“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” – Earl Nightingale





Made New Starter Cable

Made New Starter Cable

May 29, 2020 – I didn’t like how my starter cable was routed, so I made a new one.

Here’s how I originally had it. Kind of hard to see but you are looking for the thick white cable with the red heat-shrink end on it.

The cable ran under the starter, with a lot of potential for rubbing.

I ran the new cable straight back behind the starter, then across to the right side. The cable I made could have been maybe and inch or so shorter, but I can live with the gentle bend it has now.

The pictures show the routing from the starter back around to the start contactor. None of the clamps are tight. They will be tightened later on.

I made a stainless steel bracket for the clamp in the third picture. This is front and center on the sump.

Time: 3:20

Pitch Autopilot Servo Bracket

Pitch Autopilot Servo Bracket

May 29, 2020 – I bought the pitch autopilot servo bracket due to the sheet metal work involved.

This work is pretty straight-forward. I don’t have the servo itself, so I trust that the instructions and my interpretation thereof are correct. After drilling it up, I primed the bracket. Not installed yet, but that will be a minor task.

Time: 2:00

Continued Prop and Spinner

Continued Prop and Spinner

May 29, 2020 – I addressed the issues surrounding the prop installation.

There were gaps between the spinner inner surfaces and the spinner back and front plates. This would show itself when I tightened the screws and the spinner would press in. This would cause cracking paint at the very least.

The drawings say to build up fiberglass at the mating surfaces inside the spinner. So I taped off the surfaces so I could get the spinner back off afterwards.

I slathered a resin mixture with flox inside the spinner cone at those locations and installed the spinner, tightening the screws to the point where they were tight but not pressing in.

After it was cured, I had some fun getting the spinner off, but it did come off. I sanded as much excess material out of there as I dared. It’s kind of ugly inside, but it worked. The gaps are filled.

After that, we pulled the prop back off so I could address the issues I found when we first installed the prop.

The ramp for the baffle on the right side was hitting the flywheel. I removed about 1/2″ from that leading edge.

I also turned the main alternator bolt around so the nut faces forward. I found out that with the bolt head facing forward, it couldn’t be pulled out all the way if I had to replace the alternator.

We reinstalled the prop.

I bought the Anti-Splat prop wrench to torque the prop.

After I torqued it all I safetied the prop. I used little pieces of nylon tubing to protect the parts of the flange where the safety wire would cross over.

Time: 5:20

Elevators and Rudder continued…

Elevators and Rudder continued…

May 29, 2020 – A simple plan has turned into trouble for me.


I installed the elevators and got ready to drill the control horns.

I clamped the tips in place and in line with the stabilizers.

The left horn is farther aft, so I piloted a hole in that one per the drawings.

I was happily drilling away using drill bushings and reamers. Didn’t pay attention that the hole is supposed to be 3/16″. I made nice 1/4″ holes.

The problem is that the elevators didn’t line up afterwards.

OK. So I took them back off and a friend at the airport welded the holes closed.

I cleaned them up and hung the elevators to do it again.

I’m a moron. I finished the holes with a reamer that is the equivalent of a #9 drill. Now the holes are sloppy, and still not perfectly lined up…

Time to walk away and do other things. I did order the same rod end that goes on the elevator control rod, but with a 1/4″ bore on it. If I can get these straight, I’ll use a -4 bolt instead.


I got a new internal rudder stop from Flyboys, since I over-adjusted the last one. This one came out much better.

Time: 7:35

Cowl Foil Prep

Cowl Foil Prep

May 29, 2020 – I started getting the cowls ready for foil.

I’m going to install Fiberfrax and foil to help protect the cowl from heat and oil. I ordered foil from Van’s and they are out of stock at the moment.

I coated the cowl interiors with resin, and painted them white.

Time: 2:00

Tail Fairing

Tail Fairing

May 29, 2020 – I’m finally satisfied with my tail fairing.

Here’s the original stock tail fairing with the “ears” that go down behind the horizontals. I’ve had a lot of trouble with this partially because I tore the left side and repaired it. (This is actually a picture from when I back-drilled holes into my new solution, but more on that later…)

There’s an RV-14 in my hangar that I walk by every day. I looked at the tail fairings on it, and I thought I’d try to reproduce them. I bought a 2×4 sheet of .025 T3 from Spruce, and a piece of poster board.

I used the fairings and the inspection panel as a unit, and roughly traced the outline onto the poster board.

I cut this out and tried to secure it in place on one side. As long as it was close…I knew I’d cut the aluminum large and final-fit.

I back-drilled the holes from the original metal lower fairing, and screwed the new piece in place. Then I put the fiberglass fairing over the top and back-drilled the remaining holes. That’s the first picture I showed you:

I also marked all the trim lines to have the edges all aligned and clean.

