Its been a month since my last update and I’ve gotten a ton accomplished – over 50 hours of work, and that’s with the plane being gone for a week! The biggest news is that my engine has been ordered. Its scheduled for a May delivery and my plan is to fly out to Lycoming in Williamsport PA to see my Thunderbolt being built. Sun and Fun is the first week of April this year and I plan to start ordering my avionics shortly after.
In other news, I have the inside of the plane painted. The auto body shop up the road from me picked up the plane and had it for a week. They did a great job masking everything off and getting paint where it needed to be, including the insides of the doors.
Because its still cold out, I decided to put off working on my fiberglass. Sanding makes a hell of a mess inside the garage, so I moved on to the interior instead. Its better anyway. I still don’t have the airplane up on the landing gears, so this makes it easy for me to get in and get out. I didn’t even bother putting the doors back on. Much easier.
I’ve figured out how to get the Oxygen System Distribution boxes installed without any visible screws using a product called ClickBond. They worked great. I have all my Aerosport interior panels fitted. You can see that I had the interior of the airplane painted to be very similar to the Aerosport interior panels… even though most will be covered with carpet. At least it will be durable underneath.
Lastly, I got my instrument panel installed. I’m working on getting everything mounted and then I’ll take it out and ship it off to have the panel built up by SteinAir. Thanks to Garmin who makes these handy stickers. I temporarily installed my seat so I could sit in there and make sure my instruments were where I wanted them.
Oh… and I started working on the overall scheme for the plane too. I have my interior and exterior colors picked out. I’m still trying to finalize the paint scheme, but it will be similar to one of these. The leather seats will be the deep red you see here. The carpeting will be black to accent the carbon fiber in the plane, and the headliner will be gray to match the paint and Aerosport interior panels.
Made great progress over the past month. Typically I invest about 40-50 hours a month (on a good month). I put in about 75 hours over the past 5 weeks. I’m motivated to get this thing done, or at least moved to the airport, by the end of 2019.
Since getting the doors finished, I’ve installed all the plexiglass, done a TON of wiring, front to back, for avionics, roughed in all the plumbing for my oxygen system, installed my engine mount and a lot more. I see the light at the end of the tunnel, so I’m motivated to keep going.
I’ve ordered my Thunderbolt engine and prop and am hoping that once the weather warms up, it’ll get delivered. I’ve also started working with a PlaneSchemer on my paint scheme, as well as Aerosport Products to work on the colors inside the cabin.
I’m less motivated to keep updating this blog, but I need to make sure I keep documenting things so that when the FAA finally does show up to inspect it, I have a nice record of everything.
servos for heat and oil cooler
test fit of front seats
lots of wiring!
pitch trim wiring
oxygen refill port
Autopilot wiring, Oxygen plumbing
Between Thanksgiving and New Years, I was lucky enough to be able to take some time off of work and extend some of the normal corporate holidays. This gave me a decent amount of time to try to get my doors completed. In total, just fabricating the doors and installing all the hardware necessary to make them latch has taken me at least 100 hours. Just as I got comfortable with riveting, they go and switch gears and make you learn fiberglassing skills. I’m still not a fan, but I’m getting there. What’s nice about fiberglass is its easy to fix, unlike aluminum.
In the past month, I’ve gotten the door latching system working, which also included an after-market 3rd latch. I also installed an aftermarket outside lever and lock to spruce up the look. The problem with aftermarket products is that it always takes 10x more time because once you deviate from the standard plans, you’re kind of on your own. I got the door seal working, which required a lot of “body” work to make it fit properly. Over the past week I’ve gotten the two rear windows and the door windows installed. Unfortunately the gas door struts that come with the kit are crap. They worked fine until I installed the windows, and now they don’t raise by themselves. So those will be getting replaced with stronger, aftermarket versions as soon as they arrive.
Next up is the front windscreen. After that, I have a lot of fiberglassing work around the windscreen and side windows. I’m anticipating all this to take me into February. After that, we’ll be working on the landing gears and engine mounts.
I’ve also ordered some “infrastructure” stuff. I’ve got wiring harnesses on the way for autopilot servos and some other navigation equipment. I also have a really exciting oxygen system on the way. Its state of the art and will allow me to fly up in the 15k foot range with ease. Engine will probably get ordered in the spring and avionics in the summer. Right now, my goal is a spring 2020 first flight.
As is the case with most after-market parts, the doors have been no different… everything takes WAY longer than anticipated. Even for items that seem relatively simply, progress comes to a halt. I think its because there are two sets of instructions you’re having to work from. There is a lot of integration between what the manufacturer intended and what the aftermarket parts vendor is trying to do.
I’m making two modifications to the doors – the first is a 3rd latch. This will provide better/easier closure of the door itself and provide a more robust system, in my opinion. There have been reports of doors not being latched properly and coming off in flight, and the 3rd latch, from PlaneAround LLC, will prevent that. I’m also replacing the stock exterior handle from Van’s with something much nicer looking (and lower profile) from Aerosport Products.
There is quite a bit of work involved to install the 3rd latch. Fishing these parts through the fiberglass doors has been a challenge. Also, securing clevis pins with safety wire so they don’t come off hasn’t been easy either. I’ve got one door finished, and the 2nd one pretty far along. My goal is to have the doors complete by Christmas.
