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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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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Installed wheels on gear legs

February 8, 2018 – Today I drilled the axles and installed the wheels and tires.

I wanted to install the gear into the airplane one time, after the wheels were completely done. However, I couldn’t hold the gear legs and the wheels adequately where I could torque the wheels and locate and drill the axle holes. So I decided to put the gear in the airplane and do the work that way.

My friend Chris (Sticker) came over to help. First of all, don’t ask why he goes by “Sticker”. I don’t know. Someday I’ll get the story.

Anyway, we hoisted the airplane, still with the intention to install the gear for good, then work the wheels and let it down and be done.

We greased up the gear legs, and had a really hard time getting them all the way up and into position where the bolt holes line up. The right gear is about 1/4 hole off, and we could never get it all the way into position. So we threw some temporary bolts into the holes, and decided that we would put the airplane on a sawhorse, and I would do the wheels.

I torqued the axle nut (as best I could); there is no firm data on torque published. I started the holes with a short #30 bit in an angle drill, then drilled with a #40, then a #30.

I deburred it all, then reinstalled the wheels.

We’re going to remove the gear legs, clean everything up, chamfer edges, then try to install the gear legs for good.

Time: 3:00

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Started main landing gear

February 2, 2018 – Okay. Now that the engine mount is on, I want to look towards getting the airplane on it’s feet.

The brake flanges need to be reamed to 5/16″. It was more removal of powder-coating than any material. I also ran the reamer through the holes in the gear legs.

I then made 6 spacers that are 13/32″ long. These provide a standoff for the wheel pant bracket.

The brake bracket attaches to the flange using 3 of the 4 bolts. This took some research online to figure out how these parts go together. I’d read that the drawings and instructions were practically non-existent, and that the instructions refer to Cleveland parts. My parts are from Matco. I found some pretty good documentation from other people. I also discovered that I had to trim the wheel pant brackets to fit the Matco brakes. So I marked what had to be trimmed, and clecoed the two wheel pant brackets together to make the cutouts the same.

I drilled the screw and nutplate holes in the brackets. Once that was done, I prepped and painted them.

I started on the wheels and tires. Here’s a wheel assembled as shipped from Matco.

The plated part is the brake rotor. It’s assembled with the wheel halves. I disassembled one wheel.

I had previously put air in the tubes to make sure they were OK, since they came from Vans folded up in plastic bags. I deflated them totally in order to put them in the tires.

I shook a fair amount of talcum powder into the tires and shook it around. This would help lubricate the tube as it was placed inside.

Trying to keep the valve stem more or less in line with the red dot on the tire sidewall, I stuffed the tube into the tire.

Once it was cleanly in place, I put a little bit of air in the tube to make it fill into the tire.

Here’s the tube with the valve stem:

Then it was time to install the wheel halves into the tires. I used some dishwashing soap to lube the tire. The outboard wheel half has a hole for the valve stem. Easy enough to put it in the proper position. These wheels do not have a grommet for the valve stem.

I put the wheel halves together, along with the brake rotor and installed the bolts, which get torqued to 100 in/lbs.

I was a little confused about securing the valve stem. I had nuts that came with the tubes, and  I assumed they would secure the valve stem after the wheel was assembled. But thethreads on the valve stem stopped before the not would secure anything.

I called Matco, and they told me that the valve stem did not need a grommet or a locknut. OK.

I assembled the brake flange and wheel pant brackets on the gear legs, hopefully for the last time. These nuts and bolts are so close to the brake flange, and were a real pain to torque. Here’s several views of the left and right gear legs:

Next I have to lube the wheel bearings, install the wheels, and drill the cotter pin holes in the axles.

Time: 7:10

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Closed firewall and installed engine mount

February 2, 2018 – I found somebody available to help me rivet the firewall recess.

Before I installed the recess, I had to finish installing the rudder pedal center bracket.

I also had to install the two nutplates in the recess where the cockpit heat box attaches.

One of my EAA 168 buddies came over and we riveted the firewall recess.

I applied firewall sealant and clecoed the recess in place.

We got the recess installed, then decided to go ahead and install the engine mount. Jim shot the recess rivets outside, so he wanted to crawl in and do the bolts for the mount.

Time: 1:30

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Trimmed firewall for gear legs

January 22, 2018 – One of the steps I accidentally left out of the previous post was trimming to clear the gear legs.

Because the gear legs attach to the engine mount, the firewall interferes with the legs at the lower outboard corners.

I marked the cut line as best I could, and started trimming with a rotary file, then a sanding disc. Looks good now; I may need to make final adjustments when the gear legs are installed.

Time: 1:00

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Started drilling for engine mount

January 4, 2017 – Today I drilled two of the six holes in the firewall for the engine mount.

