April 2010 Archives

I got an order from Van's today that included the fuel pump cover.  This normally sits higher than this because the forward face of this is vertical and the angled face is more steeply sloped upward.  This provides room for the much larger Airflow Performance fuel pump/filter/check valve assembly.  This configuration won't work for me because I had to move the fuel pump forward almost 2" to fit the fuel line between the fuel selector and the fuel filter.  This puts the pump outlet far enough forward that there is no room to allow the fuel line on the outlet side room to turn down and drop under the cover.

I reduced the angle of the bends in the cover, which simultaneously drops the height of the cover down as well as pushes the front end forward enough to make room for the fuel line..  I'll have to fabricate new side covers from some scrap 0.020" stock, but that's pretty trivial.

I started fabricating some of the small components for the forward fuselage out of 0.063" angle stock, but it's late and this was making a racket.

Instead, I spent a little more time playing with panel layouts in the plane.  The cockpit is small enough that I can reach every part of the instrument panel from the pilots seat without leaning over (I have really long arms though).  This also means that it's pretty easy to see everything, regardless of where it is on the panel.  I've been planning on going with a single 10" screen Dynon SkyView system, but lately I've been considering trying to fit a dual 10" screen into the panel.  Even with the 10" screen, using just one screen for PFD, Map, and engine monitoring can get kind of cramped.  I think dual screens would force me to remove the Dynon D6 that I was planning to use as a backup PFD though.  Although I could add a second ADAHRS box, I'd still be relying on a single overall system which worries me a little bit.

Kids First "Flight"

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We watched our friend's kids for the evening, and everyone wanted to play in the plane.  My two kids are on the left.  One of the other kids is in the pilot's seat and the other was too busy drilling scrap aluminum to jump in the plane for the picture.  Needless to say, I didn't get much work done on the plane tonight.

The instrument panel has a stiffener that runs along the back side of the top edge.  It's a piece of 0.063" angle that's notched so that it can be bent to follow the curve of the top edge of the panel.  I noticed after taking this picture that the wide flanges near the ends need to be cut off to better help this follow the curve of the panel.  I'll have to take care of the tomorrow.

Here is a closeup showing the notches and how this allows the stiffener to be bent.

I cut the notches on the band saw and then started filing them smooth.  I was really regretting not buying an air file the last time I was at Harbor Freight, but then I got the bright idea of trying one of my needle files in my jigsaw.  This worked beautifully, and I was able to smooth out the rest of the notches in just a few minutes.

I fit the instrument panel to the forward ribs and clamped a straight edge to the panel to ensure it was flat, then match drilled the clip to the forward canopy decks.

Next, I fluted all of the substructure to ensure the holes were in line, then fit the top skin in preparation for match drilling it to the structure.

I clamped the firewall flange flush with the forward edge of the skin using the cleco clamps.  I had to adjust the flutes several times to get the edge of the firewall flange to follow the line of the top skin perfectly.

Finally, I match drilled the subpanel, firewall and ribs to the skin.

Now that the skin was in place, I used some double stick tape to position the F-644 forward fuselage channels.

These were then match drilled to the top skin and sub panel.

I also match drilled the center channel attach clip to the channel and firewall.

I laid out and drilled the holes that attach the forward engine control bracket to the center subpanel.  The throttle, prop and mixture control cable housings are anchored here.

The top edge has a seal support angle mounted 1/8" below the top flange.  This will hold a piece of weatherstripping that will seal the forward edge of the canopy.  I first laid out the holes according to the plans and used the rivet fan to drill them to #40.  To position it, I clamped a flexible aluminum ruler to the forward flange and then clamped the seal support angle to that with some 1/8" spacers between them.  I then match drilled the subpanel and then opened the holes up to #30.

The seal support angle and engine control bracket are then riveted to the center subpanel.  I didn't prime these parts because these will be visible when the canopy is opened, so I want to paint it with my interior color.  Since there is a lot of work in the upper forward canopy over the next 6 months or so, I'm going to hold off on painting this to avoid scratching it up. 

I also riveted on the F-644-L/R forward fuselage channels.  These require flush rivets on the outside faces because the canopy hinge bracket rubs against an UHMW plastic block mounted here.  The plans also show the support seal cut off flush with the channel, but the plastic block is 1/8" thick, so I left the support angle a little long.

I received my battery and install kit from Van's today, so I wanted to take a break from the forward fuselage and install it.  Van's specifies optional lighting holes in the steel mounting box.  I want to take advantage of any opportunity to remove weight from the plane since I'm going with a full interior.  I used my fly cutter in the drill press and knocked these out in 15 minutes or so.  It turns out that four pieces of 3/4" wood fit exactly inside the box, so I used them to back up the top surface when drilling the holes.

