Monday, May 14, 2012
We attached the wings this past weekend and thanks to the help of several good friends everything went smoothly and quickly. We slid the temporary bolts in without any trouble and started to rig the ailerons. We got the ailerons adjusted nicely and started to trim the flaps to clear the fuselage. The wing root fairings are nearly done too. Soon we'll have to pull the wings off to debur and rivet some things and then put in the close tolerance bolts and attach the wings permanently.
Wednesday, May 09, 2012
We're planning on attaching the wings on Saturday. I've finished several areas of section 44 ahead of time to make things go a little quicker. We should have a few people helping so we might be able to surge ahead and get a lot done. Theres a lot of work to be done so they wont be completely finished on Saturday but I think we'll get pretty far into it.
Sunday, May 08, 2011
In a previous post I was discussing the several options we were considering with where to place the wings since they were completed and we needed them out of our shop to make room. We ended up taking them to the hangar of our good friend, Bill Campbell. Our good friend Keith also uses this hangar and the both of them helped us move everything and hoist them about 13 feet into the air on top of a loft area in the hangar. What an exciting day this was on multiple levels.
We loaded the wings into a box truck that Bill was kind enough to come over with. I held onto the wing cradle on the drive over to the hangar. I was so nervous they would somehow get damaged and our 500+ hours of work on the wings would be spoiled. I didnt really have anything to worry about, but after we had spent so much time on them I guess my concern wasnt unwarranted. :)
We got to the hangar and Bill had rigged up a pulley system. Brandi and I were sure that Bill, a physicist, knew was he was doing but still we looked at each other a little uneasily at the prospect of our wings dangling from the rafters of about a 30 foot ceiling. We first tried to pick it up by one end of the spar and have another person walk up the other end up a ladder but this turned out to be a no go. Next, we rigged up two straps to hoist the wings up by. This worked like a champ and once we got everything figured out it took probably 45 minutes to get both wings up top. Whew! Now our wings are safe and out of everyone's way.
There is really no way to express the amount of gratitude that we have for Bill and Keith helping us like this. Thanks guys! You are very kind and helpful. Brandi and I appreciate you. I will continue to attest that you cannot find better people than in the aviation community.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
We will be done with the wings after tonight's final touches! The bottom skins and wing tips were finished up last night. How exciting! We are deferring wing tip lighting (nav and strobe) until some later time. This will give us the opportunity to see what new advances are made on LED light availability and cost. Brandi will likely do some do it yourself LED lighting solution. What a gal.
There has been some discussion between Brandi and I as to where to store the wings. We want to get them out of the shop in order to give us some space since its pretty cramped in there. Options include:
- The Shed out back. Pros: easy. Cons: concern that if a tree fell on the shed and smashed everything.
- In the living room. Pros: peace of mind that the wings are safe. Cons: wings would be in the house for 1.5 years.
- In a friends hangar nearby. Pros: reasonably safe and not in our way. Cons: must transport wings and somewhat inconvenience friends.
- Brandi's dad offered his garage. Pros and Cons same as above.
Thinking 'out loud' here - at some point I think we have to test fit the wings to level them out. Not sure what stage that occurs at and I should probably research it. If this is true then having the wings around the house for this event would add more weight to option 1 and 2.
Choices, choices. Welcome to the world of building a plane. This is probably item number 1,000 out of 10,000 things to figure out or decide on :)
Sunday, April 03, 2011
In the past week, Brian and I have finished the aileron actuation assembly and installed the aileron trim in the left wing. The wing looks huge now with the flap and aileron attached.
Yesterday, we started riviting the bottom wing skin. We knew that it would be a tough job but I don't think either of us expected it to take as long as it did to get the first few rivets in. Once we found a pattern & got off the very top row, it started going a little faster. His arms are longer than mine so he got stuck bucking this time.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
During the past week, we successfully pressure tested and attached both fuel tanks. Pressure testing involves filling the tank up with pressure, via a hand pump, and then using soapy water to try and find bubbles that show up when there's a small hole in the tank sealant. It's kind of like trying to find that hidden leak in your car tire. Too much pressure in the tank can cause the integrity of the sealant to be compromised. In order to prevent this, you put a balloon on the end of the fuel vent line instead of closing it off completely. Theoretically, the balloon will bust before the pressure in the tank gets high enough to damage the seals. The left tank test went fine and didn't present any leaks. The right tank had a small leak around one of the pop rivets used to attach the tank baffle. We were able to apply more sealant around this rivet and close up the leak.
