14th June 2011


My tech counselor, Mike Hilger, stopped out this morning to take a look at the project. I’d asked him to come and take a look before I get to the point of buttoning up the forward top skin, since after it’s on, the only access to that area is from underneath the panel. I’m still going to wait awhile to put that skin on, since there are more things to be done up there (incl. brake lines & rudder cables).  I also wanted him to check out the FWF work I’d done so far.  Based on his comments, I’m on the right track and doing good work.  We talked about a few items and next steps for baffles, cowling, tips, and so on.

I let the folks at work know today that I’m hoping to take a couple blocks of time off during the summer…perhaps one early and one late, to do some hardcore shop time.  I feel like I can keep pretty good momentum going and get a lot done with a few full days to work.

Also called to request a bill of sale from Van’s today; they sent me a couple forms to fill out and return, then they’ll send it out.  Then, I’ll be ready to submit the FAA registration paperwork (my N-number reservation renewal is up at the end of July, so it makes as much sense to register instead of renewing this year).

Hope to order brake lines & harnesses tomorrow, and hopefully will confirm with Catto by the end of the week.

Hours: 1.0 | Posted in General | Comments Off

12th September 2009

Supply orders

No real work on the project today (a large portion of which was dedicated to a choir “retreat”), but I did research and order some parts.  Various hardware parts (bolts, nuts, washers, etc) from Van’s, and a couple tubes of grease (Aeroshell 33, billed as a “universal airframe grease” good to -100*F; and Aeroshell 22, which is listed for use in stuff like wheel bearings; full catalog of Aeroshell greases) from Skygeek.

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11th December 2008

Status Update

It’s been some time since I’ve done any work on the project.  In July we had the storm, and the subsequent months, though I did get a couple days’ work in, were mostly devoted to home repair projects: porch, patio, deck, fascia, roofing, and other miscellaneous things.  Late fall/early winter is always a busy time at work, and there was no exception this year.  Then, the spar problem on top of all that.  So here’s an update…

Spar problem: Solved.  Around the time I sent in my problem pictures to the factory, other builders had done so as well…shortly, Van’s sent a notice to a number of -9(A) builders that some spars were incorrectly bent.  They offered advice on how to attempt re-bending the spars oneself, or to replace the spars at no cost.  I tried some trial bending and wasn’t satisfied with the results, so opted for the replacement spars (I believe most of the other (online) builders I’m aware of with this problem also had their spars replaced).  Van’s advised me when I ordered them that the lead time would be 10-12 weeks due to the production backlog; it was around this time that the production RV-12 was being introduced, as well.  However, I received a fresh set of spars just a couple weeks later, and they even included replacement nutplates, so I won’t have to drill them off the old spars.  Needless to say, I’m quite happy with the way this was handled.  Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to start on the new spar set.

Shop: Warm.  I purchased and installed a 75k BTU propane shop heater, and this week, the new tank (124-gal) was installed, tested, and filled.  Fired the heater up last night and it made quick work of bringing the shop up to temp–from 32 to 49 in under 20 minutes (OAT in the 20′s).  I could also partition the shop area (third bay) from the garage area (doors 1 & 2) with some hanging plastic or other material to confine the heat, which would bring the temp up even faster.  I’m pleased with that performance, and it should allow for winter work to happen — for the project, as well as maintenance of our vehicles.  I’m curious to check in the morning and see how well the building kept it’s heat overnight, whether all that fiberglass insulation paid off or not.

Progress: None.  It’s looking like Jan & Feb will be slower at work (not related to the economy, just a result of the way the academic calendar works), so I’m hoping to have some spare time–as I won’t be working nearly as many evenings–to get back into things.

Goals: In my mind, I’d like to have the wing skeleton together by the end of December, though that might be unrealistic given the number of concerts I have to sing in, record, and edit still this month…Complete wings by my birthday would be super, but highly unlikely; might have to go for Easter, or July 4th.

Current thinking: The “equippage” of the project is, of course, always in flux as new products develop and evolve.  Being a “gadget guy,” though, I can’t help but keep a mental grasp of ‘if I were to finish it with today’s products, what would it have?’.  I’m thinking fuel injection (AFP (preferred) or Silverhawk), set up for autofuel (I’m watching the discussions about ethanol-ready, too: wingroot pumps, alodined tanks, and the like), with Pmag/Emag.  AFS 3500EE in the panel, ready for future 3500EF on right side.  Radio stack hasn’t changed: SL-30, 496 (though the new 696 looks superb, but spendy), 327 transponder, and PSE 3000 intercom; space for future GNS-430W.  Trutrak Digiflight II autopilot–however, AFS is reportedly close to announcing the Advanced Autopilot, which is based on a TT system; that might be the way to go, depending on what the details are.  I’m also thinking screw the canopy rather than glue it, which is a reversal of previous thought, but my mind can still be made up.  :)   No backups in the beginning, as it’ll be VFR-only.  DIY LED nav lights w/conventional strobes.  Of course, all of this may will probably change!

They say building goes faster if you build it first in your head…I’ve done plenty of that in the last several months–it’s time to clean the shop and pick up some tools again!

