FWF Done!

Wow.. What a ton of work! I’ve now completed all the Firewall Forward plumbing and wiring. The only thing left to do is to put spark plug ends on the wires and maybe tidy up a couple of wires, but outside of that.. I’m done. I also took a little extra time to revisit my baffle material seeing I wasn’t completely happy with it the first time. I changed the left, right, and aft material so each was one contiguous piece of material. Previously they were broken into 3 pieces. The aft part had some puckering that I didn’t like as well, so was addressed with this update.

The next couple of pics are from the front.

The right side of the engine.

Boy does it really get busy in the space between the firewall and the engine. Especially when you have 2 coil packs for the spark plugs.

The left side of the engine.

Again busy busy.. It really took so much time not only to wire things, but to come up with reasonable routes and securing things.

Now its back to finishing the inside wiring and getting my panel powered up!

FWF wiring never ends

Mostly been focused on FWF wiring. There are lots of connections to be made and properly securing the wires seems to take considerable time. Fabricating brackets.. etc..

Below you can see the metal L brackets I made along with a short straight metal piece to secure the #2 starter cable to the oil sump. The straight metal piece allowed me to mount the adel clamp for the #2 wire inwards, sort of on top of the sump. The adel clamps down lower allow for the lower voltage signal wires, mainly CHT and EGT, but also throttle position sensor wires to be secured.

Left side brackets

I also secured the AC hoses FWF along with putting the ends on the compressor side of the hoses. I secured the hoses to the forward-most intake tube, a plate secured to the left side of the cold air sump.

Left side AC hoses

The hoses connected to the FW and secured (although not in sight) to another metal bracket attached to the bottom of the cold air sump. I may also secure them to the engine mount in the middle of the run shown below.

Right side AC hoses
AC hoses ready to be connected to the compressor

CHT probes were screwed into their locations in each cylinder. I then got to locating the EGT probes making sure they have clearance seeing they stick straight out of the exhaust pipe. I targeted 2 1/4″ down from the flange. I was able to locate 2 of the 3 on the inside of the pipes and #2 needed to be pointed outside due to the angle of the pipe and the heat muff being on this pipe giving few other options.

Drilling a hole for the EGT probe
Probe secured in place
Left 3 pipes have EGT probes installed.
Left side coming along

I’ve run spark plug wires to their destinations. The left coil pack services the top set of plugs and the right coil pack services the bottom plugs on each cylinder.

Top Right spark plug wires routed.
Top Left Spark plug wires routed.

At this point the left side is just about complete. Still need to finish the spark plug wires and the Tanis wiring to each cylinder heat element. Time to work on the right side.

Left side nearing completion.

Below are some other pics of having a bung welded into the right side exhaust collector for the SDS O2 sensor installation spot. I had a local guy TIG weld this on for me.

O2 sensor bung.

I also split the forward tunnel cover into 2 pieces like most builders do with an Aerosport center armrest/console. I also mounted my bracket for the throttle and prop cables.

In unrelated news.. I received my Aveo Engineering Zip Tip wing tip light units. I ordered these at Oshkosh, so 6-8 weeks turned into 6 months wait time, but they are here and they look great!

Zip Tips!

FWF Wiring

Most of my time recently has been getting all the wiring for the Firewall forward needs out through my firewall passthroughs and in a position to hook up.

This has largely been things coming from the Garmin GEA-24 and the SDS EFII ECUs.

Pilots side wires needing connection
Co-Pilots side wires needing connection.

On the co-pilots side, the main bus feed was brought from the primary alternator through a 60A ANL to the fuse blocks on the right side of the subpanel.

The left (pilots) side is mostly the GEA-24 (on the left) which has wires for cylinder head temps, exhaust gas temps, and various fuel, oil, and manifold pressure sensors.

Along with the SDS ECU box which has connections to the manifold pressure sensors, Cylinder head temps, airflow temps, wideband O2 sensor for air fuel ratio measurements, and injector power and ground wiring.

Also Coil pack wiring. This thing needs a lot of connections.

Lots of Spaghetti on the left side still to be cleaned up.

And finally, an overview picture of the panel so far.

Getting there.. little by little..

