Wednesday, December 28, 2016

delivery for painting!

So, what’s the first thing you do when you get your airplane back together?  In my case, I promptly flew it to AV8 Paintworks in Marion (KMNN) and spent 2 hours taking it apart again.  Cowling, spinner, tail cowling, rudder, flaperons, inspection plates—all off.  I got the control cables disconnected for the horizontal stab and Chris (painter, pictured below) commented that he could paint the tail with the Stab in place, so I didn’t have to remove that. (Good news; I was glad because it’s a royal pain to install.  Bad news: i had already disconnected the cables, and will need to pull the bulkhead to re-tension them when I get it back together.)

IMG 5515

Looks like he’s wiping a tear of joy at having a project to work on!


IMG 5517

She’s all taken apart again, but will look better than ever in a few weeks!

1st Annual Condition Inspection

This is somewhat late (and actually post dated).   I finally finished the annual inspection!  I hired Shane, of Shamrock Aviation, to do the engine inspection as he has the professional expertise and tools.  He had a fairly short squawk list that was easy to take care of.  He said that the engine installation looked good, and that I should have a happy relationship with it.  As is the case with darn near every phase of this project, the rest of the inspection took much longer than I anticipated.  You may have read that I have paralysis by analysis when I have too much on my plate at any one time, and this was no exception.  I finally got things in gear and finished up on 12/28/16, nearly 6 weeks after I started.

The only significant find I came across was evidence of a small leak at the fuel cutoff valve.  I was able to tighten the fittings without any trouble, and I think that they were a bit loose as these were the first flared fittings i had ever done.


IMG 5495

fuel leak at shut off valve.


IMG 5496

all taken apart :(


IMG 5498

on sawhorses for wheel checks


I got things buttoned up the week before Christmas.  It was a bit cold and icy on the ramp.  When I applied power to the warmed engine to try to balance the carbs, I started to slide on the ice.  In my fear driven state, I must have really punched the brakes, as the L brake line suddenly went soft and bottomed out.  By the time I had the power back to idle (almost instantaneous) and the ignitions killed (about  1 or 2 eternities later) and the plane stopped without hitting anything, I instinctively must have pumped the L brake 3 or 4 times before I realized what that meant.  Sure enough, got back in the hangar and there’s a puddle of brake fluid dripping on the floor.  It took 2 days to clean that up.  I tried reproducing my Rube Goldberg nozzle & fill system, then borrowed a vacuum brake bleeder that is meant for car systems before I finally borrowed a pressurized brake bleeder system (meant for airplanes) from Shane.  (I try to avoid relying on him for tools and expertise, but since I’m currently one of his top customers with N7623V, he had no problem lending me the brake filler.) 

IMG 5506

blew a brake line!


IMG 5507

missing rivet!

On 12/28, I mechanically balanced the carbs (foregoing the pneumatic sync for now) and returned to the air.  I flew 3 touch & goes, then headed over to Marion to deliver the plane to AV8 Paintworks for painting!



The following Service Bulletins were verified as completed and/or accomplished during kit assembly:  SA 3-17-11 by inspection on 11/20/2014; SB 04-02-01 NA by shipping date, SB 10-03-17 during kit assembly 4/4/15; SB 10-04-28 NA by shipping date; SB 10-12-14 superseded by SB 16-05-23; SB 11-09-13 by inspection 4/17/16; SB 11-12-14 NA by shipping date; SB 12-01-30 NA by shipping date; SB 12-8-09 NA by shipping date; SB 12-09-26 superseded but SB 12-11-09; SB 12-11-09 NA by shipping date; SB 13-02-06 NA by shipping date; SB 13-03-21 informational only; SB 13-04-05 NA by shipping date; SB 13-08-29 NA by shipping date; SB 13-12-12 NA by shipping date; SB 14-01-17 NA (SLSA only); SB 14-07-23 superseded by SB 14-09-10; SB 14-09-10 superseded by SB 14-12-16; SB 14-10-14 superseded by SB 15-03-15; SB 14-11-03 complied with by installation of doubler 6/4/15; SB 14-12-06 complied with by removal and replacement with improved F-1206 bearing bracket brace 6/11/15; SB 14-12-16 complied with by replacement of throttle return springs 4/4/15; SB 15-03-05 complied with by replacing carb floats 4/4/2015; SB 16-04-10 complied with by testing correct wiring of com radio 12/10/2016;SB 16-05-26 complied with by adding “USA” to data plate 12/10/16;


SB 16-04-23 complied with 12/10/16 by inspection with no cracks around/in WD-1230 nose fork, next due 12/31/17;   SB 16-08-01 complied with 12/10/16 by inspection and no looseness found in stabilator bearings, next due 12/31/17; SB 16-08-24 complied with 12/10/16 by inspection with no evidence of loose rivets on engine mount WD-1204, next due on 12/31/17.


I certify that this aircraft has been inspected on 12/28/2016 in accordance with CFR 14 part 43 appendix D and found to be in condition for safe operation.      TTAF 25 hrs, David B. Hill, RLSA 3132802 



Tuesday, December 13, 2016

carbon fiber panel

the same guy who’s going to paint the plane also does a lot of fiberglass and carbon panel work.  I really didn’t like the flat black spray paint job that I did back 2 years ago (1/5/15).  It was flaking badly and just looked like it would get worse.  As part of the annual inspection, I elected to pull the entire panel and deliver it to him for a cosmetic carbon panel overlay.  Getting the engine controls threaded back through the fire wall and onto the engine were the time consuming part of that project, but it does look much better!


IMG 5500

cosmetic carbon fiber overlay on main panel

Friday, December 2, 2016

36-06 Main Wheel Fairings fitted

But that’s not all.   Two weeks ago I took out the entire instrument panel and delivered it to AV8 Paintworks at Marion to have it covered in black carbon fiber.  This is due to the fact that i originally painted it with flat black out of a spray can.  The paint is flaking badly, so I wanted to do something about it.  Since the plane is down for annual (a subject I’ll get back to eventually) I thought it was a good idea to get it done while doing the annual.

