Brian & Brandi's Van's RV10 Build

Radio stack wiring

by Brian Thursday, March 08, 2012

The radio stack wiring took much longer than I anticipated. I finally got everything wired up though and I am pretty happy with how it turned out. I pulled an 11 hour day on Sunday because I wasnt leaving that shop until that panel was off of the bench and into the plane! I was a little surprised at how few wires I ended up having on the garmin 430 bracket considering the MASSIVE amount of possible pins that can be used. 

I'm really excited to put the switches and other components in the panel. I have to wait for Brandi to finish our fiberglass panel overlay first though. Its almost ready and only needs to be trimmed up a little bit and then primed and painted.

For non aviation people - an ELT is an emergency location transmitter. It helps you get found if you ever went down and needed to be found. Originally I wanted to put the ELT remote buttons off the panel like maybe on the overhead or somewhere but we ended up deciding to put it on the panel centered above one of the skyviews. Since this was a last minute addition it didnt get a ton of thought put into it like most other aspects of the panel. So after I cut the hole and put the panel in, I noticed the hole I just cut was exactly in front of the rib of the sub panel. Ugh. We're going to have to trim that rib a tiny bit now because the ELT remote switch is about 2" long. Oh well, not a huge problem. Went ahead and ordered a 406MHz ELT today. The 406MHz are the 'new' technology, which transmit a GPS location instead of just broadcasting a signal that would have to be triangulated. Hopefully we'll never need it either way :)


Adventurous Saturdays

by Brian Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The last three Saturdays in a row have been really amazing for me because I have gotten to fly with friends so much. Having so much fun hasnt lent to making huge progress on the build this month but we're still on track with our steady 90 hours per month average. 

The first Saturday of the three recent ones was spent flying right seat in my friend Bill's twin Cessna 421. I had flown right seat in it twice before and its a lot of fun. This trip was special though. We flew to Prattville, AL because they had some work to do and I was there just to tag along. Another good friend of ours, Dan, flew left seat on the way down and then Bill flew left seat on the way back. Both taught me various things as I held heading an altitude on this IFR flight. It was the first flight I've even done where we filed IFR and it was pretty cool! Not as eventful as I thought it would have been but then again, we were on an easy route and canceled our IFR just outside of Prattville. On about a quarter mile left on our final approach I pointed out to Dan that there was a Cessna landing on the opposite runway. Unannounced. Going the wrong direction with respect to the wind! Both planes did a go around and it was a non event but just goes to show you have to be vigilant! We ate BBQ for lunch after the work was complete and then we headed for home. On the way back it was AWESOME because we were flying at 5,000 feet and the cloud level was about 4,800 so we had a very scenic view and occasionally we would blast right through a cloud that was a couple hundred feet taller than our altitude. It was really fun to bust through the clouds. I really got a sense of the speed we were flying at when that happened. What a great experience. 

The next Saturday I lucked out and got to fly out to Monticello air park (GA06) with my good friend Keith in his RV-7. I had something really special in store for me as our tech councilor friend, Gary, was going to give me his old batteries from his plane so we could use them for testing. This was good because it allows us to defer our battery purchase a bit longer. More importantly though, Gary has an RV-10. Having an excuse to go visit meant we could get a ride in his plane! Sweet! I have been pretty nervous about taxing our -10 when the time comes because the last time on our fall leaf trip when I taxied a -10 I was weaving all over and didnt feel in very good control. This trip eased my worries on that a bit. The castering nose wheel of the 10 is different than the Cessna 172 I trained on. I find that I really have to start my turns 2-3 seconds in advance. So Keith and I flew up to Cherokee, filled up on gas, then headed down. The runway was a nice grass strip and I had only landed on one once before so that was fun. Keith did the landing because I'm not tailwheel rated (yet). We took off in Gary's -10 and had a nice flight and I learned a lot and had a blast. Got to practice taxing, which was very beneficial to me. Keith and I said goodbye to Gary and headed back for home. About 15 miles out from home field we decided to do a fly over my house. That was pretty neat because we were over dobbins air space so we could see the field really well. After I spotted my house, Keith suggested we tour Atlanta. Uh, yes! No brainer! We very carefully flew within the allowable airspace and flew past downtown, circled all the way around Hartsfield, and then back North to home. The view was spectacular and the experience was memorable. I'd really like to take Brandi on that flight in our -10 some day. 