Next, I clamped sude support angles in place and match drilled them to the battery box.  The left side is flush with the back wall of the battery box, but the right side is offset forward about 0.024" to make room for the firewall recess and the thickness of the firewall sealant.  To do this, I set the angle on a piece of scrap stock.

After deburring and dimpling the battery box and angles (the box needs flush rivets on the inside so that they don't interfere with the battery), I painted the box and mounting angles with some gloss black paint.

While waiting for the paint to dry, I fabricated the connection between the battery contactor and starter contactor.  Instead of using a big wire with terminals on the ends, Van's recommends positioning the contactors such that a solid copper bar can be used to connect the output of the battery contactor (silver) to the input of the starter contactor (black).  Van's recommends using two pieces of 1/16" thick copper and sells this stock.  Aircraft Spruce sells 1/8" thick stock for less, so this can be fabricated from a single piece.  I made the bar slightly longer than the plans so that the mounting ears don't interfere.

Two diodes need to be mounted between the input of the starter contactor and the control terminal as well as between the left control terminal of the starter contactor and ground.  These contactors are basically electromagnets, and shutting off power to these coils causes the magnetic field to collapse which can generate voltage spikes of hundred to thousands of volts.  This causes arcing in the switches which can cause them to prematurely fail.  By using these diodes, the energy from the collapsing magnetic field can be safely dissipated.

Since I positioned the contactors far enough apart vertically that the mounting ears didn't interfere (which is not according to plans), I couldn't use the stock positioning.  Instead, I simply adjusted the pair vertically until the outboard ears intersected with the firewall stiffener centerlines and marked the holes.  I then drilled and installed L1000-4 nutplates on these holes.

Here's the cabin side.  I had to countersink the firewall and stiffener for the AD3 rivets that attached the nutplates.  I'll drill the center holes later.

I painted the battery box and mounting angles a couple of days ago.  The paint on the box came out fine, but it bubbled up on the angles.  These were previously powdercoated, but I sanded and cleaned them before painting, but apparently something went wrong.  I considered stripping the paint off and trying again, but I had been looking for an excuse to buy a powdercoating system anyway, so this was as good of an excuse as any.  I stopped by Harbor Freight this morning and picked up their system as well as a few colors of powder.  After stripping the paint and old powdercoat, I re-powdercoated these and baked them in a cheap little toaster oven I picked up at Target.  These turned out fantastic.  I really wish I had bought this earlier so that I could have powdercoated the tailwheel spring mount.

Here's the finished box with the side angles riveted on.

I fit the battery box to the firewall and drilled the three mounting holes an AN3 bolts.  This can't be installed permanently now since the firewall recess hasn't been riveted on.

Here's the battery in the box.  I've taped off the posts so that I don't accidentally short anything across the battery.

I fabricated the hold down strap from some aluminum bar stock.  This gets held down with a couple of AN3 bolts that run through some spacers I made so that the bolts can be torqued down without putting excessive force on the top of the battery.  The battery weighs almost 15lbs, and the plane is rated to handle 3 negative Gs, so the strap needs to handle at least a 45lbs load plus a healthy safety margin.

I also fabricated the firewall stiffener for the center attach points of the two contactors.  Since I adjusted the position of the contactors, this also isn't to plans.  I basically just roughly centered the plate horizontally and vertically on the pair of center holes and then laid out four rivets around the perimeter to tie it to the firewall.  I didn't get a picture of it, but I then final drilled/reamed the center holes to 1/4" and then drilled for nutplates.  I want to prime this plate, so I didn't get it installed tonight.  I've got a pretty big pile of parts that needs priming how, so I should probably have a priming session in the next few days.

Worked on Brake System

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I drilled the firewall and stiffener for the brake fluid reservoir.  This has mounting ears that are bolted through the firewall stiffener.  I installed this on the left side of the firewall instead of the right since I'm only installing pilot side brakes.

This is the cabin side.  These are the wrong length bolts (obviously), but were just used for positioning.  You can see where the fitting threads into the reservoir.  Hoses will attach here to provide fluid to the master cylinders.

I positioned the Grove parking brake valve just to the right of the reservoir.  I determined the horizontal position by positioning the activation arm just to the right of the rib so that I can attach the cable mount to the rib.

Next up, I used some left over 1/4" 5052 tubing to fabricate lines that tie the brake valve to the fittings on the firewall.