November was a crappy month to do anything on the plane.  I had to travel for business and still keep up my full schedule.  Other than getting the panel out and up to Marion, I really didn’t get much done.  Because I’m (tentatively) scheduled to get the plane painted this month (December) I’m pretty agitated about needed to finish the annual and finish the wheel fairings so they can all be painted at the same time.  Unfortunately, when I have multiple conflicting goals—and I don’t feel comfortable with either of them—I have a tendency to fall into the “paralysis by analysis” mode.  That was pretty much all of November.

The day before yesterday, I got to the hangar and made a deliberate decision to get something done.  I chose the wheel fairings.  About 5 hours of cutting and tweaking, I think that I'm over the most difficult part (putting epoxy&flox inside, where I can’t get to it.)

Remember how much I sweated getting those holes lined up?  I even went to the trouble of back-light drilling.  For reasons I can’t explain, but am no longer surprised by, those holes don’t line up when I actually put the fairings on the wheels.  I spent an entertaining hour trying to figure out how to get a light source inside the fairing that had a complete wheel in there.  I ended up taping my phone (with the light turned on) to the tire and attaching the fairing and drilling again.  Since the next step is to use flox/epoxy to build up the inside, I realized that the mixture will fill the slightly offset hole that was laboriously created a few weeks ago.

Anyway, I’m going to finish up the wheel fairings, then continue the annual inspection.  It’s not logical, but it works for me.


IMG 5489

Left Main Wheel Fairing Aft


IMG 5491

Right Main Wheel Fairing

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

36-03 & 36-04 main wheel fairings prep

it’s been so long since I just did a routine ‘page report’ that I almost forgot how.  Anyway, the plane is effectively grounded since I’m at 25 hrs on the Hobbs, so—despite being a beautiful day—I decided to get to work on finishing the plane by doing the wheel pants.  I also have a bit of a deadline as I need them done before we go to get it painted next week.

The current plan is to get the engine inspected on Friday morning and take the instrument panels to the painter in the afternoon.  He will take off the spray paint (that’s already flaking) and do a nice carbon fiber overlay.  I’m out of town next week, so that works well.  While the panels are being done, I’ll start on the annual condition inspection.  That should be signed off in early December.  I have 1 or 2 flights to do to finish the Product Acceptance Procedure which I will do and then deliver the plane to Marion for paint.  After getting it painted and re-assembled, it will be very appropriate to sign it off from phase I!

Anyway, back to the present.

Back in the summer, I had finished sanding the front shells to mate well with the rear shells.  It took much longer than expected, and was surprisingly difficult.  One of my hangar neighbors has a new-to-him RV7 (?) which is gorgeous.  I decided that i may be getting a tad anal about trying to match sand the shells, so I went over and looked at his wheel pants.  They have a bit more gap than I do, and his plane is perfect, so I stopped sanding.

Once again, I read the instructions until I understood them (cue the minor key violins) and proceeded with confidence.  I drilled out the little dimples where the screws will attach the wheel fairing brackets.  Damn.  The dimples only are useful if you happen to have sanded the shells exactly as designed.  See paragraph above.   It took a while to figure out what to do.  I didn’t want to just drill again too close to the holes, so I ended up mixing up some flox and filling in the holes, then overlying that with some fiberglass.  That was about 2 months ago.

Today I finished fitting the shells together with tape and drilling the 9 #40 holes around the ‘equator’ and clecoed in place (from the inside.)  I screwed the wheel fairing attach brackets into the rears, then used a light to shine through the front holes and match drilled them.  Viola! 



IMG 5459

Match drilled Main Wheel Fairing

 With the bright light shining through, you can see the fiberglass repair showing through.  It’s quite invisible without the internal light, much less with paint.

The next page was to mark and cut out the locations that the gear legs will pass through. I laid down masking tape and double checked all measurements before making short work of it with the dremel cutting disc and small sanding drum.  Alas, I ran out of time and didn’t get to proceed to the next page.  Next time!

IMG 5462

Main Wheel Fairing with leg cut outs

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

tempus fugit

my, how time flies when you are having fun flying!  Or, to quote a Virgil via a student of mine, tempus fugit.  

N76012 now has 25 hours on the Hobbs meter.  It has also been a year since my airworthiness certificate was signed, so I have grounded the plane until the 25 hour Rotax inspection and my annual condition inspection are done.  The 25 hr Rotax inspection is pretty much an annual/100 hr inspection according to my local Rotax specialist.  He’s going to help me do that in a few weeks.

I’m pulling the paperwork and organizing the Service Bulletins before I start unscrewing things and just doing random inspection.  In other words, I am making a checklist and to-do list before beginning work.  Stay tuned.

I also identified a new painter at Marion airport, which is only a 10 min flight from Delaware.  He’s just setting up a new business and has agreed to paint the plane sometime in December or January.  I’m learning a fair amount about the painting business in the process. 

Here’s an embarrassing rendition of a color scheme.  I’ve been carrying around a handful of these 2 view drawings for several months.  Now that I have a painter, I’m finally motivated to choose a paint scheme.  I’ve been collecting pictures of RV-12s and went through my folder.  This scheme (originally in blue/white) kept catching my eye.  I had a few minutes at work the other day and grabbed the crayon set we give to keep kids entertained in the ED and just colored it in.  With only 3 crayons to work with, you’ll have to use your imagination.  The red represents a bright candy apple red, the yellow is actually the beige of the upholstery.  Despite the crudeness of the sketch, I’m pretty pleased with it.

As part of the condition inspection, I will pull the panel and and have it covered in carbon fiber.  Get that done, re-installed and finish the inspection, then fly it over to Marion.  I will take off all the control surfaces and he will paint it. (He says in a week or so!). I then will head back and re-install all of the surfaces, re-tension the control cables, etc. and finally put in all of the carpet.  I will then sign the logbook and take her out of Phase I and into Phase II and find my first passenger!

Fullsizeoutput 7c2

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Catching up, and going UP!


  • she’s flying again
  • AoA installed & working
  • Autopilot working
  • Altitude record of 14,000'


It’s been a good month since I’ve posted, but that’s because I’ve been flying (and working, but that’s another story.)

