Sunday, November 27, 2016

Section: 37
Hours: 5

I reached a point where I needed to have the roll bar assembly riveted in before I could continue with the canopy frame, so today I assembled the roll bar.

First I clecoed the roll bar in place, hit it with a rubber mallet to make sure it was seated on the bases and then match drilled the required holes into the bases. Then I removed the assembly and deburred and cleaned up all the drill chips. Then I assembled it again and did the riveting.

The roll bar is pull riveted to the bases because there is no access to the inside. I used my pneumatic pull riveter for these. By the time I finished riveting the bases I had used all the rivets provided in the kit. They cut the count close- no extra opps rivets in this kit.

Here I've attached the bushing and the doublers with pull rivets.

The roll bar brace gets attached with some hefty pull rivets on the top.

The back of the roll bar brace is riveted to the fuselage using solid rivets. A couple of these were a pain to reach behind the bulkhead...

Flush rivets are used to attach the brace to the top skin.

I finished up today by riveting in the skin diagonal longerons.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Section: 38
Hours: 4

I started assembling the canopy frame. First I riveted together the canopy hinge assemblies. Then I riveted the hinge assemblies to the forward frame. I couldn't get the squeezer to fit so I resorted to using the rivet gun. The straight stick was too short so I had to use the longer bent stick to reach around the hinge.

Here's the completed rivets for the hinge to frame connection.

Then I used pull rivets to attach the forward and rear intercostal parts to the middle frame. Glad they called out pull rivets- too tight to fit either the squeezer or rivet gun in here.

Next I riveted the middle frame to the rear of the hinge assembly that was already attached to the forward frame. I could use the straight stick on these which made it a little easier.

Here's the hinge assembly riveted to the forward and middle frame.

I was then able to use the squeezer to attach the outer rivets to attach the rail base to the forward and middle frames.

Here is the forward part of the canopy frame all clecoed together. I used my pneumatic cleco gun extensively for this exercise. I was really happy to have it today- otherwise it would be carpal tunnel pain tonight - big time!

The plans have you use a digital level to match the angle of the left and right side of the rail base to make sure there isn't any twist. I spent 30-40 minutes twisting and adjusting the assembly to get it equalled out. It isn't a very stable assembly, even with all the clecoes and the cross brace angles.

I finally figured out that I could get the bases to match perfectly with no measurable angle difference just by laying it on a couple spacer boards on my perfectly flat EAA 1000 work table top. As far as I'm concerned, it's a total waste of time trying to adjust out twist using the method recommended in the user manual. The assembly just isn't that stable when it is upside down.

I match drilled the sides and added some more clecos while the assembly sat on the table and then carefully turned it back upside down to complete the remaining hole matching drill operations. When I turned it upside down the bases still measured out with no measurable twist.

The manual has you countersink the bottoms of the aft canopy rails but then shoot button head rivets with the shop side going into the counter sinks. This is a pretty clever trick! I was able to use the squeezer to get the shop heads perfectly flush.

Here's the manufactured head side. You end up with nice button heads on the inside and flush heads on the other.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Section: 38
Hours: 5

The sun was out, it warmed up to the low 60's and I painted this afternoon. I'm almost to the bottom of my 4th gallon of primer with more parts yet to prime. Looks like I will need at least another quart to finish the seat backs and assorted other parts yet to be assembled, but the end is in sight!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Section: 38
Hours: 5

Today I washed and acid scrubbed a big pile of parts. It looks like tomorrow will be the last sunny warm day for the foreseeable future so I wanted to get everything ready for painting. Make hay while the sun shines!

This is most of the parts for putting together the canopy frame. I left out a few that have to be match drilled and counter sunk further into the assembly process.

Big day today- my brand new Lycoming IO-390 210 horse power engine arrived!!! The garage is feeling very tight on space now…

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Section: 28
Hours: 4

I found some more parts to prep. I filed down the edges of the rear canopy bulkhead and the canopy latch handle parts. The pile is getting pretty big...

Monday, November 21, 2016

Section: 38
Hours: 5

I was hoping to get the next batch of parts for the canopy ready for painting tomorrow but I underestimated the amount of prep work yet to be done.

I started out fabricating the canopy handles from angle stock.

I counter sank some holes in the aft canopy rail flange and then moved on to adjusting the flanges of the canopy frames. The flanges required light fluting and a lot of adjustment to get them to lie flat against the canopy skin. I clecoed the frames to the skin and noted where adjustments were needed and then used my wood flange bending tool to square up everything. Some of the flange tabs needed some more curvature to fit smoothly into the curve of the skin.

I clecoed / unclecoed / adjusted multiple times before getting a fit I thought was close enough. I figure this part of the airplane will be (literally) in front of my face when flying so I better get it right. I don't want to be fixating on poorly seated rivets when I should be enjoying watching the sky.

