Cabin top finally done

total hours: 2508.6
cabin top this session: 141.5
cabin top total: 280.8

Wow. All the windows are installed, the body work done around the doors and windows, The windscreen fairing and the cabin top is primed. When it goes to the painter there will no doubt be some improvements he’ll be able to make, but it’s not too bad a job if I do say so myself. Took a LOT longer than anticipated, but it does look pretty good. Especially the windscreen fairing. I’m actually surprised with how good that turned out.

There’s still some cosmetics to be dealt with on the windows. And some minor scratches in the side windows to deal with. Yes, with a big box of bran new micr-fiber towels at my feet, right after window install was complete, I proceeded to wipe them down thoroughly with paper-towels. This was at about 1:00 AM when it happened. And now there are a thousand little scratches in these windows. What a dummy. Mercifully I realized my idiocrity before doing the same thing to the windscreen. There’s also a little bit of adhesive smear near the edges of the inside of the windows. I think I’ll be able to fix all these issues with the windows.

On the windows I used Lord adhesive. It required just under two tubes for me. Doing two windows at a time really minimized waste. The window install was actually really easy.

The transition from window to cabin top was very time consuming. I used a 2″ fiber-glass tape thinking this would save me time. It didn’t. There’s just no way to get it to stick reliably to the windscreen. I roughed up the edges of those windows till they were white. The glass tape delaminated everywhere. I tried a few time and in the end just pulled it all off. I used a mixture of flox/micro/cab-o-sil and made the window transitions with that, blending it nicely into the cabin top and leaving an edge the thickness of electrical tape on the window. It came out pretty good. Not perfect in some spots, but pretty good for an amateur doing body work for the first time.

Put conductive aluminum tape on rear of cabin top to form ground plane for top comm antenna. Made sure we got good conductivity with the airframe. Then epoxied it over and primed.

And that’t mostly it. Anything forgotten will be in the pictures. … Oh, and I also installed the seats, That took all of about 10 minutes. See pictures.

Next update should be engine install!

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.

Cabin top #5

Total: 1894.5 hours
Cabin top total: 126.8 hours
Cabin top since last time: 12.0 hours

Finally got the cabin top permanently installed. Put it on with clecos, rivet the back end, bolt the front end, fill the gaps with epoxy/flox, done. Also installed some cabin lights. Still more to do on the cabin top – mostly items related to the overhead console. But it’ll be done for a while now while work progresses on the doors.

Cabin Top #4 – ready to mount

Total: 1882.5 hours
Cabin top: 114.8 hours
Cabin top since last time: 66.5 hours

Cabin top is an enormous amount of work. There are aftermarket headliners but I just don’t care for how they look. To me they look like the interior of some 1970’s Oldsmobile (and those are the better ones I’ve seen). I prefer the clean painted look (not to mention the weight savings. A headliner might weigh 7 or 8 pounds while paint weighs much less). So I did the extra work of blending the overhead console to the cabin top and smoothed it to baby-bottom status and painted it. I thought this task would have to wait until Spring, but we had a very warm stretch so I jumped at the chance to do the cabin interior paint now.

First the console had to be bonded to the cabin top. Because my cabin top was very rough as I received it. The “bumps” for the door hinges weren’t even symmetrical from left side to right side. In short it was just terrible. The overhead console I bought from Aerosport Products which is made for the RV10 and many reports are that it’s a perfect fit was far from a perfect fit in my case. Actually the back end with the curvature was right, but the front section was way off. I had to make significant adjustments to the console for it to fit. Then because of the craziness of the cabin top there were gaps between the console and the cabin top, which might have made bonding a challenge. To deal with this, I used some leftover parabeam for bonding. Parabeam is a 3 dimensional glass cloth weave which was used in bonding the door halves. I had just enough left over to cut into strips to fill the gaps. Worked swimmingly, though there was some big cleanup and trimming of the parabeam itself on the inside after the epoxy cured.

The blending was my first experience with “body-work”. My goal was to blend the overhead console with the cabin-top so they look as though they were made as a single unit. I used an Epoxy/Micro (glass bubbles) mixture as filler material. Spread it on, Wait 8 to 12 hours for it to cure, Sand it off. Spread it on. Wait 8-12 hours. Sand it off, etc, etc. The last step when I felt it was all smooth enough was to roll on a very, very thin layer of pure epoxy as a clear-coat. This hardened up like glass, filling in any tiny pin holes that may have formed without me noticing. And then finally I was able to sand this to rough it up some and paint it.

