Category: RV-7

Continued Interior Install

October 22, 2021 – I continued with the installation of the interior. I’ve been holding off on the baggage compartment because I have had to work under the panel because of the fuel tank issues, but I’m convince that my wiring is not at fault.

I laid down the carpet in the baggage compartment, then the carpet on the sides.

The upper sidewalls form pockets on each side, which I think will be handy. These pieces were a bit confusing at first, but I finally figured it out.

These attach at the aft bulkhead and around the F705 bulkhead. There are two screws that will go to rivnuts in the F705.

The pockets are lined with material that velcroes to the longitudinal formers and the skin above the side carpeting.

I got these done on the left side, I’ll do the right side on Monday.

Time: 2:20

Fuel Tank Drama Continues…

October 22, 2021 – I have given up on my right tank fuel quantity issue, for now…

I got a new sensor from Van’s. I installed it, reinstalled the tank, ands started the fuel calibration again. Believe it or not, no help. The sensor and float move just fine, and electrically it works. but when it’s in the tank, there is still no apparent movement (i.e. voltage change) when I add fuel.

I tried bypassing my wiring; running a wire from pin 21 of the Dynon EMS to the sensor. That was no help. I also double-checked the ground.

OK. I’ve had enough. I decided to go scorched-earth, and reconfigure the tank back to the fixed pickup tube and relocate the float sensor to it’s normal place in the inboard bay of the tank.

I removed the tank again, and ordered the pickup tube with a screen and the anti-rotation brackets from Van’s.

I removed the access plate on the inboard rib, to see if I could tell if the float was hanging up. I was able to stick something through and move the float. I also checked the resistance while I was moving it. I couldn’t find anything wrong.

I cut an access hole in the back baffle of the tank as needed to get access to the bay.

Here’s the flop tube inside the tank.

I removed the flop tube and the float from the next bay over. I left the small mods that are installed with the flop tube; there’s a twisted strap that keeps the flop tube from hanging up in the next rib, and there’s a small trap door that acts as a check valve to keep fuel in the inboard bay so fuel doesn’t slosh outboard and starve the flop tube.

I drilled the hole in the inboard access plate for the sensor…

…and when I got the pickup tube, I located that hole, then secured the tube in place along with the anti-rotation bracket.

So here’s everything in place:

The float does not and cannot hang on anything. It also doesn’t touch either the top or the bottom.

I made the panels to close the tank back up and installed them.

Two days later, I pumped up the tank with a bike pump and used soapy water to look for leaks. Absolutely nothing…

I plugged the hole at the leading edge where the flop tube was mounted, and where fuel exited the tank. I used an AN fitting with two AN caps and thoroughly sealed them inside and out…

I also had to make a new fuel line to the fuselage since the location was different…

I installed the tank, and proceeded to begin the calibration.

Guess what?… It still doesn’t work.

Well, I was able to get a “calibration”, but I had to thump the top of the tank with my fist to get the sensor voltage to change after each 2-gallon addition.

I filled it to 21 gallons, and the Dynon accepted the calibration.

I proceeded to drain 10 gallons from the tank to put in the left tank. The indicated quantity did not change.

My drain valve was dripping, so I drained the rest of the fuel so I could check the o-ring on the drain. I did expect to find a piece of aluminum stuck there, and I did. I reinstalled the drain. With an empty tank, Dynon still indicated 20+.

OK. This airplane needs to be flown, so I decided I’ll not hit my head against the wall any more, and just manage the fuel for the time being.

I may call Van’s at some point, and probably will end up ordering another sensor, but maybe not until the condition inspection next year.

Time: 24:30

Work after First Flight

October 8, 2021 – I took care of the items that were noted during the first flight.

Chuck suggested that I remove a little bit of the dam in front of the #1 cylinder, because it was getting a little warm.

I also took care of some of the items that were related to configuration on the Dynon. Battery voltage showed a steady 14.5 volts, yet was annunciated in yellow. I changed the parameter for the yellow to 15 volts. I also had a yellow caution band on the RPM gauge. Chuck questioned whether it had to be there. I called Aerosport Power, then Hartzell. Based on my engine and prop combination, there was no restriction, so I changed the parameters for that sensor in Dynon to remove the yellow band.

My airspeed issue was because I reversed the AOA and Pitot connections at the tube. My transponder guy came out, found that, and he also pumped up the airplane from the pitot tube back. No leaks and an accurate indication.

