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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.

 

Started fitting cowl

Started fitting cowl

May 14, 2018 – I got hold of Van’s instructions for fitting the cowl without the prop in place. The instructions say to cut PVC spacers  2 1/8″ long for a constant-speed prop, then attach the spinner backplate using those spacers.

It turned out that I had jumped the gun modifying my backplate for the prop already, so I had to borrow one.

I ran 2″ tape around the firewall at the edge. This provides a known 2″ distance for cutting the aft edge of the cowl later on.

I placed the top cowl on the engine. I don’t have much extra material at the firewall to play with, but it’ll work out.

I taped some 1/4″ pieces of molding to the front lip of the cowl to act as spacers to give me a uniform distance from the prop backplate. I’ve also padded the top of the engine with a towel and some magazines to give me the correct height.

One nice thing about the airplane being on its gear is that now I can roll it outside on nice days to work on it.

I wanted to see how the lower cowl fits. so I cut out slots to clear the gear legs, then put it up into place.

I tried using a strap to hold it together, but the strap just slid forward because there’s really nothing for it to hold onto. I temp-drilled a couple of holes for some clecos to hold the cowls in place. It has taken a little while just playing with the cowls, and standing back and thinking about what’s going on, but I eventually developed a plan.

The worst fit on the cowl is the nesting area just outside the spinner in the inlets. I have to sand a little bit, then put everything back together. The fit is slowly improving.

 

I am using the Skybolt fasteners on my cowl instead of the stock hinges. I decided to start working on the flanges that are installed on the firewall before I worry too much about the final cowl fit.

The first step with these flanges is to get an idea of where the fasteners will be that are on the cowl split lines at the firewall, then locate flanges from there. I figured out a tentative cut line for the aft edge of the cowl, and the split line between the cowls, then marked a likely location for the fasteners on the left and right sides. These fasteners will be the intersecting fasteners between the firewall row and the cowl split rows going forward.

I marked where that flange would probably be located, then started placing flanges up around the top of the firewall. The Skybolt instructions suggest 3.5″ spacing between fasteners. I couldn’t get even spacing that way, but 3.25″ worked pretty well. The center flange might require some adjustment, but that measurement worked for me all the way around.

The flanges have joggles and they overlap, so once I finally drilled and clecoed them, I took out each one and trimmed the overlap, based on where a rivet would be located.

Still have a lot of work to do, and things might look a little rough in these pictures, but I feel better about this than when I started.

Time: 12:45

Engine is hung!

Engine is hung!

April 5, 2018 – A very nice day to hang the engine!

I got a good crew together today and we got the engine hung in no time.

Not much to say about it…started with the top bolts and then did the bottom. Had a lot of hands in there and a pro manned the hoist.

Thanks to Mel and Ann Asberry, Norm Biron, Carlos Ramos and Floyd Knudsen. After we got it installed there was lots of hangar flying and adult beverages.

Time: 10:00

Engine delivered

Engine delivered

April 3, 2018 – After its own well-deserved vacation, the engine finally arrived safely.

I’d been watching the tracking for the engine, and all of a sudden, it veered east. Then it showed Out for Delivery…in Virginia! After a couple of phone calls, it was redirected, and was delivered on April 3.

Opened it up and checked to make sure all was well, and that the serial number matched. Yep, it’s mine!

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

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…