Forward skin installed

November 11, 2016 – Wow! I guess I haven’t done any updates in a while.

I’ve been working towards getting the windshield installed. I wanted to install fans to help cool the avionics behind the panel, so I cut those holes, then I prepped the glareshield area for priming..

111016003 111016006

I then permanently installed the sub-panel structure. I had previously painted it white for possible added light under there.

111016005 111016004

I realized that I hadn’t dimpled the flanges of the firewall where the top skin will attach, so I did that.

111016007 111016008

I painted the underside of the skin flat black where it would be above the panel, then i back-riveted the attach angles for the panel..

111016010 111016009 111016011

Time to close up. I shot what I could by myself.

111016012

This is where some time got away from me. I had to get help to finish riveting the skin, and during that time we took a short vacation. But I got my friend Wilson to come and help, and we got the rest of the skin shot on in pretty short order.

111016013

I cleaned up the glareshield for painting. Had one more day of halfway decent weather before it cooled off and rained for a week or so, so I got the paint done. I found some spray on truck bed liner paint that I thought I’d try. It has a nice texture and is flat. I think it looks nice.

111016014 111016015 111016016

I had to tidy up a few things: I installed the rollbar brace, and I had to resecure some clamps for the fuel vent lines. I had to move the vent lines so I could rivet in some of those locations.

111016001 111016002

Time: 11:00

Read more

Canopy and windshield work

October 3, 2016 – I’ve spent an awful lot of time on the ledge with this canopy, but I think I can move on…

100316005I’ve been happy with the roll of the canopy, but due to the slightly wide dimension of the canopy, the side skirts were not flush with the skins. The skirts had a consistent 1/8″ gap front to back. I had no idea how to fix that, or if it was something I even needed to worry about. After consulting with a few friends, I concluded that I needed to do something.

I decided to try bending the lower edge of the skirts in. I used a hand seamer, very carefully working the length of the skirts, front to back. I used the lower edge of the inner brace as the bend point.

Now, I can barely get a fingernail under there.

100316004100316007

I installed the rollbar.

100316001

I have also trimmed and sanded the windshield to get it ready to install. I removed the blue plastic from the top skin where the glareshield will be painted. I’m going to install fans on the glareshield, so I’ll have to get those and drill the holes first.

100316002

Time: 4:20

Read more

Canopy and windshield work

September 15, 2016 – In the last post I described how I prepped the forward top skin for installation before I could install the windshield. One of the things I had done previously bugged me a little bit as far as maintainability is concerned.

The fuel vent lines are clamped in place as they run from the inlets to the tanks. I realized when the top skin is installed, I wouldn’t be able to get to the top clamp if I ever had to remove a vent tube. So I removed the screw and nut for that clamp, and I installed nutplates in the left and right top gussets.

091516001 091516002

Here’s the screw from underneath:

091516003

I moved on and started preliminary trimming of the windshield. I have a pretty nice 3/16″ or so gap between the windshield and the canopy. I’m just going to clean that edge up to prevent future cracking.

091516004 091516005

My friend Floyd came over to see the project, and to help me drill the inner side skirt braces. Then I prepped, painted and installed them.

091516006

I started on the aft blocks that provide the stops for the canopy. There are pins in the canopy frame that will go into holes in hard lastic blocks, and will secure the aft end of the canopy when it is closed.

Before I could start those, I realized I had left out some rivets in the side skins right at the aft ends of the tracks. I installed them so the skin was tightly in position.

091516007

The plans call for the channels that the blocks go into to be 1/8″ from the outer edge of the canopy decks to allow for clearance of rivets. I drilled for that.

091516008

One little problem, which really has everything to do with my canopy still being just a hair too wide (see previous posts). here’s how the pin on the canopy frame is positioned in the channel for the block on the left side:

091516009

The pin should go into the block more inboard than it is. I decided that I have enough clearance from the rivets to move these channels a little bit outboard, closer to the canopy frame on each side. I thought maybe I could make some of these channels, but I decided to go ahead and order two new ones from Van’s, and I’ll drill the new ones so they are a bit outboard from where these are.

Here’s a picture of the inner skirt brace and an aft block shot from inside with the canopy closed:

091516010

Time: 7:30

Read more

Back on track!

