Log Entries

Project Location: SC US

Entry Date Summary Description
Entry Date Summary Description
2010-02-13 Transporting the kit to the building area.











The kit was purchased from a gentleman that had begun assembly already. Most of the work was good but a quick look found items that would need to be reworked. The stainless steel firewall was incorrectly done and will be removed and replaced.

The bottom skin was already installed so that will need to be drilled out and removed to allow access inside. Some other minor disassembly will need to be done on the fuselage but that will be chronicled in future updates.

We hardly ever get snow here in Carolina but we had gotten 6" the night before. It was about all melted away but it was still windy, wet and cold!

The kit was taken to Dick's hanger in Summerville.
2010-02-15 Getting our act together Time spent organizing the kit parts, setting up a build sequence, and planning what work would be done for the first few days. The poor installation on the firewall could not be salvaged so the decision was made to order both the lower and upper firewall parts as well as a new windscreen strip.

We also noted a number of gussets that either needed to be removed for access to the spar tunnel, were incorrectly installed, or in the case of a couple of gussets ... poorly made.

The goal is not to build an award winner but rather to build the best example of a Sonex that we can given a reasonable amount of time and a bit of God given talent.

2010-02-16 Gaining access to the inside


I learned a few things tonight. As Toby would say, "I ain't as good as I once was."


Laying on my back to drill out the rivets on the bottom fuselage skin was not as hard as I had thought but not as easy as I had hoped. But for the moment "I was as good once as I ever was" and it went smoothly and fairly quickly.


A couple of gussets were drilled out for various reasons noted in an earlier entry.

2010-02-16 Taking a look-see at what's in there!
Removing the clecos and the top, bottom, and leading edge skins from the the right wing. The previous builder had began assembly on this wing. I'm thankful that we had the opportunity to get inside and inspect. So far all appears to be assembled correctly although I don't recall seeing the brackets for the pitot tube and the boxes the reinforce the rib where the aileron bell crank is installed are not completed.

There is some deburring to do and the skins and ribs still need to be up drilled and deburred. Dick didn't like the saw horses we have available so the wing assembly will be set aside until we can ge some better horses.





2010-02-18 Right Flap Layout










We would have made better time but a run to Staples for "office supplies" was in order.

Began layout and marking of the right flap skin for rib locations and the cuts that would need to be made around the drive plate area. After marking, all pilot hole locations were center punched. This is an important step to keep the drill bit from wandering away from its intended location.

Remember to measure twice (at least) and cut once.
2010-02-20 Right flap drilling











Finished the layout of right flap skin.

Pilot holes were drilled, ribs were center lined and then set under the pilot holes. After the ribs were pilot drilled, the drive plate for the flap was drilled and clecoed to the inboard rib.

Trimming of the flap skin on the inboard side is required. There is also a cut out area that is done for the location of the drive plate. After these cuts were done the edges were deburred with a flat file and a sanding block.

The piano hinge was then marked, centered punched, and pilot drilled. The installation fit of the piano hinge to the flap is pretty straight forward but care must be taken to ensure that the hinge is properly installed. Doing so is needed so that there is no binding when the two halves of the hinge are joined.

The skins, ribs, drive plate, and piano hinge were then up drilled in preparation for assembly. But before that can be done the clecos will be removed. After complete disassembly, deburring, and inspection, it will be ready for the final assembly.
2010-02-23 Right Flap/Left Flap











Removed all clecos from the right flap assembly for complete disassembly, deburring, cleaning, and inspection. The right flap is now ready for final assembly.

Dick did the layout on the left flap. While we were admiring the beautiful marks he shouted, "I screwed up!" Well not really as no cuts or holes had been done. But if he had not of caught his error we would have been the owners of a spare right flap. 8~)

We did get the layout on the left flap done and centered punched. The end cut for fit against the fuselage and the cutout for the flap drive plate are also completed. It is now ready for pilot hole drilling.

2010-02-25 Left Flap/Aileron Skins


Drilled all pilot holes in left flap skin (except for the piano hinge location). Ribs were centerline marked, set & pilot drilled. Flap drive plate was fitted to the inboard rib, pilot drilled, up drilled and deburred. Full length piano hinge was marked, center punched and then pilot drilled.

Layout of both ailerons skins were done after being shortened to length. Outboard end will get an angled cut for the wing tip.
2010-02-27 Finished Both Flaps - Began Aileron Counter Balances










Left flap assembly was disassembled, deburred, cleaned, and inspected. Then rivets were installed in both flaps to complete the final assembly stage. The flap drive plates were riveted to the inboard rib before the rib was installed. Please note that longer rivets (44's) are in the drive plate as opposed to 42's everywhere else in the flap assembly.

The final stage was fitting the piano hinge and ensuring that there was no binding of the wire that was inserted in the hinge. After all the rivets were in, the piano wire could be rolled with a twist of the fingers and easily slid in and out. Very nice. The ribs were then cleaned of all layout marks and put into an ever increasing pile of completed sub assemblies.

The counter balances for both ailerons were marked, fitted and pilot drilled. These can be a bit frustrating at times so do these when you have a day of extra patience on hand. The small "U" channel that holds the two halves together is easy enough to manufacture, but still precision here will make a big difference later on.

These still need to be up drilled and have the weights made for them. All in all it was a very productive day.
2010-03-02 Counterbalances Finished - Triming The Aileron Skin




Up drilled both of the aileron counterbalances. They were then disassembled, deburred, cleaned and inspected. Final assembly done with # 42 rivets in all locations except for the "U" channel that holds the two halves together. These are 44's.

Cuts to the right aileron skin were done. This included the exit hole in the rear for the counterbalance arms and the angle cut at the end to fit the tip rib.

Although the cut for the tip rib is spot on according to the plans the tip rib fit wasn't as nice as we wanted. It fit very well except for a small area on the bottom front section where a small gap exist between the tip rib and the skin.

Before calling it a night we had a much better fit but I believe our next look, with a fresh set of eyes, will help to locate what needs to be done to correct this. Soon it will be, "perfect enough!"
2010-03-04 Right Aileron Skin & Tip Rib




Building the ailerons has proven to require a bit more attention to detail and patience with the process. One final cutout was made for the aileron drive plate that connects to the inboard rib. Layout marks were done, then centered punched and all pilot holes were drilled.

The ribs flanges were then center marked, located and pilot drilled.

Cleaning up the cut on the end of the aileron skin and some rework to the tip rib gained a quite acceptable fit. While the tip rib fit up has been done it has not yet been final fitted with pilot holes. Need to complete the fitting of the tip rib and hinge before up drilling.
2010-03-06 Ailerons - Left And Right











Piano hinge and tip rib pilot holes (fitting) were completed on the right aileron. The right aileron was then updrilled, disassembled, deburred, cleaned, and inspected. Riveting together for final assembly was done and this aileron is now complete except for adding the lead to the counterweight arm and balancing the aileron.

After the lessons learned on the right aileron the left aileron assembly is going much smoother. The marks, center punching, pilot drilling, center lining and installing the ribs went quickly. The hinge was marked, center punched, and pilot drilled to the aileron. Still need to fit the drive plate to the inboard rib and finish the tip rib fit up before updrilling the left aileron.

We had a number of visitors today. I love to have company over but it sure slows down progress!

2010-03-08 Ailerons Are Done











With the right aileron complete the focus was on completion of the left aileron. The left aileron tip rib was fitted and then all was up drilled to # 30 holes. The assembly was then completely disassembled, deburred, cleaned and inspected. Final assembly was done with # 42 rivets. The Arrow RL100 hand riveter was a great help in the tight areas around the counterweight arms.

Now that both ailerons are completed the focus was turned to the right wing. Some time was spent in studying the plans before any assembly was to be done.
2010-03-09 Removing Parts - Making Required Repairs













Spent a few minutes considering the panel installation and making the first basic determinations as to instruments and radio/intercom set-up.

Parts that have been sold were removed from the fuselage including tires, tubes, wheels, brakes, cable guides, and the motor mount. Gear legs (not sold) were removed from the mount and will be used on the new mount.

On disassembly of the gear legs from the motor mount it was discovered that the wrong type of bolts were used in the titanium gear legs. I'm really glad this was discovered!

Other parts removed included the bottom skin. The rivets were removed earlier but the bolts were removed tonight.

Bolts were removed and all the rivets were drilled out of the stainless steel fire wall (upper and lower) as both were improperly installed and a new upper and lower firewall will be fitted.

A few moments was spent cleaning the work area and rearranging the wing, fuse, and work table stations for better access.
2010-03-11 Preparing The Fuselage










A lot of small issues were dealt with tonight. The counterweight mold was completed and looks great.

The firewall and lower skin holes were cleaned up and the fuel filler box was separated from the original firewall. It will be used on the new upper firewall as it looks to be properly assembled.

The bottom of the fuse crosstie box was drilled out. A few reasons for this. It didn't have all the rivets located according to the plans, access was need to the bolts inside the box to check for proper hardware and assembly, and also to make cutouts on the ends to allow access to the bolts after reinstalling the bottom. This will facilitate inspection at any time, especially during annuals.

A few of the rivets in the spar tunnel were removed to remove the angles in front of the box to allow better access when the time comes to drill the spar to box locations.

On the other end the tail wheel assembly bolts were removed and reinstalled properly (wrong direction according to the plans), and the rudder stop plates were removed so that the rivets could be countersunk as called for by the plans.
2010-03-18 Repairing The Wing Spar Tunnel Assembly




Drilling out lots of rivets to remove the side stiffeners, brackets and clips that retain the forward "Z" channel for the wing spar tunnel. Spent time checking/evaluating and confirming measurements and assembly processes used by the previous builder. Since this is the most critical area of the entire airframe the decision to disassemble and inspect the construction seems to be a wise one.

Many more items has had to be removed and repaired than was first noted. The side clips, while generally sound were not well made in that they were cut unevenly and not deburred.

The removal of other parts was for a more detailed inspection of hidden areas and to allow for much better access when the time comes to do the wing rigging to the spar tunnel.
2010-03-20 Spar Tunnel / Wiring Troughs / Bellcrank Clips











More disassembly of the wing spar tunnel to allow for inspection and repair of items to be either replaced or repaired, including being deburred and up drilled. Rear "Z" channel was removed and inspected and there is now complete access to the area for fitting of the wing spars to the fuse. This is a most critical area and the fit here must be correct. At this point it appears all the disassembly that was needed is completed.

Two wiring troughs (not on the plans) were designed and built to attach to the under side of the fuse below the main spar tunnel, one on each side. These will allow wiring from the rear fuse to go forward without the wiring running over the top of the main and rear spars which would then put it in the seating area.

Clecoed the lower wing skin to the right wing rib/spar assembly to check for fit. Made eight clips that are used to attach the aileron belcrank mounting/support channels to the rib and wing skins for both wings.
2010-03-23 Right Wing Work/Wiring Troughs
A number of miscellaneous items were began in order to prep the right wing for assembly. The ribs are attached to the spar and a few holes have been pilot drilled.

Gussets and brackets that make up the aileron bell crank support were fitted, pilot drilled to the wing skins, up drilled, and deburred.

With the bottom and top wing skins clecoed in place, a final check of the wing was done to confirm the wing was straight and true without warp or twist. Consideration of the mounting for the pitot/static tube assembly was done and the leading edge wing skin has begun its fitting to the ribs. More ratchet straps and 2X4's are needed to complete this to prevent kinking the leading edge during installation.

The nose of the leading edge ribs were rounded with a file and the protruding flanges were rolled in slightly to prevent the rib from digging into, and distorting, the leading edge skin.

Also completed were the wiring troughs (not on the plans) that are designed to mount to the bottom fuse and allow the wiring to go under the main spar. Hopefully I can add some photos of these later.
2010-03-30 Working On The Skins - Right Wing





With the top and bottom skins pilot drilled and clecoed in place we took a last long look to make sure the wing is square and level. O.K. this far.

The leading edge skin from the kit is factory bent but did require the use of ratcheting straps and some 2X4s to evenly bring the skin all the way down against the ribs. The ribs were then aligned with the center line marks through the wing skin pilot holes.

After the ribs were fitted all of the holes in the top side of the wing were pilot drilled and then up drilled (except the wing spar holes). The rear skin holes are # 30 and the leading edge skins are #32 because the leading edge holes will be dimpled for the flush rivets as per the plans.

The aileron hinge was fitted and clamped but not yet drilled to the rear spar.
2010-04-01 Right Wing - Bottom






Before turning the wing over a few items were completed on the top skin such as fitting and pilot drilling the aileron hinge. It was then up drilled along with the holes in the main spar to #30.

After turning the wing over the leading edge ribs were aligned and pilot drilled. After the fit-up was checked all the leading edge holes were up drilled to #32 (for dimpling) and the main spar holes were up-drilled to #30.

The flap hinge half was fitted to the rear spar/skin area and pilot drilled. Alignment was checked before up drilling to #30. Pitot layout was done on the wing skin and the design for the backing plate to secure the pitot was done using poster board as we are using the pitot from Aircraft Spruce which is different from the plans.
2010-04-03 Deburring, Dimpling, & Drilling



It takes a great deal of time and effort to deburr all the holes in the leading edge skin, all of the nose ribs, and the top and bottom rivet holes in the main spar. The flap and aileron were put in place with clecos to check for fit and alignment. There were no surprises as these parts went together very well and gave a boost to my confidence!

After the deburring was done the dimpling process began on the leading edge skin and the ribs. This also takes a good bit of time. The dimpling went well and all of the holes came out looking great.

The backing plate for the Aircraft Spruce pitot tube assembly was finished and the location was drilled in the bottom side of the lower skin.

A lot of cleaning was done and there will certainly be more before final assembly takes place.
2010-04-06 Right Wing Is Ready For Rivets








Seems we have finally gotten to the point of final assembly of the right wing. A lot of time was spent deburring the rear skins, top & bottom, inside and out, along with the ribs, spar holes, hinges, ect.

