Aerosport Interior Panels

Couple of small things to finalize about the gear installation prior to moving on to getting the interior panels trimmed.

First was to tackle the hardest bolt in the airplane to install. The bolt that holds down the nose gear donuts. This thing requires a lot of compression to even get the bolt hole to line up. Luckily, I have a tractor. So I strapped the engine mount to my bucket and let the hydraulics do the work. Even still, the bolt was stubborn. I feel for others who have said they’ve had family members hanging off the engine mount while someone pushed the tail upwards while trying to muscle that bolt in place.

Tractor comes in handy!
Hardest bolt installed!

I then got the plane repositioned in my garage. It’s now kiddie cornered across 2 stalls so I have room for the engine to be mounted and still move around it.

I also got the brake lines installed and taped to the gear legs.

Brake lines taped

While I’m waiting for my engine to arrive, I’m knocking off misc items still to do on my list.

I started getting the interior side panels trimmed to be able to paint them. I started with the rear panels as they don’t require too much trimming. I did have some adjustments to do as I did build up the door areas a little more than stock, but the trimming wasn’t too bad.

Left rear and baggage door panels
Right rear panels

There are 4-5 screws that need to be located and nut plates added to hold the panels in place.

Then it was time to tackle the front panels. These require a bit more trimming, especially around the front door frame where I built things out a bit more with micro.

Front left panel in place

One trick I saw used was to use a compass scribe a line matching the contour of the area around the door frame. Trimming to that line, gives a good fit. This marking and trimming around the frame was done progressively until everything fit well. Taking a little off at a time is key here.

I then placed the instrument panel in place to make additional trims around the air vent area until it all fit well.

This process was repeated for the right side. I do have AC hoses routed down the right side, so I additionally had to trim the front of the panel to alleviate interference as the hoses leave the firewall and start their journey down the right side. I can now paint these when I have some time..

Landing Gear

It took some time to wrap my brain around how the Matco brakes go together. There are instructions, but anytime you are trying to go off plans it requires reading multiple things and trying to figure out what needs to be done. Luckily there are several others that have gone before me and documented what they have done, which was extremely helpful. Once I got the basic configuration onto the wheel pant fairing bracket, I marked where the AN fitting for the brake line will be. Due to clearance issues, this area will need to be cut out and reinforced with .125″ material. Additionally the caliper needed some additional clearance, which is marked in the pic below.

Marking the cutout for the AN fitting

I then got to putting the wheels together with the tires and the tubes. This was fairly easy to do.

Main gear

I cut some spare .125″ material to fit in the area cut out for clearance and riveted it in place.

Creating clearance for AN fitting.
All 3 tires and tubes are assembled and inflated

I then enlisted the help of several family and friends for the big lift… I needed to get the plane up on a table so I could get working on the gear. The plane was a lot heavier than I expected and it took one person on either side of the plane lifting from the 2×4 inserted through the wing spar, one person at the firewall, one person on the tail and one person sliding the table underneath… So a total of 5 people to get the job done. The plane is probably 400-500 lbs, but just awkwardly nose heavy.

Up on a table and supporting the tail.

I then got the gear legs inserted, which was kind of a PITA.. I greased them with Aeroshell 22 Wheel bearing grease and hit them a bunch with a rubber mallet to get them into place. I used an angled pair of tweezers to align the holes as perfectly as I could.. Once that was done, I drilled with a 9.5mm reamer to drill a perfect hole its final size.

Getting the holes perfectly aligned
Gear bolted in place
A other angle of the bolt
View of the gear leg.

I then assembled the gear fairing and associated brake parts per plans with the addition of jack points.

Brake assembly on the gear leg. Note axle bolt is backwards here..
Brake disc in place. Ready for wheel.
Completed left side wheel

I bought this tool which I saw Dr. Mark used and suggest on his build site. It’s a very handy tool for packing your wheel bearings with grease.

Packing the wheel bearings.
Left side complete.

I decided to drill an extra hole for the cotter pin on the axle nut as opposed to obliging it out per the instructions. This worked out well

While up on the table, I got the engine mount I had previously installed, but had taken off for modifications, back installed again in prep for installing the nose gear.

Right side complete!

I prepped the nose fork and drilled the required holes for the after marked Matco axle.

Just about there!

The nose gear assembly uses 4 rubber donuts for shock absorption. Theses were put in place and bolted on as the final step to getting it on the gear.

I was then able to roll it outside and get some pics of the plane on it’s own feet.. minus the table at the back holding the tail up. Until my engine is installed, I need to protect against the tail falling down.

I needed to clean up and re-arrange the workshop.. This thing barely fits in the single stall. I will be turning it sideways soon effectively taking up 2 stalls for the duration.

Finally, a picture to put the size of this thing into perspective!

A major milestone completed!!!

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