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Ready to move!

12 hours.

That’s right, yesterday and today, twelve hours. Putting on and taking off those covers is time-consuming, and along the way I discovered a bunch of little tasks I’d blown off until later. Well, later is now. So as I went along, I remade the right side fuel line so it fits better with the cover panel, I moved the Adel clamp on the return line under the tunnel cover, and I dressed the antenna cables on the left side. I’ll need to do the left fuel line as well, I think, but I have something there that works.

Mostly I wanted to get everything bolted, screwed, taped, and riveted onto the airplane that I could, to facilitate transportation to the hangar. There are about million things I’m going to have to box up and move or otherwise account for. If it’s on the airplane, installed where it’s supposed to go, I don’t have to worry about finding it later. A good part of that activity was installing the interior. Last night when I quit, I realized I’d have to install a lot of little Velcro hook disks to hold the carpet backing.. The instructions say you can rivet them to the floor panel or you can drill the holes out to 5/32 and use existing floor panel screws to attach them. I took the easy way out and drilled them out to 5/32.

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As you can see, there are a lot of screws.

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I didn’t take a lot of pictures of me installing all the Velcro. That’s boring. This is a shot of the Classic Aero Designs interior, installed, with carpeting, side panels, seats, the whole works. Now it looks almost like a real airplane!

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Another view. This thing is now much more fun to sit in and make airplane noises.

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This is the baggage compartment, looking aft between the seats. Putting the ‘mental’ in ‘experimental.’

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Cowling on, canopy on, all skins done, ready for the move to OXR.

There are a few squawks I need to take care of:

1: Fuel pump overflow tube (yes, I still haven’t gotten to that)
2: Anti-chafe for the cabin heat tubing, like UHMW tape
3: End hardware for canopy side hinge pins.
4: Order 5-point restraint system
5: RTV around baffles, baffle-engine case interface, blast tube fittings

Hangar!

1 hour.

This weekend we drove up to Menlo Park to visit family and unload some large paintings we’d taken with us a year or so ago when my brother-in-law’s mom passed away. We took the 101 because I needed to stop at the Oxnard airport to check out a hangar.

Looks like I’ll be sharing a space with an RV6 project a really cool old Luscombe, a couple of motorcycles, and a vintage Mini Cooper. It’s got a blacktop floor, which I’m not thrilled about, and no wireless, which I’m really not thrilled about, but it does have electricity and I can do first flight and Phase 1 out of OXR. Oxnard’s about another 10 minutes away from Camarillo and not as close to the freeway, but it’ll be fine. I’m looking to move the project probably about the end of this month!

I was hoping to get a spot at Camarillo, but I can’t count on that, and it’s close enough that I can still go there and borrow tools and stuff.

Fiddly bits.

8 hours.

So yesterday, I joined EAA 723 at Camarillo airport. I dunno why, but I’m drawn to Camarillo. Maybe it’s because my cousin finished and flew that little hot-rodded Vari-EZE out of there many years ago, maybe it’s because it was the first place I took passengers when I got my private ticket, who knows? But I like Ventura county, and I like KCMA. It also doesn’t hurt that the EAA hangar is right near the Commemorative Air Force hangar, where there are a multitude of interesting flying machines to gawp at. Everyone seems friendly, and the guest speaker for the meeting was an FAA official, who gave us the rundown on ramp checks and a few FAR’s that are very much misinterpreted by the likes of you and I.

The goal of this is to find a nest for my bird where I can final-assemble, certify, and test fly 313TD. Currently, there isn’t any room in either of the hangars, but one gentleman is 20 hours into phase 1 on an RV7A and another is getting ready to go fly, so maybe a spot will open up soon.

Another benefit to membership is that the chapter has a flatbed trailer suitable for moving a project to the hangar, which I will hopefully need very soon. Yet another is several more sets of eyes looking at workmanship and assembly techniques.

As for actual work on the plane, I got the left intercylinder baffle and the replacement fuel pump installed, which is nice. All the wiring is re-secured where it was, and the fittings on the sensor are properly installed with thread seal.

Today, the morning was spent with my neighbor’s vast crew-cab contractor truck, schlepping stuff to and from two different Ikea stores, one in Carson, one in Costa Mesa. We’re doing this kitchen remodel, and our designer was a complete monkey: he ordered a ton of stuff we can’t/didn’t use and failed to get a bunch of things we need, so Shelley and I had to kill our morning putting everything right in preparation for the final cabinet install tomorrow.

