The Fuselage Has Arrived!

… albeit, probably a few weeks prematurely.  I have a few issues.  First, the wings are not completely done.  All the skins are riveted on, I just need to attach the ailerons, flaps and wingtips.  Second – I have no room.  The new house still has the 2nd garage bay taken up by a room that was built in the basement.  I started demoing it, but still need to rip down the studs and wallboard inside the room.  Hopefully I will get to that this weekend.

The wings were grueling – and screwing up my fuel tanks really set me back.  I ordered new ones with my fuselage, but not sure if I will put them off and start working on the fuselage or just start with my tanks again.  The tanks don’t really need priming, so that might be a good winter project.

As you can see from the photos, I have 2 conduits in each wing (which might be overkill), but better safe than sorry.  I have my AOA/Pitot lines run through the left wing and the pitot mast installed.  I have the Garmin autopilot bracket mounted and wiring run.  Instead of screwing around with it, I had SteinAir build me the necessary harness complete with connectors.

I have wiring run for wingtip lighting.  At this point, I plan to use FlyLEDs product, but its still too early, so I will not purchase them.  It will be a LED strobe/nav light combo.  I opted out of installing my stall warning horn (since I will have AOA) and I plan on putting my landing light in the lower cowl under the prop.


Picking up steam

Its been about 3 months since I’ve posted any type of update on my progress of N688CD.  Things have been pretty crazy, and I honestly have not put in the amount of time that I would have liked.  We moved mid-March, so between February and March, I really didn’t accomplish very much.  We’re all moved in now and progress is being made.  I’ve been trying to spend a hour to hour and a half each day, trying to catch up.

From a progress standpoint, I completely failed at the fuel tanks.  I know what my mistake was and unfortunately after a few attempts at fixing a leak, I tried taking the tanks apart, and failed at that too.  The instructions are clear – Proseal between all mating surfaces – and I did all of them, except for 1… on both tanks.


Proseal is required between the forward rib flange and the tank attach bracket… I forgot.  Big mistake.  Its pretty much impossible to get your hand into the tank, under the tank attach bracket, where you can’t see what you’re doing.  For those of you working on your builds, remember – pro seal is required on ALL MATING SURFACES.  Don’t repeat the mistakes I made.

Proseal sucks and its impossible to get off.  Trust me, I tried.  I’ve gotten so fed up that I’ve decided that I’m just going to order a new set of tanks and start over.  Van’s has quoted me $1000 for new tanks, and I think knowing that they’re in perfect condition while I’m flying will make it worth the money.  In the grand scheme of things, $1k is chump change.

I’ve put the tanks aside and have pressed on with the ailerons and will be starting the flaps soon as well.  My fuselage kit was ordered last week, so I’ve got 10 weeks to finish up the wings (minus the tanks).  I will use the existing tanks to fit everything to the wings.  I’ve ordered some wiring and pitot/static plumbing from SteinAir as well as a pitot/AOA mast.  I’m anxious to move on to the fuselage.  Before you know if, I’ll be sitting in my garage in the fuselage, making airplane noises.

Here are a few pics of some of the progress.  There were some really tight spots on the ailerons.  I had to grind my rivet set down to fit it in there.  Its nice and shiny now.

Never-ending Wings…

Happy New Year!  Its been a while since my last post, so I figured I would do a quick update.  The wings are still moving along… just slowly.  Its so much work.  I should have done the quick build wings 🙂

I’ve actually put the fuel tanks to the side for a while.  They were driving me nuts.  I did preliminary leak testing prior to putting the rear baffle on.  I just took them outside, put them in the cradle and filled with water.  Both are leaking at the exact same spot – and its all my fault.  I forgot to put proseal between the tank attach bracket (T-1005) and the tank inboard rib (T-1003C).  I’m paying the price now, because its not easy to get back in there.  I’ve tried to patch it a few times now.  I have not tested it again since the last attempt.  If this did not fix it, I’m tearing it apart, which is what I should have done from the beginning.

So I’ve moved on to the bottom wing skins – at least the prep part anyway.  I’ve got the Pitot mast fitted.  I also placed my first order with SteinAir for wiring.  Even though I’ve got loom tubing through both wings, I’m still planning on running my wiring ahead of time.  Seems like it will just be easier to do it prior to closing the wings up.  I also mounted the aileron servo and will be installing that in the RIGHT wing… not the left as per instructions.  If you have an autopilot (which goes in the right wing typically), you need to co-locate the trim servo.

I’m trying to get the wing skins and associated hardware for both wings prepped so that I can do a single session of priming.  There are a lot of big pieces and I don’t want to do small batches of priming any more.  Only thing that sucks is that my garage is full of junk and its so cold out that I’m going to have to move everything to the driveway while I prime.

More Tank Stuff

16 November 2016

As has been the case for the past 2-3 months, progress continues to be made, albeit slowly.  I ran the New York City Marathon 2 weeks ago. That as well as all the training is behind me, so hopefully I can spend a little more time in the basement.  I’ve also relocated N8150X to Orange County Airport (KMGJ), which is about another 20 minutes father from my house.  The airport is much larger and more importantly, I now have a hangar.  I’ve got access to a 5000′ long runway, which will be great for flight tests on the RV once complete.  I also now have access to an ILS approach.

