Up on the Gear!

A very late post of this content that I found in my drafts.. Apparently I started on this, but never finished/published it.. so I’m doing it now.

The wheel fairing brackets needed to be modified to accommodate the Matco brakes. The AN fitting for the brake line interferes so a section needed to be cut out as marked below.

I added an extra piece os .125″ material riveted on where the piece was cut out, but offset to allow a pocket for the brake line AN fitting to sit in.

The wheels were prepped and the tubes and tires placed on them.

All 3 tires and wheels done.

Then the plane was lifted up onto the table with the help of several friends and family. It was much heavier than anticipated. I utilized a 2×4 through the wing spar area for a person on either side. One person lifting the tail and another lifting at the firewall. Yet one more person to help position the table.

Now that the plane was up on a table, I could then slide the gear legs up into the weldments. I used some grease (same as the wheel bearing grease I have) on the legs to help get them into place. Once close, I used a curved pair of tweezers to feel the edge of the hole in the leg itself. I made small adjustments to get the hole in the weldment aligned perfectly with the gear leg hole. Once I could “feel” the inside of the hole all around without any misalignments between the two, I then reamed out the hole to final size.

Bolt and washer(s) and nut were installed..

Left gear leg installed.

After priming the gear fairing bracket, I continued assembling the Brake assembly per the Matco and Van’s instructions.

The initial brake assembly was put into place and the axle was drilled for a bolt (which was later turned the other way to avoid interference)

Rotor and other pad in place.

The wheel bearings were then packed with grease using this nifty tool from Amazon.

Then the wheel was installed on the axle.

Rather than oblonging the axle nut hole as depicted in the Macto instructions, I opted to drill a 2nd hole a little farther inboard as depicted below. The Van’s instructions were followed to count the number of turns required to remove the nut.. then the wheel/tire were removed and the nut added back the same number of turns. The axle was then matched drilled to the hole in the nut.

The assembly was then put back together and cotter pins added through the axle nut and the wheel fairing extension.

The same steps were repeated for the right side.

The nose wheel fork was prepped and primed.

The nosegear leg was then put into place.

Initial fit of the nose wheel in place.

The rubber donuts for the nosegay were put into place, but not compressed down yet

With all of that done, the plane was pushed off of the table and onto its own gear for the first time!!! Pictures below of it wheeled out into the driveway and back into the garage afterwards. For now, a table is used to hold up the tail until the engine is put on.

A Major milestone complete!!!

Finishing the Windscreen Fairing

First up while the layup was curing was to make a 7″ radius sanding tool. I had a 4×4 piece of lumber that I ripped to be the same length as the width of the layup.. Then I marked the radius from the metal tool I had made onto the side. It took me a couple of tries to figure out how exactly to mark it (as you can see) in order to have it end up being correct. I then cut it out on my bandsaw and compared to me template.

Marking the 7″ radius
Comparing the result to the template.

I used this tool with 50 grit sandpaper glued on initially to sand the shape across the front. The shape is mostly flat as you approach the sides where the leading edge of the door is. In between the front center and the extreme edges, the contour continually changes making it hard to sand. I ended up using the 7″ radius block I had made angled at about 45 degrees and occasionally used circular motions as well. I feel like it worked well.

The idea here is there are 2 layers of electrical tape on the windscreen and the metal fuselage. You continue to sand until you’re just scuffing the surface of the top layer of tape. Once that happens, you take the top-most layer of tape off and continue sanding with finer grit until you start scuffing the bottom layer. This will help create a feathered edge onto the mating surfaces. Once I was done with sanding (several days worth.. ) I started to fill some low spots with epoxy and micro.

Getting closer

Once satisfied with the overall shape, you start to put a skim coat of epoxy down to seal up the final part and fill any pinholes. A very similar process to what I used to finish the overhead console. I used a squeegee and a foam roller to get good coverage and left it to cure overnight.

Closeup of the final shape
little bumps of epoxy will be sanded out once cured.

Once done, I pulled off the tape to see the result.. Here is a shot along the left side.

A view from the inside where you can see the really nice black line all the way around the base of the windscreen. Very happy with how this turned out!

