“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” -Henry Ford
“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” -Henry Ford
I took a day this week to move the plane and all the parts to a body shop to get it painted. I will say that I was a bit anxious. I took two trips as it was not that far away. For those builders that know they will have to make a move at some point I found the 26 foot U-Haul truck to be a really good choice. The deck is much lower than other box trucks and even though the 26′ includes the Mom’s attic above the cab there was still plenty of room for the fuselage in the 23′ that was usable. FYI there is less than an inch between the outsides of the wheels and the truck opening. Thank you to my two sons and Dad for being there to help.
Below you can see it ready to roll in. You can also see some of my home made ramps for the main wheels. The front wheel went up the metal ramp that comes with the truck.
The brains and the muscle….
Below the fuselage is in and secured with lots of straps. I used moving blankets to protect the various other parts where they were laid out under the fuselage. I transported the wings in the second trip and left them in the dolly I made. That took some thought as the dolly has to be secure as well as the wings within the dolly. All in all is was uneventful. I spent a fair amount of time with the guys doing the work to point out the things to be aware of. I lose sleep over the little fuel vents tubes that only stick below the wing maybe 1.5″.
If anyone cares, I am going with PPG plane paint. I did not feel strongly that that had to be the one (but I did prefer it). What made it an easy decision was that the shop has a really good relationship with their PPG rep and encouraged that company as they trust the individual. The shop wants my involvement in putting some parts together to make sure the lines match when they cross. Example: a line crosses onto the rudder from the fuselage. In order to get that right I will go and hang the vertical stab and then hang the rudder off that.
I started off the weekend completing the wiring issue I had by installing a new pin in the VP-X connector. That pin already had a wire attached. Once that was done I ran it through the firewall passthrough and then soldered it to the TCU power wire. The physical part of the fix is done but will still need to update the VP-X programming.
I then turned to the most recent Service Bulletin (#18) that came out from The Airplane Factory where they want everyone to measure the width of the crimps on the four ends of the two rudder cables. They want them to be no bigger than 8.9mm. All four of mine came in at 9.35mm (+/- .05mm). I have responded to the Factory as requested. What I found interesting is they do not say what to do, just report back. Below is a pic of the rudder pedal end of the cable. I highlighted the crimp that needs to be measured. Man what a pain to get at….
Next I focused on getting all the parts ready for the painter as I will be renting a truck this week to get everything to him. I needed to understand where some miscellaneous parts go and what color they need to be. Below are some of the parts I am referring to.
I also laid the wing root skirt/trim on the wing to understand how that works and to verify the color I want it.
I do not see any instructions on how to install that trim piece as well as where the below piece fits.
Based on the part description I roughly know where it goes but would like to leverage some instructions. I may be dense in not finding it in any of the manuals but am tired of looking so am going to send the Factory an email to check.
Lastly I wanted to understand how the vertical stabilizer and then the rudder get installed as there will be some paint lines that cross from the fuselage to the rudder and the painter will want them installed to make sure the lines match up. To do that I needed to get her outside (the hangar’s ceiling is not tall enough) so my daughter grabbed the tow bar and pulled her out into the light.
My parents like to act as my quality control so they gave it a thorough review under natural light !! I have to say when the plane gets outside is looks quite a bit smaller….
Lastly I wanted to get an understanding of how the horizontal stabilizer and elevator get connected as a paint line crosses those two pieces as well though they do not have to be mounted to the plane to do that.
It is a challenging exercise to get the bolts with washers through the mounting brackets but will talk in more detail about that when it gets assembled for the final time.
Lots of life getting in the way of plane work over the last week but still managed to move the needle on a couple fronts. Since I am very close to being ready to install the glare shield which will make it difficult to look at the wiring on the avionics shelf I thought it prudent to go over all the wiring again to make sure I don’t see anything obvious. Good thing too as I found an obvious issue. I had no wire going to the starter contactor. This is the power wire that would engage the contactor and send current to the starter. You may be able to see the blade that the wire goes to between the two posts in the pic below.
So how could that be ?? Since there was no glare shield on it made it easy to find the wire marked Starter Contactor coming from the ignition switch. I traced it through the wire harness and through the firewall. It was being used as power for the TCU. I remembered that that wire was not labeled and the last wire I needed to complete the TCU was a red power wire so I thought “this has to be it”. After speaking with Steve at Midwest Panels he concurred and I moved the wire over to the Contactor. I was still short a wire and he realized that they did not run a wire out of the Vertical Power box. He has the wire and pin on the ay to me already. All in all not that big of a deal though I am really happy I found it before buttoning the plane up.
