We have spent the last couple days working on the punch list. We have knocked out a couple big things of late.
We got the Garmin G3X system updated to the latest software: 8.7.2.
We got the flaps and ailerons connected and properly rigged. This was a pain in the butt because it requires putting several washers in the connections in places that are difficult to get to. It’s kind of cool to move the stick and see the control surfaces move appropriately.
We got more of the antenna work done. We now have all of the antennas installed and connected. I will likely shorten the cable to the nav antenna in the wing. I still need to put some silicone on the transponder antenna.
We got the seatbelt shoulder straps installed. We still need to install the seatbelts.
The plan is to do an engine start next weekend. This requires the brakes to be completed and the fuel piping from the wings to the fuselage to be installed. I hope to do these two tasks on Tuesday or Wednesday assuming the parts I need arrive.
Other things on the horizon: more cowl work, connect the rudder cables,
My punch list hovers at about 75 items. It seems that as I knock a few off the list, I encounter a few more that I need to take care of. The good news is the big ones (ex. install wings) are mostly gone and now I really have many small tasks (ex. install data plate) to go.
My father and I have torqued all the wing bolts, fixed a small issue with a baffle bracket, begun the install of the ELT and added RTV to the engine baffles.
We installed the axle shims to remove the toe-in on the main gear. They helped, but I decided to order two more shims ($28 each) to try to get it perfect.
Another issue I finally fixed was with one of the two bolts that hold the aft baffles to the top of the engine. When I originally installed the bracket and the baffles I couldn’t get one of the two AN3 bolts to go into the nut plate on the bracket. After lots of attempts (and a lot of cursing) I took the bracket off and discovered that I had the wrong size nut plate installed. Once I replaced the nut plate with the correct one, the bolt went in much easier.
I also started getting serious about all my paperwork for the FAA and the inspector. I didn’t realize that I needed a bill of sale for the airplane from Van’s (1 week delay) and that the registration has to be completed prior to the inspection. I think the paperwork set me back about two weeks.
The ELT was a litte bit of a bear to install. We installed it just forward of the vertical stabilizer in the tail. I could get three of the four screws for the bracket installed. I had to ask Marianne to install the last one (her hands are significantly smaller than mine). I still have to do the wiring to the ELT and install the antenna.
With help from my friend, Jim V. and my Dad, we got the tail installed. There is still a little bit of work: wiring the tail light, wiring the yaw trim motor, and connecting the rudder cables. The tail actually turned out to be more effort than the wings.
There was a very slight interference between the rudder and the top of the vertical stabilizer. With a bit of sanding the interference is gone.
I had my friends Charlie and John (and my Dad) help me with the wings. Both wings took a total of about 1.5 hours from start to finish. The left wing was a little more difficult than the right wing (which only took about 10 minutes). I need to do the final torquing of the 9 bolts in each wing root. I also still need to do a bunch of wiring and plumbing.
John and I also installed the comm antennas on the belly of the airplane.
Upcoming tasks: realign main gear to remove some of the toe in. Install the TP-59 temperature sensor in the left wing. Connect several wires in each wing (mostly just connecting the CPC connectors).
I feel like we might be able to run the engine for the first time next weekend.
We did minor work on the airplane this morning. Unfortunately, I managed to install the rubber baffle seals incorrectly and spent about twice as much time fixing my mistake as I did doing it. I blame it on unclear plans. $40 order to Spruce for more rivets and stuff.
We also did some sanding on the top cowl air ramps. I need to use some expoxy with microballoons to clean them up and make the transitions as smooth as possible.
My Dad did a great job of cleaning the garage around the airplane in anticipation of moving it.
Jay Crawford (and family) came down for a visit and to help me with the airplane move. Very much appreciated.
The guys from Ronnie’s Wrecker Service were great. They handled the airplane with care and were awesome to work with. The actual trip to the airport was easy. I was following the truck and have to admit that had a mini-heart attack when he hit a bump at the intersection of Hull Street and Courthouse Road. The airplane bounced up and down a little but was fine.
The goal will be to get the wings on the airplane one night this week (Wednesday?). I also want to get the tail onto the airplane this week. Then next weekend, if possible I want to get most of my punch list done.
The move to the airport will be tomorrow (Sunday). I decided to hire a towing company with a roll back truck to do the transport. The cost was reasonable ($150) and I thought it would be safer and easier to do it that way.
In the mean time we continue to work on small tasks like the air inlet ramps. We trimmed them to a specific shape and then glued them to the inside of the upper cowling using resin and flox. After they set up, we will use resin with micro-balloons to smooth all the edges to ensure the airflow into the engine compartment is as smooth as possible.
