Wing stand fine-tuning

Not really a productive evening. I had every intention – I even turned on the garage A/C as soon as I got home from work. After dinner, we took the dogs for a walk, and then I decided to lie down for a bit before heading out to the garage.

Suddenly, it was 9:00. I guess I was more tired than I thought.

Anyway, I decided that given my concern that the jack pad might need to be extended, it would make sense to do a test fit of the stand I’d built. This way I could see how thing lined up, and make adjustments from the start for the second stand. I figured I’d go ahead and drill the outboard rib for the holes that attach it to the stand, cleco the rib to the spar, and set everything in place. Then I could cleco another rib in place and see how it lined up with the screw jack.

The was the result:

IMG 9031

As you can see, the jack seems to be lined up OK with the center of the rib’s trailing edge, but it is right up against the edge of the pad. I don’t really like it sitting right on the edge like that, so what I’ll do is cut another 2×6 piece and attach it parallel to the long planks. Then I can cut a slightly larger MDF piece and I’ll end up with another inch and a half of room on the jack pad.

That means I have some more wood cutting to do. The garage is too cluttered at the moment to do the cutting in there, which is fine by me anyway – I’d rather generate a bunch of sawdust in the driveway if possible. That means further construction is hereby put off until tomorrow.

On an unrelated note, I spent some time last night working up a Photoshop document that I intend to use to start doing some panel planning. It’s really ridiculously early to be doing any serious planning, but seeing a mockup is kind of motivating and just plain (plane?) fun. Here’s what I have so far; it’s pretty rudimentary. Most notably, I think stacking two 7” Skyview displays like I have here would require some modification of the panel. Hmmm…

Sparse panel

Posted in Wings, Workspace | Hours Logged: .5

Wing stand fine tuning again

Not much free time this evening. I overslept this morning, which meant I got to work late, which meant I worked late to make up, and then there was a fair amount of stuff to do around the house. I finally got that stuff done just after 10 and figured maybe I’d try and cleco together the left wing skeleton. But first I needed to clean off a workbench. And then I realized that I should really do the jack pad fix on the completed stand before I went and put a wing skeleton on it.

So I did that; two pieces of 2×6 added on, a new MDF platform screwed down, and then I relocated one of the adjustable “feet” (aka carriage bolts in tee nuts) to the new platform support so I could still adjust it. At that point I decided it was too hot in the garage, even with the door open and the fan going, so I stopped there. In this Texas heat, it seems like I really just have to get the air conditioner running way in advance.

So maybe tomorrow I’ll get that skeleton clecoed together. It’ll probably be good for the primer to have another day to cure anyway…

Posted in Wings, Workspace | Hours Logged: .5

Wing stand construction, garage organization

Finally, a weekend workday worthy of the name. Yesterday I had the idea of focusing today on right wing prep, maybe to the point of even getting the ribs primed. However, after thinking about that some more and getting some input from Josie (who is right way too often for her own good), I decided a better course of action would be to start working on the second wing stand and then kind of go from there.

We took the dogs for a walk at the arboretum in the morning, grabbed lunch on the way home, and then I headed out in the garage. I figured that assembling the stand would be pretty straightforward, especially since I had all the lumber already precut and ready to go. And it did start out that way, but before long, I ran into an issue. I’d put one end piece on the two lengthwise planks and was about to attach the other end piece, but something wasn’t right; it seemed to not want to line up right. I busted out my handy tape measure and discovered that somehow, I’d cut one of the long pieces 1/4” shorter than the other one. I couldn’t afford to shorten the other piece to match, so instead I cut a 1/4” section of 2×6 and stuffed that little shim on the end of the short piece. No problem, just looks a little ghetto.

