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Empennage Attach
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Cockpit 1
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Cockpit 3
Tip up Canopy 1
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The Boo

Last 10 Percent

3/7/05 Time for a new page.  Well it's official.  I've made my short list and it all fits on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper.  Here I have it on two sheets, but it does fit on one!  So this is the downhill slide, feels pretty good too.  I can see not only the tunnel and the light at the end of the tunnel, but there is what looks like an airplane at the end, in the beaming sunlight, and I'm marching towards it.  Determination, perseverance, and perhaps a bit of destiny, that's all that is required.  (and maybe some money)

Aft deck skin in place ready for riveting.

Nutplate put on to hold lower and upper empennage fairing.

Little bit more fiberglass work on the ram air snout.  I want the outer portion of the lib to be rounded so I'm adding flox and BID to build it up slowly.

New VS tip from vans arrived.   I goofed on the first one and made it two wide.  This one fits perfectly, except it's more than an 1/8" lower then the rudder tip.  Looks like I'll have to build it up too. 

3/8/05 Got the VS tip mounted.  Did a bunch of sanding on the Ram Air inlet and applied a finish coat of microballoons.  This should be the last big amount of epoxy as I really like the shape at this point.  You can't see what it really looks like with all that goop on it.

3/12/05 Gratuitous shots of the canopy on.  Man these are sweet looking planes.

Painted the empennage tips with a high fill lacquer paint to fill in all the little stuff.  Also did the ram air box.

Mounted the rudder strobe/position light.  I grounded the nav light on the bottom of the three bolts holding the rudder on.

3/13/05 A while back David Richardson gave me a complete set of labels for the plane.  He's got some fancy machine at work that produces them.  Thanks David, I feel like my tax dollars are working :)  So now my baby has a name.  This is such a little thing but it really means your in the home stretch and I'm pretty pleased with the amount of work I've been able to accomplish lately.

Finally decided to do something about those rivets along the firewall which you cannot buck.  I countersunk them, drilled them out to #30 and placed AACQ-4-4 structural rivets in.

Drilled and tapped the holes for the lower empennage fairing.

Connected the push-pull tube to the elevators.  I had to use 4 washers on each side of the bearing to fill the gap.

Drilled a 1/4" drain hole in the lowest part of the lower rudder fiberglass tip.

Made the rudder cable attach brackets out of steel as required.  I was very careful to make them exactly the same left and right.

Attached the rudder cables to the pedals and rudder.  Still have to place the cotter pins in.  FYI, I'm 5/10, and have the rudder pedals in the middle attachment holes.  The steel attachment brackets are 1" long hole to hole and the pedals are perfect for me.  I painted the steel brackets with a flat black aircraft lacquer.

I also drilled out the holes on the ball crusher 5-point harness.  Vans has you drill the holes out for a AN5 bolt but the hooker harness that I have will only accept an AN4 bolt so that's what I drilled it to.  Good luck getting an angle drill in there to enlarge the holes.  Match drill them *before* attaching to the floor ribs, like the plans say.

3/14/05 Primed the lower cowl so I can see just where I need to do more sanding and filling.  It's not obvious in these pictures but there's considerable work still ahead to get this baby's ass smooth.

David came by to loan his services as bucker and riveter.  We got almost all the rivets shot in the aft deck skin.  You don't have to get inside the plane for the front half, just hang part of your body in there and buck away.  Now the aft half can be done as well but you are bucking blind at that point.  I may just crawl in the tube when David gets another chance to come over.

More minutiae.  I made sure the servo arm is perpendicular to the drive shaft and tightened everything up and added some lacquer to note that everything is torqued to spec.  I'm sort of working from the back forward and calling it good or done as I work forward.

3/15/05 I received the tip up canopy fix from Vans today.  It's quite easy.  Fabricate the spacer by drilling four holes, match drill with the skin and F-632 channel, countersink the spacer and you're basically done. 

Then I spent a few hours scratching my head on how I want to get the stick grip wires routed and affixed within the limited area between the seat ribs.  I'm sure it will become crystal clear tomorrow after I sleep on it.  This is almost the last few wires to attach.  Thank goodness.  Once this is done and the wiring is tidied up, there aren't any more big wiring jobs.  I still don't positively know what I want the second momentary switch on the grip to do.  Perhaps switch frequencies on the SL40, or something else, dunno yet.

3/16/05 I ordered some Torx screws last week for all the access panels and exterior screws that are visible on the plane.  The Torx screws don't strip, have a larger paint surface and are, well, just plain better.  The second picture shows where I ordered them from in case you are wondering.

