Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The plane is essentially completed. The paint job is Sherwin-Williams Skyscape, a catalyst base coat - clear coat application. And it came out beautifully!

The shine is deep and the dark blue has metal flake and is gorgeous in the sunlight.

Of course, being Northern Ohio, we haven't seen much of it this spring.

The wheel pants and the cowling and tail fairings are fiberglass.

They were well made as supplied from Van's but they were loaded with pin holes and required much effort to fill and seal. The fellows at Sherwin-Williams were up to the task and did a

perfect job. They are masters at this business.

She looks great with the pants.

I purchased an iPad2 for the numerous aviation apps available. Right now my favorite app is ForeFlight. The iPad mounts well in the cockpit. I have an alternate attachment point down on the center tunnel if the high mount gets in the way.

One hiccup has been the failure of the artificial horizon on the glass panel. It required removal and shipping it back to the Washington state company. I hope to get it back within a week from now. No flying until then.

I have 23 hours on the plane now and am anxious to fly it with the new paint job. The weight increased by 40 pounds and the C.G. moved back 2.5 inches. I assume the trim requirements will now be different.

Next is concentrated flying to many airports for practice and experience prior to my hoped for Odyssey to Petaluma California.

Thanks for reading my blog. I have enjoyed building this airplane as much as anything I have done it my life. The only thing better are my three wonderful children...and my S.O....and my puppy.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

I'm going to go back to August 27, 2010 when I had a flat tire while doing my taxi tests.

I was completing the third pass down the taxiway and wanted to turn 180 degrees to the right when the plane would not turn. It would turn to the left but not right. I thought I might have fallen in a pot hole. Stopping the engine and deplaning, I saw the flat tire. I had to be ignominiously towed back to the FBO repair hanger to have the tire repaired. Inspection of the tube revealed this diagonal slice.

The A&P couldn't come up with a cause, even rubbing the inside of the tire didn't reveal anything interesting. All I could surmise was that at one point in the travels of the tube from manufacturer to me, someone must have inadvertently sliced it with a box cutter while unwrapping it. Needless to say, I was very grateful that it didn't happen while landing. Two years ago a Cirrus had a flat and after going off of the runway and through a sign, the insurance company had to write a check for $60,000. I then took the other two tires off and thoroughly inspected them for any damage, found none.

On November 8, on my 24th landing, the plane vibrated severely at touchdown and started to pull strongly to the left. Quick application of right rudder and right toe brake kept the plane on the runway and allowed me to let it coast to the left edge. Guess what? Another flat tire.

You can see the black squiggly line from the center of the runway to the tire.

Well, I survived a flat tire upon landing now.

The same A&P crew towed me again to the FBO repair hanger. Disassembly showed an unusual result.

The second tube had a remarkably similar slice as the first tube, in fact the slices were identical.

The A&P mechanic had never seen anything like this in his 30 years of experience.

This pointed to the tire and a very close visual inspection under a bright light showed a ply flaw that you couldn't feel and could barely see.

It looks like an errant ply thread had laid across the tire and caused the cut. I assume under pressure, the soft rubber becomes much stiffer and is tightly pressed between the internal air pressure and the inside surface of the tire.

I ordered a new tire and tube and contacted the tire vendor and supplier. They said that it was a defect covered under warranty.

After that I continued with the Production Acceptance Procedures and the plane passed all tests perfectly.

The plane is a joy to fly. I now have 20 hours on it and have completed the testing and am now able to take a passenger and go where I want to.

Note, the altimeter reads 10,000 feet MSL, the legal limit for a sport pilot.

I have installed wheel pants...

...and next week she goes in the shop for her paint job.

I'll post her new look.

Thanks for viewing my blog.


Monday, October 11, 2010

On Saturday, 10-9-10, RV12 N399FP had her maiden flight!

She flew very well. I transitioned using a high-wing CTLS S-LSA and the RV12 is easier to land and takeoff. The plane feels solid and controlling it requires just fingertips on the joy stick.

I have 12 takeoffs and landings so far. The next task is flying off the required FAA test hours and filling out the production acceptance procedures that Van's requests. This will require a lot of flying incorporating all of the maneuvers that the aircraft is safely capable of.

After the conclusion of that, I will be free to travel anywhere and carry another person. Now some have asked me if I would take my little dog, Loocie, with me but she means too much to me to risk it. I'll take anyone else though.

My other goal is to paint it in time for Oshkosh next summer.

This photo is known as the "RV Grin".

Thanks for viewing my blog.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wow folks, it has been five months since I have updated my blog. That is pitiful and I have no excuse. But I have been busy since then.

The next step in the airplane construction is the engine and avionics. This was the event where I wrote the two largest personal checks ever. Talk about being choked up. But the engine and avionics packages came complete, intact and undamaged.

I first installed the servos for the two-axis auto pilot option. That required the installation of additional structural bracketry which was difficult to install at this stage of construction but was accomplished none the less.

