Van's RV-9A in Aurora

The Big Picture

The Big Picture
Flying! 8/28/2011

Monday, August 31, 2009

1.0 hrs
Deburr the edges and flute the 902 forward bulkheads.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

3.5 hrs
Cut, bent, and fitted the 684 gussets. Those are difficult and tedious to do. The instructions say to take time to get them to fit well, but what part of the fit is important? I like how you can't properly fit them with the skins peeled back, but you can't properly clamp them with the skins on. And if there's a clamp holding the longerons in the right location, then you cant fit the gusset.
And the bend line is nowhere close to what the drawing shows. Maybe it was OK for the RV-6.

As usual, the second one seemed much better. This plane will only know how to fly in circles.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

6.6 hrs
Long day, lots of forward fuselage progress. The morning started out very nice for a change. We've had a brutal July and August, sitting at 67 days of 100 or more degrees. 2 short of the record set in 1929. The garage faces east, so the Sun heats it up fast. But it was much more pleasant than it has been for the last three weekends.

Twist, fit, drill, and cleco 713 aux longerons. This went smoothly. I found that twisting the angle just short of 90 degrees fixed just the right amount of twist.

Finish making 719B angle clips. I'm certain that other builders have commented on this, but don't drill the hole in the vertical flange yet. If you do, the only way to match drill to the firewall stiffener is to clamp the 719 to the fuselage stiffener as best you can ( there's not enough room to get a real clamp on it), and take out all the clecos in the 970 to about a foot back. Then you can flop the 970 out enough to get an angle drill in to do the match drilling. That's what I did. It wasn't that big a deal, so maybe it's not so bad. But I just didn't like the security of the clamp, so I think it would be best to not drill the hole until it's all fitted, and then match drill from the inside of the firewall stiffener.

Finish making 917 lower longerons. Used the bandsaw, belt sander, die grinder, and file to trim the aft end down. It turned out OK.

Fit, drill, and cleco 713 longerons and 719B clips.

Twist, fit, and drill bolt holes in 917 longerons.

The garage is covered in aluminum shavings now!

Friday, August 28, 2009

1.8 hrs
Cut holes for landing gear and brake line in 972 skin
Start fabricating 917 lower longerons and 719B angle clip parts. Cut the stock to length and started layout out some of the other cuts.

Fabricating these odd parts is fun. I wish I was better at it. I need to get better at precision. One area that's difficult is drilling a hole in a precise location. Of course drilling by hand, that's to be expected, but I can't do much better with the drill press.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

.7 hrs
Finished drilling bulkhead to the 972 skin. Removed the 972 and marked it for cutting the landing gear socket holes.

Also pulled the next set of forward fuselage parts.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

.6 hrs
Finished drilling the 970 skins to the firewall flange.
Started drilling the 972 to the firewall.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

1.6 hrs
Decided to try and add a bit more twist to the longerons. I was aiming for about 20 degrees. After clecoing on the skins, this results in just about the 17 degrees required by the firewall brackets. After that, clamping them on was relatively stress free. Something the plans don't say anything about, but the forward 3 inches of the longerons need to be relatively un twisted. They'll certainly end up that way in final construction, after clamping to the firewall brackets. So I did the final twists with the crescent wrench lined up with the aft most 1/8 rivet.

Got the centerline of the bottom firewall stiffener flange lined up in with the aft hole in the 972 and drilled them in. This after getting the rest of the firewall in a reasonably good location. Then spent a bunch of time readjusting the fit to the top longerons, quaduple checking the depth of the firewall face to the leading edge of the 970s.

Got the rivets set into the forward skin/longeron holes. It was difficult to put these in and then tighten the clamps. This would misalign the longeron, making the rivets impossible to pull out with just fingers. I found that tightening the clamps just a little, getting most of the rivets in, then using a punch in the most forward rivet hole to move the longeron into alignment worked well. Then tighten the clamp a little more, check all the rivets for a good fit, adjust with the punch as required, tighten, check adjust, then lock it down. Then the forward rivet slipped right in.

Warmed up dinner, came back out and check everything yet again, and got about 5 holes drilled on the 970/firewall flange, both sides, before calling it quits.