I did eventually get the canopy back on got back into the air on the 19th and did my 1st Cross Country!  DLZ weather was low fog until about 10:30.  Took off into a glorious CAVU.  About half way there, Fayette Co (I23) AWOS reported "300 broken"!   I diverted to London and set up for a landing.  Checked Fayette AWOS again after a touch&go and heard "300 scattered".  From 1000' at London, it looked totally clear towards Fayette with clouds to the east.  I pressed on and never saw a single cloud near me.  Uneventful landing, grabbed the courtesy car & had my meeting at the hospital.  Only fly in the ointment was that I couldn't establish radio contact with Columbus Departure due to too much noise on my transmissions.  The flight back was pretty uneventful and I played with the autopilot.

The stall indicator was inop on preflight, so I looked at it I after I got back to Delaware.  When I lifted the leading edge tab, I no longer heard/felt the microswitch click and deduced that when I pulled the wing I misaligned the switch when it was put into the sling and missed the cutout for the indicator.  It was pretty easy to pull the access panel and reposition the switch.  While I was there, I saw that I had pulled the AoA sensor line off of the little rivet stem that it connects to.  That went back on easily as well, but i’m debating using another fixture that has a longer stem so the line is not so touchy.  I’m glad I found it when I did, as the next flight was to calibrate the AoA system itself.

I went up to calibrate the AoA line and ended up making an altitude record for the plane.  Calibrating the AoA apparentely used to require multiple stalls.  Now, it involves 4 oscilations from +5° to -5°, and then 1 stall.  Piece of cake!  It seemed to track very well after calibration.  I decided to fly to 10K', but just kept going.  I thought about 14,000, but I needed to get home for dinner!   Unfortunately, I neglected to take any pictures.  My bad.

9/19/2016  Installed AoA (lift reserve) indicator using 25’ 1/8” Tygon tubing, blind rivet from Van’s Static Kit, McMaster 5012K114 quick disconnect, Van’s FLF-00008 1/8” push connect.   Flight test this date to calibrate.  System operational.

9-27-16  I had so much fun climbing the other day, that I wanted to do it again.  I was also a bit disappointed when I realized I had not taken a snapshot of the display, so that was just added incentive.  This time, I went for the legal max ceiling of 14,000'.   Winds were also part of the fun.  I checked the winds aloft and was glad I did--winds were ~50 to 60 kts from the west.  Had I not looked, I could have made my climb downwind and spent a long long time getting home!  It's a bit cool, but the heater did fairly well.  Above 10K, the amount of power produced was down quite a bit, and thus there wasn't that much heat to get out of the heater, but it was enough for me.  A passenger would not be as comfortable, as there is no heater on the right side.  Landing at Delaware was a challenge, but fun and certainly doable.  Winds variable 220-270 @ 11 G 21.

(BTW, for those of you who are curious;  total time above 12,500’ was 18 min.  see 14 CFR §91.211(a)(1).)

There are two pictures below—1st one is 13,500’ and in focus.  The 2nd is 14,000’, but blurry.  You pick !   😀

Take a look at the wind vector–60 kts!  Amazingly, it was very smooth above 4000’  I had just a touch of turbulence near the top of the climb, and it was a great flight.   Other fun items of notice:  The autopilot worked great on both axes.  I’m still having trouble figuring out how to have it acquire and hold an altitude, and it doesn’t auto-trim yet, but the navigation modes are easy to use.  I did get the vertical mode to hold airspeed and it did so very well.  You can see the AoA display to the right of the bottom of the airspeed tape.  Two green bars were consistently shown during the climb out; I did not see them move much with altitude, although the pitch of the plane did so.  Initially,I was climbing at 10° above the horizon to maintain the 77 KIAS / 2 Green Bars; you can see that I’m at 5° nose up as I reached my ceiling.  Coolant temps were at the bottom of the green (as mentioned above) and EGT’s do drop with altitude.  I think that the auto-leaning carburetors are running a bit rich at altitude.  I’ll talk with Steve Beaver (local hangar neighbor who appears to know everything, plus is a heck of a nice guy) about that.  He’s the only person I’ve come across who understands the Bing carbs.




IMG 5390

almost there!




IMG 5391


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Step 1: Read directions. Step 2: Follow directions.

OK, this is a just a quick post to remind everybody of the golden rule of building a Van’s aircraft:  If something doesn’t work, then double check everything in the instructions because you’re doing something wrong.

In this case, I assumed since this was  physical drop-in-replacement that all I had to do was drop it in.  Instruction #8, in turn, refers to the elaborate (and I must admit, not the most well written document) which says to load the appropriate configuration file, 12-GPS-2020-PRE-SETS_01-14-16.dfg.  Note that this is not the same as the 12-GPS-250-PRE-SETS_01-14-16.dfg which I have had loaded since last year.  

How did I realize this?  Well, recall that I had determined that the 2020 "wasn’t working", so I took off the canopy and the avionics bay.  I figured out that the old 250 still worked by soldering pins on the cut-off wires and individually putting them in the socket of the Control Module, and it worked perfectly.  I concluded that I had received  a bad 2020.  I ordered a replacement and finally got to the airport.  This time I was smart enough to not undo anything before I had to.  I inserted the plug from the 2nd 2020 and—lo & behold—it didn’t work either. That’s when the light bulb illuminated that I had failed to follow Rule #1 and Rule #2.

Sigh.  Now all I have to do is put the avionics bay cover on and reattach the canopy.



8/31/16:  Removed SV-GPS-250, replaced with SV-GPS-2020 IAW Van’s Notification 16-01-16.
(s) DBHill 3132802 RLSA-I.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

dead SV-GPS-2020

I got a chance to go flying the other night.  Technically, the excuse was that I haven’t been night-current for a long time, but you & I know that it’s just because it’s fun to fly.  I had had a fairly stressful set of days at work, and I just needed the stress relief.

The flight was effortless and smooth, taking off about dusk.  I did accomplish 5 night landings. 

and Alas, not everything was roses.  The left strobe refused to light up.  I think I may have done some damage to the electrical connector when I first attempted to replace the wing after installing the AoA hardware.  I recall the AoA connector being wedged between the electrical connector.  That will be where I start debugging, anyway.

When I had installed the new SV-GPS-2020, I received an error message which I mistakenly attributed to no GPS signal inside the hanger.  Nope.  It was the SkyView trying to tell me that there was no GPS receiver.  In other words, the new one wasn’t working.  Yesterday, I was able to have a friend help me get the canopy off and I opened up the avionics bay.  Unfortunately, the new one is wired correctly.  I got my old one and soldered on new pins (I had cut off the old connector as I don’t have an insertion/extraction tool).  Plugging it into the system resulted in a “no position” error for about 3 minutes, then everything worked fine.