We also coated the inside of both cowlings with a generous amount of resin. This is supposed to make it easier to clean and easier to detect any leaks in the engine compartment.
We also worked on the fairing for the nose gear leg. Unfortunately, my first attempt at installing the hinge that closes the fairing around the gear leg was a bust. I will attempt to redo it soon.
Other miscellaneous tasks coming up: re-aligning the main gear to remove some of the toe in, installing the rubber seals for the engine baffles and finishing minor plumbing and wiring tasks in the engine compartment.
Hopefully, the wings will go on in the next week or so!
One other note: I started working on the registration paperwork this week. I had reserved the N Number several months ago. I mistakenly assumed the rest of the paper work would take a few hours. I was sadly mistaken. It looks like it could take 3 or 4 weeks to get through the process which could impact when I get it inspected.
We spent most of the day moving airplane parts. I did manage to knock a couple items off the punch list (and seemingly add exactly the same number). The goal today was to move the wings from the hanger in Williamsburg up to my hanger in Chesterfield. I am cautiously hopeful that we can move the fuselage from the garage to the Chesterfield airport next weekend and install the wings soon there after.
We worked on more of the firewall forward tasks today. We had intended to fit the lower canopy around the exhaust but got side-tracked by the Half Raven kit. It doesn’t look too hard but it took the better part of a day to complete it.
The hoses from AS Flight Lines were perfect (again). Steve also helped me to figure out how to install the entire setup despite being on a camping trip.
We installed the Sniffle Valve. It took way longer to figure out where it goes then it does to install it.
We installed the oil dip stick. Short, easy job.
We gapped and installed all the sparkplugs (after I searched high and low for the 18mm to 14 mm adapters. I finally found them upstairs by my desk. Glad I did, replacing them would be $100.
Tomorrow is moving day. We will be going to get the wings which have been in storage in Williamsburg and bring them to my hanger. I will also bring the tail too. If I get really ambitious I will bring the whole project to the hanger (30% likelihood).
After a one week holiday at the lake, I am back to work on the airplane project.
The cowling is done with the exception of the fasteners across the bottom of the firewall. I will also have to make additional trim cuts on the bottom cowling to accommodate the Vetterman exhaust system.
I have spent more time on the exhaust then I thought I would. The Vetterman exhaust is very well designed and fits the engine very well. It’s all the little stuff that takes a significant amount of time. Fabricating the hangers, doing the heat muffs and scat tubing, installing and wiring the EGT probes, installing the heat shields to protect hoses and the FT-60 etc. With the exception of connecting the wires, that is all done now.
My Dad and I knocked out the oil door on the top cowling today.
As of now the “to do list” stands at about 50 items.
The cowling is now at about 80% complete. My Dad and I worked diligently on the Skybolt installation. Once you get how they work (and Chris Moon helps you) it makes a lot of sense. They probably do not save you tons of time on the installation, but are a nice addition to the airplane.
I have a couple more Skybolts to install and I have to add additional rivets on the sides to strengthen the connection between the top and bottom cowling. I also need to finish the hinges on the bottom cowling on the firewall.
Meanwhile Jonathan McCormick at PlaneSchemer provided several designs for my consideration. The plan is to bring the airplane to his facility in northern Alabama in February for painting. Here are his designs. Marianne and I have already picked one, but I am interested in any input from others who may be reading this.
Jim Van Laak stopped by to assist on the engine work. We did the final fit and attachment of the snorkel, attached the mixture and throttle cables, safety wired the propeller and the primary alternator and began working on the cowling.
I am using the Skybolt fastener system for the top cowling and using the Van’s hinge system on the firewall side of the lower cowling. I have to say the Skybolt hardware is very nice — their documentation not so much. I am pretty sure I would never have figured it out without Chris Moon and Jim’s assistance. My father and I have nearly completed all the Skybolt fasteners on the aft edge of the top cowling. Still need to adjust each fastener so they lock down flush (easy adjustment).
A few key things I have learned:
you can’t preinstall the Skybolt receivers into the flanges because you need the hole open to scribe the line up on the inside of the cowling.
the receivers have a small pin that you remove after you make final adjustments. This pin needs to face away from the firewall for easy access.
My niece, Sarah, graciously helped by climbing into the airplane and installing a couple washers and nuts that I couldn’t get to (my hands are too big).
I am hoping to finish most of the cowling work this week. Then the exhaust system will be the last big thing to work on. Maybe even move the airplane to the hanger on Saturday.