Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Finally Back at Building - a Bit

So I got my Repairman Certificate with Inspection rating - or not quite yet, but at least the course certificate with which I can then apply for the real FAA certificate once my pile of aluminum is registered as an ELSA airplane. The trip with Denny in his RV-12 to Corning, CA (0O4) was a bit long but a very good Cross Country experience that I'll probably never forget.
Coming back the temps are insanely high but I had to get back to building anyhow and so tonight I turned on the A/C in the shop when I got home. The thermometer showed slightly over 100F in the shop. After 3 hours of cooling the thermometer was still showing 90 degrees. I decided to ignore it and to get at least a little bit done.

I left the tank top unfinished as the filler hole wasn't cut out last time I worked on the top. Tonight I took care of that. Pre-drilled with #30, then opened up with the step drill to 3/4" and roughly cut out with the pneumatic nibbler. The files did the finish.

Now to finish the work on the tank top I have to rivet the reinforcement ring in to which the Moeller gauge will get screwed in to. This will be tricky as I don't have a yoke that would fit through the hole. I will use Joeri's method and use a hammer and a punch while the countersunk rivet is supported by a flat concrete or steel surface. This is a bit tedious but for 10 rivets that should be ok to do.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fuel Neck Fitted

And just when I said it was too hot to work, I felt like I couldn't let this keep on sliding and spent an afternoon on the patio - sweating like hell.

I started by covering the top of the tank after putting some cloth in there to catch inevitable drill chips. Then I maneuvered the tank into the fuselage and put it in its dedicated place.

Then the fuel neck flange had to get fitted to the curvature of the right turtle deck skin. That took surprisingly long as I had to bend it with the help of a vise as the aluminum is too thick to get bent by hand.

Also the aft AN-4 screw was a pain to get in. This time I did it through the not yet installed aft window which won't be possible when I do the final tank install. Or maybe I hold off on the window install until the tank is in place. That will get me by at least for the first year until the annual is due and I will have to remove the tank to remove the aft panels. What a joy to look forward to!
The fuel neck flange got match-drilled to the turtle deck skin and the position of the tank flange got marked on the top skin of the tank.

That was it. Tank got removed from the fuselage again and the top skin came off to do some more trimming on it. First the tank filler flange got match-drilled into the top skin - after marking with orientation the filler should have on the tank.

Then the interior outline of ring on the filler got marked onto the skin so the material could get removed. Before I did that I remembered that I wanted to have the Moeller fuel gauge installed. So I picked up on that task and marked the spot where to drill the pilot hole.

I found two different measurements for the 6" something part on the forum. One was 6 7/8" and one was 6 1/2" which was used by Joeri in the Netherlands. I went with the 6.5" and it worked out well. I also got myself an extra front tank cover T-1209 as it is a perfect template to create a reinforcement ring to put under the skin for the Moeller gauge to screw into. The drill pattern matches perfectly. I also made a temporary lid in case I go ELSA and don't put the gauge in before certification. The two holes you see in there are pre-punched holes and I will fill them with Pro-Seal.
I drilled the pilot hole and widened it with the step drill bit.

I used the nibbler to remove the rest of the material and them finished it off with a file and the 1" SB wheel. Perfect fit.

The next step happened on the interior side of the top skin. The reinforcement ring had to get match-drilled into the skin. Make sure you know what alignment you have with the gauge as you cant't just mount it arbitrarily. In my case the indented part of the ring shows where the bottom of the gauge scale is, which I want to have pointing at the forward edge of the tank.

I used these short half inch clamps for the first holes and clecoed #40 as I drilled them. Then I drilled the #12 holes without pilot holes. Worked well.

