Well this has been very challenging. I think mounting the gear with the fuselage upside down was a good decision. It’s been very easy to check the fitment of the gear and accessing the bolts has been somewhat easy… though working inside the fuselage is a bit of a pain and somewhat cramped. The main issue is that I can’t seem to get two bolts (one on each side) in at the same time. Once I put one bolt in then the other side is a fraction of a millimeter off which makes it impossible to push the other bolt in. There is really no room to tap the bolt with a mallet. I did find a way to push the bolt in using a piece of wood placed between the bolt head and the main spar. After some research in the manual it appears that the bolts are to be installed with the head facing aft, but that’s not what the FAA says. I’d really like to install them in the correct orientation.
As far as fitment I’ve had the gear on and off a multitude of times. The top of the gear hits the rivnuts and also interferes with the rivets that will be installed to hold the rear seat floor panels on. Also the gear is a bit too wide at the bolt locations so that needs to be sanded down as well.
Some photos and a bit more narrative below. Even after working in this for many hours I have not yet been able to get the bolts in… so the work will continue.
This was a good method for me to allow placement and rough fitting of the gear. You can remove the wood block and check the fitment and then sand as needed.
Here I thought I had the fitment right so I put some grease at the bolt area location as instructed by Jean from Torrance TAF. He said that this will minimize any creaking in the gear. It turned out that the top of the gear needed to be sanded as well so the gear was removed and sanded multiple times since this photo.
I put a bevel on the top edge of the gear. This was done to get the gear to fit down without putting pressure on the rivnuts. Also it helped give some room to where the rivets will be installed for the rear floor panels. After this photo was taken I ended up taking out the belt sander with some 60 grit paper and sanded down the bevels even more.
I think the fitments is good now and the gear seems to fit down into the channel without needed to be held into that position. This may help with the installation of the bolts which so far has been impossible to do. I spent nearly 4 hours trying to get two bolts in. The first bolt is fairly easy to install since you can get perfect alignment of the metal spacer in the gear and the holes in the gear channel so the bolt can be pushed in by hand or by using some wood to pry it in. The problem is the insertion of a second bolt on the other side. The top to bottom alignment can be tuned by pushing down on the gear and holding it with some clamps. The left to right positioning is really the problem. There’s not too much you can do about it and even if you have a small misalignment the bolt will not go in. I have tried to round off the edges of the metal spacers in the gear so that there are no hard edges for the bolt to catch on, but it only helps minimally. I’m thinking I may need to widen the hole in the gear channel just a small bit to get the bolts to fit. If you had room to tap the bolt in it would probably go, but there really isn’t much room. Hopefully I’ll get some time to work on this again in the next few days.
Not really work done on the plane, but a monumental achievement none the less. Through some ingenuity I was able to roll the plane over any raise it up to put it in the saw horses. A previous failed attempt at lifting it with my wife and daughters had me fairly distraught. I managed to come up with a somewhat crude system not only to raise/lower the fuselage but also rotate it all on my own. I think it only cost me about $150 with the farm jacks taking most of the cost. It should come in handy rolling back over with the gear attached as well.
In any case I’m glad I got this done. Now I just need the fill the rivets and mount the gear.
Flipped upside down and on the saw horses.
I was a bit skeptical of my mechanical engineering skills so I made sure to have some ropes strung up just in case something failed.
Rear mount. I need to swap the lag bolts in the plywood that mount the cut down inch post with carriage bolts that go all the way through. Even though the lag bolts seemed to hold ok I’m nervous that they’re going pull out of the wood the next time. For mounting the plywood to the 2×4 I used 2″ lag bolts on the top and 4″ ones on the bottom through the 2×4 spacer.
On the front I just used some long carriage bolts and large washers through the engine mount. You can also see the 1.5″ EMT conduit attached to the farm jack. The black part that the tubing fits into is a cut off 3″ fence post. All parts curtesy of Home Depot… well I got the farm jacks from Harbor Freight.