I also had a slight yaw issue, where the ball was a little bit to the right. I installed a temporary tab, and we will investigate further during the next flight.

After the first flight issues were taken care of, and because my pilots are on vacation, I decided to pull the right fuel tank to try to address my calibration issue.

Yay. What joy to remove the bolts that attach the tank to the wing spar…

I took out the float sensor. It electrically checked out, but it seemed a bit stiff. I decided to go ahead and order a new one from Van’s.

I have since installed the new one. I’m going to give the sealant time before I put fuel to it.

I moved on to the interior.

I’ve had to make some small mods because of things that I have done differently in the airplane.

This small panel wraps around the air vents. Since I made my own air vent brackets, I had to make a cut about 1″ long to accommodate…

The big side pockets fit under the armrests. Since I installed the J-stringer sections to stiffen the armrests, I had to modify these…

Time: 12:30

Ummm…First Flight!!!

September 24, 2021 – So, shall we go flying?

Bright and early on this Friday morning, I opened the hangar and pulled 174PM out into the sunshine.

My friend Chuck Wilson came out and we got the airplane ready to go. He was going to fly, and Jeff Hansen provided chase in his RV-4.

Chuck ran the engine for a few minutes.

We let it sit for a few minutes, then he took it out to fly.

There was a moment of rejoicing…

Chuck and I sat down for the debrief after the flight. Kinda took me back to my Air Force days. Him too, probably…

The worst problem I have to deal with is that the airspeed quit at 30mph.

Prep for First Flight

September 23, 2021 – I completed the finishing touches to get ready for the first flight.

I had asked the test pilot if he wanted to see anything before I closed up. He came out and gave me a short list.

I put in some of the interior so I could place the seats.

The measles are velcro dots that get attached on the seat pans for the carpet. This is how Classic Aero has you install the carpet.

I also closed up all the external panels.

I installed the wing root fairings. Dealing with these in the past, I learned some new words while trying to put these on. I got some gasket adhesive and glued the rubber seals to the panels, and they went right on.

The tail was closed next.

I installed the cowling last. Had an interesting problem with some of the fasteners. About 5 of the Skybolt fasteners wouldn’t go in. I was getting frustrated because I had done these previously with no issues. Come to find out that when I sealed the interiors with resin for the heat blanket, some of the resin had gotten inside the openings for the fasteners. So I took out the fasteners, scraped around the collar to clear the dried resin, and everything went in like it was supposed to. I also tried out the inlet plugs I’d gotten from Bruce’s at Oshkosh.

I put 174PM to bed. We have a big day tomorrow…

Time: 16:00


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

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

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!

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


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…

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

Transponder Check

August 18, 2021 – I got the transponder check done.

Not much to tell. I’m waiting for my seats and interior from Classic Aero, and not much else to do on the airplane. I’ve been working on some projects around the house, and we’ve been getting some things done that require me to stay home. So this is as good a time as any to get these things done.

I did work on the schematics for my future maintenance manual. That was a big job that needed to be done.

Anyway, I had the transponder check done. It passed with flying colors!

Time: 1:00

Added Ammeter Shunt

August 18, 2021 – I decided to add the ammeter shunt.

In my research about the VPX addition to the airplane, I had read that an ammeter shunt is not required. What I inferred from that is that I would get an ammeter reading from the VPX. While that is true, the indication appears on the VPX page on the Dynon, and not on the engine bar on the main Dynon screens. You can select battery voltage specifically from the VPX to be displayed, but it doesn’t appear that there is that option for amps. The theory is that you can monitor battery voltage for a charge on the battery.

I decided that having an amp reading would give a better indication of charging health, so I installed the shunt. The hardest part of this was  installing the shunt on the firewall. I found the wires from the EMS box and ran them out through the firewall and across to the right side.

Then I installed the shunt and connected the wires. The shunt is in the wire from the ANL60 fuse to the VPX. I haven’t run the engine again since, but I get a 10 amp discharge with power on the airplane, which agrees with the reading on the VPX page.

Time: 2:45

Aileron Trim

August 18, 2021 – I finished the installation of the aileron trim.

The trim block and shaft had been previously installed; I just needed to connect the block and handle to the aileron system. This is just the installation of springs to the trim arm. The springs are connected with .041″ safety wire. The wire is tighter than it looks in the picture…


Time: 2:00

Loose Ends…and Oshkosh!!!

