More Cabin Top, Overhead prep, and Start of the Dreaded Doors

A little more cabin top work in locating the center of the top to align the center support bar. I drew 2 lines at the recess for the door hinges, extended them to the front of the top,  and then measured the center point between those 2 lines to find it. That method seemed to work well.

Center support bar in place.

One thing of note is that section 44 (Wing attachment) is the last section of the Fuselage section. I will be skipping this for now as it’s mostly working on the fairings that go between the wings and the fuselage as well as tank vent lines etc… Seeing my wings are in the basement still, and I’m not sure I have a ton of room to do this in my garage anyways, I’ll likely skip until I get to the airport and have the wings permanently on the plane.

So now some bouncing around in the plans, as well as off plans, will start to happen. I turned my attention to prepping the overhead console as much as I can. This involved match drilling holes in the joggles for the metal covers plates, drilling, countersinking, and installing nutplates.

Then onto cutting out holes for the overhead air vents. A little geometry to find the center of the circle to start cutting a hole. I originally attacked this by trying to drill a hole in the exact center and using a unibit to cut the hole. I have one that is pretty big and just shy of the size I needed. I figured I’d finish up with a little sanding/filing to get it right. In the end, once I went above a 3/4″ hole, it started getting off center for whatever reason. So I found it was best to just lay the retaining nut for the vent on the circle eyeballing it for center and marking the inner edge for the cut. Then drilling a large enough hole to get my jigsaw blade in there to finish it up. Worked out well. Maybe not 100% centered perfectly, but not too bad.

Geometry to find center of circle
Initial hole drilled. Looks good. 
All nutplates are complete
Overhead air vents in place.
An example of one of the holes cut out for the air vent.

That’s about what I can do with the overhead console for now. From what I’ve read on others blogs, it’s best to have the doors rough fit prior to attaching the overhead, so I’m bouncing onto starting that section.

The RV-10 doors are basically fiberglass shells (inner and outer) that the builder has to bond together. The first steps of getting the doors going and initially fit to the cabin top involves marking a bunch of lines for both trimming and eventually holding the doors together during the bonding process.

Marking Window Joggle lines
Marking the outer trim lines.

The easiest way I’ve seen to make these marks is by using a popsicle stick with holes drilled through at the various dimensions called out in the plans. This way you can insert your fine point sharpie through the hole and trace a line that is that distance away from the reference point, which is usually a joggle or raised structure easy to slide the stick along.

Tool for marking trim lines
Trimming and making dust (while making sure not to breathe it in)
Window area initial trim.

And finally marking along the 1-1/4″ line about every 1.5″ and drilling a #40 hole.

I’ve now started working on the outer door shells and will be soon starting the initial fit to the cabin top.

Looking more and more like an Airplane!

Marking the scribe lines on the cabin top is one of the first things on the agenda when starting the cabin top. There are also a couple of flanges that are measured and marked to 3/4″. All of this to get a line to rough trim to.

I decided to use a jig saw with a Perma-Grit Carbide blade. It works really well and doesn’t leave too much dust flying around.

Tailcone flange 3/4″ 

More scribe lines around the windscreen and door areas
Jig saw really worked well!
Fiberglass trimmings. 

Shown are the trimmings from around the perimeters of the doors, along the mid fuse skins, the tailcone top forward skin, the windscreen, and around the rear windows.

These scribe lines are not very accurate and then begins arduous task of sanding the sides of the door openings to get the cabin top to fit between the structure. Lots and lots of sanding. Little by little, I was able to lower the cabin top down into the fuselage structure. I also bought something that I saw Dr. Mark (also building an RV-10 down in TX) suggest. That something was a Kayak hoist to help lift the top on and off relatively easily. Seeing I work 95% on my own, this was highly needed. The top isn’t terribly heavy,  but it’s very big and awkward to handle on your own.

Lots more sanding to get past this point. 
Finally on!

