Some Interior Work

Time: 3.0 hrs

I haven’t been working on the plane much since the weather has been kind of crappy. I did get one of the fuel tank skins from TAF a few days ago so I’m able to start putting that tank together. If the weather gets better then I’ll mix up some tank sealer and finish the stainless steel rivets on the wing and do some of the preliminary items for the tanks like the sender, drain, cap, etc.

Today it rained so I finally got to doing the last interior panel. The other panels were pretty easy, just cut the material put on the glue and cover the panel. These last two panels that go near the firewall on the center console are a bit more involved. The material is both leather and carpet sewn together. You need to line up the seam with the previous 2 panels that install on the console and also put in a foam backing piece. The foam piece is to fill in behind the leather to get it to sit nicer on the panel since there is a seam that protrudes out the back of the material.

The first part was finding where the seam needed to be and then figuring out how the foam would go. I figured that this panel will sit under the other 2 panels since those panels would most likely be removed more frequently. I decided to leave the foam material out of the area where the other panels join so the panels would sit more flush. After that it was just glueing and cutting.

The foam is 7/16″ higher than the line for the seam and butts up against the join with the other panels. I glued down the foam and trimmed it, then glued the covering on, making sure the seam line up with the other panels.

The join looks good and the seam lines up with the other two panels.

After some trimming and more gluing it’s done. I think that’s all the covering I needed to do. I still need to install the side panels in the fuselage though.

Right Wing Tip and Strobe Plate

Time: 2.5 hrs

Today I installed the wing tip on the right wing and made up some backing plates for the strobe lights. I would have liked to do the left tip as well, but I’m still waiting of the part from TAF. I believe it’s at Torrance TAF now, so I just need to see when I can get over there and get it. I also made up 2 backing plates for the strobe lights. I don’t have the lights yet, but I’ll be using the Aveo Ultra Daylight strobes. I had read that someone building a Zenith (I think) had equipped their aircraft for IFR, but the DAR only gave him “VFR Only” on his AC. When he asked the DAR why that was the DAR pointed at his strobe which were Aveo Powerburst strobes and said those aren’t “approved lights”. So while I guess you need to take these stories with a grain of salt I am slightly worried that since the Ultra Daylight strobe aren’t TSO’d then the DAR may complain about it. The nice thing is that Aveo does make a TSO’d strobe called Ultra Galactica which are the same footprint as the Ultra Daylight (they cost about $500 more though) so if I do have a problem then I can aways switch to those without too much trouble.

The wing tip went better than expected. The main issue was it was about 1/4″ too long. Now I did install the small aluminum tip piece which the manual says to install after, but I figured that I just needed to cut a little off the trailing edge to get the wing tip to slip in there. Looking at it closer it was evident that the trailing edge of the wing tip, even if I could get it into the space where it goes, was too long. I ground down the trailing edge of the wing tip with a Dremel and sanded. You can’t take too much off because you’ll get to the inside of the seam and the two parts can separate. I also had a bit of an accident when trying to get the tip on and the aluminum on the trailing edge piece cracked a bit right at the bend. I cut it off and rounded it off and actually it’s what made the tip finally fit well.

Once the wing tip was on, I checked that there was enough fiber glass inside the wing so the rivets would hold, I went through and drilled out all the holes, clecoing as I went. The fit is pretty good. I’m thinking I may add rivets in-between on the bottom of the leading edge to get ride of the scalloping in that spot and get the skin to sit better. I don’t think I really need to fill anywhere, but I’ll see once I’m done with those extra rivets.

Next was making the plates for the strobes. I don’t have the strobes yet so I couldn’t use them as a template. I was able to get the footprint diagram from Aveo online and then I just scaled the image in some image editing software so that when I measured the print out it measured 100.3mm long and 46mm wide. I then used that as the template to mark and cut a sheet of 0.32 aluminum.

Here’s how the trailing edge came out. I think the rounded cut in the aluminum piece really helped. I tried to thin out the fiberglass as much as possible as well, but you can only do so much.

It’s on and lines up really well. This is the newer tip with the area to mount the strobe light.

This is really the only “problem” area. I think if I add in 4 more rivets between these it will get the skin to flatter on the tip. The only place I may need to fill is the leading edge where there’s a small gap.

I made up my backing plates for the strobes. I put two small holes for the wire hole because I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do there. I’d like to use the small round connectors that I used on the tail strobe, but I need to make a 3/4″ hole (using the rear hole as the center) and it may be too large. So if I go with simple fast on tabs then I’ll just do a 1/2″ hole to get the wires and connectors through and use the other more forward hole as the center. In either case the pilot holes will get eaten by the larger holes. The holes in order from top to bottom of the plate are: 1/8″ for mounting rivet, 7mm for 5mm rivnut (strobe mount), pilot holes for where the wiring will run, 4mm (alignment pin on strobe), 1/8″ hole for the other mounting rivet.