I still have some counter sinking to do tomorrow, but here's my stack of parts mostly ready for wash, acid etch and prime.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Section: 38
Hours: 4

I continued working on prepping the canopy parts. Lots of parts…

I did a trial fit to see how the parts assemble together. It's rather clever how the side rails lock into the forward bulkheads.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Section: 38
Hours: 4

More filing, deburring, polishing, fluting, etc. getting parts prepped for the canopy frame. I had my first power tool casualty of the project- my faithful Craftsman 4" disc / belt sander died today. The plastic bearing wheel in one of the idler drums disintegrated into a gazillion parts. I replaced it with a new Porter-Cable 6" disc / belt sander from Lowe's. I lucked out- it was on sale $20 off today. The disc / belt sander has been one of my more heavily used tool for this project. I use the belt sander to smooth the rough water cut edges of the heavier aluminum pieces and the disc sander is great for squaring edges and rounding corners of smaller parts, angle stock and tubing.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Section: 37
Hours: 5

The weather was good today and the paint had cured enough on the roll bar parts so I decided to work on fixing the streaks and drips from painting earlier in the week. I sanded down the roll bar and support pieces with 320 grit sand paper, used dry. Then I scrubbed with maroon scotch brite pads and wiped everything down with lint free rags lightly soaked with 90 proof rubbing alcohol. I catalyzed 3 oz. of EkoCrylic and shot on another 2 fog coats and a final wet coat. I didn't get any runs today and the paint covered without streaks.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Section: 36
Hours: 1

I fitted and drilled holes in the rod ends for the 3rd elevator push rod.

Section: 38
Hours: 3

I moved on to working on the canopy structure. Lots of parts in this section to file, polish, debur etc.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Section: 37
Hours: 4

Today I did some more top coat painting on the roll over structure. I spent a couple hours prepping and cleaning and then suited up in my paint overalls, catalyzed 4 oz. of EkoCrylic Dawn Patrol Gray and began applying the fog coats to the parts. Halfway through the 2nd fog coat it started raining which caused a bunch of runs in the water based EkoCrylic. What a disaster. I moved everything into the garage and dabbed down the runs with rags. I decided to try to salvage the paint and moved everything back to the paint booth and applied a heavy wet coat to finish up. Unfortunately, the paint streaked and ran. I guess I will have to do it over after it cures. Ugh!!!!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Section: 36
Hours: 5

I inserted the bearings in the ends of the push rods and set the lengths as specified in the manual. I found it was easiest to draw dimensions on the work table and lay the push rods over the drawing to make the length adjustments.

An easy riveting job for a change- here's the bell crank assembly.

The bell crank is attached to the base using screws and nut plates. Should make it easy for maintenance later on.

I inserted the forward elevator push rod - you have to start it back in the tail cone and work it forward through the tunnel until it reaches the control column in front of the seats. Then I inserted the bearing end of the push rod in the control column elevator arm and pushed the bolt and washers in place. At that point I discovered I could not tighten the nut because it was impossible to reach with the socket wrench. I tried getting at it from several access points but my hands and the wrench were just too big. I went to lunch break to think it over...

At lunch I remembered I had various extensions that I could add to the wrench to reach difficult nuts and bolts. Here's the solution I came up with. I used two extensions and several end adaptors.

Here's the push rod bearing bolted to the elevator arm!

Then I assembled the mid elevator push rod and bell crank assembly and inserted it in the tail cone.

Then I bolted the forward and mid push rods to the idler arm under the baggage floor.

Here's the forward push rod running from the control column back to the idler arm.

And here's the mid push rod running from the idler arm back to the bell crank assembly in the tail cone.

The push rods move very smoothly with little or no friction or play and do not rub on any of the structure. This is going to be a really nice control system! I think Van's has done an amazing job with the engineering design. It feels as smooth as the systems in the Germain high performance gliders I've flown.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Section: 35
Hours: 7

I bolted the canopy cradle assemblies in place.

Then I attached the shock struts to the cradle arms.

Then I installed and bolted up the canopy release mechanism.  

When the release mechanism is in full closed position, the pin doesn't quite span the opening between the sides of the cradle arm. When the mechanism is moved the other direction, the pin drops out of the hole. It doesn't seem like it will take much to release the canopy...

After that I mixed up some more ProSeal and riveted the right side of the upper skin to the structure. It took several hours to set the rivets because it was so difficult to reach them with the bucking bar. I decided to leave the left side riveting until I can get a helper. There's no access hole in the bulkhead on the right side and my arms are not long enough.

Since I had the rudder cable links painted I installed them.

I finished up the day pulling the rivets for the freshly primed rod end and elevator push rod tube.