The clips for the pitot tubes were installed (including the snap bushings) and the final fit up for the Aircraft Spruce pitot tube assembly was finalized. It looks excellent and actually points in the right direction!

The skins were then reattached to the ribs with the help of some ratchet straps and a 2X4 to bring the leading edge into compliance.

2010-04-08 Right Wing Riveting Is Completed!







That's a lot of rivets! The riveting was done beginning at the rear spar. All of these are CCP42s. The leading edge skin is done with CCC42s (countersunk) rivets. The main spar uses CCP44 rivets. But don't take my faulty memory as correct ... go see what the plans say!

Turn it over and do the same on the other side. The Aircraft Spruce pitot tube was attached with nutplates and countersunk rivets. This operation would have been easier done before the skin was attached. Live and learn!

Still need to attach nutplates for the inspection cover over the aileron bell crank. The kit comes with sheet metal screws but that is deemed to be unsatisfactory. Also left to do is the fiberglass wingtip.
2010-04-10 Final Touches For The Right Wing








The last of the parts, pieces, and misc clean-up was done to the right wing. More difficult than first thought was the installation of the fiberglass wingtip. Not hard work but it is advised to use patience to methodically work it into a good fit. We also had to remake one of the attach brackets (poorly made) and another was dressed to acceptable standards.

The inspection cover plate for the aileron push-rod/bell crank connection was installed using flush mounted nut plates. Of course this requires dimpling but was easy to do with a vise grip type dimple tool.

Some clean up was done to the hole for the aileron counterweight arm to relieve some slight interference. General cleaning and admiring was also done! Right wing is now ready for install!
2010-04-13 Beginning Left Wing Assembly




The construction of the left wing assembly was began with a careful inspection of the factory built spar with the initials J.T.M noted on it. 8~)

The spacers that fit between the main ribs and the rear side of the main spar were made. These are .032 & .125 thick. The .032 spacers were then pilot drilled using a rib for a guide plate. After attaching the .032 spacers to the spar with the upper and lower clecoes, the .125 spacers were fit between the .032 spacers and the spar for alignment and pilot drilling.

All the ribs, except the root rib, were then fitted to the main spar. The rear spar was attached and the fit up was checked for any obvious flaws.

The attach clips for the fiberglass wingtip was also made.
2010-04-15 Working With Wing Ribs - Left




Angle clips for the attachment of the fiberglass wingtip were made along with the channel pieces for the aileron bell-crank support. The parts for the assembly of the bell crank were located but assembly has not been done yet.

All of the pilot holes in the nose ribs, main ribs, spars, and spacers (.032 & .125) were up drilled to #30s. Deburring of all of the holes was begun along with the centerline marking of the ribs.
2010-04-20 Left Wing Ribs - Cleaning and Deburring





Removed all of the clecoes attaching the rear spar to the aft ribs.

All the spacers were marked as to their direction of installation. The ribs stations were removed, one at a time, consisting of nose rib, aft rib, and spacers. All holes were deburred and all of the ribs were center lined for the alignment to the wing skin.

After all the parts were cleaned and inspected the wing ribs and spacers were again assembled to the front and rear spars awaiting riveting.
2010-04-22 Left Wing Ribs - Riveting










With all of the parts for the ribs cleaned and deburred, and the center marking of the ribs completed, it was time to rivet the assembly together.

The rear spar was done first with CCP42 rivets although 44s are used where there are plates on the rear spar (what do the plans say?). The nose ribs were then riveted through the main spar, through the spacers (where applicable) and into the aft ribs. These rivets are CCP44's most places. Check the plans and note that where there are gussets on the ribs, CCP46 rivets are used.

The aileron bell crank assembly is finished except for the fitting of the bronze bushings which are a press fit. The channels supports for the aileron bell crank are fitted to the 9th rib but not yet riveted. This operation would have been easier before rib installation. Live and learn!
2010-05-01 Left Wing Aileron Bell Crank & Skins



Fit the channel supports for the aileron bell crank to the rib, pilot drilled, up drilled, and then deburred all these parts.

The aileron bell crank was then assembled which included press fitting the bronze bushings in the aluminum brackets. The steel bushings that rotate inside the bronze bushings were then sized to snugly fit while rotating freely.

The methods vary as to how this is done but the way that worked best was to mount the steel bushings on an AN-3 bolt and turn them in the drill press while using a fine file and then sand paper to bring them into tolerance. Checking them with a dial caliper keeps from going too far. The bell crank was then assembled and the rotation and smoothness were excellent.

After all parts were ready, the aileron bell crank assembly and the supporting channels were riveted to the 9th rib location.

The lower wing skin fit up was then begun which now begins the process of making sure the wing is square. More to come ...
2010-05-03 Left Wing - Root Ribs


Using tracing paper and glue worked very well for laying out and cutting the aluminum angle required for the four gussets that go on the root ribs.

The ribs also had to be cut down i.e the nose rib had the spar end trimmed and the aft rib had both the main spar and rear spar end trimmed.

The gussets were then fitted and pilot drilled into place. A test fitting onto the spars proved that the workmanship was very good as the fit up appears to be spot on.

These parts are ready to be up drilled, deburred and riveted together.

Bottom aft skin fit was completed and top aft skin was set in place and the fitting was begun. The installation of these skins are critical as any error here can cause the wing to have a twist.
2010-05-06 Left Wing - fitting the aft skins




With the lower skin in place and pilot drilled the wing was flipped over and the top aft skin was begun. Again the procedure is to align the ribs to the skin with the skin placed correctly on the main spar.

The ribs had been centered lined before they were deburred and riveted to the spars. It was a straight forward task to set the ribs correctly in place and pilot drill the holes. The main spar holes had to be drilled on the top skin as the bottom skin had been completed on Monday night. All went well and the wing checked out square and flat.
2010-05-08 Left Wing leading edge and hinges










Today was pretty productive seeing as how there were a number of visitors that came by.

Before fitting the leading edge skin the nose rib flanges at the very tip were bent in slightly and the sharp edges were filed to make the nose ribs rounder. This prevents them from digging into the leading edge and causing an unsightly distortion of the metal.

The Leading edge was fitted to the bottom of the main spar and clecoed in place. Then the nose ribs were aligned and pilot drilled to the skin.

Flipping the wing over, the "2X4 and ratchet strap method" was used to pull the skin down to the main spar. This side was then pilot drilled. The aileron and flap hinges were fitted to the rear spar.

I managed to get all of the top side of the wing up drilled. All were up drilled to a #30 bit except for the leading edge which are up drilled to #32 for dimpling later on.

It looks like a wing now but there is quite a lot left to do.

2010-05-11 Left Wing - up drilling & inspection cover




After turning the wing over, all of the bottom side holes were then up drilled to # 30's except for the leading edge which are #32's because these will be dimpled for countersunk rivets.

Also fit and pilot drilled the aileron bell crank inspection cover plate. After up drilling, the rivet holes were then dimpled and nut plates were installed. The kit supplies sheet metal screws for these but the nut plates make for a much nicer installation.

2010-05-13 Deburring!


It takes a good bit of time to disassemble the wing and deburr all of the holes when consideration is given to how many holes there are and the fact that every hole has two side to be deburred.

Add to that the limited access that is found under the main spar cap near the inboard end. Just a matter of time, patience, and devising some methods to properly remove all the burrs. There is still a bit more deburring to be done on this wing.

The angle bracket for the fiberglass tip was made (actually remade but the first one wasn't located until later), fitted, up drilled, and fitted into place. The top of the spar web has to be rounded off a bit to give clearance to the fiberglass tip. This was learned when installing the tip on the right wing earlier.
2010-05-18 Left Wing - deburring and cleaning




The last of the deburring, cleaning, and inspection was done to all the holes and parts i.e. top, bottom, and leading edge wing skins, fore and aft ribs, main spar and rear spar, and the aileron and flap hinges.

A few more items to do before final assembly include, dimpling the leading edge skin and the nose ribs for the countersunk rivets, and making and installing the brackets that will hold the tubing and the LRI (Lift Reserve Indicator) probe. It is ordered and hopefully will arrive before the weekend when final assembly is planned.
2010-05-20 Left Wing Dimpling, LRI Probe Mount




A lot of dimpling going on! All of the leading edge holes were dimpled, except the holes for attachment to the main spar. Dimpling was done using the "Sonex Super Simple Dimple Die" and a hand riveter. Simple ... yes! But quite time consuming as all of the holes in all of the nose ribs must be dimpled also.

Brackets for the L.R.I. (Lift Reserve Indicator) tubing were made and are exactly like the brackets used in the right wing for the pitot and static tubing being as the LRI probe requires two lines also.

The probe mounting bracket and cover plate assembly was designed and the decision was made to put the probe behind the spar as the probe tip must fall in a range within 20-25% of the wing chord. An initial setting of 51º was used for the probe to mounting plate angle as that is what is used on the other two airplanes (Sonex) that we have added LRI units to. Flight testing will determine the exact angle needed.
2010-05-22 Left Wing Is Ready For Rivets




I was thinking that some of the riveting would get done today but sometimes the "miscellaneous" items take a lot of time.

The brackets to hold the LRI tubing had been cut out but still needed to have the holes punched in them. Three different sizes are needed. The tooling holes weren't needed but these were made identical to the ones for the left wing pitot static lines. These were made and installed along with the snap bushings. The lines were installed and colored coded with small tie wraps.

The 4" mounting plate for the probe was finished and the countersunk nut plates were attached to the wing skin around the 3" hole that was cutout for the mounting plate. The brackets for the probe itself had to be altered a little for clearance but soon enough the assembly was set in place and adjusted to 51º for initial flight tests.

The last two aileron bell crank channel support clips were fitted and drilled to the lower wing skin. Also deburred and did the final fit for the angle support for the fiberglass wing tip.

After clecoing all of the skins back on, along with the hinges for the aileron and flaps, these were fitted to the trailing edge and checked for fit and straightness. The holes in the rear spar for the flap drive plate and aileron counterweight were cleaned up to allow movement of the drive plate and counterweight without rubbing and interference.

A last check was done with a smart level to ensure that the wing is flat and straight without any warp or twist. Very good!
2010-05-25 Left Wing - riveting, wing walk, RS carry through
A couple of slight deviations from the plans was done tonight. Both of these were on the wing walk area. First, it was decided to flush rivet the first two ribs (not the root rib) so as to allow the wing walk material to attach flatly to the skin. On previous installations either strips of walk material were put between the protruding rivet heads, or the material has bumps that were unsightly where the material went over the rivet heads. This should give a much better appearance.

The second deviation was to slip the wing walk material under the leading edge skin instead on on top of it. Dick did his wing this way and besides cutting down on drag, (I know ... I know) it gives the leading edge a cleaner look all the way down the front to the fuselage.

Most of the riveting on the top of the wing was finished tonight. Parts for the rear spar carry through were being gathered together and Dick did the cutouts on the channel.
2010-05-27 Finishing Left Wing - Rear Spar Carry Through


The final rivets were put into the left wing tonight. The only thing left to do is to attach the fiberglass wingtip. That should be a bit easier since I have recent experience from doing the right wing. 8~)

The rear spar carry through parts were pilot drilled and then up drilled. After deburring, these parts were clecoed together. The bolts were then added after using a reamer to size the holes correctly. Final riveting is done later, as per the plans. I do not yet understand the reason for this but I'm sure it will become clear as the process moves forward.
2010-05-29 Wingtip & Spar Alignment



The left wingtip took much longer than anticipated. Some difficulties were found with the fit in that the spar web was protruding about an 1/8" too far. This meant that the support angle had to be removed (a replacement angle was made) and the spar had to be carefully cut back.

The overall fit and finish was acceptable but I had hoped it would have been a bit better and not as laborious to do! It was clecoed in place. The riveting would be done on Tuesday night to finish.

The wings were then set up and mated together with alignment bolts so that the wing blocks could be match drilled and reamed with a 3/8" reamer. This part of the operation went very well.
2010-06-01 Finished Wingtip - Rudder Blocks


Tonight the wingtip was riveted on. Aluminum rivets were used on all the areas except the leading edge where countersunk rivets were used (CCC42). This wingtip took longer than the other side. The lesson is that it is done when it is done. 8~)

The Phonlic blocks for the rudder pedals were drilled and fitted to size. The final fit was done with a homemade "sanding drum" which was basically some sand paper (#220) taped and wrapped around a piece of steel bar that was inserted into a drill and used to slowly work the phonolic to a snug fit around the rudder pedal tubes.

The parts for the spar tunnel were located and the fuselage was leveled in preparation for the work to begin on fitting the wings to the fuselage. I understand that this is a slow a meticulous process. Time isn't an issue here as the point is to get it absolutely correct ... the first time.
2010-06-03 Setting Up Fuselage To Install Wings - NOT





We began by selecting and clearing an area where the fuse could best be set up and leveled so that the wing fitting could begin on Saturday (6/5/10).

Many close measurements were taken. We began leveling with an M-D Smart Level. A small and large shop square was on hand to keep everything honest. A concern was found when repeated attempts to level the fuselage failed. Careful measurements concluded that the left front (pilot side) longeron was 3/8" too low in the motor mount area.

A lot was done to try and find the discrepancy, but it was getting late so a decision was made to call Sonex Tech in the morning for some guidence.

It should be noted that when the kit was purchased from the previous builder that this part of the fuse was already done. Shame on us for not catching this on the prebuy inspection. But that's the way it goes. It's all in a days work.
2010-06-05 Out Of Alignment, Out Of Square


Talking to Kerry at Sonex Tech is always a great experience. He is very knowledgeable but admitted that without being able to see what we were looking at his guess was just that. The floor and sides being pilot drilled factory pieces would make it hard to screw those up. He then noted an email with the previous builder having concerns about the upper left longeron. He suggested that we start there.

