|2007-08-28||'D' Day (That's D for delivery)||After several stuff-ups from the various handling agents The kit finally turned up on 28th August 2007.
|2007-09-14||I decided to start on the tail end....||I'm not sure why, but I chose to start making some vertical Stabiliser components.
With no previous experience other than messing about with a few scraps, I was a bit nervous about cutting, drilling and bending 'real parts', so the old saying of 'measure twice, cut once' came to mind. (actually more like 'measure twice, re-check 4 times, cut once).
|2007-09-16||This is taking ages.....||I think I'm being a bit cautious with the band saw, leaving lots of filing work to finish the parts...plenty of room for improvement with the efficiency.
I see that some builders prefer to cut all the stock to the required lengths and then do all the drilling etc. I have opted for making each part completely. I might review this practice at a later date.
|2007-10-13||Assembly of vertical tail components||After a few weeks holiday back to the workshop. All vertical tail parts are now made and trial assembled before corrosion treatment and skinning. Extra care is needed here as you only get one chance to align things up properly.|
|2007-10-25||Skin attachment||Everything lined up as per the plans and the skin goes on fairly easily.|
|2007-10-26||Bending Part T12-07||I copied other builders here and used some heavy wall 20NB Tube to get the right bend radius. Unfortunately when I was 4 degrees short of the required bend angle my vice broke.|
|2007-11-03||Fibreglass Tip||I was a bit concerned after drilling the holes in the top rib, that inserting the fibreglass tip would take the skin and rib holes out of alignment but it slipped in between without causing any problems.|
|2007-11-08||Time to start work on the Rudder....||I decided to make a start on the rudder drive horn. Most of the hard work is done by Sonex here. The parts are all pre-cut and flanges bent, except for the drive horn which needed to be bent up 5.2 degrees - no problem with a shiny new vice!|
|2007-11-09||Trimming of Rudder skin||This is one of those parts where care is needed when marking out. A wrong move here would be disastrous. Its a good idea to leave the plastic film on the skins while doing all the marking out, cutting and drilling, as any scratches will need polishing later.|
|2007-11-13||Rudder Ribs||Installing the rudder ribs is a relatively straight forward process. The trick is to mark a line along the rib flange at the exact location of where the rivets will be, then slide the rib into position (which is a bit fiddly) until the rivet line can be seen through the pilot holes in the skin. When everything lines up centrally you know it has to be correct.
The top rib uses the same procedure but is a lot easier.
|2007-11-16||Fitting the Rudder Hinge..........||The plans call for a 0.057" gap from the flat face of the left hand skin to the hinge, so the assembly needs to sit on a flat bed. for this I used some of the 2.5" stock angle spanning some timber, a packer at the trailing edge to keep flatness, and a feeler gauge set to 0.057". Then its just a case of moving the feeler gauge along as you drill to maintain the required gap.
This is a failrly time consuming exercise
|2007-11-17||Corrosion proofing and riveting||Once the items have been dismantled and deburred, they need to be corrosion proofed by the same method as the vertical stab - alodine and zinc oxide primer, Then reassembled ready for riveting. I was pleased to find that the skin remained completely flat on both sides with no twists or bows in the structure. The only problem is some rivets in the bottom rib clash with some of the rivets in the drive horn assembly. Not sure what to do here yet.|
|2007-11-24||Riveting fibreglass tip||Getting the f/g tip into place and lining up the holes is a tricky job. It was a very tight fit and needed to be assembled and dismantled several times to install the rear stiffening rib. Removing some more material from the top rib made it a bit easier, being careful to maintain the minimum material distances around the drilled holes.|
|2007-11-29||With the Vertical Tail complete, I made a start on the Horizontal Stab.||After reviewing the drawings for the front and rear spars, I was relieved to find that they had been machined and bent at the factory - that saved a heap of time. All that was needed was to take off the machining marks which was done with a vixen file, and scotchbrite wheel
Then it was onto the ribs. Having made a few long winded attempts on the vertical tail, I have refined the process a bit and seem to be making better headway.
|2007-12-02||Rib Brackets||With all 12 of the ribs complete, brackets are required to attach them to the spars. These are made form 2" x 1/8" Eq. Angle stock, and require bending to 10 deg. This was done by clamping the angle in a vice with a piece of 6mm round bar to act as the bend radius, and taped in place. Then its just a case of whacking it with a rubber mallet until it matches the required angle. Very effective and not too difficult to get the angle exact.|
|2007-12-03||Spar Assembly||The rear spar is fairly easy to assemble. I marked out the required dimensions on my workbench and then laid out the parts before clamping and drilling.|
|2008-03-01||Fitting the Skins||After an extended break from building while the summertime shed temperature and humidity here in Queensland were off the scale, work has now resumed.
The next step was to fit and drill the skins onto the frame. Fortunately everything lined up as it should.
|2008-03-02||Fibreglass tips||Fitting the fibreglass tips is a fiddly business. So minimising the number of times they are trial fitted is the best policy.
I needed to trim some internal glass from the rear end of mine to allow the fibreglass to fit over the tail end of the support rib.
To trim away the unwanted fibreglass I used a dremel with a cut-off wheel. It is really important to wear the right safety gear as these things tend to shatter if they are slightly overloaded. Mine parted company with the dremel at 20,000rpm and part of it passed through my hair.
|2008-05-29||Assembly||After a loss of momentum due to working away from home for most of the first half of this year and a bit of re-work on the tip ribs, construction is back on track. All parts have now been alodined and zinc primer sprayed and are ready for assembly.|
|2008-06-13||Horizontal stab complete||All the rivets except those attaching the hinge are in place. And the H stab is ready for the addition of the elevators.|
|2008-06-30||Next step....Elevator||Having built the rudder assembly, the elevator looks similar, and relatively simple. I began by fitting the pre-welded drive horn to the inner end ribs. Its important to keep this as flat as possible to ensure the straightness of the elevator assembly.
Next job was to mark out the skins. This caused some concern as the angle of the horn/rib assebly did not line up exactly with the measured trim lines. After lots of re-checking I decided to go with marking the trim lines from the assembled ribs, and cut the skins with a pair of snips.
After some trial assemblies I marked the skins and drilled through into the ribs. (If you are working in mm here there is an error on the drawings - the spacings are called up as 1-1/16" or 25.3mm. These are not the same so I have ended up with an extra rivet on the underside - not a problem though)
|2008-07-01||Fitting inner end ribs||The skins and drive horn are then assembled to the correct overall length and the ribs drilled.|
|2008-08-24||Assembly||All skins and ribs are now drilled and all parts have been dismantled, deburred and corrosion proofed. Next step is to re-asssemble the parts, ready for riveting.|
|2008-08-26||Trial assembly||Hinges are fitted and hinge pins temporarily installed.|
|2008-09-08||Elevator installation||Elevator is complete and needs to be fitted to Horizontal Stabilizer|
|2008-10-14||Rear Fuselage vertical stiffener members||With the tails section now complete its time to start on the Fuselage.|
|2008-11-07||Fairlead Assembly||4 Fairlead assemblies are required to guide the rudder cables through the vertical members. The phenolic blocks are pretty easy to work with. It is very imprtant to clamp the workpiece to the drill bed, it is easy to drill the counterbored holes too deep as the workpiece tends to ride up the drill.|
|2009-01-02||Bending brake required...||The plans call for the forward edge of the vertical fuselage sides to be bent 14 degrees to suit the transition between the tapered tail cone and the forward fuse. To do this I had to construct a cheap and nasty bending brake. With a few mods here and there it worked very well. I used a 600mm piece of cheap grade piano hinge and a few off cuts of aluminium angle.|
|2009-01-03||Longerons and side plates||The longerons are very simple, just careful measuring and marking to ensure the tapers at the forward ends are correct. The longerons are then match drilled to the pilot holes in the side skins.|
|2009-01-04||Vertical stiffeners assembly||Fitting the vertical stiffeners to the side skin is relatively straight forward. There is lots of flipping of the assembly to align the parts and then clamp and drill them together.|
|2009-02-01||Left Hand Side Fuselage Panel||Installed upper and lower splice plates|
|2009-02-02||Cut inspection hole in LHS fuselage||100mm dia inspection hole was cut in LHS fuselage panel with a paper template stuck to the correct spot with tape and then the hole was cut using a general purpose cutting tool fitted to a dremel.
Rudder stop plate was drilled and fitted to lower longeron.
|2009-02-04||RHS fuselage skin||Fitted upper and lower longerons to RHS fuselage skin.|
|2009-02-05||Vertical Members||Attached vertical members to RHS skin|
|2009-02-13||Fuselage splice plates||Installed RHS splice plates to forward ends of longerons.
Cut 4" inspection holes and rudder cable slots in RHS skin.
