Moving Day

Rusty’s Towing Service of Culpeper county moved the airplane for me. Pricey, but well worth it, The driver (Chris) was professional and knew how to be careful during the whole process. Before hooking up or doing anything, really, he checked with me. He even understood we’d want to secure the prop to prevent any possibility of it windmilling. Got it on the truck, drove to the airport, got it off the truck. Easy. Took less than an hour including a 30 minute travel time.

We moved the wings in a U-Haul a few weeks earlier.

Very nice to have it finally at the airport.

Aft Top Skin

Total: 2236.1 hours
Aft top skin: 9.0 hours

Nothing special here. Rivited on the aft top skin. The fuse is now entirely closed up. This signifies the end to major airframe construction. There’s still a lot more to go. But this feels like a milestone.

Also had some fun at the airport while arranging for our hangar. The girls had a great time for over an hour flying the little airplane in the pictures. Also made a trip to Green Wood Hills Bible camp ground in PA where the girls played on a rocket ship. Also had a fun trip in a rental to Chapel Hill, NC (KIGX) to pick up a friend.

Wiring wiring more wiring and plumbing

Total: 2144.3 hours
Wiring since last time: 53.5 hours
Plumbing since last time: 35.0 hours
Total wiring so far: 114.0 hours
Total plumbing: 35.0 hours

Wiring is everything having to do with the panel and getting electricity from the panel to where it needs to be. Plumbing is everything having to do with pitot/static lines and fresh air vents.

Much done. See the pictures (including building a deck for the in-laws which is not airplane related but it helps the kids build up some important skills which we all use for the airplane build).

Of note: Engine and propeller are here.

Issues. Serious issue with the front fresh air vents. The panel which is not stock seriously interferes with the position of the front NACA vents. And it’s impossible to use any standard fitting over both the vent and the NACA inlet. At least 20 of the “plumbing” hours were spent devising a way to get the air to the eye-ball vents and mounting those vents. I am still in the process of making it all pretty but am so far very pleased with the solution which is going to look great. In short, I made some boxes in which to mount the vents. And then had to fabricate a duct from fiberglass to direct the air from the NACA inlets to the vents. In the end because of the very tight space and my self-imposed requirement that the duct and hose must be able to come off and on without removing the panel, in the end I glassed the hose directly into the duct. This was a largely trial and error process so these ducts are quite ugly (ugly indeed). But they’ll do the job (and never be seen) and if I ever have to remake them (or I ever just decide to remake them to avoid that annoying feeling that a monkey could have done better) I’ll be able to make them look nice since I’ll know the final dimensions ahead of time. This was a bear of a job and it’s just time to move on.


Van’s Aircraft Crates

The age old airplane builder question: What do you do with the crates?

We’ve come up with some solutions. After a year of my daughter proving she is responsible enough to care for chickens, we got her chickens. The chickens, however, not being children, are not allowed to live in the house. So we used the wood from the crates to build a nice chicken coop. Then with more of the wood from the crates Zach built a tree fort. We did need to buy some lumber to complete these projects, but all the wood from the crates was used in one way or another.

Pictures below – including some random pics of the family doing stuff.


Baggage Compartment

Total: 1376.8 hours
Baggage Compartment: 85.6 hours

The baggage compartment took a LOT longer to accomplish than I expected. This is mostly because I decided to run all the fore/aft wiring now before the baggage floors were in place. In addition to the wiring there is an empty 3/4 conduit on each side for any future wiring that may be required. Running the wire required making several home-made adel-like clamps and two antenna doublers for antennas positioned under the rear passenger seats. In place is the following:

Left side:

  • power and ground cables from the battery area to the firewall.
  • wire-pair for the main contactor
  • multi-conductor wire for rear nav-lights/beacon
  • empty conduit for pitot and AOA lines.
  • RG-400 to area under left rear seat for belly comm antenna.

Right side:

  • RG-400 to area under right seat for (extra) belly comm antenna for portable radio
  • 3 RG-400 lines to rear for ADS-B (in), top comm antenna, and Marker beacon
  • Dynon network cable for ADAHRS units and A/P pitch servo (through hub)
  • multi-conductor wire for Elevator trim servo
  • multi-conductor wire for ELT
  • A static pressure line to run aft/fore for an alternate static source
  • Empty conduit for future wiring

A few re-dos in the mix, but no serious issues. Most of the time was spent figuring out how to run the wires and then running them and securing them with homemade clamps. In two areas where the wire routes were along side the right side skin, I used some wire-tie mounts. But I didn’t use them as is. I first removed entirely the sticky stuff on the back of the mounts. Behind the right baggage panel I secured these mounts to the side skin with pro-seal. “Conveniently” I have no picture of the result. No matter how much I use pro-seal, I never fail to make a mess. In the area just forward of this I also used the same idea but this time I used a two-part epoxy to secure the mounts to the side skin. I then used some wire-ties to secure the wire bundle to the mount. This part looks very neat, I’m happy to say. Also, a lot of time was spend making the antenna doublers for the belly antennas.

