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.

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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

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On the Gear!!!

February 22, 2018 – It’s on the gear!

After the previous session, I ordered some corrosion preventative compound for the final permanent gear install. While I was waiting on that, I installed the brakes on the wheels. No big deal.

Today, Floyd and Randy came over to help me hoist the airplane again and permanently install the gear. We removed the gear legs, honed the tubes in the engine mount, reamed the bolt holes, and reinstalled the gear legs. They still took a bit of persuasion, but they’re in. Had to drive the bolts in using a rivet gun, but they need to be an interference fit. No pictures of the process, but here it is:

Time: 2:00

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Installed wheels on gear legs

February 8, 2018 – Today I drilled the axles and installed the wheels and tires.

I wanted to install the gear into the airplane one time, after the wheels were completely done. However, I couldn’t hold the gear legs and the wheels adequately where I could torque the wheels and locate and drill the axle holes. So I decided to put the gear in the airplane and do the work that way.

My friend Chris (Sticker) came over to help. First of all, don’t ask why he goes by “Sticker”. I don’t know. Someday I’ll get the story.

Anyway, we hoisted the airplane, still with the intention to install the gear for good, then work the wheels and let it down and be done.

We greased up the gear legs, and had a really hard time getting them all the way up and into position where the bolt holes line up. The right gear is about 1/4 hole off, and we could never get it all the way into position. So we threw some temporary bolts into the holes, and decided that we would put the airplane on a sawhorse, and I would do the wheels.

I torqued the axle nut (as best I could); there is no firm data on torque published. I started the holes with a short #30 bit in an angle drill, then drilled with a #40, then a #30.

I deburred it all, then reinstalled the wheels.

We’re going to remove the gear legs, clean everything up, chamfer edges, then try to install the gear legs for good.

Time: 3:00

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Started main landing gear

February 2, 2018 – Okay. Now that the engine mount is on, I want to look towards getting the airplane on it’s feet.

The brake flanges need to be reamed to 5/16″. It was more removal of powder-coating than any material. I also ran the reamer through the holes in the gear legs.

I then made 6 spacers that are 13/32″ long. These provide a standoff for the wheel pant bracket.

The brake bracket attaches to the flange using 3 of the 4 bolts. This took some research online to figure out how these parts go together. I’d read that the drawings and instructions were practically non-existent, and that the instructions refer to Cleveland parts. My parts are from Matco. I found some pretty good documentation from other people. I also discovered that I had to trim the wheel pant brackets to fit the Matco brakes. So I marked what had to be trimmed, and clecoed the two wheel pant brackets together to make the cutouts the same.

I drilled the screw and nutplate holes in the brackets. Once that was done, I prepped and painted them.

I started on the wheels and tires. Here’s a wheel assembled as shipped from Matco.

The plated part is the brake rotor. It’s assembled with the wheel halves. I disassembled one wheel.

I had previously put air in the tubes to make sure they were OK, since they came from Vans folded up in plastic bags. I deflated them totally in order to put them in the tires.

I shook a fair amount of talcum powder into the tires and shook it around. This would help lubricate the tube as it was placed inside.

Trying to keep the valve stem more or less in line with the red dot on the tire sidewall, I stuffed the tube into the tire.

Once it was cleanly in place, I put a little bit of air in the tube to make it fill into the tire.

Here’s the tube with the valve stem:

Then it was time to install the wheel halves into the tires. I used some dishwashing soap to lube the tire. The outboard wheel half has a hole for the valve stem. Easy enough to put it in the proper position. These wheels do not have a grommet for the valve stem.

I put the wheel halves together, along with the brake rotor and installed the bolts, which get torqued to 100 in/lbs.

I was a little confused about securing the valve stem. I had nuts that came with the tubes, and  I assumed they would secure the valve stem after the wheel was assembled. But thethreads on the valve stem stopped before the not would secure anything.

I called Matco, and they told me that the valve stem did not need a grommet or a locknut. OK.

I assembled the brake flange and wheel pant brackets on the gear legs, hopefully for the last time. These nuts and bolts are so close to the brake flange, and were a real pain to torque. Here’s several views of the left and right gear legs:

Next I have to lube the wheel bearings, install the wheels, and drill the cotter pin holes in the axles.