Fairlead assemblies fitted to both sides.
|2009-03-01||Forward upper cross tie - box section||This member is made from 2 channel sections and 2 flat top and bottom plates riveted to form a box section. Having just finished trimming all the flanges of the other cross tie members in the same direction, I made an error here and trimmed the flanges of the rear channel of the box section inwards instead of outwards. I contacted Sonex and got the OK to continue as the rivet holes were still sufficiently in from the edge of material.|
|2009-03-02||SNX F23 Parts||There are quite a few small parts needed to be made from various angle and channel sections - some are fairly time consuming, so trying to do one or two per night to keep the progress going - looking forward to seeing the tail cone pre-assembled|
|2009-03-03||More parts on SNX F23||Cut angle stock and opened up angle to 95 deg for parts F23-03/04|
|2009-03-08||SNX-F23 Parts||Parts for F23 almost all complete. I had a few problems here getting the snap bushings from the Wicks kit to fit the hole size specified on the plans I did a 1" trial hole first - when I checked the Heyco catalogue it seems the bushings supplied are oversized. So down the local store for some 1" bushings - not sure it will make a difference but I'd prefer to trust the plans.|
|2009-03-13||SNX F23 Parts||After searching through skins layers I found parts F23-06 & realised that I had already made these from the 0.0025" sheet (The Sonex material sheet states that the sheet should be used for these parts) - it pays to do a thorough search through the list before making anything from sheet provided as there are a few others that are supplied pre cut despite being listed as made from sheet.|
|2009-03-17||SNX F22 Parts||Pulling the Fuselage floor skin from under my bench was fun as somehow it ended up at the bottom of the stack, so I spent some time restacking the skins in some sort of order in which they will be required. (finding several missing pieces on the way). All parts for SNX F22 are made apart from the piec which required the use of some 1"x1"x1/8" angle - I found another use for the longeron offcuts and now need to buy some more....bugger ! and now some clecos need to be freed up. So back to the vertical skins to pull apart, deburr and corrosion proof. The vertical ribs will all be alodined and the internal skin will be cleaned and primed prior to riveting - very time consuming!|
|2009-03-17||Corrosion Proofing & Riveting||Right hand vertical skin drilled out to 1/8" rivet holes all member dis-assembled, deburred, cleaned corrosion treated and re-assembled ready for riveting. Lower longeron riveted to skin.|
|2009-03-19||LHS Vertical skin corrosion proofing||LHS skin was dismantled, deburred, and cleaned ready for priming. The primer paint has got to be the worst I have ever used. Out of 12 tins of paint not one has performed properly. The nozzles block within 2-3 seconds of spraying and getting the rest of the can onto the metal is nothing short of impossible.|
|2009-03-22||LHS Rib riveting||All Vertical ribs and lower longeron riveted to LHS skin|
|2009-03-23||Fuselage Assembly||The time has finally come to start making the parts into something that looks like part of a plane. Careful study of the assembly drawing is needed here and I am very cautious about drilling the first holes as this set-up will remain 'built in' for good.|
|2009-03-29||Fuselage Assembly||Assembly is fairly straight forward - probably would have been easier with 2 people though|
|2009-04-05||Fixtures and fittings...||There are quite a few parts that need to be correctly positioned and this can be a bit fiddly so some thinking needed to get the correct order of assembly. Very time consuming but rewarding to see it coming together|
|2009-04-23||....Some minor re-work||After a couple of weeks of inactivity I decided to remake the rear bulkhead member (F23-02). Initially I made this part from .032" sheet from scratch as I had not realised the stock section was buried in my disorganised material store. Although the scratch built version fitted well I managed to fit the bottom end neatly then pushed the top end too far rearward before clamping and drilling - (despite having marked the correct position for the upper angle bracket). This meant that when I drilled the holes thru the skin and web of F23-02 they were OK at the bottom but gradually made their way closer to the edge of the flange towards the top end. By the time the uppermost hole was drilled the edge distance was less than ideal, so this time I used the stock material and re-cut the raceway hole and match drilled the others in about an hour.
When I refitted the part I made sure I used the blue marker line along the outside of the flange so I could align it with the holes in the side skins. The second effort worked a lot better.
|2009-04-25||Continued fuselage assembly||Refitted rear bulkhead part that had been re-made. Squared and aligned upper and lower cross members.|
|2009-04-26||Fixing of cross tie members||Spent most of the day drilling and fixing the cross tie members. Not sure why this takes so long - it seems a relatively straightforward operation but the hours just disappear.
Ran out of both 3/32" and 1/8" clecos and keep having to relocate others to be used where needed - need to start putting rivets in soon to free some up.
|2009-05-04||Lower Skin and shear web installation||After the installation of the tail end shear web, all parts are now fitted so its a matter of drilling out the holes for the correct rivet/bolt sizes, and then the whole assembly was flipped over upside down so the bottom skin could be drilled and cleco'd into place. I still need to re-assemble the vertical fin and drill the final hole size for the tail skid mount.|
|2009-05-11||Dismantling, De-burring and Corrosion Proofing||Spent this week finalising the fittings and drilling all holes to the correct diameter for rivets/bolts, then the whole assembly was dismantled, deburred, cleaned and corrosion proof by alodining and zinc primer spray. All members are then re-assembled ready for rivets.|
|2009-05-19||Final Assembly||All items re-assembled for the last time (hopefully) and I invested in a torque wrench to make sure all the AN3 bolts were not overtightened.|
|2009-05-25||Finally all in one piece||The lower skin is left off for now to allow access inside the fuselage for fitting of seat belts and pushrods etc. And some clecos are still present where turtledeck skins and brackets will attach to. But other than this the rear fuse is all in one piece and feels like a very rigid structure....which is good!|
|2009-05-31||Turtledeck Parts||After a bit of searching I found the pack of turtledeck formers and dug out the attach plate fittings. There are only about 8 or 9 simple items to fabricate for this section - mostly brackets and the main channel that runs down the centre of the upper fuselage. Having the pre-formed parts will save a heap of time.
Assembly should have been fairly straight forward - had I followed the instructions. Having no spare hand to help fit the turtledeck skin I tried to dis-assemble it and install one skin at at time with the intention of adding the centre beam afterwards. This was a waste of time. A helping hand from a neighbour was the best solution.
|2009-06-08||Installation of T/deck formers||Installing the turtledeck formers is fairly straight forward. Again following the instructions on the plans is the way to go. The hardest part is spending the best part of a day crawling underneath the tail cone on your knees (invariably without the tool you need). There are some fairly tight spots to drill so I made use of my dremel with a flexible drive attached to get into the corners. I found the best method to install formers 2,3 and 4 was to attach the top of the former to the clip on the centre beam keeping the flange flush with the underside of the t/d skin, then drill thru the skin from the outside using the blue line on the flange method to keep the holes in the right place. Then fix the lower end of the former to the side panel verticals. A helping hand here inside the fuse to keep the formers from moving around when drilling would have been great, but it can be done single handed.|
|2009-06-15||Firewall Components & Fuel Filler Box||This was my first experience at working with stainless steel, and while it seems to bend easliy, drilling it is a different ball game. I resorted to using a 500w electric drill at high speed and applying a fair bit of pressure. Getting the windshield strap fitted to the upper firewall was fairly difficult as the 2 parts kept wanting to move away from where they were supposed to be - Lots of clamps and even so the firewall part wanted to bow to match the windshield. It turned out satisfactory and still needs to have the southco fittings added.
The bending of the fuel filler box is very straightforward and with some minor tweaking of the upper firewall flange fluting the parts went together pretty well.
|2009-06-30||Upper Firewall and Fuel Filler Box||Completetd the Upper firewall/windshield strap but held of riveting the 2 together (I will see what this needs to fit to down the track before final fixing. The fuel filler box is all riveted together and attached to the upper firewall.|
|2009-07-22||F16 Parts - Floor plate and spar box section items||Made parts detailed on F16. Mostly straightforward with plenty of bandsaw practice trimming the cross members and cleaning up the rough edges. This section will be completed at a later date|
|2009-10-30||F15 Parts.........Slow Progress||After a long period of relative inactivity I have finally managed to complete all the components of drawing F15. Some of these were quite time consuming and due to my stop start progress I managed to stuff up a few parts which needed to be re-made causing material shortages..... Not happy !|
|2009-12-16||F14 Parts||Made a start on F14 parts - mostly fairly simple bits of angle with lots of cutting, shaping and drilling. Closing up the 90 deg angle by 4 deg for the wing attach members is a lot easier than opening up the angle.|
|2010-01-03||F14 & F13||Finally finished F14 parts after a stop/start month, and made a start on F13 which is mainly the forward fuse longerons and associated parts. Tricky part here is cutting the 52mm x 4mm slots for the canopy latch. I found the best way was to drill a 4mm hole at each end of the slot then a series of 3.5mm holes along the length to remove as much metal as possible, then connect them up with a general purpose dremel cutter which leaves a very rough slot and needs to be cleaned up with a small file. Pretty time consuming, and there may be a much better way (eg like a milling machine). Looking forward to assembling parts on the next drawing !!|
|2010-01-06||F12 Trial Assembly||Finally all components are laid out onto the right hand forward fuselage skin (except the aft wing attach angle - I am considering re-making this part after adding a few 'bite' marks' to the surface while trying to open the angle up - it might polish out ok but we'll see). The instructions are all given on the drawing sheet so it should be a matter of following step by step|
|2010-01-12||Forward Fuselage side panel assembly||I started to assemble the RHS members until I got to the aft wing attach angle, which is not yet made due to some indecision over the 'bite' marks, so I started on the LHS panel. It was about this time that I decided to check some other websites and see how others have gone before me, and noticed one builder had made the mistake of mis-reading the dimensions for the 52mm slots on the upper left longeron....I had a horrible sinking feeling and decided to recheck mine. Sure enough I have done the same thing and positioned the foremost slot from the rear of the longeron and not from the foremost part of the rear slot.. CRAP !!! I concluded that even though adding a slot in the correct location would work, I would see it every time I opened the canopy and I don't want that. So I spent the next 4 hours doing re-work and then had to order more material....CRAP ! again. Other than that the side panels are progressing nicely|
|2010-02-01||Side Panel Assembly||LHS panel is now drilled out to rivet/bolt sizes and the air vent is still not yet cut out. All parts are cleaned, de-burred and corrosion proofed (except the skin this will be etched and primed with when the humidity drops below 93% !)|
|2010-02-02||Time to re- visit the spar tunnel....||Well, after a long delay, having waited on delivery of a 100deg csk bit from USA and receiving a 90deg one like I could have bought at a local store, I finally got back to the spar tunnel assembly. Foul tropical weather has also put a stop to spray painting activity due to humidity so its a good time to get everything else up to scratch - and probably a really good time to clean up the shed, as this section of construction has left me with bits and pieces everywhere and no room to move.
The process of drilling, countersinking and dimpling is fairly straightforward. I did about 6 or 7 trials with varying depth of countersinking and pressure on the dimple die, and decided to stick with the plans which nominate a 1/4" dia csk. When all looked good I tried it for real on the spar tunnel assembly
|2010-02-07||LHS Panel Completion||I decided to change the primer I've been using up til now. The green zinc oxide tins have given nothing but trouble with hundreds of nozzle blockages. The new stuff is grey so luckily I switched at a distict line between forward and aft fuses. The new stuff is much easier to apply with a better looking finish...just not sure how well it sticks. Anyhow, all structural members are now alodined and sprayed, re-assembled and ready for rivets.
