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.

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

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

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

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

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Time: 7:00

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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I then cut the tracks to their specified length.

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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.

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

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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.

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The track gets taped into place during frame adjustment.

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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:

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Here’s the forward rollers in the side tracks:

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…and the rear track with the slider block:

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Time: 2:50

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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

Time: 2:40

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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Installed F789 elevator pushrod

November 24, 2015 – I fought with the F789 pushrod and won…for the time being.

I installed the rod ends and jam nuts to achieve the total rod length per the plans: 49 15/16″. All very well and good until I realized I couldn’t get it in the tunnel intact. I did some research and found that this is a common problem.

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So I removed the rod ends and marked on the threads where the jam nuts should be.

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Once I got the pushrod in place, I also realized that it slightly interferes with the lower edge of the F705 bulkhead hole that the pushrod runs through. So I took it back out and opened the hole just a little bit. Dremel to the rescue. I knew this could be an issue but I wanted to make sure mine had the interference before I cut on it.

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I put the pushrod back in place, installed the rod ends on each end, and installed the bolts and washers as needed. As usual, it was fun getting washers in between the rod ends and the mounts. Here’s the forward and aft ends:

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I need to tighten the jam nuts, but I also want to wait until everything is rigged. I am not going to put the main pushrod in until later.

Time: 1:30

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Installed elevator bellcrank

November 18, 2015 – I assembled the elevator bellcrank a long time ago. I decided to install it. The bellcrank goes in with some washers and a couple of spacers. I had to add two washers to get side-to-side motion out of it.

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I also decided to fit the control stick bellcrank. I wrestled it in place before I realized I had to ream the bolt holes, so out it came again. It is shimmed in place with washers to fit, so that took a little bit of doing. I’ll have to record how many washers went where, but it’s in for the moment. I’m sure it will have to come back out at some point.

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Time: 1:35

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Sub-panel and throttle quadrant

November 18, 2015 – I re-clecoed the subpanel in place after getting the fuel vent lines done.

The first problem I ran into is the outboard corners of the bulkhead forward of the panel interfered with the vent lines. I really didn’t want to redo the vent lines, and I believe this small area is non-structural, so I cut 1 1/2″ off the flange on each side.

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The next thing I found was that for some reason, the small angle between the center rib and that same bulkhead didn’t fit correctly. I had made and drilled one, but the holes didn’t line up. Sooo…I made a new one.

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With that done, this was something I had been looking forward to.

I pulled out the DJM throttle quadrant I bought at Oshkosh. I knew I would have to engineer the mount for this. It was pretty straight-forward.

I clamped it to some .063″ 3/4×3/4 angle, then clamped that to the center bottom flange of the panel.

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Since the bottom of the bulkhead forward of the panel is higher than the bottom of the panel (huh?), I couldn’t just attach the angles to the bottom of that bulkhead. So I made some angles to attach on the forward end.

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I made sure everything was square and straight. Here’s the forest o’clamps:

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Then I drilled it. It’s all pretty rock solid now.

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Once that was done, I moved on to other things. Seems like I’m running out of things to do before the finish kit comes.

Time: 3:50

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Some small fuselage stuff

November 3, 2015 – I did a couple of small items today.

I crawled back into the tailcone and installed the shoulder harness brackets.

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I had previously cut the fuel vent fittings that are installed under the belly and take air in to vent the fuel tanks. I sealed on some screen to keep the bugs out, then I installed them in the belly. The sealant job could probably be prettier…

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Time: :30

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Continued sub-panel structure prep

November 3, 2015 – After the subpanel assembly was removed to the table, I took it apart and started prepping the parts.

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I had two pieces, however that needed to be remade.

The F7108B angle that stiffens the center rib had two holes with bad edge distance. These are the two holes that get bolts that hold the center windshield support.

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So  I cut a new angle, drew the fastener line, and drilled it to the center rib. This came out much better.

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I also had to remake the F7109 plate because I had made the first one from the wrong material.

The firewall holes where the three ribs attach needed to be dimpled as well. Wasn’t sure how to do this, so I came up with the following sequence using a rivet, an angle with a countersunk hole and a bucking bar.

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Time: 3:40

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Started sub-panel structure

October 25, 2015 – The sub-panel structure is the structure that supports the instrument panel. The structure runs between the firewall and the panel itself.

There are a few angles and parts that need to be made before starting. I took some of the pieces to work and cut them during breaks. I’ll drill as I go…

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I clecoed some of the larger pieces in place on the fuselage.

The F7109 plate reinforces the center F7108A rib. The rib is piloted with the fastener holes. To make sure the plate is in the correct location, I put it in place, then marked the holes through the rib, then made sure I had good edge distance before drilling.

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The rib is supported at the sub-panel by an angle, but I didn’t know where to drill that angle. I drilled the holes on one leg of that angle where the plans say to, and clecoed the angle to the rib.

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I decided to cleco the top skin in place to get everything in position. I figured out that this particular skin does have a left and a right side, and a top and bottom surface. It looks symmetrical, but it’s not.

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With everything firmly in place, I drilled the angle through the sub-panel.

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In other news, my finish kit is set to ship the week before Thanksgiving.

Time: 3:30

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Installed air vent scoops and static ports

October 14, 2015 – I had some sealant available, so I installed the air vent scoops and the static ports. These just get glued into place with sealant. Some people add some fasteners to these, but I didn’t see the need.

I figured out the specific location of the scoops, then marked them and taped around them to keep the sealant under control.

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The static ports just took a little bit of sealant and they went right in.

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Time: 1:30

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Started elevator rods

October 7, 2015 – To get ready to install the upper skins, I needed to get started installing everything in the aft fuselage.

I drilled the elevator rods. The small rod between the control sticks is already done. It’s hexagonal, cut to length, and tapped for the rod ends. Just needs to be painted.

The large and medium rods have fittings that are placed in the ends and drilled, just like the aileron rods. I used the tape trick to get evenly spaced fasteners.

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The end fittings are really tight-fitted. They were fun to remove after drilling.

I’m going to treat the tube interiors to prevent corrosion, then paint the outsides before assembly.

Time: 2:40

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Miscellaneous assembly and prep

September 29, 2015 – I had some time to install some items that still needed to be done.

I cut the panel for the fuel selector valve. The panel has an “ear” that is used for the manual elevator trim, which I’m not using.

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I installed the two aft gussets that tie the F707 bulkhead to the longerons. I also installed the F709 bulkhead.

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I dimpled the aft bulkheads for the upper skins.

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Time: 4:10

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Prepped flap mechanism parts

September 25, 2015 – Using the parts I previously worked on for the flap mechanism, I clecoed everything together for drilling.

Here are all the covers screwed and clecoed in place.

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The left side cover has to be notched to clear the bolt for the flap motor. Here’s the rough cut before cleaning it up:

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I drilled for nutplates where necessary:

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Then it was time to deburr, prep and paint.

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After everything dried, I started assembling some of the parts. Used the squeezer for almost everything.

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I’ll still install the flap motor, but I probably won’t install anything in the airplane until later.

Time: 5:30

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