Pre-Heater, Fuel Line, Brake Lines, Fresh Air Feed & Interior Lights

6.0 Hours

Between last night and today I was able to move the needle on several tasks. First I finished up the installation of the Tanis engine pre-heater. Finally. Seemed like I dragged it on for a long time. The last step was to install the plug to the harness and and then mount the plug somewhere. I chose to mount it to the left side of the engine mount using a couple Adel clamps.

I received the new fuel line from Aircraft Specialty. I had Steve leave one fitting off as I was not confident clocking it right without one end being installed. Steve is great to deal with. Very accommodating. It is now back in the mail to him so he can finish attaching the other fitting.

I took another look at the fresh air shroud/box that covers the engine air filter. Originally I was not using it correctly. Below is a pick of the proper orientation.

I then jumped over to attaching the two brake lines (one to the reservoir and one to the calipers) that I had not yet attached to the master cylinder which as a reminder is in the center console for a hand brake plane. I had left them off as I was not sure if I was going to have to take the throttle/brake quadrant off again. The pic is not much but I highlighted the fitting and line that goes to the reservoir which is on the engine side of the firewall.

In the last update I said I needed to talke to Steve/Adam at Midwest Panels as I was not getting power to the cabin lights so could not install them much less test them. Spoke with them this morning and it was just an electronic circuit breaker and I was back in business. It is a lousy pic but had to show the back lights working….

I also told Steve about my tribulations with the potentiometer (dimmer) that controls the from cabin lights. He shared that the panels they are doing now they are putting the dimmer on the panel itself and not in the ceiling. He said he would look around himself and very quickly he forwarded me a link to one that is half as tall as the one I have. I ordered it immediately off Amazon. With that moving forward and after I tested the forward lights to make sure they worked (they did) I thought I should be able to move forward with mounting the lights. I just fed the wires from the lights over to the hole that holds the dimmer. The lights are now mounted. Yeah!!! That has been dragging for a long time.

Cabin Lights & Tanis Engine Heater

4.0 Hours

I started my day getting the the mounting plates secured to the lights. All the work I did at home made it very simple. Below is a pic of the plate riveted to the the light. The base of the light will disappear up into the canopy.

The instructions say to open up the pre-cut holes in the canopy to 40mm with a hole saw but the existing hole was 38mm so opted to just use the Dremel to sand it back 1mm all the way around. Worked like a champ.

This is about the time that I ran into my first issue of the day. I wanted to test the lights by connecting them unfortunately was not able to get any power to the lights. I also see that I do not have power to the rear USB port. I messed with the electronic circuit breakers but was unsuccessful. I will call Midwest Panels Monday morning. I thought I should move on to getting the potentiometer ready to install (controls the forward cabin lights) so followed the instructions and soldered some short wires in place.

At this point I dry fit it into the hole in the canopy that holds it and it was too tall. The hole is only about 21mm deep and even after I trimmed the top connectors some it is still 25mm’s tall. Drag. I started to create some plates to lower the unit but that was not as successful as I hoped. I am going to ask the guys at Midwest Panels what they use. Strike two for the day.

I then moved to tapping the last hole for the preheater bolt that goes in the bottom of the case. It was a bear to get at and had to drop the two hard oil lines to the turbo. The new crush washers came in this week from Lockwood Aero so was good to go.

There was not room for the tap handle so used a set of waterpump pliers to turn the tap. In the below pic you can see the tap sticking out of the hole. Once that step was completed I ran the heated bolt into the hole then connected it to the harness and secured the connector to an oil line. Tomorrow I will install the plug that goes onto an extension cord and that task will be done.

Air Vents & Cabin Lights

4.0 Hours

This week I got over to the hangar once and decided the connecting of the fresh air hoses from the NACA ducts to the dashboard vents needed to be completed. A while back I shared that the fitting that connects the hose to the vent needed to be modified as it was too long and hit the avionics shelf. I had cut one down but still was not a big fan of the way it fit. I went back and tried it again on the co-pilot side and was not unhappy with how it came together so taped the hose to the fitting and attached it to the vent. I then needed to cut the connector down for the pilot side Below is the connecting piece with the tape marking how much to cut off. I cut some off both ends using the multi-tool. Those work really well for cutting composite material.