Then I spent several hours getting stick grip wiring done.  I mounted a small terminal block in between the ribs just outboard of the center pass-through, on the pilots side.  The stick grip wires will come through one bushing and get mated to the terminal block.  I'm doing this for two reasons; 1) in case I need too swap wires on the controls for the roll and pitch servos, 2) in case I ever need to remove the pilots control stick.

Then I spent an exacerbating amount of time standing on a sawhorse, hunched over the side of the fuselage while I cut, labeled and mated the wired to the terminal block.  Geese my back hurts.  Thank god for wine.  I'll put the control stick in place tomorrow and test the connections.  Trust me, this is almost the worst part of the wiring, YUK!

Earlier today I made a decision about whom I would use for my DAR.  Those of you that know Gary Sobek know that, if anything, he's one thorough person.  Exactly what I want.  I'm no test pilot and will never claim to be.  I can fly but there is ALWAYS room for improvement.  The last thing that I want is too take off and have issues with the plane on the first flight.  My skills just might not be enough, even with a heavy dose of transition training.  I'm happy with my decision and judging by the wealth of information that Gary has already provided me (I only made the call today) I'm really excited to utilize his experience and expertise for my final checkout.

And, I also made a decision about transition training.  I've selected Ben Johnson in Mesquite, TX.  Some of you may know that I moved to California 5 years ago from Dallas, which is still my "home".  Someday, I expect to move back there.  I love that town, and the folks there are the best.  Anyway, I gave Ben a call today and I felt like I was back home.  There's just something about Texans.  I can't put my finger on it but the word "hospitality" is coming close.  He has a 6A that I'll use for my training and he's building a 7A.  How good is that?  I'm really looking forward to getting out there, staying with old friends, and busting my hide learning the ways of the A series.  Today was very productive.

3/17/05 Tonight it was time to finish the control stick wiring.  Yesterday I completed the wiring to the terminal block from the power, ground, electric trim servos, etc.  Tonight I finished the wiring of the stick grip to the terminal block.  And wouldn't you know, everything worked the first time.  AP switch engages the AP, PTT works, I tested it with a handheld, and both trim motors are humming away when told too.

I labeled the myriad of wires coming out of the stick and connected them.

The wires exit at the base of the stick and I've got enough slack so the stick moves freely without bending the wires too much.  They are wrapped in two or three layers of shrink wrap too.  Where the wires pass through the seat rib I have them immobilized with a plastic 90 degree fitting and wire ties.

I ended cutting 1.5 inches off the top of the stick.  Now the top touches no buttons or switches and it cannot fit between the power and prop controls either.  The last thing I want is the stick to get wedged someplace.  But If I'm making stick deflections this big, I'm in trouble anyway and would probably be wishing for a parachute on my back too.

3/18/05 With darn near every wire terminated and tied aft of the center section it was time to mount the controls.  The control sticks are now both perfectly parallel, but, I've run into a snag with the aft travel on the sticks.  I can't get the elevators to hit the stops.  They miss by almost .5".  Seems that the rod end bearing on the front elevator pushrod is binding on the control column pivot point.  So I can't get full aft travel.  When the controls are in the neutral position the elevators are neutral and the elevator bellcrank assembly is perfectly vertical.  I'm sure it's a mater of adjusting both the for and aft pushrod lengths, but, and here's the assumption that I may be wrong about; I thought that when the controls are neutral the bellcrank assembly should be vertical.  Maybe some sleep will help.  Or, maybe you can help :)


Not full aft deflection.

Oh, and to make my night even worse; yesterday I cut 1.5" off the pilots control stick.  So tonight I cut 1.5" off the copilots stick, thinking that "hey, they Have to be the same length, right?  NOT!".  I blindly cut before measuring and you know what happens when you do that.  Ask me how I know.  Now I have a "shortie" for the co-pilot.  I think I'll order another, either that or find a broom handle.

On another note, Pops is coming out for another month (in 10 days) to help out with the final push to get this thing in the air.  The elves and gnomes are on their way.  Hopefully, I'll come home from work one day and the plane will be finished :)

3/19/05 The floor pan holes for the ball-buster 5pt harness are too small for my hooker harness.  I had to widen the holes just a tad on either side.  Now they fit perfectly.

Another issue I have yet to call Vans about are the tabs on the rudder pedals.  They aren't aligned with the bushings going through the F-902 bulkheads.  The bushings are located properly and the pedals are in correctly.  The rudder cables have a solid metal end to them which doesn't bend.  Consequently the cable itself bends to conform to the needed shape.  What I'm worried about is the cable rubbing against the aft side of the bulkhead.  I'll call vans about this.  They'll probably just tell me to bend the tabs a little or not to worry about it.