I did get some work in on the plane, but it’s cold in Los Angeles right now, down in the 50’s during the day. You East-coasters, Northerners and Midwesterners chuckle all you want, but the little space heater in my shop wasn’t able to take the edge off, so it kind of sucked to be out there today. Cold hands bashing on metal structures when wrenches slip reminds me way too much of college street surgery, changing out a part lying on my back under a car in an icy parking lot. One of the many reasons I moved out here and stayed.

So no, it didn’t go well. First event of the day was an oh-shit moment, when I snapped the head off one of the bolts holding the throttle bracket on. That was a study in anger manangement, and I had the presence of mind to self-soothe through the initial impulses of throwing the torque wrench through the sliding glass door. Tantrums do not fix airplanes.

Fortunately, there’s an O’Reilly Auto store not a city block from my house, so I picked up an EZ-Out (sorry, screw extractor- generic) and through some miracle, managed to get the offending bolt out of the sump. I guess I’m now 1 for 5 using those things. At least I didn’t snap the drill off inside the broken bolt like I did with the wing attach adventure from a couple of years ago.

I installed the breather tube and safety-wired the mixture bracket bolts after torquing them with a different torque wrench (A Snap-On dial-type I bought used) and those are fine. I’m hoping I’m nearly done messing around with Adel clamps. Space is getting tight.

To do:

Remaining to-do list:

finish cabin wiring
install wet compass and backup attitude indicator
install AHRS mount.
install ELT
wire avionics stack
servo and wing root connectors
install fuel flow sensor
Finish FWF wiring
baffles
oil cooler
snorkel/intake
cowling
gear leg fairings
prop governor
cables and brackets: cabin heat, alt air, fuel purge, throttle, mix, prop pitch.
interior

medical
BFR
paperwork
inspection
tailwheel training
ground testing
first flight
flight testing.

The List.

Sean moving out of the guest house avails me of two things. One is a place to live while we remodel our bedroom and have new windows put in. The second is a place to build an airplane. So here’s what has to be done to make it work. I’ll post photos of the guest house soon, but for now, bear with me.. It’s about a 500 sq/ft structure with a small attic, main room with vaulted ceilings and a small bedroom. The bedroom has been allocated as a true guest bedroom and our bedroom while we remodel and can’t use our master bedroom. It’s also a chillout space. The main room is party zone and aircraft factory. It’ll be a party zone until June when the kit shows up. Anyway here’s what has to be done before this can work.
1. Remove/relocate stove and fridge.
2. Remove cabinets.
3. Remove vinyl flooring in kitchenette and bathroom.
4. Remove carpeting throughout.
5. Remove baseboards throughout.
6. Tile (or concrete stain) bedroom and bathroom.
7. Concrete stain/floor seal main room.
8. Paint main room.
9. Install work lights in main room.
10. Build wing cradle.
11. Build fuselage stands.
12. Install shelving for parts.
13. Prepare attic for storage.
14. Finish Empennage (!!!!!!!)
16. Shrinkwrap and store finished empennage parts.
17. Upgrade electrical. 220v and an extra 30-40 amps.
Going to be a busy, busy May.

Time to pull the trigger?

From the last entry, and the long space between entries since the test entry, that it’s been a while since I’ve done anything on the plane. For a long time, there were no weekends. For a long time before that, there were 1-day weekends where the running of the house took all the energy. And the occasional need to have a social life, but even that was rare. No time, no plane. Simple as that.
The plus side of this sad tale is that I get paid hourly. Lots and lots and lots of overtime. And no time to spend it. So after a year of saving and investing (thanks for that iPhone, Apple), I’ve got enough to do a couple of things: 1: Order the quickbuild kit. 2: take enough time off to put in a significant amount of time on it. Oh, and our tenant is moving out of the guest house this Saturday. That means I have a place to put the fuselage. Farming gear goes in the storage portion, wings go in the newly liberated garage. Bedroom stays a bedroom for guests.
So.. Do I order the kit?

It’s on.