Then attaching and wiring the servos, one for roll control (flaperons) and one for pitch control (stabilator). The wonderful thing about this Van's RV12 kit is that all of the parts are included - all nuts, bolts, washers, fittings, clamps, etc. This means no shopping trips to Home Depot (airplane people don't really buy hardware there, do they?) or Spruce aviation hardware on the web. It also means that all of the parts and pieces and bits are exactly right for the intended application. It offers a lot of confidence to me, the builder and eventual flier.

The instrument panel was prewired with all of the switches and fuses and connectors and was a simple matter to connect computer style db cables between the radio, transponder, GPS and Dynon180 EFIS.
(Electronic Flight Information System). This glass panel replaces the six common round, mechanical gauges previously found in airplanes.

I had to mill a rectangular slot in the panel to install the auto pilot control head and that fit perfectly. The next task was the getting the airframe on it's gear.

Then came the installation of the fire wall forward equipment or FWF as those in the know call it. This included all of the wiring and relays and starter solenoid and battery and 12 volt connectors and so on. Then the engine. The single largest cost item had as it's first instruction, "take a hacksaw and saw a lug off of the starter motor". Gulp! It was not needed in this application and would interfere with the engine mount anyway.

Then the entire top of the engine had to be stripped to allow the precise fitting of a cooling shroud for the cylinders.

This engine is unlike other aviation piston engines in that it has air-cooled cylinders but water-cooled cylinder heads. That will necessitate a water radiator. The engine was re-assembled and then mounted to the aircraft. Gee, I thought that maybe this airplane thing will work out after all. Then came the fitting of the engine cowling, the glassing of the radiator cooling duct, the fitting of the oil radiator, attaching the propeller and the spinner with the little pitot tube sticking out of the center looking like a miniature machine gun.
This test was determining the cylindricity of the pitot tube.

At this stage, two small lower fuselage close-out pieces were riveted and that was that!
Now things were coming together really fast.

At this point, pretty much everything was done that I could do in my garage. The vertical stabilizer, horizontal stabilator and wings had to be attached to continue. Out to the airport. My two crew, Terry the neph and Dan the friend since 1964. On the trailer.

Now in the hanger after all the remaining stuff is attached. Now control cable tensions had to be set and clearances set for all moving parts. Nothing can stick or jam

A fuel system integrity and fuel pump performance test was done. The engine, having a dry sump, has to have the oil system purged to insure oil is where it is supposed to be prior to the first start.

Then came the first start. My crew was there with fire extinguishers and my S.O.was there for support and picture taking. Wow! she is ALIVE!

Following that was calibration of the static system and pitot system. Then an software update for the Dynon was done using a laptop with downloaded programs and a computer port in the airplane. Everything has worked well so far.

Taxi tests were performed and on the third one, my left tire went instantly flat. This occurred on the main taxiway and I had to have the plane ignominiously towed to the repair hanger. The inner tube had a slice in it, not from being pinched but more like being cut with a box cutter.

All I can imagine is that during this tube's transit from it's origin to Oregon, perhaps someone wrapping or unwrapping caused the cut. The scary thing though is it held air since I originally inflated it in May and there were two previous taxi tests. I am glad it failed now instead of during my first landing. Yikes! Somebody up there likes me.

All that remains is a fuel system calibration and a compass calibration. I am still waiting on the FAA for my registration so I can hire a DAR for the airworthiness inspection. I've been told that when the weight of the paperwork equals the weight of the plane, then the FAA will be satisfied. After that inspection - first flight.

I'll post the results.

Thanks for reading my blog.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

775 hours have been put into this project and one year and five months have elapsed since I received the first kit.

It has been a very interesting and rewarding experience.

This is the wooden jig that Van's recommends constructing from the packing crates to place the rudder pedals correctly for setting the cable length. These guys are so very clever.

I have finished the rudder cables which required placing the fuselage on the bottom level of my work dolly to clear the low ceiling in my garage. This also enabled me to work on the canopy which is almost complete.

I also had an opportunity to sit in the cockpit, grab the joystick and make all sorts of airplane noises.

One part of the project that was unexpected required the construction of a fiberglass fairing at the base of the canopy aft of the front cowling. After some expert tutelage from Jeff Shutic, a master at resins and fiberglass, I came up with a pretty good result.

Another task is the assembly and sealing of the fuel tank. It is a smelly, sticky and unpredictable task. I would prefer to pay a couple of hundred bucks for a poly or welded aluminum tank. But it is what it is. So far I have everything but the top, vent tube, sight glass and sending unit plate sealed. That will take place soon.
Even the gas filler cap is slick!

The day came when I had to bring the wings back from storage and fit them to the fuselage. This goes without saying that it is pretty important that the wings fit.

My helpful nephew, Terry, assisted me. The wings weigh about 88 pounds but they are impossible to move by oneself. I rented the stake truck that Home Depot has available and with a jury-rigged tailgate extender, we were able to to transfer the two wings, flaperons and wing cart in three trips. Luckily my storage facility is only about a mile away.

The wings do fit, the flaperons flap and ailerate too. The Jesus pins go in, sometimes with some force but having someone jiggle the wings helps.

All that remains of the finishing kit is installing the landing gear and brakes and tires.

The engine and avionics will arrive next week but the Rotax engine sensors are on back order.

As of Easter Sunday, there are sixteen weeks until Oshkosh.