The 3rd Satuday involved a BBQ competition in Perry, GA. Keith offered to take me with him so of course I wasnt going to turn that down. We flew down to Falcon Field in Peachtree City where the Falcon RV Squadron is and met up with others. We flew a 4 RV ship formation down to Perry, which was fun. The weather was a little windy but up at altitude it was nice. Keith is one heck of a pilot and makes the formation stuff look easy. I got to practice a bit and I still struggle to stay in place. I guess practice makes perfect! Once we arrived at Perry we met up with and chatted with other pilots who had flown in. I saw our friend Pierre there and also finally got to meet fellow -10 builder Brian who is working on his build near Stone Mt. Someone told us that people who flew in got free bbq so all our eyes lit up and we headed over to have a look. Let me explain for a second. This wasnt some guy on a Webber grill. This was a SERIOUS competition. There was thousands of dollars in prize money, trophies, and a huge crowd. Well we walked right up and these ladies who were running things were so incredibly nice to us that it was just amazing. They ushered us into a hangar where they had like 20 different plates of all different kinds of BBQ from the competitors. These were extra plates that were not needed for the judges so we got to sample them all and I was in HOG HEAVEN haha. After we enjoyed some delicious bbq we all wandered around for a while and finally when everyone was ready to go we met on the flight line and headed for home. Before we left, we did a few formation fly-bys for the crowd. We did a diamond, echelon, and then single low approaches. It was a lot of fun and there were lots of people waving and it looked like they enjoyed the demonstration. Keith and I landed back at Falcon field and ended up hanging out for a few hours, which was great! I love being around all those guys and we talked aviation and had a great time. Got some good advice, told and listened to stories, and had a great time just hanging out. Everyone marveled at how much Brandi was doing on the project and that she was home working on interior while I was out playing :) 

With all the fun adventures like these ahead of us and all these good people to share it with, there is no doubt in my mind that getting involved in this build project was one of the coolest things we could ever do.  

Baffling progress

by Brian Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Child labor pushes the baffling section closer to completion. My sister Hannah was visiting for the weekend and she got tasked to help measure the trim lines on the baffling tops. She helped me gently lay the top cowl on while paper clips were in place so that we could tell how much of a gap there was all the way around and trim accordingly. Only thing left for baffling now is to attach the fabric on top.

Random build video

by Brian Friday, February 17, 2012

Engine Tour 2

by Brian Thursday, February 16, 2012

Showing off some of the tasks completed since the engine was hung. Have not had this inspected yet so some things might need to be changed. One thing that I have already addressed was to redo the exaust cabling system. The wire it hangs from is suppose to be pretty straight and I wasnt happy with how crooked it was. Also worth noting is our front baffling piece on the left side was cut a little short. This is different than plans because I kept the cowl inlet fiberglass a bit long. 

Front Interior Panels - Bulkhead Cover Up

by Brandi Tuesday, February 14, 2012

After you attach the cabin cover to the fuselage, you're left with an unsightly bulkhead that sticks up and curves in a bit. The challenge is figuring out a way to cover this thing up and make it mesh with the rest of the interior.

I was reading on VAF about guys using expanding urethane foam for fiberglass molding so I thought I'd give foam another try. I ordered the 4lb density stuff and made a small test batch and poured it into a box covered with plastic. The foam is fun to play with but I'm not sure what's so great about it. It's the same annoying foam carving that I experienced with the pink foam and the pockets. So, in the trash it went and out came my plasticene clay. Finally something I can work with!

I taped up the area with painters tape first so the packaging tape is easier to remove and there's no residue. Then I taped over it with packaging tape before using clay to form a mold.

After getting the shape that I wanted, I covered the clay in saran wrap to keep the removal mess down. Then, I did the same exact thing to the other side. Getting the left side molded to match the right side shape was a little tricky but I got it pretty darn close.

Next, I cut out two pieces of glass that were about the right shape and used a little cab-o-sil in my epoxy mix to thicken it up a bit and keep it from running on me. I repeated the process on the left side.

