Brian & Brandi's Van's RV10 Build

Shes got legs!


by Brian Monday, November 07, 2011

This weekend we attached the landing gears to the plane. What an exciting day to complete what feels like a major milestone. I have been thinking for months now about attaching the landing gears and have put it off for as long as possible in order to keep the plane accessible as possible. It was finally time to mount these things and I thought it would be a big deal trying to squeze the legs into the mounts. It turned out to take like 30 minutes or less for the main gears! Piece of cake! Our good buddy Keith came over to help get this all done. The excitement between us all was very high.

We used a method that fellow RV-10 builder Phil Perry described on the VAF forums as linked here. It worked out really well for us.

Fall leaves tour


by Brian Monday, October 31, 2011

We had the privilege of flying on the Falcon squadron 'Fall Leaf Tour' and let me tell you, it was AMAZING! Great folks, beautiful scenery, excellent food, a wonderful learning experience, and even 2.8 hours of log-able RV-10 time to boot! Our friend Vern was nice enough to let us fly with him and he even let me take the plane for a lot of the trip. I got some practice flying in a somewhat loose formation and it is a lot of hard work to keep the right spacing. I started getting the hang of it a little bit near the end but its one of those things that needs lots of practice. That type of flying is the pinnacle of building and a motivator like no other.

Overhead console


by Brian Monday, October 31, 2011

The overhead console is nearly complete. Its been a lot of work to get it blended real nice looking to the cabin top but it will totally be worth it. Brandi has been doing almost all of this part of the project. She has a knack for working with this type of stuff. We laid some fiber glass strips over the seams of the overhead console, then filled it in with epoxy and filler, sand, repeat. Finally, three coats of epoxy is squeegeed on in order to seal up everything and fill in pin holes. Should be ready for priming and painting very soon now!

Rhodes Fly-in


by Brian Saturday, October 15, 2011

We attended our second Rhodes Fly-in. It was a good time and good food. The first one was exactly one year ago and we were just barely starting out on our wings. This time around we are finishing off the fuselage and well on our way to doing interior work. Brandi got to fly back to Cartersville (VPC) with Kyle and I drove over there to meet them. We hung out and helped change the oil. Good practice for the future.

Window attached to left door


by Brian Wednesday, October 12, 2011

We did a lot of sanding and fine trimming to the plexiglass window for the left side door. Once we were happy with the fit we went ahead and mounted the window to the door with weldon. This was a sloppy mess and we're not too thrilled with the result. We masked everything off and moved quickly and it turned out ok but we didnt get a nice fillet on the inside of the window edge. We'll have to go back and fix this cosmetic detail at some point or cover it up with our interior.

After speaking with our good friend Geoff, we decided to try using the Lord adhesive for the windows instead. Geoff and several other people have had good results with it and there is a buzz in the community as to whether or not the weldon is partially responsible for cracks in the paint due to uneven shrinking/expanding of the different materials. Supposidly the Lord adhesive should give a little more flexibility than the weldon and worst case scenario it sure will be easier to work with! It cost a little bit more to go with the Lord adhesive but if it means no cracks in the paint then its worth it. The weldon was about $60 for 5 windows worth and we bought 12 each of 50ml tubes of the Lord adhesive for just under $200. There was a price break at 12 tubes and we figured it would take us about 10 tubes to finish the remaining 4 windows. Kind of a lot of $ in my opinion but this does give us a couple extra tubes for other various things and again, if it prevents cracks in the future it will be worth it. Since we have one window that is already done with weldon, we'll have an interesting test case to provide to the community in the future.

Advice - wait until after the door is perfectly fitted including the latch mechanism before you install the window. Having the window on the door just makes it heavier and harder to work around and its not necessary to install the window so soon like the plans have you do.

Thanks Uncle Ben for holding down the fort! :)

Door video


by Brian Monday, September 26, 2011

I made a quick video of the operation of the door latch system.