In the final analysis the cure was much more than that. It turns out the concern began where the tail cone and the forward fuselage were fitted together. One problem was that the vertical channels and crosstie box were out of square. Dick also noted that some of the bends in the splice plates were not correct.

In addition, the main fuselage was misaligned when installed to the tail cone and this aggravated the situation and caused the front to be not only out of square but out of alignment.

Parts were ordered from Sonex so that we can remake the vertical channels and crosstie pieces for both the front of the tail cone and the bottom and top front end of the forward fuselage as well as the splice plates that attach the forward and rear fuse together.

I spent a great deal of time disassembling the forward fuselage from the tail cone.
2010-06-08 Turtle Deck Formers



Spent time tonight removing the front turtle deck ribs to allow access to the bolts that go through the splice plates between the rear tail cone and the forward fuselage.

New bolts will be used in all areas but the old ones could not be removed with the former (ribs) in place.

Also removed the rudder cable alignment blocks from the vertical channels. These will be used on the new channels that will be made.
2010-06-10 Upper & Lower Crossties - Firewall



Tonight the upper and lower crossties were made for the firewall. If you have read previous entries you may recall that a new firewall was ordered at the beginning as the previous builder had installed it incorrectly.

The problem with the top of the fuselage is that the previous builder had an overall width that was 3/16" too much. Because this is a highly structural area (motor mounts are here) it is critical that it is properly done.
2010-06-12 Disassemble, Square, & Level

Well ... we arrived today at a point where, if I read it correctly, we are finished with taking apart the fuselage. Today was spent taking the upper and lower crossties from the front of the forward fuse. The vertical stiffener for the firewall was also removed.

We spent a good bit of time drilling out the bolts put in by the previous assembler as they were obviously driven (hammered) into holes that were not reamed out first. They were extremely tight.

Almost all of the nuts had been tightened to the point of riding up on the shoulder of the bolt. The result was that the threads were compromised and the tension strength of the bolts was not going to be up to spec.

It also seems that the previous assembler did not use a torque wrench as the bolts were very much over tightened. The decision was made to scrap all bolts in the forward fuselage section and replace them.

Then the sawhorses were carefully leveled using shims and then the fuse was set back on them. The square showed it to now be square and the level showed it to be dead on. We got brave and checked it with the M-D Smart Tool which checks level to within 1/10th of 1º and it came up absolutely perfect!

Now we have a long way to go but careful assembly with attention to detail should render a true and straight flying Sonex as the result.
2010-06-15 Bolts, Nuts, and Crossties




Tonight we finished installing most of the bolts in the forward fuselage section (a few remain that will be changed when the firewall is installed). Using a torque wrench, all were set to 24 inch pounds.

The upper and lower crossties in the motor mount area were installed. The top came out perfect at 32" (inside the skins as per the plans). The old vertical stiffener was clecoed in place but again, it was decided to scrap it and replace it along with the gussets that hold it in place. The new replacement firewall was ordered at the beginning of the project.

Maybe it's just me but it just seems to fit together much better with the correct size parts in place (see attached photo).
2010-06-17 Attach Plates & Vertical Stiffeners

Tonight the eight attach brackets (tail cone to fuse) were laid out and cut using Dick's band saw at his home shop. We went back to "Hang 10" and began the process of smoothing and deburring these parts. We used a combination of flat and round files, sanding drum on a Dremel tool, Scotch Brite Wheel and hand sanding. They came out really nice.

There also is a 1/8 radius that is on these. Not difficult to do but a bit of manpower is required. Most of this work is completed but a bit that is left will be finished on Saturday.

The metal was also cut for the vertical stiffeners for the front of the tail cone to fuselage section. It was thought to reuse the top crosstie box in the front of the tail cone but that will be remade also.

2010-06-19 Attach Brackets & Vertical Stiffeners - cont
Spent the morning finishing up the attach brackets by doing the radius cuts on the last four, and smoothing and cleaning them up. I was beginning to enjoy the process of seeing how well I could get the radius to come out. Most were really good and a few were excellent.

Then the layout of the vertical stiffeners for the front of the tail cone was done. Both of these were laid out, pilot drilled, and cut as needed.

The front and rear channels for the crosstie box at the tail cone to forward fuse area were cut and trimmed as required. Layout for the top and bottom was begun but not yet completed.

Also spent a bit of time working on the band saw. It was discovered that the wheels inside need some new "tires."

2010-06-22 Making Parts To Remake The Crosstie Box



We had finished the layout and cutting of the front and rear channel pieces for the crosstie box. Tonight the top and bottom were made. Both were made to plans with the exception that the ends of the bottom pieces were opened up to allow access to the bolts after assembly for inspection purposes. We had done this on the original box before we discovered that it would need to be replaced.

The layout, cutting, deburring and pilot drilling of these pieces are pretty straight forward.
2010-06-24 Crosstie Box Assembly / Attach Brackets

Tonight the crosstie box was up drilled to #30, deburred, cleaned, and riveted together. Care must be taken to ensure that the box remains square, without twist, throughout assembly.

Clecos were left in the bottom to allow easier access to the bolts in the attach brackets.

We began the process of putting the radius bends in the attach brackets and preparing the fuselage for reassembly of the forward fuse to the tail cone.
2010-06-26 Attaching The New Attach Brackets/Plates

Replacing the attach brackets after the build can be a bit difficult as you must do some back drilling while keeping everything in its proper place and working to correct mistakes made by the previous owner.

The attach plates/brackets were fairly straight forward but took a bit of time as we had no desire to end up with anything near like we began with. Careful measurements were taken and a close eye was kept on the bends and angles called for in the plans.

You can see in two of the photos on this page an example of a cut at the end of the lower right longeron that was made by the previous owner. Not all of the work was this poor but it makes me wonder why anyone would leave such a defect that was corrected fairly easily.

We are making progress. The crosstie box has begun to be fitted but we didn't get too far into that process today.
2010-07-06 Putting It All together Again


We had to remake four of the attach brackets that connect the rear tail cone to the forward fuselage because the previous owner had drilled the forward holes in the longerons a bit too far forward. His holes were about 3/16" too far so the brackets were extended another 1/4". It is possible that the original brackets would have worked but we felt that the edge distance would be, at best, a compromise.

The initial fit up of the front and rear fuselage looks very good to the naked eye and even the measurements showed us to be within 1/2º of true. Now were getting somewhere! Alas, it was also noted that the vertical channel on the right hand side for the seat crosstie was installed improperly and it was holding the right side skin out of square. These will be removed and remade on Thursday night. Fun!
2010-07-08 Vertical Angles And Side Clips


As noted in the last entry some of the parts that connect the seat crosstie to the side panels had to be remade. A look at the photos will tell the whole tale on this. These parts are ... how do I say it nicely ... junk! Absolute junk!

Well ... we did realize that she won't be a "twisted sister" when we get done with her! The vertical angle on the right side was remade as it was installed in an out of square state and thus was holding the right side skin out too far.

The left side vertical angle is OK but the 90º clips that connect them to the rear sear crosstie were both replaced. Dick says that these parts were "Henselized" in honor (or dishonor) of the previous owner. These parts are bad ... I mean really bad. I almost hate to post photos but it will give you an idea of just what some people will do when building an aircraft.
2010-07-10 Getting it straight



It has been a very hot month when working on the fuselage in the "Hang 10" area but the perseverance has finally begun to pay big dividends for us.

Saturday morning began with a last check to see that all was straight, level, and square, before we began drilling the new set of upper attach brackets that mate the rear tail cone to the forward fuselage.

After drilling the bolt holes and rivet locations it was time to add the clips for the upper crosstie box. The previous owner had obviously made an error somehow because his mounting holes for the side clips were ~3/4" too far aft. His remedy was to make the brackets longer. These clips are made from 1-1/2" angle but the sides are trimmed to 13/16".

When the box was installed per the plans, it was found that even using the entire 1-1/2" of the channel would not work as the edge distance for the rivets would be compromised. The decision was made to install all these per the plans.

The result is that the holes made by the previous owner are still there and will need to be filled with rivets. Might use these to install my hat and coat rack inside ... 8~)

I was very relieved after re-leveling the sawhorses and doing some very through and accurate checking to determine how well we had faired on the reassembly thus far. The greatest difference I could find in length was less than a millimeter. The M-D Smart Level shows it to be level almost everywhere top and bottom, front to back. I did have a couple of those < 1% of 1º (less than one percent of one degree) measurements that really broke my heart.

Amazing how replacing some parts and using very careful attention to detail and assembly made such a huge difference in the airframe!

2010-07-13 Completed Fitting & Drilling The Tail To The Fuse
Tonight we completed all the fitting that was left to attach the front fuselage to the rear tail. This included the bottom attach brackets, vertical stiffeners, attach angle (right side), the clips for the seat crosstie, and the lower crosstie at the fuse attach point.

Everything was then clecoed and once again checked for accuracy. So far the repairs look wonderful.

On this page you will see two previously posted photos that show the difference in the fuselage since the repairs were done.
2010-07-15 Good Help Runs In The Family


Tonight we had a visitor to the Hang 10 Sonex Assembly Area. Dick's grandson, Josh, came over with him. He is a fine young man (15) with a mature attitude and a great sense of humor. Of course grandpa put him to work right away.

Our task was to uncleco everything, deburr it, clean it, and inspect it for final assembly. Josh did very well with deburring.
Grandpa learned that this young man had designed and built a car for a school project and felt compelled to test his part making skills by putting him to work making the vertical stiffener for the firewall.

When all of the parts prep was completed we began the assembly process which didn't get too far along but we did manage to install a few of the bolts in the attach brackets.

Hopefully this will be completed on Saturday and we can return to the process we were focusing on before we became sidetracked with rehabilitating our "twisted" little airplane. She's a straight flyer now ... after teaching me a lot about the building process!
2010-07-20 Finishing up the tail cone repairs / making shelves

We are now getting to the point where the final connection of the front and rear fuselage will be done. A bit more clean up to do and a few more small corrections to make. We've come a long way in the process of correcting a "twist" that was built into the fuselage by the previous owner.

Spent time tonight riveting the vertical channels to the crosstie box and installing the lower crosstie at the forward end of the rear fuselage.

We also made a template from poster board to make shelves for the baggage area. These will accomplish three things. They will make the area stronger (as if a Sonex need that!), give some shelf space behind the seat, but mostly this is done so as to "square off" the baggage area so a nice Naugahyde baggage compartment can be installed here. Dick has done this in the "Midnight Mistress." It is secured with cam-lock fasteners and looks superb!

Other items finished were riveting the seat angle brackets to the sidewall, and the up-drilling of the seat belt fasteners.


2010-07-22 Come together - Right Now!

Now it's time to begin the process of bolting and riveting the front and rear fuselage together. But again there were a few things to do. We set the fuse on its side and drilled out the angle gussets that attach the seat rear crosstie to the sidewall at the floor so as to install the spacers that the previous owner had omitted.

Dick did a remake of the passenger side baggage shelf and both of these were test fitted but not yet riveted into place. We then slid the front and rear together and fastened with clecoes and began installing the bolts through the attach plates.

We clecoed in the spar tunnel and the wing attach vertical angles as well as a test fit of the center firewall stiffener. It is great to see her going together ... and doing so quite well!
2010-07-24 Forward Fuse Assembly & Firewall
With the fuselage being now joined by clecoes and a few bolts it was decided to fit the firewall and associated pieces i.e. center stiffener and brackets, and get these clecoed in place.

With the upper and lower firewall flanges bent in the small metal brake, the fitting part was a bit more challenging than first anticipated. After a bit of work with the flanging pliers, rounding the lower corners to fit around the motor mount brackets, and holding my tongue the right way the firewall finally went into place and fit well with one exception.

With the holes already drilled in the vertical side pieces from the previous owner all were okay (both the firewalls came from Sonex) with the exception of the top right (pilot's side) 90º clip that fits flush with the bottom of the mount. After remaking this part, clamping it in place, and then back drilling it, the firewall fit straight and square. Then the center stiffener was fit and clamped into place.

I then moved back to replacing the remainder of the bolts and screws that secure the front and rear halves of the fuselage. The forward most turtle deck former was deburred, cleaned and clecoed into place to check for fit to the straightened fuselage.

She looking good - really good!
2010-07-29 Shelves, stiffeners, and filler boxes
Tonight the remainder of the bolts for the tail cone to forward fuse mounting were installed. We also finished the installation of the shelves in the baggage area which consisted of finishing the fit for the passenger side shelf, up-drilling, deburring, cleaning and doing the final riveting for both shelves.

Completed the fit up of the upper and lower brackets for the firewall stiffener. Also installed the remainder of the CCP-42 rivets in the sidewall skin at the tail cone to forward fuse junction.

Dick wasn't happy with the work the previous owner had done on the fuel filler box and began to remake the box from the stainless steel that was left over from the old firewall that was replaced. While Dick worked on the filler box I match drilled the lower firewall to the new lower crosstie. This included back drilling the 3/16" bolts and reaming them for a snug fit.
2010-07-31 Firewall lower/upper/stiffener/ complete
Finished the installation of the firewall stiffener which included up-drilling, deburring, and cleaning. Deburring the insides of the square tube wasn't hard but I did have to use a piece of piano hinge wire and some 180 grit sandpaper. Finished up the lower firewall by up-drilling the remaining holes.

It was then time to fit the upper firewall to the lower. This was not difficult and very straight forward requiring only a bit of finesse work to make it fit real well.

All the parts and pieces were then taken apart, deburred, cleaned, and inspected.

2010-08-07 Odds & Ends

We completed the few items left to do before we get to the wing fitting stage of the process. Today the passenger side attach bracket for the forward most turtle deck former to the crosstie box was remade. The previous owner had installed it crooked. It would have flown but it would have stuck out like a sore thumb.

Besides the attach plate we also completed the stainless steel front for the fuel filler box with its reinforcing backing plate.