The inspection panels will be under the new fairing. If I need to remove one of these panels, I just remove the screws on the inspection panel and slide it out from under the fairing.

The last step was to joggle the fairing because the fairing does not sit flat against the fuselage skin. This is on the RV-14 fairing as well. I drew bend lines and put in gentle bends on a small brake in the hangar.

Once I did the left side I stopped for the day. I came back the next morning and did the right side. The first one took 3 hours; the next one only took about an hour to make.

The last thing I had to do was cut the “ears” off the fiberglass fairing. There’s a screw hole right in line with the trailing edge of the stabilizer, so I drew an angled line swept aft. That gives it a more sleek look.

Here’s the metal fairing in place (before final trimming). I’m really proud of this:

Time: 7:10

Another Step to the Dream…

In August 2019 I took another step on this journey. I finally started my PPL. Flying a Sundowner and a Sport out of Aerocountry (T31). UPDATE: I soloed on March 20, 2020!

Life Gets in the Way…

I lost my best riveter. My bride Lenora had been struggling with dementia since 2011.  On October 8, 2017, she passed away. She helped rivet most of my fuel tanks. One day, I just needed to shoot two rows to finish one tank. She quickly learned how to use the gun. After we finished those 12 or so rivets, I said that we were done, and she replied “You sure? There’s nothing else we can do?” So I gathered the parts for the other tank and we shot most of it over the next couple of days. I’ll just say she was “cautiously supportive” of the project, but she came out and helped when I needed an extra hand, and towards the end she just sat out in the garage with me.


UPDATE— Life continues… I met an amazing woman named Julie and married her on March 30, 2019. She is excited about this project; in fact her dad restored an airplane in his garage, and there’s a lot of aviation history in her family.








We made Google Earth!

April 29, 2016 was the day we drilled the wings in the driveway, and we were spied upon!

The Birth of an Airplane

November 26, 2009 – I’ve dreamed for a long time about building an airplane, and the RV family of airplanes has been at the top of my list. I got an opportunity to buy a tail kit from a friend at work. The deal was too good to pass up. Along with the kit I got some tooling: a c-frame dimpler, hand dimplers, clecos, that kind of thing.

I brought the tail kit home from work on Thanksgiving morning, 2009.

Some of the work was done on the tail kit. I found that pretty much all of the drilling and dimpling was done, so for the tail, it was a case of dry-assembling the sections, making sure everything was right, and then painting and riveting.



What’s an RV?

An RV-7 is a two-seat, all metal homebuilt aircraft. The kit is manufactured by Van’s Aircraft in Aurora, OR.

The airplane is available with either conventional (tailwheel) or tricycle (nosewheel) landing gear. That is a decision I will have to make later.

Depending on the engine that is installed, the RV-7 will economically cruise at 165+ mph, or will approach a top speed of roughly 200 mph, with a range of between 750-1000 miles.

You’re building this thing?

Sure. With a little training and familiarity with the required building techniques, anybody can build this airplane.

I’ll be building in the garage at home. Most of the airplane can be completed there, until the wings are ready to be attached. At that point, the airplane will need to be transported to an airport, since the wingspan is about 25 feet.

The airplane is a kit that is available in portions. You can buy the kit a portion at a time, or you can buy the whole thing all at once. Most people start with the tail kit, since the tail is easier, and the building process gets a little more complex as you move on through the wings and the fuselage. You also learn the basics for the RV kits when doing the tail.

N Number

Dec. 30, 2009 – Well, I found an N number that could work for me. I reserved it today, so we’ll see what happens. I’ll keep you posted.

Jan. 8, 2010 – N174PM! I looked again on the FAA site for reserving N numbers, and it’s there and reserved! I have the N Number N174PM!

What’s an N Number?

An N number is basically the registration number for the airplane that’s on file with the FAA. It’s pretty much like the license plate on your car. You can take what the FAA assigns you, or you can try to get a specific number. The N number is painted on the airplane in a prominent location and large enough so that it can be easily read.


My N number is one I searched for. If you looked at it closely, you might figure it out.

1 (one) 7 (RV-7) 4 (for) PM (Pete Miller)

Get it?

My first RV ride!

March 11, 2010 – Well, I finally got a ride in an RV. RV-7A N156DE is owned by Stewart Cole out of Eagle’s Nest (2TS6) in Midlothian. We flew to Stephenville (KSEP) for lunch. I believe my first words after takeoff were “Holy Crap”, or something like that. This RV is the same model that I’m building, and it’s a beautiful airplane.

We had a little headwind going west, so we were indicating 147Kts on the GPS. At 5500′ coming home, we were showing 180Kts! That’s 207 mph!

Here’s a couple of pictures of the airplane without the fat guy in front with the stupid RV grin on his face…