Based on feedback from the A&P mechanic that visited last week I added some heat shielding to the fuel line that come out of the Gascolator as it runs fairly close to the turbo and hot fuel can be trouble from a vapor lock perspective. While I was at it I also wrapped all the engine wires and the two large connectors which reside on the left side of the motor mount. I need to clean it up but am happy with the protection it provides. I have said it before but ‘Design Engineering’ has numerous products that fit the bill. Both of these used velcro to make the tube. Nice.
Lastly I reached out to the painter I am going to leverage and a he said “Lets go, I can take it next week”. I told him I do not have the glare shield or the windshield on yet and he thought that was a good thing as he will then be able to paint all of the skin that resides under the glare shield. With that done I set about reserving a 26′ U-Haul truck for next week and coordinating some help from my kids. Looks like this is going to happen. While I have not been re-thinking the design I have been debating about color combinations. Ultimately I came back to the Green, Silver and White you see at the top of the page. I think it shows up better from a distance than say white and gold which was the other option I was thinking about. I am a bit nervous about putting her in another persons hands but it has to happen at some point…….
After my vacation I have had to focus on paying for this beast so not as much plane work over the last week. I have spent a little time working on filling the rivets on the last wing. Will be glad when that job is done with. I did get my fuel caps back from Aircraft Specialty where I had them engraved with N77RL, 22 US Gallons MIN 92 OCT. I will get a pic of them when I remember. I also took off the gasket material I had installed around the baggage door as I realized it needed to be painted. I was not thinking ahead when I installed that….
I also installed the fittings in the back of the G5 unit that will take the the Static and Pitot air pressure lines.
Yesterday I met the same A&P mechanic at the Hangar that had stopped by a few months ago. I asked him to come back as the engine is pretty set and I wanted another set of eyes on it. He was really thorough in looking it over and gave me a couple suggestions. They were not really changes but adds. Example: The fuel lines that run from the Gascolator to the fuel pumps are kind of close to the Turbo and he thought it would be prudent to add some the the heat wrap I have on other lines to those lines. That would go over the fire shield that is already on them. I thought it made good sense and will do that. He also suggested adding some heat wrap around some open wires I have on the motor mount. Again, I thought it was a good suggestion. He also took some time to show me the proper way to safety wire the several bolts that need it. He spent an hour with me and in the end he shared that he thought it was one of the cleanest installations he has seen done by a home builder. Like I said, he still pointed out some opportunities but I certainly liked his feedback that he saw no red flags.
A combination of my bride being away taking care of family and me being on vacation this past week has allowed me to spend some serious time in the ‘Hangar’. I spent more time this last week building the Sling 4 than any week since I have owned the kit!! I easily put in 30 hours this week and that was on top of changing trailer axles and cutting and hauling trees. My last day of vacation was spent bouncing around taking care of open items.
First a big shout-out to Pascal L. who shipped me some extra stainless steel rivets so I could re-do Service Bulletin 12 (see prior posts). There are the beauties below. I have one wing done and am just waiting for a kid to free up to help me move it off the tables to the stand so I can then finish the other wing. I will be so happy to have that job done.
I have been staring at the avionics wires all week trying to get them as organized as possible while at the same time reducing the stress to all of the connectors. You may laugh at the below pic at it looks like a rat’s nest but that is a couple hours worth of work putting connectors together then taking them apart to fish them in a better manner. I am pretty happy with how they are now lying. The pic does it no justice.
The real test would be putting the panel in place which is what I did next. I was concerned about the right side G3X (the EFIS) pushing up against the wires so had to dry fit it to test it out.
It was fine with the some wires resting against the bottom the unit. No issue. As long as I had the dash/panel in place I slid the G5 in place (small screen at top of panel). All was well.
I also dropped in the Auto Pilot controller. All was well there too.
The only unit that I had to adjust some wires for to create some clearance was the prop controller. It goes in the round hole below the auto pilot. For some reason I missed a pic of that in place. Was not a big deal and a little wire manipulation had it clearing the wires. While the panel was in place I realized a 90 degree BNC connector for the connection of the GPS antenna to the left side G3X was a much better choice than a straight connector. I had one of those so all of the antenna connectors are now done.
I pulled the dash/panel back out of the plane and soldered the power connector for the prop controller on to the leads coming from the panel.
I then installed the K&N air filter on the turbo. Was simple but the shroud that goes over it may take a bit more attention. That will wait a little while.
The last two jobs of the day was to fill the firewall passthroughs with fire proof caulk so no gasses can passthrough those holes. I also identified what types of SIKA primers and adhesive I need to install the windshield. I am trying to get ahead of build….