August 5, 2021 – Little things need to be done; waiting on my interior from Classic Aero.

I mentioned in my last post that I had some issues from the first engine run. Some of them I chalk up to a total lack of experience on my part. This entire project has been a learning experience…

I had a few leaks after that first run.

Since the run was right before Oshkosh, I had to wait until after to address those issues. This year was my bride’s first time there. She was a good sport. I think she enjoyed it…she says she’ll come back next year when the RV goes up.

At Oshkosh I bought a union to streamline the manifold pressure installation. I had previously used a piece of the manifold that Van’s sells to use for oil pressure, fuel pressure, etc. I never liked that installation. Here’s the new one:

I also had an issue with RPM. Turns out I neglected to wire for it! So I used the RPM lead for the Dynon EMS and ran it to the tach output on the right PMag. I also investigated the issue with #4 cylinder. It was totally cold during the first run. I disconnected the fuel line at the injector and ran fuel into a bottle. While I had that open, I removed the injector. I could see right through it, so it wasn’t clogged. Put it all back together and rolled the airplane outside.

Well, between a bit of flooding and a low battery charge, we couldn’t get a good start. Back inside, I put the battery tender on it and went home.

The next morning I rolled it outside. Got it started, but it didn’t run well. The RPM indication worked, and #4 cylinder was working. However, I had very little throttle travel before the RPM was very high. The engine was happy around the 2000 RPM point, but anything less than 1400 it barely ran. I couldn’t precisely control the throttle because it was VERY sensitive. I also had the prop control full aft in low RPM. My unfamiliarity with constant speed props led to this.

I shut down and rolled back inside. I did a little research and talked to some people. It was pointed out that Dynon has a setting for the pulses per revolution that it sees from the mag. PMags put out 2 pulses per revolution, and the Dynon default setting was 1. Therefore, the indicated RPM would be twice the actual RPM. Kind of makes sense; It ran happily at 2000rmp, that would really be 1000rpm. I found that setting in the Dynon and changed it to 2.

Took it back outside for a third try. WOW! It ran like butter. RPM indications were more in the real world. I had the prop control full forward. At 1800rpm or so I pulled the prop control to get the oil to it. It took 2 tries, but then the prop moved. Awesome! The RV grin is beginning to show up!

Later on I installed the spinner…

…and the dataplate.

I walked around a bit and found some bolts without nuts on them. Fixed those.

The to-do list is very short now. Like I said, I expect to have the interior soon.

Time: 4:45

Engine Run!

July 22, 2021 – A momentous day!

It’s time for an engine run. I rolled the airplane out to pre-oil. I had the lower plugs out and I pulled the coil wires on each P-Mag. Got in and turned the engine over. I did two 5-second cycles. No oil pressure yet. After the second try, I noticed that I was reading 1 PSI. So I knew the third time would be the charm. Sure enough, as soon as the prop started turning the oil pressure shot up.

I pushed the airplane back into the hangar and started to prep for the run.

While I was doing this I had some “help”. No seriously, these guys at the airport have been a huge support throughout this project and I appreciate everything they do, including their close supervision…  🙂

I installed the lower plugs, found some bolts that needed to be tightened, and went over the entire engine compartment and the cockpit.

After lunch we rolled it back out and tied the tail to a truck.

It started on the second blade!

I have some things to deal with.

  • I had no RPM.
  • It appears that the #4 cylinder was pretty much just along for the ride.
  • There are a few small oil leaks.
  • I have some brake leaks; one inside and one at the left brake.

Here’s the video:

Time: 5:00

Engine Prep

July 22, 2021 – I did some things on the engine to get it ready for the first engine run.

Since I was ready to service the engine with oil, I replaced the stock drain plug with a quick drain.

I installed all of the Skybolt fasteners in the cowling. They provide temporary rubber retainers, so I’m using those until the cowl gets painted. If they don’t last long, I may use the permanent metal rings and buy new ones when it comes time.

I’ve also been trying to figure out how I was going to deal with the sniffle valve in the bottom of the cold-air sump. The valve comes down right between the two crossover exhaust pipes. I slightly bent the tube out of the valve, then used an aluminum tube and a piece of fuel line. We’ll see how long it lasts.

Time: 2:50