Finished closing out first wing

This weekend my buddy Norio and I spent about three hours closing out the final wing skin. It was a lot of shuffling and checking rivets after bucking them.

Final wing skin partially riveted

Once we got the hang of the pattern, it went quicker. Still required maneuvering my arm through tight spaces and rib lightening holes.

Interior of the wing

Here you can see the shop heads in the rib after riveting. The spar (gold on the left) has the rivets in place but not set yet.

Me checking out the rivets after finishing

The shiny panel here is the skin we completed. I was looking over the rivets to make sure there wasn’t anything obviously out of place or missing. I only have the flap hinge left to rivet, which can be done solo using the squeezer.

Next I will prep the final skin for the left wing, and prepare it by marking the sequence for riveting. It will save a bunch of time trying to remember which set of rivets to go next.

Finished closing out first wing

Lots of work – Canopy and Empenage

It’s been a while since I’ve made an update…work and life have taken a priority over the last few months, but I’ve made some progress here and there.

Yesterday and today I spent some time working on the elevator and the autopilot servo pushrod installation. These three pushrods are kind of hard to reach and require washers in between the rod end bearings and the bell cranks, my washer wrench helped a lot.

I also installed my ELT antenna in the aft the airplane. It will sit under the vertical stabilizer faring. I like this much better than mounting it on top of the fuselage.

This is looking down onto the horizontal stabilizer. It will be secured under the faring with a clamp so as to not let the antenna rub on the fiberglass.

I also spent some time a few weeks ago working on the canopy frame and springs. I spent a few hours fabricating the attach points.

Here you can see both the canopy frame side and the fuselage side of the attachments. I originally fabricated a backing plate out of some 1/16th aluminum and two nut plates, however after some research online, I came across a CNCd version of this that is a single piece and has a back plate this is awesome. I installed those and I highly recommend them! Buller Enterprises makes a few experimental parts. I purchased the ball stud mounts and the canopy guides. Easy to install and much stronger than the ones I made.

I also finished riveting and test fitting the canopy frame stiffeners.

I still need to fabricate some spacers and then prime/prep all the surfaces. But the canopy frame is getting closer to completion!

The shop is a little messy, but the plane is looking good!

I’m hoping to get more time to work on the plane in the new year. Until then, I hope that everyone has a great holiday season!

Lots of work – Canopy and Empenage

Vertical Stabilizer

I spent a few hours in the hangar to finish up the vertical stabilizer mounting to the fuselage.

I started by fabricating the shims that go between the front spar of the vertical stab and the horizontal stab mounting bracket. I then drilled them using the prepunched holes.

After measuring everything was straight and the leading edge of the vertical stab was 1/4 inch to the left of the fuselage centerline, I drilled the bracket o the horizontal stab and bolted it in place.

Then I measured and drilled the three bolts that hold the vertical stab to the rear bulkhead and tail spring mount. These bolts go through 4 or 5 layers of metal, and need to be precisely placed.

I got everything properly lined up and was able to keep the minimum edge distances on everything

I bolted everything into place to make sure the vertical stab was still straight. I also decided to check the tail fairing, just to see how it looks.

This is really starting to look cool. The last thing I did was verify the rudder still swung freely and to measuring the rudder throw.

I I staled the elevators and the rudder and everything was as smooth as silk. There was no binding of any of the control surfaces. The rudder has the required 35deg of throw, but I need to adjust the rudder stops, as the rudder exceeds the 35deg of throw before hitting the stops.

Vertical Stabilizer

Drilled Horizontal Stab

This weekend I spent time getting the elevator horns drilled for the pushrod and the horizontal stab drilled and mounted to the fuselage.

Britney was in town visiting me this weekend so, of course, I asked her to help me work on the plane. She has been very encouraging and really wants to help on the project. So we got started by mounting the elevators to the horizontal stab on the bench.

Once we got the elevators lined up and clamped, we measured which horn was aft, and then removed the left elevator.

I measured and then drilled the hole for the pushrod, and then I fabricated a block to span the gap between the horns, remounted the left elevator and placed the block between the horns. This ensured that the #30 pilot hole was drilled perfectly perpendicular.

Once the pilot hole was drilled, I enlarged it for the AN3 bolt that will eventually hold the pushrod.

The resulting holes are perfectly lined up and perpendicular.

Once this was done, we removed the elevators and then positioned the horizontal stab on the fuselage.

We measured, and then measured, and then measured again. I clamped everything into place and measured one last time.

I then drilled my #30 pilot hole through the stab and then remeasured. After ensuring nothing moved, I final drilled it for the AN3 bolt and then inserted the bolt to prevent anything from shifting.

This is the underside of the outer holes after drilling the pilot holes. Edge distances for the longeron were right on the money.

I then proceeded to drill the remaining two holes, and fabricated the F-798 shims. Everything lined up and I did one final measurement, and it all remained perfectly aligned.

I bolted the forward bolts, used a 3/16th spacer to raise the rear spar to the right height, and then drilled and bolted the four holes to mount the rear spar to the fuselage.

Next up is the vertical stab!

Drilled Horizontal Stab

Propeller

Today I installed my beautiful MT propeller! It’s a huge milestone!

I received it last Thursday, and I had to finish a couple other things that needed to be installed behind the starter ring, namely the alternator mounting bracket. I also took this opportunity to pull the starter and grind off the mounting boss that was interfering with the intake snorkel.

Here you can see it after I ground it down. Now the snorkel can fit without and modification.

I then took my time installing the prop. The mounting bolts can only turn a couple turns at a time before having to wiggle the prop and tighten another one.

Once I got them all tighten I torqued it by hand for now, but MT calls for 65ft-lbs if torque on the bolts and then safety wiring them in pairs. I will do that later just in case (I really really hope not) I have to take the prop off again.

It’s just so cool to look at.

I just had to test fit the top cowl, it’s still high by about 3/4 of an inch, it’s sitting on the baffles, which I have yet to modify. Now that the prop is on I can start with the cowl fitting and then continue working on the baffles.

And of course…Happy Mothers Day!

Propeller

Received my prop!

Today it was Christmas in May! I got my prop delivered by American Propeller out of Redding, CA. I ordered a three blade MT Prop. It’s a composite, constant speed propeller.

Tracy from American Propeller did a great job unloading it from the truck and placing it in the shop.

I had to make some room (still have to clean up a bit) to put the prop on the table. I will install it for the first time this weekend. here’s my hand on the widest part of the blade for comparison. It’s a 72″ diameter prop.

I took the spinner off and man is that some gorgeous machining and fabrication.

I’m thoroughly impressed with MT prop and I’m sure the performance will match.

Received my prop!

Baffle and pushrods

This weekend I spent a few hours continuing the work on the baffle. This primarily was focused on the baffle fit around the valve cover gaskets. I had the parts on and off several times to remove more material and then check the fit.

I then spent time on the inlet ramps.

Here you can see the left and right inlet ramps. The left ramp (cylinder 2) will also have the intake filter. This piece will get modified to accept the filter as well as the snorkel that routes air down and to the air intake on the engine.

Just to give myself a change of pace, I spent some time making the remaining two pushrods. The elevator pushrods consist of a smaller rod that attaches the control sticks to the elevator bellcrank, and then from the bellcrank back to the elevators.

On a side note, my interior from Classic Aero Desings arrived! I’m going with a full custom interior using the Sportsman2 side panels and Aviator seats. They are absolutely perfect and look SO good!

I’m not quite ready to install them just yet, but here’s a sneak peak at one of the seats.

Baffle and pushrods