Category: Landing Lights

All You Gotta Do…

June 28, 2021 – A lot has happened lately. This is a long post, but it’s a lot easier to just do a post with everything I’ve done instead of breaking it out by specific project. So here goes…


We’ll start with the obvious…the panel.

I got the panel installed. I had some nice black brass screws to install the panel blank into the airplane. Well, the third screw in broke. I decided I didn’t have any magnetic sensitive need to use brass, so I ordered black steel screws. Much better. I started to install items in the panel, starting in the middle and high up, so I had access.

I installed a bracket for the alternate air, so I could keep from running the cable through the panel itself.

I also installed my glareshield lights. When everything important was in, I fired it up…

I’ve also been installing placards and labels where needed. My friend Clint Caldwell in Atlanta made me some laser-etched placards. Thanks, Clint!!!

I took the airplane outside to check on the GPS operation. Looks like a lot of green bars…


The next item to take care of was the stick grips and their wiring.

I used 9-pin dsub connectors for the stick grips. I wanted to make them as simple as possible to remove.

I had previously cut the sticks down to height, and I didn’t like the cut on the right stick. Luckily I had enough of the stick tube left over from the cut to make a new one. I then covered the sticks with vinyl again.


Since the airplane is registered and my number is official, I ordered numbers. These will be temporarily permanent. I got 12″ decals from Sporty’s. Decent price and a fairly fast turnaround. These seem huge, but for the time being they’re fine.

Landing Lights

Something I’ve wanted to do for a long time is to replace the HID bulbs in my Duckworks landing lights with LEDs. I ordered some on Amazon. These are very nice.

Aileron Stops

Another item I didn’t do before was to install aileron stops.

I’ve always read about delryn stops at the attach bolt as opposed to the stock angle riveted to the aileron. I started doing a bit of research as to how to do these. I thought about a guy at Aerocountry who does a bit of machining and fabrication for his RV6. I contacted him and he sent me a picture of his. We agreed to meet the next day at his hangar to talk about it. When I showed up at his hangar he handed me a bag with two stops turned to 3/4″ outside diameter, which according to my research seems to be the sweet spot for 7’s. “Here you go; I made these last night.” Wow. I love this community. I asked him what I owed him and he shrugged and said “20 bucks”.

I installed them and the upward throw is 27.5 degrees on both sides. That’s well within the required range, so I’m sticking with them.

Thanks, Colin!!! Here’s before and after, different sides, of course…


I hung the flaps and set out to rig them.

First off is just hanging the flaps.

Here’s my pin safety setup that I made when I built the wings…

The inboard upper skin of each flap did rub the fuselage skin, so I ended up removing roughly 1/8″ from each flap.

I had to make the flap rods that attach the flaps to the bellcrank inside the airplane.

The next thing I had to do was cut the holes in the belly where the flap rods come through the fuselage. This was a little difficult to do, since you’re cutting perfectly good metal, and also it’s hard to get a good shape without removing too much material. There are holes that get you started…

Oddly enough, it appears I don’t have a picture of the final holes.

I installed the flap actuator housing in the cockpit. To do this I closed the baggage compartment tunnel. I cleaned it out really well ,then installed the panel.

Then I installed the forward and aft faces of the actuator housing. I figured out that I had to install the bolt for the actuator before I installed the housing.

I connected the flaps to the bellcrank, locked the ailerons to the wingtips, lined up the flaps with the ailerons, adjusted the rods, the slid bolts into place. Put power on the airplane and ran the flaps. After a small adjustment, got the flaps to a perfect 45 degrees.


After tying some wiring back and cleaning up back there, I installed the large elevator control rod. This goes from the elevator bellcrank just behind the baggage compartment all the way back to the elevators.

I removed all of the blue film from the airplane. I’ve read how this causes some people a lot of panic about how hard it is to remove, but it was no problem. There’s a lot of it, and it took part of 2 days to get it all. I did have to drop end end of each aileron because I left the film on the leading edges and I couldn’t get to it all. It looks like…well…a new airplane. I left one panel of it on the left wing where I’m making a final to-do list. read more

Landing light wiring

June 12, 2011 – I installed the ground and power wiring for he landing lights. I decided that I wanted to use near-Boeing spec ground studs, and for the sake of maintenance I want to use local grounds whenever possible. I used snakeskin to protect the bundle coming out at the outboard side of the outboard rib, and clamped it in place. The ground stud there will be the ground for the landing light and the nav lights when they are installed in the tips.

Time: :55

Left landing light complete

May 9, 2011 – I got both landing light assemblies pretty much up to the same place, then I installed the left landing light, since that wing is on the table.

I attached the retaining strips using the recommended double-stick tape. I had a few reservations about doing this, but I figure I’ll do it now, then when it’s time for maintenance and the tape fails, I may install pop-rivets. As it turned out late today, pop-rivets may have made my life a little easier.

As I read through the instructions last week, I ran across something that I really didn’t care for. You are told to use a washer and a screw to hold the light assembly in the bracket, something like below:

I really didn’t like that, so I set out to make something that I liked better.

I started out with a piece of aluminum L-angle. This piece is .125″ thick. The big leg is about 1″ and the smaller one is roughly 1/2″.