Initially, Brian struggled to get the tanks on the wing spars. There was one zee bracket that would just not line up on either tank. He called Van's support and they told him to drill out the bad zee and re-seat it in the baffle so that it would line up with the spar. I chuckled a little and thought - No Way! After messing around with it for a while, he discovered that the edges of the zee's were very tight up against the spar and thought maybe that was the cause for our issue. After sanding down some of the zee edges, both tanks bolted on perfectly. =D
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Click on the image below to view our photo album for the wings. Most of the pictures have comments that give more details.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Brian had a four day weekend, most of which he spent working on the plane, and I've spent a good bit of time in the shop myself over the last few days. We've finished the flaps, closed up both fuel tanks, mounted the Dynon Autopilot roll servo, built the aileron trim mount, and completed half of the aileron actuation assembly. All of this brings us very close to finishing the wings. Once the tanks have cured and pass leak testing, we will be able to mount them on the wing spars, complete the aileron actuation and close up the wings.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Last night, Brian and I started closing up the fuel tanks. Other than having to deal with messy proseal again, the left tank went together pretty easily. We spent about 5 hrs on the left one and decided to wait until today to tackle the right one. The weather is supposed to be nice here today so I'm hoping we'll be able to move outside for a bit and not have to wear the masks.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
While we were waiting on the pop rivets to arrive so we could finish the right aileron, we started on the flaps. These are pretty similar to working with the ailerons as far as both having the nose skins over ribs and trailing edges to work with. I had Monday off for Presidents day and I spent 6 hours in the shop getting a lot done. It was very satisfying to get so far along on the flaps in just one day. I built all the hinge brackets, deburred everything and got the spar, ribs, and skins clecoed together and match drilled with Brandi's help. The plans say to fabricate 6 of the wooden cradles for the flaps - we didn’t do that. Instead we only made 3. We managed to use one cradle for the ailerons and so far we're doing fine with one cradle for the flaps too. You can get it pretty far along and then take it out the cradle and put the other flap in. Saves a little time not having to make as many cradles.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Ailerons are coming along quite nicely. We are done with one of them and the other is 50% finished. We are waiting for more pop rivets to arrive because we ran out. Since we bought the empennage already built, this was the first experience we had with trailing edges. The Vans recommended way is to use proseal and go through all this hassle and it didnt sound fun at all. I found a method that another builder used where he grinded a flush rivet set to be at an angle so that when you squeze the trailing edge rivets the angle of the flush set was actually flush to the skin. This worked great I think! The trailing edges arent wavy or bowed best we can tell. Way easier than the Vans described method. The ailerons have been pretty easy so far and were kind of fun to put together because we got to see results of a finished product so fast.
Monday, January 31, 2011
Brian's been out of town for the past week at a work expo in Vegas. Before he left, he presented me with a honey-do list for the plane. I was somewhat expecting it. Our fuselage is ready for delivery, we've still got a lot of work to do on the wings before we can move them out of the garage and we're going to lose 5 days while we're in the Bahamas. Did I somehow manage to make going to the Bahamas sound like a burden? So, I've spent a good bit of time in the shop this week. I have the blisters to prove it. :)
Honey-Do List Task 1: Fix Fuel Tank
When we tested the fuel tanks last week, we discovered that we had missed sealing up a seam in one of the end ribs and it had a small leak. So, I mixed up some proseal (ugh!) and hopefully took care of it. We'll test them again when it's had time to cure. If they pass, we can then install the baffles and close them up completely.
Honey-Do List Task 2: Debur and Dimple Bottom Right Wing Skin
While working on the top skins, I discovered that this chore is easier to tackle in the living room floor than in our workshop. Because of the nice 70 degree weather we had over the weekend, I put off this task until the rain came in today and opted to work on my next task out in the shop where I could open the door and windows and be somewhat outdoors!
Honey-Do List Task 3: Build Ailerons
I was excited to get started on these. They're like mini versions of the leading edge and I was confident I could get both of them completed before Brian got back home. Oh boy, I have never been more wrong! I built the cradle and got through the initial assembly of the left aileron pretty fast but drilling the holes through the counterbalance takes forever and it's boring. So, I took a break from it, assembled the right one and then went back to drilling on the left. I got bored of it again and decided that I'd start cutting up the stiffeners. I almost had them finished when the muscles in my small hand and blisters between my fingers forced me to call it quits for a few days. Back to drilling...
I've got a decent amount of work done this week but it has gone by pretty slow. I'm a perfectionist and I don't mind working alone so it hasn't been too bad but I can't wait until Brian gets back. It's way more fun when he's around!
