Van's RV-9A in Aurora

The Big Picture

The Big Picture
Flying! 8/28/2011

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Horizontal Stabilizer

Put in 6 hrs today. And 2.5 other hours since the last post. Since then, assembled and match drilled the rear spar, doubler, and hinge brackets, followed by deburring. Cleaned up the front and rear spar pieces. That's a lot of work! Finish work has never been my strong suit. The first challenge is trying to find the right files. There doesn't seem to be a fine round or half round file at any of the usual stores, or at Avery, Isham, etc. Settled on starting with needle files for all of the round corners and lightening holes.
On the long spar edges, I would remove all shearing marks and get completely down to bright metal with a bastard file, including rounding the corners and edges. This tended to scratch the inside of the spar so masking tape was put on the end of the files and on the inside of the spar. Also ended up with tape on the outside face of the spar, since my vice was scratching the metal, even though it's made of wood. The filings were the culprit, but the tape prevents any scratches.

Three down, one to go.

The rough filing was followed by a finer file. For the doublers and the first spar, just used the scotchbrite wheel to finish. But discovered the magic of emory cloth. After filing with the subsequent spars, used medium and then fine emory cloth, and then the scotchbrite wheel. Happy with the results. It would be beneficial to spend a few hours doing this under the watchful eye of someone with lots of experience.

A dowel is handy for sanding the insides of curves

Today, finished the spars including the lightening holes, and cleaned up the HS ribs. The ribs didn't need that much work, compared to the spars. About 1.5 hours for all 16 pieces, compared to 5 hours for the spars. Total time 8.5 since last post.

Ribs ready for straightening.

Also today, the Avery squeezer finally arrived. Along with some other odds and ends, placed in two different orders. I imagine I'm starting to irritate the Avery people, but I discovered a few items I was going to need soon and decided to place an order. Then realized the HS would need more than 100 3/32 clecoes, so ordered another 100 (and some back riveting tools).

Yet more tools.

Tomorrow, fluting, the HS jig, and then something that actually looks like an airplane part!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Holiday hangover!

What was I thinking? Getting work done over Christmas break? Reality keeps finding creative ways of intruding on build time. I managed to sneak in .8 hrs today cleaning up front spar pieces, but the previous work was 1.6 hours of front spar match drilling, deburring, and cleanup on 12/20.

First assembly, even if only temporary!

Sometime in there bought casters for the other table so both tables are the same height. It's a nice arrangement.

Also found about 3 hours at Wayne Wagner's house (borrowing a hand squeezer) to work on one of the toolboxes. Still no word on my backordered Avery hand squeezer.

Bought a new Kobalt toolbox at Lowes. It was on sale, and I liked the handle/organizer shelf it came with. It's made cheaply, and I'm already thinking I should have gone the Craftsman route. But the new tools have a home, it rolls nicely, and it has a built in power strip. Spent .5 hrs on getting the toolbox ready and storing tools.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

First actual fabrication work!

I was determined to start on the project today instead of just looking at it. So I fabricated the 908 L&R HS attach brackets. It's done. 2.5 hours.

Also fired up the rivet gun for the first time. That thing is loud. Prep'd for tomorrow's work. Need to get casters for the second table, and I've decided to readjust the way the DRDT-2 is mounted.
Spent the last few days working on the garage and around the house. I figure 6 hours the last two days and timed 2.5 hours today. The garage is really shaping up, got all the spiders out, organized lots of crap into boxes (labelled!), cleaned.

Oh yeah. My daughter's boyfriend was kind enought to lend me a DeWalt angle grinder with a wire brush wheel. This thing is great. First I cleaned the rust off my drill press stand. Then I kept finding more things to clean. I had stored some pool chemicals in the garage when I first moved in 9 years ago. Huge mistake. Hydrochloric acid is not kind to anything, which I knew, but just about everything corroded. The chemicals have long since been moved outside, but the damage remains. The angle grinder really helps, and quickly. Clamps, vises, etc. It takes the rust right off. Seal the clean metal with paste wax, and almost as good as new. Maybe better, because now it shouldn't be a problem anymore.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Empennage Arrives!

Having ordered tools, I looked at the Van's web page to plan for the empennage. Their info seems to indicate it could take a long time to ship anything, even though it was in stock. I worried about this, because it meant that the kit might not arrive until after the Christmas break was over, and I would lose all of that building time. Not to worry. Order placed on 12/7, successfully delivered on 12/13!

It's official!

Spent about 1 hour doing the inventory and storing parts for later. Van's forgot to put the plans in the boxes (even though they were checked off on the list). A call the next day has them on their way. I have the preview plans, and know what to do, but I don't have all of the tools I need (waiting on band saw blades and a 3 week backordered Avery hand squeezer), and I want to build the two tool boxes first. In the meantime, there's more garage cleaning to do.


Time: 1 hr

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Garage and Tools

I spent all summer thinking about the project. Got the instrument rating in Boise at Glass Cockpit Aviation . I really liked Cammie's cirriculum and she was patient with me. The simulator is a great time and money saver. I highly recommend this school. Flew about 20 hours of basic attitude instrument work with my instructor in Austin and drove to Boise for the 7-day finish up school.
Your wallet takes a hit, but it's clearly a good way to get the rating. I used the Archer, and this answered a question I had about low wing aircraft. All my previous time was in high wing Cessna's and I was wondering if I would find low wings a problem. I never even noticed it. Of course I had a hood on until I was flying home during the checkride, but I liked the Archer.

Instrument rated pilot!

Every one I talked to said the Van's was a good choice. Cammie said, "I've got an RV-7 project in my garage." I started reading all of the builder web pages, thinking and planning. I decided I would start building over Christmas break.

Looked at mess in my garage and started working on in earnest over Thanksgiving.

