Baffles and the Snorkel

We have been working on the baffles for a few days now. There are a lot of connection points for the baffles. Some are easy to install and some are a real bear. On each “corner” of the engine there is a floating connector that a bolt threads into. They are in a difficult spot to get to and you have to get them lined up properly to get the bolt in. A bit of grease helps to keep them in place while you tighten the bolt.

The next un-fun step is to fabricate the rods that connect the bottom of the baffles together. I needed to borrow a 6-32 die to thread the rods – which is actually hard work.

The good news is that the baffles are 98% done (one bolt is giving me a hard time).

We also began working on the snorkel. As several people have pointed out you will likely spend 20 hours thinking about a task that takes 3 hours. We have it mostly cut to the correct size now. I need to glass up the corners of the snorkel where it goes into the filter holder. Then I need to cut the hole for the alternate air source.

The key here is to make four vertical cuts (one at each corner) on the snorkel. Each cut should be about 3 inches long. This will allow the snorkel to slide up into the filter frame. After I attach the snorkel to the frame, I will “repair” the corners.

I may modify the fuel servo end of the snorkel to make the hole size more closely match the FM 150 inlet. I know people that have done this and others that have left it as is.

Meanwhile, we have some final electrical connections to make, and will need to start on the exhaust soon.

Propeller and Miscellaneous Stuff

My father, Drew and I installed the propeller onto the engine this morning. It is a Whirlwind 74HRT fiberglass propeller. It is a very nice looking propeller and I am excited to try it out (hopefully soon). It is not especially heavy, but it is important to install it straight and pull up the six bolts evenly.

The first task before installing the propeller is to remove the metal plug in the end of the crankshaft. It is there if you are using a fixed pitch propeller. I used a screwdriver and a hammer. You basically punch the center of the plug until it deforms and then the plug falls out. I know some people drill a hole in it to get it out, but that risks getting some contamination into your crankcase.

The three of us lifted the propeller on and hand tightened the bolts. I’d like to say it went on very smoothly with little effort. The truth is that the first time we did it, we didn’t get it on straight and I decided to take it back off and try again. When we took it off, I noticed that one of the threaded bushings had been pushed back on the crankshaft flange. The Lycoming tech support guy had a great suggestion on how to reseat this bushing without damaging it. You take a big socket and put an installation bolt through it and insert the bolt into the front side of the bushing. As you tighten the bolt it will pull the bushing forward. Much better (and easier) then hitting it with a mallet.

You can see the bushing pushed backward here. A socket and bolt on the other side works great to pull it back into place.

The installation manual calls for the bolts to be torqued to 65 ft-lbs. Even with a crows foot, I was only able to get my torque wrench on to two of the six bolts. A $70 wrench for this task is available from Anti-Splat Aero. I hated parting with $70, but I love Anti-Splat and was only momentarily sad.

Meanwhile we put the RTV onto the baffles. You install a relatively thin coat in several places on each baffle. It takes 24 hours to dry so they are sitting off to one size until tomorrow morning. Before doing the RTV, I test fitted the two back baffles – they fit tight but they do fit. Tight is much better than loose.

Two of the four baffles with the RTV on them.

We continued to sand and fit the cowling halves down in the basement (it’s cooler down there). I made the decision to use SkyBolt fasteners for most of the cowling instead of piano hinge. $400 with a discount from SkyBolt.

Next up, install the baffles, more wiring and fitting the cowling. The Vetterman exhaust will be soon after that. Then lots of clean up tasks like wire management, intersection fairings, timing the mags etc.

Nine hours (3 people x 3 hours)

Firewall Forward Continued

My Dad and I continue to grind through the various electrical and plumbing tasks forward of the firewall. We also began working on the cowling which is lots of messy grinding and sanding.

You have to cut/grind both halves of the cowling to the scribe lines. One problem we ran into is that the scribe lines are very difficult to see.

We installed the oil cooler and the hoses to it.

Things are starting to get crowded back here.

We did the initial wiring to the right P-Mag. So far I decided to leave the other P-Mag off to give more access to the fuel pump until I finish the hose connections there.

