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.

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).

Fixing a Mistake

I mentioned this before, but I realized that I wouldn’t be able to install two rivets near the canopy aft frame because I had already installed the canopy latch mechanism. I certainly was not looking forward to uninstalling the latch mechanism just to put in two rivets on each side. Last night, my father and I decided to do it. It probably took about 2.5 hours to uninstall, rivet and reinstall everything. Very frustrating!

Funny story, I very nearly managed to get a closed end ratcheting wrench stuck in such a way that I would not be able to get it out. I was tightening a bolt for part of the latch mechanism when I realized that the wrench on the nut side was trapped between that bolt and another nearby bolt. I couldn’t back the bolt out because my wrench would just ratchet when I turned the bolt. I yanked, pried and cursed. I seriously thought I was going to have to leave the wrench where it was forever. I finally managed to get a second skinny open end wrench on to the nut so I could back the bolt out. Man, that was close!

Lots of Deburring

Lots and lots of material preparation. Deburring the parts for the canopy mostly. Only way to describe it is “tedious”.

BTW, the interior from Lemke in Germany arrived. It looks very nice!

Things are Starting to Ship!

The Whirlwind propeller arrived today and it is beautiful. I opened the box just to look at it despite not being able to do anything with it for at least three months.

Meanwhile, I got news that the finish kit will arrive at the freight terminal next Friday. It weighs 411 lbs and is 98″ x 49″ x 30″. The shipping charges were $770.00. If I had had it delivered to the house it would have cost an additional $70. I wasn’t sure when I was going to be home so I decided to just have it shipped to the terminal and then I can rent a trailer to go get it.

The panel is still being built at SteinAir. According to Nick, the panel has been cut and painted, but the technicians still have 4 to 5 panels in front of it. Still guessing it will be mid-April.


I was putting in a small number of AACQ4-6 rivets to hold the plastic guides for the rudder cables. Apparently, my pop rivet tool was not tightly against the side of the tunnel and I ended up with a bad rivet. Normally, not a big deal — just take it out and put a new one in. Except I had exactly zero AACQ4-6 rivets left. Oh well, a call to Van’s to order $8 worth of rivets and a small assortment of other stuff I needed…

Moving the Project to its New Home

Yup, we decided to move it to my basement so that I could more easily work on it whenever I had some free time. The challenge was getting it into the basement. I determined that taking a window out would allow me to move it into an unused space in the basement that from this point forward will be referred to as “The Airplane Factory”.

Don’t worry, I will be able to get it out in a few months when it is ready for the engine and landing gear.