How to turn this collection of junk...

Made trips to Goodwill, the dump, hazardous waste collection. Installed two T82 flourescent fixtures in the ceiling. The garage can hold 3 cars, but has a 15 foot ceiling. I'm not sure how I'm going to deal with that when it comes time for the wing jigs.

I already had shop tables including a nice woodworking bench built years ago. But I saw the EAA standard work table plans and decided I really did need some more work surface. Made some modifications by making them wider, longer, and taller. That meant that one sheet of plywood wasn't enough. And modified one to hold the DRDT-2 dimpler (not sure if I'm happy with this yet). But now I've got two tables and lots of options.

...into an aircraft factory!

Started ordering tools on November 27, ordering a few from Isham, Avery, Brown, and the DRDT-2 direct from Experimental Aero. Looked at lots of places and settled on a 33 gal. Craftsman compressor (on sale!) and a Craftsman 10" bandsaw. Sprung for a Souix 3x rivet gun and the new 3/8 reversible air drill (very nice).

Air compressor and air tree.

Visited Tracy Hallock and John Prickett, both building RV-7s. John fired up the compressor and I drove my first five rivets! Bought two toolbox practise kits, one for me, one for Katrin. All told spent about 40 hours or so just getting the garage cleaned up and building work benches.

First Post for Chip's RV9A Project Log

My name is Chip Freitag and I'm building an airplane in my garage. I committed to this project on November 26, 2007 when I started ordering tools. I hope to be flying in 3 1/2 years, which puts first flight in the summer of 2011. This blog is intended to supplement the documentation of the build process.

The aircraft I'm building is a Van's RV9A.


Why build? Why not just buy a plane? It's a long story. Bear with me while I finally document this.

I wanted to be an astronaut when I was young, and have a degree in Aerospace Engineering to show for it. Some of the other students at UT Austin, and of course the faculty, were pilots but I never really entertained getting a license, other than "I should get a pilot's license some day".

Years later, the family was on vacation in Sandestin, Florida. The Texas gulf coast beaches are much closer, but I've never liked the Texas coast. The sand sucks. So we made a brutal 1 day drive to the Florida panhandle which has some very nice beaches. Very close to the hotel was a golf course. We lived (and still do) on a golf course and I was going through the golf craze (which was never fully committed to, but would have been much cheaper than flying!). We were walking on the golf course in the morning and noticed planes landing at the nearby airfield. It occured to me that flying to Florida would be a lot nicer than driving. That was really the first time I'd thought about it in a long time. If we had a plane, then we could visit Florida and other places much more often...

A few more years passed. In 2005, AMD was doing very well. I was able to eliminate debt and get in to a relatively good financial condition. Not rich, but others might think so. At 45, I was begining to wonder what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. The family was on vacation again in March of 2006 in Virginia. We visited Dad's vineyard outside of Flint Hill, visited with my Aunt and Uncle, saw lot's of museums, etc.. One of the museums was the relatively new Udvar-Hazy National Air and Space Museum. I was standing on the catwalk above the Enola Gay, when it hit me. I would finally get a pilot's license!

So I did.

I started taking lessons in May of 2006 and earned my Private Pilot ASEL certificate by passing a checkride on December 9, 2006. The instrument rating was earned on July 5, 2007. I have 170 hours as of this writing.

I'm completely hooked on flying. I want to fly tailwheels, multiengine, sea planes, maybe even helicoptors. I don't think I can make an acceptable living doing it (I'm a bit too old to take the drastic pay cut required!), so the flying is for fun and utility. But it sure did take care of wondering what to do with any extra money.

I paid WAY too much to get the license. The 172's I was renting to learn in were in very good shape, but too expensive at $140 an hour. I was looking at various options including buying something. The UFC planes I fly now are less expensive, but still too much and I sometimes worry about their condition. I've had many flights cancelled for maintenance reasons. A Cirrus SR22 would be very nice, but I make an honest living, so something like that is way out of reach. I could buy a 152 just to have something, but it's way too slow and only holds 2 people. A 172 is at the limit of what I could take on, but I didn't want to go into too much debt. And it's too slow.

I was after something that met two mission profiles: quick short hops of less than 100 nm to get to other airports where I can get tailwheel endorsements, pick up a mutiengine rating, eat expensive hamburgers, just go flying when I feel like it, etc.. I might make half of these solo. The other criteria is good cross country capability with a prototype mission of flying to my Dad's place (1200 nm) in a nice easy day with 1 or 2 stops, for not too much of a premium over flying the airlines. This meant something fast with good range, and ruled out a 172. I wanted the probably unrealistic cost of $50/hour, and I wanted the airplane to be paid for. And that seemed to rule out everything.

We live in Lakeway, TX and there is an airpark (3R9) here. I was doing ramp check one day and this great looking candy apple red airplane was tied down. It really caught my eye. It looked fast and efficient. It was an RV-4. I went home and looked up RV-4 and found the Van's web page. Bingo! At first I settled in on an RV-7. I wanted a real airplane (tailwheel), and the top end performance. This thing would be "cheap", fast, and would get me to my Dad's in 7 hours with 1 stop. Later I took a test flight in Aurora, and they convinced me that a 9 is a better choice. I don't really need aerobatic capability. And I wanted something my daughter can learn to fly, and something easy to land after 7 hours. So a 9A is what I will build.

Right seat view from 2400 ft!

It's only 2 seats, but a 10 is too much to take on right now. The daughter is about to leave the nest and realistically 2 people will be the average long trip. If I need more seats than that, I can rent and split the cost.

And finally, the multiyear time frame lets me pay for it as I go. It will be paid for when I'm done! No other option meets the cost/performance criteria that I have. Sure, if I win the lottery I'll go buy a Cirrus. But I'd still finish the 9!