The Aft spar tunnel is also completely riveted...a productive weekend!
|2010-03-08||RHS Forward fuselage assembly||LHS is now complete except for torquing bolts for engine mounts.
I have re-ordered the material to remake the Aft Wing Attach Angle. A few minor bite marks made whilst trying to open up the original angle polished out pretty well and I'm fairly sure it would have been ok, but I don't really want any critical parts that I'm not fully confident with - so that has slowed progress a bit while I remake it.
|2010-03-14||RHS Forward fuselage assembly||I spent Saturday morning re-making the RHS aft wing attach angle. I hate this part ! After a lot of time wasting with the vice and a block of wood, I tried bashing the ridge with a 2kg mallet to open up the angle by 4 deg. The latter worked but not without putting a bend in the ridge. It took a lot of persuasion to get it back to the straight and narrow but finally I was happy with the result and added it to the assembly. The rest was pretty straight forward and after about 8 hours most of the parts were fitted....now to drill out to correct rivet/bolt size|
|2010-03-15||Drilled all members of RHS fuse to correct size||All members are now drilled out to correct bolt/rivet size and dismantled ready for deburring and corrosion proofing|
|2010-03-21||Assembly time !!||Finally comes the time to attach the forward fuse panels to the rear fuse....this has been a long time coming.
After a bit of a relocation exercise of the rear fuse to the shed I decided to relocate it back to the double garage for the extra room and the ability to keep it all on the sawhorses. Not ideal as all tools and parts had to get moved as well. Everything lined up beautifully with a bit of family help, and the floor panel and lower firewall lined up exactly. Within a few hours it was starting to look like a plane (albeit without wings). After admiring the view for way too long I decided now was a good time to back up a bit and finish the rear fuse....I still had not riveted the forward turtledeck formers to the skin due to my indecision over paint colours, but that decision is now made and I'm going with the grey. (Ignore the dates on the photos)
|2010-03-28||Loose ends...and spar Tunnel||Finally got around to dismantling the foremost turtledeck formers, sprayed all parts and riveted them in place. Drilling was straightforward for all except the rear upper side holes which were too tight for my drill. The only way out was to measure and and mark the point on the outside of the skin and blindly hope it lined up with the existing holes of the splice plates inside...luckily both did....I'd hate to think what would happen if they hadn't !
All forward fuse parts were then re-assembled and the forward spar was offered into position. I now realise why the aft wing attach angles and associated stiffener plates were left un riveted. The fit was perfect with the upper longeron dimension at the wing attach angle measuring 919.4mm just like it should do.
The rear spar member was then installed along with its associated clips
|2010-04-14||Upper Firewall & Firewall Stiffeners.....||Firewall stiffeners all went in really easy, and the upper firewall lined up exactly due to factory made pilot holes in both upper and lower parts.
I had not riveted the parts together for the upper firewall former until now & I have to say that this part is not pretty. The incorrect fluting positions in the upper firewall stainless part made for an awkward riveting process and I am not particularly impressed with it, but I am guessing all that will be hidden eventually. Now everything needs to be drilled out to correct sizes.
|2010-04-19||Dismantle, deburr, corrosion proof, and re-assembly||All holes are now drilled out to correct sizes, the whole front end was dismantled and prepared ready for re-assembly. A time consuming process and on the way I decided to throw in a bit of polishing....not a very fun job but the results are rewarding. I think I will try and do this whenever I get spare time and don't want to think too hard. I am using the Nuvite coarse grade polish and a cheap car polisher which almost shakes your arm out of the socket when it spins.......
I also had a big 'Oh No' moment when I checked the rear spar tunnel assembly drawing and noticed a note stating 'do not install rivets at this stage' - that refers to all 117 of the flush rivets I have already done. One for the Sonex tech dept I suppose!
|2010-05-11||F09 Lower Aft Cabin parts||Back to making more components.... There was probably a day and a half worth of cutting trimming drilling and generally making things fit. The elevator lever mechanism was probably the trickiest assembly as the steel sleeve bushes would not fit directly into the bronze bushes and the AN3-14 bolt would not fit into the steel sleeve...so lots of time got wasted drilling out the bushes and making adjustments to give a nice smooth but tight assembly. All good in the end though, so, now to fit the parts to the forward fuse. I am desperately short of 1/8" clecos so it's time to bite the bullet and permanently fix the rear fuse to the forward fuse to free some up.
Lots of drilling and fitting to get the parts fixed, and a few holes needed to be drilled in very awkward places with an angle drill attachment and shortened drill bit.
|2010-05-31||Seats||All lower aft parts are now fitted, drilled to rivet size and dismantled ready for corrosion proofing, so while they were out of the way I set about fitting the tricycle gear support weldments. Now I understand the need for not riveting the rear spar tunnel members yet - pity its too late, I will just have to remove them so I can countersink the holes for the gear frames. The fit was pretty good although the rearmost attach points are a bit further outboard than I would like them to be, but I think I will be able to accommodate for this.
Next comes the seat sling. The plans show the single stick option here so if you have the dual stick then you need to go looking for the right drawing that shows the dual stick cutouts. Angle brackets and hinges are straightforward enough on drawing SNX-F08 so no excuses!
|2010-06-20||Flap detent and trim lever installation||Flap detent angle is fairly time consuming with lots of filing and grinding, trim lever was just a matter of bending the part supplied. All other parts are very straight forward and fitting is fiddly but not too bad. I was pretty angry about my drill chuck leaving a gouge in the side panel whilst drilling the forward wing attach angle. I will hold off on installing rivets until I am certain it will not effect anything else.|
|2010-06-27||Instrument Panel & Glare shield||Straight forward construction - mostly trimming, folding and drilling of supplied parts. Installation went extremely well with everything fitting perfectly into position. It's really worth noting that leaving everything unriveted at this stage makes access very easy. Drilling the stainless steel upper firewall while in position was not so easy so I decided to mark the holes and drill the SS on a workbench, then open them up to 1/8" while in position.|
|2010-07-18||Rear Spar Carry Through||Made all parts for rear spar carry through - nothing new here just cutting drilling and filing. Also had to bit of re-work on the centre seat support member. Failing to read the sonex drawing revision list meant that I made the supporting cross member under the rear lower hinge out of thin gauge angle instead of 1/8"x1"x1". 2 attempts and 4 hours later due to not considering the difference in thickness of material I finally installed the updated part. Because of the 7/32" difference in mat'l thickness the position of the lower hinge had to be adjusted accordingly, meaning that the seat sling is not fitted as perfectly as I would have liked it and there is a slight curve in the backrest, but I don't think it will make much difference once the upholstery is in.|
|2010-07-24||Rudder pedals||Once again, what seemed like a fairly straightforward exercise turned into a long winded fiddly series of minor adjustments and lots trial fitting. Not easy with one set of hands, but a pair of clamps and a lot of patience were essential as I wanted to make the rudder pedals rotate freely but not loosely in their bearing blocks. At the end of a full day they were in place and the bolts installed but nuts not added in case they need to come out again.|
|2010-08-01||Control Stick Assembly||The dual control stick parts look nicely made. It seemed a real shame to grind off all the shiny black paint in order to make things fit together. I needed to take some material off the inside dia of the main bushes so I could get the horns to fit through OK with a nice snug fit, and then I removed the paint from the horn shaft in order to get the control sticks to slide over. Getting the horn and stick aligned at 180 deg with the correct clearance (0.001" - 0.005") was really fiddly and drilling the hole for the AN4 bolt was a real challenge as the drill was contacting a slope and wanted to slid off the side. Anyhow all turned out really well in the end.
One point of concern is a triangular shaped lug attached to the upper square section cross member. It is not on the details drawing (SNX-C05) and I can't yet find its purpose. (Sonex response....advise this is for an optional 'dial a speed trim system' and should not interfere when ailerons are connected.)
Lastly the link bar was installed. This needed to be bushed first and again getting the correct clearances and alignment was a time consuming and fiddly business.
|2010-08-08||Brake Control Parts||The easiest and by far the quickest part of this drawing is the brake handle - just a bit of flat bar bent to the same angle as the flap lever, drilled and rounded off and that's it. I decided to grind finger grooves in the handle, which I didn't do on the flap lever, so that the two handles feel completely different and don't get confused. As for the other parts.... I lost nearly a whole weekend to filing trying to get my 1"x 1.25" bar down to a nice neat 1/2"x1/2" and then drilling and filing the slots to make the clevis that attaches to the bottom of the brake lever. The cable guide block was slightly less time consuming but I still couldn't believe how long this took. A milling machine would be a big advantage !! Not the best photos... I know|
|2010-08-28||Canopy Latch Mechanism & Windshield Bow||Forward fuse parts are almost done but still not assembled, so it's time to find a new area to work on. The canopy seems like an obvious choice so I decided to make the aluminium parts before I tackle the daunting prospect of the plastic stuff. There are not too many that seem to have got this right first time and the fact that the factory supplies 2 canopies makes me think they are expecting me to stuff one up.
First up was the canopy latch angle .... Damn I wish I had done my research before I started cutting. It seems others have made a double notch in the vertical leg to allow the the canopy to be opened up an inch while taxying.... That might well be handy in a Queensland summer! I will look into adding another slot.
Most parts are fairly simple but the windshield bow which is a pre-bent 1/2" Dia. Aluminium rod did not seem to be pre-bent enough at the ends, meaning that instead of the ends being almost parallel, they were splayed out at such an angle that there is no way they would fit in the longeron slots without twisting the longerons inwards - not good! so I needed to make a bending jig with a smaller radius than the finished item to get the correct bow shape. I have also read that making the bow 1" higher than the plans will result in a much straighter line between w/shield and canopy - sounds like a good option and may give a slight increase in headroom.
|2010-09-12||Windshield||Well, So much for making the windshield bow 1" higher to get the straight line look... I cut and drilled the bow with the extra height and the Lexan winshield was not wide enough at the bow end to reach down to the longerons - so back the work bench with the bow to cut the ends off and make it lower. The determining factor now is the width of the lexan sheet, so I decided to put the sheet in place, drill and fix the bow on one side then keeping the lexan touching the longerons on both sides, I will push the bow upwards to make a neat fit into the curve of the lexan - remembering to hold the bow strap in place between the lexan and the bow with my 3 spare hands.... this really is a 3 person job, as the front end wants to keep popping out of position as I adjust the bow end.
