough (thanks Dave!). Total flight time was 0.5 hr. After taxiing back to the hangar I shared hand shakes and high fives, and of course, the famous RV grin. The guy (Bob) who wished me luck on the radio came by to congratulate me and see the airplane. I pulled off the cowling to inspect the engine and found no leaks or issues at all. The only squawks I had the whole flight were the engine idle, which was set too low, and the intercom volume was too low but I didn’t want to mess with it in flight. I adjusted the idle screw with the cowling off and increased the intercom volume from 50% to 70% on the GTR200. I’ll check those settings next time.

In summary, I can’t believe how nicely this airplane flew today. It’s a nice machine. Thanks Van! I admit I had some anxiety about all the things that could go wrong. After all, it was built in my garage. But the airplane was ready to fly. And fly it did. It gave me no reason to be alarmed. It felt more solid than any Cessna I have ever flown.

Now, 39.5 hours more to go in Phase 1 flight test and then Denise can ride along with me.

Special thanks to Denise for supporting me throughout this project, and Dave Stevenson for giving me the help and confidence to go fly it today.

Update: I added a link to a short video of the highlights of the first flight taken from the ground by Denise.

Categories: Uncategorized

First Build Day at the Airport – 4 hrs

May 18, 2014 Leave a comment

Sunday May 18, 2014

It’s been hot around here this week so this morning I headed out to the airport early to get started on final installation of the empennage. The horizontal stabilizer was already mounted yesterday so I started on the elevators. When I got to the bolt that ties the two elevator horns together at the center bearing I ran into trouble. Getting the washers in between the horns and the bearing was a pain that took at least a half hour but there is almost no room to tighten the AN4 bolt that goes through the horns. I messed with this for quite a while making only a few degrees progress at a time, but finally I go it all tight. No way getting a torque wrench on this so I can only go by feel. Fortunately the lock nut makes the torque much less critical.

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I took a break and went for a spin in a rental C-172 for about 1.5 hours. I am trying to get my total hours up to break 100 to keep the insurance cost down. Yes I am a LTP ( low time pilot). When I got back I finished by installing the vertical stabilizer.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Started Installing Wing Tips – 10 hrs

December 28, 2013 Leave a comment

Saturday Dec 28, 2013

Work has kept me from making steady progress on the airplane the last few weeks. But today I was able to spend most of the day in the garage working on the wing tips. For a change I didn’t do any electrical wiring.

The first step was to measure the depth of the overlap between the wing skins and the tips and mask off the fiberglass for trimming. The flange on the tips is about 1/8 inch too deep. Then I started preparing the plexiglass lenses. I cut the molded lens in half using aluminum snips then cut off the flange around the perimeter. This allowed me to place the lenses on the wing tips and locate the approximate position of best fit. You can see them here temporarily taped in place.

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Then I removed the lenses and trimmed the flange of the wing tips using a cutoff wheel. This is a very dirty job creating lots of fiberglass dust so I did it outside the garage with a respirator and safety glasses. After getting the overlap to fit well I could put the left wing tip onto the wing and identify where and how much to trim around the aileron. The plans call for 1/4 clearance between the fiberglass tip and the aileron so I marked it and crept up to that amount in several iterations. You want the aft edge of the tip to be aligned with the aileron when it is at nominal so there is some tweaking required to set the wing tip at that position then I match drilled through the pre-drilled holes in the wing skin and clecoed on the left tip.

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You can see in this photo that the aft edge of the tip is not quite flush with the aft edge of the aileron and this looks bad. It seems this is normal based on reviewing posts of other builders so I needed to cut the aft edge off by about 1/4 inch. Fortunately this did not completely separate the upper and lower surfaces of the wing tip so the structure still maintained it’s shape. I’ll just have to reinforce the interior because it was weakened by the cut.

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I repeated the process on the right wing tip and here is the result. This took quite a while to accomplish but this is good progress compared to my recent record.

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Then I went back to trimming the lens for the right wing tip. I used the metal snips to rough it out then used my belt sander and scotchbrite wheel to fine tune it to fit the wing tip recess like a glove. One down, one to go.

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Categories: Uncategorized, Wing Tips