Friday, June 21, 2013

Metal has been bent; Rivets have been placed

The garage’s transformation into a workshop is 95 % complete, and I finally got into the mental state to actually begin using all of these expensive tools & toys. Two nights ago, I had a bad case of insomnia (from switching from nights to day shift) and finally got out of bed at 3:00 and got started on building the toolbox. One of the things that has been eating at me for over a month is the fact that the toolbox is “supposed” to be made using driven rivets, and I have no rivet gun (nor any desire to have/use one.) I finally came to the realization that the goal of the training kits is to train me to use the techniques that are used in the RV-12, not to train me to be a general purpose sheet metal worker. With that, I decided to simply use pop rivets where ever it was not possible to place squeezed rivets. Viola: a relevant training project. That particular insight came at about 2:00, hence getting out of bed at 3:00 AM and clamping and drilling to put on the side plates of the toolbox.

The next day, Lada & I took a 1 day vacation, but upon my return I worked straight through 4 hours to do all of the rest of the toolbox. I completed it at exactly 5:00, just in time for me to get ready for work.

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I probably won’t be able to get back to the work shop for at least 10 days or so. I’m working 4 straight nights, then flying down to New Orleans for the birth of my first granddaughter. (She has a serious heart defect, so I’m half & half happy and scared to death. Wish us well and think good thoughts for Christine, Andrew and baby Morgan.)

Sunday, June 16, 2013


The garage is definitely becoming a workshop. Most of the major transformation work has been done. I now have a 5x3 table in the middle of the garage that will be the primary assembly area. The only items that are allowed to stay (overnight) on that surface are actual airplane components that are being assembled. Everything else will go back to its storage spot at the end of each work session. The original bench does tend to accumulate loose junk and tools that don’t yet have a permanent home. There is another 5x3’ table that is holding a bench vice, a drill press, a band saw, a belt sander and a grinding wheel. I am awaiting a mobile tool chest that will be the home of the various ‘small tools’ purchased from Cleveland Aircraft Tools. I have hung two storage boxes and distributed ‘tiny tools’ and many consumables (rivets), so those are out of the way. The kit itself has been inventoried down to the level of the sub-kits: I will get those inventories completed on Tuesday the 18th. I have a few more small tools on order from Aircraft Spruce, but those are convenience tools, not required ones, so there’s nothing that is stopping me from going forward. Except fear of screwing up.

Nick spent a few hours with me yesterday and we did some cutting and riveting for the first time.  He seemed to enjoy it, and I certainly enjoyed being his 'dad' for the afternoon. 


Friday, June 7, 2013

empennage kit arrives

The empennage kit arrived today.  The crate had some minor damage, so I took a quick photo as it was being unloaded.  Luckily, the contents were completely intact, without as much as a scratch. 


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Thursday, June 6, 2013


Spent a long (11 hour) day with Rick Grey on Tues the 4th. He taught me the basics of working with aluminum and had me put my hands on metal for the 1st time since a miserable semester of metal shop back in 8th grade. Cutting, deburring and drilling were fine. Installing pop rivets is a no-brainer. Riveting was challenging, as expected. He seems quite sure that I’ve got what it takes, but there were periods of doubt on my part.

During the meantime, I’ve received all of my ‘big tools’ from Home Depot and Harbor Freight—work tables, band saw, drill press, grinding wheel, belt sander and air compressor are all delivered and the garage is now configured to be a decent work area.

UPS has delivered my ‘small tools’ kit (their package of “everything you need for an RV-12”. I’ll look at that tonight when I get home from work.

The empennage kit is due to arrive tomorrow!

I’m still holding myself to a “slow & steady” mode. I’ll inventory the tool kit and do a ‘quick inventory’ of the kit in order to decide how much storage space to buy at Home Depot. I’ll make sure everything is stored in an organized manner before starting.

Before even touching a piece from the kit, I’ll get some scrap sheet Al and repeat some of the lessons Rick gave me. After that, the toolbox and the test project from Vans. Then, and only then, will I touch part of the real kit. More to follow...


Monday, June 3, 2013

Getting Started

OK, so I did it.  I finally committed to building my own airplane.  I’ve been wanting to do this since about 7th grade, if I recall correctly.  

I’m a proud part-owner of a C177RG, N7623V, which is a great cross country IFR machine.  I have to have a valid medical in order to fly her. Since I’ve had a bout of kidney stones, I know that I’m at high risk for future occurrences.  While the FAA did grant me permission to fly again, I don’t know how many times I can expect that kind of beneficence from a government agency such as the FAA.   On the other hand, the RV-12 is a Light Sport Aircraft that is specifically designed for me—an inexperienced builder who is capable of reading directions and wants a cheap-to-fly flitter for Sunday mornings and $100 Hamburgers.  As a Light Sport Aircraft, I won’t need a valid medical to fly it, so this is my retirement airplane.  I’m guessing it will take 3 years to build.  Let’s find out.  

The photo above is my garage, where the RV-12 will take shape.   Cars are moving out of the garage, work tables will be assembled and tools installed and stored.  Stay tuned.....

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