With that done I connected the pilot side as well. Not much to show as it was all behind the panel. Have a look at the panel in a prior post and you can see the vents on each side of the panel/dashboard.

I then moved on to getting ready to mount the forward cabin lights to go onto the canopy. These units are red lights and are directional. It is a bit complicated so I brought them home so I could use my drill press. Below is a pic of the directions and what you need to do is cut the mounting plate so you can open it up to get it over the light.

So I used the Dremel….

Below is a pic of the bracket fitted over the lights. In my hand is the potentiometer I purchased from AircraftSpruce. It has the integrated off switch and mounts into the canopy as well

After I got the bracket over the light I marked where I needed to drill two 3.2mm holes which you use to rivet the bracket to the light. You need to be careful to just go through the case as there are wires on the other side.

And here it is clecoed together. This weekend I should be able to get them wired, tested and mounted.

Last step was paint the plates. The left plate is what will hold the potentiometer.

Tanis Pre-Heater (cont’d)

4.0 Hours

I continued with the installation of the engine preheater today. It looks like I will use the alternate location for the crankcase heating unit as the first location is taken up with the Airmaster Slip Ring mounting bolt on the back of the gear reduction drive as seen below.

While I could probably replace the existing bolt with the heating unit I would would prefer to not replace the “designed for” bolts with one of these heater units. The alternative location is under the oil pump on the bottom of the engine and is one of the numerous bolts that holds the two halves of the engine case together.

One challenge this brings is I will have to loosen/remove the banjo bolts the hold the turbo feed and return oil lines which are the two fittings right above the red box in the above pic. I need to do this in roder to get the M6 tap in there. The down side is that the Banjo fittings utilize crush washers and the Rotax training class I took in May emphasized that crush washers are only to be used once so I need to order some.

With that identified I moved onto mounting the Tanis wire harness. There are quite a few wires that need to be fed around the engine with recommended paths like not going under fuel lines. Below is what it looks like (sorry for the poor quality of the pic).

After an hour of fishing them around I was able to get it pretty well set thought I do need a couple Adel Clamps that I do not currently have. Below is a pic of what I think will be pretty close to the final orientation. I know it is tought to see but you can see a lot of the red wires mounted to the crossover tube.

This week I typed out a new To-Do list and it is still rather large. I don’t think I have ever shared one so thought I would give it a try. I am sure there will be more added as none of this has to do with final assembly.

Attach vent hoses to panel vents.
Install red cabin lights/potentiometer in canopy
Install windshield
Get trim at bottom of windshield painted with green/silver stripe. Install windshield trim
Install doors
Install radiator/oil cooler
Install fresh air feed to the engine intake
Replace fuel line with double 45 hose
Download VP-X software and program for the TCU power wire
Download the Rotax software used to program the TCU
Fill Brake lines with ATF
Install lights on wing tips and rudder top.
Install trim motor in elevator
Install propellor blades
Install parachute pull in panel
Seal around GPS antennas
Install landing/taxi lights in wings
Pressurize oil system
Start engine
Install parachute rocket motor and parachute
Install parachute cover on fuselage

I have Thanksgiving week off so hope to knock severa of these off.

It is Alive !!! (and a preheater)

5.0 Hours

I have not posted much as I was away for a week in the great north woods of Maine doing some hunting and unplugging from the world (no cell service, no WiFi, etc).

With the dash now mounted I started connecting avionics. Besides the normal connectors I also had to install the static and airspeed pitot lines to the G5 unit. I made all the connections between the dash and the harness via five prebuilt connectors (thank you Steve and Adam at Midwest Panel Builders). Once that was done I attached the positive cable to the battery. I have to share that I was very nervous so when I flipped the master on and heard the contactor click it seemed like we were moving in the right direction. I next flipped the Avionics switch and the three screens fired up as well as the auto-pilot controller became back lit. Check off another milestone!!!

