« Archives in May, 2007

An update

Called Van’s this morning, the kit is marked ‘paid’ and there’s a ship under way right now that probably contains my kit. When it shows up, they’ll call me. Until then, I build stuff. Problem is, I’m not building airplane, I’m building bathroom. This is how it happened:
I took last week off to prep for the coming of the kit, part of which involved getting the main room of the guest house ready to be an airplane factory instead of a crash pad for drunken revelers after a night at the bar. We decided to pull the carpet out of the guest house, to prep the concrete floors for staining/sealing (going to look very, very cool), and discovered some mold under the baseboards. Well, one thing led to another and by Tuesday the bathroom was gutted down to the studs and joists. Needed a new subfloor, shower, walls, ceiling, plumbing and fixtures. I know FA about plumbing, so I had a laptop in one hand and a blowtorch in the other, trying to figure out pipe runs, sweat joints, and solder techniques. So that took a while. Then my knee flared up and I was down for 2 days. Then it was all about drain plumbing. Fortunately the soil line was ABS instead of cast iron as I originally feared, so the nightmare of how to set up the offset toilet flange kind of disappeard. The shower drain required a reconfiguring of floor joists, but that got done eventually. After that, we got all the drywall, cement board, and plywood and we put in the floor and the big piece of ceiling drywall. Bathrooms are good because they’re small, you don’t need a lot of material.. The flipside is that it’s tough to maneuver a 4×6 piece of drywall in close quarters. Sliding it past shower fittings and other obstacles is a big pain, but we got it. So now we have to finish the ceiling, then do the cement board for the floor and shower walls, then finish the walls. After that, it’s tape, mud, sand, then tile. And install the shower kit somewhere in there. So this will probably suck up all the time I have available for building for a while. What also needs to happen is to replace the lower foot of drywall around the perimeter of pretty much the whole place. Once that’s done, I can start moving tools and airplane parts in there.

test-hung elevators on VS

1.5 hours.
Yeah, that’s a long time to hang a couple of control surfaces on rod-bearings. But I was distracted by multiple things and I was by myself. The left elevator is a little aft-heavy. This may have come from misdrilling the counterweight, then flipping it over so the holes would line up with the protruding part going the right dorection. I had to cut off some of the inboard lead to get a good fit. Fortunately, I have a spare counterweight, so adding lead isn’t going to be a problem. The right elevator is forward-heavy, as it should be. Still to do: Drill the control horns for the bolt in the center bearing.

rolled and riveted elevator leading edges

3 hours.
The left elevator didn’t come out as well as I’d liked. I had some struggling to do with the roll, and once you roll those edges, it’s hard to re-roll them due to interference from one edge or the other. It came out OK, but not perfect. The right elevator came out fine. Now the only things left to do on the empennage are install the remaining AN509 bolt on one of the counterweights (one of them made it on to the floor at some point, got vacuumed up and accidentally discarded) and rebuild the servo cover plate and z-brackets. I’m rebuilding the servo cover plate because using Van’s measurements for their location offsets the servo arm about 1/8″ too far inboard. Since my trim tab horn is offset about 1/8″ outboard, the combined misalignment is more than I want to have. If I ever rebuilld the trim tab, I’ll make sure to line it up on the cutout for the control rod in the elevator skin. As it is, I might have to enlarge that cutout slightly but i’m going to see if I can get away without doing it for the time being. Here’s a shot of me actually building this airplane:

Closed Elevators

4 hours.
Finished the trim tab and got it mounted with the temp hinge pin Van’s gives you. I guess they send the real hinge pin with the fuselage or finish kit. Since I dimpled the hinge instead of countersinking it and using a doubler, there is some resistance putting the pin all the way down the hinge. I’m not sure if this is a problem, but I can spend some time aligning the hinge eyes later if need be. Also got the skins riveted on, after the control horn debacle. The other thing I will definitely need to do when the time comes is get some filler and foam in where the riblet went in. It’s not pretty, but all the sharp bits got rounded, so I think it’ll fly fine. I was planning on doing that anyway, but now there’s a definite reason to do so. Very nearly messed up the trim tab, and stopped before the recurring rule made itself evident, and that is, if you have to force it, you’re not doing it right.
The only thing left to do on these guys is roll the leading edges and blind rivet them. Oh, and finish the trim tab servo plate.

