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062514002“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” – Earl Nightingale

 

 

 

 

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

Installed Supertracks

Installed Supertracks

August 31, 2017 – Yesterday I finished installing the Supertracks. As I stated previously, Supertracks is an add-on that extends the travel of the canopy aft by several inches, giving better access to the baggage compartment for loading and unloading.

The first step is to modify the rollers. two additional tracks are added, so the rollers transition from one track to the other for the added travel. The first photo shows the original roller configuration, the second shows the added rollers.

Here is a roller truck in the original track:

The rollers get set aside, and then you extend the spine track. The extended track adds about 10″ to the length.

I removed the original track from the airplane and marked the cut line in the top sliding portion of the track. Only the top of the track gets cut; the lower support stays intact for splicing of the new section.

I marked the centerline of the new spine track and match-drilled to the existing section, then I match-drilled to the holes in the airplane and laid out the additional screw holes. Then I installed the track with screws and nuts. There is a slight difference in width between the two tracks. One option that has been suggested is to buy a track for the RV-8. That track is longer and it would be one piece. The other option for me might be to cut a new top strap out of aluminum and replace what I have with a one-piece track. I can just match-drill it to the old one. Maybe in the future…

The next step is to locate the new side tracks so you have smooth roller travel through the transition between the original and new tracks on each side.

Once I was satisfied with the roller travel, I had to trim the aft ends of the tracks where they meet the skin back near the baggage bulkhead. I marked them, then filed material pretty liberally, since the rollers don’t get back there anyway. I clamped both tracks together and filed and sanded them symmetrically.

After the tracks are trimmed, and I double-checked roller travel, it was time to locate screw holes to secure the tracks in place. I marked the locations of the tracks in the two locations where screw holes can be placed, and made sure I had adequate edge distance. There’s not a lot of room in these two spots.

I pilot-drilled holes in the tracks. The forward hole has to be countersunk inside the track to clear the roller, so I drilled a hole on the top of the track for tool access. My pilot holes went straight through, then I enlarged the top hole to .375″ (3/8″). The I countersunk the bottom hole through the top hole…

The tracks are then secured at the aft end, since there can be some motion. This is done with some straps that are bent to fit. They also have to be twisted just a bit at the top because the edge of the track is oriented differently from the frame where the strap attaches to the airplane.

I drilled the straps, then primed, painted and installed them. I had to install the top fastener before the track was installed because I wouldn’t have access afterwards.

Then I installed the screws in the tracks.

 

After the tracks are installed, the instructions remind you to Loctite the screws in the rollers, since there is no safety for them. We had to assemble the rollers in place in the tracks because you can’t put the rollers in place once the tracks are together. My friend Carlos came by and helped me do this and to install the canopy.

As the last step, the kit supplies two short pieces of fuel hose to act as aft stops for the canopy, so it doesn’t hit the fuselage skin behind the canopy. These are just stuffed into the track forward of the fastener for the strap at the aft end. I cut about 1/2″ off the ends of mine so the canopy went just that much farther aft.

Here’s the two tracks and their relationship with the rollers:

 

This seems to be a very cool mod and it definitely gives better access behind the seats.

Time: 8:00

Finished canopy latch

Finished canopy latch

August 30, 2017 – Well, I didn’t do this today; it’s been a while. I’m catching up with my documentation.

Anyway, I drilled and attached the external handle. Of course since I drilled it, it’s not 100% straight, but it works.

Time: 1:30

Continued canopy latch

Continued canopy latch

June 8, 2017 – I continued to work with the canopy latch today.

I sanded a little more material off the tube that is part of the canopy frame, thereby raising the latch arm into position. I also decided to place two AN-960 washers between the D-ring handle and the arm. This gives me a good vertical position.

Then I had to figure out where to cut the arm so it fits around the pin. Here’s the hook end of the arm before cutting:

With the canopy closed, I pressed the arm up into the pin to make a mark on the end of the arm. I thought I had a picture of it, but I guess not. Anyway, the mark was about halfway in that material on the hook end. I guessed at the dimension where I would cut, thinking I can always order another latch arm and try again. I removed about 1/4″ from the inside of the hook material, along with a new 1/4″ radius where the pin would rest when it’s latched. The plans advise removing excess material, but they show the trim area on the end of the arm, not the inside of the hook where I removed it.

Here’s the trimmed arm:

I put it together, and guess what!!! It was really a very nice fit! It went around the pin and pulled the canopy closed nicely without any excessive force.

I drilled two #53 holes for the assist spring, and then assembled everything.

It’s a little clunky because I don’t have the outside handle on yet, so I have to hold everything up in place.

Here’s a video of how it works:

And a photo of the latch in place.

Time: 1:30

Started canopy latch

Started canopy latch

June 7, 2017 – I started the canopy latch, and plan to finish after the aft anchor blocks are done.

It was a simple enough matter to loosely assemble the handle part of the latch before trying it in place on the canopy.

I did have to open up the space in the latch arm where it wraps around the bushing on the shaft. Just a few swipes with a round file…

I got in the airplane, and put the handle in place on the canopy to check where it sits vertically. Whoa! the arm is 3/8″ below the pin on the frame. It took me reading the instructions a few times to figure out (I hope I’m right…) that I can trim the tube that is attached to the frame. So while the canopy was off while I was working on the aft anchor blocks, I cut off just shy of 3/8″ from that tube.

I still have to deburr that cut, but I loosely tried the fit, and it’s close, but not quite there. One thing I’m wondering about is if I can bend the latch arm a little bit to fit in place. I’ll look into that…

Time: :45

Slider aft anchor blocks

Slider aft anchor blocks

June 7, 2017 – Except for some possible minor tweaking, the aft anchor blocks are done.

The sliding canopy is held at the aft end by pins that slide into plastic blocks. The pins are set at a funky angle. A friend of mine at work (he’s a multiple offender, by the way: a flying RV-6, almost done with a -9A, and he has an 8 in the crate.)…Anyway, he had a drill press set up for his blocks, so he drilled mine. I had hime drill the blocks to the measurements on the plans, even though I knew mine wouldn’t fit correctly.

I drilled the attach screw holes through the blocks and the metal channels. I marked the holes, drilled with a #30, then a #21, then used a .189 reamer and countersunk for the screws.

I started by reaming the canopy pin holes up to .262″, since the pins on the canopy measure at about .255″. I put them in place and tried the fit of the canopy.

Yup. I knew my canopy frame was slightly wider than it should be, so I just kind of reamed the holes until the pins slid in without too much fuss.

Once things were in pretty good shape, I took everything apart, painted the metal channels, and reassembled it all.

Time: 3:00

Supertracks!

Supertracks!

June 2, 2017 – On a whim, and maybe a little too late at night, I ordered a set of supertracks.

Supertracks are an add-on mod that allows the sliding canopy to roll back further, giving much better access to the baggage compartment.

I had previously removed the side tracks for the canopy so I could clean them up and paint them, so I started the supertracks mod by trimming 1.25″ off the aft end of the tracks.

Then I reinstalled the tracks. I’m going to wait on the rest of the supertrack installation until I have finished the canopy. I still have to do the aft blocks and the latch.

Time: 1:00

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.

N174PM

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…