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
It’s been awhile since I've added an entry so I wanted to comment that we have been working diligently on the wings to get them done and out of the way of the fuselage that will probably arive in mid February. We let the fuel tank sealant (proseal) dry for a week or two so we could test it for leaks. We didn’t fully close them up by putting on the baffles and I'm glad because one of the tanks had a leak. Brandi is going to fix that while I'm out of town. While we were waiting for the tanks to dry we have been preparing the bottom wing skins for attaching. There are sooo many holes to cleco and drill and debur and re-cleco and dimple and re-cleco. I also got the Gretz mount installed for the pitot tube. Basic wiring kit from Vans was ordered today. We're moving right along!
Monday, January 03, 2011
We decided to add HID lights to the plane so we bought a light kit from Duckworks that is pretty nice. The lights go into the leading edge of the wing, instead of the tips of the wings. That means that holes had to be cut out of the wing. Scary! Turns out that it wasn't so bad, although the actual installation of the kit was frustrating because the instructions weren't that great. Also, I cracked both of the plexiglass lenses and had to order new ones. Tip - don't clamp down plexiglass. I barely clamped it and it still cracked it. The new lenses were cut and installed and the lights are completely done. Whew, they took way longer than I thought they would but they look nice.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Brandi and I started in with the proseal last night. Brandi is very meticulous and carefully squeezed perfect lines of sealant and stuck all the stiffeners to the fuel tank skin. Near the end when she was done I thought I would go over the edges of the stiffeners since she had only done the holes so far and there was plenty of proseal left over that I didnt want to go to waste. I snatched the cake icing bag of proseal right up and went to work. I thought out loud, "Man this stuff is hard to squeeze, we need to cut the opening a little bigger." I tuned Brandi out as she suggested I shouldn't. As I man handled the little proseal baggy, a huge glob burst out of the side of the bag where it split because I was just monkey squeezing it. I thought Brandi was going to kill me! Fortunately, for my safety, I didn't make any mess other than a golf ball sized glob of proseal on my double latex gloved hand.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
We went ahead and started section 18 while we were waiting to finish the lights on the leading edges. First we trimmed and deburred all of the tank stiffeners. Next was putting nutplates on the tank attach zee's. Brandi doesnt like weilding the pnematic squeezer since its heavy and bulky so in order to coax her out to the shop I strapped it to the bench and gave her my already warmed up sweater. It was kind of chilly in the shop since I usually dont run the heat once it gets in the mid to upper 60's because thats comfy for me but not so much for her. I worked on installing the ribs into the fuel tank skin, which invovled clecoing and match drilling them all in there. Not much fun as some of those ribs dont want to line up very well in certain holes. Queue the rubber mallot again.
The fuel tank caps were drilled and then countersunk. It seems to be pretty difficult to get the cap on and off and I dont like the fact that it doesnt screw on but rather has a little gasket. I've read that some people get premium fuel caps. I might look into that but not sure if it will be necessary.
All of the ribs for the left tank have been dimpled and we are still deburring the fuel tank skins. We got a little cordless screwdriver that will make deburring easier. We got a really great deal on it too since Home Depot had them online with free shipping for $10! They were $25 on the shelves of the store. Deburring holes is my least favorite part of the entire project. Good thing theres only like 20,000 holes. Ugh.
Thursday, December 09, 2010
Both left and right leading edges have been assembled but not yet attached to the main wing spar. We are waiting to attach until after we put in the Duckworks HID light kit. We're waiting on the mail to arrive with the documents that were missing from the light kit and as soon as it gets here Brandi is project leader for lights because shes bright so she'll get along well. In the meantime, it was handy to stack the leading edges under the main wing spars on our wing stand.
Friday, December 03, 2010
Section 17 is the outboard leading edge of the wing. My little sister, Hannah, was visiting and like any good big brother would do I put her right to work! She was very helpful and worked the clecos like a pro. The ribs were all put in, match drilled, deburred, etc. The ribs were kind of a tight fit in some spots to get them to line up perfectly. Had to break out the rubber mallot a few times.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
We set a goal of 90 hours of workshop time per month for this build in an effort to complete in roughly 2 years. I'm happy to say that with our first full month out of the way, we are on track. The Fuselage order will be placed this month as planned and is expected to arrive in late Feb.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Over the last two weeks we've made a lot of progress on section 16. This section is just tedious! Lots of repetition and I had what I would describe as a sprained wrist for 4 days during the last two weeks. Probably from working the cleco pliers and drill too much. We got help from our buddy Greg, who was awesome enough to come help deburr for a couple of hours. Thanks Greg!