Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Wheel pants! Finally!

Hey, guess what?  I finally got wheel pants on the plane, and now I can say that the plane is complete!  Recall the minor fiasco where my pants got swapped with my next-door-neighbor’s when they were both at the same paint shop?   Rather than having them (both sets) stripped and repainted, I just hired Joe (local A&P and fiberglass wizard) to trim & fit the pants in my colors onto my plane.  

I got to get out of the office and go fly yesterday and was pleasantly surprised to find them installed and ready to go.   I’m waiting for Joe to let me know how much I owe him, but I really don’t care. I’m not a good fiberglass worker, and these things have been a thorn in my side for a long time, so now I’m just glad they’re done. 

By the way, I did pick up the predicted 6 kt in level flight (114 KIAS, 3000’, 3°C, 5400 RPM)


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The plane is complete!

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All three wheel pants!




Friday, September 29, 2017

trouble with wheel pants

I finally got the wheel pants back from the painter.  He does good work, but not quickly.  Unfortunately, I found a serious problem.  Take a look at these, and compare them to the image below (Nov 2016).  If you look at the cutouts, you can tell that these are not the same fairings.  It turns out that my next-hangar neighbor had his RV-14 painted just after my 12 was done.  Recall that my wheel pants were turned in for painting after the plane itself.  It also turns out that since the wheels are the same size, so are the fairings.  This means that both of our wheel pants were in the shop at the same time and—you guessed it—were painted the wrong colors and delivered to the wrong customer.

Steve (said neighbor) had Joe S (local A&P and fiberglass wizard) do the installation of the pants on the RV-14, so Joe didn’t realize that they weren’t what was already fit into place, he just fit my pants (painted white) onto Steve’s RV-14.

Chris said that the only thing to do was repaint both sets to be correct, and that’s what I thought had been going on for the last 3 weeks or so.  Not.  I ran into Steve a few days ago and my white pants are still on his RV-14.  I just decided to hire Joe to re-fit Steve’s pants (painted in my colors) onto my RV-12 and be done with it.  I’ll present the bill to Chris and see if he’ll pick it up (at least partially).  I just want the damn things on my plane so I can be finally finished with them.


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Steve’s wheel pants in my colors


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my original wheel pants (now on Steve’s plane)

Saturday, August 26, 2017


My son-in-law, Travis, joined me for a lunch trip to Butler.  Here, he’s flying back to Delaware and enjoying being a pilot!


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Thursday, August 17, 2017

H-10 joins H-11

not strictly on topic of the RV-12, here’s one of the things that I’ve been waiting for for several months.  The door is finally installed between the two hangars, allowing me the luxury of the most space of anyone on the airport (other than the group sharing the joint H1-H2 complex).  It took several rounds of negotiation with FulFab, the company that designed & built the hangars, but we finally had a joint date that worked for both of us. 



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Installing upper girt


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cutting through the wall


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From H-11 into H-10


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From H-10 looking into H-11

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Front Fairing, installed

Guess what?  Not even this step is without hassle.  Note the front strut is still naked.  You can’t put on the strut fairing after you put on the wheel fairing, so I had to undo / redo this step, too.


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More work on the front fairing.  Ironically, at the time of this posting (9/29/17) I’ve already purchased the upgraded front wheel fork and associated modification hardware for this wheel fairing.  This has got to be one of the more frustrating parts of the plane.  I just really don’t like working with fiberglass, and it appears that it doesn’t like working with me.


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Walter is a friend of mine who has been flying Cardinals and LSA’s.  He’s been following my RV progress and finally had his patience rewarded.  We had a nice flight and just enjoyed the scenery and generally wonderful flight characteristics of the -12.


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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

36-09 Front Wheel Front Fairing

Well, this is dated 5/31/17, but I’m actually posting it in late September.  (I really haven’t had time to keep up with things.).  Not much detail to put on the page this many months after completion, but I finally finished another laborious chapter on the gear fairings.