The idea was to get these done and mounted and the I could rivet the right tip on, but when I looked at how the strobes will mount on the strobe mounting area I’m thinking it would be best to have the actual strobe light to see exactly how it will fit. The flat area of the mounting area is just barely large enough for the strobe to fit so just want to make sure I put it in the best spot.

Aileron and Flap Alignment…. Arghhhh!!!!!

Time: 13.0hrs

Well I’ve been going crazy over the past few days working on getting the aileron and flap aligned on the right wing. I haven’t even started on the left one yet. There are 2 challenges when doing this. First is figuring out if the trailing edges of the wing, flap and aileron are all aligned all the way down the wing. This isn’t too hard, but did take a few tries to figure out what worked best. The Second challenge is once you get everything lined up nicely and clamped down, how to do put rivets into the leading edge of the aileron and flap. There’s no way to get a rivet gun in there without moving the part and once you move it the alignment is going to be off… well at least for me it was… especially on the flap.

So for the first part I leveled out the rear spare and then used a cheapo laser level thingy from Home Depot to project a line down the training edge of the wing. It basically just projects a straight line laser beam for about 20 ft. I had tried to use string with some wood stand offs, but the string would sag after a while.

I used some white paper in the far clamp so I could see the line projected by the laser and more easily line it up with the trailing edge of the wing walk skin. You can also faintly see it on the aileron/flap join or use your hand or paper to see it better to check the alignment of that joint. You really just need the beam to set the alignment of the aileron/flap joint because the other sides you just get them to match the trailing edge of the wing itself which is easily done by using some clamps to clamp the two parts together.

The laser level I bought fit perfect into a 3″ clamp so it was pretty easy to hold it on the wing and make fine adjustments to get it aligned with the far end (root) of the wing.

I also was able to measure the slope of the trailing edge which for me was about 0.6 degrees.

For the next challenge I removed the part from the wing and put on the work bench. I started with the aileron. I put it up on 2×4 blocks and strapped it down on one end. On the other end (wing root side) I put the leading edge on a 2×4 block and then cut a piece of wood as a spacer so that it set the 0.6 degree angle that I measured when it was on the wing. I then strapped down this side as well.

Later after taking the photo I used short pieces of floor transition molding to clamp the ends if the strap rather then use the screw. This was done so I could pull the strap nice and tight then tighten the 2 screws in the transition molding so it held down the strap.

So with the aileron strapped down with the correct slope dialed in I went and started to ream out the leading edge holes. There were quite a bit off so you need to elongate the top skin hole and try not to elongate the hole on the skin underneath so the rivet holds better.

I put in 3 rivets and then fit the aileron back on the wing to check the alignment. Everything seemed good so I strapped it back down on the work bench, checked the slope with the level and reamed and riveted the rest of the leading edge. You just need to make sure to ream all the holes so that you aren’t putting any pressure on the skin to cause it to mess up the twist that is set.

After the aileron was done I moved on to the flap. I put in a few rivets and checked the alignment and all looks good so far. I’ll try to finish up the riveting tomorrow and post some photos.

UPDATE: 11/20/2019

Well it seems to have worked. Everything lines up great so now just need to do the same on the left wing.

Wing root to flap

Flap and Aileron

Aileron and wing tip. So happy this worked out.

UPDATE: 11/24/2019

This weekend I did the alignment of the flap and aileron for the left wing. I was thinking it would have been pretty similar to the slope, etc. as on the right wing, but it seemed a bit different and for some reason a bit harder as well. In any case the trailing edge lines up pretty well and all the rivets are in on them so all seems good. Next I need to fill and sand the rivets on them.

Started Service Bulletin #0014

Time: 2 hrs

A few months ago TAF released a Service Bulletin #0014 to swap out some of the aluminum rivets along the main wing spars and the center fuselage and replace them with stainless steel rivets. Since I hadn’t built the wings yet when the bulletin was released it wasn’t too bad to implant the fix. I got all the rivets in on the top of the spar and some on the bottom. I’ll have to flip the wing over to do those. Also I don’t have the fuel tanks done yet so I can do those when I put the tanks on. Additionally there are quite a few rivets to be replaced along the main spar section on the bottom of the fuselage that I need to do as well.

Since the new rivets are Stainless Steel TAF suggests dipping the rivets in the fuel tank sealant (Flamemaster) so that there’s no galvanic corrosion due to the dissimilar metals being in contact. Some people have also primed the affected areas as well to provide even more protection. I wanted to try to get the rivets on the wings done because for one it would help strengthen the wings if I needed to move them (without the fuel tanks) and also I wanted to use the opportunity to get used to working with the fuel sealant prior to building the fuel tanks.

The process went fairly smoothly and working with the fuel tank sealant wasn’t as bad as I was thinking it would be. I didn’t use the sealant gun that I purchased, but I did get some experience mixing the sealant and seeing just how messy this stuff can be.

In progress of installing the stainless steel rivets. It took a bit to learn just how much sealant to put on the rivet so you don’t get too much out from under the rivet head and make a mess, but enough to get a good layer between the rivet and the aluminum.