Using a 1″ rotary file, I milled an edge 3/8″ wide. I did this milling below the nice rounded edge of the raw stock. I finished the milled surface with a sanding disk, then a scotch-brite disk.

I cut four 1″ pieces from the milled stock. This is a good shot of the profile of the piece.

I drilled the holes for the screws. The screw holes do go through the milled section, but that’s where the pre-drilled holes fall in the bracket; they are right along the edge of the lamp assembly. I’m not worried about any kind of structural issues with this. The picture shows the top and bottom of a couple of the retainers.

I cleaned, treated, primed and painted  the retainers, then installed them. I really like how they turned out.

I shaped the edges of the lenses at the top and bottom around the lens retainers. The lenses wouldn’t go into the leading edge without hitting the light bracket already installed inside.

I installed the screws for the lens. I had some trouble getting one of the retainer strips to stay down so I could get the last screw in. I had to slide a thin piece of aluminum through the back under the light bracket and push the strip down while I got the screw started.

Here’s the finished product, inside and out:

One thing I’m going to do differently, and change on this light: I’m going to get some more cap screws that use an allen wrench for the adjustment screws for the light bracket. These are very hard to get tight without running the risk of stripping the screw heads.

Time: 3:50

Left landing light lens and retainers

May 2, 2011 – The left landing light lens is pretty much ready to install.

I enlarged  and countersunk the holes in the plexiglass lens to accept the dimples in the skin. This was a little scary because the drill bit caught in the plexiglass a couple of times, and I got very small chips, but they were removed by the countersink.

I drilled the lens retainers and countersunk the nutplate rivet holes. I alodined, primed, and painted the retainers, then installed the nutplates. They’re black and white because I had decided to paint the inside of the leading edge that way: black all around except for the upper surface of the landing light bay, where it’s white for a little bit of downward reflection.


…and after:

It’s a little cold right now, so I’m going to wait to install the left lens.

Time: 1:05

Landing light lens work

April 19, 2011 – I began working on installation of the landing lights in the wing leading edges.

I am using the Duckworks rectangular lights. The instructions start by having you mark and cut the lenses to size. They suggest an ideal measurement of 3/4″ on the top and bottom and 5/8″ on the sides. I went ahead and marked those dimensions on the leading edge around the cutout, then placed the lens over the top of the leading edge and traced those marks.

I cut the lines using my dremel.

Here’s the lenses after cutting:

I used a large, coarse file to clean the edges, then I used a utility knife to scrape and slightly round the edges. I’m really happy with how they came out. I still need to cut the corners, but I may wait on that until the attach brackets are installed, then I’ll cut the lenses to shape.

The next step is to drill the lenses through the leading edge of the wing. To help hold the lenses tightly in place, you use tape so you can pull the lens tightly into position.

I also painted the brackets for the lights. These will be installed inside the leading edge.

Time: 2:10

Leading edge assembly

December 21, 2010 – After not being sure if I could rivet the leading edges by myself, I decided yesterday to give it a try. I took the assembly out of the cradle and put it on the table. Things went a lot easier.

Before I started assembly, I installed the nutplates for the landing light brackets.

The fasteners at the leading edge were a little more difficult to reach, but I took my time, and things came out OK. I also installed the access panel doubler for the stall warning vane.

The left leading edge is clecoed onto the wing spar.

I’ve started on the right leading edge. I’m doing this one a little differently. Hopefully this will give me a little more access, since the top rivets are a little more difficult at the leading edge.

Time: 3:10

Painted leading edge ribs and skins

December 14, 2010 – The most important thing about today is that it’s my 25th wedding anniversary! But due to the fact that LJ had to work, I still get to work on the airplane.

Over the last week I have alodined and primed the leading edge ribs, and got them and the leading edge skins primed. I also painted the landing light bays the traditional flat black. I  read a note in the instructions for the Duckworks lights where they advise painting the upper surface of the interior of the landing light bay a brighter color, since the cutout points more down than forward. A lighter color on the top will permit some reflection of the light downward. So I painted the upper portion white as you can see in the photo. I also painted the sides of the ribs that will form the bay for the lights. I used the nutplates as the guide for where the line should stop, since that is where the bracket will sit.

Time: 3:10

Began landing light prep work

December 1, 2010 – Over the last couple of days I have done the sheet metal work in preparation for the landing light installation. I decided to get the Duckworks regular 55W rectangular lights. I’m putting a light in each wing, and they will be in the most outboard bay, just inboard of the wingtips. The kit comes with very nice instructions.

To start with, I cut out the template for the leading edge cutout. The edge of the template also gets cut, so it can align with the fasteners in the rib inboard of the light. I aligned the template in place on the leading edge and taped it in place, then traced the outline of my cutout.

To do the cutout, I began by using a Unibit for each corner, then I used a cutoff wheel between those holes. Then a combination of rotary files and scotchbrite discs until the opening was nice and smooth.

I then used a template to locate the holes in the ribs that the landing light bracket will attach to. The holes will contain nutplates, and the attach screws can be loosened, allowing the bracket to be adjusted. I drilled the holes through the template, took them up to #10, then used a nutplate jig to drill the rivet holes for the nutplates.

I’ll install the nutplates after everything is painted.

Time: 2:40