After getting everything together, including the feet but not the platforms, I had another problem. I took pains to get the straightest 2x6s I could find for these stands, but I still had some serious twist. I don’t know if the lumber warped while sitting in the garage or what, but the end result was that with one end flat on the floor, the other end piece had one end almost a full inch off the ground: (don’t mind the “top” marking, that’s from that plank’s former life as part of my moving fixture for the h-stab)

IMG 9058

So this was an interesting problem. I’m using adjustable feet to allow for leveling the stand bases, so I could make this sit on the floor in a stable position, but then I’d have one of the wing uprights angled in a very nasty way. So I ended up putting a shim under the platform that the upright actually bolts to. When I was designing these bases, I almost skipped the MDF platforms because they seemed kind of like overkill, but now I think it was a good decision. Without the platform, I would have had to shim the upright itself, maybe with a bunch of washers or something, and I think it would have been a real pain. Anyway, here’s the shimmed platform. I’m using the level to get the shim thickness right; my procedure was to level the good end of the base, then set the feet on the twisted end, and finally tinker with shims until the platform was reasonably level. It doesn’t have to be 100% perfect, as the arms on the stands are adjustable to get perfect level up there:

IMG 9060

So after a bunch more drilling and screwing and so forth, the second stand was complete. Now the fun part was figuring out where I was going to put these. I wanted to give them more-or-less permanent homes; I’m not convinced this garage floor is perfectly straight, so I figured that the stands would need to be readjusted if they ever moved. Picking “official” spots for them means I can level the stands there, move them out of the way if needed, and then put them back and be reasonably sure that they’re straight again. I’m not anticipating actually moving these things, but I figure I might as well be prepared for that anyway.

This ended up turning into a minor garage reorg; among other issues, I’d accidentally blocked the attic door previously, so I wanted to clear up that area anyway. With some experimentation, I ended up with the wing stands basically taking up most of one half of the garage, with the other half roomy enough to have my work bench out and accessible from both sides, and the second work bench in reserve against the garage door. I made sure I could work comfortably in between the stands, got them nice and straight, and used blue painter’s tape to mark their corners on the floor:

IMG 9064

I went ahead and put the entire left wing skeleton on its stand, and the right main spar on the other stand, and began the tedious task of getting the stands straight and level. I’m possibly being overcautious here, but better safe than sorry. With the older non-prepunched kits, getting a straight wing jig was absolutely vital to avoid building a wing with some twist in it, but the newer prepunched kits are pretty difficult to mess up. But that’s no reason to be careless. I’ll probably be double-checking all this stuff once I put the fully riveted skeletons on the stands for good, but at that point it should just require fine-tuning at best.

Here’s an exciting picture of a level sitting across the inboard end of a spar:

IMG 9068

And there we have it, a garage set up for some serious wing construction:

IMG 9067

This week I’ll focus on getting the right wing ribs and such ready to be cleaned and primed this weekend. Since I have a three-day weekend, I should have some extra time to be productive. I figure I should be able to get my longeron yoke in this week so I can finish riveting the left wing skeleton and be ready for the right one.

Posted in Wings, Workspace | Hours Logged: 6


OK, so no actual airplane work got done today. It was kind of a hectic day – first I had a flight with Joy, then I ran to Harbor Freight for some garage stuff, then I went up to Weiser to have lunch with the local RV guys, then we took the dogs to the park for a much-needed long walk, and when I got home I discovered I was quite tired and a nap ensued, and then it was time for dinner.

We did have a new prospective builder come out to lunch today, and since I was the only person there who’s building at the moment, he naturally turned to me and asked if he could come by sometime and help out/watch/learn/etc. So he might be coming by the house tomorrow. Problem is, the garage was in horrible shape, so I decided to tidy up a bit, and in my usual way, I ended up spending an hour or so doing some substantial reorganization. Looks a lot better out there now though!

So I guess tomorrow we’ll start shooting some skin rivets…

Posted in Workspace

Garage reorg, more parts prep

So my rearrangement idea from the other night appears to have worked out well. The crux of the idea was something I’d rejected before: putting the wings on the same wall where the horizontal stab is hanging. I didn’t think it would work before because the upright wings are higher than the bottom of the stab as it hangs. But in reality, the wing wouldn’t be sitting flush against the wall anyway. The real obstacle would probably be the elevator control horns, since they stick out a few inches, but they just so happen to be at the same spot where the ailerons are on the wings, and the ailerons naturally hang towards the inside of the wing cart, thus providing clearance with the elevator horns. It seemed workable just from poking around with a tape measure.

