Friday, January 31, 2014

Door Handles

I started the door handles last weekend. I wanted to get an understanding of how all the components worked and I just needed a break from the fiberglass. The handles are actually a very simple design once you look things over. A quick study of the plans and holding the parts in your hands it's all takes to get how the things assemble.

The next day I sanded the LH door to it's final size. This took maybe 4 or 5 trial fits and sanding before I got it to a final shape I liked. I also finished installing the hinges on the LH side (RH was completed before). I also made a small 0.25" block to slide along the interior door skin and mark the door gutter on the cabin. The gutters will be sanded down to the 0.25" mark to allow adequate gaping for the McMaster Carr door seals.

Dates and Times
25 Sat  -3.5 hrs- Started working on handles. Also rearranged and cleaned up the shop but this isn't included in the time.
26 Sun -4.75 hrs- Sanded LH door to final size. Finished hinges. Marked gutter edge for cut.

Total Time on Door So Far
24.0 hrs

I had to polish the inside of the handle tube so the internal pin would fit and slide better.

This is how I installed the safety latch pin. I used a zip tie to hold the spring back and held the pin in place with vice grips. The vice grips also slightly squeeze the pin to aid in hammering it into the hole. Be sure to not squeeze the pin where the two sides touch each other as this might damage the pin and it won't stay in the hole as it's designed. Also, I had to open up the slot in the handle tube quite a bit to allow the pin to slide freely up and down.

The handle resting in place inside the door.

The exterior handle sitting in position in all it's ugly glory.

A shot of the progress thus far...see how the upper forward fuselage is installed!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Started Doors

I started the doors.....oh no! not the dreaded, much complained, endless amounts of work, frustrating, most hated part of the build doors. Yep, those are the ones. And so far so good.

I'm building the doors a little differently, well a lot differently, than what the plans have you do. Although, what I'm doing is not novel. Many before have done the same or similar. I am installing the McMaster Carr seals that so many recommend, and I see why, it will make a very good seal when I'm finished. I will be installing the third latch from PlaneAround. I am also upgrading the struts as I discussed on the previous post. I am not very far into the doors yet but I can already see how all these changes are a great improvement over the Van's original design. My process for installing the doors might be slightly different than others and I won't know if it's for better or worse until I'm finished. Other builders have spent 130-160hrs building these doors. I really hope they won't drag out as long for me....but we'll see.

Dates and Times
Door Times
Sat 18th -3.0 hrs- Broke down finish kit crate (not included in build time). Started doors.
Sun 19th -6.25 hrs- Long day...kept following directions of cutting and such and at the very end of the day I glued the two halves together...11:00 at night.
Mon 20th -5.25 hrs- Cut doors to rough shape. Sanded RH door to almost final shape.
Wed 22nd -1.25 hrs- Worked on door hinges.

Other Work Times
Mon 20th -1.5 hrs- Jess and I installed the upper forward fuselage (sorry no pics...but it looks really good trust me)

Total Time on Doors So Far
15.75 hrs

I clecoed the two halves together and rough cut the window out. All per plans nothing special here. The first cut is very rough and therefore not precise and time consuming. There is no need for that now, that stuff is for later.

I made a hole finder to find the holes on the fuselage. The holes were left open to cleco the door to the fuselage while the two halves are glued together. The hole finder is just two pieces of scrap aluminum riveted together at the end with two rivets. Then drilled at the front end through both layers of aluminum. The bottom hole then has a rivet glued into place to find the hole and the top hole becomes a great way to start drill a hole. (later the same part becomes an edge finder)

I put insulation in my doors. The insulation is 3/4" thick and worked really well with the depth of the door pockets. The insulation was tacked in with RTV and then I placed the outer shell on top to hold it down while it dried.

