Roll Trim System

This weekend I spent a few hours working on the roll trim system. I’m using the Ray Allen trim system from Vans, so everything is nicely packaged together into its own subsystem.

Modified trim bushing block

I started out by modifying the plastic block that holds the pivot arm. This needed two holes drilled through it foe the AN3 bolts that hold it to the aluminum plate. I also botched the larger counter bored hole to allow access to the cotter pin that holds the pivot arm in place.

Mounting plate drilled

I then trimmed and match drilled the mounting plate to the seat pan holes. This allowed for a perfect fit. Once I drilled the two holes on the left, I temporarily installed it to drill the two holes on the right to the floor ribs.

Original hole and new hole in ribs

Here you can see the original hole where the nut plate was. I removed the nut plate and then used the center hole to mount the plate in order to drill the bottom hole. This was done on both sides of the center channel.

Cutting the pivot arm to the right length

I then cut the pivot arm tube to the right length so it can sit in the block and then be mounted to the metal plate. I cut off about an inch of tube. Once I did that I drilled a 1/16th hole for the cotter pin.

Mounting plate completed

After drilling the block to the mounting plate, I dimpled, and mounted the nut plates to the mounting plate. I will complete this plate by priming it before final installation.

Pivot arm installed into block

I then installed the pivot arm into the plastic block, and then installed the washer and cotter pin to hold it all together.

Test fitting the assembly

I then test fit the assembly by installing the bottom two screws. The top two are where the floor is held on to the ribs. The pivot arm needed to be adjusted to not rub on the control rod.

In the bottom left is the servo block. I need to drill that to the floor rib for final installation as well.

The final thing to do next time is to finishing the assembly with the control stick springs and cleaning up the assembly with some final adjustments.

Roll Trim System

Wing tank brackets

This weekend I spent a few hours working on the plane. I wanted to get some specific things done in order to make a little progress towards fitting the wings.

Wing fuel tank attach bracket

I spent the day installing the fuel tank attach bracket to the outside of the fuselage. This required fabricating the internal support bracket and spacers. It took a little longer than I though, but got it done.

After taking these pictures, I buffer and then primed the brackets. These are steel so they are very susceptible to corrosion. Now that these are installed. I can prep to mount and test fit the wings!

After this I spent an hour or so finishing up the exhaust hangar modification. I didn’t take any pictures, but because I’m using the Vetterman 4 pipe exhaust and the heat muff, the standard Vans exhaust hanger can’t be used on that side. So I fabricated a support bar that shifts the hangar mounting point outboard of the heat muff. I finished it by drilling the bolt hole for the mount and attaching it with all metal lock nuts.

I also removed the bolts for the exhaust attaching it to the engine in preparation for riveting the firewall to the bottom skin where the exhaust exits the cowl. This isn’t accessible when the exhaust it attached to the engine.

Wing tank brackets

Fuselage gussets

Today I spent a couple hours putting the forward fuselage gussets in place. They are unique to the -7 vs the -7A. The tri-gear plane rear landing gear are mounted just forward of the center section. Since the -7 is a tail trager, there is a gap here that need to be reinforced using these gussets. They are attached to the sides of the fuselage with 5 bolts that need to be match drilled. The gussets also line up with the bottom wing attach bolts.

I lined everything up and then drilled the holes to #40 and then enlarged for the AN3 bolts. I prepped and primed these and then attached them to the fuselage. The whole interior will be painted with my interior paint, but it’s good to prime all the parts especially mating surfaces.

I also sent a bit of time working on the panel attachment brackets. Since I’m using twin Skyview HDC screens, I need to move the Vans panel supports inboard. This requires making some custom brackets to attach the panel to the sub panel. I received a shipment of L stock from vans that worked perfectly for this.

I decided to wrap up the center section bolts that are used for the tricycle gear. In the tail dragged version the bolts need to be put into the center section.

The bottom bolts were difficult to reach but everything is now in place and torqued.

I also placed the remaining two cover supports on the sides of the fuselage, forward of the center section.

Next up is to wrap up the exhaust hangar modification. And to drill the wing fuel attachment bracket to the sides of the fuselage.

Fuselage gussets

Vertical Power PPS

This weekend I had a few hours to work on the plane. It’s been a couple months since I’ve spent a good chunk of time on it.

I decided to take off the old conventional master and starter contractors. I’ve decided to go with Vertical Power Primary Power System. This is a single unit that replaces the contractors, as well as current shunt and fuses. I’m also using the Vertical Power Pro solid state VPX. These two will work really well together.