I ordered a replacement today from Van’s, along with the extraction tool.  They will give me a credit when I return the defective new unit.  BTW, I’ll do a temporary test installation of the new unit before I run its cables and install it.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Punch List

There’s a term that I’ve heard recently that refers to a list of minor items found on an inspection—punch list.  This posting addresses my punch list from phase 1 testing.   As you may recall, the airport was closed for nearly a month.  I wasn’t able to get out there very often, but took advantage of as much time as I could to address the items I found.  See below for the log entry of tasks that were actually completed. 

I had misdrilled holes in the main wheel fairings.  After a quick consultation on VAF, I filled the holes with floxed epoxy and then put 2 layers of glass inside the fairing.  I’ll get back to them, eventually.

The painters out in Cadiz OH haven’t contacted me yet, but I’m no longer convinced that it’s worth $13K to paint the plane.  I contacted a local painter who has done several RVs on the field and I (and others) like his work.  He only does 2 planes per year, so I’m waiting for next spring.  He’s saying $6-7K, so I think that’s worth while.  I’m using the $6K ‘saved’ to purchase a new avionics box for the Cardinal.

The fuel tank measurement clearly had an electrical problem.  VAF wisdom suggested that it was a faulty ground.  I happened to be lucky enough to have the gremlin poke its head up while I was working on the autopilot (e.g., I noticed the fuel level suddenly at 1 gal.)  I grabbed a test lead and was able to make the level normalize with grounding and could reproduce the up/down swing by removing/replacing the makeshift ground strap.  I will research the best way to attache a more permanent ground screw into a tank full of gasoline (vapor.)


Logbook entry:

Installed angle-of-attack line using 25’ of nylon tubing, McMaster-Carr Quick-Disconnect Tube Coupling 5012K114, Van’s Static Kit.   Removed SV-1000T per factory recommendations. Unit returned to factory for warranty repair.  Reinstalled in aircraft.  Power up test good.   Removed SV-GPS-200, replaced with rule compliant SV-GPS-2020.  Power up check good.  Flight test pending.   Rewired pitch servo and roll servo.  Power up check detects both servos & auto-updates them to current firmware revision.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

roll servo repaired?

As mentioned before, neither of the autopilot servos were visible to the Dynon system.  I had already discovered a completely incorrect wiring of the pitch servo (under the seat) and was successful at re-wiring it a few weeks ago.  With DLZ closed for July, I started working on minor issues that needed attention, such as the roll servo behind the main bulkhead.  

I discovered at least one wire had pulled out its socket on inspection.  Upon removing the servo itself, another 2 wires were found or were pulled loose as well.  I identified them as being the data channels, so that’s a logical reason for the servo to remain invisible on the networks.  New sockets were applied and the servo was re-installed.  Since the main computer is back at Dynon for repairs, power up testing will have to wait.


IMG 5286


This is just a diagnostic photo of the plane’s side of the wiring harness.  Rather than trying to fit The Book into the back or running back and forth from the belly of the beast and my workbench, I just used this photo to verify that I had the correct pins & locations.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

last flight of the summer! (sort of)

Last flight for a month! KDLZ is shut down as of tomorrow for "25 days" of unneeded runway work on behalf of JEGS, so they can land in wet weather. Well, I can't bitch too much, since it won't do any good. I took advantage of a great summer day to just have more fun. I really like shooting landings in this thing! So far, I haven't had a bad landing yet. That's not skill, that's luck.

Did some landings at DLZ, practiced entering a destination into the nav software and headed up to Marion. There, I had the field to myself and did another "cloverleaf" of Rwys 31, 7, 13 and 25 in order. Winds were 220 @ 8, but not really noticible in the plane. I'm actually looking forward to finding a nice crosswind to work with since I had such good luck a while back. Still having problems with the indicated fuel suddenly dropping to 0, 1 or 2 gals with the attendant verbal warnings.

During the summer shutdown, I'll be tacking that issue as well as a few items on my punch list. Of note, the Dynon 1000T gave me an error message that boiled down to "hard drive failing". Dynon had me send it back for warranty replacement. Good timing! The drive is sent out while the airport is closed. I'm on vacation for a week, but when I get back, I'll work on my punch list and hopefully have the main computer back before flights resume.  

IMG 5170


Sunday, July 10, 2016

glider practice in the RV

more landings, just for fun. There's a definate improvement in my ability to predict float and make more precise touchdowns. right now, it's easy to not worry too much about undershoots, as Rwy 28 has a 500' displaced threshhold due to constuction, so even if I had touched down short of the line, it would be on runway, not an undershoot. As it turned out, I am still floating a bit or hitting the numbers. I had the prop stop again on rollout #5, so I decided to go with it as a concept and renewed my glider mentality. On pattern #6 I shut off the ignitions and slowed to about 65 kts to stop the prop. Ignitions back to ON in case I needed an in-air restart, and then glided to an uneventful landing. As expected, with the prop stopped there was even more float, but now I have an idea of how this plane really does behave in an engine out condition. 

Thursday, June 30, 2016


I pulled up the seat pan and tweaked the pilot’s roll push rod by 1 full turn to straighten up the stick.  Later flight test showed that to work very well.  

Looked at the pitch servo while I was under there and confirmed that there was good power to the servo with the appropriate switches on the panel.  Damn.  That was the easy fix I had been looking for. I pulled the servo and took a closer look, not really knowing what to look for.  Upon closer inspection, I realized that I had had a major brain malfunction when I did the wiring for the plug to the servo. Only the ground and power were in the proper position.  I’m amazed that I didn’t kill anything.  I pulled the wires, ordered replacement sockets and installed them a few days later.  On power up, I had the Dynon go through the system discovery routine and this time the pitch servo was recognized!

I turned off the autopilot and will not try it again until I pull the back panel and check out the pitch servo.  Since I wired them both on the same day, I’m pretty sure I messed that one up, too.