This is where things get really different from the plans. The bottom of the doors are held in place by clecos per the plans but then this idea is carried around the entire outside edge of the doors. I drilled holes around the entire perimeter into the cabin top (later they will be refilled with epoxy) and clecoed the door in place. This made the door match the curvature of the fuselage really well while the two halves dried together. I think/hope that this saves me a lot of effort and time in trying to get the doors to look nice....but we'll see.
(I should note that I got this idea less than 72hrs before gluing the doors together from Ed, previously mentioned several times on this blog, who got the idea from his tech counselor who happens to be the same tech counselor that Brian and Brandi used, also mentioned several times on this blog. Kind of a weird web of RV-10 awesomeness)

The hole finder is now being used as an edge finder. I should note that I plan on squaring off my door and fuselage instead of the 45 degree angle that Van's has in the plan. So I need to cut the door flush with the fuselage edge. I used the edge finder to mark my cut lines. I just placed a sharpie in the hole and drug the edge/hole finder along the cabin edge perimeter and made my mark. Note the faint gray line that is to the left of the thick black line, that is the cut mark from Van''s a little off.

This is also something I did different. I wanted the doors to sit flush with the outside skin (like they will when they're finished) while I continued trimming. So instead of leaving the little ears sticking out on the sides to pick up the alignment holes in the fuselage I made these alignment plates. First with the door clecoed in place on the fuselage in other holes (now cut away in this picture) I just match drilled the plates to the door and then labeled their location. So far this has worked really well for me and I like working with the doors in what will be their final position.

I placed the hinges in their pockets. No problems here. Just followed the directions.

I made two upper attach plates to hold the door top in the position I want it. This should help hold everything in place while I drill the holes for the hinges. Hopefully nothing will shift.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Door Strut Investigation

SECOND UPDATE: I keep getting email about these door struts asking if they worked out. As I stated below in my first update I do not recommend the McMaster struts. So to be clear I did not use the McMaster struts and as noted later in the blog I finally just settled on the HD struts from Van's. It was a fun experiment and hopefully this post will save someone else time and money in case they try to do the same thing I did.

FIRST UPDATE: After installing the struts for the first time I came to find that they do not have any damping (or if it is damped it's so little that you can't tell). This allows the doors to come to slamming stop instead of a gentle rest. I do not recommend these struts and have not decided what step to take now.

The stock door struts included in Van's finish kits apparently leave a bit to be desired. They have a 500 Newton (112lb) lifting force and wear out quickly, or so I've heard. I deleted these from my finish kit hearing that stronger ones were recommended. Here are my options I found after much research:

Van's Heavy Duty Strut 600 Newton (135lb) lifting force - $131 each
I found that Van's buys these struts from a company called Dean Lewis Associates who gets them from the manufacturer Stabilus. (2 middle men markups before I buy them and kind of expensive for gas struts)

After research on the forums others recommended getting the Stabilus part number 2218LP Lift-O-Mat Gas Strut. (I'm assuming it's the same part number offered from Van's) The forums recommended a company called JWF Technologies. They sell the part for $94 (cheaper than Van's) but with a 4-6 week lead time.

So I decided to see what other options I have. A McMaster Carr search using the dimensions of the 2218LP Stabilus Strut revealed two options that had a 130lb lifting force and the same dimensions. One of the options was made by a company called Bansbach and was Stainless Steel. McMaster was selling them for $57 each. The other option was made by a company called SUSPA and was a treated steel with the rod and tubes all black (that should look nice). I called and confirmed that the part was damped (the last 10mm are damped) which was important. The best part is that they were about $14 each!

I figured the $14 struts were worth the gamble. If they give out in a year it's no big loss and it's an easy upgrade to the Stabilus struts if need be.

The struts from McMaster need rod ends so I found some that matched the dimensions of the Stabilus rod ends (which are made from plastic by the way) and included those in my order. Oh and they will probably be at my door tomorrow, no lead time.

Here is my order with the part numbers from McMaster Carr a grand total of only $33 with the rod ends:

Here are the dimensions of the Stabilus 2218LP Gas Strut (it's German made so dimensions are in mm)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Finish Kit Arrival

I took Friday the 17th off from work to stay home and wait for my Finish Kit to arrive. The shipping company said it would be delivered between 10 and 2. While waiting on the kit to arrive I completed several odd jobs I've been meaning to complete. Finally they called and said they had some lift gate problems and it should be there in the next couple hours.  .....long story short, the day was very frustrating with broken promises and the kit didn't arrive until 7:30 that night. Luckily, Kris, who stopped by earlier in the day with the intention to help unpack everything stuck around until they finally arrived. The temps were now dropping into the mid 20's outside and this didn't sound like fun anymore. We decided to try and roll the pallet jack on the semi frozen ground to the shop. The shop sits about 200 feet off the street and the crate weighs about 350lbs. With a running start we actually made it to the shop, exhausted, but we made it. The truck driver, upon entering the shop, was just amazed over the plane and had several questions. The excitement and wonder he had over the plane relieved the frustrations of the day and made me remember just how cool this project really is.