Don't tell me again, I know the foam grips are upside down on the control stick.  Yeah, I did it on purpose, just to be different.  (right)

3/20/05 Slathered on some more microballoons on the lower cowl.  I'm almost totally satisfied with the shape.  I sanded off all the primer under this before.

Next, I headed to JoAnn Fabrics.  They have all kinds of varying thickness of foam, not to mention that there are about a bazillion chicks in there and no guys.  Too bad their either 80 or 12 yrs old.  I get some good looks coming in there covered in airplane "goo" and walking to the counter with popsicle sticks or, in this case, foam sheets.  Love it.

I purchased the 2mm thick sheets and cut them to width and laid them along the floor under the brake and fuel lines.  Even stuck one piece between the shelf for the fuel pump and the lines running under it.  Should protect them from rubbing. 

Also note,  the only wires left to run on this plane are the .....  Yep, done with wiring, just connect these laying here by the pump and flowscan and call it game.  I used a molex connector for the flowscan in case it ever needs to come out but I'm just going to crimp the fuel pump lines.  You can also see at the top of the picture the AOA lines covered in plastic sheathing.

Want to know something that's really weird when you are building?  Sometimes the first things you made are the last to install, case in point, electric trim.  Done.

Shot of the right hand set of wires coming aft.  I'll cover these as well later.

Then I spent the remainder of the day checking out why my switch for the A/P doesn't work in the GPS mode.  It works in the EFIS mode though.  So some data is not making it's way.  I think I have it sorted out though.  It became apparent that the GNS430 *cannot* output the same type of data (Aviation) on two RS232 channels at the same time.  It just won't let me set it up that way.  Unfortunately I thought I could when wiring and utilized the second RS232 output for the switch.  Fortunately, I have the original pigtail just sitting there waiting for me to use. 

TIP.  When wiring the 430, or any other piece of equipment in the plane, wire ALL available input and outputs, because "you never know....".  I'm glad I did.

3/21/05 Not much on the plane but I was able to get Dick Woods (past president of EAA chapter 96) and his lovely wife started on their website tonight.  When they get it going I'll post the link.
3/22/05 Darn it, it's raining again in sunny southern California.  It was blowing so hard I had to shut my garage door, basically putting an end to tonight's labor on the plane. 

After doing my taxes (that's a whole nuther page) I sanded the crap out of the lower cowl but I decided that another slathering of micro baloons was necessary.  Here you can see how the smooth transition is shaping up.

Then just going straight through my short list I finally decided that I would use the fiberglass oil door and only put one stip of bent aluminum to keep it rigid.  JB Welded it into place and will squeeze some rivets on it tomorrow.  I'm calling this, done.

3/23/05 David dropped by today to help out with a few more rivets in the tail area.  I got some pillows and soft blankets and stuck them in the back, propped up the rear of the plane and dove in.  It's pretty unbelievable how sturdy the floors are back there.  Almost completely riveted.  Thanks David.

After that I mounted the shoulder harness braces and cables.  I put some twine through the forward attach points of the harness cables so I can "grab" them when the baggage bulkhead is mounted.  Gotta think ahead...

Oil door got riveted on too.

Worked on the aileron trim.  First I sanded and painted the steel couplers.  When the controls are full left and full forward and the trim is full left you need about 1.25 inches of .041 wire to connect the motor tab and the spring.  I wonder if I can use something other than the wire.  It's such a short distance and bending that wire is killer on your fingers.  You don't want to use needle nose pliers because you don't want any nicks on the wire.  hmmmmm

Oh yeah, spoke to Vans yesterday about the rudder cable misalignment.  Guess what they said, "Don't worry about it, that cable isn't going to cut through the bushing, and just bend the backside of the bulkhead outwards a bit so it doesn't touch the cable."  In other words, "Move on Dude."

3/24/05 Finally, I think I'm satisfied with the shape of the snout.  I'm not going to lay another slather on this unless pigs fly, and they better do it quick.

After weeks of thinking about how I want to secure the cowl hinge pins I've decided to screw a round plate flush with the cowl skin.  I'm going to take two molds of the area I want to place the recessed covers; one for the cover and one for a backing plate so I'll have something to put the nutplates on.  The backing plate will be bonded to the inside of the cowl.

Here's the circle with some glad wrap stuck on the top to keep it from sticking to the cowl.

Here's three layers of BID covered with dacron.

And here's what I used to draw the circles.  Yep, it's a Sake cup.  Guess what I'm having later on...


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Last updated: 07/06/05.