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
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!

Upper Forward Fuselage, Rear seat backs complete; Plus a project visit.

Once I temporarily installed the upper forward fuselage, it was on to drilling the piano hinges around the perimeter of the firewall for the cowling. Based on what I’ve read on lots of other builders sites is that the bottom-most piano hinge should be swapped out for either an extruded kind, or just use a piece of .063″ sheet cut to the same length as the plans and the width to match the width of the piano hinge. I had plenty of sheet stock to do this, so I chose that method. Later when the cowling is attached, this sheet stock will have nut plates added for screws to attach the cowling with. I’m also thinking about whether or not I want to do Cam Locks for at least to top part of the cowling along the firewall line. I’ve heard that the piano hinges are sort of a pain and it will be the half of the cowling that gets taken on and off quite a bunch. I’m certainly leaning that way and didn’t rivet on the piano hinges for those just yet for that reason. I’m okay with the screws on the bottom and the piano hinges along the sides for the bottom cowl half.

Clamping the piano hinge along the top curve.

drilled and cleo’ed in place

Side piano hinge

Lower hinge replaced with a piece of aluminum

With that done, it was time to work on section 42. The rear seat back frames. Going through my phone, I didn’t take any pics as I went though this process. Just the end result which I finished tonight with some riveting and cutting the hinge pins in half and bending them.

Closeup of the hinge pin halves with a 90 degree bend, inserted from the center of the hinge

We have rear seat backs!!

So that leaves us at the next of several daunting tasks.. Fiberglass hell, or did I say “Fun”?? Cabin top starts tomorrow.

I did receive in my overhead console and switch pod from Aerosport Product last week that will go along the entire length of the cabin top in the center. This will house 4 air vents, and lighting. I haven’t 100% decided on what is going in the switch pod yet, but likely either rheostats for environmental controls, or lighting switches (nav/strobes, taxi, landing, cabin, etc…) . Once this is mounted to the plane, it will really start looking like an airplane.

Today was also a fun day for me because a fellow VAF follower had reached out to see about coming over to visit the project. I do like to show it off and talk about it and who knows, maybe get someone else into taking up this hobby. We spent about an hour looking over the plane and all the pieces and then got to work on a spare toolbox practice project I had lying around. A few hours later it was completed. I think my guest got an appreciation for what the actual build process with metal work is like. It certainly seemed to me like he was a natural and picked it all up very quickly. It’s my way to try to give back as much as I can.

Fuel System 100%, Control System, and Flap Motor Complete

I’ve spent the time since the last update jumping around three or four different sections of the plans. These sections really have been a lot of fun as they are all systems related, and seem to go pretty quickly.

The first part of the control systems section has you fabricate push rods for the elevator. Below are some pics of that process.

Template for drilling holes

Threaded end cap for rod end bearing.

 

Push rod connected to Idler arm

Then it was on to putting the control sticks and the control columns into place

White control column in place

Setting up the drill press to drill the hole that’ll secure the control sticks to their bases. Making sure everything is planar.

Control Sticks in!!!

I’ve left the bolts for securing the sticks loose for now, as I’ll likely be taking them out for awhile. Also there may be a need to cut them down later so they don’t hit the avionics panel through their full motion. This will somewhat depend on my grip and panel selections coming later.

Then it was on to locking the elevator bellcrank to the neutral position with a jig made up back in the empenage attach section. This is done along with a control column jig to center the control sticks.

Elevator bellcrank neutral

Measuring jig

The bolt in the measuring jig is passed through the elevator pushrod bearing end and needs to touch the spar wall, which it did. If not, I would have had to adjust the length of my elevator pushrods a bit to get things to neutral.

Then I moved onto the flap motor section. I decided to use an aftermarket flap motor from PH Aviation Services. The two big advantages to doing this are 1) The unit has positive stops at each end of the motors range. This provides the ability to get rid of the safety wire needed on the stock unit that just continuously runs when power is applied. it also allows you to use a flap switch on the panel that can be moved to the up position and left there as opposed to a momentary-type switch. and 2) It has an integrated position sensor built in. No need for external flap position sensors that seem to need continual adjustment/care.

The only downside is it is about 1.5″ longer than stock and does require some modifications, which I ended up spending way more time than needed and went back and redid a couple of things as I wasn’t entirely happy with how the first round came out. I basically had to use some 1″ x 1″ angle stock and also fabricate up some brackets out of .063″ aluminum stock to move the motor forward more to make up for its extra length.

Assembling the flap crank and torque tube

Flap motor installed!

New (left) bracket fabricated for the flap motor.

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Closeup of the slot cut into the existing structure to accommodate the custom mounting angle

 

Below are some videos of the flap motor running through a complete cycle and what the torque tube is doing as a result. In the end, this will control the raising and lowering of the flaps.

 

I was also able to get the final custom fuel line back from Tom, and finish up installing everything including adding some angle and Adel clamps along the tunnel sidewalls to secure the lines up nicely.

New short custom line for the supply line to the pre-filter.

All Done!

One item I snuck in while waiting on other things, was to add the rear NACA vent SCAT tubes and vent controller which will ultimately blow air into the overhead console vents.

Adding 2″ bulkhead flanges to the rear bulkhead

NACA butterfly vent controller

Then it was on to the Upper Forward Firewall section. Some pis that show this temporarily installed with Clecos.