The night before I put together the co-pilot seat. Note the “blood pressure bulb” in the competed seat. That is for the inflatable lumbar bag that resides under the seat cover.
The last two days I was able to get a fair amount done though I am certainly taking my time (Measure twice, cut once). In addition to continuing to secure the wires I routed the air tubes (Pitot, AOA & Static). I had to add a “T” to both the Pitot and Static tubes as one side goes to the ADAHRS and the other side of the “T” goes the G5 backup display. The AOA (Angle of Attack) line only goes to the ADHRS so no need for a “T” in that line. Below are a couple pics.
I also secured the tubes in the ADAHRS.
I verified with Jean at the factory that they now terminate the static line behind the dash and do not use static ports on the side of the fuselage so I followed the Factories lead. Steve at Midwest Panels still recommended that the ADAHRS and G5 both be tied into the same location so used a “T” then added a short length of tubing. After I took the below pic I secured the tube to the bulkhead using a saddle and zip tie.
I then moved on to adding BNC/TNC connectors to the ends of the five Coax cables that come up to the dash. Steinair on YouTube has some good how-to videos for installing the connectors. Below is the Com antenna which goes to the radio.
And here is the transponder antenna secured in its location.
One coax cable from one of the GPS antennas goes to the back of the pilot’s G3X (the screen) so it does not get secured until the end which worked out fine as I ran out of connectors.
I decided it was time to tackle the wires that connect the grips to the panel as I was getting tired of staring at all the wires in the avionics shelf. One thing I have learned when connecting numerous wires from the same bundle is to have all the wires the same length before you start. In the below pic you can see the wires in my hand are all labeled and that the piece of paper has what each of the colors represent on the stick. Just need to match them up.
I also added a grommet where the wires from the stick pass through the box under the stick itself.
It was actually pretty straight forward. Just a lot of double checking that I was matching the wires up properly.
The last thing to do was ground the white wire from the stick to the airframe. After much staring I decided to just put a small bolt in the side of the box facing the center console. It gets covered with carpet so am not worried at all. Even if it did not get covered I don’t think it would ever be seen as the seat covers it .
The copilot’s stick is done. Today I will tackle the pilot’s side.
After two plus years of continuous use by Milwaukee drill rolled over and died. I will miss that drill as it had an excellent trigger that was easily controlled. Got to move on though and saw a reimagined version of the drill with several attachments that can make it a 90 degree or an off set as well as a regular chuck and the quick attach chuck. Wish I would have had this during teh metal working days as it woudl have saved me some hassle. Below you see the the changing of the guard.
I knew something was not right with how the transponder (Garmin GTX 345r) was sitting it its bracket so had a a quick conversation with Steve at Midwest Panels and he pointed out the lug on the bottom of the unit that needs to be secured with a allen key that is inserted in the hole you can see. Once I knew what I was doing it was easy but of course I had to take the whole bracket back off in order to insert the allen wrench. It is now secured properly and back in place.
I began plugging in more connectors and seeing how the wires lay. I can tell I will need to install some clamps to hold the wires as there is some tension on some of the connectors. Can’t have them bouncing around and pulling/chafing
Below is a pic of the numerous individual wires that go to the GAD 27. They were all labeled so it was very straightforward. Have I said how happy I am that I subbed out the building of the harness and panel ?!?!?!
In the last post I mentioned I had to mount the GPS 20 to the bulkhead. Below is it in place. Just used four M4 rivnuts.
Below is the ADAHRS mounted in place and I have added the fittings that hold the pitot tube, the Angle-of-Attack and the Static air pressure tubes. Those are the red and blue tubes you see in the above pic. The ADAHRS is what collects direction, attitude and airspeed (among other things).
Next things to tackle are securing the wires, running the air pressure lines to the ADAHRS and run the coax cables to the appropriate avionics. There are five coax cables that I need to sort out (three from the GPS antennas, one from the transponder antenna and one from the comm antenna). The pitot air pressure and static air pressure lines need to have a “T installed as they need to go to the ADAHRS as well as to the back of the G5 unit (the backup display) providing redundancy. Still plenty to do……
Spent yesterday moving the VP-X unit and installing the rest of the avionics. It was fun!! I started with getting the VP-X unit moved over as discussed in the last update. I realized that some may not know what the VP-X unit is/does. It is the electronic circuit breaker box. It is a neat unit that replaces manual breakers. If a breaker trips an alert is provided on your screen and you can reset it via the touch screen. It also provides quite a lot of information about what is going on with your electrical system via interfaces that come up right on your Garmin G3X screens. Anyway, I made two of these small brackets to support the right side of the box (see last post).