So today I rolled everything that wasn’t nailed down out into the driveway. That gave me the chance to sweep up a ton of congealed spiderwebs, sawdust, and aluminum chips – the cleanup was sorely needed. The wings ended up fitting very nicely. The actual main potential issue wasn’t the control horn, but the clecos holding the bottom wing skins in place, which threatened to make contact with the elevators. So I added some little standoff pieces of the wing cart, which prevents the wings from getting too close to the elevators:

IMG 6619

IMG 6620

IMG 6623

This new arrangement basically put all the bulky stuff in two corners of the garage, leaving the other two corners open for the length of the fuselage. Here’s a photo with the longerons on the floor to roughly mock how the fuse will sit:

IMG 6626

It’s better than before, but still not as roomy as I’d like it to be. Getting rid of the workbench on the right side of the photo would help, but then I’d only have one workbench. Not sure if that’s workable or not; if nothing else, I’d have to find storage for all the stuff I have on the shelf under the bench!

I intend to put the fuselage in a rotisserie setup once it’s together to make it easier to work on the interior. Most people do this by adapting an engine stand to attach to the engine mount points on the firewall, and just resting the tailwheel spring in a notched saw horse or something. I’m thinking I may opt to tie the engine stand to a tail stand that’s on caster, so the whole rotisserie is a unit. Then I could move the fuse around a bit if needed to get extra space in a particular area. I haven’t completely thought this through, so it may not be workable, we’ll see…

Once I got the garage back together, I went back to prepping for countersinking. I’d originally intended to take the parts I marked earlier in the week and countersink them one evening, but that didn’t happen. So now I’m going to combine work even more than before; instead of countersinking, I ask marked the main lingering and aft mid and bottom longerons for countersinking. This way, I’ll be able to basically do all the fuselage countersinking in one work session. Along the way, I deburred all those parts (the 16’ long main longerons were especially fun here) along with a few other random things lying around. Tomorrow will be Countersinking Day. After that, there’s lots more deburring and dimpling, and then it’ll be time to start riveting some of this stuff together!

Posted in Fuselage, Workspace | Hours Logged: 2


It’s funny how procrastination works; watching tons of flimsy excuses stack up, along with the perennial “just one more day” type of stuff. The dates here in my editor tell the story – it’s been just shy of two solid months since I worked on this project. A break while I was out of town for Christmas was unavoidable, but then after that…heh. “I should get back to work…tomorrow.” “It’s cold tonight and I don’t have a heater, I’ll wait until tomorrow.” “Blah blah blah.” Doing my first track day was another delay, since it was preceded by me doing some work on the car to get it up to snuff. Still, it was mostly excuses.

And yes, this entry doesn’t represent real work, but it’s a step in the right direction. This weekend brought some more car work, along with other commitments. I could have squeezed in garage time, but…well, excuses. I did decide, however, that one of the things helping me generate excuses was the messy state of the garage. There were tools and old car parts sitting all around, and it was easy on any day to get bummed about the need for cleanup. So tonight, I attacked the cleanup, in the hopes that this will make me more likely to do actual work tomorrow.

I could have done some actual work afterwards, but instead I came in to work on another project – studying for my instrument rating. I’ve decided that getting that rating is a goal for me this year. I’ve been talking about it for ages, and since I want to make the RV IFR-capable, having the rating should allow me to make far more informed decisions as to avionics.

So that’s it for now – I’m still alive, and the project (kind of) is as well.

Posted in Workspace

Interior painting, plans stand thingy

So I’m only logging this as an hour and a half on the build, but there’s a fair bit more time covered here, over the course of the last thee days.

Most of this was addressing what’s been sort of a chronic problem for most of the build – what to do with plans pages I need to refer to while working. I’ve done various things with the sheets, most recently just laying them out on a workbench. This works, but it means one of my workbenches (half of my “inventory”) is kind of unusable. And I’m about to need my standalone workbench clear, because it’s about time to pull the horizontal stab off the wall and get working on the service bulletin fix.