Vertical Power PPS

For easiest access I mounted this on the edge of the firewall near the battery as far away from the exhaust as possible. Every bolt and post is accessible. I also crimped on the ring terminals for the alternator and for the starter once I had this mounted.

I also wired up the J1 harness that includes all the inputs for the master switch, battery and alternator current sense and fault indicators. This will all feed into my EFIS and be displayed on the engine monitoring page.

Vertical Power PPS

Heat Muff, Exhaust, and Fuel Tubes

Today I spent a few hours working on the exhaust hangars, heater and the fuel lines.

It’s been on my to-do list for a long long time, but I finally marked and drilled the hole in the firewall for the fuel line.

I then test fitted the fuel line between the pump and firewall fitting. I had to fabricate a new tube in order to fit the position I drilled the hole. In hindsight I should have drilled it about one inch to the left of this, in order to provide more room for the heater scat tubing on the other side, however it should be fine.

The forward tunnel cover will go over this portion of the tubing as well as the wiring harness.

I then worked on the hangars for the exhaust as well as heat muff.

Here you can see the hangars before I installed the heat muff. The left hangar here will need to be modified to account for it.

I didn’t get any pictures during the install, but here is the heater installed with the tubing. I will need to add some support to prevent chaffing of the tubes on the engine mount.

I will also need to add some support for the fuel tubing here to prevent rubbing on the tube. It shouldn’t be too difficult to keep these two separated.

I will need to fabricate a support bar to extend the exhaust mount a bit wider in order to attach the hangar in order to avoid the scat tube.

Heat Muff, Exhaust, and Fuel Tubes

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

Vertical Stabilizer

Tonight after work I spent a couple hours working on the vertical stab. Before mounting it to the fuselage, the forward spar had to have 5/8th of an inch trimmed off.

Here is the spar after trimming and filing the edges smooth.

I then mounted the stab to the fuselage and clamped it in place.

The height relative to the fuselage is important. I taped an Allan wrench to the rudder hinge to use as my reference line and to ensure everything was aligned.

After measuring the verticality of the stab by measuring from the tip to each end of the horizontal stab, I confirmed it was aligned, And then used my angle drill to drill the rear spar to the elevator stop, then inserted the bolt temporarily.

Here is the aft of the rear spar. I then did the same thing for the second bolt through the elevator stop. I then bolted both sides to hold the stab in place.

Before finalizing the forward spar bracket, the hinges have to be kept perfectly straight. I decided to use the rudder as my straight edge, because it will tell me if there is any change in the play on the rudder.

It worked great, and after ensuring it swung freely, I determined I need to fabricate a shim to go between the front spar and the bracket.

Next step is to fabricate the shim, and drill the front spar for the bracket.

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

Plane Has a New Home

After three and a half years in the garage. I finally moved the plane to its new home in my hangar!

There was probably a lot more work I could have done before moving it, but there were some circumstances that dictated I needed to move to the airport.

It started by first getting a giant truck with a lift gate. Once I got that to the house I had my friend Mike over to help me out. We removed the canopy and rear window (which I just had sitting on the plane temporarily…need to finish this) and then rolled the plane out into the driveway.

I know it doesn’t look like much, but seeing the plane in the driveway is one of the coolest things.

After doing some measurements and planning over the last couple months, I realized that the wheels were too wide for the lift gate. Luckily Mike had a 4×8 sheet of plywood that we laid on top of the lift gate.

We rolled the plane forward and lined it up. If it wasn’t for the plywood, this would have been a very precarious balancing issue (Thanks Mike!).

We chocked the wheels once we made sure the engine wouldn’t hit the floor of the truck when lifting, and then raised the plane up and pushed it into the truck. My girlfriend Britney did an awesome job holding the whole airplane in the air!

Once the plane was in. we loaded up the rest of the few remaining items and secured everything down. It felt a little nerve wracking having all this in the back of a truck, but it all went off without a hitch.

I managed to drive the truck (slowly) down to the airport in San Martin and we basically did the reverse, and there were no issues. Luckily the rain held off the whole time we were moving.

We rolled the plane in and it felt like a huge accomplishment. I immediately wanted to start mounting the tail and wings and everything on the plane, but the wings will have to wait for another time.

I loosely fit the horizontal and vertical stabilizers using some clamps. This is probably the coolest thing ever (so far)!

All in all, it was a very successful and satisfying day. I couldn’t have done it without the help of Mike and Britney and of course my mom, who brought us all some lunch and helped with the moving of everything! (Garage can now be used for her car again)!

Plane Has a New Home