Antennas, O2 Bottle Install, More AC work, and panel wiring

I decided to send my Mountain High bottle back to take the regulator off of the bottle (shown on the bottle below) so I could remote mount the regulator. That will give me the option to take the tank out and get it filled at a shop somewhere. I chose to copy Joe Keys’ installation and mount the bottle to the right side behind the baggage bulkhead. I used an ELT mount along with some angle and flat 1/8″ stock aluminum bar. The angles were mounted to the J stiffeners and I used one hole of the ELT mount for attaching the mounting brackets. It’s hard to see in the pictures, but I used 1/8″ flat aluminum bar between the bottle mounting bracket and the angle/ELT mount to Secure to extend as far as I needed to and attach to the structure.

In somewhat of a paranoid redundancy of my engine bus move, I decided to modify the fuse block to add a 2nd stud. The unit has a spot (both a hole and an indent in the plastic) for a 2nd stud.. it’s just not exposed. Below is a picture of the fuse block as it came to me.

I popped the top open and inserted a second stud and then drilled the plastic to expose the stud and be able to tighten down the nut. This will allow me to have the 2 separate feeds of the engine bus connect to different locations protecting against a nut coming loose or something breaking from removing power from the fuse block.

Fuse block modified for 2 studs.

I then moved on to more AC work. I got the skinnier return ducts from Bill and installed them. This moves the whole evaporator forward to give more clearance to the J stiffeners on the top.

Skinnier return ducts installed.

With those installed, I positioned the evaporator, and fabricated new forward brackets with an angle and some scrap metal, seeing it sat much higher than the bracket provided to me and they didn’t reach the shelf. This was a suggestion from Bill.

Fabricating new forward brackets

I spent some additional time routing the hoses to the evaporator unit with the service ports easily accessible by taking the lower baggage bulkhead off.

AC hose routing to evaporator
AC hose runs with service ports shown.
Hose to the dryer unit.

Then it was on to antennas.. More in the category of finishing electrical runs out to the tailcone. One of the things I had yet to finish was mounting the NAV antenna on top of the Vertical Stabilizer. I fabricated a doubler plate and drilled holes in the skins at an angle to accept the cat whiskers.

I sanded down a long wooden dowel to a point in order to insert nutplates up into the VS to hold the antenna puck in place. I’ve also seen people use a rod threaded for the 10-32 nutplate as well, but this worked okay too.

NAV antenna in place.

ELT antenna was next. A lot of builders try to mount this inside under the fiberglass. Some DAR’s, including the one I’m using, want to see this external to the airplane.. so I decided to just bite the bullet and put it just forward of the Vertical Stabilizer. I fabricated a doubler, riveted it to the skin, and mounted the antenna in place.

ELT antenna.

I also utilized another ELT mount on the left side to mount the diode with it’s heatsink and the Battery Bus relay. Shown just below and aft of the ELT.

Then it was lots of panel wiring. I first got the remote transponder mounted on the left side with some angles added front to back.

Remote Transponder mounted.

I mounted all the needed components not already on the avionics shelves to the sub panel shown below.

Subpanel components mounted.

I then put the metal panel frame and outer panel back in place and got the wiring harness re-attached to all the switches etc..

Panel wiring stats now!

A bunch of time was spent locating the fuse blocks and getting the basic power connections hooked up. Still lots to do, but this is a snapshot of where I am today. Left side, right side, and center of the panel.

Pilots side. Engine bus fuse block is here… mounted on top of the transponder.
Co-pilots side. Fuse blocks were the bulk of the work so far on this side.
Center part of panel. Not much going on here.. I did wire up my defrost fans..

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.

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

Overhead lighting

While waiting for epoxy to cure.. I spent some time on my overhead lighting plan. I am essentially copying what Ed Krantz came up with for an overhead lighting control circuit. It is car-like in operation. I plan for overhead white lights above the front and rear seats as well as in the baggage compartment. These overhead lights will be on a dimmer. I’ll have red map lights also dimmable. I plan to install footwell lights as well as panel/avionics lights also on dimmers. The door pins have magnets in them and I plan to use 4 proximity sensors (1 for each door pin; 2 per door). Not only will these be used to ensure that all 4 door pins are seated (causing a red LED to illuminate on the panel otherwise), but they will also be used in this lighting circuit. These proximity sensors basically act as a switch and will indicate when a door is opened. When opened, the overhead lights will come on full intensity, despite what they’ve been dimmed at, and stay on for a pre-determined time (somewhere around 15 minutes). Of course there will be an override button to disable this feature if you want/need to taxi with the doors open at night. I’ll also likely put an on/off switch on the circuit to be able to disable it during times where the doors may be open for long periods (i.e. annual condition inspection). I put together a quick video on my prototype of the circuit.