In the miss of all this, I was watching a youtube video where Steve Thorne (FlightChops) was getting started on his RV-14 build. Somewhere along the way they were using this sort of large podium-type thing, and I thought it looked like a useful thing. I’d thought about getting a drafting table for the plans but those are expeeeensive. This, however, seemed to cover the general idea.

Basically, it’s a ~waist-height table, with a bit of a slope to it. I decided to make mine with a sort of cabinet on top, where the table top hinges up. This way, I could store all the plans sheets inside, and be able to easily pull out the one I need at any time. I also decided to build a high frame on the back, and attach a pair of dry-erase boards that’ve been sitting around the hangar. I’ve been wanting to get those hung somewhere so I can start tracking punch-list-type items and so forth, but I never was sure where to hang them.

So the result is that I have this sort of “admin station” or something like that. Framed out with 2x4s, set on locking casters, and with a plywood cabinet built on top. It’s not going to win any furniture-building beauty contests, but it’s functional.

About the only thing I still want to figure out is some way to clip the plans sheet on the top down…I don’t want it blowing in the wind, after all. Normally I put random heavy objects down when I set these on the workbench, but that doesn’t really work here thanks to the slop. I probably could have made that a bit more gentle.

Anyway, here’s this contraption after I finished it up this morning (note ancient-history markings no one white board…hope those aren’t too much trouble to clean off):


Interspersed with that work this morning, I got the seat floors and baggage pan painted up. Lots of waiting involved here, so it works well as a sort-of concurrent thing. Gotta clean and scuff the things, then let them dry thoroughly…shoot primer, let it dry for an hour or so…then add the stone-texture paint, which also takes an eternity to become dry enough to touch. But hey, painted stuff!

Tomorrow I want to finish getting that workbench cleaned off – there’s still some random stuff sitting on it, but more important, it has my vise mounted, and that’s not going to work. I’ve considered mounting the vise to a small piece of 3/4” MDF, which I can clamp to the workbench when I need it. But I kinda suspect that the vise might not hold as well as I’d like if I do that. So maybe I’ll just consider this a temporary removal, we’ll see.

Also, I still need to talk Josie into helping me finish riveting the forward bottom skins…

Edit: Oh…I almost forgot. While I was picking up the lumber at Home Depot, I also picked up a few different black spray paints to try out (flat/satin/semi-gloss). While I was doing painting stuff today, I cut there little test squares and shot each one with a different black. Tomorrow I’ll compare them to the anodized throttle quadrant and decide which one matches the best. So far, semi-gloss unsurprisingly looks way too shiny, so I figure it’ll be either flat or satin, Given a choice, I’d rather go with the flat if it works, since I’ll likely end up painting the instrument panel with the same paint. Don’t want any more reflection there than I have to have.

Posted in Fuselage, Workspace | Hours Logged: 1.5

Just organizing stuff

Not putting any hours on this since I don’t consider it active aircraft work, but over the past few weeks I’ve been accumulating a lot of small stuff – connectors and associated stuff to go with my electrical junk, and then today a pile of cushion clamps and snap bushings from Aircraft Spruce. Most of this stuff has been sitting out on tables since it came in.

So I went to Harbor Freight a couple days ago and once again increased my inventory of storage boxes, then just started unpacking and storing stuff tonight. Now, among other things, I have a case full of connectors and terminals and a whole bunch of D-sub backshells:

Some less-great news: the conduit I ordered from Amazon, which was intended to be used to route the pitot controller wiring extension, is way bigger than I anticipated. I guess I was thinking that the conduit diameter specified was the OD, when in fact it’s the ID. So this stuff is kinda huge. And so now I need to order some more. Maybe if I get the order in tonight it’ll come Saturday, it’s like that pitot extension thing is my white-whale task or something.

On the other hand, I also got my AP roll servo mount kit, so I can get that installed on the right wing. I am really thinking the next big thing to do is get the tail feathers back off the fuselage. I think I keep putting it off because it looks so much more like an airplane with them on there…

Posted in Workspace