We worked on running some of the ignition wires and putting the adel clamps where they need to be. Two big learnings here:

  • The safety wire trick for closing adel clamps while you are trying to get the bolt through them is GOLD. Simply put a loop of safety wire around the clamp(s) and use your safety wire pliers to close them up. So much easier than trying to squeeze them with your fingers or a pair of traditional pliers.
  • In the case where you need to enlarge the holes in the adel clamp for a bigger bolt, it is super easy to do with a uni-bit and painfully difficult with a traditional drill bit. In defense of Van’s they tell you this in the instructions.

I did some of the butt splices for things like the fuel and oil pressure sensors. I didn’t like the way some of them came out so I will likely redo at least some of them. I ordered longer pieces of heat shrink to slide over the splice to give them a cleaner look.

I broke down and ordered a Bogert tow bar from Spruce (significantly cheaper than ordering directly from the manufacturer). I had one for my RV-10 and they are good quality, but I think $200 is sort of highway robbery for one of these things. Just my opinion.

I realized that the trailer I had planned to use to transport the airplane to the airport isn’t wide enough to accommodate the landing gear. I have a couple of alternate plans and I don’t have to address this issue for a couple more weeks (my engine work is taking longer than I anticipated).

20 hours (2 people x 10 hours)

Firewall Forward Wiring and Plumbing

Dad and I have spent three days working on the hoses and wiring for the engine.

I would guess we are about half way done now. As usual, we are slowed a little by needing to order parts or supplies. For example, the FM-150 requires you to remove the fuel servo mounting bolts and replace them with longer ones. They thoughtfully supply the longer bolts with their servo, but want you to use Loctite 620 on the new bolts — not available locally.

So here is what we have done:

Primary Alternator, installed and wired. Minor cable management and final adjustments left.

Starter wiring is nearly complete. The primary power wire (2 gauge) is in place, terminated and torqued. The smaller wire from the starter solenoid still needs to be terminated.

FT60 Red Cube fuel flow transducer installed. Still need to do final wiring and torque hose fittings.

Fuel lines (from firewall to fuel pump, to fuel pressure sensor, to FT-60, from FT-60 to FM-150, from FM-150 to spider) partially done. Waiting on a part from Van’s Aircraft.

Oil lines (to/from cooler, to oil pressure sensor) partially done.

Secondary Alternator – done then undone. I decided to re-clock it to ensure the power lug is not too near another component. Now I need a new gasket — on its way from Spruce.

Oil cooler – shelf is installed. Oil cooler assembly is mostly done, but still on the bench down stairs. I want to get the right P-Mag installed before I put this in place.

Major things left to do:

P-Mags, lots of butt splices, propeller and propeller governor, exhaust system, firewall penetration firesleeving, more adel clamps then I care to think about.

30 hours (2 people x 15 hours).

This is the incorrect fitting that apparently comes from Lycoming. I ordered the correct one from Van’s (KB-90-T). The new fitting makes the host fit better and prevents fuel pressure values from pulsing due to a restrictor in the AN fitting to the fuel pressure sensor.
Here is the FM-150. Note that it seems to be sitting on it’s side. You have to have the IO-390 adapter kit which consists of a mounting plate for the mixture and throttle cables, new mounting bolts, a gasket, and various other parts. I am certain that the early RV-14 builders had to figure all this stuff out themselves so it’s nice to have it all in a neat package (other than the Loctite 620 that is called for).
This is the fuel flow transducer (FT-60). Note that if using the AS Flightline hose package you clock the fittings a bit differently.

Hanging the Engine

The hottest day of the year (98F). This part of the project was surprisingly easy. We probably spent as much time getting the engine onto the hoist as we did bolting the engine to the airplane.

The clearances around the engine accessories (P-Mags, standby alternator, fuel pump etc.) and the engine mount were tight, but with three people (Jim V, my Dad, and me) and the hoist it was pretty easy to get it lined up.

Dad and I worked on the oil cooler shelf (surprisingly more complex than I expected).

We even made a post work dump run to get rid of the Lycoming packing materials. Marianne is very happy to have a lot of the garage back to normal.

12 hours (4 hours x 3 people).

There are four engine mounts that hold the engine to the airplane. The isolation mounts have to be carefully assembled and torqued.
I wanted to take it outside to ensure the GTN 650 navigator got a good GPS signal. It is back in the garage for now (we will move it to the hanger next weekend).

Now comes more fun. I will need to do all the oil and fuel hoses and electrical connections. I expect this will take a couple days. After that, I can put the baffling on. Then the propeller, and the cowling (I am really NOT looking forward to that part of the project).