Kris left after hanging around much longer than he intended and then Jess and I started unpacking the crate...

Taking the top off.

The engine cowlings are huge!

With Ayla fast asleep inside Jess was able to help me unpack and complete inventory. There really isn't that much to this kit. A lot of big parts.

Dorky space helmet pic.

Finished Fuel Lines

I finally got around to finishing my fuel lines. (Hours reported on previous post)

First let me tell you about the heat shielding product I bought. It's an automotive heat shield product that is very lightweight and has an adhesive backing to it. I called the manufacturer of the product (Heatshield Products) and explained what I was doing...building a plane and plan to install a heat shield on the engine side of the firewall. I also explained how this is a high airflow area and the general distance from the heat source. They suggested that the Thermaflect Cloth would be the best choice. I will be installing this on my firewall but that is for some other day. For now I lined the bottom of the soundproofing that is going in the tunnel to help reflect the heat away from the tunnel. Hopefully keeping my tunnel temps a little lower.

First I applied the Themaflect cloth to the bottom of the soundproofing foam.

View looking down with everything installed. Notice the fuel pump sits at a small angle. For my install this just seemed to work better. I had to cut the plastic bushings that hold the line in place under the seat pans in order to get them on the fuel line.

View looking aft inside the tunnel. The Stainless Steel flex lines from Bonaco made this part pretty easy.
This earlier post discusses my order from Bonaco.

Line sticking out the side of the fuselage waiting to attach to the wing. Notice the 45 degree fitting. Hopefully all this attaches easily.

Overhead Primer

After more sanding I decided it's finally time to prime the overhead console. I used SEM High Build Primer sprayed from a rattle can. A single can was just enough cover everything. Of course after spraying the primer more pinholes showed up. After the primer dried I filled the pinholes with resin and filler and then sanded everything one more time....hopefully the last time. I then (with help from a friend of mine) drilled and attached all of the nutplates to hold the close out panels in place. I also made a small close out panel that will go on the front edge of the overhead and straddles the center post. The panel will help finish out the hole on the forward edge.

I jumped around on parts to work on. Sometimes, multiple parts on the same day. Therefore my times will be a little scattered on this post.
Dates and Times
Sat 11th -4.5 hrs- Sanded overhead, final fit for close out panels, sprayed high build primer on overhead, a few other odds and ends
Sun 12th -5.5 hrs- Finished fuel lines (details in another post)
Mon 13th -1.25 hrs- Countersunk holes in canopy, installed bushing in canopy top (all per plans)
Tues 14th  -1.0 hr- Filled pinholes in overhead console
Wed 15th  -1.0 hr- Final fit for close out panels in overhead. Started sanding filled spots and primer
Fri 17th -4.0 hrs- Insulated top of upper fwd fuselage, trimmed sound panels for easier maintenance when upper fwd fuselage is installed, random small jobs of little importance, with help sanded the overhead (about a 1 hr of effort on the overhead). Then later that evening Jess and I unpacked the finishing kit. (more on this in another post)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Still Working on Overhead

You know, not really feeling very "bloggy" today so it's gonna stay short...
sanded, sanded, and sanded. Back filled with filler to smooth it all out. It's hard to tell but the panels are flush mounted. I plan to finish this thing up and prime this weekend.

Dates and Times
Wed 1st -3.0 hrs- worked on overhead, sanded overhead, cut access panels out, molded panels into place Thur 2nd -1.25 hrs- more sanding, removed panels
Sat 4th -5.0 hrs- sanded everything down, worked on front contour
Sun 5th -3.5 hrs- sanded more, drilled pilot holes into panels, finished forming edge around panels, clean up shop...dust everywhere