A week of instrument panel brackets and ribs

This week I spent a lot of time working on the bits that keep the instrument panel in place. I started by drilling the cutoff parts of F-745 left and right ribs to the instrument panel. These will be held in place by screws. Once drilled I made 2 reinforcement angles to support each side of the radio stack.

I noticed that the radio stack wasn’t quite sitting right at the bottom of the panel. I think I was a little too cautious with my CAD design. It was only about 1/16” that needed adjusting so I just filed it away with a hand file.

With that all done it was time to get serious about fitting the instrument panel to the rest of the structure. I started by putting lollipop sticks to help centre the panel.

Minos, a local budding RV builder friend popped over and we both set about aligning, fitting and cutting various bits until the panel and the radio stack fitted nicely. It was scary cutting the sub panel but it needed to be done. In the picture below you can see where the back of the transponder and radio come through the new sub panel cut out.

I also fabricated the lower brackets. I wasted a lot of time looking for the aluminium angle for this. In the end I decided to use a cut off from some scrap as I just couldn’t find the angle anywhere.

I need to attach the cut off ribs the sub panel so I fabricated some aluminium angles that should do the trick nicely.

The last job of the week was taking it all apart to debur, scuff, dimple and countersink ready for priming and painting next week.

These bits need to be painted as they must to be riveted together before I can match drill it to the sub panel.

Started the avionics

It’s finally time to start on the avionics.

It doesn’t matter how many times I checked the manual and my CAD drawings I still wasn’t sure it would fit… until today. I held my breathe as I offered up the equipment to the laser cut holes. They fit, yay!

I also cut off the aft sections of the instrument panel support ribs because the screens will interfere with those. I need to move them inwards and use them to support the centre stack as well as the instrument panel itself.

Next I fettled them slightly so they would fit right up against the cages of the centre equipment while clearing the G3X mounting bracket.

There are no instructions for doing all this. Luckily for me plenty of other builders have documented how they’ve done it, so using a culmination of builders logs and online pictures I’m essentially making all this up as I go along.

Building is fun!

More flap cover work & started seat backs

Carrying on from last week I really wanted to finish off the flap covers. So the first task was to start assembling the flap motor into the support. Once that was fitted I then made sure the motor was at the half way point and then hooked it up to the flap actuator arm.

I then fitted the rear support and the side covers. With that done the flap motor was completely invisible.

Now that the flap covers were all done I started on the seat backs. I’ve been looking forward to making these but I’m not really sure why. Maybe it’s because it’ll mean I can actually sit in the plane?

So I started by locating and gathering all the raw parts that Van’s sent me.

Then it was the usual factory process. Read the drawings, measure carefully and then measure again. Take a short coffee break then measure one last time before match drilling and cleco clamping everyting together.

There are times where I am extremely thankful that I’ve taken just that bit extra time to read through the plans. For example notching these angles so the hinge sits nicely is a step that is very easily missed.

One of the things that these pictures don’t capture is just how difficult it was getting the lateral position right. These seats have to clear the roll bar… but I haven’t made the roll bar and brackets yet so how far will that jut out? I didn’t want the seats too close together either because it can already be a bit of a squeeze in the cockpit but at the same time I didn’t want to have problems shutting the canopy later down the line because the seat was in the way.

But after much research and with the assistance of a friend who has an already flying RV I was able to get the position I think I’ll be happy with.

And voila! The pilots seat get its first trial fit.

And not long after so does the passenger seat.

That’s all for this week folks!

Started aft seat floors, forward tunnel cover & flap covers

The aft seat floors (also known as the ‘bit my butt will rest on’) needs to have the piano hinges fitted to it. I have read a lot about the positioning of these hinges left & right and how they can interfere with the other holes in the seat floor. I decided to start by laying everything out exactly as per the plans. Once I did that I found I didn’t have any issues with the holes or interference.

So, after quadruple checking, I went ahead and drilled the piano hinges to both floor pans. These hinges will allow the seat to pedal distance to be changed for different height people.

Once the prep work on the seat panel was done I started mounting the baggage panel so I could check the alignment of the holes I’d drilled.

Once the panels were installed both sides I decided to work on the tunnel cover next. This cover protects the push/pull tube.

Here is a wide shot of the baggage and aft and forward seat floors in place.

Next I wanted to work on the flap covers so I first installed the flap actuator arm just at the point where the baggage meets the back of the seats. There is a plastic block which supports the bearing that needs drilling and fixing in place.

Ditto on the sides – another plastic block each side for the flap actuator support. The cardboard is there to protect the paintwork during the installation, it’s not permanent.

With the arm in place I set about fabricating the forward cover support tube.

The hinge brackets and mouting plates for the flap motor itself.

And the aft support bracket for the aft support tube.

I like making parts from stock sheet or angle. It always fascinates me how something goes from just a piece of metal to an actual ‘part’.

That’s all for this week.

Washed, primed & painted baggage parts and fitted conduit brackets

I had accumulated quite a pile of parts for the baggage area so this week I decided to get those washed, primed and painted. As it was warm and sunny I decided to wash the parts outside in the sun.

I also primed the new brackets I made to hold the conduit. I riveted the pilot side brackets using blind rivets and then fitted the conduit in place.

I’m really pleased with the outcome. It’s going to make it so much easier to run the wires without having to remove the panels in future.