After these parts were finished, the turtle deck former was fitted so that the new bracket could be set in place in the turtle deck to forward fuselage junction area.

These parts were then up-drilled, disassembled, deburred, cleaned and inspected. All the holes in the parts and the crosstie box were deburred. Getting to the backside of the holes in the crosstie box was a bit of a challenge and, like many times before, drew a bit of blood to go along with the sweat and tears!

We then did the final fit-up and riveting of the turtle deck former with its attach plates. Moving right along ...
2010-08-12 Elevator idler assembly






The elevator idler assembly was finished tonight. The factory parts made this task easy but we did have to make the forward angle clips. It was also necessary to turn down the outside diameter of the steel bushing that fits inside the bronze bushing in order to get a snug but free moving part.

After fitting in place and up drilling, all the pieces were taken apart, deburred, inspected, and reassembled using clecoes. The final assembly of this part is done with the final installation of the rear spar carry through.
2010-08-14 Winging It!
This begins a milestone event as today we began the fitting of the wings to the fuselage. I have been warned and read that this, while only a couple of holes in the front, takes a great deal of time in order to be sure that the wings are correctly placed before drilling the wing blocks to the fuselage. I was not disappointed.

Using saw horses, a laser level, a smart tool (digital level), 4' bubble level, and many measuring devices, we were finally convinced that we could not get any more perfect with the fit of the wings. Shims were used under the main spar and the rear was blocked to the correct height with wooden blocks and clamps.

Drilling these holes makes a man a bit apprehensive knowing that a mistake here can be fixed, but care should be taken so that a time consuming and costly repair isn't needed. In the final analysis the holes were pretty straight forward using a guide bushing from the rear forward and then coming from the front to back drill the rear.

The time consuming part is in being certain that everything is where is is supposed to be and stays there while drilling the holes for the attach bolts.
2010-08-21 Rear Spar Fitting

As much as the main spar bolts took a bit of time to get right, so also and maybe even more so the fitting of the rear spar carry through. It was, to say the least, a bit time consuming.

The rear spar carry through itself was built earlier but now it was time to fit it to the lower crosstie and add the angle brackets that fasten it to the side skins. Again, this task is not especially difficult but it is time consuming. The angle that is fitted between the length of the crosstie and the spar carry through is a bit difficult simply because of the lack of access and the ability to be able to clearly see what you are doing.

It went extremely well and after final up-drilling, deburring and refitting with clecoes I again leveled the fuse and checked the dihedral of the wings. According to our M-D Smart level we are within one tenth of one degree from one side to the other. I believe that will fly!

2010-08-24 Wing Root Fairings


With the wing fitting complete it seemed wise to fit up the wing fairings before removing the wings. This was a straight forward process but sometimes the math in your head don't match the math that's needed. All went well but I did over measure the lower right side by 1/8th of an inch. In the test fit this showed to not be a concern but these are easy enough to remake if needed.

The top side fit and the wing walk fit (left side) was much better and in fact may be too tight but it's easier to take aluminum away than to add it back.

Layout of the seat pan was done for the center stick cutout and the seat belt pass through.
2010-08-26 Wing Root Fairings/Seat pan

Had to finish the wing root fairing on the pilots side. Another of the "Fisher touches" was to tuck the wing walk under the leading edge skin. Doing this required making the root fairing as the original kit part was one piece and when separated came up too short. The remaining kit piece was used for a template and only had to be extended about 3/4" as seen in the photo.

We then began the process of cutting out the seat pan for the stick and seat belts. The process was started by using pilot holes and then unibits to make larger holes. But in the final analysis the hand nibbler made short work of this job. Final finish yet to be completed.
2010-08-28 Seating For Two

With the rough cuts outs in the seat pan done it was time to clean up the holes and edges and put the required bends in it. The bends (one at 11º and the other at 86º) were pretty straightforward and made so much easier by the use of Dicks bending brake.

The hinges for the top and front were then fitted. It was then set in place and aligned with the hinge half that was on the seat cross support. After drilling pilot holes for the rear hinge the top and front were pilot drilled and up drilled. The lower rear hinge was removed with the seat pan and final fitting was done on the work bench.

I now nearly have a place to sit and make airplane noises. The final riveting isn't completed as I need to get inside the crosstie box to deburr the backside of those holes. The rest is completed.

As you can see from the smile on the inspector's face ... it fits very well!
2010-08-31 Begin fitting of horz tail group

We began the process of fitting the tail group to the fuselage. The plans call for a measurement of 3-1/4" from the back of the rear spar to the vertical channel on the end of the tail cone. Some trimming of the skins had to be done to accomplish this. Though a bit time consuming this part was not too difficult. The plans call for a gap between the horz stab skin and the fuse of 1/64 - 1/8".

Once this was done we could then set the horz stabilizer in place and clamp it down. Then we checked for equal distance of the tips and came within less than one millimeter of perfection.
2010-09-02 Here's a tip!


With the horizontal stabilizer trimmed, fitted, and clamped it was straight forward to drill the 1/4" holes. We used various sizes of drill bits to slowly "step up" to larger sizes until we arrived at the required hole size. The holes were then reamed and a free but snug fit was found on all of the bolt holes.

We then began the process of looking at and fitting the tail tips. There have been a few cautionary stories concerning the installation of these but it looks to be simple enough.
2010-09-04 A tail of whoa! We did manage to finish the mounting of the horizontal stabilizer tail tips today but it was much more time consuming and painful than I imagined. If I can pass along anything that I've learned it would be to not only read the plans but to study them also.

In the end the tips came out very well but it took a bit of head scratching and more than one trimming to do this. I thought it would be easy and maybe that was my error.

We then began cleaning up the edges of the elevator skins (work undone by the previous owner) and the mounting of the elevator drive horn. As with everything else it was pretty straight forward. You will note from the plans that the centerline for the drive horn is not the drive arm as one might suspect but rather to the side of it.

We have the pilot holes drilled and temporarily mounted the tail to check for adequate clearance of proper movement i.e. 25º of up elevator.
2010-09-07 Tale of the tail

Every now and again the building process gets interesting. Tonight was such a moment.

After much light trimming, head scratching, measuring, plans reading, and walking around in a daze we realized that the vertical tail from the previous owner was improperly constructed and would have to be scrapped. The distance between the spar mounting points was off by at least 5/32 and 3/16 could be argued for (see photos).

The fault is a combination of the root rib being a tad too long and, most notably, while the 35º bend in the forward spar mounting plate is indeed at 35º, the problem is that it is too far down on the part. This pushes the geometry forward and out of line.

It was decided to trash this piece and start over. Ugh!
2010-09-09 A continuing tail tale

Since a new vertical tail is to be made the old vertical stabilizer was disassembled. It appears that the only two parts that will be reused are the top tip rib and the skin.

Also removed the read vertical channel bulkhead and the tail wheel assembly. The upper angle will also be removed and replaced. More may be needed but at present this appears to be all that is affected.
2010-09-11 Tail me something good!


We are in the process of making parts to remake the vertical stabilizer. Some metal had to be ordered from Aircraft Spruce but they are quick to deliver and so we are on our way.

In the hangar we have my Delta 9" band saw. If you have one my heart goes out to you because mine is ... well ... worthless! Dick has a fine Sears model in his home workshop so any of the serious cutting has to be done there.

Getting pretty good with cutting, trimming, deburring, filing, and rounding corners and radii.


2010-09-14 The never ending tail tale




The part making process continues. Here you can see a pile of parts to completely remake the vertical stabilizer. The top rib will need to be remade.

I had been curious every since we removed the fiberglass tip as to why the previous builder has added some extra rivets in the top rib. The answer seems to be his attempt to correct for a misplaced vertical spar assembly at the top.

The skin and the tip of the top rib appear to be the only parts that we would dare to reuse. The top rib will be remade using form blocks. The layout was done for these on tracing paper.
2010-09-16 Tail talk
While I was out of town for a few days Dick moved ahead with the work of remaking the tail by cutting out the wood form blocks that will be needed in order to make the needed top rib.

He has also remade some of the other parts that are needed such as the upper attach angle. This is being replaced because the original vertical stabilizer, in addition to being built wrong was not really a "vertical" stabilizer as it wasn't really vertical.

Moving right along ...

2010-09-18 Making Parts
We continue to fabricate parts to remake the vertical stabilizer. The form blocks were cut out as well as the metal that will become the vertical channel where the tail wheel mounts and one of the end clips. There were serious issues with the vertical tail wheel channel that was in place previously as it was poorly done and had multiple stress risers in it.
2010-09-25 More Tail Disassembly

The more we inspected the more we realized the need to go a bit further and replace not only the rear channel but also the bulkhead behind it that the end of the tail wheel tube attaches to.

A close look at the photos reveals some poor deburring, scratches and stress risers in the bulk head. The main concern was that the holes for the bolts that mount through the longeron on the bottom were too close to the radius on the lower angle that getting a nut to seat properly wasn't going to happen.

So ... here's to drilling out a few more rivets and making a few more parts!
2010-10-09 Continuing Tail Work

Still making parts and now beginning to install the fuse parts and assemble the vertical stabilizer frame. This has taken much longer than anticipated but the result has been worth it. The end result is for this aircraft to be straight and fly right.

Because we did not have channel to match the rear channel piece that was removed we made a new channel piece using the small bending brake to bend our own channel. It came out perfectly straight!

All of the frame parts are new parts that we made. The original factory skin will be reused after being cleaned, deburred, and inspected.
2010-10-16 Wiring Troughs

Here is some more detail on an idea that we mentioned earlier. Dick utilized these on his Sonex and they work very well. The purpose is to have a way to bring the wiring and tubing from behind the spar box to in front of the spar box without bringing them over or into the seating area.

These are pretty straight forward in application but the manufacturing of these parts was not as easy as it appears. This was Dick's work. I did have the privilege of cutting the holes in the fuse floor and helping with the cleanup and fit up of these troughs.

These will work wonderfully to bring the antenna, ELT, strobe, and other wiring from back to front in addition to the tubing (two required) for the Lift Reserve Indicator probe.
2010-10-23 Wiring Troughs - continued


Once the wiring troughs were up drilled, deburred and cleaned they were riveted together. They were then fitted to the fuse and the pilot holes were drilled.

After up drilling and deburring these they were then clecoed into place. They cannot be final riveted until the spar tunnel is riveted in place.
2010-10-30 Together Again!


After what seems like forever ... today was the day to do the final assembly for many of the fuse parts that were removed and remade in order to do the rework needed because of the building errors made by the first owner of this kit.

The verticals with gussets were attached as well as the spar tunnel which included the flush rivets inside, the seat support with the new attach angles, the seat hinges on the spar tunnel and crosstie box, and the seat pan itself.

Up drilling of the blocks for the flap drive tube and the bending of the brake and flap handles were also done. The elevator bellcrank assembly was fitted but not yet riveted.

We couldn't wait to "take a seat" and discuss how that now we are on the correct path to move forward with no more previous issues to deal with. Hallelujah!
2010-11-02 Coming together

Our neighbor and fellow pilot Ellis, was extremely helpful in coming by the hangar and bringing his tools (it's a 3X) so that we could set the solid rivets that are required in the top of the spar tunnel on each end (3 each side).

He was really the nice guy to allow me to be the "gun runner" as he held the bucking bar in place. We do assist each other in small ways from time to time and his help on this was indeed, much appreciated.

I finally got all the up drilling, fitting, and deburring done and began to assemble the vertical stabilizer for the final time.
2010-11-04 Of Brackets and Tails

The last of the work on the vertical stab was on tap for tonight which was mostly the inspection of the frame, cleaning, and then attaching the skin along with the hinge that the is used to attach the rudder to the VS.

Meanwhile Dick was installing the brackets that will hold the angle with the notches for the flap settings. As this is a kit piece it has the up, 10º, and 30º flap positions notched out already. Most builders add the notch for a 20º flap position. This we will also do before installing this part.
2010-11-13 Engine Progress

We took a day from the actual building of the airframe to travel and get a look at the engine for this build. Our travel took us to Barnwell, SC to talk with the builder and hopefully bring the engine back with us.

This was not to be as the test equipment was backed up and the builder wanted to do the actual first run and engine break-in procedure before releasing the engine to us.

We did pick up the motor mount, nose bowl, prop spinner, baffling kit and the intake manifold. Motor mount was powder-coated and is extremely well made.

2010-11-16 Finishing the tail - installing the controls

Finished the rebuilding of the vertical stabilizer. It was mostly complete except for a few finishing touches. It appears that we have finally worked through all of the errors made by the previous owner of this kit.

Also finished installing the angle brackets on the left side that support the controls i.e. flaps and trim. It was of great help to us to turn the fuse and lay it on its left side as this made for much better access to the work area and made measuring and drilling much easier.
2010-11-18 Flaps, Trim, & NACA Vents


Managed to get the flap tube, flap handle, & trim handle installed. We had previously drilled the phenolic blocks that support the flap drive tube but it was necessary to chamfer the inside where the weld is in order to grant clearance for the blocks to come together correctly. The plans show this and it wasn't difficult as done with a small round hand file.

When installing the blocks remember to grease them before final assembly. I did have to remove them at least once to get a better fit as the goal was to have them move very freely yet to have no slop, slack, or play in the phenolic block fit up.

The flap handle was pilot drilled and then up drilled to 1/4" and cleaned up with a reamer. We also cut the 20º flap notch that, I believe, all builder's add.

Trim lever was installed. We were reminded that sometimes what appears very quick and simple ain't always so. But all came out very well.

Also did the cutouts for the Van's NACA vents. This went pretty quick by spray gluing the template to the side, using a unibit to give a starter hole, and then cutting these out with a hand nibbler. Final cleanup was done with small files and sandpaper.

A lot was accomplished tonight.
2010-11-20 Rudder Pedals, Center Stick, Rear Spar Carry Through, Tail

We had accomplished a great deal on Thursday night but today was also very productive!