August 25, 2016 – HA! get it? Back on track?!

Anyway, I’m back where I needed to be with the canopy. I located and drilled the new tracks. I decided I still needed to bring the forward ends out just a hair to ease the rolling. After the tracks were installed and I dropped the canopy in place, it rolls really nice!

Here’s the holes for the windshield roll bar:

082516001

And the tracks:

082516002 082516003 082516004

I also decided to paint the sub-panel structure and the top skin white, so it might be just that much brighter inside there when I have to do work. I’m going to install the windshield sooner than later, which will mean I have to install the top skin, which will take away some access later on.

082516005 082516006

Time: 5:20

Read more

Reworking canopy rails

August 3, 2016 – And now from the “Because I know it’s there” file, I decided to replace the canopy decks and the rails.

I’ve mentioned that I’m not overjoyed with how the canopy rolls, and I previously relocated the tracks. That helped, but I kn ew then that I had multiple holes in the canopy decks. I also think that I will be able to move the tracks outboard another 1/16″ or so, and return them to parallel.

080316002

Once I got the parts from Van’s, I drilled the new decks.

080316003

I had to locate the holes for the windshield rollbar, so I cut the decks off of the old parts and clecoed them in place on the new decks. I used drill bushings and reamers to get precise final holes.

080316001

The decks are now painted and ready to install.

Time: 4:00

Read more

Preparing to trim the canopy

May 18, 2016 – Getting ready for the big cut.

To start out, I needed to locate the centerline of the canopy bubble. This is easier said than done, and a precise centerline really can’t be found. The bubble is molded plexiglass, and the edges are not equal. So I placed the bubble on top of the canopy frame and windshield bows on the airplane, and tried to let the bubble settle where it wanted to. I found a happy place, and marked along the canopy frame center bow and to the forward and aft positions with 1/4″ masking tape.

051816003 051816002

I marked the location of the forward frame bow and the windshield bow, and  I also marked the tentative location of the latch hole that will be drilled.

051816005 051816004

I put the bubble upside down on my table and placed the frame inside. The idea here is to also let the frame find its “happy place”. I had it in a frame that a friend loaned me, but I think maybe right now that frame may be putting pressure on the bubble, when I want it all to be loose and free-fitting.

051816001 051816006

Today is just a tad cool, so I’m going to wait before I start trimming. I think I’m going to trim the molding lines off, then get ready to drill the latch hole.

No pictures, but I also spent a little bit of time deburring, dimpling and priming the forward top skin. Not sure when it will be installed, so I just set it aside.

Time: 3:00

Read more

Drilled wing aft spars

April 29, 2016 – What a day this was! Myself and a helpful crew got the wing drilling done.

This had to be the warmest day of Spring so far this year, and I was feeling it by the time we were done.

I moved the fuselage and the wing cradle out into the driveway. We removed the flaps to help give access to the aft spar for drilling. We then slid the wings into position. It kinda looked sad with the wings there but without the wing bolts installed.

042916003 042916002

We ground the threads off four hardware store bolts, and put them into place.

042916001

Looks much better with some dihedral…

042916004

We did have to trim the ends of the aft spars, and the forward strap of the center section “forks” to get the wings straight.

050416007 050416008

We leveled the fuselage laterally and longitudinally, then hung four plumb bobs on the leading edges, then snapped a chalk line on the driveway. We lined up the inboard plumb bobs on the chalk line, then started working on getting the outboard ends perpendicular. Both wings had a very slight forward sweep.

042916006 042916007 042916008

We measured from the outboard aft corner of each wing back to the upper corner of the side skin at the aft-most bulkhead. Got 173 5/8″ on each side.

We then used a level and a 3″ block to measure level on each wing. Some minor adjustments were needed, but we got it dialed in.

042916010 042916009

I then got down into position at the aft spar to drill. I had made a nice wood block with a drill bushing in order to get a straight perpendicular hole. We realized that we couldn’t keep the spar clamped AND have the block in place. I decided to do it by hand. I started with a #30, then stepped up to #21, then used reamers to .191″, .250″, and finally .312″. And a lot of Boelube… The bolts slipped in great and were nice and straight. Those of you who know will think that the bolt is in backwards in the photo below. I just slipped the bolt in to test fit. I had to take everything back apart because I’m still in the garage.