Ordered another 100 silver and copper clecoes from Avery. The buckets are nearly empty, and there's a lot of parts still to attach. I'm fearing I might need yet another 100 3/32 clecoes.

Monday, August 24, 2009

1.7 hrs
Radius 787 plates to nest with the longeron. Should have done this before match drilling the longerons.
Drilled the 904L straps to the assembly.

Used a crescent wrench to apply more twist to the longerons. They fit better with the firewall, but still need a little bit more twist.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

5.0 hrs
Finished match drilling the longerons to skins. Looks very cool. I had to trim just a touch of material off the front 904 riser on both sides. Otherwise the longeron was just a bit too proud of the edge of the 970.

Made the 904L straps. Still need to match drill and install them. Also made the 635B bellcrank spacer while I was messing around cutting .063 strips.
Somewhere in all that time I had to rescue a humingbird that got stuck in the garage. Those things aren't the brightest birds.

I clocked out there and cleaned up the big mess from two days of drilling longerons.

Couldn't stand it though, I had to get the 972 skin in place and then trial fit the firewall.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

4.5 hrs
Finished drilling the 970 skins to the skeleton. Drilled the 915 ribs at this time.

Was reading Scott Card's log, and he pointed out that the 905 bulkhead has the 757 plate between it and the longeron, and wouldn't that need addressing when drilling the longerons? Hmmm. Looked at the drawing, and figured out how they go in. Decided to go ahead and prep them. It takes a 2" radius circle to trim for a sliding canopy. Turns out the 709 bulkhead lightening holes are almost 4" in diameter, so used it to trace the cutout after measuring the edge distances per the drawing. After cleaning up the 757's, tried sliding them in place. They slid in relatively easy, since the holes in the 970 are already drilled at the correct locations. So maybe that excersize wasn't necessary. But it made me feel better!

After that, started drilling longerons. Worked a bulkhead at a time, alternating sides, starting at the back. Sure are a lot of holes. Ran out of clecoes. Had worked up even with the canopy deck one side when I suddenly realized I'd been at it for quite a while. Looked at the clock: 7 o'clock!, I thought it was about 5. So called it quits there.

Friday, August 21, 2009

1.3 hrs
Started match drilling the center section and 970 skins to the aft fuselage. I'm at the point in the narrative where it says "At this point all the skins below the main longerons and aft of F-904 should be clecoed to the fuselage skeleton". Nowhere does it say to match drill. So I took that as the cue, and started all the match drilling.

The narrative is starting to leave out details such as this. Another example is when to drill the 915's to the 970 skins. The only defense is to read carefully, notice where major events happen, and deduce that you have to have something done by that time.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

1.1 hrs
Removed the left 970 skin and made the bend on the lower aft corner. The bend worked great - except for the tear in the usual place. For those who forgot to deburr the corner and blamed that on the tear, rest easy - I deburred nicely before bending. I used a slightly different method that pulled up more tightly at the corner. I think that caused the rip. Now I'll have to stop drill and clean it all up. Fortunately, it will be mostly covered up by the step flange.

Cut a little more off the aft fuselage plastic to account for the longer 970 tail.

Clecoed the 923 fore and aft straps on. Dimple the front set, they're ready to go.

Also bent the corner fingers on the aft fuselage out a bit to match the cone of the left 970 corner. I think it worked well. The other side still needs the same treatment. At least it doesn't need a tear stop drilled.

Called it quits early. Next up is drilling the longerons. But I decided to stop. I think I'll get in some flight sim time.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

2.0 hrs
Removed and deburred 920 armrests.

Spent a few minutes checking the straightness of the longerons. These need to be level as a reference for building, and I was beginning to wonder how straight they were when the assembly was placed on sawhorse upside down. So used a laser plane and lined it up with the holes at the top edges of the skins. Sure enough, it was off just a bit, and required the front support point to be lifted almost half an inch. This might have taken about half an hour. Afterwords, the laser line slices through all the holes from the tail up to the downward bend in the 970. This work paid off, since it was much easier to reinstall the 970 after the next step, and the skin lays nice and flat against the longerons without any clamps.

So on the next step. Removed the right 970 skin and prepared to make the lower aft conical bend. The wing kit includes two long 3/4 .125 angles. The remaining longerons will consume 1 and a half of these. After laying out what's needed for the longerons, found that I could safely cut about 15 inches off of one. Drilled this to the lower aft corner of the 970.