Time: 7:10

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Closed firewall and installed engine mount

February 2, 2018 – I found somebody available to help me rivet the firewall recess.

Before I installed the recess, I had to finish installing the rudder pedal center bracket.

I also had to install the two nutplates in the recess where the cockpit heat box attaches.

One of my EAA 168 buddies came over and we riveted the firewall recess.

I applied firewall sealant and clecoed the recess in place.

We got the recess installed, then decided to go ahead and install the engine mount. Jim shot the recess rivets outside, so he wanted to crawl in and do the bolts for the mount.

Time: 1:30

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Started center section cover

January 22, 2018 – Since my next step on the firewall is to install the recess, I moved to the cockpit floor cover for the fuel system.

I had previously done some small work on this, but didn’t know if I’d be installing a fuel boost pump in this location. I have the stock boost pump and filter from Van’s, along with the cover, so I started in on this. The cover needs to be modified to fit the pump assembly.

The long piece of the cover gets cut to accommodate the support for the pump and filter. The piece in blue plastic is the new bracket that supports the pump. An additional notch needs to be removed from the long cover after it’s shortened.

The housing for the fuel selector valve also gets modified.

Then I had to crawl into the airplane and drill the mounting holes for the covers. I temp installed everything to get the positioning just right.

Once everything was drilled, I took it all apart to deburr and prep for paint.  One last thing I had to do was bend the louvers for “cabin heat”. I put that in quotes because the RVs are known for not having adequate heat in the cabin right out of the box. These louvers were a little tricky to get the hang of at first, but I think I did pretty well.

Here’s a picture from up above again. You can see that the louvers at the top of the picture are just cutout and not bent to direct the air:

I used a hand seamer with a radiused strip of aluminum to make the bends. I used the table to back up the bend on the back side.

Here are the finished louvers:

Hopefully the weather will cooperate and I can get this stuff painted soon.

Time: 5:15

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Trimmed firewall for gear legs

January 22, 2018 – One of the steps I accidentally left out of the previous post was trimming to clear the gear legs.

Because the gear legs attach to the engine mount, the firewall interferes with the legs at the lower outboard corners.

I marked the cut line as best I could, and started trimming with a rotary file, then a sanding disc. Looks good now; I may need to make final adjustments when the gear legs are installed.

Time: 1:00

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Started drilling for engine mount

January 4, 2017 – Today I drilled two of the six holes in the firewall for the engine mount.

First things first, I had to rivet a stand-off on the bracket for the rudder pedals that secures the brake lines from one side to the other. This is my preference over running the brake lines through the bracket like normal. That option does not seem maintainable without breaking the brake system open.

I believe everything that needs to be placed on the firewall before the engine mount is done. I have to install the firewall recess, but I could get these holes drilled and cleaned up before I do that.

I struggled on a cold day with how to secure the mount to the firewall by myself. On that same cold day I gave up. Yesterday it was a little warmer, so I attacked it again. I used vinyl tape and clamped a 2×4 to hold the mount more or less in place. Seemed to work reasonably well.

I actually got the four corner pilot holes centered with this setup, so I started on the upper right hole.

You can just make out the pilot hole through the mount:

I started with a drill bushing in the mount, and drilled the pilot hole all the way through with a long #11. You can see that the dimensions for the bushing are perfect: .373″ OD and .191″ ID.

Here’s the #11 hole with a light behind it:

I then used core drills and BoeLube to step up to the final: .191″-248″, then .250″ -.312″ and then finished with .325″ – .375″.

Got the top two holes drilled, and the bolts slid right in:

Time: 1:05

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Installed heatbox on firewall

December 29, 2017 – Today I installed the heatbox.

This valve directs hot air from a muff around the exhaust into the cabin for heat on cold days. The stock one from Van’s is made out of aluminum. I decided to spring for one made out of stainless. I got it from Plane Innovations. I have to say I was very happy buying from them. I got personal emails from a real person notifying me that the item had been ordered, and again when it shipped. I had to order stainless hardware from Spruce, but it showed up today, so perfect timing.

I used a spreader bar to hold a block of wood to the firewall under pressure so I could drill the 2″ hole in the firewall.

