Brian & Brandi's Van's RV10 Build

Wheel Maintenance and St Marys

by Brian Tuesday, February 23, 2016

This past weekend I changed out the nose wheel tire and tube. These were the original tire and tube and had about 550 hours on them. I re-greased the bearings and put everything back together with no trouble. I even had nice 60 degree weather to enjoy in February! My friend Dan asked if I wanted to fly with him down to St Mary, GA, near Jacksonville, FL, so I said sure, why not. I got some instrument practice in and had a nice enjoyable flight. It was a good aviation weekend.

Oil cooler butterfly valve

by Brian Tuesday, October 20, 2015

We are planning a trip up to Canada soon and so we'll definitely need something to help keep the oil temps up. Plus, over the years of flying I have noticed at high altitudes or in winter its tough to keep the oil temp over 165 in cruise and ideally temps should be closer to 180. This is another one of the mods I wish I would have went ahead and did from day 1. Got the TCW servo and butterfly valve installed with not much trouble and it works great! Very happy with it. 

ghost in the wire

by Brian Sunday, August 30, 2015

For a long time now there has been this faint pulsing noise in the headsets when serial data has been enabled on our Garmin 696. I tried so many things to get rid of the noise and FINALLY I fixed it. After having tried double/triple checking all grounds, adding a 'noise filter', re-crimping wires, replacing music jack cable, and probably other things, the solution was to add a 1k resistor on the blue serial data line. I read an old thread on VAF where someone had suggested this to someone else and I was so relieved when it worked!

Added charge plug on baggage wall

by Brian Sunday, April 12, 2015

I should have done this a long time ago but I finally added a charge plug forward of the baggage wall. I stuck it on the far right side so that removing the baggage wall wont interfere with it or be necessary to remove the plug each time. I also bought this sweet jump start/flashlight/phone charger device from EarthX to go along with it. The jump pack only weighs 1.4lbs. I still need to tie up the wiring a bit but here is a photo of it installed: 

Created Tilt Mount

by Brian Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Co-Pilot side EFIS is visible from the pilot side and indeed usable, however the steep angle makes it somewhat undesirable/cumbersome to use. I created a bracket that allows the Co-Pilot side screen to be mounted at an angle towards the pilot. I did a nice long flight to Tampa Bay and back with this new setup and I love it! Before, I used to have all 3 components (PFD, Engine, Map) on the EFIS directly in front of me. I now have map full screen on the Co-Pilot side EFIS and have 80% sized PFD and 20% engine page directly in front of me. Much better! I painted it black so its kind of hard to see and it is only a subtle angle - maybe 10 degrees or so but it makes a big difference. 



Wheel maintenance

by Brian Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The main tires on a -10 tend to wear unevenly and the tire life can be increased by flipping the tire on the wheel after about 150 hours or so. I learned the hard way last time not to wait too long to flip them so this past weekend I flipped them. While I had the wheels off it was a great time to repack the wheel bearings. I've done it a few times now so I was pleased at how quick this all came together!

The wheel pant brackets tend to get kind of loose and you have to really tighten the bolts up a lot to get it nice and firm. The problem is the home made aluminum spacers that the plans have you create will mushroom out over time from this. Mine havent mushroomed out yet but I need to replace them with something like this spacer that sells. 

Upgrading the panel

by Brian Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Dynon came out with some optional control modules that should make operating the Skyview system a little simplier and quicker so we opted to install them into our panel. Functionally this should be a very nice addition to our panel but from a cosmetic standpoint I was a little hesitant to add more stuff to our panel since our design goal has always been to minimize clutter. Function before fashion though! I havent had a chance to try them out yet but I'm eager to see how they handle. 

Seat removal

by Brian Sunday, November 02, 2014

Every time I have to take the seats out I mutter swear words - it seems like such a hassle for no good reason. To make things a little easier in the future I put nutplates on the little T-handle that has to come off in order to allow the seat to slide all the way back off the rails. Since we have really nice interior panels that Brandi did they take away maybe a quarter of an inch clearance, which makes it tight to get a wrench on the nuts. This should make it a bit easier getting the seat out. 

Nose gear Service Bulletin

by Brian Sunday, November 02, 2014

Vans released a service bulletin for the -10. Good news - no cracks! On our trip down to Tampa, FL to watch some hockey we stopped in and visited Jesse Saint and the guys out there. They have done tons of these SBs now so I dropped in and got a hand with it. They were done in about an hour! Nice! Thanks guys. 

