Friday, July 31, 2015

34-13 canopy foam

Wow, this page took a long time to get to, but not to finish.  I put the canopy on about 10 days ago.  It was a bit stiff and difficult to close.  It turned out to be impossible to open.  Even with reaching through the open back window and manipulating from the inside, it was impossible to open.  I ended up taking out the attach bolts, and in the process the springs snapped back and broke. (There’s an extensive thread on VAF regarding the fragility of these things, but this was clearly my fault.)

Last night, I finally got the parts (and got around to it) and re-installed the canopy. It was still incredibly difficult to close and open, but this time I was (cleverly) on the inside and was able to get it open again.  It finally hit me why it was so difficult now, but had been quite easy last year when I attached the bubble to the frame.  Recall last month when I had a big problem with the rear bulkhead being out of place due to the roll bar being every so slightly tilted too far aft?  Recall that I cleverly moved the roll bar every so slightly forward?  Duh!  The roll bar was no longer where it had been when I fit the bubble, thus a tremendous amount of interference when I tried to open/close the canopy.

I used a dremel to file off some of the lip on the canopy frame and from the edge of the roll bar.  I only needed to remove about a 32nd, but it made a huge difference.  I also found 2 holes that were missing CS4-4’s, so those got addressed too.  Now that the canopy opens & closes reasonably, I went on to the task at hand.

The forward skin is taped and protected.  The foam blocks are cut, pressed and epoxied into place.  Next:  the dreaded wet layup to make the canopy skirt!


IMG 4550

canopy foam blocks epoxied in place

37-09 sealing Fuel Filler

I just noticed that this page isn’t on the CD-ROM version that I use as my study guide on my computer.  The Book calls for smearing fuel tank sealant on the neck and then installing it on the turtle deck skin.  I wondered how I was going to start the screws if I couldn’t see the holes because of the sealant, so I tried a different technique.  In the photo, you can see how I started the screws into the nut plates.  After taking the photo, I mixed up the sealant and put in a baggie with the corner cut off.  I used this to squirt sealant onto the face of the filler neck, then tightened up the screws.  It wasn’t too bad.  I had to tear off some sealant that squirted past the waxed surface of the inside of the turtle deck, but I made a pretty good seal.  I will probably touch it up with a bit more sealant when I do the rear window.

IMG 4548

37-07 Fuel Filler prep

It’s hard to see, but the mouth of the fuel filler neck is fairly distorted.  I made liberal use of the dead blow hammer to shape the flat disk to match the saddle curvature of the turtle deck skin so that there was a fairly good approximation of the surfaces.  Holes for the nut plates were made using the wonderful 12” x 1/16 drill bit, then enlarged to #40 from the easy access side.  (I had to drill from the back side to get accurate placement.)

 Note that the majority of this page is already done since I purchased a pre-manufactured fuel tank.  It’s kind of a shame that this is the only step worth documenting.

IMG 4540

Fuel Filler Neck prep

33-03 shouler belts, tunnel closure

Today is the first posting that I’ve done in nearly 2 weeks.  For some reason, I had a huge period of demotivation.  I really can’t explain it, other than there’s probably a bit of fear of finishing, a reluctance to tackle re-work, reluctance to start the fiberglass, and a lot of angst about what can I do here at the house and not do at the hanger.  (Oddly enough, one of the things I don’t want to do re: moving is figure out what tools/benches to take to the hanger and which ones to leave at home.)

Anyway, I got back to working on the plane last night and I feel more like my normal self, hence I’m back to posting.  


I didn’t take a picture of the shoulder harnesses, but I was fairly pleased with a method I came up with of making everything look neat.  I tightened up all of the straps and wound the loose ends into a roll and then secured them with tie wraps.  Now the cockpit looks neat and tidy, even with the upholstery not installed. 

Before I put the tunnel cover in place, I finally tackled a job I’ve been putting off for a while:  I needed to reposition the brake lines from the pilot into the tunnel.  The way I had originally run them, they were bulky and wouldn’t line up vertically and thus fit through the tunnel neck.  It wasn’t as messy as I thought it would be, but it still wasn’t fun.  I drained as much fluid from the reservoir as possible before starting.  After they were removed and reposition and re-attached, I then repeated the bleeding process and got a fair amount of air out of the system.  There’s only about 2 or 3 cm of air visible in the brake line over the pilot’s feet, but the brakes feel nice & tight.

For some reason, the tunnel was a bit challenging to get all of the screws started, but I managed to not strip / destroy any nut plates.

IMG 4538

Tunnel Closure

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

connect stabilator cables

I’m not putting a page number on this because several of the key steps will have to be repeated in the hangar (e.g., tweaking the cable lengths to get the stop-to-stop movements to correlate at the stick and at the stabilator itself.)  On the other hand, this was a pretty important step and thus it should be documented.