OK, a lot of Nothing has happened in the past few weeks with NOTABLE EXCEPTION. Event number one, I got a ride in an RV-7, that somewhat famous taildragger known as N714D. Dan was kind enough to swap half an hour of flight time for a ride to SMO from his office, so we went up in 714D and it confirmed all my suspicions/expectations of the RV-7.. It’s a joy to fly, it’s fast, it’s as nimble as a meth-cranked ninja on Mars, and it’s rock-solid stable in slow flight. That was pretty much the last nail in the RV box. I’ve been in a couple of composite canards, which were fun, but they eat up runway in a big hurry and if you taxi on gravel, you risk taking a bite out of your prop (yes this happened to me). The RV is an airplane I feel that I can grow with. I’m not the highest-time pilot on earth, so a plane with really good power-to-weight and forgiving low-speed behavior is a definite plus.
Second event, I finished the training kit. No, you don’t get any pictures, because during the course of “learning,” I made a few errors that would have necessitated a lot of backwards steps. But what I did get out of it is a feel for aluminum construction. Not every rivet is perfect, but the more I did it, the better at it I got. There are things you just have to learn by doing, so you can see the results and attach a specific technique to each one. Rivets behave certain ways under different conditions, and it’s more than just an academic exercise. Reconciling what you read in the handbook with the results you’re getting is key. So I think now I’m up to tackling the Emp kit, when it arrives. That brings me to Event Number Three.
Third major event, and the first of hopefully a few more, is I ordered the Empennage kit. It should be here on Tuesday. I hope I have a couple of days to work on it before I get sucked into a commercial at work.
BTW, the rivet squeezer also arrived today. what fun! Of course, the sets they send are pretty much a grab bag. fortunately, I was able to manufacture a flush set from a couple of weird outsized dimple dies. All I did was grind off the point with the trusty grinding wheel and blammo. Flush set.
Eagerly awaiting emp kit.
-stjohn

First Rivet! Such as it was.

OK, so I’m getting back into the training kit. First full weekend I’ve had in several months. If anybody says to you that doing CGI FX is a cakewalk, think of something anatomically impossible and tell them to try it. It takes your time and your life, makes you fat and turns your hair gray. But I was able to sneak away this weekend (since my stuff’s done anyway) and try to get as far with this kit as I can.
Today we unleash the full power of the radial drill press upon these aluminum parts. The first two pictures show how this thing will contort to match non-square angles. It really makes this stuff easy and I can lay off the air drill for a while.
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Head angled, piece clamped to articulated table.
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Closeup. I love this thing.
The toolfest doesn’t stop there. Here’s the rivet spacer fan in action:
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Notice how it’s way too long. I might order the 10-hole one from ACSpruce next time I need something, which is now. More on that later.
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Here’s the spar and ribs drilled and deburred, ready for clecoing.
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And here’s the skin clecoed to the ribs and spar.
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Who’s the dork and what’s he doing? Oh. I see. HE’S BUGGERING UP THE RIBS AND SKIN! STOP HIM!
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Too late. Although this looks fine, Yours truly managed to drill the holes in the ribs with a #30 instead of a #40. So this means the skins get riveted to the spars with 1/8″ rivets instead of 3/32. Not a big deal, but definitely a big oops.
FIRST RIVETS EVER! Woohoo! Yay!
Shit.
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This is what happens when you dont’ have a back-rivet plate and you try to use a big bucking bar under the skin instead. The work slipped off the bar and the back-rivet set dinged the crap out of the skin and stiffener. Looks like I’ll be bookmarking the replacement part page at Van’s Aircraft.
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Yeah, big badda boom. Totally dinged. Discouraging, but not enough to make me seriously consider 7 years of sanding.
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One more for good measure. Ouch!
So what did we learn today? Well, for one thing, Home Depot doesn’t have quarter-inch steel plate. Doesn’t have it in any form, other than with something non-aircraft-useful welded to it. Another thing is that trying to cross-purpose tools that don’t like to be cross-purposed will sometimes result in damage. Had this been an actual airplane, the little adventure with the skin and the stiffener would have necessitated ordering a new skin and fabbing a new stiffener. Same with drilling the rib holes out to the wrong size. That’s the problem with repetitive production made easy: you don’t realize you’ve screwed up until you’ve screwed up a whole lot.
It wasn’t all bad, though. Riveting the stiffeners to the skin was OK, except for that one event, and from what the AC Handbook says, they’re good rivets.
We also found out later that it’s probably not cool to run a rivet gun at 11:30pm. It’s freaking loud, especially with the garage door open. My next door neighbor has a concrete block wall between my garage and her house, but I need to think about soundproofing. Moderately effective at best, a complete waste of time at worst. I need to do a sound check, but that involves having somebody in there running the gun while I walk around and check the noise levels.

more practice kit fun.

