Category: Forward Fuselage

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

Avionics and Wiring

October 22, 2020 – I realized when I looked at my time log how long it’s been since I posted an update, so here goes…

Com Harness

I finished the connectors and put the harness in place. I’m trying my damnedest to not have a rats nest here. Once everything is clamped in place and tied back, it’ll be OK. This is what happens when a sheet metal guy handles wires.

I did the headset and mic jacks. I made some a long time ago, but I didn’t have wires for PTT in there, so I took mine out and used the new ones.

I also installed the antennas.

Tailcone Wiring

Well, I call it the tailcone because once I get in there, I may as well be all the way back there.

I assembled the harness for the autopilot pitch servo. Power, ground and a yellow wire for AP disconnect go up front. The rest go into the Skyview network.

Since I have limited space for wires to go up the tunnel between the seats, I bought a hub to put in the tailcone and I ran a 15-foot Skyview network cable to the front.

I made a bracket where the transponder attaches to the center beam in the fuselage.

Air Temperature Probe

I installed the OAT probe in the fuselage under the left horizontal stab. I ran the wires up through tiny grommets I had and they go straight to the ADHRS.


For a long time I had the “life-size” Dynon templates taped to the panel on my table and I was playing around with them trying to find the best locations. When I was ready to make a decision, I found out that those templates were about 1/4″ small. That made a big difference in what I was going to do. So I did some rearranging.

In the above pictures I have the two coms with the intercom panel above them. I wasn’t sure I liked that, so I redrew that stack with the intercom underneath. Much better.

I decided to do the cutting myself. Lots of filing…

It appears that except for the intercom panel, all the Dynon panel items have the same cutouts. Nice idea…

After those center items, I did the cutouts for the screens.

Here’s the panel in the airplane:

I still have to do the other small items in the panel, which I just ordered.

I’m just going on, routing wires and terminating them as needed. One wire at a time…

Time: 42:00

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..

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

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

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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..

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


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.


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.

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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.

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Time: 11:00

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.


I installed the rollbar.


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.


Time: 4:20

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.

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Here’s the screw from underneath:


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.

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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.


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.


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.


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:


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:


Time: 7:30

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:


And the tracks:

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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.

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Time: 5:20

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.


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


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.


The decks are now painted and ready to install.

Time: 4:00

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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.


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


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:


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


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

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.

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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.

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Time: 1:45

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.


I then cut the tracks to their specified length.


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:


Here’s the forward rollers in the side tracks:

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…and the rear track with the slider block:


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

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.

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

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I also trimmed the gussets for each side the rollbar.

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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.


Time: 1:50

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.


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.


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.


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

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.


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

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.


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.


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.


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


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


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

Made and installed fuel vent tubes

November 11, 2015 – I made the two fuel vent tubes.

The fuel tanks are vented using air from fittings installed in the belly, routed up through the fuselage and out to each tank in the wings.

There are several somewhat complex bends. The tubing is soft and easy to bend, but it can be overbent, which will damage it. I had read that it helps to use stiff wire to lay out the bends. I used a coat hanger. Not sure how much it really helped, but OK.

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I installed the fittings in the sides of the fuselage where the tube connects and goes out to the wings.


I just slowly bent the tubing to fit.

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The worst part was down at the side fittings, because there are two or three sharper bends. I switched out the fittings for a better fit. The original configuration is for a 90 degree fitting. I put in 45 degree fittings and got a better fit.

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I also found it easier to install the clamps as I went. This held the tubing in place so I could fine-tune some of the bends by hand.

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The tubes don’t look like they came out of Boeing, but I’m pretty happy with them.

Time: 5:00

Continued sub-panel

October 27, 2015 – I continued working on the sub-panel structure.

I needed to locate the center rib against the firewall. There are no instructions or guidance to do this, so I went ahead and drilled those holes. I took the top skin back off and slid the center rib out. I drew a centerline and drilled holes in the rib. I clamped it back in position, put the skin back on,  and drilled the holes through the firewall from inside and underneath.

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Back off with the top skin, I needed to drill the F7108B angle. This is a solid angle that reinforces the center rib. I also drilled a fastener hole where this angle attaches to the firewall.

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I clecoed the actual panel into place.


There are some angles that need to be formed to fit the top curve of the panel. I fluted those, clamped them in place, and drilled the attach holes through the panel.


There are also small angles that hold the panel in place on the outboard corners. The problem with drilling these was that the panel moves, so the angles move. I clecoed the top skin entirely in place, all the way down to the edges. This was a lot of work. I drew lines at the panel edge where it sits on the canopy rails. You can just see the lines against the lower surface of the panel in this photo:


I drilled the entire skin to the structure.

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I also drilled the holes in the top flange of the firewall.


Now that I knew where the panel would be, I removed the top skin. I clamped the angle in place using those drawn panel edge marks as a guide, then I drilled through the canopy rails.

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There are smaller angles that support the panel on the inboard side of the canopy rails. I clamped these in place and drilled the holes for those.

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I pulled the whole assembly off to the table where I will beburr everything.

Time: 4:40

Fuselage off sawhorses

June 24, 2015 – I started riveting the aft deck in place today.

Before I started I realized I had to rivet the F711B angle in place.


I then started shooting the aft deck.


My friend Carlos came over and helped me get the fuselage off the sawhorses down to where I could work on it. I decided just to use a furniture dolly with serious foam and carpet padding on top. If that doesn’t meet my needs in the future before I install the gear legs, I’ll do something else. In the meantime, I’m able to move the fuselage around as needed, and it’s definitely low enough to step into if I have to.

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Time: 1:00

Fuselage to-do list

June 22, 2015 – After Stan and I got the lower forward skin riveted, I took care of a couple of things I wanted to do with the fuselage upside-down, to give me better access.

I installed the F7114 gussets and the F782 angles at the aft lower corners forward of the center wing spar. These were a treat… I wish I had known about installing the F782 angles when I had the F7101 gear attach webs out. I would have done them then.

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Here’s a picture of the inside of the firewall brackets at the lower corners:


…and the completed fuel tank attach point:


Time: 1:30