Working on control cables

November 15, 2018 – Well, I complicated my own life by going with a throttle quadrant for engine control. I’ll be so glad when this part gets wrapped up.

I drilled holes in the firewall at the suggested locations for the throttle, prop and mixture cables using my punch set. The holes are 1″ right now, just large enough to pass the cable nuts through. I believe the final hole sizes will be 1 1/8″ for the cable pass-throughs I’ll get from Spruce.

I bought a 48″ and two 52.5″ cables. When I got them I routed them through the firewall to test fit. I used closed-cell foam to protect the cable jackets from the stainless edges.

I already know the 48″ cable is too short for the throttle. As near as I can tell, I need 51″. I’m waiting to order until I’m sure about the rest of them.

I had to slightly re-clock the prop governor because the cable went over-center at full travel. I also bent the bracket for the governor for a straighter cable approach.

Along with figuring out what cable lengths I need, I also need to make sure those cables are secure so I can get an accurate idea for routing and their lengths. The cables will be secured behind (forward of) the quadrant, so I started prototyping a bracket for that. Here’s my first one:

…and my third:

I think this one may be in the ballpark. I also ordered Aircraft Spruce part #05-01437 which is an AN486 with a 10-32 thread. These should have a deeper throat for attachment at the quadrant. I wasn’t getting full travel at the quadrant because the shorter clevises were hitting the arms. They are on the way.

Time: 6:30

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Miscellaneous Firewall Forward stuff

October 17, 2018 – I realized it’s been a while since I posted an update, so here goes…

Engine control cables

I started assembling the parts for engine controls: throttle, mixture and prop. I started with the mixture, since it’s a fairly complicated bellcrank system that reverses motion. The first problem that I ran into was that the mount bracket for the bellcrank does not fit as advertised on my engine. Right where this bracket is supposed to go, there is a drain plug in a boss on my Superior cold-air sump.

I found online where someone else had this same problem. They started by grinding down the height of the plug. So I did that, but the boss that the plug is in will not allow the bracket to sit in place.

I decided to trim the bracket until it does fit. After everything is installed and works, I’ll take the bracket off and make a new one. You can see that I removed a lot of material. That’s fine.

So I assembled the bellcrank and moved on.

I measured for the three cables, since I am using a throttle quadrant instead of the traditional push-pull controls supplied by Van’s. I ordered some from Van’s and just got them today. I also drilled the holes in the firewall at the three recommended locations. They’re just 1/2″ right now. I’ll take them to final size when I start test-fitting the cables.


Fuel Flow Transducer

I figured out where I’d like to mount the Red Cube. It will be inline between the servo and the flow divider, and I’ll mount it on the engine mount behind #3 cylinder. I had the long fuel hose that goes there…I sent it to Tom Swearengen at TS Flightlines. He took care of me. I’m a big fan…

Oil Temp Sensor

I installed the oil temp sensor as required…

Engine Electrical

I’ve been slowly working on cables for the battery, starter, etc. The only picture I have right now is the copper bar between the contactor and the relay. I replaced the one bar I had with two that total .125″, which is closer to the plans.

I got in touch with a guy who was in town and bored (he posted on Van’s Air Force). He was looking to see if anybody needed a hand with anything. So he came over today to visit, and we took care of a short list of items I needed an extra pair of hands to get done.

We installed the firewall pass-thrus, and I needed to remove the manifold on the firewall so I could get fittings in it. We removed it, installed the required fittings, and reinstalled it. If I ever have to take that manifold off again, I’ll install nutplates.

Time: 13:10

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Installed CHT and EGT probes

September 7, 2018 – Today I installed the CHT and EGT probes. I’ve ordered a lot of small items from Spruce, and I’m kind of on hold with a lot of things. This I could do today.

Pretty straight-forward; I used some anti-seize to install the CHT probes. These probes from Dynon have a quick-disconnect feature.

The EGT probes use a hose clamp setup to hold the probes. I drilled  1/8″ holes in each exhaust pipe 3″ down from the flange on the cylinders. Insert the probe, tighten the clamp, that’s it.

Time: :50

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Worked on firewall pass-throughs

September 6, 2018 – I installed a couple of items on the firewall; the wiring pass-throughs and the fuel line connection.

I found the Avery pass-throughs at Aircraft Spruce, so I bought two of them. These will be for the wiring. As is usually the case, I’ll be running engine monitoring and sensing wiring through one, and heavy electrical through the other.

I put one pass-through in each upper corner of the firewall. I bought a set of punches at Harbor Freight. I drilled a 3/4″ hole using a Unibit to accommodate the punch.