Here you can see that the line has to jog around the firewall stiffener.  It's late, so I'll take care of the other line tomorrow.

I fabricated the other line from the parking brake valve to the firewall fittings.  As is typical, the second one took a fraction of the time of the first.

I don't have a 2" hole saw, and I didn't want to buy one just for this one hole, so I used my fly cutter in a handheld drill.  I went slow and it went fine.  At no time did I feel like this was dangerous, but by no means am I recommending that you do this.

I dug out the autopilot pitch mounting kit and installed the servo into the mounting bracket.  It took a couple of tries, but I got it safety wired.

I then installed the elevator bellcrank and hooked up the pushrod.

The servo comes with a limiting bracket to prevent the arm from going over center and binding the controls.  I installed it so that the arm can go about 80º to either side of the point where the arm is 90º to the pushrod.  In practice, the elevator will hit the control stop long before the servo arm hits the limiting bracket.  Update: This bracket is installed incorrectly.  Please refer to the Dynon installation instructions for the correct orientation.

I drilled the mounting holes in the firewall for the heater box.  Here I just have a couple of AN3-4A bolts temporarily holding it on.  I have some AN3C-4A bolts on order for the permanent attachment.

I prepped the firewall recess for riveting by deburring the rest of the edges, dimpling all around, and riveting the sides.  I dimpled these holes as well so the recess will be flush on the inside.

I started fabricating one of the fuel vent fittings by taking an AN832-4D bulkhead fitting and sanding off the threads on the short end and cutting a 45º bevel in the end  I'll proseal a small stainless steel vent over the end to keep bugs out.

Random Fuselage Tasks

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I knocked out the other fuel vent fitting this morning.  For freehand work, it looks nearly identical to the one I did yesterday.

I started working on the F-7114 fuselage gussets.  As other builders have noticed, one of the rivets on the side wall (on the left) interferes with the flange of this gusset, preventing it from resting against the spar.

After relieving a bit of the gusset, I positioned it relative to the spar with some scrap bolts and drilled it to the side components.  There are five layers of aluminum here (the side and bottom skins, the lower longeron, the gear web, and this gusset.  This helps transfer load from the lower longeron to the spar.

Here are these holes from the outside.  I've only drilled them to #40 so far so that I could cleco the parts together to keep anything from shifting.

I then drilled/reamed the holes for AN3 bolts.

I purchased a long hardware store 7/16" bolt a long time ago to make a drift pin to use when installing the wings.  For some reason, I decided to do that tonight.  I ground down the threads and beveled the shank in a couple of spots.  When the wings are installed, this can be lubricated and hammered into place to pull the holes into alignment.

I finished the night by priming a small stack of parts that has been piling up.

I bolted the fuselage gussets to the side walls and final torqued everything.

My buddy Andre stopped by and we knocked out a bunch of riveting including this doubler for the contactors.

We also riveted this doubler for the parking brake valve.

I wanted to rivet the firewall recess in place while I had his help.  Before that could be done though, the rudder pedal brace had to be riveted to the firewall stiffener.  All of these rivets could be reached with the squeezer.

Here is the firewall recess riveted into place with firewall sealant under the flange.  Be sure you include the stiffener on the bottom edge of this hole.

Now that the doubler was in place, the contactors could be bolted to the firewall.

The battery box can also be bolted to the firewall and the battery installed.  I primed and painted the holddown components with flat black paint to match the powder coating.

I spent about 45 minutes tonight fabricating the fuel vent line for the right fuel tank.  It is a pain to get all the bends in the right place and my hands are killing me since this requires a lot of hand bending.  I'll take care of the other one tomorrow.

Here is the most complex part of the line.  It has to curve around one of the skin stiffeners and then back the other way to go around the rudder cable.  You want to provide a little clearance here so that the parts don't rub with vibration.

The stainless steel attachment hardware showed up from Aircraft Spruce today, to I gooped up the back of the heater box with the 2000ºF fire block sealant that came with this and bolted it to the firewall.  I probably spent more time cleaning off the excess that oozed out of the joint than I did actually attaching it.I have no doubts that it's well sealed though.

Here is a shot on the inside.  The specified AN3C-4A bolts were a little long, so I had to stack up a couple of extra washers to be able to tighten them properly.  AN3C-3A bolts would have been perfect.  The stop nuts are MS21046C3.  I originally thought they sent me the wrong nuts because these looked like aluminum.  It turns out that these are silver plated.

I used the right vent line as a template and knocked the left line out in about 20 minutes.  I'll probably wait until the subpanel is riveted in for good before installing these permanently.