Trimming the Lexan was pretty easy using a dremel and a cut-off wheel. the sheet came with a machined curve already gouged out which seemed to match the arc of the bow pretty well when all was sitting in its correct place.
|2010-10-17||Right Flap parts||Flap skins are pre bent and cut to the correct length so all that is required here is to trim one end, and install 4 ribs and a hinge.|
|2010-11-07||Wing Flap assembly||Flap skins, ribs and drive plate are all pre-made, so all that is required is to trim the flap skin to the drawing and install the ribs by drilling the skins and lining up a marked line on the rib flanges, clamping firmly and drilling through. Then it's a matter of drilling again to the correct size for riveting, dismantle, deburr, corrosion proof, rivet and finally polish. All up 1 flap is about 10 hours work....plus polishing of course|
|2010-12-31||Aileron Construction||Slightly more complicated than the flaps but similar construction technique. Cutting the 1" block of counterwight lead was a challenge as it kept jamming the band saw, and using a hack saw didn't make it much easier.
Care is needed when marking out the skin holes, as the dimension is to the face ot the 3rd rib...for the row of holes for the outer rib you need to add the thickness of the counterbalance weight and the supporting plates as well as the 1/4" flange offset. I added the 1" counterbalance and the 1/4" offset and forgot the 2 c/balance support plates, lucky I realised before drilling but easy mistake to make !
Also, there are two holes that go through the hinge, skin overlap and c/balance weight spacer, located between the two c/balance plates. These holes ended up a bit close to the bends in the spacer so I would recommend not marking those holes until these items are assembled - that way they end up in exacly the right spot. I found that I needed to assemble and dismatle the whole thing many times which was a pain but necessary. All parts alodined and etch primed before final assembly.
Polishing took about 4 hours for primary and secondary cut, final still to go. I decided to wrap up the finished items without balancing them. This is done by hanging the ailerons from the hinges and removing lead with a drill to reduce the weight of the counterbalance.
|2011-01-02||Finishing||Polishing took about 4 hours per aileron for primary and secondary cut, final still to go. I decided to wrap up the finished items without balancing them. This is done by hanging the ailerons from the hinges and removing lead with a drill to reduce the weight of the counterbalance.|
|2011-01-07||Finding all the pre-made parts....||This took a while because I was looking for the main spar web member which is 10' long...getting desperate I finally found a coil of about 1' diameter which unrolled into a pair of spar webs. The pre-lasered holes lined up well so all the main spar members slotted together well, and most of the required angle members were readily at hand.|
|2011-01-09||Main Spar parts....SNX - W11||Most parts are very straight forward, just lots of cutting drilling and filing.|
|2011-01-14||W13 Parts||W13 Parts....more of the same to produce a growing pile of miscellaneous parts.|
|2011-01-17||W20 Parts||Wing attach angles.... Once again angle sections need have the 90 deg legs either opened up or closed by 4 deg. I find closing up much easier to do and for short sections, simply clamping in a vice and holding a round bar to the inside of the bend and belting with a rubber mallet until the angle matches 86deg.
Opening up an angle is not so easy as generally the bend does not want to remain uniform along the length of the angle. For short sections, a flat concrete floor with the toes downwards and firm blows along the length provide the required bend - certainly not a precise science but effective for what is required. I am sure there is probably a better way.
|2011-01-23||W21 Aileron Bell crank pivots||Pivot support angles and spacers completed and drilled to suit bronze bushings. Steel bushings cut and filed to correct length.Parts alodined, sprayed, greased and assembled. I found that the AN3-6A bolts that held the assemblies together were too short so I upped them to AN3-7A's that worked a lot better. The movement was very free with no play at all so I was pretty happy with the results.|
|2011-02-06||Right Wing rear spar....||Attach plates and splice plates all fitted and drilled to 1/8".
Wing Rib holes drilled by marking first hole and using rib as a template which worked well.
Rear Spar attach angle drilled to take AN3-7A bolts. All parts alodined and sprayed with etch primer and riveted.
|2011-02-07||Right Wing Forward Ribs||Forward ribs #1-4 trimmed to suit main spar taper and plywood form block made to bend rib stiffener plate flanges|
|2011-02-15||Rear ribs||Rear ribs 1 - 5 are notched to clear main spar taper and ribs 1 -4 have 2 stiffening plates (upper and lower) added to the formost flange. Some special attention to rib 1R is needed to fit to the rear spar, fairly straight forward stuff.|
|2011-02-17||Main Spar Assembly||Time to start assembling all the parts - There seems to be a lot of parts ! and not much bench space left. I used the Sonex spar spacing tool to set the gap between the upper and lower spar caps. (This is basically a piece of flat bar with 2 holes which line up with the 2 middle holes of the rib attachment. When clecoed in place the upper and lower spar caps are butted up against the ends setting the correct gap.
There are a few plates to line up at the inboard end of the main spar and it all looks a bit confusing on the drawings, but there are large holes in each plate, once these are lined up it's very simple - as long as you have the plates in the correct order! Once everything was lined up, I drilled through the main spar web and upper spar cap at each rib location moving the spacer tool each time. Then I drilled the lower spar caps at the rib locations using the same technique.
Even with a just few clecos in place the assembly becomes very rigid and much easier to handle....Now it is all together there is one hell of a lot of drilling to do ! but thats enough for 1 night.
|2011-02-24||Right wing main spar assembly||All stiffening and attachment angles fitted and drilled to 3/32".
I figured this was a good time to start looking at solid riveting skills and techniques, and order a 1/8" rivet set I got the 3.5" straight and 3.5" offset...hope this is enough as it will be a week before they get here. Overall I'm pretty happy with the way the main spar went together, I realised after placing my order I'm hopelessly short of 1/8" clecos. I think I might have to dis assemble every part on the forward fuse to gain a few back.
|2011-03-07||Drilling and countersinking||Now that all the parts have been assembled its a matter of drilling out to the correct size. Mostly that means 5/32" for solid rivets or 3/16" for AN3 bolts.
After all the holes are drilled the spar is dis-assembled and all holes to be countersunk for flush rivets are carefully marked. It is important to double check that all the holes that are required to be flush are c'sunk, as discovering one is missed after all rivets are in, would mean a huge amount of re-work.
|2011-03-30||Assembly time...||All parts are now de-burred, alodined and lightly sprayed with primer. The spar members were too big for my tanks so I settled for a sponge bath in degreaser, a thorough wash followed by drying and spraying with primer. Now for the fun part...solid rivets.
Having never set a solid rivet before I spent half a day reading up on the theory and despite having ordered some 1/8"...and the the correct 5/32" rivet sets I decided that the 1/2" bolt with 2 nuts and a washer method as described by the Sonex manual was going to be my plan of attack. I did a couple of trial rivets to get the feel of it then set my sonex spar shaped bucking bar on the concrete floor of the shed, slid a timber under one end and started hammering with my 2lb lump hammer. I started at the outboard end found I was getting better results just using a hammer that I had ground and smoothed to a nice curved finish....this worked well until the tapered upper and lower spar caps began to interfere with my swing and I went back to using the bolt. There were a few that did not go so well but I drilled them out and and kept having another go... it was very time consuming, extremely uncomfortable, and I am not looking forward to the left main spar!
|2011-04-15||Final Assembly time||Finally the right hand spar is fully riveted - that was not a fun job, especially drilling out substandard rivets and re-doing them - but perserverence wins and it was finally time to attach some ribs|
|2011-04-17||Left Wing Rear Spar||Now that the right wing main spar has been riveted and the wing trial assembled it's time to back up and make a start on the left wing. I made most of the parts all together so the left wing should be a fair bit quicker than the right which seemed to take forever. First part up is the rear spar. Having done one already the process is much quicker and I had the whole thing spliced together, corrosion proofed and riveted in a day.... a big day that is.|
|2011-04-18||Left wing main spar||The workshop table is now cleared ready for the left wing main spar. This time all the parts are at hand so its just a matter of clecoing the parts together paying careful attention to the plans to get the order right. It's a lot quicker easier the second time around.|
|2011-05-15||Left Wing Spar Assembly||Well so much for being a lot quicker....there is still a hell of a lot of drilling to do and that is very time consuming!
With all 5/32" rivet holes, and all 3/16" bolt/screw holes drilled out, all flush fasteners need countersinking. It's a good idea here to remove the plate that has to be dimpled and take care of that task first, then do the drilling before reassembling the spar and ream out the dimpled holes to the rivet/screw size. That makes for a tighter fit of the fixing in the hole. While all this was going on I prepped and corrosion proofed all the angle and plate spar components ready for final fitting. All up most of a weekends effort and not much visual progress!
|2011-06-18||Left Wing Main Spar||Finally all sprayed parts are re-assembled and rivets installed - This is a long winded affair involving the large bolt, a hammer and a lot of crawling around the floor with an aching back and sore knees.|
|2011-07-11||Main Spar Assembly||Finally it's time to mate the 2 spars together, line up the reference holes and drill 1/4" holes. Feels like a big effort to get these parts to this stage.|
|2011-08-06||Right Wing Assembly Time||Main Spars are complete and all ribs have been notched to match the tapering spar caps. Ribs 1-4 fore and aft require stiffener doublers to add strength to where they have been notched. These were all drilled, prepped, corrosion proofed, painted and fitted to the ribs prior to rib assembly.
Due to the way the main spar web fits to the spar caps, there is a gap between the aft side of the web and the flange of the aft rib, so spacers need to be added to fill the gap prior to drilling.