I know it doesn’t seem like much this week but actually it was quite a lot of hours.

Made brackets to support wiring conduit and drilled bulkheads

So I decided I wanted to put some conduit under the baggage floors to make it easier to run the wires to the rear of the aircraft. However, I didn’t want the conduit just flapping around under there so I needed to dream up some brackets that would hold it in place.

So I set to work on a complex set of drawings using state of the art technology…

Once the drawings were approved and signed off (by me of course!) I set about looking for some metal to make them from. While in the bin I spotted this little beauty – a seat rib that I messed up and ended up replacing. Lucky for me it was almost already perfectly bent and one hole drilled for me. I’ll take that sweet little win.

So with a little bit of metal manipulation I soon had myself some lovely little brackets that were pretty much identical to my original design.

Once I decided on the route for the conduit I removed the seat and baggage floor panels and drilled holes in the bulkheads for the conduit.

I ran out of time to do anything with the brackets this week but I’m super excited to see if they will do the job.

Prepped the baggage panels for paint

After a quick last check of everything it was time to remove all the baggage panels and prep them for paint/primer.

There’s nothing particularly challenging about this other than finding the motivation to scrub, file, sand and debur everything.

These are now ready for painting/priming but as it’s Christmas week that’ll have to wait for another time.

That’s all for this week.

Worked on Baggage blukhead panel and tie down ring storage

Until now the tail cone of the aircraft has been open. Todays job is to prepare the parts that close the tailcone off. The benefit of closing it off is that the baggage area is kept secure and luggage can’t slide all the way back and interfere with the controls or upset the balance of the aircraft.

So first I mounted the large lower panel. It’s blue as it still has it’s blue plastic coating on it.

Before I can fit the upper panel I need to notch it and fabricate some plastic blocks. These blocks hold the seat belt anchor cables in place and protect them from chafing.

Once that was done I was able to fit the upper panel.

Once both panels were fitted I was able to match drill the screw holes. Then I removed both panels so I could drill dimple the bulkhead for nutplates.

Once the dimpling was complete I fitted nutplates into the bulkhead for the screws that hold the panels in place.

Next I decided to install the tie down ring holders. The tie down rings screw into the bottom of the wings and are used to hold the aircraft on the ground in windy conditions. Some choose to leave the rings in the wings permanently so they don’t need these holders. Others just keep the rings in the onboard tool bag. Me? Well I liked the idea of the ring holders because they can double up as lashing points for securing the luggage if I ever needed to.

So I fabricated the holders out of scrap aluminium I had lying around. Quite simple, just cut to size. Drill 3 holes and tap one of those for the ring to screw into.

A grand total of 17 grams of added weight. Not too bad, I’ll tolerate that. The next task was to mount the bracket and screw in the tie down ring.

Here it is test fitted to the aircraft. I’m very pleased with it and still think it’s going to be a useful addition.

A good week making some noticable progress.

Riveted aft aft skin, fitted seat belt anchors, started ADAHRS bracket and floor pans

The build instructions miss out lots of information. I suppose Van’s couldn’t write every little detail or the instructions would be huge. An example of that is when to rivet the top skins on. Looking through the plans it does tell you when NOT to do it but not when it should be rivetted on.

So after lots of deliberation I decided that I could mount the first of the two aft skins without too much consequence. So first I cleco clamped the skin in place.

Then I climbed inside the fuselage to buck the rivets while my dad was on the rivet gun. The smile on my face was soon lost once I tried to get OUT of this space! My goodness that was a challenge!

While inside I decided now would be a good time to permanently fit the seatbelt anchor brackets. So they were bolted in place and torqued to the correct specs.

Next I started the ADAHRS bracket. This is a new part that vans have recently offered. As it’s made by Van’s for this aircraft I figured why not. So I deburred it, clamped it in place and match drilled all the necessary holes as per the OP drawing and instructions.

With a bit more time spare this week I decided to fit the floor pans in place. I’m pretty sure these are all match drilled already from when the fuselage was upside down but I wanted to triple check. Pilot side first.

Then the passenger side. I checked all the holes and sure enough they were all done. I also fitted the baggage side panels and checked those too.

That’s all for this week. It definitely feels good to be back on it.

Fitted static pipework

Wow! It’s been almost 5 months since I last worked on the project. I really need to have a word with myself or this project will never get finished!

To get back into the swing of things I decided to tackle the static system. The static system is a series of tubes that connects to the instruments so they know the outside air pressure and therefore the altitude.

I already decided I was going with the Vans large rivet solution so I practiced setting it 3/4 of the way on some scrap and knocking out the central mandral. It wasn’t that hard but it sure was scarier on the actual plane than on the scrap piece.

But after setting it 3/4 of the way and then giving it a gentle ‘thwack’ with the hammer and a support block behind the skin the mandrel was soon out and a rivet set in place on each side of the plane.

Next I ran some tubing between both rivets and sealed them in place with RTV sealant and a cable tie. Along the top I was worried about chaffing so I reinforced the tubing there with a larger piece of tubing.

The important thing routing the tubing is that none of the it is lower than the rivet otherwise water may collect and block the air pressure.

A close up of the tubing routing and the t-piece that allows the tube to go to the front of the aircraft and ultimately connect to the instruments in the future.

That’s all for this week. I’m definitely going to try and be more regular with the visits to the workshop or I’ll be too old to fly by the time it’s done!

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