Sunday, February 26, 2017

Work Weekend

I know this is pretty boring for everyone to watch, but I started to post these in order to record the memories.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Heater bypass valve comparison

One of the complaint I have always read about on the -10 was the VANS heater boxes. Some people complained that they leaked a lot, others complained that they were made of aluminum (too low of a melting point), others complained just to complain.

I will admit, that prior to getting my fuselage (and thus Vans heater boxes) I was not planning on upgrading the boxes. People will complain about anything and heater boxes are pretty simplistic mechanical devices, so I figured the Vans units were just fine.

Then my fuselage arrived and when I inventoried the boxes I had second thoughts. Again, these are pretty simple things, with that said, there is no reason to not have high quality parts here.

On the left is the stainless steel part that I order from Aircraft Spruce (Part # 08-06230) and on the right is the part that Vans ships with the fuselage kit. I may be wrong, but I think the aircraft spruce parts are just the Plane Innovations parts.

You will notice a couple of things. One, the Plane Innovations unit is stainless steel. It has nicely spot welded connections, the larger flat area on the flapper has some stiffening ribs pressed in (which I am sure help a lot with warping when heated), and finally the flapper and door have a 90 degree frame on them that look like they will do a much better job of closing out completely.

All in all I am happy with the Plane Innovation units. I will be installing them! As an added benefit, these things will take a bunch of heat in the unfortunate event of an engine fire. (Image from Plane Innovations).

Fuselage to Tail mating

I think there are two events that are something that I have really been looking forward to. One is the completion of the canopy and doors with the other being the mating of the tail to fuselage. It was finally time to tackle one of those!

We started with getting the tail lined up to the fuselage. Thankfully the tail is pretty light and easy to maneuver. That doesn't mean however that it is not a pain in the butt to get the two to line up so that you can get enough clecos in to have the fuselage support the tail. What seemed to work well for us was to support the tail aft (around where the rudder brackets are) from a line suspended from the ceiling, and then block the forward part of the tail up to a height pretty close to the fuselage height. This allowed for enough movement of the tail to shimmy everything into place.

With the tail and fuse skins clecoed the ribs could be final drilled. The threaded 90 degree drill was a live saver with these holes.

With that done, the fuselage and tail longerons could be drilled and bolted. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Fuselage Inventory

With the fuselage safely on the jig and able to move around the shop, now it is time to start unpacking all of the parts! It is February and a little cold, so I brought my screw bins into the house to do the small item inventory.

For the main parts inventory I found myself a little helper. This is really the first time Mack has been able to have a legit job on the plane. She was able to unwrap, call off part numbers, and re-organize all of the components. I think she actually had fun doing it too!

Fuselage Stand

With the fuselage safe and sound in the shop, next up was a jig to support the fuselage so I could begin work on it. Unlike the wing stands, everyone seems to have their own design for the fuselage stand. Not to be outdone, and wanting to get rid of a bunch of scrap aluminum that has been sitting in the shop I decided to make a metal jig leveraging some wheels from a previous project.

I made the uprights that connect to the center section out of 2x2 1/8 6160 24 inches long. The center section had some nice wood blocks already bolted into them, so I used that for my interface.

With a way to connect the center section to my jig, I started welding up a T structure that would support the wheels. The main structure of the jig was a 64" long  2x2 1/8" square tube that falls directly under the center section and connects to the main wheels and the 24" center section up-rights. The structure heading aft is 1x1 1/8" 6 feet long.

After I had the main T structure built up I ended up going back and re-inforcing all of the 1x1 connections with 1x2 angle. The jig was going to have two front wheels directly under the center section and one rear wheel under the tail, so there shouldn't be that many torquing forces on these joints, but with that said, I had this bad vision in my head of this connection failing sending 1x1 up through my fuselage.

The main structure complete:

This was really an after-thought, but I ended up really liking it. I was not exactly sure where I was going to need support under the belly of the fuselage. I was going to start putting cross braces in the main section heading aft, but I had some 5/4"x10" boards around and it just so happened that I built my structure ~9" wide. So I lag bolted the 10" board to the aluminum structure and everything stiffened up really nicely.

From there, I slide the jig under the fuselage and lifted everything into place. After that I added a couple more bolts to secure the uprights to the jig.

Done! I used a lot of material that was just around the shop and I when with a lot of the lengths that I already had sitting around. The height ended up being perfect and if I were to do it again from drawings, I would dimension everything the same way.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Fuselage Arrives!

I ordered a quick build Fuselage in August of 2016 and Vans at the time had estimated that it would arrive in February or March of 2017. Around the first of the year I had contacted Vans to see if there was any update, and they gave me the great news that my fuselage was in transit to Vans and would be arriving in Oregon at the end of January 2017.

Late January, Tony Partain and Vans both called me saying that the fuselage was ready to ship. When all was said and done it was about 2K to freight the fuselage from Oregon to Virginia via Tony.

Tony started using a new shipper apparently, which is the same shipper that freights all of the Factory Five cars around. My driver showed up right on time and started to offload immediately. That is where things started to go not as planned. The cable hoist system in the truck would not power up... The driver narrowed it down to the solenoid on the main gantry, so we hopped in my truck and went to NAPA to pick-up a new solenoid. Apparently the solenoid was a 6v solenoid which my local NAPA did not stock, so we drove out 30 minutes to another store, grabbed a solenoid and headed back home.

By the time we got back to my house it was nearing 1200. Which started to put me in a time crunch because I had to get to work for a meeting (my company had just been acquired that day and there was an All-Hands meeting that I needed to get to). The driver got the new solenoid in, but the gantry still would not move. I grabbed some jumper cables to jump past the solenoid, and the motor would not budge.

I was about to give up and call it a day (in reference to completing the delivery), but the driver asked if I wanted to offload the fuselage by hand. There were only two of us so we unstrapped it to see if we thought we could do it by ourselves.

I am lacking photos of the next hour because it was a bit stressful and both of our hands were a bit full. We were able to off-load the fuselage with two people off of the trailer. If I were to do it again I would NOT do it with only two people. It really needs a third person and ideally a fourth. That said, we got it off the truck and into my shop with only one minor cosmetic scuff. 

Now we have a fuselage! In our garage!