The valve came with a drawing showing the dimensions for the bolt holes, so I drilled one through the valve, then used the dimension to do the other hole. Here it’s clecoed in place.

…and with the valve sealed and installed. I’ll clean up the sealant later after it dries.

Time: :45

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Continued firewall components

December 26, 2017 – I continued with components that mount to the firewall before I can attach the engine mount.

With the battery box pretty much done, I moved on to the start contactor and relay. I made the doubler that supports the firewall where they attach.

I located where on the firewall the holes will go, then drilled all the holes, using the doubler as a guide.

I drilled the nutplate holes, including where nutplates attach to the firewall support structure.

I dimpled the firewall, and countersunk the doubler to accommodate the dimples, then I painted the doubler.

While the paint dried, I tackled the sender manifold. This was easy; I just had to make a supporting angle that goes inside the firewall to provide structure for the manifold. I drilled the angle, then drilled the firewall. I bolted the manifold in place, using firewall sealant as well.

Back to the contactor and relay. I installed the doubler and the nutplates, then bolted the components in place.

I had looked for a copper bar to tie the contactor and relay together as required, but I couldn’t find one. I saw on someone else’s site where they had used a battery disconnect. I went to a local auto parts place, and bingo, I found this:

I drilled out the rivet holding the copper, then measured the distance between the two posts on the firewall, and drilled it to fit.

Time: 3:45

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Battery box

December 22, 2017 – I prepped the battery box for installation.

I located the holes where the box will attach to the firewall. Once again, not paying close attention to the plans, I removed existing rivets in the firewall structure where it’s required, but I also drilled new holes in the firewall, since the box brackets have provisions for 3 bolts on each side. Well, I guess I can either fill the extra holes with rivets, or I can install the box with 6 bolts.

The plans suggest drilling lightening holes in the box. Since I only have a hole saw, and that’s an inelegant way to make these holes, I decided to only make the holes on the forward side of the box. I left the aft face of the box whole.

I installed the attaching angles to the box. What a pain in the ***. These rivets need to be flush on the inside of the box so as not to interfere with the battery. I got it done, but I don’t want to do it again… I also attached the required nutplates.

The next step is the battery hold-down bar. This secures the battery in the box. I had to drill the attach holes, then drill lightening holes. So I marked the centerline, and drilled for the bolt holes, then drilled the 3/4″ lightening holes.


I made the spacers for the hold-down bolts.

Not a great day today weather-wise, but I’m painting the bar, then it’ll be done. Next is the contactor and the relay.

Time: 4:20

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Engine Ordered!

December 14, 2017 – I’ve ordered the engine and firewall forward!

I decided to go with Aero-Sport Power. Placed a deposit on a Superior IO-360 180hp, with a CS prop and dual P-Mags. I’ve always wanted to do a build school, so I’ll be going up to Kamloops in March to build my engine.

In addition to the engine, I’ve ordered the firewall-forward kit from Vans, less the exhaust. I’ve decided to go with Vetterman. I’ve also ordered the Skybolt fastener kit for the cowling.

I’m going to wait on the prop for a while, but I’m going to get the Hatrtzell C2YR-1BFP from Vans.

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Cockpit Air Vent Brackets

November 16. 2017 – Well, it’s been a painful couple of months since my last update. I lost my bride of 32 years in October. I put a post on the front page of this site.

In the meantime, I’ve been whittling away at the brackets for the eyeball vents in the cockpit.

I had the stock vents from Van’s that need to be trimmed to fit in the stock installation.

I REALLY don’t like these vents, so I finally caved in and bought the smaller vents from Stein. Here they are side by side:

I started making templates out of light cardboard. I wanted to integrate the headset jacks in the same bracket. I’d also done some research on the Bose powered headset jacks, but decided to wait on provisions for those.

These brackets have a small 90 degree angle that will have a screw attachment to the lip of the panel. This way the panel will still be removeable (if the need ever arises).

Once I got the brackets made and painted, I dimpled the skin rivet holes and installed them.

Time: 6:00

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Installed Supertracks

August 31, 2017 – Yesterday I finished installing the Supertracks. As I stated previously, Supertracks is an add-on that extends the travel of the canopy aft by several inches, giving better access to the baggage compartment for loading and unloading.