Used another piece of angle to clamp the skin to the table, then used a crescent wrench to start making the bend. It took a while, slowly adding a set the skin, comparing against what I thought the bend should look like. After I thought the aft curve looked about right, I used a clamp to tighten the forward end down tight, thus setting the forward end with it's tight, nearly 90 degree bend.

[Edit] Using this setup I tore the other side. On this side, I think I got lucky. But for the other side, I realized I should have cut the vertical corner off of the left end (in this picture). Lo and behold, I looked at the pictures in the narrative, and Van's had done exactly that.

It worked perfectly. Clecoed the skin back on, and it lined up very nicely.

After getting that all clecoed in place, I realized that something needed work at the aft end of the bend where it joins to the aft fuselage. It meets the fuselage at an angle, but the fuselage is straight. Ahh, so that's why there are fingers. Obviously, I need to bend the fingers on the aft fuselage out to match the angle of the 970 skin. With one done, and the other not done, it should be easy to use a woodworking reference angle to get all of the fingers bent just right.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

.6 hrs
Light day, since I ran when I got home. Had to spend lunch driving to the UPS lost package depot in East Austin to pick up the mounting brackets that AeroLEDs shipped. I got two mounting brackets for the 1600's, but only one set of hardware. I'll have to figure out what I can do about that.

Oh, and here's another upgrade I purchased at Oshkosh, on sale!

Fluted the 920 arm rests, clecoed to the assembly, and final drilled. Tomorrow the skins come off and get set up for the conical bend at the lower aft corner.

Monday, August 17, 2009

1.5 hrs
Clecoed left 970 skin to the fuselage assembly.
Crawled underneath and marked the 923 side baggage ribs for step cutouts.
Removed 923 ribs and trimmed the step cutouts. Used the die grinder and my cool bit I bought at SnF. I knew this was the perfect solution.

Reinstalled 923 ribs and checked fit of steps. That's a take!

Started trying to fit the 920 arm rests. But they need fluting first, and it was dinner time. They'll have to wait for tomorrow.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

5.3 hrs
Started this morning with a bunch of separate fuselage parts. It took a bunch of effort, but got them joined into one unit.

Finished trimming the longerons for the 911C HS attach bars, and got the longerons placed into the aft fuselage. Took a few pictures just to show how it looks.

Then got the sawhorses setup, with the aft fuselage on two of them.

With Lynne's help got the center section flipped over and set on the saw horses. It really takes four sawhorses to hold both sections at the same time, but one of them is only needed temporarily, so anything will do, such as a small workbench and a cat bed.

Then started pulling them together. I tried to get it done with the baggage skins clecoed on, but after about 20 minutes I figured out the aft tabs on the baggage ribs were getting hung up on the 707 bulkhead. So I removed the skins, resolved the problem with the tabs, and then the two parts came together. Then it was easy to get all the clecos in.

At this point I decided to resolve a problem with the longerons. Despite my best efforts at measuring, the notches for the 711C bars were about 3/32 too far aft, which forced the longerons to be forward by that amount. So took each one off, trimmed the notch a bit more, and reinstalled. This time it worked OK. The notch is too big, but it's not really an issue.

Next up was the 970 skins. First I cut the hole for the steps.

Then started attaching with clecos, starting at the front. I could get the front clecos with the 904 spar put in, but none of the others would go. The 904 and 905 bulkheads were sitting too far forward on the longerons. After trying a bunch of things, I discovered that putting a 2x4 under the fuselage at the middle sawhorse did just the right thing. The forward bulkheads lined up just right and I could get clecos in them.

But the trailing seam of the 970 skin was still off by a bunch. Fussed with positioning the sections a little more, but in the end I figured out that the 970 has to take a compound curve. Since it starts out flat, it's not going without a fight. Just kind of forced the first few holes into alignment with a punch, added clamps to keep the skin tight against the longeron, and it magically just worked.

Along the way, discovered that the forward most rivets in the aft fuselage stringers needed to be drilled out. There are two rows of holes in the 970 skins, and the forward row lines up with the existing forward row of holes, which means the aft row overlaps 4 rivets I had already set.