One thing to point out that the video doesnt show is to give some more detail about the lock. This is the lock that came with our ACS ignition switch. This works out great because the same key will fit our baggage door, pilot side door, and ignition. I made a metal bracket to give it more stability. There are some photos which show the final product. Also, the door lock was placed on the aft side of the door handle, which means the door handle covers the lock on the outside of the door. This just kind of ended up this way and fortunately worked out just fine. There is a little play before the lock catches the gear so in order to lock the door, the handle must be turned about 30 degrees to expose the lock. It actually looks pretty neat on the outside because the lock is almost completely hidden when the door is shut. Probably very slightly more aerodynamic like this too.

Other RV-10 photos


by Brian Monday, September 26, 2011

We have an album of other RV-10's that we've taken photos of. We have often times during our build scoured through these photos to see some detail of how people were doing something. The collage below is a link to our album so you can see some other RV-10s. Enjoy!

First video


by Brian Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I got a new phone and it does decent video so I decided to shoot a quick video of some of the status of our build. I think that I'll start shooting more videos and go in-depth about certain areas of the project. Hopefully it will be helpful to future builders and enjoyable to all others.

Cabin top work


by Brian Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Brandi and I have spent a lot of time over the last few days sanding on the cabin top. We are working to get the lip on the door frame just right so that the Mcmaster door seal will fit snug on it. We are using super fill (the blue stuff in photos) to smooth out parts of the fiberglass. It fills in little gaps and is very easy to sand so its easy to get a nice paintable smooth surface with it. Its been very tricky trying to figure out exactly how the lip of the door frames should be but I think we are getting there.

Next stop will be to mount our overhead console to the cabin top. We purchased the one from http://aerosportproducts.com and its awesome! It fits great and will look really great when we're finished.

Sub panel wiring underway


by Brian Friday, September 02, 2011

The upper forward fuselage area is not attached to our fuselage yet so that makes it easier to work on the sub panel items. I mounted two 120mm fans that were bought from Newegg.com. I'm very happy with these fans. They kick out up to 115CFM at 37Db. This will help to keep the avionics cool in the summer and keep the window defrosted in cooler weather.

A major decision point was fuses instead of circuit breakers. Originally we had our panel drawn up to have breakers. Our design goal was to have as clean of a panel as possible. nearly 20 circuit breakers at $20 a pop was both expensive and would clutter up our design so we opted to go with fuses. I think this will work out for us very well because our switches to turn on devices have an LED lights so if the fuse blows then the LED wont light up so that is one type of indicator. Another detection method is the fact that we have the type of fuses that have a little led light on them that will light up when they are blown. It would be pretty easy to look under the main panel to see the fuse blocks to see if any were lit up.

We are following pretty closely the Bob Nuckolls designed electrical system called Z13/8. This system has two alternators and one battery. The second alternator is a small 10 amp that can power critical devices that feeds a separate "endurance" (emergency) bus for redundancy. Bob's website is www.aeroelectric.com/ he is a grand master of all that is electrical. One place we are deviating from the z13/8 plan is to add an avionics switch. Also, I wanted our left EFIS screen to come on with master switch but I also wanted the left screen to be available on our endurance bus.

I've learned a lot about electrical systems and am very excited to be working on this area of the build.

Panel cut


by Brian Thursday, August 25, 2011

At first I was under the assumption that we needed to take the panel somewhere for a special machine to cut it (high pressure water, sharks with laser beams, or whatever.) Our buddy Keith suggested we could just cut it on our own and that actually made a lot of sense for us to do. The cuts are fairly straight forward and we'll paint it and possibly cover it with a lamanite anyways. Brandi spent some time drawing up the panel layout measurements on the computer and that turned out to be pretty handy. Keith came by and helped us measure and cut everything and it turned out really good. Thanks a bunch Keith!

Nose wheel and gear


by Brian Thursday, August 18, 2011

Got a jump start on section 46 even though the doors are not finished yet. I built up the nose wheel and gear and now I just need to get a hold of a spring scale to calibrate the fork to turn at 26lbs of force. I accidentally pinched the tube in the tire when assembling it and so I had to order a new tube. That really sucked because I was so careful to not do that but I guess when I pulled the stem through the wheel it must have pulled the tube in between wheel halves just enough to be pierced when I bolted them together. The new tube arrived and it was installed so all is well now.