On the right wing the #1 rib needs to be drilled to match the holes in the rear spar.
|2011-08-15||Fitting right wing ribs||Fore and aft wing ribs are cleco'd into place with the rib spacers all clampled prior to drilling. After pilot holes are all drilled the holes are then opened up to 1/8" for rivets. The whole assembly again dismantled for cleaning up the burrs. At this stage I have decided to replace a few solid rivets that could have been done better. A visit from the SAAA technical Inspector put me straight on the best method to do this so I followed instructions and it worked very simply. The head is drilled out with a drill slightly smaller than the rivet hole and the rivet head is carefully removed with a tapered punch. The rivet is then punched throught the hole leaving a very original hole ready for a new rivet.
While inspecting the solid rivets I also decided to clean up any burrs on the newly drilled rib holes. There is now a bit of work to do cleaning up the ribs, corrosion proofing and preparing for final wing structure assembly.
|2011-08-23||Right Wing Rib Assembly||All ribs are match drilled to the main spar along with all the spacers. They are then dismantled, deburred, corrosion proofed, and reassembled to the spars. Once all ribs are assembled it is time to cut and fit the right wing root rib. This rib is trimmed fore and aft according to the detail on the relevant drawing and clampled in place. To get access rib #1 is removed, and the wing structure needs to be levelled and squared.
Rib #9 has the aileron bellcrank on it, and in order to fully assemble the rib stiffeners and bellcrank brackets with rivets it has to be taken apart to get access to the rivets. It is then repacked with grease and re-assembled ready for adding to the main spar.
|2011-08-24||Right Wing Forward root rib installation||Aligning the root ribs is a tricky business. They have no alignment holes or marks so must be correctly trimmed and aligned in all directions then clamped whilst the wing structure is chocked up square, parallel and level. With all this done the forward rib is clamped into position after aligning the front edge using a long level and another long straight edge to get the correct vertical alignment so the wing skin stays neat. Drilling access through the forward root rib attach angle is not good for some holes so they need to be marked and drilled after removal or drilled with the dremel flexidrive.|
|2011-09-01||Root Rib Installation||Rib #1 installation is not very easy. Access is made difficult by the root rib attach angles, so to make life easier I reluctantly removed the root rib attach angles. This made it a whole lot easier. While the root rib attach angles were removed I decided to install the rivets to attach root ribs to root rib attach angles. I replaced the AN3-10A bolts to the root rib attach angles but did not replace the nuts. I have ordered new bolts from Aircraft Spruce. The ribs are now all attached to the main spar. Now it's a matter of getting the structure squared, levelled and to set the dimension from Wing Station 0 to the rear spar attach hole, again not easy and required a bit of effort with squares and levels etc.|
|2011-09-03||Right Wing Upper Wing Skin||Sonex provides a very useful set of instruction pages for the more challenging parts of the project and this is one area that is worth paying good attention to. Firstly the wing structure is levelled and squared, checked, re-checked and then the upper skin is aligned with the traling edge of the rear spar, taking great care to align the vertical rivets of the rear spar to the rib holes.Sarting at the inboard end I clamped the upper skin to the rear spar flange so that the rib holes lined up.
Some careful adjustment was needed as I worked my way along the wing towards the outboard end to keep the rear edge of the skin aligned with the rear edge of the spar flange. The structure is already starting to get fairly rigid but still has the ability to develop a twist if it is not kept level and straight.
|2011-09-05||Right Wing Upper wing skin||Drilling upper skin to ribs. This started off really well by following the instruction sheet, but as I drilled along the ribs and got closer tow the forward edge I noticed the red line along my rib flanges were getting harder to line up. I checked all the components I had made and double checked again the assembly and the levelling.... all was good but I could not figure out what was going on. After a few days away I changed the way I was measuring the 19" from wing station 0 to the rear spar attach hole. Here I found my error. The method I was using did not give me a square line to measure to. Follow the Instructions !! Turning my steel square around and setting the 19" dimension on the main spar end gave me a perfect line up with the rear spar hole with all the skin holes lining up perfectly with the rib centre lines. Now it was just a matter of drilling the holes firstly to #40 then to #30.
|2011-09-20||Right Wing Lower skin||With the upper skin in place, the structure is turned over and re-levelled before aligning the lower skin so the red lines along the centre of the ribs appear through the pre-drilled skin holes.|
|2011-09-26||Right Wing Leading edge skin||Once the upper and lower skins are cleco'd in place the structure is flipped back the right way up and leading edge skin is aligned with the main spar holes. Once these are cleco'd into place it's a matter of lining up the pre-drilled holes in the skin with the pre-marked red lines along the centre of each forward rib flange, and then match drill the ribs through the skin holes.|
|2012-04-09||Right Wing - final riveting||Well 7 months has gone by since my last entry, which seems unbelievable,but must be true. In that time I have moved house and relocated the plane (luckily without any damage) to a much larger shed. The right wing skins still needed to be riveted and this was the first job planned for the restart. Not much thinking to do just lots of rivets - then preparation of the leading edge skins by way of dimpling, deburring, final drilling to #30. I decided to hold off from riveting the upper leading edge pending delivery of som MIL spec wire to install for my wing tip lights. I have decided to go for the strobe/nav/pos all in one unit, so wiring is relatively simple, and as the wing end plates can be left off I don't need to buy the lights yet.|
|2012-04-15||Fuel Tank Installation||The Sonex Fuel Tank is not in the wings, so this really is in the wrong section - however...
I decided to go off track and work on something new and the fuel tank looked interesting, so let's give it a go. The drawing says that this must be done with the glare shield in place but it was much easier getting this all to fit before riveting the glare shield. I'm also glad that I was still able to dismantle the firewall and remove the lower forward floor panel...must be a difficult job to single handedly assemble the straps with everything riveted.
|2012-04-23||Left Wing - Rib Assembly||With the right wing progressed as far as it can go without the wing tip light wiring installed, it's time to start putting the left wing structure together. This is a much quicker process than the right wing and was all done in a weekend, it would have been quicker but I wasn't completely happy with the movement of the aileron bellcrank, so I decided to pull that apart and make the rotation a bit smoother. I also noticed that I had drilled #12 rib upper hole to 5/32" dia on spar cap to suit a solid rivet, so decided to drill the fore and aft rib upper holes to suit a 4mm stainless rivet. This seemed to work well to fix the mistake. Then the rear spar was cleco'd and drilled to suit 1/8" rivets. All ready for installation of root ribs.|
|2012-05-01||Left Wing Root Rib Installation||Root rib installation was fairly straight forward - except that you need to dismantle the root rib attach angles to get everything in place. After doing this I decided to refit the angle with MS S56 screws in lieu of S58's. The nuts tightened on the S58's before the plate were pulled up tight meaning that the screw could rotate even after it was torqued up with washer installed. The S56 is the perfect length. Whilst at it with replacing things I put new AN3 bolts in as well.
With all ribs and rear spar installed it's ready for leveling, squaring and skinning. There is a very good Sonex worksheet for this which works well.
|2012-05-06||Left Wing Upper Skin||Left Upper wing skin installed after squaring and leveling wing structure|
|2012-09-01||Landing light - 2||Leading edge hole cutting and installation of retaining plates|
|2012-09-01||Landing Light Installation||I wasn't planning to overcomplicate my Sonex but ended up decicing to add landing light and strobe/nav lights to the wing tips.
This meant running wires through the wings before closing them up, and installing the hardware for the landing light.
Cutting the leading edge hole was fairly straight forward and the duckworks instructions and parts meant fairly straight forward assembly - except that the half day they estimated took more like 2 days
|2012-10-18||Wing Installation - 1||Wings are now complete and ready to be attached to the fuselage. There is a set of shared drills and pins that Australian builders pass around, so I put my order in, and without those the job would have been near impossible.
Firstly the fuselage was positioned midway across the shed with the front end resting on timber on the workbench and the tail sitting on a saw horse. This allowed just enough room for the wings to be slid into the spar tunnel. The fuselage was levelled and with the help of some friends the wings positioned and packed to the correct position. I used the water tube method for levelling the wing tips which is very simple and effective.
With everything in place, I removed the cabin floor members for better access and began by drilling the rear spar holes.
I carefully followed the Sonex instructions and drilled the main spar members. This was a time consuming but not difficult operation - definitely not a part to be rushed!
|2012-10-18||Wing Installation - 2||Drilling Main spars for wing attachment.
|2012-11-15||Final Install of under seat parts||Now that the wings are drilled and removed I started to fit and rivet all items under the seat permanently in place. This includes the tricycle gear leg support frames, and flight control stick.|
|2012-12-21||Elevator Push Rod Installation||Installation of the elevator push rod assembly was relatively straight forward. I had not previously fitted the horizontal stabiliser to the fuselage - so this was the first job. Lots of time spent trying to get the H-stab far enough forward to achieve the correct angle of elevator in the full up position. This is a matter of filing and trimming the lower skin of the H-stab, and I also needed to relieve some clearance at the end of the turtle deck skin. Once in place the H-stab is clamped and the 4 x 1/4" holes are drilled through the main structure. Fortunately the holes lined up nicely with the stiffening members underneath the longerons.
With the H-stab installed I connected the elevator pushrod to the elevator horn, and followed the step by step instructions to connect the idler pushrod and finally the splice connection which occurs in the luggage compartment. It's a good idea to read all the notes on the drawing! I somehow missed one, and at some previous date when building the rear fuse I had riveted the forward pushrod guide in place which made it impossible to get the pushrod into position. I had to remove the 12 rivets that held it to get it in.
|2013-01-08||Empennage installation||Horizontal and Vertical Stabilizers are attached to the rear fuselage. Some fiddly bolting to be done here but nothing to difficult. Trim tab and cable installed but not yet attached.|
|2013-02-01||Fuel Tank preparation||The fuel tank needed some attention before being installed permanently. The NPT fittings needed to be cleaned up with the appropriate tap size, the filler cap needed to be trimmed so that it doesn't protrude through the filler neck, and the tank needed to be flushed out before installation. The strainer and shut off valve were then fitted and the fuel system was ready to be plumbed with the 3/8" Aluminium fuel line.|
|2013-02-02||Fuel Plumbing||The Sonex plans get a bit sketchy when it comes to fuel and plumbing, so it's up to the buider to do some research and work a few things out. I made the gascolator bracket and installed it onto the firewall as per the plans and realised that the engine mount for the Jab 3300 made a very definite clash. Also the fuel line to the gascolator would have to be routed inside the cabin behind the co-pilot's feet in order to fit, so I decided to go with the original planned route and rotate the Gascolator 90 deg. This required designing a new bracket and while I was at it I decided to add a channel cross member which fits behind the co-pilot's rudder pedals. This, with a few rivets stiffens up the firewall onto which the gascolator bracket mounts. The fuel line was then plumbed direct into the gascolator inlet.|
|2013-02-15||Landing Gear legs||The main gear legs, are made of titanium which need to be drilled through before inserting and bolting the leg into the gear support structure. (installed under the seat on the nose gear version).