Recall when I said I had installed the forward portions of the stab cables from the control stick and under the pulley?  I missed the very subtle comment that said “right pulley passes through  the upper hole.”  Well, that comment was on page 32-14 and I routed the cables using “common sense” when I was working on the control assembly about a year ago.  You can tell where this is going, right?

Right.  I got the cables connected using the barrel connector and discovered that the rigging was backwards.  This is a pretty classic mistake to be made during any cable procedure, as there is essentially a 50/50 chance of doing it wrong.  To get to the forward cables required taking off the seat pan, a simple exercise of removing about 40 or 50 screws.  Then I realized I had to remove the cover under the flap handle.  This required removing one of the seat belt loops.  I had just removed & replaced the seat belt because I noticed that I had installed it upside down, now I needed to remove it again.

I pulled the cables and re-threaded them and re-connected them.  Still backwards.  Tried it again, and 3rd time was the charm.  Buttoning everything back up, I discovered that I had overlooked the 23 screws on the forward surface of the seat pan, so it took a bit longer to get things back together than it did to disassemble but eventually I got it all back together and the stabilator still works the way it’s supposed to.  

As mentioned above, I did not do the fine tuning as it will have to be undone to move the plane.  (I don’t think I should try to force the bolts in/out under tension, so I will have to relieve tension with the barrel connectors first.)  Just for fun, I did use my new tensionometer and was pleasantly surprised that I got 30 # and 35 # just by luck.

32-13 attach of rudder, elevator cables


It turned out that attaching the rudder cables was not nearly as difficult to attach as I had been dreading.    I knew that the elevator system required tension on the cables, and I had assumed the same would be true of the rudders.  Not the case at all.  There’s no tension that is required on the rudder cables; it’s all optional because the pilot is applying tension with his feet.  You could theoretically pull a rudder pedal forward.  This will drop all tension in the cable.  It makes it easy to attach the links.

The elevator cables, on the other hand, were a bit more challenging.   Several months ago I had installed the forward elevator cables and the pulley that they pass under.  I passed the cable from the right pulley through the right hole and the left pulley through the left hole.  Today was the day to pull the aft cables and attach them together in the belly of the fuselage.  Again, it was quite the entertaining mission to string something that would pull the cables from the tail bulkhead up to the center, and I needed Nick’s help to get them pulled.

 The picture shows both the H stab and rudder cables bolted in place.  There are paper tags on them documenting that they are (1) not lubricated with bearing grease and (2) not safetied with cotter pins.  This is because I’m going to have to disassemble the tail feathers in order to transport the plane and I see no reason to ruin cotter pins for a temporary installation in the garage.  I’ll leave the tags on them until I re-assemble the plane in the hangar at DLZ.

IMG 4531

attached Rudder & Elevator cables

32-12 Rudder Links

The installation process is kind of interesting.  There are links that are used to accommodate the difference in fore/aft placement of the left vs right rudder pedal horns and also to allow pivoting at the horns..  Measuring and manipulating the links inside the tunnel would be impossible.   They cleverly had me attach the cables at the front, then do all of the measuring and cutting at the tail, then move the newly fabricated links up to the tunnel.  

IMG 4529

Rudder Links

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

32-11 Running rudder cables

Look at the top right corner of the tail cone and you’ll see a nut w/ bolt protruding from the rear bulkhead (and pinned with a surplus long bolt to prevent it from falling back in the fuselage.)  Lots and lots of creative engineering required to get those cables back there after the original strings fell out or broke on the initial pull.  Anyway, at this point, the cables have been strung.


IMG 4527

Rudder Cables strung to rear bulkhead.

42C-10 ADARHS connection

No picture here, since it’s the same photo as the previous post.  BTW, this connection required a special DB9 connector that has minimal steel components, so as not to interfere with the magnetometer in the ADAHRS.  

Of note, you may pay attention to the large curl on the ADS-B antenna.  That needed to be reposition when I started running control cables.  It is now much more neat and to the L of the fuselage. 

31B-21 OAT connect

This picture shows the fruit of my efforts kneeling at the rear bulkhead and reaching into the tail cone to tie wrap the wiring bundle along the Left edge and then up the 1st tail cone bulkhead, thence into the ADAHRS black box.   The accomplishment is plugging in the OAT sensor.


IMG 4523

Wiring, bundled

12-11 Rear Fairing final attach

This is a pretty worthless page.  It basically tells you which screws you needed to use on the preceding page.  BTW, upon fitting the fairing, the next thing I did was take it off so I could work on the rigging.