We are using an after market nose axel and a few other wheel related items per Tim Olson and others warning on the stock ones. Reference: Better Tires and Tubes

In summary, delete these:

  • U NW501.25 Nose wheel w/ bearings
  • U 5:00X5-6IT Tube for nose wheel
  • U 15X6.0-6IT Inner Tube Main
  • U-1009 Axle

Buy these:

All said and done its about a $110 upgrade that should be well worth it.

Doors underway


by Brian Tuesday, August 09, 2011

I've been dreading the doors as most -10 builders indicate they are the most difficult and problematic. After a few weeks of putting them off and doing any little other thing that I could I started running out of things to do so I had to start on them. I went slow, followed the directions and began the unpleasant task of trimming all the edges. That wasnt so bad. Next, the plans have you line up the inner and outer door shells and cleco them together via the pre made pilot holes. The pilot holes didnt line up! Panic ensued! Got lots of good feedback from vansairforce.net and kept pressing on. Then I had an epiphany! What makes a difficult task really easy? Well, delegate of course! So little Brandi is now the proud owner of section 45, doors, all that is evil. I used to think I was a really fortunate guy to have a wife who was helping build. Now I think that I just might be the smartest builder to date. :)

Tailcone wrap up


by Brian Friday, August 05, 2011

Brandi had a list of a few things that needed to be fixed with the tailcone so I wrapped those up over the last few days. Feels good to cross those items off the list. Brandi and I also riveted some of those impossible 1 person jobs for the fuel transducer bracket and transponder antenna doubler.

We track our time by section and sometimes its tricky because we may go out in the shop and work for a couple hours and do 15 different small tasks that are all over the place.

Draft Panel Design


by Brian Thursday, August 04, 2011

Brandi and I put a final decision time frame of Oshkosh 2011 for our avionics choices. It's easy to chase new technology and keep waiting on what's coming but at some point you have to cut holes in the panel and run wires so we have started to firm up our choice on panel layout and components. We went with the following items to provide an IFR panel with redudancy.

  • Dual 10" Dynon Skyview
  • Garmin 430w
  • PS Engineering 8000BT audio panel
  • Garmin SL40 Com. radio
  • Garmin 696 XM weather GPS

An interesting item to note is that we wressled with excluding steam gauages or not and decided that the GPS derived 6-pack gauges on the 696 would be a sufficient backup in the event of a complete loss of electrical systems. The 696 has a battery backup that should last long enough to get out of clouds. We went with the 696 both for this redudancy aspect but also for the xm weather and radio. We considered the Garmin G3X system but liked the 10" screens of the Dynon and were comfortable navigating around the skyview menu systems. It was a tough choice and could probably have gone either way.

Windscreen test fit


by Brian Monday, July 04, 2011

I had it in my mind that trimming the plexiglass windscreen would be a big deal. It turned out it was pretty easy. Used a diamond wheel in the dremel to make the cut. It worked great. Only had to take it off a couple times to make small tweaks to the fit. The burning smell plexiglass made while cutting was pretty strong so I opened the garage door and let lots of fresh air in. Its best to cut plexi in warmer temperatures anyways so it worked out well since it was about 85 degrees outside. I peeled the plastic protective covering of the plexiglass back just a bit to make the cut and plexiglass 'dust' got stuck all over that. In hindsight, should have just cut 1" of the plastic off all the way around the edges and not peeled it back. Not a big deal. It fits on there great. On to the rear windows now.

Hello Kitty cabin top


by Brian Friday, July 01, 2011

After taking the cabin top off and on about 20 times and trimming it, I'm glad to say we finally have it fitted on there satisfactorily. What a chore it has been! It was a little confusing how much to trim and where so after looking at pictures of other 10's, reading the plans, and noodling over it for a while we finally just dove in and did it. Even though it wasnt actually that hard to complete, I think it was just hard to get started because we didnt want to mess it up.  We have the back side of the cabin top match drilled to the fuse and the door areas are counter sunk. Its pretty rewarding getting the cabin top on there even before its trimmed. When Brandi and I first set the cabin top on the fuse we could only get it about half way on because it needed more trimming but we climbed in and just sat in the back seat for a good 10 minutes. It was kind of like sitting in a fort as a kid. Not sure if part of it was just because we were kind of exhausted after all the work we had just done :)

One step closer to finished


by Brian Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Man I come up with some cheesy post titles haha. I know you love it as much as I do though.