I finally feel like I’ve started making progress on my tanks.  I’ve been so hesitant to begin working on sealing/riveting the ribs out of fear that I’m not prepared and that the stiffeners and other items that I’ve already riveted on will leak.  I’ve talked to so many people and the general consensus is – “move on”.  If they leak, they leak.  Its fixable.  So I’m moving on, and like most folks have said, its really not that bad.  Messy yes, but not terribly difficult.  I’ve had to drill out a rivet or two, and even that isn’t too terrible.

The way that this seems to be going is that the more I do, the more I learn, the better I become.  I’ve purchased a large box of 30mL syringes that seem to work well for applying ProSeal.  The goal is to wrap these up and then prior to attaching the rear baffle, I’m going to fill both tanks with water to see if there are any leaks.  It may not be very scientific, but if the tanks hold water for 24 hours without seeping, I’d feel more confident closing them up by attaching the baffle.

Did I mention I hate tank sealant?

1 November 2016

Today marks the 1st year anniversary of the start of my build.  I’m a little disappointed.  I was hoping to get a minimum of 500 hours in per year.  I hit 460.  Things have been really busy and I just haven’t been able to spend as much time on the build as I would like.

I finally got wrapped up with prepping the tanks and now its on to assembling them, which means playing around with tank sealant.  I hate it.  It absolutely sucks and I wish I could have handed this off to someone else and had them do it for me.  Let’s look at the pros and cons of ProSeal


  • It seals the tanks so they don’t leak and I won’t die after crashing of fuel exhaustion


  • It smells
  • Its a pain in the ass to work with
  • It gets on all my clothes
  • Its gets on everything
  • Its a pain to clean everything up after you’re done
  • Good luck removing a rivet if you screw something up.

In other words, it sucks – big time.  I sealed up the end ribs so far.  I’ve prepped one of the skins to start riveting the stiffeners.  That shouldn’t be too bad.  I do not look forward to riveting the ribs in place.  That’s where I fear I’m going to have the biggest challenge.  Next week the local EAA chapter is having our meeting here at the house to observe my progress.  Maybe I can solicit some help from someone who knows what they’re doing.

Fill’er Up

5 Oct 2016

Making some progress on putting together the fuel tanks, albeit, the progress is slow.  Most of the time, I’m swamped with other things to do – but every once in a while, I find it hard to get motivated.  I’ve been spending a lot of time training for my first marathon, so on the weekends when I’m running between 15 and 20 miles, I’m usually exhausted for the rest of the day.

Fluting the ribs for the tanks was a challenge.  Most of the ribs are twisted and it doesn’t matter how much fluting you do – they will not lay flat.  You can see this in one of the pics below.  I did a lot of reading on vansairforce and I guess at the end of the day, what is most important is that the holes in the flanges are all in a straight line.  So my method has been holding my metal ruler along the flange and when holes don’t align, I flute, then try again.  It seems to be working well.

I’ve gotten the left tank cleco’d together.  I’ll be drilling the gas filler gap in within the next day or two. I really don’t like the gas gap that Van’s supplies very much, however, there is probably a good reason why they provide it.  I’ve read horror stories about the locking gas gaps leaking… so I think I will stick with what they give me.  I will however send it out to be engraved.  I found a few companies that will engrave your tail #, along with the required FAA verbiage about the fuel capacity of the tank and the type of fuel required.

Did someone say wings?

23 September 2016

Things seem to be dragging on.  I finally finished riveting the wing leading edges together.  I ran out to Lowes to pick up a thin strip of carpeting for my wing cradles and was able to cleco the leading edges onto the wings this morning.  They are starting to look more and more like wings now.  After these get riveted on, time to start the fuel tanks!

The Calm Before the Storm

So far, the leading edges have been a nice change. They’re actually very straight forward and pretty easy. My guess is this is relief for what is coming next – fuel tanks. I need to start reading ahead to really grasp what I’m going to need to do.

I started riveting yesterday morning and I’m hoping that by the end of this weekend I’m able to attach the leading edges onto the wings.



On to Section 17

25 August 2016

Finally got the top skins on both wings complete and am able to move on to section 17.  The wings are definitely a lot of work.  And its definitely a 2-person job.  Luckily my son has gotten pretty good at using the flush rivet set while I work the bucking bar.  Everything was going well tonight and we had one slight boo-boo.  We hit a rivet without the bucking bar behind it and it put a nice dent in the skin.  Hopefully some bondo or something can be used prior to paint to make it look a little better.  Having something like this happen, especially on a skin that will be in plain sight is extremely disappointing.  But as Van’s tech support told me early on, I need to get over my OCD.

So on to Section 17 – we’re now starting on the wing leading edges.  Here is a shot of both wings sitting in my garage (while the cars sit outside)…

One wing down…

15 August 2016

… one to go – well sort of.  Chapter 16 involves getting the top skins on the wings.  I’m blown away with how long I’ve been working on both wings, yet it seems like I’ve barely put a dent in it.  I have the left wing top skin complete and am moving on to the right wing (which has already been started).  Once Chapter 16 is done – I still have quite a bit of work to do.  Leading edge, fuel tanks, ailerons and flaps.

Back riveting works well for the skins, using a 12″ long back rivet set, most of the time.  What I’ve learned (the hard way, of course) is if you can’t get the rivet set in there perfectly perpendicular, don’t do it.  There are quite a few rivets that need to be pounded from the skin-side using a flush rivet set and good ‘ol bucking bar.

Inserting a bunch of rivets and using scotch tape to hold them all in has been working really well for me.

Things have been moving a lot slower than anticipated, but I’ve been working pretty steady since returning from Oshkosh.  That trip provided some pretty decent motivation – especially seeing all the nice RV-10s that other RVers have built.