I still have some touchup to do along the feathered edges and then I will be using some high-build primer to paint the fairing. I’ll leave it that way until paint.

Windscreen Part 2

The next part of this process is to do a fiberglass layup along the base of the windscreen and the metal fuselage. To start, you mark the boundaries of the fairing area with high quality electrical tape. For the boundary along the plexiglass, I used my 7″ radius tool to mark where it hit the plexiglass along the center and front areas. I also did that along the sides, but the curve starts changing from an inside radius to flat along the sides. So I sat inside and looked at it visually and adjusted it a little bit downwards until I got something that I thought was visually desirable. In order to make sure the fairing is at an equal height on both sides, I made a template aligned with the skin seam to mark the same location on both sides. Making sure to be as close to 90 degrees as possible to the joggle/Silpruf line I just finished.

Template for fairing height on each side
Upper Line for fairing

I then marked the line around the bottom part of the fairing on the metal fuselage. I came back approx 2″ from the base of the Plexiglas, but ended up adjusting the sides downward a bit later on.

Left side Fairing boundary
Right side fairing boundary

Everything was then sanded very well with 50 grit sandpaper to ensure proper bonding. I then cleaned the surface really well with distilled alcohol until no sanding residue came off. Next up was to mix up epoxy and micro to fill the gap at the base of the windscreen. I tinted this mixture with black tint. Another hint I got was to paint the insides of the clips that hold the windscreen in place black too, which I had done prior to riveting them in place. As the curve flattens out on the sides, more micro was added downwards to blend the the two surfaces.

Tinted micro and epoxy on left side
Micro/Expoxy from right side

Then I sanded the micro mixture down the next day after it cured. There were a couple of low spots mostly along the sides, so I added a little more and sanded the remainder the next day.

Sanded Micro on left
Sanded micro on right

Once the micro was sanded down I re-looked at the gap needing to be filled with fiberglass.

I decided to follow the video series that Van’s put together for the RV-14 here: https://www.vansaircraft.com/faq/canopy-fiberglass-fairing-how-to-video-series/. There are a couple of main differences between the videos and the RV-10 plans. First off the RV-10 plans have you start with small strips of glass and work your way to bigger and bigger strips. The RV-14 videos start with a layer of glass the goes the full width of the tape and it is also tinted so that it produces a completely opaque layer so all you’ll see from the inside is solid black where the layup is. Then the rest is done proceeding with narrow strips to wider strips until you get close to the edge of the first layer. This should create a nice feathered edge. One other slight difference is that the RV-14 videos show a couple of different large side pieces of glass that are cut somewhat on the bias. I cut these too and used them in a similar fashion to the videos.

The RV-14 videos refer to paper templates that come in the plans.. Well since there is no such thing for the 10, I ended up making templates for the first layer in 4 sections.

Two rightmost templates
leftmost template

I then got to cutting the first layer of glass per my templates, two of the larger side pieces per another template I made.. along with smaller side pieces (about 1″ smaller in all dimensions compared to the larger side piece) along with all of the the glass strips called out in the plans.. Adding a couple of 3 ft. 1/4″ strips too. I setup the bench to cut the glass with a craft fabric cutting board underneath along with a rotary cutter, which made fast work of the cuts.

Cutting glass strips

I then mixed up epoxy with the black tint and applied it to the faring area. One thing I noted is that it wasn’t very dark like I saw on the videos. I pressed on all the while thinking something wasn’t right, but figured it might darken up when it cures.. I followed the videos instructions for wetting out the first layers sandwiched in plastic wrap with the tinted resin. I cut them down to size with the templates and placed them into position using a brush to make sure there were minimal air bubbles underneath.

First layer from the outside

After the layer cured.. I just wasn’t happy. I knew I should have stopped when the resin applied to the windscreen was not thick and opaque like in the videos. Below you can see how translucent the first layer really was.. I talked with another builder who followed this process and a similar thing happened to him too. He also has a friend who has something similar and left it this way and is very unhappy with the results.. The bottom line is the videos depict that there isn’t much tint needed when you mix it up with the epoxy, when in fact I felt like I had to pour half my bottle in to get it to the thickness and opaqueness I desired… Thankfully it’s fiberglass and can be fixed… So I spent a few sessions over the next few days sanding away the layer along the window until I got back down to plexi again. Lesson learned… I didn’t bother sanding the layer on the metal too much other than to rough it up for adhering to the next layer.