Because I live in a northern climate (New Hampshire) and fully expect to fly year round I had purchased a Tanis engine pre-heater and thought it was time to do something with it.

It is made up of five screw-in heating elements (one for each cylinder and one for the crankcase/oil pump) as well as a heating pad that is glued to the oil tank. After reading over the instructions I dug out my M6 x 1.0 tap and ran it through the lobes that each cylinder has. It appears it was necessary as I was amazed how many chips it cut out of the threads. In the below pic you will see the tap entering the lobe but you will also see the coolant flange and the screws that secure it to the cylinder. That is listed as an alternate location. It is probably a better location but I did not want to change out the bolt on something that could leak.

The heating element is just a screw and the kit comes with spacers as the screw is too long for the lobe and the instructions say you can only have three threads showing. I used two spacers and two washers (instructions say you can use a combination of the two) and think it came out good. You can just see the bottom of the screw in the below pic.

I do need to figure out where the crankcase element will get screwed in as the first location is being used by the propellor unit at the back of the gear reduction unit. An alternate location is also provided that I will look at.

Lastly there has been something bothering me for months and it has to do with one of my fuel lines. It is the one that goes from the fuel pumps to the fuel regulator on the engine. It has straight fittings at each end and as such it pushes against the battery box putting lateral pressure on the fittings at each end. Below is a pic of the unit I took off last night.

I am going to go back to Steve at Aircraft Specialty and have him make a new hose with 45 degree fittings. I have a feeling that I will need to have him leave one fitting off so I can ensure that the second fitting get “Clocked” properly.

Dashboard Installed

3.0 Hours

After looking over all the wiring for the tenth time and Randy going over each connection to ensure the screws that hold the connectors in place were snug I felt like it was time to get the Dashboard installed. I wanted to make sure that I minimized the amount of work that I would need to do after the dashboard went in as working in there won’t be fun after it goes on. First I cleaned the fiberglass flange on the dashboard as well the the area of the fuselage skin would meet the flange with alcohol. I then laid down the 3M two-sided tape on the flange.

Once the tape was down I felt I needed to poke a hole through the tape so that the rivet had a way to get through. First we tried using an ice pick but Randy thought using the soldering iron would do a better job he was right. Great thinking brother. Below he is using he cordless Milwaukee soldering iron.

The last time I dry fit the dash I noticed the edges of the dash where they meet the interior side panels did not result in a nice flush fit. The edges of the dash pushed inward leaving a gap so the last time it was in place I drilled two pilot holes in each side and used that as the location to install two rivet nuts on each side so I can screw the edges of the dash down and make them flush with the interior panels. Below is a pick of the rivnuts installed.

We then dropped the dash in and made sure all the wiring was laying in a way that would not interfere with the avionics. I had to do a little work behind where the prop controller resides as well as fish the heater cable a different way but beyond that it looked good.

We had clecoed the flange to the fuselage to ensure it was locked down. We then started removing a couple cleco’s on one edge and started pulling the backing off the two sided tape. I was concerned that I would rip the backing so lifted the flange a little bit but what we found worked best was pushing in on the skin a little bit. That would create enough room for the backing to pull off pretty easily. As we would move past a hole we would first put in a un-pulled rivet then as we got farther past a hole we would drop a cleco back in. Having a hole already in the tape (for the rivets) worked really well. After that it was pulling the 4.0mm rivets and she was on.

I missed taking some pictures I should have but it has been so long since I worked on the plane I have not got my rhythm back yet. While I was in the plane reviewing the wiring I also screwed the throttle quadrant to the center console cubby as well as to the dashboard. I then installed the fuel selector which I found really gratifying. I will take a pic of that next time.

Cowling, Dash and Brake Lines

5.0 Hours

It felt sooooo good to be back in the hangar working on N77RL. I had to do some organizing first by hanging up the sections of the tail on the walls to get them out to the way. I then focused on getting the Camlocks back onto the cowling halves. Getting the grommets back on was straight forward but getting the proper length studs where they needed to be took some time.