Upgraded to LiFePO4 battery

by Brian Sunday, October 19, 2014

We had an Odyssey 925 battery just like a lot (most?) other -10 owners. It had been in service for two years so it was time to preemptively replace it. After much deliberation I decided to go with an EarthX ETX36 battery. They are relatively unproven in aircraft but not a complete wild card. Before investigating the topic very much I was eyeballing Shortai batteries and some other brands, which are indeed cheaper than EarthX, however they didnt have the integrated battery management system that I believe is important. Not to say I couldnt buy/make a BMS to stick on to those other brands, but I like what EarthX is doing and wanted to go that route. 

On paper its easy to see that my old battery weighs 26lbs and the new one is under 4lbs but it wasnt until I actually lifted the old one out and laid it onto my work bench with a hefty thud that I realized what a big difference the new one is going to make in the plane. I stuck the new battery in the same location as the original, which is behind the baggage wall per plans. I pop riveted a piece of angle onto the floor of the battery box to hold the new battery in place and was able to use the existing bar across the top of the battery after I cut the bolts down to size and re-threaded them. I'll have to snap a picture next time I've got that area opened up. We've been flying with the new battery for a few months now and over all I am extremely satisfied with the performance and weight savings of this battery. It cost more but its supposed to last twice as long so in the end I feel like I just got 20lbs out of the aft end for free! Win!

Seat lever upgrade

by Brian Saturday, August 16, 2014

Today I added the seat lever upgrade that sells. Should have done this a long time ago! It works great and was a very easy install. 

Upgraded Nav Lights

by Brian Sunday, June 22, 2014

By the time we were choosing nav lighting during our build we were stretched pretty thin financially and so we decided to go for a very inexpensive solution. I bought LED bulbs from that are typically used in cars for the tail lights. The up side of this is that they are cheap and many types fit a standard size fixture. When we bought the bulbs originally it was something like a 36-LED bulb and they came in red and green and a couple other colors. This was sufficient. Its been two years now and LED bulb technology has come a little further so why have a 36-bulb when you can have a 45-SMD LED setup!? More power! Each bulb was like $25 but comparatively for normal aviation stuff this is still dirt cheap. I am quite pleased with the new bulbs as they are brighter and are look cooler than the old ones. The daytime photo doesnt do it a ton of justice, but I'm sure they are more obvious at night. 

Before (36-LED bulb) | After (45-SMD LED bulb)

Electronic ignition installed and working great

by Brian Tuesday, May 06, 2014

The electronic ignition has been installed for a few weeks now and I have been meaning to get some pictures on the site here with some stats but I just havent had the chance yet. The engine sounds smoother and performs great. I'll post more details as soon as I have a chance to get a nice flight in at a good altitude and see what kind of economy and speeds we are getting. Below is a sneak peak of the new spark plug wires I put together and installed. 

Electronic Ignition installation started

by Brian Tuesday, April 08, 2014

I'm excited to start working on the electronic ignition system we bought. Not cheap but should pay for itself over time in fuel savings plus the performance boost is nice too!

I made a tray to install some of the electronic components on and I stuck it on a hinge so it could swing down from between the panel and sub panel. There isnt much real estate left in our panel area so this was a nice way to gain some room plus have it right there easy to work on in future if needed.

Trim those seat rails!

by Brian Tuesday, April 08, 2014

I meant to post this photo a long time ago. Just a little tip: trim about 3/4" of plastic off the forward edges of the front seat rails. This will allow you to slide the seat out without taking off the panels that cover the flap tubes. 

Rudder Trim

by Brian Tuesday, April 08, 2014

We recently added rudder trim, which we bought from Aerosport products. Great company and amazing products! I wish we would have gotten this a LONG time ago. For cross country trips it makes flying much more comfortable because we no longer have to hold pressure on one of the rudder pedals or worse, let the airplane lean in some cases. Was easy to install as advertised. We already had a trim tab on the rudder that we could bend manually, but it just never seemed to be perfect in flight because of varying altitudes and speeds I guess. 

I installed it on the under side of the panel right betwixt the pilots legs seen in the photo below as silver. I will probably paint it black and leave the dial as silver eventually. 