Bad translucent first layer.. Not happy with it!
Sanding away the mistake…
Completely back to Plexiglas.

Now with the proper tint to epoxy mixture, I recut some glass from slightly modified templates and applied a new first layer to the windscreen area overlapping somewhat with the existing first layer on the metal.

2nd time view from the outside.
A view from the inside.. Much better!!!
Closeup of the inside.. Happy with this result.
A view of the first layers tinted in black from the outside

Then I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures as you’re working with the pre-cut glass strips, placing them into position and wetting them out with a brush and straight epoxy. Here I was getting close to 8 glass layers in place as I’m wetting out this piece. I also ran back to the cutting table and cut some smaller strips needed as I went along. It was a repetitive process of looking at things with the template and occasionally adding some small strips to build up some areas prior to adding the next wider piece for the next layer. I did do some adjustments along the sides too as there was a slight drop off from the plexiglass layer to the metal.I used small strips of cloth to raise that level up before adding some wider sections to finish off the sides and hopefully I’ll end up with a flat surface in that area.

About 8 layers in

As I approached done.. a Final check of the 7″ radius template shown below pretty close to perfect.

Gap filled in.
Final view of the finished layup.

The final step is to brush epoxy on and apply peel ply to finish it off.

Peel Ply!

So now this will cure for a couple days. Then I will be sanding it down with a 7″ radius sanding block across the front and other blocks along the sides. More on that and filling in any low spots on the next post..

I’ve also started working on the wheels/landing gear section while I’m waiting for this to cure… Next major step is to get this puppy on gear! That’ll be a huge milestone!

Windscreen part 1

A couple of pics of all 4 side windows now done with the front right window curing.

Left side windows
Right side windows

It was then time to start on the windscreen. It was masked off to help protect the plexiglass from getting scratched. Then began the process of trimming. Not too much trimming was needed with the Cee Baileys windows and this one was no exception. I marked the centerline of the fuselage and the window at both the top and bottom to make sure I was always putting it in basically the same position before each marking and trim session. I did trim some off of the front to tilt the window downwards a bit and alleviate the bottom corners bulging outward due to the plexiglass hitting the curved part of the upper forward fuselage. Once I was satisfied with that and made sure that the plexiglass was entirely sitting on the aluminum, I moved on to trim the top. This was solely to create the 3/16” gap which will follow the same Silpruf method as the side windows.

Placing the windscreen in position
Marking the centerline
Centerline marked on bottom of windscreen
Top gap trimmed

Then I fabricated clips to hold the bottom part of the windscreen in place and put them approx 12” apart along the bottom edge of the windscreen.

Clips being added
Final test fit with a couple of clecos

I then installed the Sulpruf standoffs along the joggle and made sure everything was masked around the window.


I then prepped the inside of the top part of the windscreen just like the windows with masking and eventually a boundary layer of Silpruf 12-24 hours ahead of putting the window in. I was a little conservative with the bead of Silpruf I put along the joggle, but wanted to have too much rather than too little. As Zach says in the videos: “ I’d rather you be an overgluer than an undergluer. “

Squeeze out
All done with masking removed
Front view
Left view

The whole masking process of the inside of the window produces a really nice black “line” along the window joggle once the window is in and the tape is pulled.

Silpruf “line”

Next up is to do the bottom interface between the plexiglass and the fuselage. This will be a fiberglass layup mostly following the plans, but I have watched the instructional videos the Van’s has put out on the RV-14, and I’m planning to do it more that way. It’s just a slightly different way to layup the fiberglass with the use of tinted fiberglass the full width of the layup as the first layer. This will provide a very uniform line along the base of the windscreen as you look at it from the inside. To start the process, I made a 7” radius tool to mark the upper bounds of the layup on the plexiglass. More on that fairing on the next post.