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Nose Wheel Fairing Front

36-12 Front Strut Fairing

This piece is one of the few that is not done by The Book.  The Book calls for a hidden piano hinge inside the trailing edge.  I had significant difficulty getting this to align and work properly.  I eventually discarded this and just went with the natural rigidity of the fiberglass and the excellent form-fit it has relative to the front strut.  There are two screws that hold it in place and I believe that this is more than adequate retention.  

Alas, I got a bit too confident with the process of drilling and tapping the holes for said screws and discovered that it indeed possible to break off a tap.  I used a dremel grinding drum to dress off the broken fragments sticking out, drove to the local hardware store for a replacement and was more careful putting in another tapped hole 1 cm away.  The two screws aren’t exactly aligned, and that bothers my eye, but it serves as a good reminder of how to be a careful builder.


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Monday, May 15, 2017

flying with Nick, finally!

Another first!   Nicholas and I spent a great day doing guy stuff.  Started out at the local firing range and went through about 300 rounds of 9 mm and 223.  Lada said it was OK to take Nicholas flying, so we headed over to Urbana for a nice Sunday afternoon lunch.  For those of you who are familiar with the restaurant at Urbana, you know what I’m going to say next:  they’re closed on Sunday afternoon.

Oh, well.  Back in the plane and on our way home to try something else!  Here’s Nick climbing out of Urbana.  He’s doing very well for his first flight on the controls!


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Nick, piloting on a beautiful day!


One of the ‘Hey, wow!” moments came when he realized he could recognize things on the ground.  For example, this is his old middle school when he lived in Marysville.  I think that the excitement in his voice when he made the identification was wonderful.  I hope that he will spend more time in the air with me.

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

slightly unrelated....

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On an slightly unrelated note, I’d like to show you the new home of N7623V. I have a gentleman’s agreement to purchase hangar H-10. The two hangars share a common wall, and it should be possible to either remove the wall outright, or at least cut a door into it. Voila! A double hangar that will let me enjoy having both planes in the ‘same’ space. Common access to tools, lights, heat—Wonderful!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

First Fly-in


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180° view from the end of Butler’s grass strip

There’s a group of mostly RV flyers here at Delaware Airport, who fly out to breakfast most Sundays.  On 4/23, I finally was able to get my butt out of bed early enough to join them.  Well, actually, I didn’t go to bed that night and was able to join them.  I flew to work on Saturday 22, and flew directly from work (Fayette Co) I23 to breakfast at Butler, a grass strip that doesn’t even have an FAA designation.

I wish I had some inflight pictures, as the day was simply wonderful for flying.  A great, crisp spring morning with outstanding visibility and not a cloud in the sky.  I found the grass strip, made a nice pattern and just grazed the grass and rolled all the way to the end.  I was a few minutes late getting to the restaurant in town, but had a great breakfast and enjoyed meeting the gang.  We all walked back, and had an equally nice flight back home.


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fellow RV8er taxiing for departure

BL is one of my mentors, and was the first EAA Tech Inspector to look at 012 during it’s early stages of assembly.  Here, he’s in the process of taxiing out for departure from Butler in his RV-10.


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180° panorama of the view on the way back to DLZ


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Phase II

Logbook Entry:

“I certify that the prescribed flight test hours have been completed and the aircraft is controllable throughout its normal range of speeds and throughout all maneuvers to be executed, has no hazardous operating characteristics or design features, and is safe for operation.  The flight tests were completed under the following conditions: typical operating weight, maximum demonstrated airspeed, minimum demonstrated airspeed, and center of gravity range.




