Van's RV-9A in Aurora

The Big Picture

The Big Picture
Flying! 8/28/2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Yesterday stripped off the last remaining blue plastic and installed the wing walk material.

Installed extra return springs on the pilot side brake master cylinders. They're not perfect yet, but these made a huge difference. Now I almost look like I know what I'm doing when I taxi. Much more controlable on the ground.

Emptied the tanks last night and then filled them up 2 gallons at a time to calibrate them. The process worked, I might want to redo the right side sometime, it took a while to figure out the optimal method. The left tank should be spot on.

Flew this morning. Before starting I adjusted the SL-40 sidetone, and it now works perfectly.

0900 - ready to fly

Ran for about 2 hours today, and ventured away from home, over to the next airstrip, Lago Vista. It made a nice 8 mile race race track and gave me some straight and level time. I ran the engine at about 74% and leaned it out some, watching how the temperatures behave. Still running a bit rich. 3 and 4 hitting about 423, this seems to be about the peak for them, 1 and 2 heat up considerably from there. Oil temps about 212, 218 max. The engine stutters a bit when leaned. It goes away when the mixture is enrichened. Carb heat seems to work, and actually cools off all the cylinders.

Talked with Austin Approach, got a squawk code, ident, and they verified altitude. Transponder checks out, along with the static system.

Also got in a bit more slow flight, doing a few 360s at 62 knots. She flies well at this slow speed, no bad habits, just floating in the air.

Ambient today started at about 90, and was about 100 when I stopped.

The 430W was having receive problems. But it checked out perfectly back on the ground. I think I was setting the radios and audio panel wrong somehow, managing two frequencies very close together. Transmitting on the 430W still spikes the CHTs.

And here's a shot of the upper cowling. There are three airleaks from the baffle material, just in front of 3 and 4. Incidentally, those are the hottest cylinders.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I will stop tracking time as I did in the build, although there is still more work to do on construction (fiberglass fairings, yech) and of course fixing issues and on-going maintenance will both take time.

But now I'll just use this as more of a web log than a build log.

photos today by Suanne McLellan!

Flew this morning, 1.3 hrs on the hobbs, about 1.2 of that in the air. Engine start at 8:45 when it was still reasonbly cool. The plane flew great and the engine is running well except for an occasional quick stutter. I will have to keep an eye on that.

This time airspeed was good. I took it up to 2500 and the #4 CHT was running hot, about 430. #1 was still in the green, about 385. Flattened out the climb and continued up to 3300. #4 CHT stayed around 423, just one pixel of red, and I could keep it about there by adjusting climb rate. Set the throttle for 2500 and just started doing laps. Below me the airpark was busy. Dogs on the runway, deer, etc.
I also got a good look at my guages this time. Oil temp got up to 212 and stayed there, never hotter. Fuel flow was at 12 in the inital climb, backed off to 10.5 on the racetrack, and I later leaned it down to about 9.5. The EGT's climbed into the green range at about 1410 on leaning, but with a wide variance. Lot's to learn on the EGTs.
The left wing is a bit heavy, can't trim it out with aileron trim. It's not too noticeable until I've been holding it for 30 minutes and I try to fly straight and level.
The Dynon was telling me the wind was from the north at 11 knots at altitude. And it had shifted below me too.
At the end of about an hour I slowed down to start some slow flight. I got down to about 60 knots with full flaps, maintaining altitude and flying shallow banked turns. Then I recovered up to 100 knots and started my decent. The north wind was now favoring 34, and I joined the pattern for my first ever attempt at 34. All my other landings at lakeway were on 16. As I was about to join the pattern a flight of two taxied onto the runway for departure, so I climbed back up to 2500 and loitered to the west to wait for them. The first attempt was still hot and high so a go around was needed. But the second try was just about right, although the landing could have been better.

There it is, flight #2 in the books, a reasonable success. John and Suanne came out to watch and I gave her the camera. Everyone on the airpark is also taking a few minutes to watch, and come over to the airpark to congratulate me. Thanks everyone!