There were some problems installing the updated system software.  I couldn’t get the Dynon to recognize the package from Van’s.  Dynon tech support suggested a freshly reformatted memory stick and their distribution instead of Van’s distribution.  Uploaded just fine, so I’m now flying behind system 14.2.1.

My previous observations with bizarre winds aloft and inaccurate synthetic vision have a poorly calibrated magnetic heading as a common input.  I elected to not debug that any further until the system upgrade was done.  Having accomplished the upgrade, I did one more ground compass calibration and then an air confirmation calibration.   The installation manual wants to see a “quality” figure of at least 70, my unit reported Quality 120.  After that, winds aloft and synthetic vision are now much more believable and accurate, respectively. 

On June 30 (date of this post) I did 4 touch & goes at Marion (runways 31, 25, 13, 07. Great fun!) High approach DLZ 28 and overhead break with 360 to landing. Getting better at anticipating float and touching down nearer to desired spot. 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

gradually pushing out the envelope

This blog kind of died over the last few months. Looking back, I realize that I wrote about each page in my assembly instructions, since each page represented a clear goal.  Now that I’m flying, I have lost that clear framework, so I’m doing something a bit different.  From here forward, I’ll use the blog to document flights and maintenance on the plane.  I’ll spend a few entries getting synched with my personal log book and the aircraft logbook.  I’ll use the blog as my electronic backup to the formal ships log books (airframe, engine & prop.)


IMG 5148

Panoramic view of Ohio, 3500'


Attempted time-to-climb to 10K but had to abort due to high oil temps. Power off stall series; 3 each with no, half and full flaps. Sharp break to the right in all cases. Break speeds in high 30's, mid 30's and low 30's respectively. Good buffet and warning tones prior to breaks. Attempted power on stall, gave up with deck angle > 25 ° and heavy buffeting.

Noted that I was near Port Bucyrus, did some practice landings, including 2 on soft field. Returned to Delaware. Still noting apparant erroneous magnetic heading data, resulting in bizarre winds aloft depictions and mismatch between actual heading and synthetic vision displayed heading. Also had another episode of fuel level suddenly dropping to low (zero) values before eventually returning to normal. 

While at Port Bucyrus, I landed on grass strip 09, turned & departed 27. Landed 27, turned & departed 09. Both sides of grass strip notable for having homes & trees off end of runways, thus needed to make slightly high approach and drop in. This gives long float before touching down.  I had the throttle full back and the engine died during the rollout on one landing.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

36-02 started wheel pants

I’ve been out of town for a few days, but was able get a quick flight in yesterday (in between two really heavy rain showers w/ occasional thunder & lighting.  I really like being able to see the weather and be able to make a quick, but safe, flight to confirm that the avionics really are confused about the heading vs. track.  I’ll have to re-calibarate the compass as my next step.)


IMG 5133

fitted wheel pants

Alas, I didn’t read far enough ahead.  I dutifully fit the halves together, only to discover that the next step is to trim about 1/4” off of each front.  Lots more sanding to do!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

early flights

Did I ever mention that it’s very inconvenient living 40 min away from the airport?  It is.  It greatly limits the amount of time I can spend taking care of the plane.

I’ve made a total of 4 flights.  Mostly just getting a feel how it handles (very well), but I’m still too distracted to do the formal fight maneuvers called out by Van’s.  Don’t worry, i’ll get it done, just not immediately.  I had planned on doing the ‘timed climb to 10,000 ft’ but got distracted trying to get flight following and I was blowing through 4500’ before I realized it.  I abandoned the “timed climb” and just enjoyed making it up to 10,000’ in about 8 mins, still briskly climbing at better that 550 fpm.

The squawk list (so far) is pretty short:

  • pilot’s stick is too far left
  • autopilot servos not recognized by Skyview
  • winds aloft calculations very inaccurate
  • pitot system leaks (probably affects winds aloft)
  • weeping from front of fuel tank when > 15 gal

I still have some things to do (not squawks)

  • install Angle of Attack probe
  • install wheel pants
  • install weather stripping

and some things I might do

  • glare shield
  • stabilator tips

and one thing that needs to be done

  • get plane painted in August or September


talk to you soon.

Monday, April 25, 2016

First Flight!

Today was the day!  (well, yesterday.)

After much wringing of hands and double checking and running inspection checklists, I finally committed to actually flying.  I had a support & photography staff of 3: best friend Dale and his wife, Carol, and Dave R, whom I met when he started his own RV-12.   (My wife wanted to know about the flight after the fact.)

Overall, the flight went almost exactly as planned, and with no unexpected findings or upsets.   I made one more high speed taxi test, actually on runway 28.  I used full throttle for the first time to verify that full torque did not produce unmanageable behavior.  Taxied back to 28 (and then back-taxi to reach the actual departure end, since there’s construction in progress) then took off with 0° flaps.    Climb was positive and smooth, at well over 700 fps at about 75-80 kts.   Airspeed and groundspeed agreed as expected, but quickly diverged at altitude, with a much stronger than expected wind from the south. (I’m not sure if that’s real or an artifact of a poorly calibrated airspeed.  The wind vector was pretty constant as I circled (15-18 from South), so it might have been real, but it’s still something to keep an eye on.)

I initially thought I had a heavy left wing, but it was actually very very well balanced in roll.  I think the stick is a touch left-of-center when the plane is straight and level.  If so, that shouldn’t be too hard to correct when I do the 1st inspection that calls for removing the seat pan to get at the linkages down there.

The over-the-nose visibility is excellent, even compared to the Cardinal (which has pretty good visibility of its own.) As a result, I had a tendency to hold too much nose up and I climbed well above my initial intention (quite arbitrary) of 4000’ and eventually ended up at 6000’.   Turning response was smooth in both left & right.  The electronic ‘ball’ was relatively insensitive, but quite usable.  This was the 3rd time (1st two were in DG’s RV-12) that I was flying behind all glass, and I could tell that it would be some time before it was 2nd nature.  Luckily, this is a plane that is all about keeping your eyes out of the cockpit and looking out side and flying by the seat of your pants.

Descent to pattern altitude was unremarkable from an airframe perspective, but I did note the infamous throttle creeping behavior associated with the springs in the carburetors.  Even with the friction lock fully tightened, the throttle can easily be turned using the vernier mechanism.  I think that the vernier ‘creeps’ due to the engine vibration and the springs.

