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

 

 

 

 

Installed Tailwheel Springs

Installed Tailwheel Springs

June 25, 2020 – I installed the springs on the tailwheel.

Assembly of these is pretty simple. They seem pretty tight, but they have about 1/2″ play, which is what the book calls for.

Time: :45

Installed Tail Surfaces

Installed Tail Surfaces

June 25, 2020 – I installed the rudder and elevators.

I decided to go ahead and install the tail surfaces.

With the elevators installed, I set the elevator travel. I ground the stops to give me 34 degrees up and 22 down. The max is 35 and 25.

Time: 3:40

Vinyl?

Vinyl?

June 25, 2020 – I experimented with vinyl.

I’ve been intrigued by the use of vinyl instead of paint on the airplane. I decided to give it a try.

I ordered a 3×5 piece of 3M 2080 Gloss White. I decided to try it on the right elevator.

The first thing I wanted to do is to paint the leading edge row of rivets. This turned out to be a waste of time because you can’t EVEN see these rivets when the elevator is installed.

I cut a piece of vinyl large enough to cover the top of the elevator. It’s all pretty straight-forward, after watching a few dozen You-Tube videos.

Here’s the final product, for now.

Lessons learned:

  • Two people.
  • Cut a much bigger piece of vinyl so you can grab it an maneuver and pull it into position.

There are a couple of hard wrinkles, that will make it necessary to redo this. I kind of wish I’d started with the bottom of the elevator. I did the top because of how I’d wrap the trailing edge.

The other part I have to figure out is how to do tight curves like the tips.

Time: 1:40

Rudder Lower Fairing

Rudder Lower Fairing

June 25, 2020 – I worked on the lower rudder fairing some more.

The leading edge of this thing has been giving me fits.

Even when I built up the leading edge, by the time I sanded it smooth, the material in front of the rudder horns was paper thin.

So I bent the tabs of the rudder in just a bit to make some room, then I mixed some more resin with flox and caked it inside the fairing at that point. With the fairing in place, it just fills the gap. When it was set up, I removed it all and sanded to smooth it. It fits much better now.

Time to move on. I hate fiberglass.

Time: 4:20

Drilled Elevator Horns

Drilled Elevator Horns

June 25, 2020 – Well, the third time’s the charm. I drilled the elevator horns and they are actually aligned!

I was able to get a rod end for the elevator pushrod with a 1/4″ bore, so I went with doing 1/4″ holes in the elevator horns. My friend on the airport welded one of the holes closed (again).

Since I wasn’t having as much success with my drill bushings, I found a wire brush that had a hole drilled through the handle. The handle was exactly 1″ wide, which is the space between the horns, and the handle fit in between very snugly. So I pressed a .248″ bushing into the handle and cut the head off.

I nested a smaller drill bushing in that to get the hole started, then I ran a .248″ reamer through there.

Finally!

Time: 2:00

Installed Heat Muff Tubes

Installed Heat Muff Tubes

June 25, 2020 – I installed the scat tubes for the cabin heat.

Cabin heat comes from a heat muff on the exhaust, and is mixed with cooler air from the top of the engine.

I’ll probably wrap the ducts in a couple of spots with heat barrier, since they come very close to the exhaust.

Time: 1:00

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.

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…