Squawks include the SL-40 is too loud when I transmit. The CHT's jump when I transmit on the 430W.
There are a couple of oil leaks, I think they might even be the plugs. I will remove one and replace the crush gasket. Readjusted the right side exhaust to improve cowling clearance. I will put springs on the draggy brakes later today.

Heavy left wing.
Need to calibrate the tanks.

A flight ready RV-9A!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Other notes about yesterday's flight. I wanted to fly early in the day, but there were just too many things to finish up. Got these done at noon, but then I needed to cool off and get something to eat.

It was 1:13 when I started the engine, and 1:54 when I shut it off. Temperature was 106 F.

Central Texas is having it's worst summer ever, with a new record of 77 days over 100 set yesterday, with no end in sight. A strong, stable dome of high pressure has set up residence and it's going nowhere soon. The hurricanes that come anywhere close are swatted to the side like gnats. We had about 1.5 inches of rain in May or June, but that's the only significant rain we've had in almost a year. Trees are dying, the lake is way down, all the golf course ponds are drying up. And La Nina may be on the way back. It's going to get worse before it gets better.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

First Flight!

N207LT flew for the first time today.
Engine start at 1:13 and we took flight at 1:20pm. Wayne and Cora
were my ground crew.

She flew very well, except for the minor
distraction of no airspeed indicator. I check for controlability and then started a climb, turning to downwind about the same time. I thought for a second about returning immediately, but quickly decided to keep her in the air, climbing to 2000AGL. CHTs climbed pretty high, with #4 at 442. I backed out the power and lowered the nose and she cooled off nicely, staying around 400. Wish I could remember what the oil temp was. On the 430W I dialed up the page that shows ground speed, so I had some inkling of how fast I was. At about 2300 I was doing 125kts.

I circled over the airport for about 30 minutes trying to stay on track with my test flight procedures, but that was hard to do with no airspeed. Also the card called for 10 degree and 20 degree turns. Well, sorry, that would take me to Oklahoma. I ended up with 30 degree turns to stay close to the air strip. I climbed up to 4000 to try some slow flight, but didn't stay on task with this too long - kinda hard to do slow flight without knowing what slow is.

Then I decided it was time to come down. I had to go around twice because the plane really didn't want to slow down. I was trying not to use the last notch of flaps as per the test plan, but also I was never sure I was slow enough for full flaps. On the final approach I was still too high and hot, but tried out a slip. The plane responded well and I was able get down and lined up. But pulling the throttle all the way out still seemed to produce too much lift. I chopped both mags and pulled the mixture and finally she started slowing down. Still she floated till the hangars. I vaguely remember that the landing wasn't too terrible. Wind was calm.

When I taxied in and shutdown, they had to remind me to grin. I obviously wasn't following the checklist anymore.

Many thanks to Wayne and Cora Wagner who have given my project an airport home and tolerated my invasion of their hangar. Wayne has been there to help, especially the last month. He was providing a calming flight instructor influence today as I was obviously nervous and frantic. He also took all of these pictures.

I have to repeat flight card 1, but at least I know she flies!
Airspeed (fixed already, loose connection from the pitot/static check)
Brakes not releasing all the way. Classic RV problem. Need return springs.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

3 hrs
Was supposed to be easy tonight but everything fought tooth and nail to not go together. The upper cowl should have taken about 5 minutes, took an hour. The spinner should have been easy. Until we discovered two munged up platenuts. Had to drill them out and rivet on new ones. Another hour and a half.

Then started working on the aileron trim. Needed to adjust the friction so it would hold more securely. Ended up just taking it completely out. At least it's ready to go back in.