Here’s the before and after at the aft spar:

042916005 042916019

And here’s the proud daddy:

042916018 042916017 042916016 042916015 042916014 042916013 042916012

Time: 24:00 (total man-hours)

Read more

Drilled vertical stabilizer

April 18, 2016 – I think I lost a few hairs doing this one. Really needed to make sure I didn’t mis-drill, and I measured, re-measured, and so on.

The first part of this was to trim the front spar of the stabilizer. The plans called for 5/8″, but I kept it at 1/2″ for now.

041816003

I marked edge distance on the splice plate and clamped it into place.

041816002

I clamped the stabilizer into place.

041816005 041816006

I made the angle that ties the stabilizer to the top deck of the fuselage. I ended up making another one, because it turned out just a bit too short. I wanted some more edge distance for the outboard bolts.

041816007 041816008

I drilled the bolt holes, which have to go through the longerons, and edge distance there is critical. The center three holes are for rivets that attach to the deck.

041816009

There are several measurements that have to be made:

  • the distance from the tips of the horizontal stabilizer to the tip of the vertical. This ensures that the vertical is truly vertical. My measurement came out to 62 5/16″
  • the vertical is displaced 1/4″ to the left of the aircraft centerline. This compensates for engine torque. The splice plate at the forward spar is “joggled” to the left to allow for this.
  • the rudder hinge brackets had to be in line. This is adjusted at the forward spar splice plate. This took me the longest time to figure out. I though the center bracket was somehow incorrect, because it was just forward of the top and bottom brackets. I was able to straighten the stabilzer vertically by pushing the forward spar down lower on the splice plate.

I drilled two bolt holes on the angle at the aft spar and the deck.

Once I had everything measured and located properly, I back-drilled the holes for the splice plate. Had to use an angle drill, and I couldn’t get to all the holes with the stabilizer in place.

041816011 041816012

I took the stabilizer off and drilled the rest of the holes on the table.

041816013

Remember when I said that the plans showed to trim the stabilizer spar 5/8″ and I just trimmed 1/2″? Here’s the situation I had:

041816014

The spar interfered with the bend in the splice plate. So I marked good edge distance from the rivet holes and trimmed another 1/8″ off the spar. Now it fits like a glove.

041816015

The last thing I had to do was drill the bolts attaching the aft spar of the stabilizer to the fuselage. These bolts also go through the tailwheel mount.

To give myself better access, I lifted the tail up onto a box.

041816016

I used the tooling hole in the fuselage frame just above the tailwheel mount. I used a #30 with a drill bushing, then back-drilled from inside, and took the hole up to final size.

I also measured the hole locations in just the frame, with the stabilizer off. Triple-checked everything because I’d be drilling blind through to the tailwheel mount and I needed good edge distance. I drilled the holes to #30, reinstalled the stabilizer, and back-drilled from the inside.

041816017

I think it came out pretty good…:

041816001

That did it. Here’s a few shots of the drilled front assembly:

041816018 041816019

Time: 8:30

Read more

Drilled horizontal stabilizer

April 6, 2016 – I drilled the stabilizer to mount to the fuselage.

I made the shims that go under the HS-714 where the stabilizer mounts.

040616011

I made sure that the stabilizer would be mounted square. I measured from the aft outboard corner on each side up to the top corner of the side skin at the firewall. Both sides were right at 170″. Perfect.

040616015 040616014

The plans call for a 3/16″ gap between the aft deck and the bottom of the stab, so I inserted two #10 drill bits.

040616012

I marked the location for the outboard holes that go through the HS-714, the aft deck, the longerons, and the support angle underneath. I drilled the holes with a #40. You can see the open hole in the angle in this photo shot from inside:

040616016

I’m OK with the edge distance here. I drilled the two holes just inboard of these, then took these four holes up to fit -3 bolts.

040616018

Once that was done and clecoed, I drilled the four aft bolts. This was a lot easier to get to.

040616017 040616019 040616020

Here’s the end product. I have to take it all apart to deburr.

040616021 040616001

Next up: drilling the vertical.