After the piece cured, it pulled of easily and I was able to salvage 95% of my clay. The piece still needs a bit more trimming but it sits nicely in the spot with all of the tape and clay removed. 

In the end, this piece will be attached to the main panel along with the pocket... at least that's how it works in my head. ;)

Front Interior Panels - The Pocket

by Brandi Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Every RV-10 needs some pockets up front so I included them in my front panel design. They're a separate piece of fiberglass that I fabricated to attach to the back of my semi-finished front panel. I'll then cut out a slot from the panel that's the entire width of the pocket and about 1/2 the height of the pocket for access to the pocket area. I'll post more on the attachment when it's complete. It's easier to explain with pictures.

To make the pocket, I used some foam board and some pink foam insulation from Home Depot. I cut the foam board to fit in the front panel area and measured the pocket area out on the foam board.

I then attached pink insulation to the back of the foam board that was a little larger than my pocket area and the depth that I wanted my pocket to be. Because I plan on placing the pocket behind the interior panel, I left about 1/4 inch between the pink foam and the fuse skin.

Next I carved the pocket hole out of the foam board and the pink insulation. I learned from this process that I hate carving and cutting foam. I have too much static electricity and it's just annoying. Next time, it's all clay!

Once the hole was the size that I wanted it, I placed a scrap piece of foam board behind the hole to give me something to lay-up the fiberglass on and then taped it up real good with packaging tape. 

Unfortunately, I didn't photo document the rest of it so you'll have to use your imagination. I placed clay in the sharp corners to curve them out and then layed up fiberglass inside the pocket and around the top exterior about 1 1/2 inches wide. Once dried, I pulled it out and layed up another one for the other side of the plane. Now I have two pockets with a 1 1/2 inch lip waiting to be attached to the panel.

RV-10 Cost Planner

by Brian Tuesday, February 07, 2012

I took some time to consolidate a couple different spreadsheets I had, which helped me to track costs and anticipate when I needed to order certain items. This helped me also figure out when I needed to establish a loan because we tried to make it as far along as we could before we had to borrow. I hope this spreadsheet can be helpful for future builders. Enjoy and feel free to modify and use as necessary. You can plug in your own values and everything dynamically updates. 

Download here

Panel Cover - Take 2

by Brandi Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Brian and I decided a while back that we wanted a really clean and sleek looking panel. Screws and what not in an otherwise nice panel drive me crazy. So, I decided that I would make a thin fiberglass panel cover that would be removable and hide all of the screws and rivet heads. My first attempt at it turned out OK. It would have worked but my fiberglass skills were very beginner and it needed a lot of work to finish it off. I talked Brian into letting me remake it because I knew that I could do a much better job than I did a few months ago. This second attempt was well worth the effort. It's super thin & light and it isn't going to require a ton of finishing work. +1 for blossoming fiberglass skills!


by Brandi Tuesday, February 07, 2012

This weekend we decided to tackle the rear windows and the windscreen. Brian already had them fitted and ready to go so it was pretty painless. The Lord Adhesive we bought came in 50ml packages with a mixing nozzle and an adapter for a regular caulk gun. We used approximately 100ml for each rear window and a little less than 150ml on the windscreen. After experiencing Weld On with the one door window, I'm so thankful we didn't go that route with the rear windows and the windscreen. It was messy enough as it was without the added complications from the stringy & fast curing Weld On. The Lord Adhesive stays workable for just the right amount of time to make some nice fillets on the inside and clean up any mess that oozed out on the exterior.

We didn't have the E-glass needed to finish up the windscreen but I did manage to get fairing filler applied between the plexiglass and the metal fuselage. I've read about guys using black ink toner to color the epoxy filler mix but I had already purchased some West System 423 Graphite Powder for some carbon fiber stuff I've been working on so that's what I used mixed with West System 407 Low-Density Filler. The 407 filler is already a dark brown/burgundy color and the added graphite powder made the epoxy/filler mixture a nice shade of black.