Monday, August 22, 2011

2 hrs
Applied heat shield insulation to the inside of the cowl to protect against the hot exhaust tubes.
The way this worked is that Wayne had an idea how he wanted to do his, so we tried it out on mine. I think it worked out great. We used a hot rod market high temp spray on contact cement to tack on some upgraded heat sheild material. This stuff has a fiberglass backing and a high temp metallic shiny surface. It will reflect heat and insulate, good to ~1200 degrees (the material that is).
We cut it to shape and decided we needed to build up the corner of the cowl bottom to air inlet duct with a thin strip of material. This allowed the second layer to lay down better.
Jesse B. helped out a bit, and it was good to have an extra set of hands when messing with the contact cement.
Then we fit the lower cowl on to the plane. The exterior is looking ready to fly!

Sunday, August 21, 2011


N207LT is airworthy!
The punch list has few items, will get those worked down soon.
Mel Asberry of Dallas did the inspection and paperwork and I now have the coveted pink slip of paper. I can now legally fly my airplane!

Saturday 8/20
5 hrs
Spent the day doing last minute items and preparing for the inspection.

Installed control labels for the engine controls. Finished up the wing tips, secured the nav/strobe light bundles.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

For Friday, Aug 19.
2 hrs
Finished up a couple more items from the list. Thursday night I installed the new Skyview backup battery. Now both screens will stay online when power is shutoff, up to 1 hour. Shipped the bad battery back to Dynon.
Extracted a spare general purpose input from the bundle behind the panel, routed it forward of the firewall. I will use this for the extra air temperature probe that I bought from Dynon. It can be moved around as needed in the engine compartment to understand the temperatures seen during flight and on the ground.
Also finally installed the black instrument panel screws for the left Skyview. The panel is now complete!

And replaced the bottom rudder attach bolt, there were no threads showing past the nut, and the tech counselor crew spotted it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Not tracking time well anymore. Stopped by the hangar and took care of a couple of minor items from the Monday inspection list. Helped Wayne move his canopy into the house, that gets it out of harms way. Still a few things to go but now just nervously biding time till the inspection.

Oh. It's official, I have the Airworthiness Inspection on Sunday. Mel Asberry is flying down from the Dallas area, he's the DAR (Designated Airworthiness Representative) that knows more about inspecting RV's and experimentals than anyone else in Texas. He also taught the class I took last October.

If all goes according to plan, by Sunday evening Mel will be safely back in Dallas, and I will have a pink piece of paper that is the provisional airworthiness certificate, and a log book entry saying that Mel inspected N207LT and found it "in a condition for safe operation". He's an A&P, so he can do this, but I can't. At least not till I get my Repairman's Certificate.

You all know what comes next! Maybe not. Next I have to put the plane all back together because all the access panels will be removed for the inspection.

But THEN.......

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bought a case of oil for the first oil change that will happen next week! Also picked up some hose suitable for the manifold pressure hookup. Installed it.

Helped Wayne for a little while, we are figuring out how to program the EIS, starting to get the ammeter and manifold pressure configured and working.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tech counselor visit.
Deene, Seth, Jerry Stofer, and Dan Badwey of chapter 187.

Several items on the punch list, two big items.
Install missing cotter pins on the main control column bolts.
Tightened fuel pump outlet clocking lock nut.
Tighten starter contactor nut.
Set engine controls for 1/8" extra travel to prove positive stop.
They didn't like the safe air tubing for the manifold pressure line. The engine will get hot and may ruin the tubing. Also need a way to secure the MP line to prevent chafing on the heater air inlet.
A few other minor items some of which I found myself. Need to finish the wing tip wiring.

They advised not to burn in the brakes because of engine breakin needs. I had asked Seth about this over two years ago and he said there were no special requirements. But the cylinders do need normal breakin treatment, apparently.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

4 hrs
Check and tighten firewall accessory through bolts.
Start diagnosing brake issue.
Resolve left side flap actuator interference issue.
Torque seal more bolts.
Install three inboard tank/spar bolts on right side.
Start installing crotch straps.
Was going to taxi to day to burn in the brakes, but we ran out of daylight.