Time: 2:45

Read more

Painted Sub-Panel assembly

March 5, 2016 – Since I think I may be in a good place with the canopy frame, I decided to let that sit and move on to prepping the sub-panel parts for their eventual installation.

I mentioned previously about installing a shim just forward of the windshield brace, since a gap is created. I made that shim and drilled it.

030516002

I also drilled the forward end of the angle where it attaches to the firewall.

030516003

I took the subpanel out as an assembly, and got some pictures for future reference.

030516005 030516007 030516008

The usual prep for paint, then everything was ready for assembly…

030516006 030516009 030516010

I started by assembling the center rib, including my tapered shim.

030516011 030516012

Getting the center rib through the subpanel bulkhead was interesting. I guess I had always previously done it in pieces. You have to twist everything and hold your tongue just the right way to get it to fit. The paint got a little scraped up, but I touched it up after this secondary assembly was done.

030516013 030516014

Here’s the assembly with the shim installed. You can just see it between the rib and the reinforcing angle:

030516015

I installed nutplates in all the angles where they are required.

030516016

Then I installed the outboard angles that hold the corners of the instrument panel.

030516017 030516018

Here’s the structure without the panel screwed in place:

030516019 030516001 030516020

Time: 7:00

Read more

More Canopy Frame adjustment

February 12, 2016 – I have made some progress with the canopy frame.

A friend from Chapter 168 came over to give me a second set of eyes with the frame, and to maybe talk me off the ledge. We did a little bit of bending on the front bow, which ultimately allowed me to lower everything a little bit.

As of yesterday, I removed that little ring of material that I had previously cut off the right side forward leg for the roller. I sanded the appropriate amount of the left side. I’ve done some bending on the aft bow as well. Things are looking much better. I want to get out and look at a finished airplane or two and get a feel for how everything fits together.

021216004 021216003 021216005

Another thing I wanted to do was to shim the front windshield brace where it attaches to the sub-panel structure. The brace is sandwiched between a rib and an angle, leaving about a .070″ gap. I made a tapered shim that I will install in that gap. The alternative would have been to make a straight shim the full length of that angle and rib.

021216002 021216001

Time: 1:45

Read more

Continued slider canopy frame fitting

January 29, 2016 – OK I’m going to try to get some of this written down. In hindsight, some of this may seem silly, but since I’m not sure about how some of this should be, I’m going to take my time to get this right. I’ll be consulting with my EAA Tech Advisors and maybe some experienced builders before I move on.

On the surface, this frame looks really good. I don’t think any re-bending will be required.

I did cut roughly 3/16″ off of each front leg where the rollers mount. I later realized that evidently the front legs may not have been the same length. I cut the same amount from each side, and the frame was not square. So I cleaned up one of the “rings” I cut off, taking it down to about 1/8″. You can see the ring in the second and third photos below. If it is in place, the frame is level and I have 3/8″ height difference between the rollbar and the front bow of the frame. The instructions say the frame will be slightly higher, the plans show a 3/8″ difference, and later in the instructions it says to not worry about the dimension right now.

012916001

I have 2 19/32″ between the square tubing of the frame and the canopy deck. This is on both sides, within 1/32″, so I call the frame level.

012916003

The instructions state that this measurement should be within 1/8″ from front to back.

012916002

I had to raise the aft end of the frame to make the square tubes parallel. To do this, I moved the rear slider track forward. This raises the aft end of the frame. There’s a couple of issues with this.

  1. 012916008On the plans, there is a full scale detail drawing that shows the profile of the entire canopy side structure. The dimension between the bottom of the square tube and the canopy rail is 2 7/16″. so I have a 5/16″ difference between the drawing and what’s on my airplane. A small difference, but it worries me that something won’t fit correctly later.
  2. The aft bow of the frame is supposed to be inset from the outside of the aft skin by about 1/16″. Because I raised the frame enough to get the square tubes level, the aft bow is above the level of the skin at the top. I could try to lower the aft end by 1/8″ to get the aft bow to clear the level of the skin.

012916004 012916005

Finally, I have the side rails clamped in place. The square tubes are supposed to be inset from the outer skin by 1/16″. I believe I can achieve that up front with no problem, but there is a bit of overhang on the aft end. The side rails, however, are in a position that I like. They are parallel, and the instructions say they will be about 40 13/16″ apart. Mine are 40 15/16″ apart. That I can live with. I just need to make sure that the rollers inside the tracks will be centered when the canopy plastic is installed.