The rear jack was a bit different. I didn’t have enough room in the garage to put it in line so I had to mount the tube sideways. There’s a piece of steel bar underneath the tubing clamps and two clamps (you can only see one) on the right side. I’m surprised at how solid the tubing is on the jack I was thinking I was going to have a lot of problems with it wanting to move side to side.
Assembled the two main wheels. I had tried this before and ended up messing up two aviation tubes because they got pinched in then hubs. This time I was much more careful. I in flayed the tube a little and got the valve through. I then loosely screwed on the other side of the hub and then added a little more air in the tube. I tightened down 3 or the 6 bolts making sure the hub fit flush against the other one. Then a little more air in the tube. Then I let air out of the tube and put on the rubber o-ring (which actually isn’t necessary). I was able to seat the o-ring between the two halves of the hub by pushing down on one side of the tire until it disappeared into the crack of the joint.
I also put together the saw horses to hold the plane when I turn it upside down. I made one about 4ft wide and 30″ high (to put under the center fuselage) and the other about 2.5ft wide and 36″ high (to put under the tail cone). I also used a swimming pool float tube for cushion. Now I just need some help picking up and flipping the plane over.
Tube is in and these 3 bolts are just barely tight. If you can see the ride in the center of the hub then the tube isn’t pinched. I put a little more air in the tube at this point. Also forgot to mention I used some talc powder on the inside of the tire and rubbed some on the tube before putting the tube in the tire.
Wheel all assembled with the brake disc attached. Note the cable is lined up with the red dot on the tire.
My saw horses ready to go.
Time: 1.5 hrs
I did a little prep work on the center console glove box. I saw on Craig’s build log that he had widened he holes where the seat belts go so that they would fit. I checked and mine needed to be widened as well. I widened it to around 1/2″ and they may need a little more once the leather is put on. I also saw that when the leather goes on you can see the bumps from the rivets underneath. I figured I’d try to avoid that by replacing the domed rivets with counter sunk ones and filling them flat. This was a bit harder then I though because the crappy dimple dies I have (the kind that you use a hand pop rivet puller to pull) tends to dent more of the skin then just the dimple part. The better dies I have that go in the hand rivet squeezer do a much better job, but it can only reach about 2 inches in from the edge. I purposely over filled the rivets to try to fill more of the dent. It seems to have work, but they aren’t perfectly flat. Hopefully good enough to not show behind the leather covering.
Countersunk rivets with an over fill of epoxy resin.
Sanded as flat as possible. Also you can see the dimpled holes for the cover part of the glove box which I haven’t attached yet. I think it will be easier to attach the leather to it and then rivet it then finish attaching the leather. BTW I don’t have any of the interior parts yet (seat covers, leather panels, carpet, etc). I need to talk to Jean about what my choices are. It seems that it’s mostly a grey interior which I’m OK with though I have been thinking that black and light brown/tan would be way cool. So if they don’t have a light brown/tan option then I have to determine if I want to spend time and money on custom seats and reworking a lot of the panels with different color leather.
Things done today:
- Finished up filling and priming the rear part of the main wheel spats
- Primed and filled blemished in the front part of the main wheel spats
I finished dup the priming and fill on the rear portion of the spats that mount to the brackets. The main front parts were pretty good, but I wanted to fill few blemishes. I also noticed that I had a large dent in one of the wheel spats which I didn’t notice prior to doing all the work on it so I was a bit upset to see it know that not only will I have to wait for a new wheel spat but I’d also have to drill and mount all the rivet nuts and fit it again. So I though maybe if I heated up the material and used a cloth to push on it I could get the bump out. I used my heat gun at 400 degrees and carefully heated the inside. I was just about to use the rag to work out the bump and to my amazement I saw the bump disappearing before my eyes. I really couldn’t believe that heating it would have worked so well. In any case bump is completely gone.
Filling some low spots on the main part of the main wheel spats. I just used some epoxy resin then I sand with 320 grit paper.
Rear part of the main spats all filled and primed
Test fitting the main (front) parts of the main wheel spats. The bottom portion fits well, but the top is going to need some work.
Bottom fits well.