One 970 down, tomorrow I can get the other side installed.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

1000 Hours

2 hrs
Only worked on the kit for a short time late this afternoon. The girl left home, moving into a duplex (right behind Central Market, Borders, and Westgate theatre, verry cool!) with some of her friends. A few of us helped with the moving. Then I drove up to North Austin to help my Mom with a few items, such as getting her wireless router working again. The cable company just unplugged it, and it's been drawing power, but unused, for about a year. Are you the family IT support? Sometimes I just have to shake my head in amazement. C'mon Mom, you don't have to let all those programs install toolbars onto your browser. And you CAN change the default page. Oy-vey! Arggh!

And then back the sanity of building an airplane - after battling the most incredible assortment of driving skills on the way home.

Bolt forward 904 bulkhead to center section assembly.
Cleco and screw seat and baggage skins to assembly.
Start cutting aft part of longerons to fit into fuselage. I noticed that my regular builder sites don't say much at all about the aft portion of the longerons. I put it off till now, it seems like such an important bit of work, but the drawings don't provide very much guidance, except for the 173 and 7/16 cut. And then the other cuts are referenced to that mark, and to the aft deck. It seems like this is crucial to getting the fuseage symmetric and properly sized. But it must be a non-event. Just trim it like the drawings IMPLY, and it all works out.

The cut that really bothers me is the notch to fit arount the HS attach straps. But really, it doesn't have to be perfect. As long as the vertical longeron flange is OK, the horizontal flange is only needed this far aft as a mounting bracket for the aft deck.

Friday, August 14, 2009

1.1 hrs, 56 rivets
Used the squeezer to fine tune the aft most rivets for the baggage ribs. Then reinstalled two nutplates removed from the center seat ribs. These had to be removed to allow riveting the ribs to the 905 bulkhead.

Then riveted nutplates to the crotch strap brackets and then riveted the brackets to the seat ribs. Ran screws through the nutplates to make them easier to work with.

Clecoed the corner baggage floor ribs in place again. They still need to be trimmed for the steps.
Started putting the seat and baggage floors in place.

Tomorrow I help the girl move into her first rental house! Gonna have to train a new riveting helper.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Center section done!

1.5 hrs, 114 rivets
Well, not quite. But that's the end of that section in the build commentary. Now it gets joined to the aft fuselage. That'll happen this weekend, after a few preliminary items: Longeron trimming, crotch strap brackets, 915 ribs and seat/baggage skins.

Katrin helped get the last difficult, two person rivets, and that got me close enough to finish it off.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

1.6 hrs, 55 rivets
Edge deburr 920 arm rests.

Continue riveting bottom skin to center section. Did this solo. It's difficult and it shows. Lot's of really good rivets. A few not so good.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

4.5 hrs, 134 rivets
Continued riveting the center section. My brother-in-law, John, came over and helped with the task. We knocked out a bunch of the center section bottom skin rivets. After we hit the groove, we cranked out the perfect rivets!

After he left, I had to find other tasks. I realized I hadn't drilled the aft canopy decks to the longerons yet. So got set up to do that task. After getting it all ready, but before drilling, I triple checked the drawings. Oops, I was about to do it wrong. The canopy deck has to overhang the longeron by the thickness of the skin. So I reset it all, and checked yet again. Good to go, so started out with the drilling. Used lot's of clamps, and lot's of my scrap alumium pieces to get it all aligned right. It took a while, but worked out great.

One oddity I noticed is that the mark at 28 1/4 doesn't line up with the forward edge of the canopy deck. Something in there is not exactly square. I know the mark was square before the longerons were bent, so maybe it's the canopy deck that isn't. At any rate, I lined the edge of the deck up with the middle of the line. It makes a difference of about a 32nd either way.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

5.7 hrs, 78 rivets
Finished riveting the 916 and baggage ribs to the 905 bulkhead. Decided to install the platenuts for the center tunnel covers first. Also installed the platenuts on the 915 ribs. Spent time adding a counterskink jig for the 21015 platenuts on the piece of hardwood that I've been using for this.
This took way longer than necessary. Aparently, either my countersink cutter is getting dull, or the platenuts harden after a little cutting and won't cut any more.