12-10 Fairing final fitting

Trimming, cutting, sanding, fitting, cursing, repeating.  I’m starting to get the hang of fiberglass work!  This page was actually pretty tough.  There are 12 nut plates arcing around the metal portion of the tail.  I discovered that if you are not perfectly lined up with the nut plate, it’s extremely easy to get cross threaded.  Once cross threaded, you are pretty much screwed.  I sheared two screws and needed to drill out and replace those nut plates, and I damaged one to the point that I knew that I would eventually repeat the cross thread event and would have to replace it... I went ahead and replaced it now.  there are four very shallow indentations in the inner surface of the H stab to provide the required 1/8” clearance over the screw heads.  I also learned that it’s best to just start the 12 perimeter screws, tighten the 8 screws that hold the upper to lower ‘halves’ together, then tighten up the perimeter.  Lastly, the push rod for the AST leans a bit to the right, so I ended up widening the slot to the right to accommodate. 


IMG 4519

Rear Fairing, forward view


IMG 4518

Rear Fairing, aft view







Here’s my post to VAF on 4/14/15:

Join Date: May 2013
Location: Columbus, OH
Posts: 57
Default Check list for Registration

Hi all,

I'm about ready to submit my paperwork to OK City for registration. I called my FSDO and ended up educating the representative that there was such a thing as an E-LSA that is not an E-AB. Needless to say, I'm not entirely confident in his advice on how to proceed. Before I send it off, could someone let me know if this looks OK or not? (sorry about the pun.  )

AC Form 8050-1, Aircraft Registration Request
AC Form 8050-2, Kit Bill of Sale
AC Form 8050-88A, Affidavit of Ownership / LSA Manufacturer's Affidavit
AC Form 8050-110, Confirmation of Reservation of Registration Number
personal check for $5.00 payable to FAA

I am NOT submitting
AC Form 8130-15, LSA Statement of Compliance
AC Form 8130-6, Application for Airworthiness Certificate

Thanks in advance,



No one really committed to any definite comment.  I knew that the guy to talk to in the local FSDO is John Welsh, but he was out of town for a week. I elected to wait for John’s return.

When John called, he was more knowledgeable, but quickly referred me to an 866 number in OK City where I could talk to a technician in the aircraft registration branch.  I only had to wait about 8 min on hold, and was told that “yes” I was doing things correctly.   I sent off the packet on 4/20/15 and will update this when I get the registration or a notice that I didn’t do it correctly. 



  #20   Report Post  

Old May 3, 2015, 12:05 PM
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Columbus, OH
Posts: 59
Question FAA more confused than me?

Good news: only 7 days after mailing in my packet, the FAA wrote back to me.

Bad news: They seem more confused that I am. The letter states: 

"It appears that Van's Aircraft Inc built the described aircraft (per the Form 8050-88 submitted.) If Van's Aircraft Inc is the builder/manufacturer of the aircraft then the bill of sale from Van's to David Hill should show "Aircraft" bill of sale and not "KIT" bill of sale. If this is the case you may draw a single line through "KIT" and show Aircraft."
Since I did build N76012 from kit, then this doesn't sound like the right thing to do.  

The letter doesn't have any alternative action other than to call, which I will do this week. Did anyone have a similar experience? Does anyone have any magic words that I can use to make this go smoothly?



July 5, 2015

I finally received my prized registration postcard in the mail!  It really is a case of the FAA’s motto coming true: “We’re not happy until you’re not happy.”  The insanity appears embodied in the OK City (Registration Branch) policy of processing each day’s mail on a priority basis—as long as everything is perfect.  If an error is discovered, your case gets dropped to “routine” priority, which means about a 4 week backlog at the time of this posting.  Since I had not one, but two, errors in paperwork, I got screwed over pretty well.  At least I had the wisdom to start the registration process about 3 months ahead of completion. 


OK.  Enough bitching.  Here are some good news photos to make this worthwhile.


IMG 4522

Tail Numbers


IMG 4535

Data Plate

 The data plate is protected by a few scraps of duct tape so the clecos don’t mar the surface.  My intent is to obtain my airworthiness certificate and then pull the last two official rivets to affix the data plate and thus render the project an actual airworthy aircraft.  Fingers crossed!


IMG 4537


Ohio Pride!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

12-09 Fairing initial attach

Pretty straightforward work today, which was good because I was pretty tired after working a 15 hour shift then only getting 4 hrs of sleep.  The hardest part was reattaching the h-stab by myself.  It’s currently attached only with the AN4 bolts, as I know that it’s coming off in a few days and putting those washers in is going to be a real challenge.

The fairings were drilled #40, then enlarged to #27 using the modified drill bit.  I didn’t feel comfortable using the modified bit to go through the aluminum.  I put the modified bit in on drill and a regular one on my other drill.  I could go through the fiberglass and then sequenced through with the other drill, then put in the larger cleco.

There is a tiny bit of rubbing of surface screws, so I filed a tiny amount off of the inside of the H-stab.  That will need to be rechecked a few more times to get the 1/8” required clearance.


IMG 4475

Fairing—initial attachment