The last step on the skin was to countersink the nutplate attach holes on the ring and to dimple the corresponding holes in the top skin.
At that point the clock showed 6:30pm and I was getting tired so I called it a day. Now getting ready for the trip to 0O4 (Zero, letter O, four).
Still have to remove the material inside the tank filler neck and have to install the nutplates for the Moeller gauge. The latter will require Pro-Seal, so I might hold off on that until final assembly of the tank top to do it all at once.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Avoiding the Heat

It is hot in Southern Arizona these days. That's not really surprising. Not at all.
What is surprising is the intensity of the heat. We currently see temperatures persisting that are more known in the Phoenix area (which is always hotter than Tucson). We are seeing 105 in the day and barely cooling off at night with 76, maybe 74 if you're lucky. Tomorrow we're expecting 108. That's too much, even for me.
Last year was easier to handle as I was mainly working in the shop with the doors closed and I could cool the area at least a bit.
This year I need the door open as I am in and out of the shop, mainly working outside on the fuselage that sits on the patio. So, all I could get accomplished was putting a few hours in here and there and that was it. Thus, not a lot of progress since the tailcone joined the forward fuselage.

I received some louvers from Van's that usually go on a -10. Reason I ordered them is to take a look at the dimensions (there was no photo in Van's web store) and they were cheap enough to order them for inspection ($5 each). With all the talk about the Rotax running too high oil temps and the recent temperatures around Tucson maybe becoming normal, I want to make sure I have more oil cooling I will ever need (you can always shut a hole. Opening one up might look ugly). The louvers have to get bent to final shape but the dimensions look promising as the RV-12 cowl is pretty small and doesn't have a lot of areas where a louver could get installed. The part is called F-10109 and the size is about 7 x 5.5", not quite rectangular in shape.

I worked on the fuselage a bit more and clecoed the turtle decks on. Reason here is to get the tank done which requires some custom fit of the filler neck which attaches to the right turtle deck.

Then I could throw in some shop work and drill the filler neck flange that goes on the top of the tank and put together the whole filler neck assembly. The hose clamps are just tight enough to hold the hose is place and still allow for some adjustments.

There's no template for drilling the flange and I was too lazy to make one, so this is the result of a free hand approach as to marking those hole centers and pre-punching them. Drilled on the drill press. Slight deviations from a perfectly even 8 hole pattern hopefully won't do anything. I felt the holes were a little close to the inside but I checked multiple times with the instructions and they said to place the center of the hole 5/16" from the outside of the flange.

I also found a visible leak in the fuel tank where an edge relief wasn't filled with Pro-Seal when I originally put it together. Now, I wasn't sure how to deal with it, so my attempt was to clean the area and just smear more Pro-Seal over it from the inside and out after scuffing up the inside a bit where there was bare aluminum. I hope that this will connect well and not vibrate loose later, creating a seeping leak. The tank will now get covered on the inside to catch some chips when match drilling and cutting the top for the filler neck flange.

Tomorrow I'm heading towards Phoenix staying a night at Denny's home and then we leave at dark to get to the airport in Deer Valley and fly his RV-12 to Corning, CA for an ELSA Repairmen Course. Flying back on Saturday/Sunday, so there won't be a lot of progress on the plane during the next days either.
Sigh! And I am not even sure if I will really go the ELSA route yet. The most recent price increase on the Rotax engine kit from Van's reminded me again how ridiculously priced this engine is. Considering that it still has carbs with all the adjustment and maintenance that comes with it, I feel that a Viking engine with fuel injection and for about half of what a Rotax costs would be the far better solution.
Well, I still have time to make up my mind ...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tailcone Attached

Today was the day to mate the two parts of the fuselage. Early in the morning I placed the tailcone behind the forward fuselage and got ready for the join.

I didn't just follow the instructions as I wanted to maximize the advantage of still having the tailcone detached. Knowing that wires had to be run back into the tailcone as well as up front from the tailcone I looked up the necessary connection and routed the wires before connecting the tailcone.

Running these wires through those tiny snap bushings that were getting very full was a finicky job. I have no idea how I should have done this had I attached the tailcone first...
The wires and static line were routed and put out of the way, everything was ready to join the halves.

The lower edge was matched first.

My wife helped pushing the tail slowly forward while I was guiding the skin parts to over or underlap correctly.

Pushing up on the tail and guiding the tail skins over the aft bulkhead was fairly easy. The clecos to hold it in place were quickly set.