Window Install

I decided quite awhile ago that I wasn’t going to follow the plans for the window install. The main reason is the plans have you bonding the windows in with adhesive and then using fiberglass cloth over the gap between the plexiglass and the fuselage. With all the differing materials expanding and contracting differently, this fiberglass area is prone to cracking, even if done perfectly. I became aware of another process that other builders have been using and is outlined in a 5 part YouTube series here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A336SG-fsiI&t=405s . It is used quite extensively in the Glastar/Sportsman series of aircraft and involves using a silicon based Silpruf adhesive. This is the same stuff that is used to hold windows in skyscrapers. Hopefully it’ll be good enough for my lowly RV-10. 🙂

I spent a fair amount of time ordering supplies after watching the videos and taking notes. I began by fabricating a scribe tool from the cap of a wet erase marker. Fortunately my wife had a hot-glue gun, so one less tool to have to buy… 🙂 The idea here is to cut the cap so the pen fits in snug and have the tip of the wooden piece I cut from a popsicle stick be about 3/16″. This tool will be used to follow the indent of the window joggle and the wet erase marker will mark a line 3/16″ away on the window setting the visual gap you will have.

Below you can see the scribe line on one of the rear windows and the angle grinder used to trim the window with sandpaper. It’s helpful to have a white background while doing this to bring out the black line as you’re sanding, so I bought a white blanket and threw a white sheet on the floor.

Sanding with the Angle Grinder

Probably the hardest time I had was finding the right stuff for the using the angle grinder. I ended up buying a 5″ Phenolic disc from my local auto parts store similar to this: https://www.amazon.com/DEWALT-DW4950-5-Inch-Phenolic-Disc/dp/B00004RHAW. I also bought 5″ circular 80 grit sandpaper with adhesive backing. Then I needed to figure out the adapter I needed to hold the phenolic disc on and be flat. I ended up buying this and it worked great! https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000A8NM8O/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Below you can see the uniform gap left between the edge of the trimmed window and window joggle.

Looking up the top edge of the window
Another angle
A little more trimming left in the corner
The final trimmed window.

After sanding the edge of the window to get rid of any marks from the sanding process along with putting a radius on the outer edge of the window, #40 holes were drilled along the edges of the window to hold wing-nut clecos with wooden bridges spanning the gap holding the window in place.

Once that is done, a sharpie is used to mark the outer edge of the window in the joggle. This will later be used as a line to mask to with tape. Additionally, the inside of the window was marked with a wet erase marker along the joggle edge. That line will be used to apply a specific masking tape pattern to the inside of the window.

Next up was to mask the inside of the window. This starts with a 1″ blue tape which is kept approx 3/16″ from the line. Then 1/4″ masking tape is used to mask as close to the line as possible without covering the wet-erase line at all. Once satisfied, the line is wiped away with a slightly damp cloth. A second application of 1/4″ tape is applied over the first with an overlap.

Blue masking and double 1/4″ masking done
Closeup showing the 2nd 1/4″ tape overlapping the first to cover its exposed edge.

The front edge of the window was covered in 2″ tape and back-cut with a razor blade. Additional tape was added to cover up any exposed glass.

The right rear window was being worked on at the same time.

After masking to the line in the window joggle and adding a bunch of extra tape (this is due to the Silpruf being silicone and if it gets on the surface of the plane it can cause fisheyes in the paint. So extra precautions were taken.) I got to placing previously Silpruf standoffs around the perimeter of the window. A few days prior, I had run beads of Silpruf out on some scrap metal and let them cure. I used Permatex ultra black gasket maker to adhere these standoffs to the window joggle. Once those cured, I took the window, put it in place, and progressively trimmed the standoffs down in groups of 3-4 at a time until the window was flush (or as flush as possible) with the fuselage.

Left rear standoffs
Right rear standoffs.

While this picture is after the window is in, it depicts how I used the razor blade to check to flush to fuselage.

Then when you are ready to install the window, you must lay down a bead of Silpruf on the exposed area of the window and spread it out with your finger. This is referred to as the boundary layer. The first 1/4″ tape is pulled leaving the second 1/4″ tapes edge clean and a small gap between this boundary layer and the tape. This must be done 12-24 hours ahead of actually installing the window so it has some time to partially cure.

