Monthly Archives: September 2012

Panel Layout

I think I’ve finalized my instrument panel layout. I’ve decided to use two 7″ Dynon SkyView displays, which give me most of the functionality I need. Since I frequently fly on an IFR flight plan, and want to be able to file GPS direct, I’ve added a Garmin GTN650 (or perhaps a GNS430W).

For backup purposes, I’ve also added an XCOM 760 transceiver. The starter, flap, autopilot disconnect and control wheel steering switches will be mounted on my Infinity Aerospace stick grip. All of this, combined with Vertical Power’s VP-X Pro, I think will be a very nice setup!

Click below for larger image


Pitch Servo Rework

Continuing with our “Rework Saturday” theme, I had to re-install the Dynon autopilot pitch servo to add safety wire to the two servo mounting bolts. Dynon’s installation instructions are, shall we say, less than crystal clear, and after installing the pitch servo using the lock washers they provide, it became obvious that I also needed to safety wire those two bolts. This was perhaps the 4th time to re-install the pitch servo, and I surely hope it is the last time!

Static System Rework

Today wasn’t a lot of fun. It’s never fun when you have to dive back into the tail cone to rework something you thought you had finalized. In this case, it was the static system plumbing.

If you look carefully at the first photo below, you will see that I had this clever idea to use a three-way connection on the left static port. Simple and less prone to failure.

Why isn’t everyone doing their static plumbing this way? A few weeks after doing this and after riveting the turtle deck, I realized why others aren’t doing this. This kind of installation is prone to letting water into the static system plumbing. The water comes in through the static port and then proceeds down the tube where it could potentially work its way into my ADAHRS units.  Not good. So it had to be changed.

After wiggling my way into the tail cone, I changed the plumbing as shown in the second photo. This routing matches Van’s recommendations. Water getting into the static ports will have to go uphill to get into the static system plumbing. Not likely.

Mounting the Wings

My son and I mounted the wings on Saturday. It took us about an hour to get the left wing mounted because I wasn’t aware of how much dihedral there is on this plane, but as soon as we figured out that we had to lift the wing tip UP, they slid in reasonably easily and I was able to get the 7/16″ bolts mounted without trouble. The right wing mounted in about 10 minutes. My recommendation to anyone beginning this process (aside from following Van’s instructions carefully) is to use some sort of lubricant on the main spar bars to ease the insertion. I had some Boelube, so that’s what I used and it made the process easier.

Before we mounted the wings, however, it turns out that Vans left out some holes on the bottom inboard wing skins. My kit is a vintage 1999 kit and these holes were not pre-punched. This led to much scratching of the head, a query to my buds on VAF, and then a call to Ken Scott at Vans. Basically, all I needed to do is drill some pilot holes between the rivets on that inboard rib. I used my handy-dandy rivet fan to lay out the holes and drilled them onto both wings.

After mounting the wings, I took the obligatory photo. Looks more and more like an airplane! Too bad they have to come off before they are mounted for good.

After mounting the wings, it’s time to drill the rear spars. Vans is extremely explicit in the instructions that you get one chance and one chance only to drill the rear spars. If you screw this up, you’re screwed! First thing to do is make sure that you level the fuselage front to back.

And side to side

You then make sure that there’s no wing sweep, fore or aft, at all. I hung plumb bobs from the wing tips and used a chalk line to draw a straight line on the floor of my garage. I then relocated the plumb bobs to the wing roots and verified that they were on the line. I was lucky because the wings needed very little adjustment to fall in line. After that, you adjust the wing incidence by using a block that is 2-51/64″ high mounted on the rear spar. You take your carpenter’s level and place the front end on the main spar web and lay the back end on the wood block on the rear spar. It should show level, and wonder of wonders, it did!  I took measurements at the wing tip as well. All were good!

After double checking all measurements, I then moved on to drilling the rear spar and this turned out to be a trivial process. Basically, you have to make SURE that you have at least 5/8″ of edge distance from the center of the 5/16″ hole you drill to pin the rear spars together. Ken Scott told me that this was THE most important part of this process. I marked these distances with my Sharpie, double checked everything again, and drilled progressively larger holes until I finished with the 5/16″ bit. Really, not a big deal. I’ve seen builder pages where it takes hours to get this done. It took me about 45 minutes. I wonder what I did wrong…it was too easy.

Riveting the Turtle Deck

After stringing wires and cables, mounting antennas, and generally just trying to anticipate all of the different things I could miss that would result in having to crawl back into the fuselage after the top skin (aka turtle deck) was riveted, I ran out of things to do. So, nothing to do except rivet the thing on. Per Vans instructions, I cut out the back boards and propped up the fuselage so my blood wouldn’t run to my head while laying in there bucking rivets.

Did I mention that my 25 year old son William was going to run the rivet gun? When I started this project way back in ’99, he was only 12 years old and needless to say, wasn’t much of a help back in those days, but now as a grown man, he has truly turned into a capable assistant. Having never used the rivet gun before, and mindful of the cosmetic impact of  riveting mistakes on this the most visible part of the plane, we spent some time going over how to hold the gun, how long to pull the trigger, etc. I am proud to say that not only did he not make a single mistake, but we didn’t have to drill any rivets out either.

The whole process took about 2-1/2 hours, during which I left a little blood inside the fuselage from scrapes suffered while maneuvering around the sharp metal of the bulkheads. Now, I understand why we need to debur all of the edges on those suckers! I thought about leaving the dried evidence of my presence in the plane. You’ve heard about builders who have everyone who’ve worked on the plane sign it somewhere? Well, I did consider that leaving dried blood inside the fuselage might prove a convincing way to prove to the FAA that I built it. All we would have to do is take a DNA test and match it. Voila, proof positive! In the end, I thought it was a little macabre (like this whole paragraph) and cleaned it all up.

Although I had used .032 shims in the hopes of facilitating a perfectly smooth skin across the bulkheads, it was not to be, and I have a couple of places where the skin is “sucked in” a little. When I find time and motivation to do it, I may fabricate some new, thicker shims and replace them.