Screwed up some holes, so filling them in
Installing Magnets in Door Pins for Latch Indicator
Safety Wire Fun!
Whole system laid out
Safety Wire Fun!
Safety Wire Fun!
Originally, I was convinced that working on the fuel tanks was the worst part of the build. I was wrong. REALLY wrong. The doors are worse. I’ve never been so frustrated. Luckily, the worst part, I believe, is behind me. The doors are now fitted, and even hinged! I’ve finally gotten a little more comfortable with doing fiberglass work. The number of times I’ve had to put the doors on and take them off and continue to trim is amazing. I think they fit pretty well now. On to more fun stuff!
Things continue to move forward, albeit, pretty slowly. Traveling continues to get in the way. Oshkosh got in the way too – but I cant complain. Had a great time and finalized a lot of the details for avionics and a few other things. I’ve ordered my finish kit and its due to ship sometime during the first week of September… which is fine. I have plenty to do.
I’ve been working on the cabin top. In particular, getting the Aerosport overhead console fitted. I’ve installed some LED reading lights for each passenger, mounted some air vents and an electronic valve system that will allow me to adjust how much airflow is directed to everyone’s heads.
While at Oshkosh, I also picked up the FlyLEDs lighting kit. This integrates NAV/Strobe/Landing/Taxi lights into the wingtips and was a lot of fun putting together. I had to solder everything myself… and I only ruined one LED. I also met some folks from Aerotronics, who put together a draft of an avionics panel. Decided at the show that I’ll be going with a complete Garmin avionics suite.
I’m hoping to get the overhead console glued and blended into the top soon. Once the finish kit arrives, it will be on to the doors. I have the windshield and side windows cut for the most part – only a little bit of trimming left to do.
I also got my COM1/COM2 antennae mounted, along with the Bob Archer wingtip NAV antenna. Now that I read all of this… maybe I did get a lot done 🙂
Bob Archer Wingtip NAV Antenna
Aerosport NACA Duct Valve installed
Aerosport Overhead Console
Another overhead console duct photo
Wingtip lighting kit
My NAV lights work!
Venting for the avionics fans
Wingtip lights assembled
First draft of avionics layout
The new job is really hampering productivity because I travel so often. I’ve been traveling almost every week and gone 2-3 nights per week. Its killing me not to be putting in the hours that I used to. I’ve had to resort to spending 10 hours or so over the weekend just to keep up with the pace.
I am making progress however. I got the cabin top to fit… still needs some more work, but at least its on there. I ordered my overhead console from Aerosport and cut holes in the rear fuselage for the NACA ducts to provide fresh air to the vents that I’ll place up above. Electric flap motor is installed and working too.
Back seat driver
flap motor testing
rear seat install
rear NACA ducts
A lot has happened in the past two months. First, I’ve switched jobs. In doing so, I took two weeks off, so I was able to get a lot done without having to worry about going to work. I’ve also done a better job at getting up every morning and trying to put in at least an hour or two before going to the office.
Unfortunately, the new job requires a lot of travel, so I’m not always able to get in as many hours per week as I would like. Even so, somehow in less than two months, I’ve put in over 100 hours on the airplane.
More importantly, I’ve gotten the tailcone and fuselage mated, riveted together and I’m making excellent progress. The rudder pedals are in, brake lines are all connected and even some of the fuel lines are in now. Tonight I started getting the rudder cables in place and will continue working on those tomorrow as well. Doing the brake lines and fuel lines is a little intimidating (especially the fuel lines). You definitely don’t want any leaking here!
Fuselage and Wings
Conduit for wiring
Baggage compartment bulkheadd
Baggage compartment door
Baggage compartment door
Landing gear mounts
Brake lines run
Its funny… in the Van’s community online, all the RV10 folks talk about the infamous chapter 29. I have to admit, I went into it with fear. 86 hours later, Chapter 29 is a thing of the past. It wasn’t too bad. Its just a lot of work and it takes patience. There was nothing terribly difficult about the work required with a few exceptions:
- Installing the landing gear mounts was a royal pain in the ass. Luckily I made some “drift pins” out of a few bolts, which certainly made it much easier to get things aligned.
- There were a few rivets that were hard to set – mostly around the main spar. There wasn’t an easy way to get in there with a normal flush rivet set. I wound up purchasing a 4″ long flush rivet set that has a slight angle to it at the end. I guess its an offset flush rivet set.
- Bending the longerons was tough. I spent the $40 and bought the bench vise die set to help with the bending. I felt it would have been a nightmare without them.
I spent 6 hours today (on my birthday) finishing up Chapter 29. I’ll probably take the rest of the day off. Tomorrow I start working installing the steps.
Holy shit, there is an airplane in my garage! Its funny. During the build process, there are a number of milestones, whether major or minor, that force you to step back and take a look at what you’re working on. Over the weekend was one of those moments. I had to bend some of the longerons using a die and bench vise and then roll some of the skins on the side of the fuselage. Once I had all of it cleco’d together, I stepped back and realized that this is starting to look more and more like an airplane. Definitely have a way to go, but this is pretty exciting. Fuselage is coming along and by the spring, I should have the fuselage and empennage parts mated. I need to start planning out how this is going to fit in my garage when those two pieces are together because its going to be a little over 20 feet long.