Doors finished

Total: 2192.6 hours
Total Doors: 191.9 hours
Total Cabin Top: 139.3 hours
Doors this session: 35.8 hours
Cabin top this session: 12.5 hours

Worked to finish up the doors and the inside of the cabin top. This involved prepping and painting. Lots and lots of work involved. The fiberglass had to be sanded and filled and sanded and filled over and over again with a final skim coat of epoxy. The cabin top was filling and smoothing the region where the cabin top joins with the fuse. This had been filled with flox a while ago but now it was time to fill it and smooth out the transition. And I’m very pleased with how it turned out.

There are, of course, a few defects in the paint (aren’t there always?) – but no runs or sags – just a few spots in the doors where it turns out the prep must not have been perfect and a few specs of dust. All in all I’m pretty happy with the doors. And with the installation of the interior door handles I can now say the doors are finished.

The interior of the cabin is getting there. The transitions previously mentioned were painted and the underside of the glare-shield was repainted. I had originally painted it with a nice rust-o-leum gray but it got beat up in the course of events and we decided it would be better and look better for it to be the same color as the rest of the interior so I repainted it with the good stuff (Stewart Systems dawn patrol gray) and it does look a lot better.

Doors – part #5

Total: 1960.4 hours
Doors total: 156.1 hours
Doors part #5: 18.6 hours

Making much progress on the doors. But still a lot to do, The gas strut is in place but the bracket is only clecoed for now. After I paint the doors in the Spring I’ll permanently install these brackets. Also glassed over the openings so that the door seal will contact something solid all the way around. I did this by first making a 3-4 layer fiberglass board which I cut up into shapes and then subsequently attached where I wanted them. Fairly easy stuff, though a bit time consuming since there’s basically a day between every little step while epoxy cures.

Also started the body work on the top of the right door where it was depressed from the weight I put on during the gluing of the two door halves. And also some more on the right front upright door frame (part of the cabin top) where I got a little too belt-sander happy and ended up with several gauged spots. Not deep, but deep enough to annoy me.

Had a big snow day. Unusual to get this kind of snow in Virginia. Something like 26 inches in a 24 hour period. Of course at the time of this writing it’s completely melted – abut 2 weeks after the storm.

There still remains painting on the doors and more body work. Particularly the right door at the lower front when closed is not flush, but is inside the fuse. So I’ll build that up with some micro and smooth it out. But that, too, along with painting will wait for warmer Spring weather.


Doors – part 4

Total: 1941.8 hours
Doors total: 137.5 hours
Doors since last time: 47.3 hours

Door latch mechanism in place with lock and handle. The stock door handles for the RV10 are absolutely ugly. I used a low profile aftermarket “low profile” handle instead of the stock handle. It has a lock and looks like it belongs on an airplane (aerosport low profile handle). The install was very easy because the installation instructions were extremely well done.

I also installed a common afermarket modification to add a third latch to the standard door latching mechanism. Early RV10s had some issues with doors and came up with a couple excellent door modifications to provide additional safety to the door latch. The install of this part was a little more difficult and the plans were no where near as easy to follow as the aerosport modification already mentioned. But it’s in. I used their extension door pins with nice guides along with the 3rd latch system. Only trouble I had really was installing the supports that reinforce the door halves on either side of the center gear. When gluing the doors together I apparently went a little hog wild on one of the doors and there are gobs of hardened epoxy oozing from the door attachment surfaces (on the inside). The only way to get the supports in properly was to cut out small sections of the door bottom, epoxy in the supports and then fill the openings with epoxy/flox. Annoying but not a big issue.

When the latch and handles were on the doors, the doors were installed on the airplane. I put tape on the door frame where the door pins would mark them. This was to find the position of the holes. This didn’t turn out as great as I hoped. All four holes (front and back of each door) were off. I had to file open each hole with a file in order to get the doors to close and lock in the best position. This took a lot of time to get right. … Then because the holes in the airframe were now too big, I built a doubler for the back side of each hole with 1/16″ thick aluminum. After the doublers were in place I filled the holes with epoxy/flox and pushed the rod through so the enlarged part of the holes are all filled in.

Finally, I positioned the planearound 3rd latch cam to the shaft.

Still more to do on the doors. The gas strut needs to be installed, The planearound cam needs to be permanently roll-pinned to the shaft, the many holes and cutouts in the door need to be closed over, and even more. … So not quite done with the doors yet. But I’m extremely happy with how they are turning out. They latch and close with what seems a perfect amount of pressure on the handles (enough to know your engaging them, but not enough to be hard), the doors pull right into position against the door seal. They are nearly perfectly flush with the cabin-top in all areas when closed (aside from a little body work that will be needed on the left front, but minimal, really.)


Doors – Part #3

Total: 1816.0 hours
Doors: 90.2 hours
Doors since last time: 42.5 hours

Because I’m using an aftermarket door seal that attaches to the door frame rather than the door (looks more like a car) I have to build up the door frame so the seal will fit. This was done by layering on several strips of glass cloth over and over again with sanding between until the right width was achieved. Then at the base of the door frame, where the frame is too far from the door for the seal to work, we created a pour-mold between the door and the door frame and poured in an epoxy/flox mixture. When it cured, we had a perfect fit aside from the standard amount of sanding required every time you do anything with fiberglass or epoxy.