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Capt Hill with first passenger and co-pilot. Great flight. Thx


The gentleman on the right, who took and captioned the picture, is my new partner in N7623V, Ed.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Done!  Chris & I spent about 4 hours putting everything back together.  She’s beautiful!
Logbook entry:
Aircraft painted by Chris Calovini of AV8 Paintworks at KMNN using BASF Limco Single Stage paint system, paint codes RED016, GRY012, BLK002.
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Chris doing final polish of the canopy. 
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All put back together 

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At Home

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Back in its own hangar

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Nearly there



I know, you’ve heard that before.   I’ve been saying “real soon now” for a while, but I’m pretty hopeful that I’ll get not only my RV back next week, but also my Cardinal.

The current plan is for me to finish my work weeks from hell (15 shifts in 16 days) on Tuesday around 12:30.  It’s a 90 min drive to DLZ where I’ll stop and look at the Cardinal, pick up my bill and any tools that I think of from the hangar.  Drive up to MNN, hopefully by 3:00. Meet with Chris and admire the paint, which will be 99 % complete.  He & I will put on the wings, canopy, flaperons and rudder.   There’s a very small detail that needs to be painted on the wings, but Chris can’t do that until they are mounted, as he’s matching a curve on the fuselage and measuring and painting won’t be close enough.  I’ll leave the RV with him overnight to work on that little detail.

Next morning, Dale & I meet at 8:00 to go over the Cardinal in detail and do its post-maintenance flight (see below).  Assuming all goes well, he flies me up to MNN and I retrieve N76012, in all of her new livery.


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Chris has added the extended black dorsal stripe.  I was concerned about the black that we talked about adding to the vertical surfaces (see previous post), and Chris had the same worries, so that didn’t get added because it would have made the tail look way too heavy.   I may fiddle with a less aggressive treatment, but not for a while!


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The top cowl and spinner have received the grey treatment.  It makes the plane look fast, even on the ground.  You can't see it very well in this picture, but there’s a thin red and black line at the transition from grey to red.    Chris was not happy with the transition from the fiberglass cowling to the aluminum top skin over the panel.  If you look carefully, that top skin is not installed in this picture, so I assume he’s working on it to meet his excellent standards.

I’ve made several references to my Cardinal, so here’s a little back story on what’s going on with her.  I’ve been flying her with a partner, Dale Conklin, for about 10 years.  He decided to sell the plane to me last year, so officially purchased her on 1/1/17.  I decided to use the DLZ A&P, Shane Young, instead of the gentleman who previously owned that shop but continued to maintain 23V after he semi-retired.  As is typical for this situation (new mechanic), there were numerous items that had been felt to be OK by the old A&P but not by the new one.  As a result, 23V has been in the shop for the same 3 months that 012 has been in the paint booth.  As a result, I’ve been completely grounded, despite being the proud owner and financier of two separate planes.  As luck would have it, I think both of them will be airborne on the same day.  Just for completeness’ sake, I’ve included some pictures of 23V in the shop.

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On the jacks for rigging the gear.  The nose gear is infamous for being difficult to rig properly.  In this case, it turned out that there is a critical measurement/step that is not explicitly listed in the manual.  That cost me a day of labor charges.


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This is the nicest thing I’ve seen on her for a long time.  The internal panels are closed and the upholstery back in: signs of being done!

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The horizontal stabilator needed to come off and have some serious work done to replace the bolts that hold it on.  Took a long time to drill out the old ones and find the correct replacements called out by the AD. 

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This is a close up of the area that needed all the re-work.  You can see the clecos on one side.

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An older picture from last fall with my son-in-law.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

in pursuit of perfection

I just got a text & call from Chris at AV8 Paintworks.  Yep, it’s 1:30 AM and he’s working.  He’s just not happy with the design of the black swath on the fuselage.  If you look carefully, you’ll see two blue strips on the vertical stabilizer and on the fuselage.  He wants to extend the fuselage black stripe to the blue line, and add black onto the bottom of the vertical stabilizer.  He really thinks that this will make the lines sweep and flow much more artistically.   I told him to go ahead!