Right elevator, ready to roll the leading edge

Left elevator, same status

Trim tab moves up and down.

Trim tab stuff.

.5 hours.
got the trim tab spar riveted to the skin, but discovered a tiny crack in the outboard trailing edge of the trim tab skin, right at the apex of the bend, where the stress relief notch is. Apparently, that notch didn’t relieve enough stress, or I missed deburring a critical bit. Anyway, all I had to do was round out the stress relief notch to the size of a #10 drill bit and the crack went away. After thoroughly deburring that and double-checking all the other tight corners and edges, I’m ready to close the trim tab. I’m going to go ahead and finish building this trim tab, but I have an email in to Van’s. I suspect they’ll tell me to drill out the crack and build on. If not, no big deal, I know how to build a trim tab and I had one to practice on. I also have plenty to do while waiting for new parts.

Left Elevator Skeleton/skin

4 hours.
Got the two skins of the left elevator riveted together in preparation for the big tuck. The riblet went in just fine, and I managed to get all but 3 of the aft spar done with AN426 rivets, instead of the blind rivets it calls for. If the elevator tabs had still been there, I would have had to use blind rivets on all of them. Just a quick shout out to Brown Tool: the C-Rex yoke is awesome. It’s a 4-1/2″ c-yoke with a tapering nose that accepts sets and dies. There really isn’t much on the empennage you can’t reach with this thing. It’s really friggin’ heavy though, and it tends to aggravate any work-induced RSI’s, but I dig it.
Oh, and a confession: When I got the stuff all riveted together, I realized that i’d put the control horns on backwards. Right was left and left was right. For the first time in a long while, I felt like it was time to toss the whole assembly into the street. All I could visualize was Gunnery Sgt Hartman after Pvt Pyle borks a shoulder-arms order in “Full Metal Jacket.”
Slap. “What side of your head was that, Private Pyle!” Slap. “What about that?”
So I had to peel back the skin from a corner of the right elevator and drill out the control horn, then drill out the left one and switch them. Fortunately, and this is pretty much all my airplane karma for the week, they went into their proper places extremely well and I was back to where I should have been in less than half an hour.

Rt. Elevator skin riveted on

1 hour
Sneaked (‘snuck’ is not a word) off home to rivet for a bit. Got the right elevator skin riveted up to the skeleton. All that’s left is to roll the leading edges and blind-rivet them together. At some point I’ll have to visit the land of fiberglass, but I want to do all that at once. If you haven’t caught it before, I’m really not a fan of paint, grease, glue, and other liquid/semisolid compounds involved in construction. But good fiberglass skills are an excellent asset, so I just need to buy the gloves, suck it up, and get it done. I still have to put the glass caps on the VS and HS, and I still need to build Rudder 2.0 and wire the strobe into the glass cap for that.

Right Elevator skin riveting

.75 hours
Did some riveting before work this morning. Shattered the dawn stillness with the air compressor, but I got all the E-713 rivets in forward of the spar. I was also able to get the skin on without using any blind rivets, using the method described in the construction manual, which is to rivet E-713 and E-702 together where they overlap inside of the spar and rib, then scooch the skeleton inside the joined skins. So far, it’s turning out well. No smiles and I can’t get a fingernail between the joined pieces near a rivet. I’ll probably go home at lunch and do some as well.
Oh, and fairly minor duh: The mounting brackets for the trim tab servo that I thought I’d lost or didn’t get with the emp kit turned up. They turned up after I’d ordered new ones from Van’s, hiding in a plastic organizer in a cell marked suspiciously: TRIM TAB HARDWARE. I’m going to get the right elevator done and out of my face, then I’ll finish up the left elevator.

Feels good to actually build.

1.5 hrs
Riveted the right elevator skeleton together this morning.

Elevator control horn on, smooth as silk, no whammies.

This is the part that caused the elevator rebuild in the first place. To do this, bend the tab of the inner end rib out a ways so you can get the squeezer in on the rivets that go through the spar. Put the outer rib on after you bend the rib back into shape. I hope the skin still fits.

The whole deal, ready to get the skin put on. Yeah, the shop heads are on the wrong side on one of the reinforcing plates (except for the platenut), but it’ll be fine. Shop heads are a good size and perfectly round.
next is tha skin, baby!

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.