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.


Air box & FWF

Total time: 2846.5
Filtered Air Box: 41.0
Firewall forward this time: 32.5
Total Firewall Forward:  69.6

Did the filtered air box and the air channel from the lower cowl to the air box. Had to do the air channel twice but that was the only real issue with the FAB.

For the FWF the prop was torqued and safety wired. FWF wiring has been completed, throttle body complete. Cabled complete. Fuel lines and oil lines complete. Several issues with the control cables documented in the pictures but all is well now.


Total: 2773.0 hours
Baffles: 73.0 hours

These baffles took a lot longer than I expected based on the reported times from other builders – about twice as long. I’m not sure why. I had no particular problems or serious time consuming errors. I did put things on and off a great number of times making very small cuts and adjustments each time. That might explain some of it. Or maybe I just work a lot slower than most.

As mentioned, no serious problems. More details in the pictures.

A note about the rubber baffle material. There is no guidance in the plans about how much to overlap or how much should stick up above the top baffle edges so I asked Van’s. They indicated with a consistent 1/2 inch gap between the top baffle edge and the top cowl (as I have), the material should go 3/4 inches down, 1/2 inch overlap from section to section and 2 inches above the top. They said this “usually works pretty well.” I went 1″ down, 1″ overlap and 2″ above the top edge. … Just gave a little more tolerance I felt, in case of an error somewhere.


Wheel Pants, etc.

Total time: 2700 hours
Wheel pants: 51.9 hours

The wheel pants and gear leg fairings are complete. And this marks the end of the large fiberglass fittings. There’s still some finishing work to be done on the pants and the cowling along with the wing tips. Mostly painting and smoothing out the edges and the like. These things I’ll do here and there at home after the airplane is moved to the hangar. And there’s still the air inlet that has to be done which is some more fiberglass work and the filtered air box. (And the intersection fairings I decided to wait on until the wings are installed.) But nothing like I’ve been doing for the better part of the past year.

The pants and fairings all appear to be aligned well and look pretty good. Some issues came up. The plans continue to be terrible. There are measurements given in the plans which are not correct. For example. A measurement is given from the floor to the center of the wheel. Then another measurement from the floor to the top of a spacer. Problem is a new tire doesn’t match the dimensions assumed in the plans. And if you make the spacer according to the plans you’re wheel pants will be too low. I spoke to Van’s and they told me to make the spacer bigger. That’s what I did. But after the fact when I see how thick the shims need to be to hold the pant to the bracket int he correct position, I have to wonder if it’s the other number that’s right – and my wheel-pants are a bit too high now. Given the choice I’d rather have them a little high than a little low so I’m no longer concerned about that.

Another issue is the front pant. If you measure from the center of the tire backward and align the back end of the pant at that mark, you will need to cut out FAR more at the top middle than the plans show – (like more than an inch more). I just followed the measurements given and that part worked out OK. And the template they provide for trimming the front part of the leg fairing: first of all, how do you use it? The template is flat and the fairing is a very complex curved surface? Well, I just made my best guess and then spent a whole lotta time trimming it to actually fit. And my favorite was where the plans say to set the fairing for a “best fit”… What on earth does this mean? I can make it a best fit against the top of the gear leg? Or I can make it a best fit with regard to aligning it with the airflow? You’d think that going against the brackets would be the “best fit” but that makes the fairing sit way too high – especially since they have you trim the bottom for a good fit before this part. In the end I aligned for airflow and added a liquid shim at the mounting points to prevent them from being squeezed together when the screws are tightened. … It’s all fine in the end. They all look pretty good and are all aligned pretty good with the airflow.

And to make the whole thing work correctly I had to jack the airplane up off the ground. So I bought two $12 jacks from wall-mart. Then Vinny (an all-around expert at many things) came up with a very simple idea for a rock-stable jack platform – much easier and much cheaper than anything I’ve seen others use for the same purpose.


Total: 2648.1
Cowling: 100.0 hours

This was a frustrating step. Seems like every task had some repair associated with it. The plans are very poor in this section (in my opinion) and the quality of the parts provided in the kit are also not that great. To be fair one big mistake was all my own so my problems can’t all be blamed on the plans. I got a great deal more fiberglass experience than intended, to be sure. (And I thought the doors were a challenge. The cowling made the doors look a little easy.)

A lot of details are recorded in the picture captions.

The good news is that the cowling is mostly complete and fits very well. It also come on and off very easily. There are a few things left to do like coat the inside with a thin layer of epoxy and a few areas still need some body work, but nothing significant – the kid of stuff I’ll do while doing something else.

Propeller install

Total: 2548.1
Firewall forward — 37.1
Propeller install 6.5

Another task that should not have taken quite so long. First problem. Find straps suitable for hoisting the prop with Big Red. Had one and thought I had another but couldn’t find it. So then spent an hour looking up how to tie a bowline knot (something I used to know back in my deck-hand days) and a bowline-on-a-bite (something I never heard of before) so that I could use some rope for the task. That done, next step extract the front oil seal for from the crank-case so that that we can use this constant speed prop. The oil is regulated by the prop-governor to pressurize the innards of the prop in order to adjust the pitch of the blades in order to maintain the RPM of my choosing. I had looked up how to do this and though it would take about 10 minutes. Nope. It took more than an hour. The thing just did not want to come out. Eventually it did (and I forgot to take a picture of it in my frustration). Then with Scott’s help we hoisted the prop and maneuvered it over to the engine. Took a long time. Went on part way then I took it off because one bolt seemed to be running tighter than the others. It was fine. Just a little tighter than the others. …. Maneuvered the prop back into position and fastened it down. I did not torque the bolts or safety wire yet because it may have to come back off during the cowl and engine work. I hope not, but I’ll wait to torque and safety wire until I’m sure.

And that’s all for this one. Next will be the cowl. … More fiberglass work. … Really getting tired of fiberglass work.

…. Update (the next day) …..

Prop had to come back off again. It’s impossible to put the alternator belt on with the prop installed. When I realized this I decided to just do it now while the process is fresh on my mind. Prop off, alternator installed with belt. Prop back on. Still not torquing or safety wiring the prop in case it has to come off yet again. Good news is it was a quick process this time. 20 minutes getting it off, 60 minutes figuring out how to install the alternator and getting all its bolts torqued and safety wired, and maybe 40 minutes getting the prop back on (with Scott’s help).

Engine installed

Total: 2541.6
Firewall forward: 30.6
FWF since last time: 24.5

Got engine installed and spinner fit to prop. The only issue was four nuts on the back side of the engine mounts. Had RH over to help hang the engine. It took about 8 hours over two days to get those four nuts torqued. Two hours per nut. Ralph even tried modifying wrenches to fit. No way. In the end it took a simple swivel socket to do the job which we borrowed from someone at the airport. Not a swivel adapter and a regular socket. That won’t fit. It took an actual 9/16 swivel socket. Once we had the right socket, it took 5 minutes to torque those nuts.

If you ignore the wasted time torquing those nuts, the engine install took about 1 hour. The actual hanging with two people and a load leveler was almost trivial. We got the bottom mounting bolts in first then used the leveler and hoist to align and get the top bolts in. It was surprising how easy it actually was.

Then did all the metal-work and match drilling to fir the spinner to the prop. No issues with this.