Then the safety belt lugs were riveted in and a blue tape reminder was installed to not rivet the holes underneath it.

Then the sides were riveted.

And finally I went for riveting the belly holes. Unfortunately, every time I wanted to buy a creeper at HF when they gave out a usable coupon in the last months the local store didn't have what I wanted. That's one of the reasons why I will let my membership expire. So I had to do it the hard way, lying on a piece of carpet with out head rest.

Here's a shot from the other side so you would believe me that I was done at that point.

Late in the afternoon I was done and finally moved the fuselage to its new location as the old spot is just not big enough to get around it anymore.

5.5 hours just for attaching the tailcone ... I was amazed at how many rivets there were to get pulled. It looked a lot less than there actually were.
Now on to finishing the tank, so I can paint the thing (after testing it's leak proof) and then I can tear down the paint booth and move the plane in the carport were it will get its landing gear thereafter.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Flap Handle Assembly

I didn't have much time when I came home late but that couldn't keep me out of the shop completely. I got a some 90 minutes in and was able to get the primed parts from yesterday assembled and started some fine trimming too. Trying to assemble the flap handle showed that the notches in the flap arrestor needed the paint removed as the fit is really tight and the clevis pin would completely set with the paint in there.
I also started polishing the tube to reduce the OD for sliding the knob over it. That has yet to be finished.

I also took a closer look at the next steps and noticed that the flaperon pushrods will occupy most of the space in the main tunnel, making access to the cables underneath them almost impossible. As I still have to at least run the static tube through there (and wasn't there also a set of cables for the trim servo?) I feel like I should probably attach the tailcone this weekend to finish this up.

Google Bugs

It seems that Google is not just losing calendar entries mysteriously, they also dropped the list of my blog's followers. I noticed a day or two ago that the list was empty and thought maybe it was glitch with an expired session, but getting to my work computer this morning disproved this theory.
The list is still empty.

As I cannot recall writing anything offending that would have made all of you disappear at once, I assume it's a Google bug.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Day of Swearing

It started all so good this morning. I happily finished the fitting of those control sticks and installed them, starting with the left side.

The easiest way in my eyes, is to installed the pushrod to the control stick before installing the stick. The area around the stick is so tight, you can hardly fit a hand in there - not to mention any tools.
This is how mine looked like before trying the first time to get this into the fuselage.

Notice that this special bushing that connects the pushrod to the mixer plate is installed on the end of the pushrod. This will not fit into the fuselage. It's just about an inch too long to slide through all the narrow openings. At this point I didn't know that though.
So, I tried to get in somehow but to no avail. Back to the bench, taking the bushing off gave me enough clearance to slide the assembly into place. Putting the bushing back on the pushrod inside the fuselage is fairly easy.

That worked so well, I did the same on the right side. This time leaving the bushing off from the beginning.

This one turned out to have too tight of a fitting to the control column bracket and so it had to come out again for some more filing.
Eventually, I had them both installed, perfectly fitted, torqued and secured with cotter pins. Boy, was I proud of myself!

I shouldn't have put the cotter pins in, that's always a bad omen. Particularly, if you don't have any spares... but I was yet to find that out.
So, back to the work bench and getting those grips ready for installation.
A hole punch cleared the top of the grips with a perfectly cut 1/4" hole, despite the fact I have those grips where you can't take the end off.

The switch was quickly installed by tying a string around the head of the actuator of the switch and pulling it through the hole. If the switch ever breaks and has to get replaced I might have to cut the grips off though to get to the wires.
With the assembly I went outside to pull the wires through the stick with the string I had installed and secured weeks ago. Well, and that's when my day just fell apart.
The string on the left wouldn't budge. I mean it wouldn't even move half an inch in either direction. It was just fine before I did the painting and I haven't felt the need to verify that it would still move, because why shouldn't it???
I cursed and pulled. Wouldn't move.
I cursed some more and pulled the other way. Nothing.
At some point I was yanking on that string like a maniac but it all didn't help, the string wouldn't move.
It took me some moments to realize that the only way to do this was to take the stick out, pull the string so hard that it would tear and start from scratch.
And that's what I did. I even burnt the rest of the string out that was still stuck somewhere inside the control stick. I used the vacuum technique to suck in another string which worked just fine, and this one moved without a hitch.
Having the stick on the work bench made the installation of the grips easier it turned out. I was using some shrink tube to attach the wire to the string. I have some expensive tube that doesn't just shrink but also stays flexible once it was activated and allows to get pulled around corners, which might have been helpful today.

