Van's RV-9A in Aurora

The Big Picture

The Big Picture
Flying! 8/28/2011

Thursday, December 31, 2009

6 hrs, 187 rivets
It was time to attach the right outboard bottom skin. First I had to bevel the inboard leading edge as per the plans. Then after getting it clecoed onto the wing, it was obvious I wanted help. So while waiting for help, I dimpled the aft top fuselage skins and started on dimpling the aft fuselage ribs. Also added a length of shrink wrap on the antennae coax leads to protect from chafing.

My Sister, Suanne, came over to help. We started with the aft spar/skin rivets, since these are the difficult ones to set, and worked down 3 or 4 rivets on each rib. Then the nephew, Max, came over. Suanne had to leave, so we took a break and Max got the riveting class. I have new people drill holes, deburr, dimple, squeeze and shoot about 10 rivets of various kinds. It's enough to introduce all the basic skills and the tools and rivet gauges.

Once we were done with that, Max and I finished the aft spar rivets, and then continued down a few of the ribs so that I could continue solo.

After Max left, I continued, getting about 2/3 of the way through. The outboard skin is harder than the inboard.

Also got the Dynon pitot tube. It fits the Gretz pitot mast perfectly. I'll probably start working on getting it fitted tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

5.2 hrs, 215 rivets
Torqued left tank attach bolts in prep for the left bottom skin.

Finished riveting right inboard bottom wing skin. Since I did most of the difficult ones yesterday, most of these are easy. Once you can actually reach the rivet with your hands, it's almost like cheating! But shooting solo, it still is a slow process.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

4.5 hrs, 37 rivets
Install connectors for landing light wiring on wing and 1600s.
Test lights and wiring for both landing lights. These things are painfully bright to look at. They appear to put out enough light. I guess I'll find out the first time I really use them at night. The wig-wag feature works as advertised.

Finished dimpling bottom wing skins and then riveted the access cover nutplates to the right inboard skin.

Torqued the tank attach bolts on the right wing. I hope it's on for good, because it won't be fun taking those bolts out through the access holes.

It's always Christmas when you're building a plane. This package of firewall/forward bits was from Van's. Shortly after this, Wayne was telling me about a Van's main and starter contactor sticking closed such that the prop kept spinning till the battery wore down. I guess that's why Aeroelectric Bob specs the bypass diodes, to prevent contactor degradation.

And finally, after much hesitation, started riveting the inboard bottom skin to the right wing. The center spar/skin rivets are extremely difficult, but I got reasonably good results shooting rivets solo.

Monday, December 28, 2009

3.5 hrs, 32 rivets
Dimple remaining platenuts for wing access panels.
Continue dimpling bottom wing skins.
Rivet platenuts to outboard right skin.
Drill, deburr, and dimple all access cover plates.

Made the trek this morning to North Austin to buy a few molex connectors at Bantam Electronics, formerly Tinkertronics. They had just what I needed, and a better selection than SteinAir offers on their web page.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

5 hrs, 16 rivets
Wire right wing. This one was way easier, having made all the mistakes on the left wing yesterday.

Install TruTrack roll servo in right wing. I think one of the bolts is too short. Even with the low profile nuts provided, it seems about two sizes too small.
Start dimpling wing skins.

Countersink nutplates and start installing for wing inspection covers.
I had a bin of nutplates and screws left over from the wing build. I thought it was odd that I got so many extras. The puzzle was solved today as I was finishing dimpling the inboard bottom left skin. There's one inspection plate on that skin. Eight nutplates are required. Slowly it dawns on me that there are five more to do. Suddenly I'm wondering if there are enough nutplates!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

4 hrs
Install wiring for left wing. This took way longer than necessary since I kept losing the end of something as I pulled another item through. But persistence payed off and I'm pretty happy with the results.

Also ran lines for pitot and AOA in left wing. Had to drill a few more holes for proper line routing. Chose the bay outboard of the aileron bellcrank to install the pitot system. Broke down and ordered a heated pitot from Dynon, since the controller needs to be mounted in the wing, and that is best done before riveting on the skins. That's pretty close to solidifying a choice to use Dynon equipment.

Friday, December 25
1 hr
With Glynn's help (another Bro-n-law) cut wing wiring circuits to length and wrapped with nylon expandable sleeve. Then it was off to my sisters house for Christmas dinner.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

3 hrs, 16 rivets
Finished off a few fuselage tasks before starting on wing wiring.
Rivet platenuts to 785 seat brace.
Finish triming left flap actuator cover. The rivets for the doubler were interfering.