Electrical Architecture

As I’ve mentioned previously when putting a fuel return port into my gas tanks, I plan to go full EFII (Electronic fuel injection and ignition). That means I’ll have an electrically dependent airplane and, being such, demands quite a bit of attention to the electrical architecture to have redundancy to always keep the fan turning. Fortunately, there is a guy by the name of Bob Nuckolls over at the AeroElectric Connection who has written a book outlining basic electrical principles (most of which I already know being an EE), and provides multiple different time-proven architectures having worked in the industry for many years.

Early on, I had really settled on his Z-14 architecture, which is a dual battery, dual alternator, split (redundant) bus architecture. In-depth schematics are located across 2 pages here and here for those interested. This allows one to take approx half of the load and run it on one bus independent from the other. The idea would be to have the left glass panel, #1Nav/Com, and a handful of other goodies on one bus, and have the #2 Nav/Com, the right-most glass panel etc.. on the other bus. That way you should always be able to navigate, communicate, and get on the ground even under IMC conditions. Additionally, the EFII system is redundant too in the sense that there are 2 ECU modules, 2 fuel pumps, 2 ignition coils, etc… so each of those would be powered off of their respective redundant power busses such that you always have power to at least one of the redundant pair. The 2 busses also have the ability to crossfeed, meaning that if a failure occurs which takes out one bus, it’s possible to continue to use it by having the 2nd bus feed it. That feed won’t be at the same overall capacity as you are now on a single battery and alternator, but most stuff should be able to be used after doing some non-critical load shedding.

I’m getting close to pluming in my brake and fuel lines and systems so I’ve recently started researching more details into the architecture and also the SDS EFII solution I have chosen. First off, I’ve ordered the Andair duplex fuel selector that I’ll need to both select and returnĀ  fuel from one of the tanks.

Duplex fuel selector

I’ve also placed an order for my dual fuel pump module (shown below), filters, and pressure regulator.

Dual fuel pump

One thing that I have discovered is the fact that there is only one set of injectors into each engine cylinder for the fuel injection (i.e. not redundant), so there becomes a need to be able to power those devices from either battery. I was figuring that I was going to need to diode-Or the two battery busses together in order to accomplish that. Fortunately there was some really good discussion on VAF about this very topic and various architectures for an EFII setup. The end result was a slightly modified Z14 architecture that provides just that. I am currently planning on going with this as the architecture for my plane.

basic z14 arch
Z14 Electrical Architecture with addition of Diode-OR’ed Engine Bus

Credit for the diagram goes to Dan Horton.

Ignore the alternator amperages for now. I will need to work out my exact electrical loading and size everything appropriately.

Talking to the architecture diagram, you have 2 separate batteries that provide their respective battery busses. These feeds are directly off the battery. The battery busses are then joined together via switches and diodes to form an Engine bus. One could simply put the fuel injectors on this engine bus and keep all the other redundant engine components on their respective battery busses, but the point was made that once you have to have an engine bus, you might as well put all critical engine components on it. The switches would provide a way to isolate the engine bus from either side if something really bad happened on one of the sides that it was impacting the engine bus somehow.

The upper part of the diagram shows each battery feeding a a main and aux contactor (what your master switch typically turns on) powering a main and aux bus which all of the other electrical devices will sit on. There is the cross-feed (cross tie) contactor which allows one bus to drive the other, and each bus has its own alternator.

There will be no single point of failure that can cause the engine to shut off, if something happens, the goal of the architecture is to be able to keep flying while diagnosing and planning to get on the ground as soon as practical. Another benefit of this is if there were ever smoke in the cockpit, the first reaction will be to shut off the master switches. This is still the response here. The panel will go dark, but the engine will still run.

There is still lots of work to do on specifics, but I feel like I have a solid foundation to work from.