The wheel assembly is fairly straightforward although some very simple design improvements would make life a lot easier. The single bolt that attaches the brake assembly backing plate to the axle assembly is in a bad place. The bolt head interferes with the weld on the back of the axle assembly needing a modified washer for it to sit square, and the nut interferes with the brake shoe return spring. I tried filing the cam lobes with a file as per the instructions and found that this stuff is hardened steel - I couldn't even scratch it let alone create a nice even curve as per the diagram. The standard brake drums look pretty flimsy and even when they are placed gently onto the shoes they bind immediately and the spacers supplied are too long causing only about 80% of the shoes to be in contact with the drum. Needless to say I am not happy with the whole assembly and whilst it will do for the plane to stand on for now, I think it will be upgraded before attempting to land.
|2013-02-18||Main Gear installation||Once the Main Gear parts are assembled, they need to be installed at the correct height and with the correct 'toe-in' angle. This done with a spacer slid onto the axle and a straight edge. Aligning the forward tip of the axle and the forward edge of the spacer gives a toe-in angle of 0.7 deg....hopefully !
The lower end of the legs are then marked through a pre-drilled hole in the axle assembly and the whole thing is dismantled so the bottom leg holes can be drilled.
|2013-03-27||Panel Switches||Panel switches Installed. I have decided to keep things pretty much as per the plans to start with. And my intention is to keep a logical order for the start up procedure from left to right.|
|2013-04-05||Windshield Fitting||Installation of the windshield is fairly time consuming and fiddly. Getting the lexan cut to size is not difficult but you know that one wrong move and it's all over. Firstly the windshield bow is fitted with 2 bolts to the upper longerons then the pre-marked holes are drilled with a #29 drill and tapped to suit. The side panel attach points need to be countersunk and to do this I sacrificed a couple of MS screws and an 832 nut and simply tightened the csk head of the screw into the pre- drilled holes. The windshield is then loaded into position and screws and bolts installed as per the plans. The csk st.st. washers supplied with the sonex hardware did not have a sufficiently large enough hole to allow the screws to fit so each one has to be drilled to 11/64"|
|2013-04-06||Canopy Assembly||With all the canopy parts made, it's time put them all together. The most complex part of this stage is the sliding canopy locking mechanism. Even with great care to make all pieces accurately some fine adjustments are required to make a good fit and a smooth operation.|
|2013-04-07||Canopy frame||Having searched through my remaining stock it appeared that I was short of the 1/2" sq tube for the canopy side frame members, so I ordered some. Unfortunately I only ordered 1 piece and the plans require 2. I decided that a good option would be to use a piece of 1" x 1/8" eq angle cut town to 1/2" and then I have the option of bolting the canopy together on the hinge side.
Starting at the forward end of the canopy, I located the supplied corner members and had to remove the black coating to get them to fit inside the round tube. I then assembled the latch mechanism and drilled through the alignment pin hole into the upper longeron to lock the whole assembly in place with a piece of wire. I installed the hinge assembly on the right hand side of the cockpit and used a spacer to sit between the hinge and the angle member where the canopy will go.
I trimmed, positioned and clamped the forward round tube onto the corner members and set the gap from the rear of the windscreen (The closest I could get to the 11.1mm specified was about 13mm to keep an even gap all around. I then fitted the canopy side trim and marked, drilled and cleco'd horizontally through the left side sq. tube and corner member. A final check revealed I had cut the forward round tube just slightly shorter than I wanted to but still should be OK.
|2013-04-13||Canopy rear bow assembly||Getting the rear bow to sit perfectly with an even gap of the perspex thickness all arount the turtledeck is near impossible. I spent countless hours making minor adjustments to the bow shape using 2 blocks of timber screwed to the bench top and gently pulling and reforming the arc. At one stage the arc was perfect to the turtledeck but there was a slight outward spring causing the rear lug of the locking mechanism to need a slight push to engage it. Eventually I accepted that it was never going to be absolutely perfect so I moved on. Fitting the cross member and stifening brackets was straightforward. All parts were then cleaned, sprayed and riveted.|
|2013-04-14||Canopy Perspex||This Part of the build is notoriously approached with trepidation and my approach was no different. The perspex is (apparently) very easy to crack, so when I pulled the oversize shell from its packing box I realised it had been stored for several years on it's side in a hot shed and was probably more curved in the wrong direction than it should have been. Miraculously the Autumn temperature dropped 5 deg C on the day I decided to do this and I was wishing I had done it during the hot Summer months when the material would be more pliable. Anyhow it was time to give it a go, so I drafted in some help from a friend, Adrian....Thanks again mate!
First job was to watch John Monnet's EAA video which makes the whole job look very simple and quick, but it did give some excellent tips on handling and cutting which we successfully followed.
We placed the Perspex on the aircraft to get the feel of it then relocated the trusty band saw and fired it up ready for the first cut. My saw only has 1 speed and I only have one saw band with 14 Teeth per Inch, so that was going to have to do. And it went very well. No cracks, and a fairly smooth edge finsh which we sanded after each cut.
|2013-04-15||Canopy Perspex||Perspex is finally trimmed and sanded to fit lengthways, so now to make the horizontal cuts to match the side clamps. This where some problems start to arise. The canopy sides want to bow outwards and as more pressure is placed on them to push them into the longerons they become very stiff, It's difficult to imagine how thay can take the shape required to fit into the side clamps that run along the longerons, without cracking.|
|2013-04-20||Canopy Perspex||All I can say is lots of patience and perseverance are the required virtues. This part has been the most time consuming and frustrating of all so far. The perspex was trimmed, fitted, marked, removed countless times and often when no help was on hand, so occasionally re-fitting the canopy single handed meant the whole thing falling inside the plane - how I didn't damage it, I have no idea but it made it unscathed and crack free to the final fit. Cutting the horizontal sides, single handed on a band saw is a tricky business, the holes along the hinge side seem very close to the edge of the perspex but there was not much I could do about that. Some holes that I had pre-drilled in the perspex to fit the rear bow ended slightly out of line when the hinge was lined up but I enlarged them slightly and all turned out looking not perfect but acceptable.|
|2013-04-24||Final fit||Final clean up, minor adjustments and sanding canopy edges still takes a lot of time and patience. I am thinking that the S26 screws that are screwed into a tapped hole through the hollow canopy bow might be better replaced with screws of the same diameter that go through the perspex, both sides of the bow, and have a locknut on the other side might be a worthwhile mod for peace of mind, The canopy feels very secure as is but there's not much thread there when your buzzing along at 150mph. I had to add a few packers here and there so will need longer screws anyway so I might just get them extra long and add the locknuts.
I'm not too happy with the sliding latch mechanism - although it slides freely under the spring load when the canopy is up, it's a very tight fit when it's closed - needs to be re-visited!
|2013-05-13||Battery box Installation||The battery box is quite simple, but the location as given on the plans must only suit a different gear/engine configuration, because it certainly didn't work for the Jab 3300 with nose gear. It would not have been possible to install or remove the battery...so that needed to be worked out with a dummy battery made out of a piece of cardboard.
Once the location is decided it's just a matter of drilling and riveting to the fire wall....great fun drilling stainless!
|2013-05-14||Installing the Engine Mount||Relatively straight forward procedure - the Mount is attached to the upper and lower longerons with 8 AN4 structural screws. The assembly needs to be positioned and shimmed before drilling takes place. I needed to grind a small amount off the Mount attach plates so they wouldn't interfere with the rivets that attach the firewall to the fuselage..but all went OK. Very tricky holding this part in place and getting the dimensions and geometry all correct...pretty happy with the end result although the final drilling for the attachment screws is not yet done as the mount still needs to come off and have an extra tube welded in as per Sonex Drawing Revs.|
|2013-05-15||Nose Gear Leg installation||This assembly is very straight forward - follow the plans and it all works. Lots of time taken in preparing the parts, removing the paint on sliding surfaces etc. The whole assembly is only temporary as the engine mount needs to have another 4130 tube strut welded in as per Sonex mandatory revisions - later models than mine now have it correct from the factory....need to find a good welder as my welding skills probably won't stretch to this.
