Fuselage & Tailcone are One

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!

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Chapter 29 Complete!

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.

Reality Sets In…

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.

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Main Landing Gear Mounts

I don’t think I’ve cursed so much since working on my tanks.  Trying to fit the main landing gear mounts and getting everything drilled was a royal PITA.  The landing gear mounts are steel, so they’re not very forgiving… but I guess I’ll appreciate that a little more when I’m slamming 2700lbs down on them when I hit the runway.

Step 1 was getting the things attached with 5 bolts.  That in itself took hours.  I wound up taking two bolts, cutting the heads off and tapering the end of it to use it as a “guide pin”.  I would hit it with a hammer and it would pull everything into alignment.  Then I would just tap the bolt in behind it.

The problem on the pilot side was that the metal shim that is supposed to go between the landing gear mount and the side skin didn’t fit.  You can see in the pictures that the 1/8″ gap that is supposed to be filled in by the shim tapers from 1/8″ to next to nothing.  At the advice of Van’s, I just put the shim on the scotchbright wheel and tapered it to match.  I finally got everything aligned and after about 8 hours total, i was able to get everything fitted.  I have a few more lose ends to tie up and then its on to the infamous Section 29, which includes the side skins.

Fuselage Update

06 December 2017

Its been a long time since the last update.  Reality is that work has had me traveling quite a bit over the past few months.  Progress pretty much came to a crawl.  I’ve refocused and have been doing well on the fuselage.

Getting the fuel tanks complete was nothing short of a miracle.  Guess having practice on the first set prepared me for the 2nd set.  NO LEAKS!

Fuselage is well under way now and at this point I’m starting to rivet the firewall together.  Can’t wait to be able to sit on this thing and make airplane noises in my garage.  I will be working on a fuselage stand this weekend so that I can move this thing around.

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.

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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

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • 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.