Exhaust system

by Brian Friday, February 03, 2012

Brandi and I went out in the shop last night after dinner and I got started on the exhaust and she was going to do her interior/fiberglass stuff. She stared into space for about 15 minutes and I could tell she didnt want to do anything fiberglass related. I cant blame her. I asked if she wouldnt mind helping me take the temporary gaskets off of the exhaust ports of the engine while I prepared the pipes. She seemed to perk right up at the prospect of something NOT fiberglass. Brandi hasnt really had much involvement on engine type stuff yet and it was so funny to watch her meticulously keep all the oil cleaned up and keep herself nice and tidy. She handles herself so well in the shop that it was pretty amusing and unexpected when the girl side of her came out and she goes ewww as a little bit of oil poured out from the gasket and spilled onto the floor. Some oil got in her hair and she was not very happy about that. It was fun working together again since lately we have each had our own list of things to tackle. 

I'm amazed at how easy the exhaust system is coming together so far. I imagined it as a big deal but so far its pretty easy breezy. I shouldnt speak too soon though because perhaps the harder part is setting up the cable and support system where the pipes exit. 

Baffling attached

by Brian Friday, February 03, 2012

The baffling work has been fairly enjoyable. Its a nice break from fiberglass. I got the baffling attached and built up the front baffling, which is where there are a couple of challenging spots. The plans call for bending a conical shape piece to contour to the air inlet of the cowling. Wasnt too bad but takes some tweaking. The trickiest thing about baffling seems to be that sometimes you can just put the back or front ones right on or off but then the very next time you get it all snagged and it doesnt want to go on or off. I think I have figured out the trick most of the time is to push in the little curved parts on the baffling that scoop under the cylinders while installing/removing. The curved part I'm talking about is the parts that the cable will tie the baffling together underneath the engine. 

Also, when I went to attach the control cable to the prop governor it wasnt going to move through its full range of motion. I loosened the screw that held arm on the prop governor and was able to adjust it. Sometimes its the little things that make me proud of myself :)

Wiring mess

by Brian Thursday, February 02, 2012

The wiring has taken way longer than I imagined it would. Its coming along great though and I enjoy the electrical system stuff nearly the most of any other system so far. The hardest part of it all has been doing as much as I can without having all of the avionics. We're buying stuff as we go, which is the only way we can afford to do it so instead of being able to just do all the wiring at once when its all in memory I have to keep re-visiting it and get back up to speed on where everything needs to go and how it goes together. I'm working off the Bob Nuckolls Z-13/8 diagram with a few modifications that I made. Namely, I added an avionics switch, combined a couple of switches into one, and other very minor tweaks. Our good friend Gary has a small battery that he is pulling out of his -10 because its near the end of its service life and hes going to give it to us to use so we can test our electrical system with it and delay having to buy our battery until closer to when we actually need one. I'm kind of nervous about powering up the system for the first time. I'm going to go back and double check everything and then close my eyes while I tightly grip the fire extinguisher and flip the master switch. 

Cowling video update

by Brian Thursday, January 12, 2012

Shot another quick video of the cowling. Nothing too exciting really but I figured for people who were researching on how to get this task done it would be helpful to have some video of the whole process. I was pretty intimidated to start but once I got going its all feeling pretty easy (mentally) - just a lot of sanding. Per usual, you can view the video in 720p for better quality if desired. 

Getting deeper into avionics

by Brian Thursday, January 12, 2012

Working on the avionics is really fun to me. I enjoy all this electrical stuff and it is a welcomed break from working on the fiberglass cowling. Sand, refit, sand, refit. Yuck. That gets old.

So, I figured out some pros and cons about our current avionics selections recently. We are going with skyview, garmin 696, ps8000B audio panel, sl40, and eventually a garmin 430w. That part hasnt changed. What has changed though is how things will work together - at least in my mind. I had it in my mind that I would make the sl40 com1 and on our stick grip I would have frequency swap as a button. Well, the sl40 doesnt have that ability (natively although I found a guy on VAF who made a small board that plugs inline with the dsub that enabled the functionality). Also, I just assumed the skyview had SOMETHING it could map to a stick grip button... I mean why wouldnt it? Seems like such an easy and obvious feature to me. Well, it doesnt either. So theres two buttons on the stick grip that now need to be something else. Have to figure out what I want them to be now. I guess we can eventually just make the 430 the com1 radio and do a frequency swap on there. 