The first step is to modify the rollers. two additional tracks are added, so the rollers transition from one track to the other for the added travel. The first photo shows the original roller configuration, the second shows the added rollers.

Here is a roller truck in the original track:

The rollers get set aside, and then you extend the spine track. The extended track adds about 10″ to the length.

I removed the original track from the airplane and marked the cut line in the top sliding portion of the track. Only the top of the track gets cut; the lower support stays intact for splicing of the new section.

I marked the centerline of the new spine track and match-drilled to the existing section, then I match-drilled to the holes in the airplane and laid out the additional screw holes. Then I installed the track with screws and nuts. There is a slight difference in width between the two tracks. One option that has been suggested is to buy a track for the RV-8. That track is longer and it would be one piece. The other option for me might be to cut a new top strap out of aluminum and replace what I have with a one-piece track. I can just match-drill it to the old one. Maybe in the future…

The next step is to locate the new side tracks so you have smooth roller travel through the transition between the original and new tracks on each side.

Once I was satisfied with the roller travel, I had to trim the aft ends of the tracks where they meet the skin back near the baggage bulkhead. I marked them, then filed material pretty liberally, since the rollers don’t get back there anyway. I clamped both tracks together and filed and sanded them symmetrically.

After the tracks are trimmed, and I double-checked roller travel, it was time to locate screw holes to secure the tracks in place. I marked the locations of the tracks in the two locations where screw holes can be placed, and made sure I had adequate edge distance. There’s not a lot of room in these two spots.

I pilot-drilled holes in the tracks. The forward hole has to be countersunk inside the track to clear the roller, so I drilled a hole on the top of the track for tool access. My pilot holes went straight through, then I enlarged the top hole to .375″ (3/8″). The I countersunk the bottom hole through the top hole…

The tracks are then secured at the aft end, since there can be some motion. This is done with some straps that are bent to fit. They also have to be twisted just a bit at the top because the edge of the track is oriented differently from the frame where the strap attaches to the airplane.

I drilled the straps, then primed, painted and installed them. I had to install the top fastener before the track was installed because I wouldn’t have access afterwards.

Then I installed the screws in the tracks.


After the tracks are installed, the instructions remind you to Loctite the screws in the rollers, since there is no safety for them. We had to assemble the rollers in place in the tracks because you can’t put the rollers in place once the tracks are together. My friend Carlos came by and helped me do this and to install the canopy.

As the last step, the kit supplies two short pieces of fuel hose to act as aft stops for the canopy, so it doesn’t hit the fuselage skin behind the canopy. These are just stuffed into the track forward of the fastener for the strap at the aft end. I cut about 1/2″ off the ends of mine so the canopy went just that much farther aft.

Here’s the two tracks and their relationship with the rollers:


This seems to be a very cool mod and it definitely gives better access behind the seats.

Time: 8:00

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Continued canopy latch

June 8, 2017 – I continued to work with the canopy latch today.

I sanded a little more material off the tube that is part of the canopy frame, thereby raising the latch arm into position. I also decided to place two AN-960 washers between the D-ring handle and the arm. This gives me a good vertical position.

Then I had to figure out where to cut the arm so it fits around the pin. Here’s the hook end of the arm before cutting:

With the canopy closed, I pressed the arm up into the pin to make a mark on the end of the arm. I thought I had a picture of it, but I guess not. Anyway, the mark was about halfway in that material on the hook end. I guessed at the dimension where I would cut, thinking I can always order another latch arm and try again. I removed about 1/4″ from the inside of the hook material, along with a new 1/4″ radius where the pin would rest when it’s latched. The plans advise removing excess material, but they show the trim area on the end of the arm, not the inside of the hook where I removed it.

Here’s the trimmed arm:

I put it together, and guess what!!! It was really a very nice fit! It went around the pin and pulled the canopy closed nicely without any excessive force.

I drilled two #53 holes for the assist spring, and then assembled everything.

It’s a little clunky because I don’t have the outside handle on yet, so I have to hold everything up in place.

Here’s a video of how it works:

And a photo of the latch in place.

Time: 1:30

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