I attached the shorter wire to the longer one with some duct tape on this stick. The right one got another shrink tube as it just worked better.

Sliding the grip over the control tube was a tough one until I remembered reading on the forum to let the grip slide on a cushion of air. I found a nozzle that could get pushed under the grip a little and it worked like a charm.

Now back to where we were before. Installing the stick, this time with the wires and the switch in place.

This time it all worked. I retorqued the AN4 bolt and I even found a bag of fitting cotter pins that I had forgotten about. Some extras I must have bought from Aircraft Spruce a while back, for days like today!

Then on to the right stick. This time I was certain I could install the grip on the fuselage as there was no way a second string would have tightened up magically. I was partially right.
The string did move indeed and I attach the wire to the string, pulling happily... until it came to a sudden stop. First I thought the bulky shrink tube would be the problem and get stuck or something. Pulling back showed that the tube was untouched. I tried and tried again but every time the string came to a sudden stop at the same spot.
Finally I lost my temper and pulled to hard that I tore the string and the end came out.
Turned out that I had added some knots on the string to make sure it wouldn't accidentally get pulled all the way through. How thoughtful of me!!! Only I put the knots on the wrong side of the obstruction!
So the same procedure repeated itself. Getting stick out, back on work bench, pulling a new string, installing wire, sliding grip on, installing stick in the fuselage yet again.

This photo doesn't show how much time went into this apparently so simple installation of control sticks and some microphone switches. I also took the time to check if the switches were actually working. With my luck today I should have found at least one to be defective.
Both worked, so I'll have to pay for that on some other day, I guess.

Checking the rest of the wiring section 31 revealed that most of it is now related to the tailcone which I haven't installed yet, so I decided to continue section 32 which takes care of the control elements. The sticks were in and the next thing is to install the mixer and the flap handle, which makes sense as they both actuate the flaperons. When I get to the rudder cables, I will have to think about installing the tailcone next. I don't think that it would make much sense to keep it off much longer.

Prepping and priming the next parts for the flight controls.

The flap handle ready for installation once the interior has been added.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Jumping Back And Forth

Not following the flow Van's has laid out for us really costs some extra penalty in time. Tonight is a good example for this rule. I wanted to jump ahead and fit the control sticks before continuing the wiring which would have required to run the microphone switch wire up the control stick. After this you wouldn't want to remove the hole setup anymore, so I rather do the final install first and then run the wire.
That started out well. I filed down the brass bushings to fit inside the control column bracket. Then I reduced the length of the guide rod on the end of the control stick where this bushing will sit in so it would just clear the bracket.
But when I wanted to install the whole setup to see if my attempt on the left side was correct, I noticed that installing the roll pushrods after installing the control stick might be a very tricky thing to do as the space around the bottom of the stick is very limited.
I thought about this a moment and then decided to do it right the first time and roll back to the beginning of the whole control stick installation and make those aileron pushrods first, so I could install them along with the control stick.
So then I was working my way through section 32 in reverse. In the end nothing got finished therefore. The pushrods got cut and pre-drilled as well as tapped. Now they are sitting outside and drying the primer I sprayed on.
The left control stick is still lying in the fuselage waiting to get installed to verify that the bracket is holding onto the brass bushing and not touching the guide rod in the stick.
But any progress is still progress, right?