Electronic Ignition

by Brian Monday, March 10, 2014

I've wanted to get electronic ignition ever since before we even had the engine. I've been waiting for the P-Mag 6 cyl version to come out for almost 4 years and I finally gave up on it. I'm a little bitter about it. The up side is that we finally did purchase an electronic ignition system (the EFII system) and am about to install it in the next month or so. I'm very excited as it boasts approx 10% power and 10% fuel efficiency improvement. Looking forward to having the extra economy especially for the nice long trips we like to take! I'll post some pictures of the install once I get going on it. In the meantime, it looks something like this but for 6 cylinders. 

Lord Adhesive vs. Weld-On Update

by Brandi Thursday, September 26, 2013

I don't know if you guys remember, but we attached the pilot side door window on our plane with Weld-On and the other windows with Lord Adhesive as a little experiment. Some builders feel that the Weld-On is responsible for the small cracks that form around the window over time. Personally, I was sold on ANY alternative after working with Weld-On for the first time; what a huge mess!  Note that, for all windows, we left the appropriate (and same) size gap around them and then filled in this gap with filler as instructed in the plans.

Flash back to OSH 2012... at around 55 hours, a friend pointed out a "ridge" forming around our Weld-On window. It was pretty nasty looking and would have definitely caused some paint issues if the plane would have been painted already. Since then, this "ridge" has covered more ground around the window but has not really changed in height. Here's a photo of the Weld-On "ridge" when we first discovered it.

Yesterday, our painter, Don, pointed out some cracks around the rear windows and doors in which we had used the Lord Adhesive! Granted, they are NOWHERE near the size of the strange "ridge" that formed on the Weld-On window but, they're still there. We're now at about 270 hours and I've never noticed these cracks before so I don't know how long they've been there. They're pretty small so it isn't something that you'd see on an unpainted plane unless you were, say, prepping the cabin cover for paint. It might not even be something that would have shown up through paint already; I have no experience in this area. Below are photos of the cracks found in the Lord Adhesive rear and door windows, respectively. You can click them to open the full size image and get a better view of the cracks.


I find it very interesting that the cracked areas don't always occur at the edge of the window. A few spots are actually at the cabin cover, on the other side of the gap.

I still think Lord Adhesive is the better option but, it's not the ultimate solution. I'm not sure there is one short of masking the cracks by putting a few layers of glass around the seams. It seems cracks are inevitable when you have two different materials expanding and contracting at different rates.  

Nose wheel shimmy

by Brian Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lately we had been having increasing instances of nose wheel shimmy on landing and suspected the tension needed to be tightened again (since we had already tightened it once after annual). Before we tightened it, we shot a video and I was amazed to see just how much the nose wheel will turn due to prop wash!! The nose wheel stayed in this position for the entire duration of the flight and surely had to impact airspeed. 

I measured the break out force at around 17 or so lbs when I took the fairings off. Tightening it to the next notch in the castle nut put it around 35+ lbs, which is unpleasant to taxi around with due to having to drag the brakes a lot. I decided to drill a new hole through the threaded nose gear so that we could get closer to the vans recommended 26 lbs. Got it around 29 lbs or so and I'm happy with that.

Engine starting - FINALLY figured out!

by Brian Friday, September 13, 2013

I have followed the Lycoming manual to a T for cold engine starts and it has never been satisfactory. Maybe someone will see all this and provide some grand insight and show that I was doing wrong to begin with, but anyways the standard Lycoming way by the book goes something like this: 

  • crack throttle 1/4", mixture full, boost pump 3-6 seconds, mixture cut-off, crank, raise mixture slowly as begins to catch.

Thats what is suppose to happen but what happens at the crank stage is crank crank crank crank crank.. and then I finally stop because its not working. I crank again and then it finally starts, or sometimes a quick boost (1 second), and then it cranks right up. Arggg! I've tried making minor tweaks to this process, but always with the same general approach because its by the book. 


I finally figured out something that works much better with our system, which is two slickstart mags (no impulse coupling) and a slickstart shower of sparks booster. Heres how the new process goes: 

  • throttle 50%, mixture 50%, boost 5 seconds, then crank. It cranks right up and I then immediately reduce throttle to idle. 


Just wanted to share in case anyone else has similar frustration. Comments are welcome.