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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

 

 

 

 

Wing Prep and Reinstall

Wing Prep and Reinstall

April 2, 2021 – The wings are installed, hopefully for good!

With the wings off, I prepped the holes for the fairing that wraps around the wing root.

I also added holes for the fuel quantity wiring where it will enter the fuselage. These wires are forward of the wing spar and there was no other entry point except where the fuel feed lines go in. I got very small ID grommets from Spruce for these holes.

I decided it was time, so I gathered my faithful friends and helpers.

After it was all done, we took a breather, and there was the usual hangar talk.

The next day I finished the wing install.

I torqued the mount bolts:

…and I installed the aft spar bolts and the fuel tank attach bolts:

No pictures, but I then routed the wing wires from the wings into the fuselage. That wasn’t a lot of fun because of the limited space between the wing roots and the fuselage skin.

Time: 15:45

ELT Wiring and some other things

ELT Wiring and some other things

March 21, 2021 – I made the wiring harness for the ELT.

The connector that came with the ELT was a new one for me. The pins are solder cups, so the wires are soldered into the connector. I’d never dealt with this before but it was fairly simple. I ran a shielded 3-wire bundle through the airplane to check for length, then pulled it back out and terminated the ELT end.

I added a nutplate to the ELT mounting bracket, and made a bracket one bulkhead back for a clamp so I could secure the antenna coax.

Then I riveted the antenna doubler and installed the antenna.

On to some other items…

Airport friends came back and we pulled the wings again so I could finish what had to be done before permanently installing the wings next time.

I also installed boots on the battery cables and installed the hold-down bar.

Time: 18:00

ELT and Fuselage Work

ELT and Fuselage Work

March 5, 2021 – I installed the bracket for the ELT in the tailcone.

The dreaded Van’s ELT/strobe power supply bracket… at least for me, anyway. I didn’t have a good time doing the bracket on the right side for the ADSB, and this one was no different. I learned lessons the first time, so I guess there’s that…

These brackets fit between the stringers just aft of the baggage compartment wall.

I also made the doubler for the ELT antenna. This will go just forward of the vertical stabilizer.

Another project I decided to do was to install a conduit under the left seat and baggage compartment floor for the pitot and AOA tubing from the left wing. It was a drag to have to drill up these panels, but it will be worth it. Once again, I wish I had known back then how things were going to go late in the game.

Time: 6:45

Wing Root Fairings

Wing Root Fairings

March 5, 2021 – I drilled the wing root fairings.

These were a tight fit wrapping around the leading edge, but they turned out pretty nice. I started at the aft end on top, then worked my way around.

Time: 4:00

Wing Tasks

Wing Tasks

February 23, 2021 – With the wings on, I started doing various tasks that need to be done while the wings can still come off.

Fuel Tank Attach

After quick verification that the wings were in the correct position from the previous drilling 5 years ago, I drilled the fuel tank attach brackets. This was a simple matter of using a drill bushing to center the hole in the fuselage bracket slot.

When the wings come back off, I’ll install the nutplates for the attach bolts.

Fuel Lines

The next step is the fuel line connections. These are the vent lines and the main fuel feeds from the tanks. The right tank is routed differently because I have a flop tube installed there. The main fuel connection from the left side is a straight shot into the fuselage.

Wing/Fuselage Fairings

There are fairings all the way around the wing root that enclose the gaps you see in the above pictures.

There is a short section underneath where the fuselage skin is attached to the wing skin on each side. I used a hole-finder to start these holes, then enlarged the holes up to the correct size for the screws.

The next part is the large wrap-around panel that wraps around the leading edges of the wings.

These panels have pre-punched holes that match open holes in the wings. Holes do need to be match-drilled to the skins of the fuel tanks.

Time: 6:00

Wings On, Take 2…

Wings On, Take 2…

February 10, 2021 – Back in April of 2016, we set the wings and drilled the aft spar.

Today, we installed them temporarily so I could do some more work. Thanks to Ken, Marvin and Larry for coming out on this COLD day (for Dallas).

I have to drill the fuel tank bracket, drill for the nutplates and screws where the fuselage skin attaches to the wings, and I’ll get my fuel lines set up. After that, the wings will come off; I’ll do the nutplates, then the wings should go back on for good…

Time: 3:00

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…