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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

 

 

 

 

Airworthy!

Airworthy!

September 16, 2021 – It’s an airplane!

4312 days ago I brought the tail kit home. Now here I am, nearly 12 years later, and it has been deemed airworthy by none other than my favorite DAR, Mel Asberry.

Started Interior

Started Interior

September 15, 2021 – I started putting some interior pieces in, even though I can’t have most of it in before the inspection.

I did have to install the seat belts.

I also put the baggage compartment upper wall in place, since it does contain a required placard.

I installed the boots for the aileron pushrods. This is an option for the interior, but I’ve read a lot about air coming in that way.

The next item is a small piece of vinyl that covers the lower end of the pillar. This gets glued in with spray adhesive.

Then I test fit the carpet under the seats.

This is going to be very nice. Can’t wait to see this finished.

Time: 5:00

Prep for Inspection

Prep for Inspection

September 15, 2021 – I did some miscellaneous tasks that needed to be done for the inspection.

I closed up the firewall pass-throughs for the wiring. I also vacuumed out the fuselage, and went through and checked jam-nuts. I added a couple of placards in the cockpit, as well.

Time: 1:40

Fuel Calibration—-Yay and Nay!

Fuel Calibration—-Yay and Nay!

September 15, 2021 – I started fuel tank calibration.

I jacked up the tail to level, and started the calibration on the left wing. In hindsight, I kind of did this maybe the hard way, but it worked.

I bought 5 gallons of fuel at a time (my hangar has fuel), and transferred that to a marked 1-gallon jug. I did the Dynon procedure, where you tell it how much is full, then click “Add” every two gallons.

Here’s the screen as fuel got added:

Got to 21 gallons and clicked “Full”. I rebooted the Dynon and got a good reading. Actually it doesn’t read above 15 gallons or so, but that’s a “feature”.

Now to the right wing.

I drained the left tank 5 gallons at a time and started the transfer to the right tank.

Maybe it’s  worth noting that the right tank has a flop tube for fuel pickup, which moves the fuel float to the next bay outboard in the tank. As  I started filling the right tank, the readings didn’t change.

The first time I tried this, I got to 12 gallons, went around to press “Add” on the screen, and saw that the Dynon system had shed its load because the battery couldn’t keep up. Oh, well, just as well. I really didn’t want to get all the way to 21 gallons with this problem. But the next day I decided to try again. Same problem. I filled up to 21 gallons. The Dynon asked me if I wanted to use that calibration, even though it wasn’t successful. I answered yes, but after I restarted, the right side still showed the annunciator for CAL. My inspection is scheduled, so I asked my DAR as well as the test pilot if this was going to be an issue. They both said no, so I’m going to defer this until after the airplane flies.

I’m assuming I’ll need to pull the tank.

So I drained 10 gallons from the right side, and put them in the left. My test pilot asked for 1/2 tanks for first flight. Oh, by the way, I bought a battery-powered pump from Harbor Freight. Took no time to drain a 5-gallon can.

Time: 6:20

Weigh!

Weigh!

September 6, 2021 – I weighed the airplane.

While I was finishing the rudder pedal project, Our EAA chapter president came by unannounced with the scales. I hadn’t even started on the interior yet, but we could locate those parts in the appropriate places on the airplane and proceed with the weigh.

We leveled it and rolled it up onto the scales.

This really made my day! I was hoping for 1100 pounds with the full interior. And that’s just what I got! The next day, I drained the remaining fuel out of the tanks. It weighed 9.5 pounds, so I’m right at 1100.

Now that it’s weighed, I’m going to finish the rudder pedal reinstall, remove the panels, and I’m already scheduled for the inspection! I also have to put fuel in the airplane and calibrate the Dynon, then I’ll juggle the fuel load so we have 1/2 tanks for the test flight. I’ll do the interior after the inspection is done.

Time: 2:45

A Small Step Backwards…

A Small Step Backwards…

August 6, 2021 – A small adjustment turned into a slightly larger project.

Moving the airplane in and out of the hangar, I’ve noticed that the brakes drag a little bit. I know this is an issue that has its fixes.

I decided to add springs to the master cylinder actuators on the pedals. On the first one I tried to do, the bolt attaching the top of the actuator was very tight going through the actuator. I decided to tap it out with my rivet gun. Of course I turned the pressure down. Well, when I did this, the welded tab on the pedal bent sideways. So I made the decision not to work this in the airplane, but to try to take the rudder pedal assembly out and do the work on the table. I had no idea if the assembly would even come out of the finished airplane, since it got installed very early on…

It does in fact come out… I had to disconnect the throttle cable at the quadrant.

Here’s the tab that bent…

I inspected it with a magnifying glass. Seems OK, so I pressed on with the rest of the work.

I installed the springs. They are 5/8″ x 3″ x .080″, by the way. I also put thread sealant on the fittings in the master cylinders. After my first engine run I noticed the tiniest bit of fluid seepage on a couple of the fittings.

The assembly actually slid back into place on the airplane a lot easier than when it came out. I still have to finish installing the bolts and connect the brake lines, then service the brakes again.

Time: 3:00

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.

UPDATE (September 16, 2021): Hmmm. That was a quaint little write-up. Well, here we are, nearly 12 years later, and it’s airworthy!

 

 

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

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…