Put the bolt part of the punch through, then crawled inside and put the die in place and tightened it down by hand. Went back outside and tightened the bolt until the hole was cut.

I used the flange to drill the screw holes, and deburred everything. Used firewall sealant on both sides, and clecoed the flanges into place. I’ll need help to install the screws, but that part is done.

I also installed the fuel fitting that goes through the firewall. I opted to use the doubler that they have you install on the firewall at the very beginning of firewall construction.  This doubler is for the optional Facet fuel pump, which I’m not using. This made more sense than installing another doubler just a few inches away when this one is not being used.

Time: 2:00

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Installed Prop governor

September 6, 2018 – I installed the prop governor.

I wasn’t sure about the orientation of the governor on the engine. So I did some online research, and found the orientation that seems to be correct. I definitely had to reclock the control head. With the governor in the correct position on the engine, the control arm faced down, when it’s supposed to be up. The instructions tell you how to reclock it.

You just break the safety wire on the top screws, loosen them, and rotate the head to the desired position. I went 180 degrees out from the original position. I also had to install the bracket for the cable, so I had to loosen those screws anyway.

I installed the governor on the engine. The nuts are pretty hard to get on to torque. I’m pretty sure this whole project is going to be that way, and get worse all the time.

Time: 2:15

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Installed heat muff

September 6, 2018 – I assembled and installed the heat muff.

The heat muff takes air heated by the exhaust and routes it to the cabin for some semblance of heat. I installed it on the only stretch of pipe that was long and straight enough to accept it: on the pipe from #1 cylinder. Wasn’t sure about this spot, but I’ve seen it on other airplanes, so…

I needed 5 1/2 hands to put this together, but I figured it out.

Time: 1:10

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Installed exhaust

August 29, 2018 – Well, that was pretty easy. I got the exhaust installed today.

I got the crossover tubes installed and torqued the pipes to 180 in/lb.

The hangers were pretty simple as well. Vetterman gives you clamps and everything you need to support the pipes at the exit.

I installed the lower cowl to check the space at the exit. Have lots of room there.

The pictures look like the pipes turn outwards, but that’s just the camera angle. They both point straight back.

I attached two angles at the aft corner bolts on the sump, then used the supplied hardware and rubber tube to connect to the clamps on the pipes. The clamps are supposed to be as far aft as possible to provide good support.

Once I got the vertical hangers in, I supported the pipes horizontally to each other. I had to cut the provided tubes because of the short distance between the pipes.

Time: 2:20

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Started exhaust

August 29, 2018 – It was time to start with all of the engine hookups.

I took the box from Vetterman out of my bedroom into the garage, and did a quick inventory. I had to run out and get some high-temp anti-seize, then I attached the pipes to the cylinders. Their instructions say to start with 3 and 4, then install 1 and 2.

The pipes are in place, but not yet torqued. I still have to install the crossover tailpipes.

Time: 1:00

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Cowl work continues

August 29, 2018 – I’m putting the finishing touches on the fit of the cowl.

In the previous post, I ended up with a small gap at the leading edge lip of the cowl on both sides. I added some fiberglass at those spots and then filled it smooth.

I’m pretty tired of doing fiberglass work in this heat, so I set the cowl aside to start on the engine itself.

Time: 3:00

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Cowl fasteners complete

August 18, 2018 – I’ve finished the Skybolt fasteners for the cowl. There’s a few fit and finish items I have to try to take care of.

After drilling the actual fastener holes in the top cowl for the split lines that run fore and aft, I had to fill the cleco holes.

Meanwhile, I moved the flanges to the inside of the lower cowl, then I countersunk the rivet holes.

I prepped and deburred the flanges and clecoed them in place for installation.

I riveted them in place, and then installed the fasteners, and tried the fit of the entire cowl.

Pretty cool. I made adjustments on a few of the fasteners all the way around, and I had two receptacles that needed to be changed to floating receptacles. I installed and adjusted those.

My biggest problem right now is that I have a pretty healthy gap of about 1/8″ at the outboard leading edges of the cowl on both sides. I’m going to try just to add material to the top cowl at that location.

Time: 7:20

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Cowling fasteners, Part 3

August 11, 2018 – Well, things are coming along nicely on the cowl.

I drilled the holes to size in the upper cowl. 15/32″ using a Unibit. At the holes at the upper corners where the engine mount is, I had to start them, and then finish the holes with the cowl off the airplane, because the Unibit hit the mount. This step is hard because there’s no solid way to cleco the cowl in place after the holes are drilled. I just had to be careful and make sure things were lined up as best as I could get them.

I mixed up a little bit of resin and flox and filled the cleco holes that I had drilled to get the cowl into position originally.