Silpruf Boundary layer smeared on window
first 1/4″ tape pulled off.
Closeup of the gap left between the remaining 1/4″ tape and the boundary layer.

Then after 12-24 hours have elapsed, you spread a small amount of Silpruf to fill in that gap left. Put a generous bead of Silpruf on the window joggle so it’ll cover the entire width of the joggle with some squeeze out. The window is then put into position, cleaning of the squeeze out is done with an approx 1″ wide squeegee and clecos are inserted all around. Additional cleanup is done between the clecos. Then the tape around the perimeter of the window that was placed to the previously marked line was removed. Each cleco was taken out and the wooden bridge was flipped to avoid getting any Silpruf on the fuselage part of the airplane. There is some additional work to spread out the squeeze out on the inside of the window, culminating with the removal of that last 1/4″ tape. Below is a picture after the left rear window was completed. It’ll now sit for several days, of which I kept the garage heat on for the first 2 days.

Left rear window done and curing
View of the inside after complete and curing

Seeing I only really have enough clecos for 1 window at a time (and maybe I’m going a bit overboard with the 30-ish clecos I do have) I really want to have a good bond for these things, so it’s worth the extra few days of waiting for one window to cure prior to installing the next one. In the meantime, I’m trimming and getting the front windows ready for install.

View of the gap on the front left door window.
Left side windows in place (rear one curing)

Based on my schedule, I left the first window cure for 5 days prior to removing the clecos and moving on to installing the right rear window. Here you can see the finished results, which are a very nice black line around the permitter of the window, which is ascetically pleasing. After paint, the gap will be filled in with Silpruf forming the final look, but that is still quite a ways away.

Closeup of the finished window edge.
Slightly different view

Below you can see the right rear window is now installed and curing.

Right rear window installed and curing.

In the meantime, I’ve managed to get the front left door window all prepped and masked off. The Joggle is masked and standoffs are in place and trimmed. All that’s left is to install the window once I’m comfortable removing the clecos from the rear right window once it’s fully cured.

This process will be repeated for the front door windows, then it’ll be onto the windscreen, which is going to be part this process and part laying up a fiberglass base. More on that as I get to it.

Final door frame and cabin top paint and battery.

Now that the center support bar is in, it was time to finish the front of the cabin top to glass it in. I started by taking some scrap fiberglass pieces from the Aerosport headliner carrier material and drilling a couple of holes to hold things down with clecos. I then mixed up some epoxy and thickened it with Cabo so it wouldn’t run all over the place. This was left overnight to cure.

Once cured, a quick sand and then application of micro. Again wait overnight to cure.

Then began the sanding process to get it to be as flat as possible and also blend into the surrounding surfaces that I had already finished.

Once I was satisfied, I filled in a couple of divots with glazing compound, sanded, and applied a skim coat of epoxy with a squeegee and foam roller. That was left overnight, lightly sanded and then painting started. I followed the same process as the cabin top where I sprayed black DPLF primer, cleaned the gun, then shot K36 high-build primer. Just one coat was needed. After that dried, I sanded with 400 grit and cleaned prepping for topcoat paint.

K36 primer
Left lower door frame.
All the masking to catch overspray.

Then it was time to apply the omni sealer, top coat (Oxford White), finsishing with a matte clear coat. I donned my fresh air breathing hood and matching bunny suit due to the toxic nature of these paints. I applied the omni sealer, waited the time required to dry, followed by 4 coats of paint. Once dried, I applied the clear coat and let it cure overnight.

Masking all removed after cure

Lower door frames are not as perfect as the rest of the cabin top, but also there will be the McMaster door seal sitting here too, so not as much surface area will be exposed.

I had previously mentioned that I needed to modify my engine mount to accommodate the Barrett Cold Air Induction. I sought out a local welder and dropped it off for him to cut the existing bar out and replace with this curved one proving more clearance. I was never able to get an exact number on how much clearance was needed. I was mostly directed to leave about 1″ from the existing weld on each side and cut the new bar provided down to meet up and weld together. My welder was able to leave a little less than an inch from the weld on each side, which left approx. an inch of clearance, which should be more than enough. Now to prime/paint the exposed steel.