Once the sides were sanded to make the top fit between the structure, it was then time to sand the bottom door edge. This is to both make sure it rests against the door frame decks relatively flush as well as to lower the front a bit to get the flange of the mid-side skin section to come down a bit. To keep things in plane, they suggest using lumber with sandpaper to straddle the entire structure as shown below. I grabbed a spare 2×4 lying around and used carpet tape to secure the 60 grit sandpaper.

Sanding both door bottoms at the same time. 

And after a few sessions of sanding and sanding again… The end result is something that looks very much like an airplane for the first time. As you can see here, I’ve also attached the top forward tailcone skin as it is used to match drill to the cabin top.

Right side view
Left side view

I then started to match drill the cabin top to the top forward fuselage skin.

First 25 holes done!
All match drilled

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.
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.

More Fuel lines and Rudder wrap up

Back to the fuel lines and getting those wrapped up. The hose package from Tom really makes this section easy. It’s mostly just hooking up the hoses between fittings and torquing them properly.

Below are the short supply (bottom chambers of the fuel valve) and return lines between the Andair valve and the tunnel bulkhead fittings. These must go downward and aft as the slots in the tunnel there are for the control sticks between the front seats.

Here you can see the return line passing by the fuel pump/filter module and connecting to the Andair valve right by the “F” marked on metal support bracket.

A similar shot as above where you can see the return line attaching to the firewall fitting.

With that done, there are 2 custom hose lengths that need to be figured out. As the filter/pump module might not be placed exactly the same between any 2 people. The 2 custom hoses are from the Andair valve to the input of the pre-filter and from the output of the post-filter to the firewall fitting. The latter being the easy one. The one from the valve to the pre-filter is very tight. The hose is pretty rigid for such a short run and doesn’t have a good bend radius as a result. Below you can see me trying to figure out the hose length needed using some extra hose Tom sent to measure  with.

Fitting and hose attached to Andair valve and marking where the fitting to the pre-filter is located


Cut the hose to length and put second mock fitting on that end.

As you can see it’s a very close fit and I’ll need to discuss with Tom what the best thing to do here is. I almost suspect a hard line might need to be made for this short run. Hes on vacation and I didn’t want to bother him, so I’ll get that figured out over the next week or so. I might be able to move the pump/filter module forward a little bit in order to get some more room between the two. The below pic shows the mock up of the supply line  (the right-most line) from the post-filter to the firewall fitting. Much more room to work with here. Of course there’s still a little tiding up to do here with mounting adel clamps to the tunnel bulkhead for additional support of the lines.

The next dilemma was to figure out how to route my return line under the seats and more specifically where to drill a 2nd hole in the side skins for its exit to the wing tanks. I went with the brake lines in the middle tunnel fitting and fuel lines on the outside. The supply goes on the forward (right as shown here) fitting per plans, and the return goes in the aft location (left as shown here). As you can see, the white gear weldment gets in the way of a straight shot out to the side skins. One must route the return line forward a little bit around the gear weldment, but also avoiding interference with the brake line. I can certainly see why some people chose to route the brake line in the aft location and the fuel lines in the middle and forward position. It was at this point that I solicited some opinions on VAF and also stepped back and looked at pictures of the area between the fuselage and the wing tanks to help guide my decision. Best to step back and do some research prior to drilling holes in the side of the plane willy nilly.

Two proposed areas for a hole on the side skins marked by red circles. 

The following picture I stole from another builder. It depicts the area in question. On top, is the side skin of the fuselage. Forward is on the left. Bottom is the fuel tank. Here you can see the hard fuel supply line coming out of the stock hole in the fuselage at the top, bending right and downward into the tank fitting. The red arrow indicates the approximate position of my return fitting on the tank. It’s just forward of the tank vent which has a red cap or tape on it in this picture just to the right of the arrow. One thing that I noticed is that if I were to drill a hole in the most-forward position indicated on the picture above, I might interfere with the aileron control rod or interfere with the tank attach bracket (the medal piece all the way to the left in the picture.) So I decided to keep it close to the supply line in a very similar spot as this builder did. His return line is the blue 90* AN fitting just above and behind the supply line.

fuel return

This is what I ended up with. I won’t really know for sure how well the hose with a 90* end will work until much later on in the build. At least not until I test fit my wings.