What I think I’d like to do is lower the entire canopy by maybe the 1/8″ that is the thickness of that little ring that I put back in after cutting the front legs. What scares me about doing this is losing the height difference between the forward bow and the rollbar.

Time: 1:30

Read more

Started fitting canopy frame

January 26, 2016 – The first thing to do with the actual canopy is to assemble the rollers that go in the side tracks.

These were straight-forward; I just had to find the parts and the screws. Here’s one disassembled, and one assembled.

012616007

I then cut the tracks to their specified length.

012616008

I laid out the attach holes per the plans, and drilled them with a #40. I drilled the two tracks together to get identical spacing.

012616009 012616010

I drilled the slider block for the rear track of the canopy. Here it’s shown in place on the frame.

012616011 012616012

I checked the bend of the rear track against the plans, then laid out the rivet and screw pattern. This track consists of a rectangular extrusion paired with a strap, to make a T-shaped track.

012616013 012616014 012616015

The track gets taped into place during frame adjustment.

012616016 012616017

I tried to lay out the fasteners per the drawing, but I had substantial conflicts with rivets in the fuselage where the track is installed, so I moved the holes based on existing fastener location. Now that I have started adjusting the frame, I may have made a mistake doing that. It appears that the track can be slid backwards or forward to raise or lower the canopy frame. I’ll keep you posted.

Anyway, here’s the first time the frame was put in place:

012616018

Here’s the forward rollers in the side tracks:

012616019 012616020

…and the rear track with the slider block:

012616021

Now I’m working on tweaking the frame so that it fits correctly. I’ve had quite a bit of what I would call “unproductive time” just standing and staring at it all, then going to read the plans, then going  back to staring at it. If an adjustment is made in one place, it will affect dimensions in another, so this could take some time…

Time: 6:30

Read more

Finished roll bar drilling

January 26, 2016 – I drilled the front brace for the rollbar.

I drilled the forward end of the front brace. I used a drill bushing to start the holes centered in the existing holes, then used a reamer to final size for the bolts.

012616022 012616023

I traced the edge of the support angle onto the brace, so I could trim the brace.

012616003 012616001

I also trimmed the gussets for each side the rollbar.

012616004 012616005

I then reamed the holes for the four spacers that mount the rollbar to final size. I’ll paint these, and they’ll be ready to install when the time is right.

012616024

Time: 1:50

Read more

Drilled windshield roll bar

January 15, 2016 – I had a much better day today when it came to the airplane. I got the mounting holes drilled for the roll bar.

As I said in my last post, I really didn’t like where the pilot holes were located in the canopy rails; I thought they were a bit too close to the longerons and I risked damaging the longerons. So I decided to slightly pull the pilot holes inboard, so the outboard edges of the holes remained at or close to the edge of the longerons. I did this slowly, and final reamed the holes to the correct size.

The instructions called for back-drilling the roll bar from underneath. I didn’t like the access I had for that, so I used hole duplicators to drill the roll bar. Here was a typical setup. This worked great.

011516001 011516002 011516003

I used drill bushings to mark the spacers that go underneath. I still have to take those holes up to size.

I marked the edges of the brackets on each side. I’ll trim these to clean up the appearance.

011516004

Here’s an attempt to show how the access for the aft bolts is limited. I couldn’t even get the camera to see the bolt holes. You can just see that the camera is looking up, and it’s right under the roll bar.

011516005

I clecoed the top skin on and put the center brace in place. I trimmed the end to fit into the receptacle on the roll bar.

011516006

That receptacle then gets drilled for a 1/4″ bolt.

011516007 011516008

I called it a day right there. I still have to drill the lower two holes for the center brace, and drill the spacers to the final hole size.

Time: 4:15

Read more

Started windshield roll bar

January 14, 2016 – I finally got started on the dreaded canopy.

The first step with the canopy is to install the roll bar. The roll bar forms the frame for the windshield, and as the name implies, provides rollover protection.

Pilot holes are drilled in the canopy rails on each side of the cockpit. These are in precise locations, and the final holes are supposed to be as close as possible to the longerons, without touching them. If I had to do this again, I would have added 1/32″ to 1/16″ to the dimension to get the holes a bit further from the longerons.