I made a low pass over 28 and then executed a balked landing in order to get a feel for the pitch changes associated with that maneuver.  There weren’t any.  OK, now if I need to abort a landing, I’ll have done one before.  Set up for another circuit, and made one of the nicest landings I could ask for.  The idle stops are set a tad too high, and I couldn’t get less than 2500 RPM (1000 prop RPM) on approach, and that led to a long, long float before she touched down.  (I will have to set the idles back far enough that the engine probably won’t run on the main carbs when cold, but that’s exactly what the choke circuits are for.)

Taxied back to the hangar, got pats on the back from my friends, and buttoned up the hangar.  I didn’t write down any of the numbers on the flight card out of the Product Acceptance Procedure.  I’ll download the black-box data next week (next opportunity to get to the airport) and fill in as much as I can, and then do a very thorough post-flight inspection.

IMG 0007
ready to start

IMG 0015
taxiing out

IMG 0021
perfect day!

video, courtesy of Dave Rohrlick 

IMG 0025
RV Grin!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

the "Golden Spike"

(Well, it’s some aluminum plates to be honest, but you get the idea.)

There’s nothing left to do.  Fuel tank is fixed.  Engine is sync’ed. Cables are tight.  Paperwork is in order. Prop is pitched.  Tonight’s task was to put all of the loose pieces back on the plane to make it actually airworthy.  It took about 2 hours.  The lower cowling is ‘tight’ after the engine remove/re-install, but I got it back on without any cussing or drilling.  Upholstery went well in front and in the mid section, but I discovered that you can’t get the upper bulkhead cover back on without removing the fuel tank.  Not today!  I’ll leave all of the carpet out of the back for now.

The ‘blue flower’ you see below represent the last items to be installed to make the plane “complete”.  Yes, there are still things to do (wheel pants, AoA sensor, etc.), but these 5 access panel covers are the last items out of The Book that need to be installed.   It was with great pleasure I removed the final bits of blue plastic and went to work.


IMG 5041

the last pieces to install 


Here’s a selfie of me installing the last access plate.  (Phone is sitting on my chest, activated w 3 sec delay from my watch).

IMG 5042

 Installing the last part


IMG 5072

All done.  Only thing left to do is go fly.

Leaks sealed (i think)

I called Van’s the other day and went through my options.  They were happy to do warranty work, but I didn’t want to spend the time to ship the tank to them, wait for them to repair it, ship it back, etc.   Not to mention the shipping costs.  They did send me 3 oz of Pro Seal, which I used last Thursday.  I elected to remove the face plate, rather that drill out all of the rivets for the top again.  Although I did OK the first time, I’m very cautious about drilling rivets—there are always some that get oversized holes and that’s just an opportunity for even more leaks.   The front piece is screwed on and is designed for maintenance, so that’s the way I went in.

While I was on the phone with Van’s, I was asked about the serial number.  I said ‘none’, but when I was removing the face plate, I realized that there was a number engraved on the front:  “385B 13/09”.   I’ll have that ready for tech support if I need to call them again.

IMG 5034


It was a bit challenging to get to the back of the tank, but I got the majority of the old sealant out of the inside of the corner.  I do note that there are no scuff marks as called out by the assembly instructions.  That was addressed with a straight wire brush on a dremel extension.  Inside corner got gooped; face plate got gooped and tightened, then the outside corner was scraped, sanded and cooped.

I didn’t get nearly as much of a bead of sealant around the plate (compared to the factory seal) when I reattached it.  I’ll watch it carefully, as that’s all I can do.   The tank was cured for 36 hours at 85 °F (guest bathroom with a space heater).  During the meantime, I looked up the technical data sheet for the stuff and was greatly relieved to see that it’s officially ‘cured’ at 4 hours (although the testing is done after 14 days at 77 °F and 50 % RH.  Go fig.)

Tank was reinstalled (30 min), plane refueled with 8 gal.  No visible leaks.

Ready to roll....

Sunday, April 17, 2016

3rd Leak!

Now, I’m really annoyed.   Here’s what the tank looked like after I pried off the top (before I cleaned up all of the debris of cured ProSeal.)

IMG 5027

 inside of fuel tank

I sealed up the left lower front corner and the right upper front corner from inside & outside.  I resealed the top.  I took it home and put in in a small bathroom with a space heater to keep temps above 80 °F x 48 hrs to help accelerate curing.  I took it back to the shop and filled it to overflowing with gas.  There was a much slower residual leak at the right upper front which I then re-applied external PS.)

OK, now everything is looking good.  Tank gets drained again, re-installed again. Tank gets filled, didn’t see any leaks.  Spent a few hours doing taxi tests, ,tweaked carbs’ sync, did a static run up (5300 RPM), did brake tests, and aligned the digital compass.  (Also discovered that the heater door doesn’t close all the way.  Very effective heater, especially in a 75 °F day!)   All in all, it was  great progress.  I seriously considered 1st flight the next day.

IMG 5028

misc engine tests

Today, I opened the hangar to discover fuel on the floor!  Sure enough, there’s gas on the inside of the plane.  Last time, I was very fast to defuel the plane to stop the draining.  Today,  I took 5 min to really see if I could find the source. As I recalled—and confirmed today—the leak appears to be left (medial) rear lower corner since there was gas on the inside of the baggage compartment, plus a bead of gas running down the left lower edge, thence to the outside of the fuel feed / fuel return and  a mess all over the inside belly skins.  Upon tank removal, there was no gas staining on the right (outboard) side at all.

Now I’m stumped.  A full fill test x 2 hrs showed no leaks.  I know I triple checked the left lower rear corner because I suspected that was the source when I pulled it last week.  The only thing that came into my brain was “what’s the difference between being in the plane vs. on the bench?”  The answer is “mounting.”  In the plane, the tank is suspended by 3 bolts (1 AN4 at the back; 2 modified AN3’s in the front.)  This puts the floor of the tank in tension.   On the bench, the weight of the tank is pressing down on the floor, so the floor is in compression.

I rigged up a quick suspension cradle with some light chain and a few bolts.

IMG 5032

gas tank suspended to emulate in situ mounting 


Viola!  After 7 gals of gas were added, there’s a clear leak, right where I expected:  left rear lower corner.