I also decided to use the stall warning access panel (which was not used in the wing since I’m using AOA instead of the standard stall warning vane) in the rear left baggage floor as an access to the step bolt. I felt the left side was important because the bolt is installed at an angle and if the step needs to be removed there would be no other way to get at the bolts. I thought no need for the right side. Then while riveting the left floor I had to remove a rivet and had to use the access panel to get the tail end of the rivet. Sadly, while riveting a panel on the right side I had the same rivet problem. I drilled out a rivet and tried in vain to reach the tail end under the floor with magnets and mirrors through the lightening holes. Reluctantly I realized the only way to get the tail out of there would be through an access panel. So I ordered the same access panel and doubler I used on the left side and will carefully install it in the right side baggage floor. No way I can leave that bit of loose metal under there. … And then I’ll be really done with the baggage area.

And also had a nice flight with Ralph Hoover in his RV-7a in and around the Warrenton, VA area.


More Space

We spent the summer building a storage shed in the yard in order to have more room in the garage to work on the airplane. The project was well over budget and well behind schedule, but after an entire summer it’s finished. We’ve also finally purchased a real tool chest for the garage, which means I can now call the garage my shop. Next step is to mate the tail cone to the fuse. Stay tuned.


Top Fuse Skin (section 31)

Total: 1278.1 hours
Top fuse skin: 20.6 hours

Top fuse skins complete. Pretty straightforward stuff. A few tough rivets but nothing to get excited about. The top skin is now stored and will be installed later.

Included for fun are some pics we took when we rented a Cessna 172 and went flying recently.

Progress has become very, very slow. So many things needing attention around the house and with work. And now another delay to deal with. The next step is attaching the tailcone. But things are getting cramped in the garage with so much other stuff needing to be in there. So we’re going to build a shed now before doing any more work on the airplane. Stay tuned.


Total time: 769.3 hours
Since last time:  33.8 hours
Ailerons: 33.8 hours

Ailerons complete.

While waiting for some supplies I decided to jump back and actually work on the ailerons. Now that the fuse kit has been ordered we need to work fast and get this wing kit finished. So now the ailerons are done and the work will continue to finish the aileron actuation. I’ll then be able to route the tubing and wires and know it won’t interfere with the ailerons.

We also had an outing to the airport to help Ralph Hoover (Tech. counselor) do an annual on his RV-7a. I asked the kids who wanted to go. They all did. Then I said we’d be there for a very long time and they weren’t allowed to complain. They all changed their minds. Then I added that we’d be going out for lunch and I got two takers.

I also had a short inspection. Before going to the airport to help Ralph with his annual, he dropped by the house to see the work. The only comment he made was about using wire ties to hold the “black box” to the ballast in the Duckworks landing/taxi light installation. I showed him the Duckworks instructions which I followed exactly but he still had some questions and doesn’t like wire-ties. I called Duckworks and based on the weight of what’s being held they convinced me the wire-ties were adequate. So my plan is to add these wire-ties as an inspection item and keep my eye on them as the airplane begins flying and then at annual inspections, of course.

I’m really pleased with the trailing edges. Unlike how I did the elevators and rudder, I inserted the rivets all from the top and did the same back-rivet set followed by flat-set technique I did back then with the rudder and elevators. The shop heads fill the space so well they almost look like manufactured heads. And the edge is very straight.

And the one annoying / funny thing I did was accidentally drop my bucking bar into the guts of the right aileron. Took a few minutes to figure out how, but I got it out. Just annoying.

Tank Attach Assembly

Total time: 637.6 hours
Since last time: 13.3 hours
Fuel Tanks: 93.5 hours


Making good progress. The ribs are in place and the attach assemblies are in place. I’m working on the vent tubing now and am waiting for the capacitive fuel probes from Princeton Probes. As soon as they get here I’ll be able to get the aft inboard rib in place and then close up the tanks. I also ordered a pressure test kit for each tank. I probably only need one, but for the few bucks they cost, I bought two and so I’ll pressure test both tanks at the same time.

A new skill I have is that I can now flare tubing. Ralph Hoover (friendly neighborhood Tech. counsellor) took some time to show me how to do it and to loan me his flaring tool. I practiced flaring a length of scrap aluminum tubing (over and over again) and got it pretty near perfect. So then I flared the ends of the vent tubing.

The only snag I’ve had is with the vent clip which attaches just behind the fuel flange. It should have a 7/16″ hole in it to receive a Snap Bushing. But I never drilled the hole – and I checked the plans and can’t find where it tells me to do so. Nevertheless, I have to deal with it. Using my angle drill I drilled the hole out to #30, then because of the tight quarters, I put a unibit in a black-n-decker battery operated screw driver and slowly drilled out to 9/32″ (just a bit larger than 1/4″ which is the size of the vent tube). I could drill it out all the way to 7/16″ this way, but I’m reluctant to do so. The vent clip is cut from the stiffeners and there are a whole bunch of them. You only need to keep two, which are now fastened in the tanks. I got one of the discarded clips and practiced drilling out to the proper size and found that depending on how I installed the clips, there might be very little edge distance if I drill it out all the way to 7/16″. What I’m planning to do at the moment is not use the snap bushing and just put the vent tube through the clip and pack it up good and tight with proseal. It won’t move, but after everything is in place, it shouldn’t move anyway.  I’m asking around on Van’s Airforce to see what some other builders might suggest.

And here’s a trick I learned. When I countersunk the attach assemblies to receive the dimpled skin, I just drilled #40 holes right into the wood of my table and clecoed the assembly to the wood (see picture below). The cleco does not have to come out the other end of the table in order to hold the metal firmly to the wood. Very handy trick.