Then it was securing the lines to the system control brackets. This required a little dremmeling to open them up a bit more to accommodate the larger diameter lines. The return line passes under the brake line on its way out. There is a little air gap between them, but I’ll probably wrap some spiral separator on one of them to avoid any rubbing via vibration.

So while waiting for Tom to get back from vacation and help with the custom hose lenghts for the 2 hoses remaining, I went back and finished up the rudder section of the plans. This section is also pretty easy. Just a matter of bolting the pedal assembly in place and routing the lines.

The final part of this section is to run the rudder cables and connect them up to the rudder assembly.

Cable ends that’ll connect to the rudder itself
Adel clamps in tail holding the plastic sleeves in place
Cable routing through tailcone
Cable routing through tunnel in fuselage

Rudder cable attached to rudder

Now it’s on to section 39, the control system.  Control sticks and pushrods will be installed in this section.


Fuel System, Rudder Pedals, Goodies

I needed to decide on whether to put the pre-filters for the fuel lines under my seats or in the tunnel. Tom at TS Flight Lines had suggested 2 methods. Either a single pre-filter and post-filter mounted above the fuel pump module, or have 2 pre-filters one for each supply line under my seats. In either case, the post-filter would be in the tunnel. Advantages of under the seats are that less room in the already tight tunnel would be taken up. Some also may argue ease of maintenance, although I’m not 100% sold on that. The cons are that attaching the pre-filters to the tunnel bulkhead fittings as Tom leaned towards (which allows for a single hose assembly from the fuel tanks to the pre-filters) was causing lots of extra work. The pre-filter in that location interfered with the systems bracket that holds the lines in place off the bottom skins. I was going to have to cut that partially out to make room for the filter and also adjust the top part of the bracket too to fasten to the modified lower half of the bracket.

Advantages to filters in the tunnel are: there is only 1 pre filter module (less cost) and less modifications, saving time. The main downside is that it takes up more room in the tunnel.

Below are pictures of the 2 methods:

Method 1: Under the seats
Method 2: In the tunnel as part of the pump module assembly (Adel clamps to hold it together are missing here)

I ended up going with method 2. With this method, the pump module will actually be installed backwards in the sense that fuel flow will be going forward to aft (or top to bottom as shown in the picture above as the firewall would be towards the top of the picture). The idea here is a hose will connect the valve selector to the pre-filter on the left. Flow through the pump module and into the post-filter on the right. Then a hose will connect from the output of the post-filter to the firewall fitting to the engine. I liked the idea of a self contained unit, which required less hacking of the existing structure to make it work, and seeing I made the aluminum plate that the pump module sits on removable with 6 screws, maintenance should be as easy as removing 2 hoses (in and out) from the filters, unscrew the plate, and remove the whole assembly to work on it on a bench.

I then ordered my fuel line hoses after making that choice. In the interim, I started working on the rudder pedal section of the plans.

I prepped, primed, painted, and riveted the pedal assemblies, then attached them to the powder coated arms that span the width of the airplane.

I then attached the master brake cylinders to each pedal and inserted the fittings into the cylinders. Note a few are missing here in this picture. One of the pitfalls of going off plans. Seeing I’m using the flexible lines, I didn’t have enough AN822-4D fittings for all the holes, as Van’s provides some brass fittings which are intended for their way of doing the lines. Seems every time I turn around I need to order something new from Aircraft Spruce… Guess I’ll keep them in business.

Rudder pedal assembly in place temporarily

Some time away from the shop on a long weekend away in Kansas, and a bunch of items came in. My fuel lines, and a bunch of stuff from Aerosport including rudder pedal extensions, throttle quadrant, carbon fiber center console, and a NACA vent controller for controlling air to the overhead console vents.

Fuel lines! (all except 2 which I need to measure for)
NACA vent controller (bottom), Throttle quadrant, and rudder pedal extensions
Center console in approx location.