Initially, I had crimped some of my battery wires with a hex die hydraulic crimping tool. I was told by the supplier through ACS that that is not correct method for the terminals I had bought. I then decided to buy the crimping tool that Stein sells along with the terminals they sell as well to re-do everything I had already done. I don’t want any flakiness in the battery connections, so re-doing was simply the correct thing to do.

Test Crimp with new crimper
Rear battery connections complete!
A view from the other side.

A side view of the plane as it stands. I’m just now starting to work on window installation using Silpruf. More details to come on that method.

Firewall insulation and upper forward fuse

A quick pic of the ANL bases installed on the firewall as I finished up placement of most items. There will still be a few others, but I’ve got the bulk of them done prior to installing the Firewall insulation and engine mount.

I also got my oil separator from Anti Splat Aero and the first batch of Air Conditioning parts arriving.

New Flywheel, compressor, and AC parts

That allowed me to place the 2 pass throughs for the AC hoses in the firewall prior to continuing. After a bunch of debate, I decided to route them down the right side of the aircraft. A lot of people route them down the tunnel, but it gets pretty crowded in there, especially up in the front, and you’re also competing against rudder cables and elevator push rods. So I decided to do the right side. The fittings are placed closer to the right side of the firewall.

Now that the bulk of the items were placed on the firewall, I made a template for the Lavashield insulation material. I really had planned on using fiberfrax with stainless foil over the top, but I was fighting lots of competing priorities that led me to use this instead. On this template you can see I cut out an area for the recess. I also made another template for the recess so it would be one piece.

Below is the one piece lava shield for the recess area. The larger piece will go over this making the end result look nice.

The larger piece of Lava shield mostly stuck onto the firewall with some major holes cut out. I left the backing on the upper part so that I can rivet the upper forward fuse prior to sticking it down.

I then started placing the major components back on the firewall now that the insulation is in place. Later, I cut out spots around the engine mount locations, as there should be nothing between the mount and the frame. Other things go right over the insulation.

Engine mount held in place for a quick check.

Another thing I tested out is my control servo for the oil cooler. This will allow me to control the amount of air going into the oil cooler with a knob on the panel. This will come in handy in the winter months where I can close it down a bunch and keep the oil temp right at 180 degrees.

Here’s a shot of the entirety of the plans.. followed by where I currently am in the plans. While I’m quite far along, I think I’ve reached the 90 percent done, 90% to go milestone.

Thickness of the plans
Where I currently am in the plans

After putting all the pieces back on the firewall, I decided to re-pressure test my brake and fuel lines seeing I took the connections apart. While this area isn’t a place I disassembled, I was glad I did as I found a minor leak at the post filter.

Another task prior to riveting the upper forward fuselage in place is to start routing the Air conditioning hoses from the firewall. It’s a lot easier to do it now while I have better access. Below is an overview of the hoses (2 of them) that go between the compressor in the engine compartment, through the firewall, and to the condenser on the belly of the plane as well as the evaporator in the tailcone.

Some pics of the AC hose (black hose) routing down the right side.

Connections at the Firewall.
Down the right side, over the spar

One implication of going down the right side is getting the hoses all the way to the back. This required me to drill out the right baggage and rear seat pans to re-gain access.. Probably took 1.5 hours to get that all done.. Stinks to have to do this after it was all closed up, but such are decisions to add AC later in the game.

I’ve settled on running the hoses as shown below. The red line depicts the hose that goes from the compressor to the evaporator. The green line depicts the hose from the compressor to the condenser on the belly. For that one, I’ve decided to go across the rear seat front where the hose will be hidden by the flap tube cover, then go into the bay under the rear seat closest to the tunnel, and pop through the rib where the connection comes up from the condenser. I will be adding access panels to the baggage and seat pans to allow access in the future.

I also have received a curved bar for my engine mount to accommodate the Barrett Cold Air Induction sump. Its pictured below in place of the straight bar it will replace. This will provide some additional clearance needed for that sump. I’ve found a local welder to cut the existing bar out and replace with this curved bar. I’ll be picking that up from him in the next day or so, as it is all done and ready.