IMG 5031

leak #3  at left rear lower corner

Now, what to do?  I’ll call Van’s in the morning to discuss getting a new tank.  With 3 leaks, I really don’t feel I can trust this one.  On the other hand, I want to get airborne as quickly as possible.  I suppose I can remove the face plate of the tank and reach back there to clean and re Pro-Seal from the inside as well as the outside and hope for the best.  (The extra time to do that doesn’t bother me, since there’s a 48 hr cure time.)  On the other hand, if Van’s will swap me a tank quickly (unlikely, as I don’t think they have any stocked), that would be great.  I’ll find out tomorrow.


Saturday, April 9, 2016

not one, but 2 leaks!


I pulled the tank yesterday (I’m embarrassed to say that I’m getting pretty good at it) and started hunting the leak.  I recall seeing fuel all along the medial (left) lower edge of the tank and that it was running down/forward along that edge from the rear to the front.  That made me suspect that I would find a leak somewhere near the back.

I rigged up the ballon and bicycle pump as per chapter 37, but was unable to find any leak.  I know that pressure was escaping, as the little ballon became slightly inflated, but then deflated in about 5-10 seconds.  Despite that, I couldn’t even find where air was escaping.  (I suspect the fuel cap.  Despite plugging the vent hole by tapping it 4-40 and filling it with a locktite covered screw, I just don’t think that the fuel cap itself is air tight.  Even with duct tape.)

Moving into a more aggressive mode, I capped the main outlet and proceeded to fill the tank to nearly full;  Viola!  Not one, but two leaks.   They are no where near the magnitude required to have created the mess I found last weekend.  I will have to chalk that up to an inadequately tightened main fuel line fitting and will double & triple check that stage when I get there again.  During the meantime, I have two small leaks to deal with.


IMG 5023

Fuel leak: lower left forward corner


IMG 5025

 Fuel leak:  upper right forward corner

I’m firing off a “how do I fix this” question to VAF and will proceed with the advice of the collective.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

fuel tank leaking

Damn.  I’m really getting tired of these setbacks.  Yesterday was a pretty good day for forward progress.  I bought 18 gal of premium mogas and went through the fuel calibration procedure (putting the rear wheels on 2” chocks to emulate normal flight attitude, telling the Dynon each time I added 2 gal). There was a little bit of spilling, enough so that the odor of gas was to be expected.

Today, I went out to check for leaks and found much more than I was expecting.  Based on the float gauge, maybe a gallon or two leaked out overnight.  Looking up at the main fuel connection, I found that the fuel was coming from above that spot.  Climbing up into the plane itself revealed a touch more information: there was about 1/2 cm of fuel wicking along the medial lower edge of the tank, thus implying that the leak may be on the rear medial seam.  I didn’t do much trouble shooting beyond that, so further investigations will need to wait until next weekend.

I put the nose wheel on a 2” block to make room for the large 7.5 gal transfer cans and removed the valve from the gascolator and used the pump to drain the tank as well as possible.  (Learning from yesterday, I paused near the end and put the rear wheels on blocks to get a bit more drainage from the tank.)

I’ll have to remove the tank (again!) and figure out where the leak is next weekend.  

Friday, April 1, 2016

split bulkhead modification; flight training

The fuel tank is empty, and I want to fill it up when I do add gas (to calibrate the EFIS).  The urge to take advantage of the currently empty state was too much to resist, so I pulled the tank yesterday in order to install the split bulkhead modification released by Van’s last fall.  (Ironically, they released the mod about a week after I gave up waiting for it and installed the tank and closed up the tail.)  It actually wasn’t as hard as I remembered: I thought to myself, “I must be getting better at this.”  I can confirm:  I had to pull it again today. 

Page 33-03 rev 2 starts out by calling out dimpling of all of the #40 holes in the smaller piece.  Unfortunately, the piece that I received had not been drilled.  I decided to just use the large piece as a template and drill my own.  Unfortunately, I didn’t think it all the way through.  I lined up the outside edges of the pieces as my reference, neglecting the fact that there were predrilled holes along the left edge (in the picture) where the small piece attaches to the aircraft.  I was so proud of my accomplishment that I installed the tank (and all associated plumbing) before I went to attach the large piece, only to discover that the custom holes that I had drilled were off by about 1/8”.

I removed the tank (again) and pulled out the offending piece and prepared to order a replacement from Van’s.  I then realized that I could salvage the situation by taking the now-surplus original bulkhead and cutting out a replacement small piece.  To ensure a better alignment, I took the new small piece and the large piece and attached them to the airframe and went to drill in situ.  The next minor set back was that there wasn’t a back stop to hold the work in place so the drill bit could bite.  I had to reach behind the large piece and hold the small one with my hand while I drilled. This introduced a touch of distortion, but I was able to make it all work.

BTW, I picked up crow’s feet wrenches a few weeks ago.  Should have done so last year!  They make installing the fuel / fuel return fittings much, much easier!


IMG 5004

New split bulkhead


IMG 5005

Split bulkhead with tank installed 


The Product Acceptance Procedure has a nice write up on how to approach Maiden Flight.  One of the pieces of advice was to get some upset recovery training in a similar sized / powered aircraft.  On a whim, I called the local FBO and got a lesson in this Evector LSA.  Today was pretty windy, and I actually felt pretty queasy by the time I was done.  i’ll definitely get another hour or so in the Evector before Maiden Flight.  (I’m tentatively looking at 4/16!)


IMG 5007

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Guess who's got a new home?

Little detour on my way to being airborne.  I’m working my way through the Production Acceptance Procedures and debugging some loose wiring of the EGT probes.  I also attended a nice lecture by the local EAA chapter which was held at the “condo” hangers at DLZ.  Just for fun, I dropped a line to inquire as to the actual cost of said hangars, expecting to get confirmation of the ~$100K that local wisdom had dispensed.  Instead, I was pleased to find that $45K was the actual asking price.   I did spend a day trying to fit both 7623V and 76012 into a slightly larger hangar, but that simply wasn’t practical.

I did end up buying H-11 yesterday and spent the day moving the plane and all misc stuff from the old, drafty, cold, dark hangar that I rented over the winter and into the new (well, about 10 yr old), bright, insulated, heated hangar that I have to call my own.   BTW, in the photo below, the lights are not even turned on.  It’s amazing how much of an increased in perceived brightness is achieved with light colored (in this case, insulated) walls.

