Gluing in the Back Window

Despite being smaller than the canopy, this was actually a bigger pain in the butt. It required a lot more prep work (mostly taping off areas that I didn’t want to get primer or glue on).

I almost made a giant mistake. The back window is glued to the inside of the skin but to the outside of the roll bar. I somehow managed to put glue on the OUTSIDE of the plexiglass in both places which would have meant no glue connecting the window to the roll bar. I noticed the mistake when I put the window in and was able to correct things before any damage was done. Lots of cursing for sure.

The back window is now in place and the glue is fully dried. I put a small fillet along the skin to make the transition look better. Pretty happy with the result.

Today (Wednesday) is moving day for the fuselage. My car will get to sit outside for about two weeks if all goes according to plan.

10 hours (5 hours x 2 people).

Here is the Lycoming IO-390 unboxed in anticipation of the firewall forward phase of the project.
I used extendable curtain rods to hold the window in place while the glue dried. This worked reasonably well and only cost me $5 per rod.
It will look a lot better when the tape is removed but I want to leave the tape on for awhile to protect the window during construction.

More Canopy Work + Misc

My Dad and I did the fiberglass fairing at the front of the windshield. Not going to win any awards, but overall pretty happy with the way the fiberglass came out. Still lots of sanding and shaping to do.

Note for those new to fiber glass work. The West System pumps can fail to provide the right mixture of resin to hardener. Having too much hardener is better than not enough. The pumps should supply a FULL stroke of fluid for each pump. My resin pump was providing resin for only the second half of the stroke which resulted in too much hardener for a given amount of resin. The lesson here is to occasionally check the mix by weight or volume and not always rely on the pump.

We also worked on the throttle/pitch/mixture/alt air quadrant. This took longer than you might expect. We had to measure and drill the proper holes in the plate (supplied by SteinAir), mount the cables and then mount the plate to the airplane. Then we had to secure the cables and run them through the firewall. The penetration for the firewall is an eyeball grommet by Doubletree (TTP-S). They are $44 per grommet and I am going to re-do one of them because the hole is too big. I also need to install the adel clamps inside the cockpit.

Finally, we did most of the prep work for installing the back window. Similar to the canopy the prep work takes way longer than the actual installation. We will be using Sikaflex to attach the window. I am cautiously hopeful that we will do the install tomorrow evening.

The upcoming schedule is:

Continue miscellaneous tasks like applying firestop caulking to the firewall and installing the fuselage top skin. Late this week we will move the fuselage to the garage so we can begin installing the landing gear and the engine. I am hoping to have this work done in about two weeks so we can move it to the airport near the end of July. Once at the airport we will need to install the propeller, cowling (very time consuming), the wings, tail and the intersection fairings.

I am planning for the DAR inspection around the end of August or the middle of September.

32 hours over several days (2 people).

Overall working with fiberglass kinda sucks. The good news is that you can always add more glass if you make a mistake or need to fill in a low spot.
Probably two to three more hours of sanding to do here.

Canopy Install Continued

How to give yourself a heart attack in one easy step…

I came down to the workshop about 24 hours after we glued the canopy on. I removed the sandbags and unlatched the canopy. It wouldn’t move at all! I thought that I must have somehow glued the canopy shut accidentally. I envisioned major rework and lots of $$. Luckily, the problem was that I hadn’t loosened the clamps that I was using to secure the canopy to the roll bar. Once I removed them, the canopy opened with only a small amount of persuasion.

The canopy is incredibly solid when it is all connected together. According to others who have older planes (RV6/7 etc.) this canopy is night and day different from the older ones (which had a lot of flex in their canopies).

Overall, I would definitely do Sikaflex rather than screws for the canopy. It is messy and probably costs a bit more, but I believe it is a much better way to go.

Quick tip #1: There is very little room between the windshield and the top of the panel. Make sure to remove any masking tape on the windshield and the top of the panel there before installing. If you don’t, it is a real PITA to get all the tape out of there.

Quick tip #2: Wear gloves – the primer and the Sikaflex do not come off your hands after it dries. I expect my hands will have black stuff on them for several days until it eventually wears off.

Sikaflex-ing the Canopy

Jon and I decided to use SikaFlex (glue) to attach the plexi-glass for the canopy and the back window. The process is a bit more difficult than the Van’s method of using screws. We didn’t like creating a stress riser at each of thirty plus holes in the plexi-glass.

The process is :

  1. Mask off everywhere you don’t want the primer to end up.
  2. Lightly scuff both surfaces (plexi glass with scotchbrite and aluminum with 220 grit sand paper)
  3. Apply Sikaflex 205 Activator (which seems to be roughly isopropyl alcohol) and let dry 10+ minutes.
  4. Create stand offs to prevent the plexi-glass from squeezing the glue out. I used tongue depressors for the front and rear and fishing line glued onto the sides.
  5. Apply Sikaflex 206G+P primer to both the plexi-glass and the airplane body. This stuff is very thin and can easily run. Thus the reason to mask EVERYTHING. It looks like alcohol will remove primer if necessary.
  6. Apply a bead of Sikaflex 295 UV to the metal surfaces. It is important to cut the tip of the tube properly and to build a small pyramid of glue.
  7. Lower the canopy onto the frame and weight it down with sandbags. I also installed the side skirts to keep the sides of the plexiglass tightly against the glue.
  8. Wait 24 hours.
  9. Remove the tongue depressors and add some additional Sikaflex to fill the holes and make a smooth fillet around the front of the canopy.
  10. Add the side skirts using the same process (remember to have the wire for the canopy open switch in place).