The rudder pedals were installed. We had previously test fitted them but today the final fit up of the blocks was done and the greasing and assembly went quickly.

The center stick was assembled with the most difficult part being drilling the hole that holds the stick itself to the tube that goes through the carrier assembly. After that the rest was really quite simple. The plans do show that only one washer is required on each side of the carrier where is mounts to the brackets on the fuse floor but we had to add additional washers to make the fit free moving yet without any play or side to side movement.

The rear spar carry through was then riveted into place. This would have been done earlier but we had to wait for rivets from Sonex.

We also began the fit-up of the tail. A few months ago we had tried to fit the tail built by the previous owner only to find that it was useless and so it was remade. Imagine how elated I was when the vertical stabilizer we just built fell right into alignment! It was an absolutely beautiful fit!


2010-11-27 The engine has arrived!

We didn't get much building done but it was a very productive day as we traveled out of state to Georgia to pick-up the engine from the builder and discuss many of the items concerning the install and the running of the engine i.e. operating parameters, expected HP, auxiliary items ect.

The engine has had its initial break-in done and the first numbers were excellent with good numbers reported from the dyno in regards to output being as good or better than expected.

Some specifics as of now:

Displacement -
3018 CC

Rated Horsepower -
120 (3400 RPM)

Expected TBO -
1000 Hrs (heads)
1500 HRS (Rebuild)

Maximum continuous cruise -
2800 RPM

More to come ...


2010-12-04 Remaking the Elevators

There comes a time in every aircraft builder's log when he has to admit that because of brain fade he (or she) has had to back up and punt some replacement parts onto the scene. I have had this experience.

The error was a combination of trusting the previous owners pilot holes and not doing the assembly in the proper order. The end result was that the parts could have been made to work but in this area (elevator and elevator drive mounting) I didn't want anything less than absolutely correct so I ordered replacement parts from Sonex and remade the entire elevator system with the careful oversight of my instructor/inspector/mentor/and friend.

The results are excellent both for the parts made and the lesson learned! 8~)
2010-12-11 The final assembly and mounting of the tail!

At times it seemed that we would never get this done but perseverance has prevailed and now we are finished with the mounting of the tail assembly.

Like other builders we had to trim the welded area on the elevator drive horn to get the proper clearance for elevator up travel. The rudder horn also needed just a slight trim in order to engage the rudder stops correctly.

The bolts called for in mounting the tail (even with a washer under each end as called out) were still a bit too long so I had to add an additional washer to the nut end.

A lot of parts and systems come together here (elevators, rudder, tail wheel, ect) and it feels good to final see that it all fits together very well ... and works as it should! 8~)
2010-12-18 Trim System, Rudder cables & Elevator Pushrod

Now we are getting somewhere!

Installing the control cables and push-rods are exciting as we will have something to actually play with when we sit in the fuse and make airplane noises!

On my current airplane I have the Sonex "Dial A Speed" system that is basically a spring loaded system that takes the forces off the stick by spring loading the elevator push-rod. That system is adequate and works well but after flying Dick's Sonex with the standard trim i.e. cable operated elevator tab, I knew that for the quickness of the response and the safety factor that this build would use the trim tab method

The safety factor I refer to is that in case of loss of elevator control via the push-rod, the cable trim tab would allow you to fly the elevator enough to get the airplane down.

We also pilot drilled the front (short) tube of the elevator push-rod, as per the plans. Once fitted in the other half and mounted into the airplane it can the be pilot drilled to the other half.

Stay tuned for more ...
2010-12-27 Paint or polish?



Pros and cons to painting or polishing. To anyone that has seen Dick's Sonex up close, they know what a great, grain free, polish job looks like. His is the best I've seen on a Sonex.

So with a bit of time off between the holidays I thought I would begin the process of cutting the grain from the bottom skins. One Sonex builder learned that rubbing compound will help cut the grain a bit faster than the F9 Nuvite polish. I like the Dupont #7 but none was available locally. I went with the Turtle Wax Buffing Compound. These products, when compared side by side, give the same results.

It takes a good deal of hard labor to get the grain cut out. I really like the look of polish but painting this bird is looming ever larger after a few days with the buffer in hand. 8~)
2010-12-28 Rub a dub-dub!


Using some mineral spirits and the Turtle Wax Buffing Compound I continued to pound away at the bottom surfaces and now went to work on the lower side of the wings.

Several passes were done and the grain is still evident. Again, the prospect of painting this aircraft is looking more favorable as time with the buffer in hand moves along.

It will certainly be a great deal of work to get the grain out of the aluminum. The polished Sonex I have now looks pretty good on the wings but some light grain is still seen in the fuse sides.

If I can paint this one without gaining a lot of weight and loosing a lot of cash ... she'll soon be a wash & wax project!



2011-01-04 Elevator push rod & firewall installed

We now seem to be moving along at a fair pace with this build after spending a great deal of time in the "repair the previous owners mistakes" mode. We are at the part of the build where if we find that it's screwed up ... it's on us!

The lower firewall had been fitted but it was now fitted and riveted after the rudder cables and other such work was completed in the forward fuse section. The upper firewall was test fit and removed as we are not quite ready to install it.

The elevator push rods were installed. A note of caution. On the plans the bushings for these are supposed to protrude through the rod and be cut back to .0005-.0015 in to keep the rods from contacting each other. I almost missed this but realized during the assembly that something wasn't correct.

When I told Dick what I had discovered and that I had corrected the error he just smiled as if to say, " I was wondering how long it would take you before you done something about that!"
2011-01-06 Engine mount & fuel tank

Here comes the good stuff as she's really beginning to take on the look of an airplane!

The mount was fit and the line up was really good. Because the engine mount connectors on the fuse had already been drilled Dick suggested that we use a drill bushing to pilot drill the new mount before doing the up drilling. This was not only a great idea but allowed us to make minute corrections so that the mounting position would be "spot on."

The fuel tank straps were put into place and the tank was set inside the fuse. The fitting on the NACA ducts for the vents is perfect as they are as far forward and upward as reasonably possible without interfering with the tank.
2011-01-08 Tail fairings - how to bend aluminum

Today was interesting as we used a method that I've heard a great deal about but never actually tried. Heating and bending the aluminum to make the fairing for the gaps that exist between the vertical and horizontal stabilizers.

We practiced on a test piece and even took a scrap piece and overheated it to learn what to look for as it gets too hot.

In the photos you can see how the part is "sooted" with a candle. When heated with a propane torch you will know when it is hot enough as the soot will disappear. Even after it has cooled it will still be manageable to bend for a few moments.

I wanted to try "cold forming" one of the fairings and that is what you'll see here also. I guess it could be done either way. For me, the important step seemed to be to get the "break" of the bend started on the small end first. You have to go slowly and take your time. If you start with the large end and bend too fast the back will raise up and put a nasty kink in the fairing.

2011-01-08 Tail wheel mounting


We have at least part of the landing gear on the airplane. The tail wheel is mounted and awaiting a connecting rod to the rudder horn (parts on order as we plan to use ball joints here).

An astute observer will notice a 5" Great Plains tail wheel. You might also notice that it fits the stock Sonex tail wheel mounting bracket ... but not so fast! The mount appears to be the original but it was actually manufactured for us by a craftsman in a far away state.

Those that have used this particular wheel have said that it rides much smoother and last for many hours. Note that we installed the optional "hubcaps" that came with it. Makes it a bit more streamlined which should make it faster ... or not! 8~)
2011-01-15 Upper firewall & Engine Mount

It gets difficult to log events when several areas are being addressed and/or you go to another task while awaiting parts for the current one.

Either way it's easy to see that we are now making great progress and hope to do the initial engine fitting by the end of the month. That's not really a goal or deadline, just something to shoot for.

Fairings are done, upper firewall is done, and the engine mount is fitted. An astute observer will notice a visitor to the hangar that is riveting the upper firewall in place. My brother Billy stopped by to see what all the fuss was about and got put to work as we try to do with all visitors. His work was really good for a rookie! 8~)


2011-01-22 Gear legs, seat belts, fuel tank

Several more items addressed as we quickly move along. We took the time to chase all the threads in the fuel tank fittings, clean it throughly with soap and water, and do a quick and easy pressure test on it. Inspection of the tank found no concerns and some might question why anyone would inspect a new tank. Most understand that "new" don't always mean "without defects" and so I've learned to look over all parts and suspect until you verify.

The seat belts are straight forward to install until you get to the center belts with the arrangement of washers as called out in the plans. It makes sense, it fits correctly, it works, it just a bit of a pain to get them all in place!

By far the toughest piece of work was drilling the upper holes in the gear legs to the engine mount. Using my 20/20 hindsight it may have been easier to mark them with the drill and then use the press to finish the holes but we knew if we drilled them in place that they would fit absolutely straight ... and they did!

2011-01-29 Axle alignment and drilling

Of all the parts of the build that make the builder slow down and pause, the main gear alignment is of extreme importance. Concerning the importance of this part is can be said, "if it ain't in a class by itself, it don't take long to call the roll!"

Dick is the guy with experience. We simply followed what the plans had to say. This is not the time to get in a hurry. Close adherence to the plans and a good set up will give impressive results!

After getting the alignment straight we used a 1/8" bit to mark the pilot holes through one side of the axle cuff (those are T.O.) and into the titanium gear leg just enough to give us a clear mark. They were then taken to Dick's home workshop and drilled on his press. After cleanup we came back to the hanger, fitted the gear legs and axles, checked the alignment, and then drilled through the backside of the axle cuff.

The alignment looks and checks good but the real test is yet to come ...

2011-02-05 Wheels, brakes, fuel tank, ect.

A lot of work was going on but not a lot of photo taking. Still we took a few. We took time to felt the fuel tank, install the bungee for the control stick, and ran the brake lines up to the stick after mounting the wheels and brakes on the axles.

Even though we have made and installed wiring troughs to pass under the main spar, it seemed best to not put the brake lines through there. Some of the reasons included the way the lines would bind against the edges being forced to makes so many turns. Instead we ran them under the spar through the bottom of the tunnel using grommets where the line passed through the aluminum and wire ties on the gear legs.

Even though it was forecast to quit raining, it didn't. That still did not stop me from taking her for her first walk outside. The purpose was to set her on the straight line, going straight, push her and see if she would track the line.

She rolled extremely true and straight ahead. The rudder & tail wheel worked flawlessly and she had absolutely no tendency to want to wander or turn to either side.

I was pleased ... and impressed!
2011-04-09 Getting Started Again

We have been moving very slowly the last two months because of an accident I was in while riding my motorcycle on the interstate. I wasn't at fault but that didn't make it hurt no less. I'm alive by the Grace of God. If you ride, be smart and wear a helmet.

The reason for bringing that up is that a few have been following this site and might have wondered why the delay in the work. Recovery has been a bit of a struggle but great friends and encouragement have helped tremendously. My mentor, Dick Fisher, would pick me up and take me to the hangar even when about all I could do was watch. We have accomplished a few things recently and now progress is speeding up again.

We have glued the NACA vents in place, installed the brake lines, test fit the glare shield and the fuel tank, installed the constant duty solenoid, drawn the panel layout, made a wiring diagram, began building the harness for the FL760 radio, and installed the fuse block complete with a door that both swings open or is removed with the pull of a hinge pin.

There are a few other minor things that have been done that you will notice in the photos. It is good to be building again ...
2011-04-16 Looks Like It Belongs

We have been working and getting small things accomplished and now and then we hit a milestone. Although it is only temporary, it felt extremely good to see the engine on the airframe. We needed it in place to fit the intake, carb, coils, switcher, gascolater, and fuel lines.

I had mentioned earlier that the harness for the radio had been started. It wasn't as difficult as thought but not as easy as hoped. Once I had a method to the madness it came off pretty well. In the photo it wasn't completed so one hint that I should pass along is to mark all of the wires before you cover the connector with heat shrink wrap. We used wire marker numbers that come in a booklet. Dick had some and I found another, similar kind, at Home Depot.

Dick is seen here checking the clearance for the fuel filler box. With everything we've looked at so far it appears that this combination is going to be an excellent fit!
2011-04-23 Coils & Intake A lot of little things are getting done but sometimes it seems like we're always taking the long way around. In reality we have been making some great progress. We have mounted the ignition coils to the firewall which was done by making a standoff to mount them to.

The coil switcher (not in the photo) has also been added as well as a condenser unit to the one coil that will be driven by the distributor points. The other ignition is CDI and requires no coil condenser.

We also picked up some fuel fill hose and cut the splices for the intake mounting. A standoff bracket is required at the bottom of the intake which we made and installed.

The panel has come back from being powder coated along with the two corner mounting brackets. The left bracket was slightly enlarged and will hold the throttle, mixture, and carb heat controls.
2011-04-30 If you want it to look great ... I met a very fine gentleman last year that has a beautiful Kitfox that he has been upgrading. I seen his panel and was told that he had done it himself. I later learned that Mr. Paul Johnson has done quite a number of panels having been employed to do so in a previous life.

We knew what the instruments would be and I had done a basic layout but Paul made some great recommendations based on his years of knowledge and experience. I am extremely pleased with this panel! I know that when the labeling and other touches are complete it will have the look and feel of a steam gauge set-up with very up to date electronic flight and engine information.

I have also begun the wiring on the panel and this will be one of the toughest task as I really don't want anything to go wrong here. I will spend a lot of time double checking all of the wires and connections before we do the first power up!
2011-05-07 Ignition wiring & Carb Heat Box Dick had decided to tackle the carb heat box construction. Carb heat is required when using the Marvel Schebler 0-200 carb. He began by making a template using poster board. We have done several parts this way as it is much easier and cheaper than using aluminum.

I spent this time making the required ignition wires for the engine. There's more than enough wire and connectors in the Accel 8MM set but they would have to be cut to length, the ends had to be stripped (don't knick the core!), connectors crimped, and the boots installed.