My shipments from AC Spruce, USATCO, pan-american tool co, and others are trickling in. I now have the scotchbrite wheel, 3/32 and 1/8 dimple dies, the c-frame dimpler, the right countersinks, and some cleco clamps. The Scotch-brite wheel is freakin’ magic, it makes sharp edges silky nice. Unfortunately, it’s not all that well balanced, so running it makes the grinder try to walk off the edge of the bench. I realize that you’re supposed to bolt the grinder down, but if I do that, it’s just going to shake the shit out of everything on the bench. I read somewhere, maybe it was Checkoway’s site, that you need to take an old coarse file and file off enough of the wheel to smooth the vibration, like balancing a tire. Waste of good scotchbrite, but whatever. I tried doing it with a planer ($9 from HD a long time ago) but all I ended up with is a useless planer. Gotta do what you gotta do.
I haven’t shot any pictures today, since it was all about cleaning up the space, but then something took hold of me and I drilled, deburred, and dimpled the two stiffeners I’d made last time. Then I drilled and countersunk one of the rib sides. ARe ya supposed to drill or countersink ribs and spars? Well, I don’t have a squeezer, and I couldn’t get a good angle on the rib flange with the c-frame, so I countersunk ’em. Maybe this is bad, I dunno. I’ll tell you one thing, though, deburring both sides of the holes down in the skinny end of the rib where the flanges run together is a beeyotch. I also found out that a dremel (black and decker rotary tool, to be specific) does a half decent deburr job with a pointy stone bit in there, but if it gets loose and chatters, look out.. I think i’ll stick with the countersink-bit-in-the-cordless-screwdriver gambit.
The other ‘doh!’ I had was when dimpling the stiffeners, I dimpled the first two holes the wrong way. I didn’t see this covered in the Handbook but I don’t remember anything about what to do when you seriously arse up something this fundamental. What I wound up doing was pounding it flat with a flush set/die and redimpling it in the proper direction. Probably a no-no right up there with dating your sister, but it seems to accept a flush 3/32 AN426 rivet just fine.
I’m going to go back out there and shoot some pix, then post them later.

Working on the training kit.

Sorry it’s been a while, but it’s been a while, you know? Anyway, got started on the training kit.

Cleaned up the garage, got everything set. This is the new bench grinder.

Spar and ribs drilled. My first two clecos ever. Woohoo!

spar and ribs clecoed together.
The suck part about this is that I forgot to break the edges and didn’t exactly know what the hell I was doing with the deburr tool, so I wound up unclecoing (is that a word?) these and deburring them, properly this time. BTW, the grinding wheel without a scotch-brite wheel sucks for deburring. All it does is make lots of secondary burrs that you have to get rid of by other means.

My first stiffener. Keep it clean, folks. My metalworking skills have gone into the toilet since I last did any, and to give you an idea of when that was, “What I Like About You” by the Romantics was on Billboard’s top 40. It ain’t pretty, but it’ll get the job done. If I understand the idea of the stiffener, the taper is so metal doesn’t touch the skin on the other side, the angle just stiffens the part of the skin on the side to which it is riveted. I could be wrong, I frequently am, but something tells me metal rubbing on the opposite skin is a no-no.

Blown-out flashed image of my bad metalwork. Here you can’t possibly see that my skill with hand shears deteriorated to nothing, and you can’t see that these edges are going to need a lot of cleanup before they’re serviceable.

This pic shows the stiffener edge a bit better, but doesn’t reveal much. Suffice it to say that I went over it again with the deburr tool (properly this time), but still have no scotchbrite wheel.

Different day, but same process. The second stiffener turned out a whole lot better than the first, but I really need to be more careful about the plans, because if I go “Oh, I forgot to do that” on the real deal, I’m going to be flying this project sometime in 2024.

And here’s the proof. that little 15 degree cutback on the front edge of the stiffener that I conveniently didn’t see earlier. It’s on the lower one, but not the upper. But at this point I was tired of going round and round with the grinding wheel to try to get a nice smooth edge.

And here’s the grinding wheel. Bet your hindquarters I took the safety guard off. Now I can actually put metal on the wheel at angles that are actually useful. I wouldn’t try this if I was working steel. But this wheel is going to be where the Scotch-Brite wheel goes anyway, so I figure i’d try it.
Next time: 2 more stiffeners, and a lot of drilling, filing, and if I get it together, some dimpling and dare to dream, riveting.