Panel on the Home Stretch (hopefully)

We continued to work on the panel yesterday.

We got the pitot and static system hooked up.

We finished the pitch and yaw trim position wiring.

We found a couple small issues including no ground wire for the USB port (fixed)

A talk with Stein corrected a misunderstanding that I had. I thought the GDL-51A provided a GPS signal to the PFD and MFD, in fact it is the other way around the GDL-51A gets a GPS position from the PFD via the RS-232 connection. This will require one more coax cable from the PFD to the antenna mounted just aft of the baggage compartment.

The Can Bus is Live!

Because the wings are stored in a hanger about 80 miles from here I can’t test the roll servo. This servo is part of the Can Bus which interconnects many of the avionics components including the MFD, PFD, autopilot, radios etc. I was able to test most of the other components by putting a 120 ohm terminator pig tail on to the can bus at the right wing root. The result is that most of the red Xs are gone.

Still a bit of work to do on the yaw servo, the fuel pump, and the firewall forward. Progress.

Stick Grips

I spent the day installing the Infinity stick grips. I had to make the hole in the side of the stick bigger to accommodate the cable. I also had to drill a hole in the adapter sleeve to secure it to the top of the stick.

Then the fun began. Sorting out all the wires. The copilot stick is slightly different than the pilot stick because I have a switch on the panel to disable most of the functions on that stick for when I have a non-pilot over there.

I had these same stick grips on my RV10 and liked them.

I can trim, flip flop comms, IDENT, raise and lower the flaps, disconnect the autopilot and PTT.

My Dad was very helpful when I was toning out all the individual wires.
8 hours.

The Panel Continues to Progress

The pictures make it look like we have taken a step backward, but we actually have made good progress today. I took the two GDU 460 displays out to make it easier to work behind the panel. Lots of small “punch list” items got taken care of today including:

ELT wired in.

Most of the firewall forward sensors and shunts are in place.

Installed all the wiring for the GDL-51A which is now in the tail section.

Connected various ground wires.

Terminated the TNC connectors and ran the coax for the GTN-650 GPS antenna.

Began the connection of the GSA28 pitch servo into the Garmin Can Bus. This was actually already wired, but we decided to redo it because the wire from the servo had already been routed from the tail and it was easier to re do the Can Bus instead of rewiring the servo which is relatively difficult to get to. I should be done this project during the next work session.

We have one significant issue to resolve which is some wiring associated with the yaw trim and positioning which has to go into the VPX. I need to call Vertical Power to discuss this with Chad.

Important things coming up include wiring the control sticks, terminating the Can Bus at the right wing root (for testing) and beginning to dress all the wiring in the tunnel.

It is pretty clear that this airplane is significantly updated compared to the RV-8 and RV-10 that I owned. A whole lot more wires going to a whole lot more places.

12 hours (2 people x 6 hours)

Smoke Test

Powered up the panel today. Not everything is done – notably the connections to the tail. Only significant problem is that the GTN 650 did not power on. I am sure that it is not mating into the connectors at the back. I will have to adjust the tray so that the unit can slide further in.

Woo hoo!

More Panel Progress

Jon, my Dad and I worked for about 8 hours today on the panel. We got a lot of it done but there is probably another full day of wire work to do before we can test it all out.

I started the morning terminating RG400 coax with BNC connectors. First one took me 45 minutes but after that I was able to do them in about 10 minutes each. The video by SteinAir (available on YouTube) is invaluable.

I realized that the GPS antenna connection for the GTN650 uses a TNC connector instead of a BNC connector. Another order from Stein…

We got to work pulling wire to the wings and tail. The wire runs were filling up fast when Jon noticed that I was running wire behind the panel stiffener instead of in front of it where it was supposed to go. Lots of swearing later, and I was able to re-pull all the wires I had already done. Argghhh! The good news is it looks much better in the proper place.

I attached about 40 ground wires to the firewall termination block. Some of these could have been grounded locally, but doing a home run for all grounds will ensure the devices get a proper ground.

Two odd things from SteinAir:

1. The TP51 temperature probe was wired into the GSU 25 ADHARS but couldn’t possibly fit through the wire runs/grommets. Will need to re-do it.

2. The headset jacks/mics are terminated at both ends (in the connector for the GMA 245R and on the jacks themselves. Again, no way to run the wires through the wire runs/grommets.

Sore backs all around from spending so much time leaning into the airplane.

16 hours (2 people x 8 hours each)

The wires in the front of the photo are ones that have yet to be run.