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thin blue lines


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crude photo manipulation to fill in the black areas

Friday, March 10, 2017

Almost Done With Painting

We’re getting close!   I went up to AV8 Painting on yesterday to check on the progress of the paint job.  Chris had taken my very rough sketch and added a very nice black element that makes the plane look a little longer and much more interesting.  He was a bit worried when I walked in since he had made a moderately substantial change from my original sketch, but that’s exactly what I wanted him to do.  I never claimed that my rough sketch was anything more than that and I wanted him to use his artistic experience to make it work.  I think he did a great job.


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Full body view of completed paint scheme

As you can see, he added a black ‘swoop’ to break up the large dorsal red that I had originally sketched.  He then added another, more angular, ‘swoop’ behind the red that terminates under the vertical stabilizer.   We haven’t mounted the rudder so the end looks a little odd.  The engine cowling is not attached, so ignore the front for now.  I really like the ribbons of beige that separate the red & the black.  I agree with his rationale—that adds a great deal of visual interest, yet doesn’t make it look cluttered.

One option, that I think I will exercise, is to make the upper cowling hump (behind the spinner) the beige.  Again, just a simple addition, but one that will add some interest.  I will probably have him do that when he gets the wheel pants painted.  The flap handle is also on the “touch up” list, but right now we are both interested in getting this thing finished and airborne.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Partial Paint applied


I was planning on working in the hanger on the nose fairing when i got a call from Chris asking if I could come up to AV8 Paintworks and look at the plane and refine the scheme.  As luck would have it, that was the only day in a long time that I was able to do that.  Up to Marion!

Chris expressed some concern about my original sketch.  I was totally OK with that, as I am not an artist and that was merely a quick idea.  If you look at the photo below, you can see a blue line along the fuselage and tail. That was my original sketch.  Chris felt that the upsweep on the tail was counter to the idea of making the plane look like it’s flying.  He got out the yellow tape and we spent about an hour mocking up placements.  The photo below is the final result (rough placement only.). Red will go above the blue/yellow line and encapsulate the cockpit & canopy area.  The next region back will remain beige and sweep from above the wing and over the back. There will be another band of red on the back the reaches to the tail.  The leading edges of all flying surfaces will be red and sweep back.


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Tape for layout of accent colors


The next photo shows he beige and red.  Chris said that they still aren’t ‘finished’ as there is no polishing yet.   I just put the spinner on the horizontal stab so I could see the colors.

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 The last photo is just to show one of the preparation phases.  The upper cowling is all red, so Chris hasn’t painted it yet.  He did want to put it on the plane for helping visualize the layout, so I just grabbed a photo.  The texture is totally different from the raw fiberglass—I don’t know if it makes sense to say “palpable matte surface”, but that’s what I’m going with. 

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prepped but not painted upper cowl



Friday, February 10, 2017

paint going on

Just received an “in progress” photo from the painter.  he’s got the fuselage painted in the main beige.  You can see a flat grey appearance on the turtle deck. That will become red in the next few days or so.


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Glossy Paint!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

prep & tape

Chris sent me a few photos now that he’s gotten started.  (There were a few weeks around Christmas when he was still getting his new paint shop operational.). 


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HI David. 90% of the aluminum prep is done. You can see the difference between the virgin aluminum and what has been treated. This process provides mechanical adhesion that along with the chemical bond will provide the best possible bond for your paint job. 


Progress will go quickly from here out. Prep is the time consuming part.


He’s planning on shooting on the primer, and then the base coat (beige) and having me come up to look at sketches and do detail decisions on where to place the red (predominately on the leading edges) and black accent paint.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

36-07 Main Wheel Pants

Although it was too late to have them delivered with the rest of the plane, I’m continuing to work on the wheel pants.  I finally finished up the main pants by drilling and installing the 9 nut plates (each) on the rear halves.  When I’m finished with the nose wheel pant, I’ll deliver those up to Chris.  he said he could paint them in a few days.

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Main Wheel Pants