Finish flaring and bending right brake line. Glad that's done (I hope it's done!)
Enlarge holes for flap pushrods. This will take more work when the wings are installed, but at least the pushrods fit through the holes now.
Also installed a few stray bits of soundproofing in the back. Almost done with that.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

4 hrs, 87 rivets
Finished flap actuator install.

Also riveted nutplates to 706 bulkhead, and installed 787 rib. Had to drill out all of the rivets because I forgot to dimple various places.
That's why it takes so long, I get to do a bunch of things two or three times before I get it right.

Put the rudder pedals in place and it quickly became apparent I get to make the parking brake bracket again. I will need to have the seat as far back as possible, and the rudder pedals as far forward as possible. But the pedals will hit the bracket as it is installed now. A few design tweaks should take care of the problem.

Monday, December 21, 2009

4 hrs
Finish fabbing parking brake bracket. Made all the bends. That .040 is hard to bend by hand.
Drilled the bracket to the firewall. Dimpled the bracket and the one extra new hole in the firewall. Then fit the parking brake valve to the bracket and clecoed the assembly to the firewall. I plan to use AN3-11A bolts with K1000-3 platenuts to hold the valve to the bracket.

Once that was done, I could start installing lower brake lines. These are a bit hard to get right. I think they'll be OK, but I'll have to install the various covers to make sure it's all fitting right.

Also drove up to Georgetown to visit Seth. We spent some time answering my various questions and then cranked up the engine. We discovered an oil leak somewhere on the bottom of #2 cylinder head. At first Seth was worried it might be a cracked head, but it looks like it was just a problem with the seating of the lower spark plug. He promised to look at it a couple of more times and resolve the problem. If it's cracked, then it will take more to get it fixed. I don't expect to need the engine before March. Other than that, the engine cranked up in about half a turn, and ran great. We ran it up and shut it down about 4 times looking at the leak. Started perfectly every time.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

3 hrs
Started by sanding down the fuel line flarings. I had overflared them, and the caps wouldn't fit over them. Filed and sanded, and they should work OK now.
Then prepared to paint the 706 bulkhead. Masked off everything that was not to be painted, then primed and used the hammered silver.

Next started designing the parking brake bracket. The first step was to remove the existing stock bracket. They were the first rivets set in the fuselage kit, but the bracket had to be replaced.
Then the girl helped me design the bracket using construction paper. Layed it out on .040 sheet, and cut it to shape. Will bend it tomorrow.
For Saturday, 9/19
4.5 hrs
Once again, no idea why this took almost 5 hrs, but that's how long the stopwatch was running.
As usual, cat and laundry breaks are included.
Probably too cold to do the painting, but I couldn't tolerate the holdup anymore.

Prime remaining aft fuselage parts.
Dimple, prime and paint 7111 ribs.
Prime and paint flap assembly parts.
Finish vent line fitting.

Friday, December 18, 2009

1.5 hrs
Installed the second left line fuel line. It actually worked out OK. The best procedure for me is to get the bends at the center where the fuel switch will attach done. The vertical rise that connects to the fuel switch must be straight. Cut the pipe to rough length and start feeding it through. It requires a continuous push/bend/adjust/feed outboard of the gear weldment to get it in place. It's impossible to prebend this part.
Ordered more 3/8 line from Van's, since I got the first attempt at the left line too short, but I may not really need the extra line.

Then started on the vent line. This is a bit easier, and almost all of the bends can be made with the pipe bender. Almost happy with the first pass on the left.

Thursday 12/17
1 hr
Started the first primitive attempts at installing fuel lines. The first version of the left line was close, but I took it out. Got better by the right line. I think it will be OK.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

1 hr
Mixed up a batch of proseal and took care of some critical path items.

Glued screens to the fuel vent exterior fittings.
Also sealed up a few areas at the bottom where the three fuselage skins join. There are some small gaps there where the curved 970 meets the aft fuselage.
And sealed around the steps. Now that that part is done, I can finish installing the insulation this weekend, and then that's one more thing that was in the way of riveting the baggage compartment floors.

The other big critical path item is priming and painting the flap actuator parts. I want to get that done before any riveting. But I messed up and didn't get any priming done when it was warm on Sunday. Now it's cold and wet again.

Monday 14 Dec.
.5 hrs.
Fabbed the fuel vent fittings. Cut the 45 degree angle and smoothed it all out.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

4 hrs
Finally a nice day in Central Texas. We suffered through two nasty, cold, wet weeks. Those were the lightest two build weeks for me all year. But as I said yesterday, I still managed to get some time on electrical design.