Also I have been noodling about the 696 a bit lately. It has a 'power + data' cable that has 4 wires total. power, ground, data in, data out. Thats it. Not as robust as I thought it might be but turns out its fine to do most everything we need. Here's how it will go for us - Data in will be from the 430 so that we can feed flight plans and I think couple the autopilot to it for better instrument approaches. I still have more learning to do on what all can be done but the idea is valid none the less that its a chain where 430 can feed the 696, which can then feed the dynon system. I was temped at first to use the 696 data in for TIS traffic because thats an option but there can only be one input to the 696 and it will be better in my opinion to use the 430 and leave the TIS traffic solely on the skyview system. For the 696 audio output I was thinking we could setup the xm radio portion on the entertainment input of the audio panel (music 1) but there is only one audio output for the whole 696 so it makes more sense to just put it as an unswitched input rather than a music1 input. This is because the 696 outputs audio alerts from various events so that will be nice to have as unswitched instead of as an entertainment mode. 

Very exciting news is that we just got our first Skyview screen in today! I'm so excited because I have a 4 day weekend and have lots of toys to wire up! 

A fun break from building

by Brian Thursday, January 12, 2012

Saturday was suppose to be another of many 8 hour+ build days but we couldn't resist the offer to go fly with our good friends Keith and Dan. Keith has an RV-7 and is care taker of another friends RV-8. So Brandi flew co-pilot in one me in the other and then we swapped on the trip home. We went down to Peachtree City and did some formation flight on the way down. It was AWESOME. I love riding in the 7 and this was my first experience in an 8. The 8 was really great visibility and the performance is awesome too. Its like getting on an elevator the thing will climb so fast! I got to do a little practicing in formation for the second time ever and its still pretty hard to stay in perfect formation. Keith makes it look easy.. hes an awesome pilot. Dan is an excellent pilot too. I'm convinced that he can land a piano falling from the sky and make the wheels just lightly touch down.. the guy can land anything smooth as silk it seems. Needless to say, its great to be around such good pilots because it helps towards our skill building.


The weather was unseasonably warm and Peachtree was buzzing with activity. Much of the Falcon squad was out and about and it was really great to see some of the guys. We got to take a closer look at John Goodman's -10 since he got the interior done. I got a great video of a walk around of his plane. Always helpful to go back and see how other people did certain things. In fact, we are going to borrow an idea we saw on his and Hank's plane, which is an aluminum cover plate for the cowl pins. We went to Aircraft spruce, which is right on the field there and loaded up on a few items, which saved us some shipping costs.

After we flew back to RYY we hung out for awhile and met a really cool guy and his son who are nearly finished building a super cub. The thing has the huge bush tires on it and we all gushed together about how much we loved the show Flying Wild Alaska. Came home late in the day and managed to squeak out 3.5 hours on our build. What a great day.

Cowling Saga

by Brian Thursday, December 29, 2011

I was reluctant to get started on the cowling. For one I didnt want to sand any more fiberglass. Had enough of that mess. Secondly, I was worried it would be a long tedious road, like the doors were. Here are a few videos detailing my journey on the cowling. An aspect the videos dont detail that was important is we attached the bottom cowl to the plane and then laid the top on and temporarily clecoed the front center ring on the left and right sides of the center ring to hold the top and bottom together in a way that made the gaps fit ok. Then we were able to trim the back and sides of the top cowl. 





We ridin' spinners

by Brian Thursday, December 29, 2011

Decided to mount the spinner while the prop was on the engine. It seemed easier to rotate the blades and work with in general with it on the engine. The plans have you mount the prop after the spinner is done though. I was afraid of damaging the prop and didnt know how I was suppose to rotate the blades.. turns out you can just clamp a couple boards to the prop to give you some leverage.


Engine tour

by Brian Thursday, December 29, 2011

Engine mounting

by Brian Thursday, December 29, 2011

Our good friend Kyle helped us acquire an engine hoist from a friend of a friend. That helped out a bunch. Thanks Kyle! Keith came over and helped us get it mounted and we were all so excited we ended up starting at like 9pm, which is when we got the hoist and then got a chain that we needed. I even skipped one of my hockey games, which is very rare. I play sick, injured, at midnight on christmas, when ever. Ask Brandi. I dont usually miss my games if it can be helped.