I bought a small crimper (see photo) made by MSD that did a remarkable job of splicing and crimping the wire ends. It uses a vise to add the crimp pressure. Your mileage may vary but for me it worked very well.
2011-05-14 Carb Heat Box & Baffles

While Dick continued to forge ahead on the carb heat box (there is a lot of work to that!) I began the process of installing the engine cooling baffles. These came in a kit but would need to be fitted and some other modifications would need to be done in order for the baffles to fit this engine as this kit wasn't built for the forward facing oil filter or the the oil supply line that feeds the BTA 5th bearing.

2011-05-28 Making tremendous progress


Dick has been making some great progress on the carb heat box but admittedly it hasn't been easy. He is resilient though and stuck with it and now he has it all but completed. These photos do not show the advanced stage that he is at.

Likewise these photos don't show that all of the baffling is also completed except for the baffle seal to cowl (to be done later.)

The engine is now removed and we will begin to finish up the firewall mounted items so that the engine can be final installed.

Then it's onto the wiring ...
2011-06-04 Here, there, and everywhere

We are at the point where we move from one item to another as parts and time permit so it's a bit difficult to log everything exactly by the heading thus here you will see several things that were completed on a particular day.

The ELT has been mounted in the bay directly behind the luggage area on a secure channel. With these ELTs there is always an abundance of wire for the control head. Many installers have tried to use a shorter phone line to keep from bundling so much cable but don't try this as this is not a standard phone cable. But our friend Mr. Johnson has the proper tools to shorten this cable with.

The engine has been put back on for the final time. The mounting bolts and hardware are installed per the plans from the engine builder. The bolts face up instead of down but there is no other way to do this. They do have the safety cotter pins installed.

The gascolator cover, while not absolutely necessary is recommended and so Dick took the time to build a fine example of one to install.
2011-06-11 Cables and wires

As much fun as this project has been I must admit that the most "fun" to be had is with the wiring. It is a challenge and will test the resolve of your patience. I have a great Aero Electric diagram for this particular application but there was another given for the over voltage protection that we decided to install. Some of the parts were different, and required emails and phone calls to understand what needed to be done.

We have a ways still to go but things are getting clearer. It is our aim not to release the smoke from any item!

Because this engine is electrically dependent, great thought and care must be given to the wiring so as to eliminate any fault that could interfere with power to the ignition sources for the primary or secondary ignitions.

The decision to pick-up the tach signal from the coil negative (-) was made only after it was discovered that it could be safely done with a resistor in the line along with a 250 ma fuse. But as always this system will be tested for faults on the ground.
2011-06-18 Still getting wired up

Wiring continues! I wondered at the time why we had a grounding block with twenty four tabs on it. I knew that we would have a good number of returns but admittedly I didn't suspect that we would have quite this many on what is a fairly simple airplane and wiring set-up.

The good news is that all the grounds will terminate to the grounding block and that should eliminate ground loops which cause noise in the electrical system. The capacitor should greatly help reduce any electrical ripple.

The relay next to the capacitor is the alternator cutout relay that is controlled by an over voltage module. The schematic that comes with the OV kit (manufacturer to remain anonymous) showed the relay disconnect at the 12 volt main line at the regulator output.

This seems a good idea but the better diagram shows the relay disconnect at one of the A/C lines between the alternator and the regulator. This is the way it is wired as this will kill the power before the regulator in the case of over voltage and not after the regulator.
2011-06-25 Where are all these wires coming from?

Seems that wiring goes on forever. We have spent a great deal of time but the end result will be worth it as we do not ever want a concern in this area. To anyone doing a wiring job please buy four times the amount of heat shrink that you think you will need! 8~)

It is imperative that you number all of the wires! Colors are good but I promise you that there are not enough colors to wire an airplane. I went to my local Lowe's Home and Aircraft supply store and bought a number book for just this purpose. I also wrote down all of the notes as we went along and then came home a put this on a Word document for future use.

In the meantime I managed to get a standoff bracket made for the alternator mounting. Dick noted that it had to be sanded and painted. He was right ... it looks great!
2011-07-02 Fuel Filler Box & Baffling

Dick and I worked together today taking a bit of a break from the wiring as what we need to do next can't be completed as yet. In completing the wiring I need to have the baffling installed and in order to finish that we needed to know the fit and finish of the filler box as what we need to do here is a deviation from the plans.

With this engine package the top of the cowling has flatter line from the windscreen to the nose bowl. While Dick worked on the changes to the filler box I focused on getting the baffling to fit and find a way to route the wiring up and through the rear to the starter and alternator.

You can see that the clearances are close but it appears that we have come together quite nicely and that the fit and finish will be good.
2011-07-09 A Little Bit Of This & That


We have been busy but the focus shifts around a lot and it's difficult to put what we are doing into a particular category.

While Dick was finishing up the changes to the fuel filler box, I was finalizing the wiring through the baffling and making a few small brackets that were needed. The fuel filler box is different from plans in that the cowl line will be higher due to the engine choice we have made. Besides, there was a bit of flush riveting to be done and the change made more of that to do.

The wiring through the baffling is done and the sealing works well but it took a few attempts to figure out how to make it work and yet be easily removable. The other challenge was to route the wiring so it would be both protected and secured against chaffing and pulling.

We also took the time to install the vent tubing from the NACA ducts to the panel mounted vents. When you see this aircraft in person there is a neat trick that you will notice concerning this.
2011-07-16 Hot ... But No Smoke


It has been a brutal summer here in Carolina as well as the rest of the country. But the airplane isn't going to build itself so we continue to suck up water and make airplane parts. At least this way I can save money by not going to the gym to get in the sauna!

Everyone wants strobes. I did but I was looking for a decent strobe at a reasonable price. I have a amateur radio friend that found some strobe boxes at a local ham fest. These are used on state vehicles. For a very reasonable price he sold me the box that includes two bulbs. I ordered the lenses and wiring from Kutzelman strobes. I made the bases from a cutting board found at Wal-mart (Dick's idea). They work very well and draw less than 4 amps.

It was panel time! I used a 12 volt regulated power supply (output tested at 13.72) in place of a battery. Before turning on the power I went through with the ohm meter and checked connections. With power on and no fuses in the box I clicked the constant duty solenoid. All good so far. Adding fuses once at a time to each circuit I eventually had everything lit with no smoke.

Obviously I can't check it all until the engine is running and all of the antennas are installed ... but it's a great start!
2011-07-23 Putting Visitors To Work

Now that the panel has been successfully powered up it's time to finished tying up the harness and complete the task of making sure it is protected from chaffing, heat, pulling, and other abuses.

Wire loom works very well and looks great also but the places where these wires go through the wiring troughs in the floor will be given a bit more protection.

Dick brought his friend and neighbor Jacky Lin with him to the hangar. As is our tradition we put him right to work making parts. 8~)

We were making a short, but stubbornly difficult to make, fuel line that fits from the fuel valve to the bulkhead fitting on the firewall. Because the bends to clear the rudder pedal are so close together it took a few tries and a bit of head scratching to figure out exactly how to get the bends done on the short distances with the required flares and parts in the way.
2011-07-30 Tubing, Wiring, and Beauty


A lot of small details are now being completed. This is part of the 90% to go after we were 90% complete. In these photos you will see that the radio antenna is installed on the floor in front of the spar but behind the flap drive tube. This should keep it out of the way of any feet.

There is another cable seen near the NACA vent that goes to the ELT. That antenna will be put on the glare shield on the passenger side and run parallel to the windshield bow.

On the far right side you can see the ELT remote has been added and the cable run. This cable will be shortened as there must be an additional 15' of cable that is not needed.

Very obvious is the tubing to the F-2 (flight instrument) and the LRI (lift reserve indicator). We have more to do with securing these lines but they are in their basic positions now.

The shot under the seat shows the placement, with velcro, of the strobe box and the routing of the wiring for the strobes, ELT, and PTT switch. Also note the tubing for instruments and hydraulic brakes.

Lastly is a shot of the panel with the glare shield on. It has since been removed as there is still more to do before we permanently mount the tank and glare shield.
2011-08-06 Fuel Filler Box and Windshield Strap

Sometimes it goes slow, other times it seems to move right along. We've both determined that she will fly when she is done. Only the Good Lord knows when that will be.

The fuel filler box is finished and riveted into place. There is and oil line that is very close to it and that will have to be revisited again. I have to admit to a bit of excitement when we began the fitting of the windshield strap. This certifies that we are on the second 90% of this project!

2011-08-13 Tank, Panel and Glare shield

We have had the tank and glare shield on and off a number of times so I was thrilled to finally be able to put them on for keeps. After installing the tank (those strap bolts can be tough) the glare shield was fitted and riveted into place.

One of the toughest things I have had to do so far came when it was time to install the screws the go through the glare shield and the upper longeron and into the motor mount brackets. Some have said that they wait to put on the upper firewall to do this.

I finally devised a way to use some 3/8 wire loom with tape to hold the nut and two washers that were needed in order to get the correct set on the screws. It was challenging but like everything else ... it had to be done, and now it is!
2011-08-20 Fitting the windshield
In the Sonex kit the bows for the windshield and fore and aft canopy come bent to somewhere near, and yet not even close, to where they need to be. This is understandable as there will be variations in kits and assemblies so the builder is left to tweak these things as necessary. Note the bending jig built out of plywood.

Fitting the windshield isn't difficult but it does require patience and skill. This fitting is just that as it will be on and off a number of times to be counter sunk & trimmed as needed.

All great aircraft need to have a great name. I know a couple of "southern belles" that use this term for things that belong to them. It seemed appropriate to me that this must be the name of this aircraft. An astute eye will also note the heritage of this young lady.
2011-09-03 Service Bulletins, Fuel Lines, & a visitor!

I was pleased when Mr. J.D. Sauer called to ask if he could stop by and take a look-see at our project. He is a builder but had never even sat in a Sonex! Dick and I enjoyed his company a bunch and didn't get anything accomplished at all that night (9/1) but time spent talking Sonex was a deserved break and J.D. is quite a gentleman with a few great stories of his own. I thanked him then and now again say thanks for your service to our country.

Sonex has a Service bulletin out for the landing gear bolts. I took the time to change out all six of them. The SB called for the AN4C-17 bolts in the axles to be replaced by AN4-17 bolt (drilled). I forgot when ordering the bolts that we are using Tracy O'Brien wheels and brakes and that comes with new light cuffs that are thinner than the stock axle cuffs. Our friend Paul Johnson (the panel builder) had two AN4-15 drilled bolts in his collection. What are the odds? Thanks Paul!

I also constructed the fuel lines from the firewall to the gascolater and from the gascolater to the carb. Fire shield was also used on these.
2011-09-17 Windshield & Canopy

Dick had warned me that the windshield and especially the canopy installation would be a tedious and time consuming procedure but that taking our time and working carefully would pay big dividends.

Well ... here we go. I have taken many photos and it's difficult to keep them all in order as it seems the canopy frame and canopy have been on and off the airplane a million times.

We have a stand designed to hold the canopy for cutting and sanding. It has worked well so far. Now that the windshield fit is completed we will move on to the canopy frame.

The bows for the kit come with a radius from Sonex but must be tweaked to fit correctly as with kits there will be slight variations. This proved to be a bit more work that first anticipated. So far so good ...
2011-09-24 Canopy and Bow

With the bows and frame bent into near submission it was time to begin the task of actually marking and cutting the canopy. Dick has a great deal of Sonex canopy experience (including a Todd's canopy install). He is very good at describing a task, showing a bit of how it's done, and handing me the ball and letting me run with it. I was a bit apprehensive as I've heard many horror stories about canopies. Again, so far ... so good!
2011-10-01 Canopy work continues ...
More fitting of the canopy. After the rear was cut to fit it was time to cut the front line. Note that the rear line may have to be sanded several times to get the fit to be correct. Several trips from the plane to the canopy stand have occurred.

With the fit on the rear looking very good it was time to make the initial front cut. As always cut shallow and leave something to take off later. It is much easier to take it off than add it abck on! 8!)

Once the fit of the front and rear was done we began to fit the sides. Keep in mind that as the sides are cut and brought in the angles of the front and rear will change also!
2011-10-15 Canopy continues ...

It was now time to cut the sides. This begins the final phase of fitting the canopy as once the sides are cut you can clearly see where all of the tweaking and sanding need to be done.

With the canopy in place I could then crawl up inside the fuselage and check the fit of the canopy frame. We could then correct the places that didn't fit as desired before the final drilling and riveting of the frame was done.

Once the fit was what we wanted it was a pretty easy matter to rivet the frame together.
2011-10-23 Canopy and frame ... still

It was time to set the completed frame in its final position and fit the canopy to it. Realize that the right side (passenger) of the canopy frame has to spaced correctly.

Also the canopy bows, both front and rear, have to be spaced correctly. Note the multitude of spacers and clamps that were used.

Once the canopy was put into place the pilot drilling began. Admittedly I was concerned but again ... so far so good.

Thanks to Mr. Fisher's experience the lines on this canopy install are excellent!
2011-10-29 Disassemble, updrill, deburr, clean, sand, & paint

With the canopy fitted and pilot drilled it was time to updrill and countersink as required. While Dick carefully updrilled using a uni-bit (not recommended) and countersunk as required, I deburred the holes.

With that done the windshield and all it's attachments was taken off for cleaning sanding priming and painting. Sanding was done using Scotch-brite pads. Alcohol was used to clean before priming with SEM self etching primer. Top coating was done using Rustoleum Enamel in flat black.

I have learned that when you least expect it, an engineer will wander into the hanger from as far away as Tennessee. Yep, Mr. Rick Spriggle, a Sonex builder himself, came in and added to the list of people that have provided input and help to this project. I really enjoyed seeing him. Thanks Rick for stopping by!