After the Engine Mount was re installed onto the aircraft the nose gear steering linkage was installed and adjusted - great to see that rudder moves when I turn the nose wheel !! The assembly feels a little bit stiff...I may take a slight amount more off the bronze bushes to make it more free to rotate. Most annoying part is that the plans show a very small isometric view of the assembly on the rigging drawing and the location of the steering linkage rod end to rudder attach is shown on the wrong side of the rudder pedal vertical tube, meaning that the linkage fouled the firewall cut-out. I then had to crawl upside down into the foot well, remove the rod end bolt, switch it to the other side of the pedal and refit the bolt and split pin...very uncomfortable procedure and much easier when the fire wall was off !
|2013-05-26||Canopy Fixing to Frame||I decided to make a change to the way the perspex fixes to the canopy bows. Instead of a c'sunk screw into a tapped hole in the tube frame, I decided to drill all the way through the tube and install a longer screw of the same size and a 632 elastic stop nut on the inside. This might not look as neat but I think it is a far more positive fixing.|
|2013-05-29||Sonex Engine Mount Modification||Sonex issued a mandatory mod to install an extra Gr4130 tube to the Jab 3300 Engine Mount. I had the prepared part added to the order that I made to Sonex for upholstery and cooling baffles and I decided to get this done by a qualified Licenced Aircraft Engineer. Looks like a good weld and obviously way better than anything I could have done. The Mount had not previously been permanently affixed to the airframe for this reason, so once the paint dries its back on - hopefully for good this time.|
|2013-05-31||Control Stick Grips||PTT switches seem like a good place to start. I bought the Ray Allen variety and began by soldering the micro switches and routing the wires through the control sticks with sufficient spare to route to the radio.|
|2013-06-15||Radio Wiring||Started to make some inroads into the wiring - there's just no way of avoiding it. I thought I had everything bought, but oh no.... several imports later I still find myself short of all kinds of different stuff and having to research all kinds of things I have never heard of. So I bought a Radio thinking I would start simple and master 1 thing at a time....I had no idea where this would lead but the Icom A210 looks like a really nice piece of equipment and I put the rack together pretty quick - all fitted well but lots of tweaking with my CAD drawings of the panel. I installed an antenna and routed the coax to within about 2' of the radio - damn need to buy some coax cable, BNC connectors, crimper, etc etc. I spent about 3 days on the net finding out what I needed and in a confused state, placed my order.
I made a piece of angle to mount the panel jacks and fixed it to the u/s of the lower panel cross member centrally between pilot and passenger - which worked out OK.
|2013-07-01||Nose Gear Steering Boot||The nose gear boot was made from a paper template on fibreglass cloth then impregnated with RTV sealant...several attempts gave me and acceptable product that I stitched together and assembled as per the plans. This was then fitted to the firewall all fitted very well.|
|2013-07-10||Nose Gear Fairing||The leg fairing was fairly straight forward. This was made from some .025" sheet and two lengths of hinges. The sheet wraps around the nose gear leg and a hinge pin is installed to hold the whole thing together. This was done with the nose leg removed from the engine mount. Some trimming was needed to the fairing to allow it to fit under the spring. The whole assembly is a very tight fit and my suspicions that it might want to spin were completely unfounded as the hinge pin extends through a hole in the fibreglass nose wheel pant and is held firmly in place.|
|2013-07-20||Nose gear wheel fairing||The wheel fairings are supplied but need lots of trimming and drilling of the fibreglass to get them to fit. Firstly a hole is required for the nose gear leg to fit through. As I didn't have a hole saw I drilled a series of holes and then joined them up with a needle file until I had the correct size. The dremmel with a milling wheel came in handy to tidy things up. This all needed to be done with the nose leg removed from the airframe. The attach plates that hold the fairing to the leg need to be bent to suit the fibreglass mouldings - this is not a very precise fit...the original bend dimensions given were nowhere near a fit so lots of dismantling and adjusting was done before finally attaching the nut plates.
I found the easiest way to locate the holes in the fibreglass for the fixing screws was to shine a small torch light from the inside of the hole in the attach plate. The light was sufficient to penetrate the glass leaving a nice little circle marking the location to drill.
|2013-09-19||Brake Drums...||I decided, as I had a shipment due from the Sonex factory, that I'd upgrade the Asuza drums to the Sonex machined drums. These are a lot better product and hopefully will be worth the extra $200. I think if I was starting again I would go for the hydraulic brakes, but I'm not planning to change anything here unless I need to. The change over was pretty straight forward but I spent a lot of time trying to make the whole assembly a better fit as the wheels just would not spin cleanly and the gap between the brake shoe backing plate and the drum was not uniform all around. It still doesn't spin completely free and the gap is still out - but it's a lot better than it was and I'm sticking with it for now.|
|2013-10-19||Main Gear Fairings||The leg fairings are made from .025" sheet. I found the easiest way to cut the correct profile was to draw them up on CAD, cut out the templates at full scale and then stick the paper to the sheet. Simply trim the sheet and then fit the hinge halves. I then polished the cut sheets before bending to suit the gear legs. Bending was done by hand over a piece of electrical conduit and the hinge pins are installed... next I need to fit the fibreglass wheel fairings.|
|2013-12-02||Engine delivery||Traveled 2h to Bundaberg, QLD to pick up the new Jabiru 3300 engine. All went according to plan and it even fitted nicely in the back of the Prado - bonus !|
|2013-12-05||Nosewheel fin||Not really sure why this part is required as the nose wheel is directly linked to the rudder pedals. If it was free castering I could understand the need for the airflow to keep it straight but it's not. Anyhow it's in the plans so I made it. It was a bit fiddly to get the bends to match the compound curves of the fibreglass fairing, but in the end I reckon it looks OK.|
|2014-01-07||Engine installation||With the careful help of the local ambulance service the Sonex engine rubber bushings (in lieu of the Jabiru rubbers) were fitted and the engine was manually lifted onto the 4 pins of the frame. Initially the rubbers were so tight we could not get the AN4-47A bolts to go all the way through the assembly with enough thread to install a nut. Eventually we gave up and I made up some overlength temporary bolts out of 1/4" threaded rod which allowed us to pull the engine up tight with diagonally opposite bolts - enough to then get the real bolts in place. With a lot of sweat and messing around, all 4 bolts were in. The 40 degC (104f) temps did not help proceedings !|
|2014-01-07||Oil Cooler||The box with the oil cooler arrived on the weekend So I set about making the attach brackets. Some mods were needed to the cooler itself in order for the cowling to clear the underside....so one of the lower flanges needed to be cut off and the attach angles bolted to the rear flanges...big thanks to Hugo for his first attempt at metal work by making the angle that attaches the oil cooler to the underside of the engine. The sonex supplied oil cooler baffle was added and the assembly then attached to the underside of the engine. Full instructions for this fitment are supplied and easy to follow.|
|2014-01-10||Oil Cooler Adapter||The Jab 3300 engine comes with an oil cooler adapter between the oil filter and the engine block. This must be removed and the 1/8" hose tails unscrewed so the holes can be up-drilled to 1/4" to suit the oil cooler supply and return hoses. 2 AN straight nipple fittings are installed in the newly tapped holes.|
|2014-01-11||Fuel Pump||As I have decided to install an Aerovee injector in lieu of the Bing carburettor, the fuel pump can be removed from the Jab engine. The Sonex installation kit supplies a blanking plate for where the pump was previously mounted. Firstly the pump and the pump shaft are removed, then the blanking plate is installed with gasket sealant and loctite to the screws.|
|2014-01-15||Fuel filler cover plate||This part was pretty straightforward. It will attach to the LH cowling to act as a cover flap for the fuel filler.|
|2014-01-17||Engine Cowling||Finally time to pull out the fibreglass cowls and start cutting them to fit the airframe. This is when I realised something is seriously wrong. There is a gap of about 1" between the front of the cowl and the back of the prop hub flange. A call to Jabiru confirmed that I have a 2" prop extension on my order when what I needed was a 'standard' prop hub. Having checked through my paperwork The only 2 options on the Jab order form are 2" or 3". Apparently if you need the standard you don't tick anything....I'm pretty disappointed that the form doesn't explain the options. I sifted through my emails and found that I had even asked Sonex and got the answer 'standard' - I somehow got the idea in my head that 2" was the standard....Again disappointed that the order form states 'Sonex' and Jab did not query why I have ordered an incompatible prop hub...At the end of the day it's my own fault for not knowing...The result of the conversation to Jab is that they will send me the correct hub and the procedure for a change out - Not Happy !!|
|2014-01-17||Cowling cutting||Despite the hub set back - I decided to continue with the cowling and set about cutting the fibreglass. I found the best method was with a dremmel set to about 13,000rpm and a cut off wheel...not the paper thin ones - they last about 10 seconds before flying off in 6 separate parts.|
|2014-01-17||Sonex Engine Baffle Kit||The Sonex Engine Baffle Kit comes with most of the stuff needed for installing the engine cooling system - and a pretty comprehensive booklet on what to do - just followed the instructions.|
|2014-01-19||Air Vents||I decided to add air vents to the windshield. The type that rotate and deflect air inside the cabin looked suitable and were cheap and very simple to fit. After selecting the flatest area of the windshield in the lower corners, I cut 2 holes 65mm dia as per the enclosed instructions and installed the bolts. The whole operation was done by removing the windshield from the airframe. I have not yet decided whether to add side vents to the forward fuselage as per the plans but have the parts ready made in case I do. I suspect with Queensland temps it might be a good idea to get as much airflow as possible!|
|2014-01-20||Baffle Installation||I think I was supposed to have the inter-cylinder baffles as part of the kit, but it seems I didn't. So I made 4 out of .0025" sheet. 2 small holes and a bend down the middle looked like the one in the instruction manual, and to install them I did like the book said and dropped a rod between the cylinder cooling fins lengthways, and passed the baffles into place from underneath, then with a piece of safety tie wire coming up between the cylinders to tie around the rods.
I used some left over hinge pin instead of a welding rod and put some bends in them so they were less likely to work their way fore or aft. They locked in tightly but needed to be re-fitted once I worked out how the upper cooling ducts fitted.
|2014-01-22||Installing the upper Baffles||A bit of trimming is required to get the upper cooling baffle ducts to sit nicely in place. They are a bit fiddly to get into position but fit nicely when they are in. These will need to be removed and have silicone sealing added when I get the cowling in place.|
|2014-01-22||Prob Hub replacement||The standard prop hub extension arrived from Jabiru, so after a conversations with the very helpful Michael from Jab in Bundaberg advising me of the correct procedure and 'what not to do's', I set about removing the 2" extended hub. I cracked the loctite cemented SHCS bolts and removed all 6. Then applied some light heat with a heat gun to the hub. With a block of pine timber and a hammer I gradually tapped the hub until it was nearly off then got an assistant to catch it so it did not hit the concrete. After cleaning up the internal threads, I slid the standard length hub onto the locator pins and used the old bolts, working in pairs, to wind the hub onto the shaft. The old bolts are then removed, the new bolts are primed with Loctite 7471 primer and the cement is applied to the internal threads before inserting the new bolts to the correct torque. Relatively straight forward, but something that needs full concentration and must be done right.|
|2014-01-22||Baggage Area panels||I used cheap grade 0.5mm Al sheet from a local Bunnings store to panel in the baggage area. This was done by measuring and cutting 2 panels that have the edges folded to match the flanges on the existing structure. These are then riveted in place.