Top needs a bit of work. I think when the top edge is cut back then it will pull in a bit. I’ll wait until the gear is mounted and things are right side up to do that work though.
Time: 4.5 hrs
Things done today:
- Fill primed and sanded main gear
- Fit back of main wheel spats to wheel spat brackets on left and right main wheels
- Filled unused holes and blemishes on back part of main wheel spats
- Mounted axle to main gear
- Moved brake bleeder on left caliper to bottom
Finished up priming and sanding the main landing gear. I used a fill primer and did about 3 or 4 heavy coats. I then sanded with 320 grit paper. The sanding paper gets clogged a bit, but worked well. Only a few small blemishes in the gear now and the ends are all primed. I also primed a bit more on the top side as well since it looked like they didn’t paint enough there either.
All nice and smooth and can’t really see the seam where they stopped painting.
I also did some work fitting the rear part of the wheel spats to the brackets on the main gear. This ended up being a lot of work and more work still needs to be done after I mount the gear and get the wheels on. I had to bend the tabs on the brackets in a bit to get the rear spat piece to sit a bit closer to the landing gear. There’s still about 1/2-3/4″ of a gap, but I think it will get pulled in a bit when the front part of the spat goes on. One thing to note is that you shouldn’t use the pre-defined indents on the spats to drill the holes because they don’t really line up. I was lucky with the left one, but kind of messed up the right one (am going to try to fill the part of the hole that’s not needed). If you are using the newer spat bracket (the one that lets you remove the brake caliper) then you definitely won’t use one of the pre-defined holes because one of the screws is in a completely different place. So just pick one of the two front pre-defined holes and drill it out. Get the screw in and mount it to the bracket, then set the part the way you want and mark the location of the new holes from the back of the spat (through the back of the rivnuts). The holes will be close to the pre-defined ones, but off enough). You can only get the top of the rear spat piece so close to the gear because the piece hits one of the bolts ends that holds the axle onto the gear. I tried using a shorter AN4-21 bolt and a thin AN4 washer but it was just a bit too short (you should have at least one thread after the nut).
Outside of the left spat mounted to the gear (upside down). You can see the unused hole just to the bottom of the bump out (to the left of one of the mounting screws) on the spat. This would normally have been used with the older style mounts, but I have the newer spat mounts. The rear part if the spat is mounted using 5M screws and 222 loctite. I purchased 5M X 12mm Class 12.9 Alloy Steel screws from Bolt Depot since I didn’t have any screws with the kit.
Inside of the rear spat. It’s a very close fit to the brake caliper.
The axle went back together pretty quickly since I had test fit everything before. The only change I made was I used thick AN4 washers rather then thin ones called out in the manual because the nuts were bottoming out on the non threaded part of the bolt.
All primed, axles mounted and bolts torqued to 7ft/lbs. I’m wondering though if this will all have to come apart when the gear gets painted.
Close up of the left axle mounted to the gear. I had to remove and reinstall the bleeder valve on the left caliber so that it was on the bottom. Also the caliper is only in the top hole. The pins should go in the two holes in the axle.
The garage is a disaster. I need to move the tables out and build some saw horses. I’ll then get some friends over so we can flip the fuselage upside down. Then I’ll fit the main gear, install it and rivet the gear skin. Lastly I’ll fill and sand the rivets. I’m hoping the plane will fit with the engine mount. I think it will 🙂
Time: 4.5 hrs
Finally was able to get back to working on the plane after some family events. Today I filled and sanded the right fuselage side. Now that the fuselage is on the ground it’s very easy to move it from side to side to fill the rivets. The tough part will be to turn it upside down so that the bottom rivets can be filled. I’m still not totally sure how I will do that.
I also worked on the main landing gear a bit. The factory didn’t prime all the gear and there were some spots that need some filling and sanding. I still need to do a bit of work on it. After it’s primed I’ll put the axels on and get it ready to mount in the plane.
The ends weren’t primed so I need to clean them up and prime. This part is under the wheel spats, but it will eventually get painted so it needs to be primed now.