I had some issues with the rivet stems getting stuck in my riveter. I tried to use the large 4.8 tip, but it seemed to starch up the rivet a bit so I went back to using the normal 4.0mm tip. Also when I did the bottom rivets and was working upside down the stems fell through the riveter and didn’t get stuck. So not a big deal, just something to note.

Rivets installed and all cleaned up. I still need to fill these and sand them. I found that using a dry paper towel worked well to get rid of the bulk of the sealant that leaked out around the rivet heads, then a bit of MEK to clean things up. Also I found that a damp rag actually worked pretty well to clean this up as well, and then used the MEK to get the rest.

Left Wing Top Skins

Time: 8.5hrs

Finally got the top skins riveted on the left wing. After finishing up the wiring and testing the pitot tube electrical I figured it was safe to close up the wing.

I had a few holes on the rear spar that slightly didn’t line up (same spot as the right wing) so the holes needed to be elongated a bit. I had one area near the rear spar and skin join that I noticed some oil canning before I riveted it so I tried a few things to get ride of it like checking all the holes to make sure the rivets weren’t in too tight and pushing on the skin and reclecoing the section to see if that could alleviate the issue. Nothing seemed to work so I carefully started to rivet and see if it got worse or better. I riveted in such a way to try to smooth out any lump in the skin (that I couldn’t really see) and also tried to pull the skin a bit to make it tighter. The oil canning still persisted. As I riveted and was nearing completion of the area I though to myself that I’ll just need to drill out most of these rivets and try again. Then to my amazement I put in the very last rivet which was probably 10 or so rivets towards the root along the rear spar away from the section that was having the issue and checked the oil canning… it was gone. One rivet that was seemingly not even related fixed it, so freaking weird. I think that’s what makes fixing the oil canning so difficult. The rivet or rivets that are causing the problem could be not even in the area where the problem is. Frustrated and confused, but glad it’s fixed

Another thing I noticed and it’s kind of funny that I just caught this now (as I near the end of the riveting stage of the build) is that the rivets are not all exactly the same. There are some variations in the size of the rivets. I first noticed it using the 4.8mm rivets on the ribs. It seemed like a rivet should fit fine in a hole, but it didn’t and then I used another rivet and it fit fine. The same is true for the 4mm rivets, maybe not so much for the 3.2mm ones though. So what I got out of this was that if you’re putting rivets in the holes and the rivet is fitting a bit tight, rather then ream out the hole or trying to get the rivet in with more force, just try another rivet. In most cases if you go through a few rivets one will drop right in.

left wing ready to rivet

Both wings have all the skins riveted. Now I need to do the fuel tanks and the wing tips.

Left wing all done. Just have to fill all these rivets.

Starting on Fuel Tanks

Time: 8.0 hrs

Started working on the fuel tanks. So far I prepped, cleaned and alodine most of the internal tank parts and also started to test fit the parts that go on ribs 101 and 105. I’m only going to alodine the surfaces that are on the inside of the tank since I will be able to spray some primer on the other surfaces once the tank is sealed and and leak tested. I’m just doing the alodine to protect the aluminum from corrosion. It probably won’t even matter, but better safe than sorry.

Box of alodined parts. Also did all the ribs as well. I’ll also need to do the inside of the tank skin and the inside of the back piece. I’ll probably just brush the Alodine on those parts because I don’t have anything large enough to submerge them in. The brushing actually works well, it just takes a bit longer.

Started to assemble the fuel level senders. You have to disassemble the parts that come in the box and then reassemble them on the mount that is provided by TAF. Once I get them finalized I’ll mark the sender assemblies as Left and Right since it will make a difference which side they go on.

The various fittings that go on the inside of rib 101. The bracket that holds the fuel pickup was kind of a pain to bend, but it came out pretty good. I had to ream out the holes on the backing plate to the size o the M4 rivet and also had to file the hole where the AN6 fitting goes (for the fuel pick up). I didn’t want to use a step drill on it because I want the fitting to fit nice and tight so it won’t leak. It will also have sealant on it when it gets installed, but the tighter the parts fit the better.

This is the fuel sender that’s used. It’s a VDO sender 10-180 Ohms

Wing Dolly

Just a quick post about the wing dolly I made. Not quite ready to put the wings on it though. I used some plans I found on a Google search off the EAA website. I modified the length of end posts a bit because I may end up storing the wings with the tanks off for now, until I get all the parts to build them.

Here’s the plans I found. I also used metal brackets instead of the wood braces because I’m just lazy. I did use one wood brace for the uprights to the cross pieces. I got the wood from the cover to the shipping crate the spars came in.

I also used one set of steerable casters and another that are fixed so I can pitot the dolly around. The handle is on the side that steers.

I think in all it cost me about $75 to build the dolly, but I had a few 2×4’s already. The most expensive part was the tow strap which was around $20.

Some photos of the finished dolly. I still need to determine the length of the straps, but will do that when I have a wing to put on it. Not quite ready yet to do that.