I riveted the receptacles for the upper cowl into the flanges.


Then I installed the collars into the cowl. These were really a tight fit, and most of them wouldn’t go in by hand. So I used a C-clamp and a socket to squeeze them into place.

I then installed the fasteners using the pliers.

I put the cowl on the airplane, and tightened the fasteners until they sat flush.

Once the fasteners are where you like them, you remove them by using a screwdriver and pressing down and turning to loosen them with a sharp motion. You have to do this because the receptacles are unlocked and will turn. The sharp motion just releases the pins on the fastener without turning the entire receptacle barrel.

To lock the receptacles, you remove the temporary lockpin and then turn the barrel to the 11:00 – 7:00 position. The collar locks into place with a light snap. That’s it.

I repeated the process with the lower cowl. The lower cowl seemed a lot harder to keep lined up and to drill precise holes. As it turns out, only two fasteners on the firewall, one on top, and one on the bottom, don’t quite line up. So I ordered some floating receptacles from Skybolt.

Now it’s time to set up the fasteners that go down the cowl split on the sides.

I decided to lay these flanges out externally, then they will be installed internally later. I drew a line from the lower fastener on the upper cowl, so everything’s in line. I marked the same spacing as on the firewall, 3.25″, and went from there. I positioned each flange centered on the marks I made, and clecoed them at the receptacle rivet locations.

I just carried that line forward until I ran out of room at the front. The flanges will be riveted to the lower cowl, so I laid out that line and went with .9″ for the rivet spacing.

I started on the left side and realized I’m short two flanges, because of my mistake installing them down in the belly where the exhaust fairing of the cowl is.  So I’m going to make a couple.

This cowl is almost done. I’m really happy with how it’s turning out.

Time: 9:00

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Continuing the cowl

July 18, 2018 – I think I’m on the home stretch for the cowl. 🙂

I like the fit all the way around, so I decided to go ahead and drill for the Skybolt fasteners around the firewall.

Before that, though, I drilled holes for the screws in the area behind the spinner. This also helps to support the cowl so I can accurately drill for the other fasteners.

Skybolt gives you little tools that fit in the fastener holes of the flanges so that you can drill a centered pilot hole. They’re kind of like drill bushings that I’ve used elsewhere on the airplane. You secure them in the holes you want to drill, then do the pilot holes. The holes will later be taken up to size with a Unibit.


I back-drilled through these bushings, but there are areas where you can’t get on the backside because of the engine mount. So I used my triangulation trick that I’ve used before for blind holes. You basically mark two or three lines that center on the hole you want to drill, and mark the dimension on that line.

Drill at the intersection, and you should have a centered hole in the correct location.

I’ve got all the holes piloted except for the ones right adjacent to the gear legs. I’m going to see if I can investigate at Oshkosh whether I need fasteners that will ultimately be underneath the gear leg fairings.

I previously left off the flanges on the firewall that are in line with the horizontal split of the cowl, because I wanted to make sure those flanges were in the correct location. I marked on the skin where the split line was, then I located, drilled and installed these two flanges.

The Skybolt instructions say to install all the fasteners at the firewall, then do the fasteners at the horizontal split lines toward the front. I’m going to do it that way. But I believe I’m done now until after Oshkosh. Good thing I don’t have money yet for a panel…  🙂

Time: 3:45

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Continuing to fit cowl

July 11, 2018 – Well, it’s been a while, but I’m beginning to see the light at the end of this tunnel. It’s been hot, and I haven’t been interested in handling fiberglass lately, but we had a bit of a break and now I’m making progress.

I wish I could describe specifically what I’ve done to get the cowling this far, but you just have to sand here, sand there, and eventually it falls into place.

I trimmed the aft edge where it meets the firewall. I used 2″ tape to give a known dimension, then marked the cowl and cut it.

The hardest part of dealing with this thing is supporting it so I can attempt more or less accurate cuts. I decided it would be easier to support the cowl at the firewall if I went ahead and installed the flanges for the Skybolt fasteners. After playing with the spacing, I decided that 3 1/4″ worked all the way around. I started with the top, then I did the sides, then the bottom.


The Skybolt flanges are individual, so they can be trimmed to nest together.


I finished up by installing the bottom flanges.

Then I realized that I’d gotten ahead of myself and didn’t need fasteners at the exhaust fairing of the cowling.  Ha. So I removed the flanges at that location.

I think I’m really close right now. I’d like to look at a couple of airplanes. Maybe if I can hold out a couple of weeks I’ll look at some at a little fly-in in Oshkosh…

Time: 12:00

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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

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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

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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!

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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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