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





Baffles, continued

Baffles, continued

January 24, 2019 – I continued with the baffles.

I riveted the small doublers on the baffle for #4 cylinder, then went to fit the baffle. It fits tightly around the rocker box cover and it needed trimming so attach holes would line up.


I then located where I thought the oil cooler would mount. One detail on the plans sheet shows a reference 3/8″ margin from the edge of the oil cooler doubler to the edge of the baffle. So I located it there and back-drilled the holes from the doubler to the baffle. Then I removed the material in the baffle where the oil cooler would go.

All well and good…

Then there’s an oil cooler brace that has prepunched holes. Two issues…the holes are prepunched to #40; that’s fine, but the holes in the doubler that this brace matches up to are #30. Worse still, as I had everything located, these holes don’t line up.

Put the question out to the experts on vansairforce.net and learned two things. One was that I should wait to locate the oil cooler until the baffles are situated, the other was that maybe the doubler needed to be just 1/4″ from the edge of the baffle. That would make these holes line up. I’m less worried about the disparity between #40 and #30 holes; I’ll probably go ahead and make the rivets larger at that location.

I ordered a new CB-705A, which is the baffle with the oil cooler hole in it. I didn’t drill any other part yet…

There have also been huge issues with cracking at this location due to the weight of the oil cooler and vibration. I’ll be modding this area as almost everybody does. More on that later…

Time: 2:35

Made engine control brackets

Made engine control brackets

January 24, 2019 – I made the brackets that I needed to install the engine cables.

I ordered a 12″ x 12″ sheet of .063″ 4130 steel from Spruce. I made the new extended throttle cable bracket and the angle that mounts forward of the throttle quadrant to secure the cables there.

Here’s the old and new throttle cable bracket for comparison:

I’m waiting to get my modified mixture bracket back, then I’ll have all three pieces powder-coated.

Time: 1:20

Battery Cables

Battery Cables

January 10, 2019 –  I continued work on the battery cables because I’m borrowing the crimper and the guy said he’d need it back.

I had to order some 1/2″ heatshrink in red and black to fit over these terminals. Once I had that, I made the cable from the contactor to the starter, and the ground from the battery to the firewall.

These pictures of the starter cable ARE NOT final installation, they are for routing and fitting. Hopefully this location will work.

Time: 2:00

Started Baffles

Started Baffles

January 10, 2019 – I decided I needed to start on the baffles so I could make sure items wouldn’t conflict when they’re installed.

Well, I barely got started…

The first step is to separate some parts from larger pieces.

I did that, and went to polish and deburr the edges. I use 2″ scotchbrite discs in a 90 degree die grinder. Well, the arbor I have been using decided to strip out, so I  had to order a couple more of them. So now I’m stuck on this part…

Time: :40

Engine Control cables, continued…

Engine Control cables, continued…

January 10, 2019 – I have had some real trouble with the Prop control cable and the governor. With everything hooked up, including the cable at the throttle quadrant, I can’t get the governor arm to contact both stops. I can reach the high RPM stop, but I haven’t been able to touch the low RPM stop. The closest I’ve come is about 3/16″.

So after wasting a lot of time, I’ve decided to go ahead and install the cables, then see what RPMs I get when I run the engine, and go from there.

To back up a little bit, I couldn’t use the 48″ cable at all. It was several inches too short for the throttle control. I bought a 49.5″ for the throttle, I’m using 52.5″ for the mixture, and a 55″ for the prop. An EAA friend had the 55″ for me to try. It worked, so I gave him the 48″ for later use.

I bought AN486 clevises from Aircraft Spruce for the connections at the quadrant. Because of interference, I do need to narrow them a little bit and use slightly shorter pins, but this will work. This photo is from underneath the quadrant, looking up:

I got three firewall grommets from vans. These are the ones with the aluminum balls that clamp the cable. I took the holes in the firewall up to 1.079″ with a punch.


Then I made a template for the backplate screws, and drilled and deburred those.


I had to drill the holes in the balls up to the final size for clamping the cables. I went to .328 using a series of drills and reamers.

I have to make a new bracket to attach the throttle cable at the engine. The one I got from Vans in the kit needs to be lengthened by 1.5″ to accommodate the cable. The mixture bracket for the bellcrank was previously modified to fit; a friend from work is beefing it up by welding a gusset to it.

The aluminum bracket I made to secure the cables at the quadrant had an issue. I was getting ready to shape it and get it ready to paint, and I found a crack in the radius. So I ordered a sheet of steel from Spruce to make what I have to make, then I’ll get everything powder-coated and installed.

Time: 9:00

Working on control cables

Working on control cables

November 15, 2018 – Well, I complicated my own life by going with a throttle quadrant for engine control. I’ll be so glad when this part gets wrapped up.

I drilled holes in the firewall at the suggested locations for the throttle, prop and mixture cables using my punch set. The holes are 1″ right now, just large enough to pass the cable nuts through. I believe the final hole sizes will be 1 1/8″ for the cable pass-throughs I’ll get from Spruce.

I bought a 48″ and two 52.5″ cables. When I got them I routed them through the firewall to test fit. I used closed-cell foam to protect the cable jackets from the stainless edges.

I already know the 48″ cable is too short for the throttle. As near as I can tell, I need 51″. I’m waiting to order until I’m sure about the rest of them.

I had to slightly re-clock the prop governor because the cable went over-center at full travel. I also bent the bracket for the governor for a straighter cable approach.

Along with figuring out what cable lengths I need, I also need to make sure those cables are secure so I can get an accurate idea for routing and their lengths. The cables will be secured behind (forward of) the quadrant, so I started prototyping a bracket for that. Here’s my first one:

…and my third:

I think this one may be in the ballpark. I also ordered Aircraft Spruce part #05-01437 which is an AN486 with a 10-32 thread. These should have a deeper throat for attachment at the quadrant. I wasn’t getting full travel at the quadrant because the shorter clevises were hitting the arms. They are on the way.

Time: 6:30

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.


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…