Ans used them to secure the box. Now there is plenty of room for connectors on both sides of the box.
I installed the rest of the avionics in there respective places on the shelf (with the exception of one). Once those were in place I could see how the wires need to be laid out to get to their respective locations. I know the pic below looks the same as others you have seen but in this case the wires are actually organized and laid out in a logical way. Thank you Sabrina for the help as an extra set of hands were needed in order to be gentle with everything. Today I should be able to start making connections.
The one unit I could not install was the GPS 20A.
The pics provided by Midwest Panel Builders that showed the shelf with all the avionics installed did not contain this unit. I texted Steve at Midwest Panels and he got back to me in a matter of minutes even though it was Sunday. This unit mounts on the bulkhead in front of the shelf just like the backup battery does. I will let the wires tell me where to best locate it.
Spent most of Saturday in the hangar first sanding rivets then working on the avionics shelf. The rivets on the fuselage are now filled and sanded, including the bottom, as well as the ailerons, flaps, and tail feathers. I still need to finish the wings but will do that when the stainless rivets arrive from Europe. Thank goodness most of that is done. I have never been a body man and really did not enjoy that exercise. Once that was done I was able to look over the rivets holding the elevator stop on the main torque tube as stated in SB 17. The Factory is concerned that people may have used aluminum rivets as opposed to stainless to hold teh stops on. I am happy to say that they are stainless on mine so I do not need to change those out. Thank goodness as it looks like a pain. I do not recall installing those and believe they were part of the quick-build so good job Factory !!
I listened to the EAA podcast concerning registering and inspecting your Experimental aircraft and realized that I needed to get going getting the aircraft registered. I have N77RL reserved but need to move forward with getting the registration done. I broke out the kit from the EAA that has all the forms and what is required. It is a really nice set of instructions. Nice job EAA. The one thing I do not have is a Bill-of-Sale from TAF. That is required for a kit plane but not a plans built plane. I reached out to Matt in Torrance after speaking with Barry.
In the Registration kit is also an “Experimental” sticker which we all know needs to be visible to passengers. What a drag it is to put those on but it has to be done. This is where chose to do it.
Next I took the dash and panel off so I could get at the avionics shelf. I needed to spend some time understanding how the avionics boxes fit in and there is definitely a sequence for installing them.
I also needed to move the ground bus over a couple inches as it was in the way of the fresh air vent hose. Below you can see a before and after pic.
That should have tipped me off about another issue but at the moment I thought all was right. I had taken the shelf off to understand how it went together and placed the VP-X Pro in place which goes on the underside for the left shelf. Note how close the VP-X is to the outside edge of the shelf.
Once I place the shelf it became obvious that is was much too close the the NACA duct and fresh air hose as there are connectors that have to attach to that side as well as the side facing the center of the plane. I am not sure the below pic does it justice with how close it is.
I already have the shelf riveted in place as it has to be done before avionics goes in otherwise you cannot get to the rivets. After looking at it a while I thought I could move it over so the left mounting holes align with the holes that were designated for the right mounting holes. That means I have to add some more angle bracket to hold the right side mounting screws. Grrr.
Nothing exciting to share as I continued with the rivet filling project. Thank goodness for my daughter as the extra hands made a difference. Again, we are using fiberglass resin and applying with a small syringe which you can see in her hand. We found keeping he batches small and not putting much in the syringe helps keep the resin from hardening.
Below is a pic of what the rivets look like after application but before sanding. FYI some will get on the skins and after several techniques were tried to remove it a simple straight edge razor blade was by far the most effective. Slide it under the hardened resin and it will pop off.
I am pretty much set with everything except the fuselage and the stainless steel rivets I still have to replace on the wings. I will tackle that as soon as the rivets arrive. The fuselage is a challenge as the vertical sides cannot be done until the resin begins thickening leaving you only so much time to apply it before it is no good. I have not attempted the bottom yet so that could be entertaining….
I am trying to figure out how to get the 3″ dryer hose to the panel vents as the room behind the panel and in front of the avionics shelf is very limited which would leave the hose kinked if it would work at all. FYI the hose that comes with the kit is very cheap. I see it tearing rather quickly. I am begun a search for a suitable replacement. The space issue comes down to the vent extensions that are what the dryer hose connects to. It is rather long so thought I would see what shortening it would buy me. Broke out the multi-tool and took a cm off the panel side.
I then took off 1.5cm’s off the large “hose” side but that still does not get me what I need. Have to noodle on this a while longer.