I’m using Stewart Systems paint for the cabin interior which requires at least 60 degrees and low humidity (which is why I needed this unexpected nice weather to do this task). … I really like this paint because it’s water-based and not toxic and it doesn’t stink – smells kind-a good, actually. I still use a breather mask when spraying, but I don’t need a full bunny suit and re-breather or anything like that. And I don’t have to worry about the fumes killing the children. Despite it’s water-based properties, it’s a very high quality aviation grade paint. I’m not a great painter but I’m starting to break the painting code. It’s hard to get a good glossy coat sprayed on a vertical surface without runs and sags. By the end of it I had sprayed down 2 full wet coats of primer, the first coat requiring a bit of sanding down because of some runs. And then three full (wet) top-color coats. The first of the top coats went down pretty good but had no gloss, so I let it tack up for a while, made some adjustments to the spray gun and sprayed another wet coat. Looked good except for a bad sag on a vertical surface. Very disappointing. I let it cure for 24 hours, sanded out the sag (and a few other defects), sprayed another light tack coat followed by a full wet coat. This time, I built up to the gloss a little at a time with a short delay between spraying over any given area. This worked well. Overall I’d say the paint job is very good with some areas being very, very good. … I also sprayed the front of the fuse which was skipped last Spring when I painted the fuse interior. I also sprayed the baggage bulkhead after realizing areas of it show from around the edges of the “wall” that gets screwed into place. And finally, I sprayed the glare-shield with rattle-can textured black paint (rustoleum)  after priming first with Stewart Systems primer. I sprayed on 3 black coats and it looks great.

Also installed the NACA scoops with three rivets each and an epoxy/cab-o-sil mix.

Zach and I also installed the defrost fans after the black paint dried.


Cabin top #3 (start overhead console)

Total: 1723.8 hours
Cabin top total: 48.3 hours
since last time: 11.5 hours

Started working to install the Aerosport overhead console. Straightforward for the most part. With the cabin top clecoed in place I got the console centered and clecoed to the cabin top. Then the cabin top came off and I trimmed the flanges of the console where necessary to get a good fit. I also ordered some lights and air vents for the overhead console which I’ll be installing in the console before permanently attaching it to the cabin top.  … For the moment the console will be set aside while the doors get fitted. Once the doors are fitted (should take some time) I’ll install the console and prep and paint both the doors and the cabin top. Then it’ll be final install of the cabin top. I’m expecting a couple months before I get there. Maybe more if the weather is too cold to do fiberglass and painting tasks.

I’m really liking the console. It’s made of carbon fiber and is really light, but sturdy.


Cabin top – Part #2

Total: 1712.3 hours
Cabin top: 36.8 hours so far
Since last time: 24.6 hours

Got the roll bar fitted to the fuse and to the cabin top. Got the rear windows and the main windscreen fitted. Time consuming but fairly straightforward. Cut the windows down to the scribe line and then test fit 100 times each, sanding off what doesn’t fit properly until it fits. I used one of those diamond edge cutoff wheels in a dremel tool. Definitely the way to go on this. Nice easy smooth cuts in the Plexiglas. Several passes on each cut until the cut was all the way through. Then for the fine-tuning I gingerly used a belt sander. BIG mess. Very important to wear eye/ear/nose/mouth protection and gloves.

One issue that came up was that I managed to miss-drill the roll-bar to the cabin top. The procedure is to drill through with a small drill bit and then take the cabin top off and enlarge the holes for a tube through which the bolt will go. The holes must have been slightly off or when I enlarged the holes they didn’t stay centered. Whatever. When I realized the issue I put the cabin top back on and put the roll bar back on and filed out the holes as necessary to get the aligned with the roll bar. Then I mixed up some flox and filled the holes with it. With the holes filled with flox I slowly pressed the tube with a bolt into place and fastened it. Did this for the three holes that needed adjustment. Then by morning we had a perfect fit.

And the kids have been having lots of fun in the airplane. Doesn’t everybody have an airplane in their garage?


Cabin top – part #1

Total: 1682.0 hours
Cabin top: 12.2 hours
Cabin top-part #1: 12.2 hours

Getting started with the cabin top. Lots of cutting and sanding of fiber-glass. Made my first mistake already by mis-reading plans and cutting too much off of the flange that interfaces to the top fuse skin. That’ll have to be built back up. Time consuming, I’m sure, but not a show-stopper.

It’s now fitted to the fuse. Lots lots more left to do.