My ugly mug taking a pic of the battery area to see how good I’ve scraped the primer off of the metal where a battery ground cable will be locally connected to the structure.. 🙂

I then used the crimper to crimp the 2 AC hoses at the firewall connections and tightened them up.

Both AC hoses crimped and in place

A separate package arrived a few days later containing the shelf for the evaporator along with the scoop and condenser unit for the belly of the plane.

Condenser scoop
Evaporator shelf (still to be trimmed)

Part of the choice to use the Barrett Cold Air induction sump, involves using a different cowling from Show Planes. It recently arrived and is stored away for early next year after my engine arrives.

After as much up-front planning as I could do, I was ready to rivet the upper forward fuselage in place permanently. Sometimes you just have to get some of these steps done and move on to allow me to continue to make progress. This might mean that I need to be upside down a little bit more as I finish some things up front, but so be it. My wife, along with a friend both helped me rivet the upper forward fuse in place. It was definitely a 2 person job with one person using the rivet gun and the other manning the bucking bar. Below is a pic of my helper today after finishing up getting the riveting done.

I then continued on to install the center support bar. Prior to doing so, I cut out the center support piece in the overhead switch pod. This isn’t really needed as my switch pod is bonded in and built up all around the perimeter holding it in place. This will allow better access for the nuts as well as the electrical switches etc.. that are planned for up there. It only took 10-15 minutes to get that cut done.

The culmination of the day was bolting the center support bar, which I’ve painted black, into place so I can finish up the fiberglass and interior painting prior to moving to installing the windows and putting the plane up on the gear.

Center support bar in place!

Jumping around

I’ve been knocking off lots of tasks here there and everywhere lately. I got the defrost fans and their plates installed. Below are views from the top and bottom side.

While waiting for some additional firewall items to arrive, I started pulling some #2 fat wire, 1 for each battery from the tailcone to the firewall. I fished the wire through the previously installed conduit

Wires poking out in the rear seat area.

A bunch of work getting Adel clamps, drilling holes for bushings and routing the wires down the left side of the plane.

Adel clamp down inside the side wall below flap tube

I added some Adel clamps around the 2 larger lighting holes with some caterpillar grommet around the holes for extra protection. The wires end up away from the edges of the holes, but I want to be sure these runs are solid.

Adel clamps around 2 large lightning holes
Making their way forward.

I also took the time to install the spring and collars on the brake cylinders. I’ve heard that if the rudder assembly isn’t 100% square, that some binding can take place and cause the brakes to stay slightly engaged. These will help ensure that they always return all the way out ones your feet are off the brakes.

Springs and collars on Brake cylinders

I then got to modifying the stock battery box. It needed some slight modifications to support two batteries. I decided to see if I could bend the sides downward to gain more space left and right. It seemed to work, and was a pretty close fit in the end. I’m glad I went this route, rather than cutting the sides off.

Left and right sides bent flat.
Battery length seems to be almost perfect

I then used some angle stock to retain the battery on the left and right. I also added an angle on the forward side to eat up an approx 1/4″ gap. Another angle was used on the left side below the whole assembly to house the battery contactors. You can see the holes for AN4 nut plates ready to go.

Angles all in place holding batteries tight
Installation all done with contactors installed.

I then installed a ELT/Strobe bracket between the J-channels of the tailcone that I had on hand from Van’s to house a couple of fuse blocks. These will be the main and aux battery bus hubs for all things related to my EFII installation.

Battery Bus fuse blocks installed.

Then it was time to go back and work on mounting the firewall related items. I’m doing all of this prior to installing insulation of the engine side of the firewall. I want to have as many of the passthroughs and holes/nutplates setup as possible before I do this. I mounted the cross-feed contactor in the stock location for the starter solenoid, and mounted the starter solenoid just above and to the right of it.

X-feed contactor and starter solenoid

I also go the ground block (forrest of tabs) installed. This is a kit that has 24 grounds on the engine side and 48 grounds on the cabin side of the firewall. This will be the central point of all grounds.