Today I finished up unpacking, finally got solid connections on the EGT probes and knocked out a couple of pages of the PAP.  The fuel tank was removed to make way for the split bulkhead upgrade.  Tomorrow, I hope to finish the bulkhead, reinstall the fuel tank, fill & calibrate the tank and resume the pneumatic balancing of the carburetors at full throttle.   

With luck, first flight will be in 2 weeks.


IMG 5002

N76012 in H-11

Saturday, March 12, 2016

miscellaneous updates

Well,  I got the plane over to Shamrock Air and had the carbs mechanically synched again.  Here’s a nice picture of Shane at the controls while we tried to figure out why I couldn’t get it to run the previous day.  (Water in the fuel system probably had much to do with it.)

IMG 4979

Shane, of Shamrock Air, preparing for a start


I’ve decided to move out of C-1 into one of the “condo hangars” on the west side of the ramp.  (More to follow as that deal progresses.)  They have two hangar sizes available, so I tried a hair-brained idea of seeing if both planes would fit into the larger size.  Technically, the answer is “yes”, but practically speaking, it’s “no.”  You can see both of the planes wedged into the 48’ hangar, but backing the 12 into the corner is very, very tricky.  The slightest movement of the nose causes very wide swings of the tail, greatly endangering the tail feathers against that outside corner.  Moving the Cardinal in requires a curved arc to get its tail feathers around the nose of the 12.  Even with Dale and the seller acting as spotters, it was very hard to ensure not hitting something.  All in all, it’s not worth the risk.  For now, 23V will continue to live in F-10.

IMG 4981

two birds in one hangar

Flap Handle Spring Modification

I shortened the spring by the 1/2” as called out by Notification 2015-10-01.  It’s much nicer to activate now and the spring no longer pushes the ‘button’ just out of the lip of the handle itself.  That, in turn, eliminates a prime finger pinching opportunity!  No pictures to post.   I’ll make a few more modifications that have been approved by Van’s as we get ready for flight test. 

Product Acceptance Procedures

I’ve returned to performing the product acceptance procedure.  It’s slightly tedious,  but rewarding to be making forward progress again.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

back to where we were


IMG 4972

Back to engine testing

Well, at long last, as this winter comes to an end, I’m back to where we were in November when the broken bolt was discovered.  The engine has been re-attached and all of the various systems reconnected.  (Well, the R EGT is open and that’s a minor squawk for further workup.)  Coolant isn’t leaking on the ground.  Oil was replenished and purged.  New gas is in the tank and the battery was topped off with the battery tender.

The oil purge procedure was a bit interesting and I do think I had a good “Macgyver moment.”   I used a rubber  hose to connect the air compressor to the oil drain line to provide pressure (5 to 8 psi).  In order to see the oil pressure gauge, I used misc stuff in the hangar to set my iPhone in front of the panel and remoted the image to my Apple Watch.  Although small, it was enough for me to be able to see the oil pressure increase as I swung the prop through about 20 revolutions.  I recorded the peak pressure (32 psi; green) as my souvenir.


IMG 4971engine oil purge


It was finally time to try to fire it up.  Alas, the engine starts easily but does not run for more than 5 seconds.  When Paul (A&P working for Shane) was working on carb sync last November, we were to the point where the engine ran very rough and was not staying running well, so I am concluding we are back to where we left off.

Side Note

I’m ready to move out of C-1 and upgrade.  I’m in negotiation for either H-11 or G-8, which are very nice hangars with insulation, lots of electrical power, internet and heat!  H-11 would be a very nice place for either the Cardinal or the RV12, but G-8 might be large enough (48’) to hold both.  If so, I’ll buy that larger unit and have both planes in one hangar.  If not, I’ll probably relocate the RV12 to Bolton Field (KTZR) and the Cardinal into H-11 and swap locations when I need to use the heated hangar (e.g., annual inspections, etc.)  More to follow.


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

moving forward again!

December brought a halt to any work on the plane due to vacation and general scheduling issues.  I have this week off and spent yesterday at Shamrock Aviation, watching / learning / helping do major surgery on the engine.  Recall from a previous post, that Shane (proprietor of Shamrock Aviation) is rated Heavy Maintenance on the Rotax 912 and thus is able to do the work locally.  This was the 1st major piece of good news regarding this busted bolt, as I feared that I would have had to ship the engine to Wisconsin or Florida or some such.  Having Shane here is a tremendous asset!


IMG 4849

Major surgery on the engine.

The back cover was removed, along with the L carburetor to gain better access to bolts.  The starter was removed.  A pin was inserted through a magic hole that permitted the crankshaft to be locked in place. A 7’ breaker bar was needed to unseat the bolt that held on the flywheel.  The flywheel was removed, finally showing the rear section of the engine (accessory case?) without obstacles.  Note that the mount is still in place.  To remove the mount would require removing all of the cooling system and ignition systems, but this was deemed not needed (although having the mount out of the way would have been convenient!)  The accessory case (that’s what I’m calling it here: correct me if you know a better term) was broken loose (RTV sealant held it to the main case) and—finally—the Offending Bolt was revealed.

IMG 4851

The Offending Bolt

The offending bolt is seen at about 6:30 in this image.  We debated just grabbing it with vice grips, but Shane elected a more nuanced approach.  A metric nut was threaded onto the exposed threads.  Rather than risking any heat damage with welding, a more traditional approach of drilling and using a screw extractor was selected.  The nut was there to keep the drill from wandering too much and/or weakening the bolt and having it fail radially.  It came out without a hitch.  (Unfortunately, I had to leave the hanger for this particular maneuver, thus I don’t have  picture of the actual removal.)


IMG 4854

Engine back on Airframe

Three hours later, the engine was re-assembled, trundled out of Shamrock Aviation’s nice heated hanger and back to the relatively hostile environment of C-1, and hung back on the airframe.   I’m taking today off from playing in the hanger, but hope to return tomorrow & Thursday to start reattaching all of the various systems to the engine.  I will also take advantage of the exposed nature of the beast to install a Reiff engine/oil heater system to pre-heat things on these cold winter days.