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





Engine Run!

Engine Run!

July 22, 2021 – A momentous day!

It’s time for an engine run. I rolled the airplane out to pre-oil. I had the lower plugs out and I pulled the coil wires on each P-Mag. Got in and turned the engine over. I did two 5-second cycles. No oil pressure yet. After the second try, I noticed that I was reading 1 PSI. So I knew the third time would be the charm. Sure enough, as soon as the prop started turning the oil pressure shot up.

I pushed the airplane back into the hangar and started to prep for the run.

While I was doing this I had some “help”. No seriously, these guys at the airport have been a huge support throughout this project and I appreciate everything they do, including their close supervision…  🙂

I installed the lower plugs, found some bolts that needed to be tightened, and went over the entire engine compartment and the cockpit.

After lunch we rolled it back out and tied the tail to a truck.

It started on the second blade!

I have some things to deal with.

  • I had no RPM.
  • It appears that the #4 cylinder was pretty much just along for the ride.
  • There are a few small oil leaks.
  • I have some brake leaks; one inside and one at the left brake.

Here’s the video:

Time: 5:00

Engine Prep

Engine Prep

July 22, 2021 – I did some things on the engine to get it ready for the first engine run.

Since I was ready to service the engine with oil, I replaced the stock drain plug with a quick drain.

I installed all of the Skybolt fasteners in the cowling. They provide temporary rubber retainers, so I’m using those until the cowl gets painted. If they don’t last long, I may use the permanent metal rings and buy new ones when it comes time.

I’ve also been trying to figure out how I was going to deal with the sniffle valve in the bottom of the cold-air sump. The valve comes down right between the two crossover exhaust pipes. I slightly bent the tube out of the valve, then used an aluminum tube and a piece of fuel line. We’ll see how long it lasts.

Time: 2:50

Started Gear Leg Fairings

Started Gear Leg Fairings

July 22, 2021 – While I’m waiting to do my engine run and later tasks to get ready for inspection, I started on the gear leg fairings.

The drawing for the leg fairings contains a full-scale template for each RV model. I chose to use measurements instead of cutting up the sheet.

The fairings are held tight by a hinge that is installed inside the fairing.

I’m pretty sure I’ll have to trim the total length of these fairings. There’s some interference between the fairings and the brake lines at the lower end that should be relieved by trimming the fairings. That trim should be covered by the wheel pants.

I also started the wheel pants.

the first part of this job is to sand the fairing halves so they fit nicely together. I also drilled the holes for the screws.

I also trimmed the openings for the tires. I took measurements off of another RV-7.

I’m at a stopping point on these. I don’t need these to fly, and Oshkosh is around the corner. I also need to look into jacks for the airplane, since the book calls for the airplane to be level and off the ground.

Time: 9:05

Installed F704 Bulkhead Covers

Installed F704 Bulkhead Covers

July 22, 2021 – I installed the covers for the F704 Bulkhead.

I had lent out some pop rivets for another use, then found out I needed them. So I ordered the nearest equivalent from Spruce.

Time: 3:20

More Miscellaneous Items…

More Miscellaneous Items…

July 22, 2021 – Things are getting close. I did some smaller items.

I connected the sticks and their wiring. I wasn’t looking forward to this because of the washers that need to be placed, but once I got a system down it went well.

I installed the upper spark plugs. I’m using automotive plugs with inserts. Placed the inserts with copper anti-seize in the cylinders finger-tight, then ran the plugs in, and torqued the plugs to 18 in-lbs.

I also installed the fuel selector valve.

I needed to have some sort of placard for the fuel caps. Some people engrave the caps. If I’d thought about it for the many years the wings were dormant, I would have done that. In the spirit of temporary permanence, I found some printable vinyl that can be used for making stickers and made these.

Time: 5:40



July 2, 2021 – I installed wingwalks.

I was trying to figure out what I wanted to use for my wingwalks. I like the Van’s treads with the aircraft type cut into them, but I wanted to wait until the airplane is painted. I priced adhesive material and found it more expensive than I liked. Somehow I came around to skateboards. I found skateboard grip tape. These happened to be 9″ wide, which is perfect. So I went to a skateboard shop here in town and got these at $6.00 each. They’re 9 x 33, so I just had to cut a short length off of each. These will be fine for a “temporarily permanent” solution.

Time: 1:00

Another Step to the Dream…

On June 3, 2021, after almost two years in the making, I received my PPL. Slow projects seem to be my thing…


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…