2011-11-01 Glare shield covering

I had previously purchased some marine grade vinyl material at a fabric store along with the 3-M adhesive to put it on the glare shield. Tonight it was our purpose to get a pattern so that it could be correctly cut and stitched for proper fit. It was decided to have only the front stitched and that we would cut the sides to fit during the install.

We also finished up the painting of the canopy parts and pieces so that once the fabric was on, the windscreen and canopy could be completed.
2011-11-03 Glare Shield Cover completed - wind shield install began


Cleaning, fitting, and gluing down the glare shield fabric wasn't extremely difficult and really looks great! Care must be used anytime spray glue is involved but the 3-M product worked well and I trust that over time it will adhere as advertised i.e. in high heat conditions.

We also sat the windshield in place with a few screws but this, along with the canopy, is the focus for Saturday.

2011-11-05 Windshield & Canopy / Beginning the Cowling

Because of all of the previous items that were done we were fairly confident that today we would get the windshield and canopy installed. It was not without its concerns but in the final analysis we have a beautiful install of the Sonex "Sonplex" canopy with out nary a scratch or crack!

I didn't get any photos of the install process as we both had our hands and attention on the work.

The photos show the terrific results! Dick Fisher has now installed four Sonex canopies and, as you can see, is very good at it. Rumor has it that he is having business cards printed up ... OK not really, but you would be hard pressed to find a better Sonex canopy installation man!
2011-11-12 Where are the plans for this part?


We have arrived at the cowling part of the build. For those that can whip this out in a couple of days ... I wish you'd find the time to stop in and give us some pointers. We began with the top cover plate that was pretty straight forward until we realized that we had not allowed enough clearance between the prop hub and the cowling. The fix easy enough to simply remove it, re-position the cowling and shorten the top plate.

Then it was on to the sides. We used some heavy kraft paper to make a template and then transferred that to the aluminum leaving ourselves a generous edge for final trim and fit. This worked out very well and made the layout and cutting of the lower side piece to be easier.
2011-11-19 More cowling work
After making the lower skin for the other side it was discovered that we would need to add a 1/8" shim between the hinge and the cowing as the hinge installed by the previous owner was set for the thickness of the fiberglass cowl and the .025 set in too far at the seam. The shims made the fit absolutely flush.

I then used the left side to make a skin to the right side knowing the only difference was the direction of the bends for the flanges.

After fitting, both were removed so that the hinges could be updrilled, deburred and riveted.
2011-11-26 Cowling continued ...


While Dick worked on what may be the toughest part of the cowling, the bottom center cover, I worked on the doors that would fit from the top plate over to the sides.

A template was made for the bottom cover using taped together poster board (haven't we saved a lot of aluminum this way) to have a large enough piece. The measurements and layout are challenging as there are no plans for this so it is a design as you go project while studying the websites of others that have used this cowling set up.

The top doors are so easy they are frustrating. A good fit is a requirement as this is where everyone will be staring until you open them up so they can see inside at the heart of the beast!
2011-12-03 The closer you get ... Cowling Work Continues


While Dick continued to plow away at the bottom cover I continued to fit the upper doors. For some reason the left side was not so difficult but the right side wanted to fight me a bit. At the end of the day the fit on both looks to be very good but we won't know for sure until we get nearer to completion. We still need to add a 1/8" cork or rubber spacer along the windshield strap to bring the cowling skin up to be flush with the windscreen.

We did get the bottom cover bent but that was a bit of a challenge as the two bends converge at the nose. We ran out of time and energy so this part will be continued later.

We are getting close but there is still a lot to do with nut plates, fiberglass finishing, ect.

2011-12-10 Bottom Cowling cover

We left off with the bottom cowling cover bent and now resume with the fitting and pilot drilling of this part. The bends were a bit tricky but they were cleaned up using the flanging pliers and the dead blow hammer with the bends held tightly over a work table edge. It came out very well.

I also needed to locate and place a hole to allow access to the gascolator drain. This was easier than first anticipated and came out very close to perfect. Some builders are pretty quick with the cowling assembly ... but I ain't in that class!

2011-12-17 More Cowling work and fuel spill plate

Sometimes the simple things seem the hardest. When it came time to locate the exhaust cutouts for the cowling I had to first install the exhaust. They were extremely close but just didn't quite want to fit. It took a bit of massaging and talking to them i.e. light sanding and tapping, to make them slip into place.

Once they were on I had to find a way to get an exact fix on their exit location. The best and most reliable method was to make a template. This was made from heavy cardboard with a large opening and then poster board was used to narrow the location down to an exact cutout spot. The results were better than I expected and I'm very pleased that we did not end up with huge gaping holes in the cowling.

Meanwhile, Dick was working on another part that isn't found on the plans either. This is the splash guard that goes around the fuel tank neck in the filler box. The part came out quite good as you can see from the photo.
2011-12-24 Holding it all together
Adding the nut plates for the screws and the 1/4 turn South-co fasteners was easy enough to do but took time as there were a number of holes to drill, dimple, deburr and then set the rivets in. Each side piece has nut plates for the 8/32 screws that fasten them together and also 1/4 turn fasteners for the doors so that they can be quickly opened for pre-flight inspections.

Getting the doors into the correct position to pilot drill them meant that they had to be strapped into place so they would not move. The process we used was a success as you can see from the photos.
2011-12-31 Last day of 2011 - a lot of progress


Backing plates are added to the nose bowl to strengthen where the nut plates go. Nut plates were then added to these. Dimpling the fiberglass was pretty quick using a light touch with a deburring tool.

While I was busy with this, Dick laid out the baffle seal for the fence baffling for the engine. A test fit showed that the first fitting went pretty good and only a bit of moderate trimming may be needed. We will wait until the nose is finished fitting to make that determination.

Then it was time to begin the process of making the nose bowl fit properly and take out any slight imperfections. We used fiberglas cloth and resin, a touch of bondo, and body filler as needed. As you can see we've only begun with this part.
2012-01-07 EGT probes, Carb Heat, Air Intake Box
Now that we are on the last 90% it seems that things go slowly for a while and then a lot of little things go together quickly. So here we have the installation of the exhaust using Felpro gaskets. The nuts are stainless and have internal lock washers under them.

The EGT probes are installed in the center two cylinders at the exhaust stack. Note how I made certain that the probe tip would be centered in the pipe. This is important for accurate readings.

The carb heat is from Aircraft Spruce. It fits well and only take a moment to install. I'm considering using some "Chore-Boy" stainless steel scrubbers internally to surround it and give it a propensity to generate more heat.
2012-01-14 Throttle, Mixture, Air Intake Box

Figuring out how to route and secure the throttle and mixture cables took a bit of head scratching. Once it this was determined the thought process was in finding the hardware to do so. Aircraft Spruce has the connectors for this type carb.

I also wanted these cables secured in several places to prevent the housing from moving so that the controls would be smooth and accurate.

I also drew up a pattern for the main part for the air intake box that would fit on the front of the lower cowling pan and allow air to enter into the Marvel carb.
2012-01-21 Air Intake Box, Wheel Pants

Making the air intake box was straight forward but because this part has no plans it is a "build as you go" piece. In the "I should have done that different department" I made the flange opening hole with a nibbler and cleaned it up with the file set. It would have been prettier if I had used the fly cutter. It still came out quite nice.

Dick had a set of pressure recovery wheel pants on the shelf that I pleaded with him to put on this build. He was kind enough to give in and to begin the fitting process. More to come ...
2012-01-28 Fuel vent Line, Air Intake

The vent line from the fuel tank was installed using automotive brake line found at my local parts store. I had to cut it and remove he metal fittings and the flared ends. It was easy to bend by hand and the tubing bender made the larger bends pretty and smooth.

The NACA shaped cutout was made the the lower cowling pan. I also made and fitted the side pieces for the air intake box. Then the flange was fitted and after updrilling, deburring, and cleaning it was all riveted together and mounted to the pan.

2012-02-04 Wheel Pants, Finished The Cowling
While Dick worked on the design of a backing plate to fit the pressure recovery wheel pants to the Tracy O'Brien brakes ... I continued to finish up the cowling.

A lot of small items were completed including the cutting to length and bending of the bottom of the fuel vent line. There was also a concern with the Southco fasteners on the doors not wanting to cooperate during the opening and closing process. It took a bit of filing and opening up the holes in the cowling with a larger drill bit to make everything work smoothly. The cowling also has a light coat of self etching primer applied.
2012-02-04 Wheel Pants, Finished The Cowling

While Dick worked on the design of a backing plate to fit the pressure recovery wheel pants to the Tracy O'Brien brakes ... I continued to finish up the cowling.

A lot of small items were completed including the cutting to length and bending of the bottom of the fuel vent line. There was also a concern with the Southco fasteners on the doors not wanting to cooperate during the opening and closing process. It took a bit of filing and opening up the holes in the cowling with a larger drill bit to make everything work smoothly. The cowling also has a light coat of self etching primer applied.
2012-02-11 Fuel Line, Fuel Probe, Carb Heat
Nothing better then spending time under the panel! I had to go there to put the fuel line in from the tank valve to the bulkhead fitting on the firewall. While there I added the fuel probe to the tank, mounted (Velcroed) the fuel probe box to the left sidewall behind the cables, and wired it into the probe and fuse box.

It was also an adventure in creativity to figure out just how to attach the carb heat cable to the box but again, head scratching enough brought about a great solution that works extremely well and is very smooth.

Because of not paying close attention to the MGL wiring notes I had to "swap" the ends on the probes as they were wired backwards. Only took a moment to correct and then the wiring was insulated (heat shrink) and wire tied to secure it.
2012-02-18 Dan Visits/Prop mounting hardware

I was pleasantly surprised when Dan Heath sent a text and said that the weather looked good for his flight down to visit us. He made good time and "BlacK Bird sounded wonderful as it came across the field to enter the pattern. His visit was a great one and he answered many questions that I had.

I also managed (with some assistance from Paul Johnson) to get the front and rear bulk heads set up and drilled for the SAE 1 pattern required for the prop mounting. This took a good bit of time to get set up correctly but the final results were extremely impressive as the fit was very well done and only one of the holes even needed a light touch, by hand, with a reamer before all of the bolts would slip right in very snug!
2012-02-25 Duckworths HID Lamps

This had to be one of the most frustrating parts of the entire build. Part of the problem is that I should have decided to do this before the wings were complete. Afterwards it can be done but all of the work has to be done through the 5" opening that is cut into the leading edge.

Also I have spent a great deal of time working out a way to wig/wag the HID lamps which, depending on who you believe, can or cannot be done with any certainty. I believe I have found a way forward and will cover that as I approach the installation and wiring. For now I'm concerned with getting these installed correctly.

The instructions are vague in places and attention to the final outcome will help tremendously in avoiding mistakes. They do offer solid rivets for the top wing lens bracket but I used the same countersunk method as the rest of the leading edge so it all would appear copacetic.
2012-03-03 HID Landing Lights continued

Having so much fun with the first light made the second one a bit easier to install. The instructions call for a few hours to do this but I must be much slower than the rest. Part of the trick here is to be able to get inside the wing and put holes and grommets where they are needed.

Having bolted the ballast to the main spar I needed to bring the power wires through the spar. An 3/8" hole was drilled using a very long bit (thanks to Paul Johnson) through the spar and a gromment was added. It's a bit frustrating working through the small opening but it can be done. The end result was very impressive. I still have the conduit and wiring to run but that will be pretty straight forward.

I also decided to use the two strobes I have as a tail and belly strobes seeing as how the wig/wag function of these lights will give good recognition from the front.
2012-03-10 Lamp Lens & Root Ribs

Finishing up the landing lights was a matter of fitting the lenses into the cutouts. It was a bit tricky but in the end the instructions worked out well.

I turned my attention to the root ribs on both wings. The fitting and countersinking was time consuming seeing as how there are a lot of holes that must be dimpled in the rib, skin, and wing gap strip.

I also made a mod that many builder's do and that is to open up the space between the lighting holes in the ribs to make access to the flap rod bolts easier. I don't know that a doubler is required but I added one for my own comfort.
2012-03-17 Cutting Out The Spinner Here comes a part that I was both anxious and hesitant to do as I know that accuracy is paramount here. Making a template took a few attempts and I can't show all of the photos of the various ways I cut templates. I can show one that was from near the end of the process.

There is a trick to finding the center of the 13" spinner. I used light craft paper and drew the spinner circle on the paper. Very carefully fold the paper exactly in half. I drew a line and even extended it onto the bench and marked each side of the spinner. Center the cutouts and cut slowly and note which way the spinner must go to find its was over the prop and onto the rear bulkhead.

Note the protective tape on the prop and that the fit is still too close. That is good ... I can always take more off, and I will as the fit-up work gets closer.
2012-03-24 More Prop & Spinner Work

After opening up the spinner cutouts to the proper size it was mounted to the torqued prop assembly so that the spinner could be aligned to run true. The engine was rotated by hand (plugs removed) and the spinner was tapped into position and verified by our homemade marking pointer. The Van's 13" spinners are well made and very straight and little tweaking was needed.

Then the mounting holes were marked and pilot drilled. After being disassembled, nut plates were put into the front and rear bulkheads.

Upon reassembly the fit and finish was impressive. I still have to make two filler plates that will go behind the prop but this is mostly done.
2012-03-31 Wiring HID Wig-Wag Circuits
The desire to want to wig-wag HID lamps can lead to a bit of head scratching, emails and finally some good answers. Duckworks says that you can wig-wag their lamps but they do not have the flasher to do so. The main concern is with heating the lamps before wig-wagging them.

Perihelion Designs has a flasher that will work but some items need to be added to the circuits to make this happen. There needs to be diodes, and inrush current limiters added to the wiring to protect the wig-wag flasher and the the ballast for the HID lamp.

This still does not eliminate the need to preheat the lamps before wig-wagging but I'll note that on the panel under the control switch for the wig-wag function.