Still lots to go on the doors but the extra work necessary for the McMaster door seal is done.


Doors – Part #2

Total: 1773.5 hours
doors total: 47.7 hours
Since last time: 38 hours

Making good progress on the doors. Not nearly as difficult so far as I expected. Certainly the initial fit is terrible and the plans are simply awful as many others have shown before. My take on it is basically as a builder, you’re on your own when it comes to the doors. Alignment holes don’t align between the door halves, the scribe lines are joke, etc. But no point complaining any further. It’s coming along and it’s looking pretty good.

Much of the work indicated here has actually been done on the cabin-top rather than the doors but because it’s being done for the doors, so I’m considering the work as part of the doors.

1… glue the doors together. This went fairly well. I drilled holes and clecoed the doors directly to the cabin top thinking I would get a better fit to the contour of the cabin top. I think this is probably the case. The fit is really, really good. There are a few areas that will need some body-work attention, but not a lot and not too bad at all. However, I was under the mistaken assumption that the clecos would hold the door halves together sufficiently and this proved not to be true. Several areas became separated after final trimming. Though the bonding of the halves was perfect int he immediate vicinity of the clecos, after those areas are trimmed away, several spots appeared where there was separation. These spots were all glued together properly after the fact. All’s well that ends well, but I could have saved myself a lot of time had I also clamped the door halves together much better in the contact areas between the door outer edge and the window frame. I did think to put some weight on the top and this prevented any separations up there. On the right door, however, I ended up deforming the door a bit which will have to be built up with some filler at a future data. The deepest area of the depression is about 1/32″ so not too bad all in all.

2… After the doors were fit, I began the work of trimming down the gutters. The door seal I’m using requires a 1/4 inch gap between the door and the door frame. The seal will mount to the frame and the compression bulb will contact the door as it closes. There is a, acceptable range for this gap, but 1/4 inch is the target. If the gap ends up +/- 1/16 in any given spot, I’ll consider this acceptable, though the target is 1/4″. I first created a little jig for a pen in order to mark the door frame to where it needs to be trimmed. Then I got out the belt sander and went to town. This required many hours and several belts. In hindsight, I probably should have used a cut-off disk first to get an initial cut on the frame and then finished it off with the sander. But it’s done now and the gap is pretty consistent for both doors.

3… The seal also requires 1/4″ of material to grip when installed so in many areas where the gutter was trimmed away the back side will have to be built back up to 1/4″. I’ll use glass cloth to accomplish this rather than just filler in order to rebuild some strength to what was sanded away.

4… The gas struts that hold the doors up when opened require a bracket on the door frame. This bracket must come down and around the seal. I bought an after-market bracket that looks lice and will accommodate this seal. To make sure I would have it installed properly, I built up the door frame to 1/4″ in the area where the bracket is installed only (the rest will be built up when I remove the cabin-top). I was then able to fit the bracket to the cabin-top/door frame. No issues at all with the build up. In fact it went easy and quickly (aside from waiting 12 hours for the epoxy to cure).

The last thing to note is that we’re getting some colder weather now. So I’m only using the slow hardener on pieces I can bring in the house to cure. Most of the aforementioned build-up will be done with the fast-hardener which will cure properly in temperatures as low as 35 degrees. The slow hardener requires at least 60 degrees. And even with the fast hardener I’ll be using heat lamps just to keep the temps up as high as I can when the temps outside plummet – especially at night. Other than mixing less epoxy at a time and trying to work a little faster (because of the reduced working time of the fast hardener) I don’t expect much difficulty. Time will tell.


Doors – part #1

Total: 1733.5 hours
Doors: 9.7

Got started on the doors. The doors seem to be universally accepted as the most difficult part of the build. To make matters worse, I’ve decided on a few common modifications (common in that many, many builders do these same mods). One is the plane-around center latch (safety latch to more reliably hold the door closed) and the McMaster-Carr door seals. I had been planning on the stock door seals based on how much extra work is reported on this mod, but after seeing several examples of this modification and also the stock seals, I decided to go with the mod. In my opinion it really does look more finished and I’m not in a big hurry to complete the project. I’m enjoying the build and want in the end to have the nicest airplane I can accomplish. I believe the more finished it looks the more comfortable will be any passengers. … It is a goal of mine to get my mother to ride in it (a very tall order). If I can make the interior look like a car, it’ll go a long way toward her comfort. These modified seals look a lot like what you’d see on a car, so that’s part of the basis of the decision. … We’ll see how it goes.

At this point I’ve got the doors initial trim done, drawn all the lines and clecoed them together and to the cabin-top. I used a method I’ve seen on other sits to get the initial shape of the doors which is to cleco them directly to the cabin-top all the way around (not just at the bottom as is shown in the plans). The extra cleco holes will be filled with structural filler (epoxy/flox) before paint.

And one more thing. I decided now would be a good time to complete the install of the fuel valve and put on the tunnel-top at least with a few screws. This will minimize all the fiber-glass dust from getting in there. The fuel valve extension needed a roll-pin installed between it and the valve itself. The extension is now considered by me a permanent part of the valve. When the tunnel top comes off, the valve extension will remain behind. (click here for initial valve install).