By the way, I still have a leak somewhere in the fuel system. Last night I ran a test after noticing that I am still losing pressure over night by putting 11 psi in the system and shutting the fuel valve. I wanted to find out if the leak is possibly in the suspicious hose connecting supply and return line.
Well, when I came home tonight and checked the pressure was down to 6 psi. Opening the valve dropped it even further down to 2.5 psi. So I have a leak in front and behind the fuel valve. Oh boy! I still know that it's water tight to 10 psi, so I am willing to take a chance with fuel. I will put rags under the possible leaks and put just a small amount in the system to begin with. Maybe pressurizing it again to simulate operating pressure.
But this will have to wait until I am in a better mood to deal with this.

Tomorrow, I'll wrap the stuff up and get it ready to get shipped to Dave in Ohio who wanted to borrow the set for his test.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Headset Harnesses Installed

Today I got mail from Don from Southern Texas and he sent me the left over stereo audio jack that he had to by in a pair from Radio Shack. As he didn't have any use for it he mailed it to me along with the other 47 kOhm resistors. Thanks, Don!!!
That got me right back to where I had left off yesterday. I had planned to jump ahead and fit the control sticks in but by getting the audio jack just in time, I changed plans and rather finished off the wire installation.
So I had to solder 2 47 kOhm resistors into the wire connection to the headphone jack on the co-pilot harness. I did that as well as also adding an additional ground wire that runs the reference from the headphone jack to the little audio out jack. That way I don't have to scuff up the paint that could hardly get covered up effectively by that little hurled nut.

Ready for installation. I drilled a 1/4" hole with a #30 pilot hole and deburred from the outside. The inside had to stay as it was as it wasn't accessible to any tools. The little jack put up a futile fight by not allowing the hurled nut to settle low enough to hold on to the thin skin it was sitting in. I removed it and fitted a handmade washer to it made from scratch aluminum (boy, I'm really getting good at this).
Voila! Resistance was indeed futile in this case and the nut held the little jack in place this time. All the nuts got secured with a little blue Loctite and that should keep them where I left them.

The last thing I wanted to do to finalize the wiring as far as I can go with a Skyview panel available was to add ground wire to the center music out jack (just another 1/8" stereo audio jack). I don't like scuffing them up as they only allow for electric contact in the front through contact of the nut and the nut is too tiny to cover up the damage I would certainly do if I'd use SB wheel to do the job (and I refuse to scuff the paint up manually! This Steward stuff is really tough!).

So far so good!

Now it's up ahead to Section 32 for fitting the control sticks to the control column and then back to the wiring.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Wiring Down to the Goal Line

I had to find a way how to wrap all these loose wires around the pitch servo in the morning. I found a way. Not as pretty as Tony's but it gets the job done and that it no movement, no chafing, etc.

Then it was on to hooking up the roll servo that had the wires run to it yesterday but didn't get hooked up then. The same arrangement of wires had to be done to keep 'em all safe and insulated.

The 12V outlet and the music jack got installed as well and the corresponding wires were run to the panel.

To install the headset jacks O had to finally get the fuselage back on its belly and that was a good occasion to catch up with some steps I had to leave out because the side panels were not accessible.

This is the left one but I did the same on the right side and stored both panels inside the cut out so I can still roll the fuselage on both sides and work inside the tunnel easier.
The headset jack son the left side got installed easily. That is after I realized I had almost thrown out the bag with special washers that came with the headsets. A look into Dave's blog showed me a picture of what I was looking for and that reduced the search in the trash bucket to a matter of seconds. Yay!

What you can not see in the photo is that I ground off the paint and primer around the aft hole that was supposed to get grounded through the metal washer under the mounting nut. The front one, which is the microphone jack, had extra non-conductive washers installed to isolate it from the fuselage, so I helped it by not removing paint and primer on that one.
The same I will do on the right side but I hadn't looked ahead and so now I have to get the optional camera audio out jack and solder it in place before installing the jacks. As the one for the camera goes aft, it should get installed before the other two.

And, finally, and updated panel shot to show how the wires are stacking (and webbing) up. I sure hope this dreaded Skyview option will soon be available to clean this up!

The next steps will jump ahead to 32-05, steps 3 and 4 to fit the control sticks and the bushing to the control column bracket and then it will be back to continue section 31.