After the install, which took longer than it should have by working through the small 5" cutout, a test of the system using a regulated power supply proves the circuits work. I do not, as yet have the flasher wired into place.
2012-04-07 Panel Labels
There are so many options when it comes to labeling the panel. In the final analysis I decided to do something that was easy, relatively inexpensive and looked great.

I used a Brother P-Touch printer with black on clear tape. Because of the small panel and the fact that I have it quite full I needed the labels to be smaller than most that come in the standard "labeling kit" and I wanted them to look better than the large black ones that are sometimes used.

I like the results that I have achieved. Not shown in the photos are the labels for the flaps, trim, and fuse box cover. I still have a few more to do but so far I'm pleased with these results.

I also spent a bit of time working on a mount for my compass. It will be mounted on the windshield bow. I also want to mount the GPS (currently a Garmin 196) on the passenger side below the headphone jacks as I want the glare shield to remain clear of obstacles.
2012-04-14 Smoothing the leading edge, Power Cables
Because some of the flush rivets in the leading edge had stems that would sometimes protrude, and for a cleaner look I decided to smooth the rivet holes over. Here you see the initial filling with a lightweight fiberglass filler from Aircraft Spruce that already has flox and micro ballons in it. I cleaned the wing and then roughened these areas a bit before putting the filler on. Then I lightly sanded the fill off and primed it over with self etching primer. Before painting most of this primer will be removed.

I also had the blessing of borrowing a high dollar crimping tool from our airport mechanic and that allowed me to put some high quality, high strength connections on the main power cables including the battery and ground cables. A touch of solder was used to seal the ends and then heat shrink was used.
2012-04-21 Vertical Stabilizer Tip and Strobe

Actually this work was done over a couple of days as the resin with the flox in it that was used to add the light mount to the tail tip takes some time to dry between applications.

The mount itself came from an old set of ultralight lights and were the parts that mounted the lights to the round tubes on the wingtips. It needed a bit of trimming but actually fit pretty well and the fiberglass filled in the rest.

I spent a bit of time running the wiring for the strobe. In the beginning the strobes were going to be put on the wing tips but once the wig-wag system was installed I decided to set these up on the tail tip and belly. Putting the wiring in before the tail was assembled would have been much easier!

The belly strobe is round and red but used the same bulb used here. As you can see, the strobe light cases were made by me using some parts I bought and some that I made.
2012-04-28 Finished Tail Tips - Battery Location

Finally got the tail strobe completed. Mounting it wasn't a difficult task but a bit time consuming as most builders know that the factory supplied tail-tips are not as "perfect" as we would like them to be. Putting a strobe on top only amplifies this and so a lot of attention was given to getting the entire assembly on as straight and true as possible.

The horizontal tips had been fitted earlier so these didn't take too long to install but again getting them straight took a bit of careful measuring and checking. Overall I thought these came out very well.

I then moved on to figuring out the battery installation as the weight of the engine in this configuration requires weight to be shifted aft. In some installations the battery was placed behind the seat in the luggage area but it has been learned that moving it to the tail gave better W&B numbers and allowed lighter pilots in the cockpit.
2012-05-05 Battery Box

Using a sheet of .090 a plate was made to fit the area just in front of the bulkhead that the tail wheel bolts to. I also added two cross braces that would sit on top of the lower side longerons. This would leave a 1/8" gap that will be filled with spacers when I get to that part.

Fitting it to the pre-drilled holes from the origional owner was a challenge as I could not get inside to back drill. Careful measurements gave me excellent results. The bolts are into nut plates that have been placed into the side longerons and the croos braces that have been added.

I then began the process of fitting the PC-680 to the plate in the proper location. A close look at the photo will reveal some very thin foam rubber padding between the battery and the box.
2012-05-12 Battery Box Complete - Battery Installed

There is a lot more work here than can be shown in a few photos. After fitting and riveting the box to the plate I needed some hold downs for the battery and decided that this would also be a great place to lock the ground cable to the aircraft as the plate itself is held on with 13 AN3 bolts.

The hold down bolts are threaded rod and the ground is captured between two lock nuts (one on each side of the plate) and then a second jam nut is used for redundancy.A brass clamp at the top is used to further secure the cable in place.

Finally the battery was connected to the aircraft and the same method was used to connect the positive cable i.e. a brass clamp secures the cable from movement. Note that the hold down is a piece of cutting board (from Walmart) and is very strong but still very light.

The other beautiful thing about the installation location is that the battery and connections can be quickly checked by removing the inspection plate on the left side under the horizontal stabilizer.
2012-05-19 First Engine Start!

After confirming that the battery installation was good and the engine would turn with the starter it was time to check it over and see if it would start and how it would run. After a check of the electrical system with battery power, I then checked the engine to make sure the plugs were set correctly, and that the plug wiring on the distributor was correct.

I only put two gallons of fuel in the tank to check for leaks and as expected I had left one fuel fitting loose enough to seep a bit of fuel. After confirming no leaks the plane was tied and chocked.

The MA3 carb has a primer/accelerator pump built in so that a couple of strokes of the throttle will give a small prime to the engine. The results were exciting! It cranked about three blades and started and ran smooth and strong. Oil pressure was solid at 44 PSI. The oil temp was way too low due to and incorrect gauge setting. I only ran it a couple of minutes to conform the installation.

Video on YouTube here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-u-ujtyMbp4
2012-05-19 GPS, Compass installed - more labels

As I get near the finish line there seems to be more little things to finish. My dear bride of 24 years surprised me by calling my friends and asking about a birthday GPS unit for me. Turns out that I received an iFly 720! I haven't flown with it but it also does roads! It seems to be a great piece of engineering and extremely pilot friendly. The problem was finding a mounting location for such a large screen on a small panel. I found out that the suction cup isn't to be trusted. A small screw & nut fastened it firmly to the glare shield and it was hardwired into the fuse box.

I also installed a small compass by making a mounting bracket for it. My hangar neighbor Stan had offered this compass to me over two years ago. The compass card was made on the home computer and fits perfectly.

Again, I added more labels and markings to the panel and controls including the canopy i.e. "do not open in flight" ... not sure why anyone would want to do that but it's there just in case!
2012-05-26 Aileron Counter Balances - Fuel Flow Test

Working with the the counter balances was an experience worth its weight in lead! 8~)

The pilot holes were 3/32 and has to be drilled VERY slowly or the lead would pull the bit in and bog it down and break it if not careful. The lead block provided works perfectly if cut correctly to make the two counterbalances.

Balancing was done per the instructions by hanging the aileron and drilling holes in the lead weight in specified locations until the leading and trailing edges are within 1/2" of level. Simple enough!

A fuel flow test was also done with the tail down and two gallons of fuel in the tank. The 120 HP engine should use 10 GPH at WOT (1/2 lb per HP per hour). For safety, fuel flow should be 150% of this i.e. 15 GPH.

In our test using a quart container, it was slightly overfilled in less than 25 seconds (see photo). My math shows the fuel flow rate at slightly greater than 37 GPH!
2012-06-02 Engine Area Inspection, Cowling Install, Bleed Brakes
Getting closer to completion and needed to do a detailed inspection of the engine compartment to follow-up on a few details and make sure nothing was missed.

The carb nuts were given a final tightening and the air filter element was installed along with the bottom cover plate. The cable stops were removed and blue Lock-Tite was use to secure the set screws.

One loose connection was found on the secondary ignition coil and snugging up the lock nut took care of that. A few more wire ties were used to tidy up and secure everything.

The complete cowling was then installed. In all of this time the cowling along with the prop and spinner had never been installed at the same time. The fit was excellent and I could not have been more pleased. I did have to make a few tweaks on the lower cowling pan but at the end of the day it went together nicely.

I also filled and bled the Tracy O'Brien hydraulic brakes. Not hard to do but a bit messy. I used an oil pump (squirt) can filled with Dextron ATF per Tracy's instructions. Brakes are working but I won't know how well until taxi time.
2012-06-09 Bottom Skin Install, ELT Check, Install Interior

Fitting the bottom skin was time consuming as I needed to cut out for the rear mounted battery location. There are also bolts that go through the tail cone to center fuselage attach plates. Another part that slows things down are the small spacers that go between the bottom skin and the attach plates that have three CCP-46 rivets in each side. I was hesitant to do the final riveting on the bottom skin until I was absolutely sure there was no reason not to.

I also did a quick check of the ELT and dated the outside with the battery replacement date as required.

The interior was then installed. It isn't yet completely bolted/snapped in place because the rear flap is too long and will need to go to an upholstery shop for alteration.

The side panels were too long and the left side had to be altered to give clearance for the per plans trim tab as I'm not using the "Dial-A-Trim" method. The right side had to be shortened just a bit so that it didn't interfere with the door of the fuse box.
2012-06-16 Moving Day!


There were several possibilities for me to assemble and test fly this aircraft from the airport where it was built but at the end of the day all options disappeared so there was no choice but to transport the aircraft to my home airport where it could be assembled.

The transport took all day as we could not get the fuse and the wings on the trailer at the same time. We worked at a steady pace but slowly and methodically so as to not damage anything.

After taking the fuselage we returned and took the wheels off of the wing rack and mounted it to the trailer. It held the wings with only some light binding with ratchet straps. The flaps, ailerons, wheel pants, and other misc items were taken in the bed of my pickup.

Thanks to my brother Billy for his help and the use of his pickup and trailer. I couldn't have done this without him!
2012-06-23 Winging It For Real!
I had managed to get the wings into the fuse by myself but it wasn't until Dick came up that I was able to get the wing bolts in. We have drilled them to be "tight fit" and they were indeed that. Once everything was properly aligned the bolts went in with only minor persuasion but the wings had to be aligned very carefully in order to make that happen.

Opening up the root rib for access to the flap rod bolts was a wise thing to do! I also have the Van's wing root gap seal and it fits well on the passenger side but my cut on the pilot's side (wing walk) is very tight and may need to be opened up a bit more before I can get the seal in.

I was hot and tired after a long day so that will still need to be done. The flaps are attached and a beginning adjustment was done but I'm awaiting the correct mounting bolts for the flap/aileron connections.

Added the "N" numbers to the sides and am awaiting the data plate from the engraver. Shouldn't be too long before the inspector gets a call!
2012-12-15 Applying a rolled on paint job -Part One Due to a number of requests for information about the painting process for Myunn (N319WF a 3.0 Corvair powered Sonex air frame) here is a brief description of the process and products used for painting my aircraft. This paint process is done with paint rollers. The reasons for choosing this process:
1) I didn’t have permission to use the hangar as a paint booth. 2) I did not have an adequate compressor to run a paint gun.
3) The cost was less than 1K complete.
4) It’s much easier to control the amount of paint applied.
5) Finish concerns (runs, drips, trash) can be dealt with easier. 6) I did it all myself, by myself.
7) Acceptable finish, good shine, quality paint, and I was not the first to use this method.

The Sonex is constructed of 6061-T6. The paint manufacturer assured me that this paint required no primer as it is designed to be used on aluminum boats. This would save weight and labor. The manufacturer also noted that no serious prep work was needed but I followed a fellow builder and did prep the surface. First the entire aircraft was washed several times using Dawn dishwashing liquid. Dawn is excellent for removing oils and grease. This was followed by washing again with a product from Aircraft Spruce called “PREKOTE© SURFACE PRETREATMENT” and using a red Scotchbrite to scour and rough up the surface. Note that it is very important to remove all of the Prekote whern rinsing and that none be allowed to dry on the surface (see Prekote instructions). Once cleaned and dried the use of a well cleaned and dry hangar is highly recommend. My aircraft was still fully assembled when painted. I used 3M blue painter’s tape to mask off areas not to be painted and used 3M Fineline tape for striping lines.

To be continued ... (see next log entry)
2012-12-22 Applying a rolled on paint job -Part Two
The paint is an Acrylic Urethane Enamel consisting of paint, catalyst, and flow fluid (thinner). For my application the recommended mix was 8-2-4 i.e. 8 parts paint, 2 parts catalyst, 4 parts thinner. I applied it in temps down to near freezing and the manufacturer claims application temps in the mid-teens.
Application of the initial coatings were to roll on a light coat on a small area and then using a dry roller you then would “stretch” the paint out to a larger area. It was amazing to me how far a little paint went. Manufacturer said to apply one coat per day for the three coat method. You can lightly sand between coatings (red scotchbrite or 1500) but take care with raised rivets or corners as the paint is still soft. Using the Scotchbrite tends to leave trash on the surface so be sure to clean it well before the next coat. The first coat will have uneven color coverage. The second one will be much better and by the third the color of the overall paint job should be very consistent and even. You will get some orange peel, dust nibs, and trash in the paint. I did notice that all of the surfaces that were either painted vertical or overhead (the bottom) have a much better flow out with higher shine and less dust to settle on it. If you are painting an unassembled aircraft, paint the surfaces in the vertical position as much as possible. Using a tack rag before any coating is applied is a must. NEVER use flow fluid on the painted surface unless you want to remove the paint.

To be continued ... (see next entry)
2013-01-01 Applying a rolled on paint job -Part Three
This process added 20 pounds to my aircraft. All of the colors and markings on Myunn are paint with the exception of the N-number, “Experimental”, and the tail graphics (yet to be applied). One lesson learned on striping … once the paint has become tacky remove the striping tape. If the paint is allowed to dry the tape can pull paint off with it as you remove it. In order to have the paint match the N-number a sample of the material from the graphics company was sent to the paint supplier. He did a great match! The checkerboard tail was done using a paint mask that you can order from any good graphics supplier.
Below is a link and information for the paint manufacturer. The jury is still out on how well the adhesion will hold up with this primer-less paint system. But it is used on high dollar yachts, I suppose it will hold on at LSA speeds.

Tom Fabula 772-287-6077 or 772-626-9065

http://www.signaturefinish.com/
2013-02-20 Painting nearly Complete I spent from the middle part of December until the middle of February painting Myunn. I will detail this more in future posts but wanted to get a few photos of the final results posted.