Finished installing the main gear weldments. The plans say nothing about it, but I put an .063 shim between the weldment flange and the sides. That's the flange with the 5 AN3 bolts that have to be drilled through the skin and weldment. I saw other builders pictures and they too had a gap between weldment and longerons. .063 was the perfect thickness.

One small item was the 7 AN4 bolts that attach the weldment to the spar. These need to be drilled out to 1/4", and this would have been much easier when the spar was still on the bench. Fortunately the Brown angle drill kit has a 1/4" threaded bit, but it's a bit treacherous to use.

The bolts aren't torqued yet, but I'll do that when installing the wings for the first time.

Started looking at the forward cabin plumbing. I bought a Matco parking brake valve, and it needs to be incorporated into the brake design. And the Andair fuel valve changes things a bit - by making it easier. If you're looking at the price of that Andair valve and thinking it's too expensive, I can promise you will not regret buying it. I recommend buying it at Oshkosh or Sun n Fun. It's money well spent.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

3 hrs
Started installing the main gear weldments. On the nose-dragger, these are two seperate heavy pieces instead of the integral engine mount front gear attach found on the tail-dragger design. They bolt to the front of the main spar carry through, and there are holes drilled through the side for various bolts and screws.
It takes a lot of time to work with these because when you get the bottom main wing bolts installed they're very difficult to remove, even with the hardware store temp bolts. That's because you can't get a straight shot at either of them to drive them back out. It's a real pain.
I hope I don't have to remove the close tolerance bolts, ever.

Oh, yah. Since there are couple of wiring tasks that will soon be in the critical path, I've been spending a bunch of time on electrical system design. I'm most of the way through reading the Aeroelectric Connection, and I've been using ExpressCAD to work on the schematics. Still a ways from being finished, but I'm finally happy enough with the progress to start cutting wires.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

1.6 hrs
Trim flap assembly side cover for bolt clearance.
Finish cutting out sound proofing mat. Peel and apply to baggage bulkhead.

I realized that this might be a safety hazard. If this stuff comes loose, it will be flopping around in the back with a high probability of being in contact with the elevator pushrod and bellcrank. I don't think that would be catastrophic, since I don't think it can jam anything, but I need to keep a close eye on it. It it even looks like it's going to peel in the heat, off it comes.

A growing backlog of stuff needs priming and painting. But too cold and humid, with no relief in sight on the forecast.
Went to Harbor Freight today at lunch and bought a small sheet metal bending brake, and to West Marine to buy vinyl cable sheath for the rudder cable.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

6 hrs, 26 rivets
Started out cold and miserable. But the day warmed up a bit and the heater was able to make it tolerable in the garage.
Rivet nutplates for flap center bearing block.
Rivet nutplates on bellcrank rib.

I've decided to use a simple hinge arrangement as baggage tie downs, one in each corner, which also means one on each of the side panels.
Cut hinges for baggage tie downs.
Drill, deburr, countersink, and rivet baggage tie down hinges to side covers.

And now starts the adventure with the sound proofing. I bought the same material that Smitty used.
Mark and cutout templates for sound-proofing mat. Used wax paper, held in in place, and traced the outline of each panel with a bit of deburred scrap .032. Then cut the templates out with scissors. It's amazing how often I use a simple pair of scissors as part of the build.
Started cutting out sound proofing panels. Used the templates, a straight edge, and a razor knife. Did this while watching a football game inside.

Getting closer to being ready to secure the floors, but I will still wait until wiring is mostly done before riveting them down.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

1.3 hrs
My wife graduated today with her Masters of Education. That and christmas decorations took precedence over building.
Did manage to sneak in a little time on the kit.
Make static clips. Finaly figured out a good way to do it. Plus it can be done inside while watching football.
Dimple top J-stringers and 787 center rib and reinforcing plate.
Dimple 710 bulkhead.
Drill 705 bulkhead and baggage rib for nutplates holding the flap bearing block.

Friday Dec 4
1 hr
A few miscellaneous items, just too cold. We had snow - for about 5 minutes and then the sun came out. Reworked the static port hookups based on pictures posted by Tony Phillips. Hi Tony! Also finished reaming the right main gear bolt hole. The gear weldments are ready to go now.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

1.7 hrs
Drill, deburr, and dimple 706 bulkhead for nutplates.

Install step keeper bolts. These were a pain. It would be much better to wait until this point to drill the blocks and step tubes.