Helped Wayne a bit, put the pitch servo in place. Figured out why his 420 was in demo mode. A pin had been caught wrong and bent over, and it was grounding the demo mode pin. Once we straighted the pin out it worked great. Got the 420 and right side Horizon talking. Now a flight plan can be entered on either GPS and both Horizon screens pick it up right.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

5 hrs
Mostly finished with cleaning up the FWF wiring. I think I'll always be able to find something I'd like to change.

These photo's look very busy. The real item is not quite that bad. It can be a bit hard to reach a few things, but you can see floor in lots of places.

Need to do some taxiing tomorrow to burn in the brakes.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

1 hr
Countersink wing root for fairing.
Check dynon backup battery. Battery #2 is not working, display unit and wiring is fine.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

1 hr
Installed lugs on the nav antenna cable. Almost finished with the wing tips, just need smaller wire clamps to finish the wire runs.

Upgraded software on Wayne's Horizon HX units. Having trouble with the AHRS software upgrade.

Monday, August 8, 2011

1 hr
Safety wire oil temp gauge.
Safety wire gascolator.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Engine Start!

5 hrs
Spent the morning finishing up the FWF wiring cleanup. Remade the right side mag p-plead. Not completely finished, because we ran out of #12 adel clamps.

Removed and cleaned spark plugs. Dropped one, but Erik had some spares.

Pre-oil engine, purge oil and fuel pressure lines.
Rechecked all lines, Wayne looked at it also. We declared it ready for engine start.
Started the engine. It runs a lot better at full rich as compared to idle cutoff. Once I figured that out it started right up. I had prepared a test plan and mostly stuck to it. Ran it 4 times, first with out the alternator to verify the guages were alive, then with the alternator. Everything seems to work as it should, no noticeable leaks.

Taxied over to the fuel pumps to put in 10 gallons. On the way over, the left main brake is acting up a bit. Will need to diagnose this. The plane is a bit hard to steer with just brakes.

Readjusted the Dynon a bit, fuel pressure. The only guage not working is the fuel levels, and they need to be calibrated first.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

7 hrs
Finished aileron trim install.

Checkd nosewheel breakout force. 20-22 lbs.
Station 122 is right at the middle ribs of the baggage compartment.

Spent most of the time tidying FWF wiring. Got the Right side mostly done.
Running out of 12 adel clamps.

Friday, August 5, 2011

3 hrs
Punch list items.
Set brake pedal cotter pins.
Stake gascolator screws.
Fit clamp to oil temp sender for safety wire.
Diagnose L skyview backup battery issue.
Continue installing aileron trim.
Strip more blue plastic.

Wayne was able to power up both Grand Rapids displays. We need to go through and setup everything.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

1 hr
Adjusted Dynon fuel flow settings. Set to 56400. Was 60000. Edit. That was the wrong way. Needs to be set to 65,800, which it now is.

Start installing aileron trim.
Strip more blue plastic.

Helped Wayne install his main EFIS connectors. We're done with that part of the wiring, now it's time to test it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

First fuel added!

2 hrs, 4 gallons of fuel!
Removed wing root fairings to prep for adding fuel.
Added fuel and drained, both tanks, to wash out any crud. Nearly none.
Check for leaks. Doesn't appear to be any at this time.

Added fuel again, ran aux pump. Measured fuel flow rate, both tanks. We could fill a 1G container in 1 minute, 40 seconds from either tanks. That works out to 36 gallons/hr. The Dynon was indicating 39.5 gallons/hr. This is well above the 20GPH I needed to meet the recommended rate of 1.5 times max fuel flow rate.
Check for proper operation of fuel selector switch. Seems to work OK, including the off position. Switching tanks causes no noticeable change in flow rate.

Ran the right tank dry, measured unusable fuel. Less than 3 ounces.

Reattached all fuel lines and tightened them up.

For Tuesday, 2 hrs
Bought fuel and prepped for adding. Fuel is $5.29. Ouch.
Trimmed cowl attach strip for gascolator drain.
Install gascolator drain.

Monday helped Wayne with his wiring.