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!

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.


Engine Build School

Engine Build School

March 20, 2018 – Last week I built my engine!

I can’t say enough about my build experience. I made the trip from Dallas to Kamloops, BC to build my engine at AeroSport Power. I HIGHLY recommend doing this, and especially at AeroSport.

Darren Jones, Simon Travers and everyone else at AeroSport were great to work with. I’m not going to go into detail on the build; I’m just putting a very small sampling of the photos here for your perusal.

Installed brake lines

Installed brake lines

March 18, 2018 – It was actually about a week ago, but I finished installing the brake lines on the gear legs.

Not much to say…this was pretty straight-forward.

Time: 4:00

Assembled prop spinner back plate

Assembled prop spinner back plate

March 2, 2018 – This morning I finished assembling the back plate for the prop spinner.

There are two pieces to the back plate. For the constant speed prop, the large plate needs to be trimmed out to fit. There are four 3/8″ bolt holes that need to be aligned. I used pieces of 3/8″ tubing to align the holes, and then piloted some of the rivet holes.

I marked the large plate, and started the cutout.

One way I’ve learned to do a cutout like this is just to drill holes along the edge, then cut the remainder as needed. Then you finish it with a rotary file, then sand and polish.

Here are both parts before painting:

…and the final product:

I may do a final coat of paint later on, maybe after I’ve fitted it around the prop hub. It may need a little more trimming.

Time: 2:00

On the Gear!!!

On the Gear!!!

February 22, 2018 – It’s on the gear!

After the previous session, I ordered some corrosion preventative compound for the final permanent gear install. While I was waiting on that, I installed the brakes on the wheels. No big deal.

Today, Floyd and Randy came over to help me hoist the airplane again and permanently install the gear. We removed the gear legs, honed the tubes in the engine mount, reamed the bolt holes, and reinstalled the gear legs. They still took a bit of persuasion, but they’re in. Had to drive the bolts in using a rivet gun, but they need to be an interference fit. No pictures of the process, but here it is:

Time: 2:00

Installed wheels on gear legs

Installed wheels on gear legs

February 8, 2018 – Today I drilled the axles and installed the wheels and tires.

I wanted to install the gear into the airplane one time, after the wheels were completely done. However, I couldn’t hold the gear legs and the wheels adequately where I could torque the wheels and locate and drill the axle holes. So I decided to put the gear in the airplane and do the work that way.

My friend Chris (Sticker) came over to help. First of all, don’t ask why he goes by “Sticker”. I don’t know. Someday I’ll get the story.

Anyway, we hoisted the airplane, still with the intention to install the gear for good, then work the wheels and let it down and be done.

We greased up the gear legs, and had a really hard time getting them all the way up and into position where the bolt holes line up. The right gear is about 1/4 hole off, and we could never get it all the way into position. So we threw some temporary bolts into the holes, and decided that we would put the airplane on a sawhorse, and I would do the wheels.

I torqued the axle nut (as best I could); there is no firm data on torque published. I started the holes with a short #30 bit in an angle drill, then drilled with a #40, then a #30.

I deburred it all, then reinstalled the wheels.

We’re going to remove the gear legs, clean everything up, chamfer edges, then try to install the gear legs for good.

Time: 3:00

Started main landing gear

Started main landing gear

February 2, 2018 – Okay. Now that the engine mount is on, I want to look towards getting the airplane on it’s feet.

The brake flanges need to be reamed to 5/16″. It was more removal of powder-coating than any material. I also ran the reamer through the holes in the gear legs.

I then made 6 spacers that are 13/32″ long. These provide a standoff for the wheel pant bracket.

The brake bracket attaches to the flange using 3 of the 4 bolts. This took some research online to figure out how these parts go together. I’d read that the drawings and instructions were practically non-existent, and that the instructions refer to Cleveland parts. My parts are from Matco. I found some pretty good documentation from other people. I also discovered that I had to trim the wheel pant brackets to fit the Matco brakes. So I marked what had to be trimmed, and clecoed the two wheel pant brackets together to make the cutouts the same.

I drilled the screw and nutplate holes in the brackets. Once that was done, I prepped and painted them.

I started on the wheels and tires. Here’s a wheel assembled as shipped from Matco.

The plated part is the brake rotor. It’s assembled with the wheel halves. I disassembled one wheel.

I had previously put air in the tubes to make sure they were OK, since they came from Vans folded up in plastic bags. I deflated them totally in order to put them in the tires.

I shook a fair amount of talcum powder into the tires and shook it around. This would help lubricate the tube as it was placed inside.

Trying to keep the valve stem more or less in line with the red dot on the tire sidewall, I stuffed the tube into the tire.

Once it was cleanly in place, I put a little bit of air in the tube to make it fill into the tire.

Here’s the tube with the valve stem:

Then it was time to install the wheel halves into the tires. I used some dishwashing soap to lube the tire. The outboard wheel half has a hole for the valve stem. Easy enough to put it in the proper position. These wheels do not have a grommet for the valve stem.

I put the wheel halves together, along with the brake rotor and installed the bolts, which get torqued to 100 in/lbs.

I was a little confused about securing the valve stem. I had nuts that came with the tubes, and  I assumed they would secure the valve stem after the wheel was assembled. But thethreads on the valve stem stopped before the not would secure anything.

I called Matco, and they told me that the valve stem did not need a grommet or a locknut. OK.

I assembled the brake flange and wheel pant brackets on the gear legs, hopefully for the last time. These nuts and bolts are so close to the brake flange, and were a real pain to torque. Here’s several views of the left and right gear legs:

Next I have to lube the wheel bearings, install the wheels, and drill the cotter pin holes in the axles.

Time: 7:10

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…