Tailcone

06/24/2011
Hours: 2.5
Tailcone: 99.3
After getting some advice about access not being a big problem and realizing I would need as many 3/32 clecos as possible for the wing kit, I decided to finish the last pieces of the tailcone that I said in the last post I would wait until assembly to do. That means that the aft top skin is now riveted in place and after I get some more primer shipped here, I’ll get the battery and bell-crank bolted in place.  Next steps will be to find a place to store the tailcone.  It’s not going to fit through the door to get into the “airplane room” where all the other pieces are waiting.  I’m thinking I’ll either build a loft in the garage to store it or stand it up on its fat end on a platform in a corner.  We’ll see.
Other than that, I am happy to report that we have ordered the wing kit and expect it sometime in early to mid August.  Until then, I may do some things like buy and install the static air ports, maybe install a NACA vent, maybe order an autopilot servo bracket and install it, an external battery port.  Or maybe I’ll do nothing.  Time will tell.
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Tailcone

06/20/2011
Hours: 5.0
Tailcone: 96.8  —  Complete**
We’re going to call the tailcone complete at this point.  Technically, the aft top skin still needs to be riveted on and some parts bolted to the frame, so according to the plans, I’m not quite finished with the tailcone.  However, the forward top skin is intentionally left off until we’re ready to attach the tailcone to the fuselage (according to the plans) and I’ve decided to also leave off the aft top skin for the time being to allow better access for things which will be mounted back there later.  For example, there are some sensors for the avionics which will go back there and some wire runs for lights, etc.
In other news, I mentioned in an earlier post about a spot I dented in one of the stiffeners.  I decided to reinforce this portion of the stiffener and there are pictures of before and after.
I’ve also had an inspection from an EAA Tech. Counselor.  Ralph Hoover of EAA chapter 186 (among other places) came to the house and spent a couple of hours looking over my build so far.  His comment was that it was above average workmanship and that he wishes he saw more work of my quality.  That made me feel good.  I’d prefer “excellent” workmanship, of course, but considering I’m a first-time airplane builder, I’ll gratefully accept “above average”.
One of my concerns was the “oil-canning” in one spot in one of my elevators (that’s the cha-chunk sound like when you squeeze an oil can) but he thought nothing of it.  I suppose even I knew it was fairly mild.  And that corroborates the comments I was given from the Van’s tech support people (Van’s are the people who make the kit).  Another concern I had was that the trim tabs aren’t perfect because some of the hinge joints are not perfectly aligned.  This causes a little squeaking on one side and a little movement where normally there shouldn’t be.  Ralph felt that it was fine, that I should just pull the hinge pins and do what I can to straighten any of the joints and to just keep my eye on those joints after we’re flying to make sure no cracks develop.  He didn’t seem to think they would develop cracks, rather, he said after I start flying, in time they would wear a little and loosen up naturally, but just to be aware and keep an eye on them.
Then he invited us all to the airport for a bar-b-que and so I brought Zach, Daniel and Audra with me.  While there, Ralph showed us his RV-7a (which has been flying for a few years).  It’s a real nice airplane, too.  Zach took a real interest in the engine area (the cowling was off) and asked a ton of questions, which Ralph very patiently and enthusiastically answered.  It was a lot of fun.  Scott and Laura were on a weekend trip, so they missed out.
At this point then, what I need to do is order the wing kit which I’m planning to do this week (or maybe next week, probably) and then start researching some of the options available.  Several things get mounted in the wings like auto-pilot servos and pitot tubes and landing lights, etc, so I have to know what those things are and in some cases have them in hand when I start building the wings.

Tailcone

06/05/2011
Hours: 8.5
Tailcone: 91.8
Making progress toward closing up the tailcone.  The tail section where the empennage attaches is just about complete.  Some tough sections in there getting a bucking bar into tight places.
And just a few extra pictures.  One of Audra wearing my shoes and the other of Audra preparing for when the pool gets set up (which it now is).  She doesn’t like getting her face wet so thought she’d practice in a big bowl of water.

Tailcone

 
05/28/2011 – 05/30/2011
Hours: 7.2
Tailcone: 83.3
Got the side stiffeners all riveted to the sides along with the bottom stiffeners to the bottom.  Also got the sides riveted to the frames and bulkheads.  I got Scott to help and in about 15 minutes he was able to buck rivets as well as I can do it.  It took me quite a bit longer to learn this art.  In the past, I always did the bucking while he managed the gun, but he wanted to try bucking so, anticipating the future where someone will have to crawl inside the airplane to do the bucking, I figured now was a really good time for Scott to learn how to do it.  Guess who’s going to be crawling into tight spots to buck rivets from now on?
One serious issue I ran into while riveting one of the side stiffeners was in four places the bucking bar slipped and dented the stiffener.  (These were areas where I was bucking and riveting by myself before I got Scott to help.)  In three of these cases, the damage was very minor.  But in one, it was a little worse than I’m comfortable with.  I’ve smoothed all the damaged areas out with the little scotch bright wheel and I’m going to drill out a few inches worth of rivets on either side of the worst damaged spot and put a J-Channel doubler right over the original J-Channel stiffener.  When the EAA Tech. councilor comes by, I’ll be sure to point it out to him for a closer inspection, but from my research, I believe this is a very appropriate step to take in order to prevent cracking or buckling in this area when we eventually get this thing flying.
   

Tailcone

5/15/2011 – 5/21/2011
Hours: 6.0
Tailcone: 73.3
Getting it put together with clecos again.  Zach got his hands dirty following the plans and putting things together again, and we’re starting to get things riveted together.  Had a little accident and hurt my knee last week, so haven’t gotten as much done as I would have liked.  So far, two stiffeners are riveted in place on the right side of the tailcone.

Tailcone

5/8/2011 – 5/12/2011
Hours: 14.7
Tailcone: 67.3
Got all the tailcone dimpled and prepped for priming, then got it primed, then began riviting things together.  My father was here for the past three days and worked with me on all these steps.  In fact just about everyone in the family got involved at one point or another on various jobs.  Dad did most of the priming, half of the dimpling, and about half of the riveting.  It was a real treat to work together on a project like this.  It’s too bad he doesn’t live closer.