The rib rivets on the 905 bulkead are a real challenge. There's no good way to do them, since one rib or another is in the way. Ended up bucking most of them, and this involves lots of bending. Had to drill out a few obviously bad ones, some of the rest aren't show quality.
Then installed the bottom skin and started with a few rivets that I could reach. A lot more that I can't reach. Will need riveting help.

Trimmed the longerons, not final, but about an inch more needed (I hope). Used the scrap to check the slots in the aft fuselage where the longerons will fit. A small file made quick work of adjusting them for a perfect fit.

Friday, August 7, 2009

10,000 rivets!

1.8 hrs, 42 rivets.
A major milestone passed. My guess is I'm 2/3 done with the airframe. Still bunch of rivets in the finishing parts, but not enough to get to 20K.

Finished riveting 916 ribs to the 904 aft bulkhead. Had to use the gun for these, and it took one rivet to find the right set and get the method down. I won't show the picture of that first rivet.

Started riveting seat and baggage ribs to the 905 bulkhead. Got the 6 ribs that stand alone done. Now to finish the seat/bulkhead/baggage rib rivets.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

.9 hrs, 24 rivets
Started installing the 916 ribs to the 904 aft bulkhead. Installed the bolts in all 8 ribs, set the two edge rivets that can be reached with the squeezer, and then the flush rivets at the top flange. Used the hand squeezer. Need to start using the pneumatic one, but I didn't want to use it on these somewhat tricky rivets.

Post Edit: Before riveting the ribs on, there are a few more things that are nice to do. First, start thinking about wiring. Look at all the builders sites to see how they ran their wiring. It can be a challenge to get all the necessary wires past the center section to the aft of the airplane. You might want to cut a few more holes for snap bushings. I decided to add nutplates on the center seat and baggage ribs to hold adel clamps that will secure wiring bundles. It's a lot easier to do it before the ribs are fixed in place.

1st rivets in 3 weeks. 9970 and counting.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

ELT mounting bracket

1.5 hrs
Finished making the ELT mounting bracket. Sanded and deburred all the edges. Match drilled to the J-stiffeners and the ELT base plate, and deburred all the holes.

My clever shop trick for the day: How to debur the bottom of the lower J-stiffeners when the standard tools just won't work. I realized I could put the threaded deburring bit on the angle drilling extension.

And then hold in place, and turn the arbor(?) by hand. Worked great!

I think the ELT bracket worked well. One mod I can see that might be nice is making the forward edge of the mounting flanges deeper than the back. This would align the ELT more closely with the longitudinal axis of the airframe. But as it is, it's within the 10 degrees spec'd in the instructions.

For Tuesday, 8/4
2 hrs
Started designing the ELT mounting bracket. Decided to mount it to the J stiffeners in the aft fuselage like the Van's brackets allow, instead of under the baggage floor. My reasoning is:
1. The ELT would fit in under the baggage floor, but there was only about a 1/4" clearance between it and the bottom skin. In an event that intruded into the botttom skin, would the ELT survive?
2. The baggage floor location required a longer antenna run than the stock 6 foot cable would allow. I could get a longer cable, but now I don't have to.
3. AC 43-13 recommends the ELT be in the same assembly as the antenna, to prevent the antenna cable from crossing any joint between subassemblies that might come apart in a crash. I doubt the aft fuselage would break off there, but the new mounting location meets this requirement.
4. Van's thought the stiffener location was acceptable.
5. Mounting it under the floor allows access without having to remove all of the screws on the aft fuselage access panel. But hey, you should be looking back there every one in a while anyway, so those screws need to be removed sometime.

Used .040 sheet for the bracket. Cut it out, drilled the relief holes for the bends, and bent the material to form mounting and reinforcing flanges. A trial fit seems to work perfectly.

Also primed the bottom flanges of all of the ribs for the center section. Only primed the parts that will have metal/metal contact with exterior skins. The interior should stay dry. Also, Sherwin-Williams didn't have the 955 primer I've been using, and I didn't want to use the 988 on all of those ribs.

For Monday, 8/3
1.5 hrs
Finished edge deburring the 970 side skins and 972 forward bottom skin.

The Artex ME406 ELT came today. Spent a fair amount of time (not logged) reading the instructions. This included vectors to the relevant FAR/AIM sections and AC 43-13.