Before installing the baggage and seat floors for good, I needed to take care of one last tasks that would be impossible once they're riveted on.  I have two conduit runs under these floors that pass through the F-705 and F-706 bulkheads.  Vibration can cause the aluminum to cut through the conduit over time, so I used some E6000 adhesive to secure the conduit to the bulkheads.  This will prevent any relative motion that could damage the conduit.

Finally, I put the baggage floors on for good and pulled all of the blind rivets.  I really wish I had bought a pneumatic rivet puller; my hand is killing me.  If you're just getting started, do yourself a favor and spend the $35 to pick up one from Harbor Freight.

I still have to install the nutplates along the back and center tunnel, but I'm beat.

I finished the baggage floors by installing the rivets and nutplates along the back edge and along the center tunnel.

Next, I cleaned between the seat ribs and clecoed on the aft seat pans.  Immediately I ran into an interference issue.  Some of the shop heads for the rivets that hold on the hinges are bumping into the flanges of the seat ribs.  I had to relieve the flanges a little bit in a few spots to get the holes in alignment.  I got all of the right seat pan riveted (on the left in this picture) except for the aft edge.  I spent the last two hours bent over the longerons doing all of this.  My back and hands are aching.

I finished installing the aft seat pans.  These aren't primed like the baggage floors because these will get painted with a paint that matches the carpet color since part of these may be seen around the edges of the carpet.

I got my Dynon SkyView 10" screen and associated extras (ADAHRS, backup battery, EMS and probes, GPS antenna, etc.).  I hooked up the appropriate power and ground pins in the D-Sub 37 pin connector as well as the ADAHRS and backup battery, and powered it on.  After a quick configuration, I had the attitude display up and running.  There is no synthetic vision yet because the GPS isn't hooked up so it doesn't have a position fix, but it was cool to play around with moving the ADAHRS and watching the display change.  The screen refresh rate is quite high, so the movement is very fluid.

Finish Kit Arrived

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My finish kit arrived today!  It came via FedEx freight in two days from Van's.  I took a few pictures to document some minor crate damage in case there was any damage to the contents.

Here was one minor puncture.  Although small, it would have taken a pretty good hit to break through the plywood like this.

The top on the other end had separated from the side, but the metal strapping and some screws had prevented it from opening very much.

When I opened the end with the impact damage, I could see that one of the reinforcing pieces had pulled away from the side.

Once I got the top off, the first thing you see is the canopy and the aft edges of the cowling.  Nothing looks like it moved in transit.

My buddy Andre stopped by and helped me inventory most of the kit and get the crate out of the garage.  Here is the canopy with the engine mount and gear legs under it.  I was surprised at just how light the engine mount is and just how heavy the gear legs are.  The engine mount is constructed of relatively thin walled steel tubing, but the gear legs are roughly 1" diameter solid steel bars.

Here is the cowling with the two halves roughly fit together.  There will be a lot of work to make these fit together nicely.

No pictures tonight, but I finished the finish kit inventory and sorted all of the hardware into my storage bins.  No missing items fortunately, and just one backordered item (gear leg fairings).  I got most of the large pieces put away, but I'm still looking for a place to store the canopy until I'm ready for it.  Jenn's not liking my idea of storing it in our daughter's room on our guest bed.
Andre stopped by today and helped me fit the engine mount and main gear.  I used a couple of long Bessey clamps to clamp from the vertical side tubes of the mount to the center section.  I then used a dead blow mallet to adjust the mount until it was evenly spaced all around, then tightened the clamps to prevent the mount from moving.  I used a 3/8" drill bit and drilled the holes in the firewall.  There are six holes in total, and all pass through beefy structure on the backside of the firewall to transmit the engine loads into the rest of the airframe.

Here is the engine mount all drilled with four of the bolts installed temporarily.  Now that the mount is in place, I marked where the gear legs will interfere the the lower firewall flange.  I used a carbide burr in my die grinder and removed the material that was visible through the landing gear tube.

I slipped the landing gear in the mount and with a little muscling, I got them all the way in so that I could slip an AN5 bolt part way into the hole at the top.  The gear legs have bearing surfaces inside that only touch the engine mount at the top of bottom of the outer tube.  There is a single bolt at the top of the tube that holds the gear legs on.  It doesn't seem like much, but I've never heard of one of these failing, so it must be plenty strong.

