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.

Bend fuselage skins & drill longerons

This week I focused on more fuselage work. The first task was to fit the huge skins to the center fuselage section but to do that the skins needed bending at the aft intersection to follow the contour of the fuselage.

After much research on the net I finally felt confident enough to make a start. I clamped the skin to the workbench and a piece of scrap aluminium. Then I drilled and cleco’d another scrap piece of ali.

Then carefully and methodically I coaxed the skin round to roughly the right shape.

Once it was pretty close I then offered it up to the fuselage and checked. It took several iterations before I was happy with the fit.

Once one side was done I repeated all the above with the other side and then cleco’d the lot to the rest of the fuselage.

Now that was done the next job on this weeks list was to match drill the longerons to the fuselage. Pretty boring stuff and nothing to get too excited over. I simply started at the back of the fuselage and drilled every hole… one… at… a… time!

I decided to stop drilling at the front section because I wanted to get accurate alignment of the longerons. To do that I would need to start building to forward fuselage.

That’s it for this weeks installment.

Working on seats

With the main structure now riveted together and the seats clamped in place, I fitted the baggage floors to the ribs.

Next up was to work the outer ribs into place. This involved fluting the ribs so that they curved to match the outside skin. I then drew a centre line mark for drilling.

With everything in place I carefully started drilling all the holes on the top and sides. I was working alone today so I couldn’t flip it over to drill the underside holes so I improvised!

Using my full face mask I laid on my back and drilled the belly skin to the rib using the centre line I drew earlier as a guide. Worked out pretty well in the end. Lastly I drilled the end holes up to final sizes for rivets and the bolt.

Next on the list was to drill all the seat and baggage floors to the ribs. That was one of the easier jobs on the list. Once the seat and baggage floors were drilled I enlisted the help of my two kids to help me join this section to the rear fuselage. I’ve finally found a use for teenagers!

After what felt like an eternity for the kids (7 minutes for us humans) the two sections were now one and I admired the structure over a well earned coffee. Finally, I fitted the side skins to help keep everything square and to give the whole structure a bit of strength while I’m away from the workshop.

It’s really rewarding to see this structure take shape.

Continued riveting fuselage centre section

This weeks work was split into lots of different sessions working on the same section, riveting the fuselage centre section.

I decided to work in small sections and set small goals, like riveting the ribs to the main (gold) spar first, then working on the centre baggage ribs outward with the seat back spar in place.

Once that was done I cleco’d on all the skin, marked what should NOT be riveted at this stage. That was the centre section skin ready to rivet but there is no way I can rivet this alone.

So I asked my Dad to help. He was on the gun and I was on a wheely mechanics trolley with the bucking bar from the other side. Once again, good communication is key here. He would say ‘On It’ when the gun was in place and then I would say ‘ready’ when the bucking bar was in place. He would then give it a short burst with the gun. That method was taught to me by another builder and works really well when two people are working together.

After a couple of sessions we managed to get the entire skin riveted in place and on the bench upright ready for the next phase. I couldn’t resist popping the seat trays on though to check that everything was square. It was.

Overall, quite a productive and rewarding week.

Crotch Brackets & Seat Ribs

So now the centre fuselage parts are all primed and cured it is time to fit start final assembly of those parts. I started by riveting the nutplates and doublers onto the cutout for the control sticks. This cut out makes it possible to fit and service the control sticks once this area is all fully assembled.

I also decided to top coat the crotch strap brackets with white Plastikoat. This stuff is really hard wearing and given that I expect the straps to rub over time due to vibration I thought it was best to give these parts the best possible coating. I only top coated the visible and wearing parts though to save weight.

Once the top coat was dried I started final assembly of the seat ribs and crotch strap brackets by riveting the brackets to the ribs and then the ribs to the main spar.

That was a good start to the seat ribs. Like various other builders I started with these ribs to make it easier to solid rivet the brackets and to make access to the other ribs easier.

That’s it for this weeks work sessions.

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