Fuel selector placed in approx location between the seats

So for now it’ll be back to finishing up the fuel system before completing the rudder pedal section.

Fuel SystemUpdate

More progress being made on getting the fuel system components in place so I can measure hose lengths that I’ll need. Andair Fuel selector is now mounted in place.

With that done, I then moved on to fabricating two 11″ long angles to mount the fuel pump module on along with a piece of aluminum sheet cut to span the angles.

Looking down the tunnel at angles added
Sheet cut to size
Fuel pump in place

Then while waiting for parts to dry from priming, I went ahead and put a new hole in the firewall for the return fuel line. It’s a mirror image of the hole for the fuel supply. I marked the location based on the existing hole and then marked an “X” to drill from the approx. center. Happy with the results.

Then I riveted nut plates onto the angles to accept six #8 screws, clekoed them in place, and screwed the sheet onto them.

Then I drilled holes to bolt the fuel pump module onto the plate. Below is the final result and a view through Airward access panel in the tunnel sidewall. 

I’m going to keep the angles cleko’ed for now until I get the fuel line hoses installed to make sure no adjustments need to be made.

Brake Lines Complete for now

Since the last post, I’ve finished the brake line section of the plans.

I modified the brake line locations coming off of the parking valve. I had originally put both through an existing hole in the rudder pedal brace with a grommet, but it was very tight due to the firewall recess blocking about 1/4 of the hole. I was concerned with vibration causing the lines to rub together and possibly rubbing on the firewall recess. So I decided to drill 2 additional holes to support each line separately.


I then installed the remaining brake lines that run from the bottom skins near the gear leg to the tunnel bulkhead where they will attach to the lines that run to the parking valve. I also had to enlarge the system support brackets to accommodate the larger flexible lines as compared to the hard lines per plans.

Brake line under left seat
Brake line under right seat

That wraps up the brake line section until we get to section 38 and work on the rudder pedals. Now it’s onto Section 37.

Seeing I’m doing an SDS EFII fuel system and also using the flexible stainless braided telethon fuel lines, I’m not going to be following much of this section per plans. Instead I’ll be working on some things off script. One thing I need to do is to modify the fuel valve mount to work with the Andair fuel valve as the stock one isn’t correct. I started by cutting the stock bracket off, but leaving the riveted part of the bracket attached to the tunnel bulkhead with a bit of a flange for attaching my own bracket to.

I then started to fabricate my own custom bracket for the Andair valve. This will sit on top of the cut off brackets that remain on the tunnel walls and I’ll rivet the two together.

Finished product

In order to cut the center hole of that custom bracket, the current biggest unitbit I had was just shy of being able to support the diameter of the Andair valve. So I had and excuse to buy a new tool. A massive unibit!

New tool on left, previous biggest unibit I had which maxes out at 1 3/8″
This puts the size in perspective. Attached to my cordless drill.

Brake line progress

I’ve finished cutting up both forward tunnel sidewalls for AirWard access panels to allow for easier access later to the fuel pump and filter area.

I’ve managed to get the parking brake installed and start running the lines.

Parking brake bracket
Valve attached to bracket
Lines hooked up

View down the tunnel

I haven’t secured the back portions of the lines yet as I have some work to do with mounting the fuel pump coming up soon and I’ll just have to move them out of the way. I’ll tidy them up later.

Access Panel and Misc Update

Since the last update, I’ve completed the access panel section. I’ve also started the brake section, which required a little research on best methods to torque fittings etc.. In the meantime I’ve started to tackle a couple of other miscellaneous items. I cut 2 NACA vents in the rear side skins to accomodate fresh air to the overhead console. I’ve also started to install Airward access covers for the sides of the tunnel to make it easier to access/inspect the fuel pump and filter there.

I’ve also started working a little closer with TS Flightlines to get going on my fuel line configuration using the SDS EFII system.

All tunnel access panels in place.

NAVA vent template
All cut on the right side