Got that done with the help of my brother. While he was installing all the grommets I jumped over and glued the stainless brake lines into the groove on the back side of the landing gear. I used the recommended glue that the TAF states in the manual.

The dash was next. I needed to enlarge the rivet holes I had already drilled in the dash and fuselage skins out to 4.0mm. When I first drilled them I used a 3.2mm drill as I did not want to push to hard on the fuselage skin. Here is Randy reaming out the holes and installing the 4.0mm clecos.

After that was done I took the dash back off to cleanup all the filings which is where I left it for the day. What a GREAT day !!

We are Back in Business !!

0.0 Hours

After 10 weeks away at the paint shop I have N77RL back in the nest! I rented the same 26′ U-HAUL truck and made the required two trips to get the fuselage, wings and empennage back in the hangar. Many thanks to brother Randy and Dad who helped with the move. Overall the painter did a very good job. Anything I saw that I was not thrilled with was my fault. The filling of rivets was not 100% successful as it appears that some of the filler did not get all the way to the bottom of the rivet and just created a “bridge”. Those bridges would break away when the surface was being scuffed up with scotchbrite pads in preparation for paint. It is not very many that did this so it is not that big of a deal but I may go back and fill the obvious ones with a little bit more paint. Below is a couple pics of the finished product. Can’t wait to get after the build again.

Paint Update III & Registration

0.0 Hours

So I still do not have the plane back from paint but I have been picking up the smaller completed pieces as I do not want them laying around at his shop. The painter is in agreement so I have been up to see the progress and grabbing some pieces. The quality of the work is very good. I will jinx it by saying so but he thinks he will be done by the end of this week. It has been a very slow process but there is not much I can do about it and as I said before he was dealt a lousy hand. He is getting his shop back on its feet after he lost basically a month. Below is a pic of the left wheel spat.

Below are some additional pics I took this week. As you can see I went with the factory “Hollywood” scheme (from the pic in front of the the Hollywood sign). I have liked the design since I first saw it and I did not want to invest more money in a designer so gave the painter a couple pics and said “Do this”. I like the green and combined with the white, I hope it really pops and stands out from a visibility perspective. I really took visibility into account when making my choice. My other choice was a bronze/gold (instead of green) and ruled it out for the above reason.

Top half of cowling

I know these are not quality pics but it gives you an idea of the design. The painter received the number masks and asked me to come up to the shop to review their placement and I am glad he did as the numbers were way to thick (3 1/4″ vs 2″) and it made the layout super long. He had subbed the masks out to a sign shop and is going to send them back. I am going with 12″ numbers as I do want to fly to Canada and the Bahamas. They will not be as attractive as smaller numbers but it is what it is.

The other big thing that happened this week was I received my registration back from the FAA. It took me about seven weeks to get it back so just an FYI for those that are getting ready to do the same.

I am going to start to use the new iPad Pro for pics as the camera is so much better than my old iPhone 6. The kids say I should upgrade it it still works and I would rather spend my $$ on plane parts !! Below is the wide angle capability of the iPad pro. I cant wait to fill the “Hangar” back up with plane parts!!

Paint Update

0.0 Hours

It has been nearly a month since I posted anything as the plane is still at the painters. Per my last post he was making great progress then life got in the way for him. He had to put his father in hospice and he passed a week later then he himself ended up the hospital with serious health issues. I feel bad for him. He has communicated with me throughout and he says he will be back at it this week and have his crew working on it with him in order to get it done. He wanted to be there to lay out the lines for the second and third color which is appreciated. Hopefully next weekend I will be able to get it back and I also hope his life calms down as those are all trying events to deal with. If losing a few weeks on this build is the worst thing I have to deal with I am doing pretty good….. I was over at the hangar this morning cleaning and straightening up in preparation for the panes return. It felt good to be there again.

Also, I would like to think Pascal for pulling together a Zoom discussion with 40 Sling enthusiasts yesterday. It was nice to hear from Mike Blyth, the president of Sling Aircraft. I always appreciate honesty and he shared some challenges that the company has had over the last 6 – 9 months. Thanks for that Mike.