I’m now working on Installing a couple of ANL bases between the alternators and the main/aux busses on the firewall. I’ve also ordered the AntiSplat aero Air/Oil separator and will be locating that on the firewall too. My air conditioning unit should be shipping soon so I’ll likely hold off a bit longer to drill holes for the 2 hoses that have to pass through the firewall too. Once I get to a point where I’m mostly comfortable with the firewall the path forward will be as follows:

  1. Install upper forward fuse permanently.
  2. Finish installing what I can of the Skybolt flanges.
  3. Install firewall insulation.
  4. Install support bar in center of windscreen area.
  5. Finish fiberglass area around support bar.
  6. Paint remaining areas of fiberglass around support bar and lower door area.
  7. Install windows
  8. Plane up on gear!!!

I hope to have all of this done before I have my engine in April/May timeframe.

Initial Panel Rendering

After a bunch of back and forth with Aerotronics, we have a first pass rendering of the instrument panel. They have been absolutely great to work with thus far.

The highlights:

  • Triple Garmin 3GX touch screens
  • GTN650 IFR Navigator
  • Dual GSU25 ADAHRS
  • G5 Backup Attitude Indicator
  • GMC507 Autopilot Head
  • GMA245 Audio Panel
  • GEA24 EIS (Engine monitoring)
  • GTR20 Remote COM (COM2)
  • GTX45 Remote Transponder
  • SDS EFII Controller
  • Mountain High EDS-4ip 4 place oxygen controller.
  • GDL-51R Remote Sirius XM receiver

Odds and ends

Now that the doors are painted, it was time to put them back together, including the handles and associated racks.. I pulled out the safety wire and finalized the connection between this rod from the Planearound kit to the middle rack assembly. First was to safety wire around the body of the rod leaving plenty of length to the ends to pull through the door and the access hole in the door.

I fished the safety wire up through the hole with the help of needle nose pliers.

Then the wire is passed through the hole on the plane around pin that secures the rod to the rack (inside the door)

Pulling the ends of the wire causes the pin to slide downward and into the hole.

Pin pushed into the holes connecting the rod and rack.

Final step is to twist the wire, snip, and tuck the end into the inside of the door ensuring that it doesn’t snag up on anything while operating the hinges.

I then cut and sanded the Aerosport carbon fiber door sil covers. Reason for doing this now is I need to place the Planearound Cam blocks on the sil, and this will add a small amount of height. I also wanted to drill through this while match drilling the block to the door sil. As you may see below, I had to also cut out a notch from the micro that I had previously applied to get the cam block to sit completely on the sil and provide enough edge distance.

Door Sil Cap
A view of sil cap from across the plane

With that done, it allowed me to place the cam block on the sil, drill, and setup the cam location.

Cam and Cam Block on the left door.

I also spent some time cutting 3″ holes in the upper forward fuselage for defrost fans/avionics cooling.

Not that I didn’t know it was coming, but I’m quickly realizing that I’m moving into the expensive part of the build. Some recent goodies that showed up are the Mountain high 4ip oxygen system and my Aerosport 310 Instrument panel!

Instrument panel, side panels, and center console test fit.

I also placed a deposit on my engine build planned for April of 2021. Still hoping to go to Aerosport Power in Kamloops, BC Canada in April to build my engine with a tech for 3 days with their build school, but we shall see. Border is still closed with no opening in sight. I also ordered an Airflow systems Air Conditioning system to install as well. It will add some time and expense, but it’ll be worth it hauling the family around in the summer months and taking the edge off.

I then got to installing the engine mount by match drilling the holes and placing bolts in place as I went. One word of advise I saw from others was to start at the lower center holes and work upwards. This goes against the plans stating start at the top hole. The mount needed to be pulled outward a bit to match the center of the pre-drilled smaller holes in the firewall. All of the bottom holes aligned well from the start and allowed less stretching of the mount outward to get the hole drilled.

Engine mount temporarily mounted

With the engine mount in place, I set out to start working on the sky bolt 1/4 turn fastener install. Really just the flanges for now. The rest will come when I am fitting the cowl after the engine is hung. I chose to install the Skybolts around the entire perimeter of the Firewall. I’ll keep the hinge and pin for the top/bottom cowl split. I played around with placement of the flanges keeping in mind to avoid any interference with the engine mount and the sky bolt receptacle.

Avoiding interference with the engine mount sets the starting position at the top of the firewall