I had a really nice call with another local builder (Rick S.) who has offered to help me install the wings (hopefully the middle of August).

Also, big props to some people / companies that have been great to work with:

Allan at Anti-Splat – great products, even better service and support

Steve and Tom at AS Flightlines – the BEST hoses, and unbelievably great service

Brad at Emagair – manufacturer of the P-Mags. Super cool product and great customer service.

Tyler at Lycoming – I called with some rookie questions and he was super helpful.

Engine Fittings

There are several fittings on the back of the engine that need to be installed before hanging the engine. Apparently others have found out the hard way that you can’t easily install the fittings after the engine is on the airplane.

The fittings include: oil temp sensor, oil upper, oil lower, oil pressure sensor, manifold pressure sensor, tach cap and several fuel fittings.

We have them installed now.

We are also working on the standby alternator, the oil filter right angle adapter and both P-mags.

It is important to do the different tasks in order since I quickly found out that many of these things conflict with each other. For example, the oil filter adapter interferes with almost everything else so it needs to go last.

Because I added the oil filter 90 degree adapter, I had to use a straight fitting on the bottom oil port and a 45 degree fitting on the upper port. I also had to clock them differently from the Van’s plan.

We will do some of the fire stop caulking tonight and finish the fittings tomorrow. The goal is to be ready to hang the engine on Saturday. If all goes well, we will move the project to the airport the following Saturday.

Four hours (2 people x 2 hours)

The hole with nothing in it is where the standby alternator (in the lower right corner) goes. Note that with the B and C oil filter adapter, the oil temp sensor goes in it rather than in the case as shown on the Van’s plans.

Baffling

While waiting for supplies to prep the engine, we got to work on the engine baffling. This is sort of like building a giant lego project. Lots of parts riveted and screwed together. The good news is that the holes are already in place and invariably line up perfectly. Mostly AN3 rivets which are not difficult to squeeze too.

8 hours (2 people x 4 hours )

It’s On the Gear

We got the main gear done. I checked the alignment and it appears that both sides toe in (that’s good) but they probably toe in to far (that’s bad). I will check them a few more times, but I suspect I will need at least one shim (@ $29 each) on each side. Some experienced guys said I can just use a washer or two, but I am going to stick to the plans and add the Van’s shim.

We then worked on the nose gear and completed that too. This had a lot of parts but was relatively easy to put together. I wasted about two hours looking for two parts prior to beginning. One (the elastomer pad) was wrapped in plastic and paper and I picked it up about a dozen times during my search without realizing that was what it was. The other was a washer that you need to trim to fit that I had right in front of my face the whole time. Because I didn’t initially realize that I had to trim it, I didn’t figure out that it was what I was looking for.

In the end, it is pretty cool to see the thing sitting on its own gear.

We will do miscellaneous work on the engine (install fittings, 2nd P-Mag, oil filter adapter etc.) and get ready to mount the engine next weekend.

The big move to the hanger is tentatively planned for July 25th.

10 hours (2 people x 5 hours).

Moving Day + Landing Gear

Last night, I got three friends (Chris/Chad/John) to help me move the fuselage out of my basement and up to the garage. Of course it was the hottest, most humid day of the year. It only took about 30 minutes, but we were all drenched in sweat by the time we got it out the window and up to the garage. Only casualty was a cut finger and a scraped leg.

My Dad and I began installing the main landing gear. This looks relatively easy to do, but actually turned out to take a fair amount of effort. There are a lot of bolts to install (26), the tolerances are tight and there is not a lot of room to maneuver hands/wrenches.

It is very important to put the bolts in in the right order. It also helps to have a car jack to lift the gear legs up and wiggle them around to get the bolt / holes to align.

At one point, I thought there was going to be no way to install a washer and nut on several bolts that come out inside the wing spar box. After lots of cussing and complaining (by me) my father noticed that you could reach that area from outside the airplane and then getting these nuts on became trivial. Not bad for an old guy.

There were a couple bolts that were in places that my hands simply don’t fit. I enlisted Marianne to help. Her hands are smaller and she was easily able to install the bolts in a place I would have needed hours (and luck) to install.

Tomorrow, we will install the axles, check alignment and install the wheels, brakes and tires. Then it will be onto the nose gear which looks a bit more complicated.

6 hours (3 hours x 2 people)

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.