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8th April 2008

Site upgrade underway…

I’ve upgraded WordPress to version 2.5 tonight, and as a result, the old theme (built for a 2.0.x version) no longer works, along with some special plugins that were running, like category order and the hour totals. So, I will be working to bring those features back online in the near future. Hopefully the WordPress structure will remain the same for the future; apparently, certain things were redone in 2.3 and 2.5. If you find something really broke, please let me know! Thanks…

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25th May 2007

Practice Project 2

Over the past couple evenings, I’ve completed the second pratice project with no major difficulties.  This is a short section of control surface, and incorporates a number of techniques–flush & universal-head riveting, back-riveting, double-flush riveting on the trailing edge, rolling the leading edge, etc.  I decided to mix things up and try out a number of different tools/methods for getting things done, in the interest of being more familiar with tha various options.  The highlights/things learned:

  • This should have been obvious (common sense!), but don’t try to save time by not building fixtures to hold things solid during riveting.  They even give you a diagram of a fixture, and parts to build it, but it seemed to stand up okay on it’s own, so I gave it a shot…nope.  Drilled out 4 rivets I didn’t like.  Built the fixture, and life was good.  A good lesson.
  • I have three flush sets–a straight mushroom, a straight mushroom with a rubber ring around the face, and the swivel mushroom that everyone seems to love.  So far, I’m preferring the straight set with the rubber ring.  Maybe it’s just me, but I had an easier time keeping the gun where I wanted it with that one.  I’m curious to try the swivel set again with a two-person rivet/buck operation–I can see where the swivel would be beneficial, and I think it could shine when the shooter is able to hold it against the surface.  It tended to walk in the direction of gravity when I was one-handing it.
  • Duct tape on bucking bars is a goooood thing.  :)   I can also see why people are loving the tungsten bucking bars that are the latest rage online; every tool supplier has added them to their catalog.  Bucking the skin-spar rivets down in there on the second skin is a challenge with a big bar; I ended up grinding a new face on one of the other bars, since nothing was fitting real well.
  • Duct tape on squeezer yokes might also be a good thing; I noticed after the fact that I had put a couple scratches in the spar web while dimpling with the pneumatic squeezer, and had to be careful of where I was with the yoke while riveting.  I might take a look at deburring those sharp edges?  Something to check.
  • Squeezers: The hand squeezer is easier to control, probably because of its light weight.  The pneumatic sets rivets easier!  I’m glad for the pneumatic (my hands, I believe, will thank me sooner than later…with some wrist pain from daily activities, I think it’s a wise choice), but I think having the hand squeezer, even the el-cheapo one I have (US Tool) will come in handy in some cases.
  • My trailing edge came out pretty straight, but I could stand more practice on the double-flush rivets.  I didn’t feel like they were setting well.  They tended to bend over more than squish down, and some of the results left things a bit loose.  I tried a .5 longer rivet in one case, and it may have helped, but still fell over to the side.  I may drill these out and re-do for more practice before doing the rudder & elevators.

So that’s it for the practice projects.  I had hoped to practice priming and such on this one as well, but haven’t ordered any primer yet.  I’ll probably do that on Monday or Tuesday.  I need to deburr and dimple the HS skins, and see how people handle the etch step and/or priming only the rivet lines on skins, with the AFS primer.  (Looking at web pages, seems like most AFS users are priming the entire inner side of the skins, but inconclusive on the etch step.  I wouldn’t think etching the top of the skins would be avoidable, or desired.)

Practice Project 2

Hours: 6.0 | Posted in General | Comments Off

18th May 2007

Practice Project

I ordered the “RV Class Project” kit from Van’s; it comes with two projects to complete.  The first is simple, sort of the ‘next step’ from the morning sheetmetal workshop we attended at OSH last summer–A narrow aluminum sheet, riveted to a piece of angle, with another sheet riveted to it.  You get 20 holes to practice drilling, deburring, dimpling/countersinking, and riveting.  2 blind rivets, and 18 solid of assorted types & sizes.  Pulled it out this afternoon–after cleaning up the yard in preparation for a picnic we’re hosting–and completed it in a reasonable time.  Things I learned:

  • This riveting thing isn’t as big of a deal as it’s sometimes feared.  I over-drove a number of the rivets, mostly the smaller AD3′s, before I got the feel of the gun and how long to pull it for.  I had a couple under-driven and then they ended up over-driven after I tried to give them another shot.  I don’t believe I had any that would have been necessary to drill out, and I didn’t end up with any smileys or dents/dings…overall, not bad.
  • Edges of sheet stock need to be rolled before dimpling…duh!  ;)
  • Double-check the hole size before drilling the beginning and end of a row to cleco the rivet fan spacer into.

Overall, not a bad way to get started.  I’m looking forward to trying out the squeezer & various yokes, along with the swivel rivet set, when I get into the larger practice project, which is a short section of control surface.

Also back in the saddle with flight training–we’ve had pretty strong/gusty winds here the past week or more; not too ideal for practicing pattern work, but I managed to get up for .6 with my instructor; I was happy to find that I didn’t seem to have lost as much as I feard I might have.  3 trips around & landings; the last one was fairly solid, and I got my 90-day solo endorsement renewed.  Scheduled for Monday to try and get in some solo work in preparation for solo X-C; I’m not too optomistic about the winds…but that’s springtime in MN!

Practice Project 1

Hours: 1.5 | Posted in General | Comments Off