The steps were installed quite some time ago and they were pretty easy. There is a lot of talk in the community about the step eventually becoming slightly loose and getting a little wobbly. I saw this in action with my friend Mark's -10. With all that said there are various ways people try to preemptively deal with this. I went ahead and installed access panels in the baggage floorboard so that if ever needed we could get in there and access them. Doing the access panels turned out to be trickier than I thought because I forgot about the side panel covers that go in the baggage area. So the access panels I made are slightly covered up by those but still functional. Also, I drilled the hole bigger where the bolt goes in to hold the step in place. I put an AN4 bolt in there instead of the normal AN3. Bigger is better, right? :)

Two things to note about this section. 1) getting the step in there was a very tight fit. I had to wiggle it and as it went in it shaved off some of the primer, which is fine because you're suppose to re-primer it a bit anyways. 2) drilling out the hole bigger was another reminder that when drilling steel you need to keep the drill speed very slow. I used boelube (I love that stuff), which helped. When I first went at it I wasn’t thinking clearly and had the drill at full blast and it was just getting super hot. I think I dulled the bit pretty good by the time I realized I needed to go slow.

Brandi put a bunch of bubble wrap over the step when I was done. Good thing. This little guy is a silent killer!

Closing the door on another section


by Brian Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Baggage door complete! This was a fun section. It was challenging to get the hinges on such that it was perfectly centered when closed. The instructions tell you to lift up on it to minimize the sag, which we did, but it is still like the tiniest bit lower than we would have liked. It seems that a lot of people struggle to get the door perfect and usually settle on almost perfect.

The only other gotcha we had for this one was when I installed the lock, the locking arm didnt seem to go very far into the door frame. Only the very tip was catching, which didnt seem very secure at all. I made a post to VAF and in no time someone suggested I look for an arm that came with the fuse kit rather than the arm that came with the ignition+baggage door lock that I ordered through spruce. Bingo! Gotta love VAF.

Ready for passengers


by Brian Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The rear seat backs have been built and installed and it definitely looks recognizable as a place to sit now, which is very satisfying. So, we're ready for passengers but unfortunately, no pilot or co pilot yet. Might be a scary flight :)

The seat backs went together without any trouble but it was much more work than I expected. You have to mark your own holes to drill and there are quite a few of them. Since we don’t have a bandsaw, it took me WAY longer to cut the thick aluminum angles than it probably should have. I used a combination of a dremel with metal cut off wheel, a die grinder with cut off wheel, and a good old hack saw. The dremel would over heat so I had to stop using it very much. The die grinder kept running low on air pressure and become completely ineffective until more air built up and so I used the hack saw in the down time between those. Whew, it was hard work! In the end I kicked myself for not having drove down the road a few miles to ask my new friend Kyle if I could make a few cuts on his bandsaw. Doh. Promise I won’t make that mistake again though.

The final piece of this section requires hinge pins to be cut and bent. Poor little Brandi cut one and started reaching to grab it and I started shouting out to her "WAIT, its hot!!" but she ended up grabbing it for just a second. That was long enough to burn her little fingers. :( She’s ok but boy did she ever learn the hard way about friction heat. After the fact she was like "I knew it was hot, I don’t know what I was thinking". Not the first injury during the build and won’t be the last. Glad it wasn’t more serious. We learned something about being burned though, apparently you're not suppose to put ice on it. I never knew that. I gave her an ice cube right away. Turns out you should put the burn in cool (not cold) water and then after that, wrap it with gauze.

Brandi is going to remove the seat backs and eventually cover them with material and cushions and stuff. We like our future passengers!