011416016

Spacers are made to give a flat surface for the attach bolts on the underside of the canopy rails. Pieces are provided, but they have to be shaped to fit inside. The shorter ones are for the forward holes, and the longer are for the aft holes.

011416017 011416018

Don’t have a picture at the moment, but the aft holes are located where it is very difficult to reach. I was able to persuade the aft spacers into position. Drilling may be interesting, but installing will be really fun.

There are many stories about people having to bend the roll bars so they fit correctly in position. I clamped mine into place after marking the required dimensions on the canopy rails. I think I may be OK. I can pull the bar into position on one side. I just need to find out if it’s OK to have a little preload on the bar after it’s installed. The instructions say that anything within 1/16″ is good.

The outside edge of the bar and fitting is supposed to be 7/32″ from the outer edge of the canopy rail. The other thing I noticed is that the welded fitting on the left side has a slight “toe-in”. You can just make it out in these pictures.

011416019 011416020

Time: 2:50

Read more

Started aileron trim

January 14, 2016 – I started the assembly of the aileron trim mechanism.

I’m using manual aileron trim. This is just a setup using springs to help align trim forces directly to the control sticks.

The kit starts with a hard plastic block that needs some small modifications and some holes drilled.

011416001

The bracket for the aileron trim mounts between the center two seat ribs, and has a small handle for control. The bracket is drilled to the seat pan, and then installed between the ribs. I drilled the attach holes and the center hole for the handle itself.

011416002 011416003

011416004 011416005

If you are reading this and are familiar with this particular installation, you may realize what I did later on, that I put the bracket in the wrong location on the seat pan. Just another of the frustrating moments I’ve had lately…

I drilled and dimpled holes in the seat ribs where the bracket will be installed.

011416006

The arm that the springs will attach to needs to be bent approximately 10 degrees down (as installed). I marked the dimension of the bend, and just applied some leverage in the vise. Very easy.

011416007 011416008

The handle is attached to the spindle with a bolt, and has to be drilled. This was relatively straight-forward as well.

011416009

The spindle is assembled to the plastic block, then has to be drilled for a cotter pin.

011416010 011416011

The block is installed into the bracket. There is a flush screw under the handle. You have to countersink both the bracket and the block to accept the screw.

011416012

Here’s the completed bracket assembly, and the assembly in place between the seat ribs.

011416013 011416014 011416015

I’m going to wait to install the springs until after things are almost done in that area.

Time: 2:40

Read more

Replaced brake lines in cockpit

January 11, 2016 – I got replacement parts from Van’s for the plastic tubing brake lines in the cockpit.

There was very little in the way of documentation for how these lines were to be assembled. They are plastic tubing with compression fittings. There is a small brass tube that goes inside the plastic tubing. Turns out this brass tube supports the compression sleeve and keeps the tubing from being crushed or cut. The instructions suggested using boiling water to soften the tubing so that the brass tube goes in easier. The fit is REALLY tight. I tried that before, but could only get the tube in part way.

011116007

I did some more research, and found a drawing for the RV-12 that described how this should go together.

011116010

So after I got everything together, I tried it again. I guess there’s a difference between simmering water and boiling water. Even today I tried it before the water was boiling, and couldn’t get it to go. I let the water reach a full boil, held the assembly in there for 20-30 seconds, and pressed it against the side of the countertop. Bingo! It slid right in.

011116009 011116008

Nice. Now I just have to clamp the lines because there’s a lot of relative motion with these lines, and there’s a lot of potential for rubbing. But that’s done, and  I can move on.

Time: 1:20

Read more

Continued rudder/brake pedal install

December 23, 2015 – I continued the installation of the pedals and the brake plumbing.

I installed the brake pedals into the hangers while it was all out on the table.

122315001

Here’s the fitting that connects to the rear of the fluid reservoir.

122315002

The tubing is all plastic except for the lines from the pilot’s side out to the brakes themselves. I got all the tubes made and temporarily installed. They still need to be routed effectively and secured, because there’s a lot of relative motion here. The tubes all move when the rudder pedals move.

122315003 122315004 122315005

Time: 4:00

Read more