The flanges for the two center holes in the engine mount don't touch the firewall.  This is a pretty common problem since the engine mount can distort slightly during welding.  The fix is simple and requires fabricating little spacers so that the bolts can be tightened without flexing the mount.  These are pretty thin (0.016" and 0.032").  I took the mount off, deburred the holes and cleaned up the shavings.  I reinstalled the mount with the proper hardware, but then realized that I don't have an appropriate torque wrench for these bolts.  These need to be tightened to 160-190 in-lbs, but my smaller torque wrench only goes to 150 in-lbs and my bigger one starts at 20 ft-lbs (240 in-lbs).  I'll probably use an extension on my smaller torque wrench instead of buying an intermediate torque wrench since these are the only AN6 bolts on the airplane.  My current torque wrenches can torque AN5 (and smaller) as well as AN7 (and larger) bolts.

Fit Left Main Gear Leg

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I fit the brake flanges to the gear legs.  It was only after I took this picture that I realized the bolt had to come back out to fit the caliper mounting bracket.  This required reaming the holes in the mounting brackets (which were slightly undersize) out to 1/4" for the 1/4-20 socket head bolts.  I have no idea why these aren't standard AN hardware.  In fact, the nut looks like something you'd find at the hardware store, but this is what Van's specifies.

I reamed the caliper holes out with my 1/4" chucking reamer for the AN4 bolts that hold the caliper mounting bracket to the brake bracket and attached in with some AN4-6A bolts.  I would have used AN4-5A bolts except that I didn't have any.  The plans specify AN4-11A bolts because these also go through some spacers and the wheel pant mounting bracket.  I'll do the phase 1 flights without that bracket installed though since it's prone to cracking without the wheel pant in place, so this will probably be how this stays all the way to first flight.

I lubricated the gear leg with some AeroShell 33MS grease (the only grease I'm using for the entire airplane), and slipped it into place.

I installed the AN5-21A bolts ad torqued them down.  AN5-20A would have been better since I had to use two washers, but I don't have any. 

Finally, I repacked the wheel bearings with fresh AeroShell 33MS grease and mounted the wheel and brake caliper.  Nothing's been final torqued at this point.

Fit Right Main Gear Leg

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I fit the right main gear leg tonight and packed the right wheel bearings.  The tailwheel spring has not been installed yet, so the tail is still sitting on a sawhorse.  The plane is only a few inches taller than it was when the entire fuselage was on sawhorses since I intentionally set them high because of how tall I am.  Access to the inside while leaning over the longerons is still totally fine.  The plane is also much more stable this way.  Although the sawhorses were steel, the legs could move back and forth slightly, so this is a definite improvement.

I lucked out on the purchase of a propeller earlier this month.  Early last year, a number of builders organized a group buy through American Propeller Service for the Whirl Wind Aviation 200RV propellers.  I missed out on the group buy because it happened right around the time I started on the kit and I wasn't looking for a prop yet.  Luckily another builder had a $1,000 deposit in this group buy that he needed to sell.  By the time that I saw his email though, at least four people had responded that they'd take it.  I sent him an email and offered him $1,500 for his deposit, and that was enough to put me at the top of the list.  I sent him the money and he transferred the slot to me.

I paid for the rest of the prop and ordered a PCU5000 governor at the same time.  Since American Propeller Service is based in Redding, CA and I'm in San Jose, CA, I decided to fly our Cardinal up to get the prop.  I got up at 4:50 and was wheels up by 6:50.

Here's a shot of the north bay with the mothball fleet visible near the center of the picture and Napa, CA just beyond.

I got a tour of the propeller shop as well as the engine shop where we had our Cardinal's cylinders overhauled last year.  They have a great shop and really do outstanding quality service.  If you need a prop, give Kevin Russell a call there and tell him I sent you.

Afterward, I loaded the prop, spinner and governor into the back of the plane and headed home.

Redding, CA is just south of Mt. Shasta, and it's visible on a clear day for 100 miles in any direction.

The flight up was into heavy headwinds, so the 192nm flight took nearly 2 hours.  The return flight was quick though with 150+kt ground speeds for most of the flight and 170+kt ground speeds as I started a shallow descent out near the Travis Air Force Base.

Here's a shot of one of the blades.  The 200RV is a hollow carbon fiber blade with a nickel leading edge erosion shield.

Here's the tip of the blade using my hand as a reference so you can see just how short the chord is at the tip.

Here's a shot of the widest part of the blade with my hand as a reference.

The Whirl Wind propellers all come with a spinner that is ready to bolt on.  With any other prop, I'd have to fit the Van's spinner myself.

Here's the aft mounting plate for the spinner.  The entire spinner is made of carbon fiber, so I should never have to worry about this cracking.

Here's the governor that I picked up.  This will bolt on to the back of the engine and regulates oil pressure to the prop to vary blade pitch.

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