First things first, I had to rivet a stand-off on the bracket for the rudder pedals that secures the brake lines from one side to the other. This is my preference over running the brake lines through the bracket like normal. That option does not seem maintainable without breaking the brake system open.

I believe everything that needs to be placed on the firewall before the engine mount is done. I have to install the firewall recess, but I could get these holes drilled and cleaned up before I do that.

I struggled on a cold day with how to secure the mount to the firewall by myself. On that same cold day I gave up. Yesterday it was a little warmer, so I attacked it again. I used vinyl tape and clamped a 2×4 to hold the mount more or less in place. Seemed to work reasonably well.

I actually got the four corner pilot holes centered with this setup, so I started on the upper right hole.

You can just make out the pilot hole through the mount:

I started with a drill bushing in the mount, and drilled the pilot hole all the way through with a long #11. You can see that the dimensions for the bushing are perfect: .373″ OD and .191″ ID.

Here’s the #11 hole with a light behind it:

I then used core drills and BoeLube to step up to the final: .191″-248″, then .250″ -.312″ and then finished with .325″ – .375″.

Got the top two holes drilled, and the bolts slid right in:

Time: 1:05

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Installed heatbox on firewall

December 29, 2017 – Today I installed the heatbox.

This valve directs hot air from a muff around the exhaust into the cabin for heat on cold days. The stock one from Van’s is made out of aluminum. I decided to spring for one made out of stainless. I got it from Plane Innovations. I have to say I was very happy buying from them. I got personal emails from a real person notifying me that the item had been ordered, and again when it shipped. I had to order stainless hardware from Spruce, but it showed up today, so perfect timing.

I used a spreader bar to hold a block of wood to the firewall under pressure so I could drill the 2″ hole in the firewall.

The valve came with a drawing showing the dimensions for the bolt holes, so I drilled one through the valve, then used the dimension to do the other hole. Here it’s clecoed in place.

…and with the valve sealed and installed. I’ll clean up the sealant later after it dries.

Time: :45

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Continued firewall components

December 26, 2017 – I continued with components that mount to the firewall before I can attach the engine mount.

With the battery box pretty much done, I moved on to the start contactor and relay. I made the doubler that supports the firewall where they attach.

I located where on the firewall the holes will go, then drilled all the holes, using the doubler as a guide.

I drilled the nutplate holes, including where nutplates attach to the firewall support structure.

I dimpled the firewall, and countersunk the doubler to accommodate the dimples, then I painted the doubler.

While the paint dried, I tackled the sender manifold. This was easy; I just had to make a supporting angle that goes inside the firewall to provide structure for the manifold. I drilled the angle, then drilled the firewall. I bolted the manifold in place, using firewall sealant as well.

Back to the contactor and relay. I installed the doubler and the nutplates, then bolted the components in place.

I had looked for a copper bar to tie the contactor and relay together as required, but I couldn’t find one. I saw on someone else’s site where they had used a battery disconnect. I went to a local auto parts place, and bingo, I found this:

I drilled out the rivet holding the copper, then measured the distance between the two posts on the firewall, and drilled it to fit.

Time: 3:45

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Battery box

December 22, 2017 – I prepped the battery box for installation.

I located the holes where the box will attach to the firewall. Once again, not paying close attention to the plans, I removed existing rivets in the firewall structure where it’s required, but I also drilled new holes in the firewall, since the box brackets have provisions for 3 bolts on each side. Well, I guess I can either fill the extra holes with rivets, or I can install the box with 6 bolts.

The plans suggest drilling lightening holes in the box. Since I only have a hole saw, and that’s an inelegant way to make these holes, I decided to only make the holes on the forward side of the box. I left the aft face of the box whole.

I installed the attaching angles to the box. What a pain in the ***. These rivets need to be flush on the inside of the box so as not to interfere with the battery. I got it done, but I don’t want to do it again… I also attached the required nutplates.

The next step is the battery hold-down bar. This secures the battery in the box. I had to drill the attach holes, then drill lightening holes. So I marked the centerline, and drilled for the bolt holes, then drilled the 3/4″ lightening holes.


I made the spacers for the hold-down bolts.

Not a great day today weather-wise, but I’m painting the bar, then it’ll be done. Next is the contactor and the relay.

Time: 4:20

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Engine Ordered!

December 14, 2017 – I’ve ordered the engine and firewall forward!

I decided to go with Aero-Sport Power. Placed a deposit on a Superior IO-360 180hp, with a CS prop and dual P-Mags. I’ve always wanted to do a build school, so I’ll be going up to Kamloops in March to build my engine.

In addition to the engine, I’ve ordered the firewall-forward kit from Vans, less the exhaust. I’ve decided to go with Vetterman. I’ve also ordered the Skybolt fastener kit for the cowling.

I’m going to wait on the prop for a while, but I’m going to get the Hatrtzell C2YR-1BFP from Vans.

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