Next job is to make a tunnel that protects any baggage items from jamming the elevator pushrod. I'm surprised that the Sonex design doesn't have this as part of the plans as it seems like a very susceptible area for interference to occur. Not something I would want to try and fix whilst flying a plane.
|2014-02-01||Trimming the cowling air intake||First Job - if you follow the Sonex instructions is to install a prop hub spacer... this bolts to the front face of the prop flange and has a recess of 4mm in the rear to set the front of the cowling in the correct position. I do not have a wood lathe so I made a flat piece of wood with 4mm packers attached to the rear.
The next step is to remove material from the front of the cowl (air intake holes and prop flange clearance). This was done with a dremel and a cut-off wheel, I find this the best tool to allow accurate cutting of the fibreglass...only downside is the dust !! very important to wear a mask and safety glasses doing this.
|2014-02-07||Installing the Port Cowling half||I thought I had another real problem when I offered the cowling into position. After trimming the aft edge to fit, the whole thing hung low and I thought I would be left to modify the lower edge to make it fit. However as I began trimming away the lower edge, it started to fit better until eventually it seemed to be a pretty good. The secret, I found is to lay some masking tape on the windshield and side panel then mark the tape where the cowl sits...the dimensions of these marks to the forward edge are then transferred to the cowl and cowl is trimmed. The last few cuts were just a 0.5mm skim with the cutting wheel.
The more I trimmed the better it fitted - but the danger is not to trim too much as re-working the fibreglass is not my thing !!
|2014-02-09||Installing the side hinge||Next job is to attach a hinge to the cowl aft side wall, aligned with the one already on the firewall. A good way to do this is was to attach the loose hinge half to the firewall half with the hinge pin, offer the cowl into position, then using a bright torch shine a light through the pre-drilled hinge mounting holes and drill through from the outside of the cowl. (This is far easier said than done when working alone...an extra pair of hands would have saved hours). With the side now fixed, it's a matter of marking and drilling the holes for the lower aft hinge & upper cowl strap, then installing the Southco fasteners. The ones supplied to me by Sonex simply were not long enough, so I had to order more at great expense and time wasting, I had 1 Southco fitting that was long enough to fit so I used that on the first hole....The rest are in the mail ! I got the location for the Southco fastener holes by the same method of marking the distance in from the forward edge of the windshield and transferring those dimensions to the cowl. It worked pretty well.|
|2014-02-13||Stbd Side added to the assembly||With the Port side now attached, it's time to bring the Stbd cowl into to the equation. This is positioned, marked and trimmed in the same way, the centreline is marked with the aid of a string and the top edges are trimmed to give a 1.6mm gap between them. The top hinges are then installed and lots of minor adjustments are made by trimming, grinding and cutting. The upper hinge pin proved too difficult to install via a hole in the fuel filler tray so I decided to grind a small slot here to make it easier.|
|2014-03-09||Cowling Hinge connections||The instructions say you may need to remove and re-fit the cowls up to 12 times. I lost count at about 25 times and I'm still not finished. Lots of trimming and adjustments and even then getting the hinge pins installed is not simple. An extra pair of hands here is really needed. I seem to have managed to get the front of the cowlings sitting flush with the prop flange. Not sure why as I used the 4mm spacer as per the instructions - so sometime down the track there will be some additional fibreglass work required to the front lip.|
|2014-03-15||Starboard exhaust duct||The exhaust ducts came as part of the engine cooling kit supplied by Sonex. The flat sheet is pre-cut and needs to be folded and fluted to fit. Installation is fairly straightforward, except the instructions do not cover how the port side duct interferes with the nose leg cut out and the leg itself. An email to Sonex will hopefully clarify what is needed here.|
|2014-03-16||Port Exhaust Duct||The port side is slightly different due to the nose gear leg and the duct seems to coincide with the leg itself. There are no instructions given for the offset nose gear version.
I also did a trial fit of the exhaust stubs supplied by Jabiru and although the starboard side fits OK - the port side exhaust only fits one way which locates the exhaust outlet nowhere near the duct outlet - Must have something wrong somewhere - possibly incorrect exhaust stub from Jab.
|2014-03-23||New throttle quadrant installation||I decided to change out my original throttle control to the Sonex, side mount throttle quadrant. This was mainly because I now have the Aeroinjector in lieu of the Bing Carburettor. The Aeroinjector requires a push to close movement which meant I would have needed to make, and install a reversing mechanism to retain the original throttle. I decided this was too much effort so reluctantly opted for the simpler but more expensive quadrant lever.
Installation was pretty straight forward - most of the Sonex instruction sheets are very well done and cover most of the stuff you need to know..
Firstly I needed to pull the injector body apart to install the cable. Then it was a case of mounting the lever mechanism. I decided to locate mine so that I would not need to re-locate the canopy handle...I figured, after a lot of sitting in the left hand seat that there was enough room for everything, and also decided to stick with my original location for the mixture control.
I then installed the cable and retaining screws at the lever end and hey presto - all done....in about half a day! .... but apparently not. The injector needs to be mounted vertically to provide evenly distributed fuel, so I had to reposition mine and re-run the throttle cable to enter from above...it worked out OK, fortunately I had not cut the inner cable and used the longer piece of outer cable.
|2014-03-30||Oil Cooler plumbing||I received my order of oil hose and fittings so decided it was time to install the oil cooler plumbing.
Firstly I attached the baffle sealing material to the cooling duct, then trimmed and fitted it to suit the inside of the cowling with minimal gaps.
Then I set about assembling the hose and fittings to determine the length to cut cut the hoses to. After that it was just a case of following the instructions in the parts catalogue to assemble the hose ends. Once done they fitted very neatly in place.
|2014-04-04||Re-installation of the Aeroinjector||After a tech query to Sonex I found out I needed to re-orientate my Aeroinjector so that the fuel inlet is at the bottom and the body is vertical - to provide even fuel distribution. I read somewhere that it would work OK in any position, but better to install it as it is intended to be.
As a result of the new position I had to remove and re-route the throttle cable. Luckily I still had the longer half of the outer cable and had not cut the inner cable.
|2014-04-04||Mixture cable||I decided to use the push/pull mixture control that was supplied with the original Sonex kit, and mount it on the panel corner bracket.
Firstly the cable needs to be carefully dismantled so as not to lose the ball bearing that provides the lock/release mechanism to the control. The inner wire is removed completely so the outer sheath can be measured and trimmed to the correct length. With this done, it is re-assembled and installed to the panel mounting position.
I then discovered that the outer sheath would not fit through the clamping hole provided on the injector body, so this then needed to be removed and drilled out to allow the sheath to fit through.
The final step is to adjust and tighten the wire swivel clamp.
I have a slight loss of confidence in this fitting as the swivel must be tight enough to clamp the wire but loose enough to allow the fitting to rotate as the mixture is moved from rich to lean. It seems to me that there is no safety backup should this screw fitting come loose. Needs further investigation.
|2014-04-04||Fuel hose installation||I am using Aeroflow motor racing parts for fuel and oil fittings.
The hose fittings are firstly loosely fitted then the hose length is measured. There are good instructions in the Aeroflow catalogue for cutting hose and fitting attachment methods - so I followed that.
Once the hose was made I loosely fitted it to the gascolator and the inlet fitting on the Aerocarb. I will need to test the fuel flow at some stage so no point tightening everything up yet.
|2014-04-06||Baffling installation||Baffling material is now attached to the cooling ducts. The time taken to do this is not representative of the finished look. The cooling ducts had to be installed and removed (as well as the cowlings) many times to get a fit that would both seal and allow the cowl halfs to zip up properly. The result is a pretty tight fit all round when the cowls are fitted.
The front baffle plates are installed using hinge & hinge pins which will make them quick to remove should any mods to the cooling system be required. I think I will add some tiny holes that will allow me to safety wire the pins in place.
|2014-04-07||CHT Sensors||I am installing a MGL avionics iEFIS Xtreme. So attached to the firewall is the RDAC XF MAP....Which is the computer that collects all the engine and flight data and sends it to the display screen. So all of the engine sensors feed into the RDAC unit.
The first 12 inputs are for EGT and CHT sensors, so naturally I read the instructions and then installed all my wiring for the CHT's into the EGT ports....bugger!. Options are to rotate the unit 180deg or re-do all my CHT wire extensions...to be decided.
|2014-05-17||Fixed panel in place and added instruments||This long awaited moment certainly transforms the look of everything. Installing the panel and adding the radio, transponder, iEfis and all of the switches and circuit breakers is very rewarding.
In a moment of trepidation I fired up the master switch and avionics and held my breath while I turned everything on. Fortunately no smoke was emitted, although one slight design fault came to light while I was fitting my iEFIS panel into it's home...The emergency power supply that installed is on the far right of the panel and whilst the battery is connected one side of the Emergency power switch is live. This terminal happened to momentarily touch the panel during fitting and caused a spark. I have since fitted insulation to the terminals and eliminated the issue.
|2014-06-08||A minor amendment||Fellow SAAA member, friend and RV4 builder Ian Borg was invited over to cast an eye over my work and came up with a couple of things that might need looking at. One was that 2 bolts that hold the Vertical Stabiliser tail post to the rear fuselage had been inserted the opposite way around to the rest - I recall that it had been assembled that way due to difficulty in getting the bolts inserted consistently from aft forward. The 2 different bolts were inspected and Ian commented that there may be too many threads exposed so the nuts were removed and the results shown in the photos below. This prompted a check of all the nuts/threads of the tail posts and he had a point - even if it was a marginal call, I added an extra washer to all bolts holding the vertical stab in position to get the correct number of threads exposed.|
|2014-06-15||Cowling modification||I decided I wasn't happy with the cowling. It was slightly off centre at the nose meaning that some rectification was required to stop the prop flange rubbing the lip. I had held off doing anything because I wasn't keen to settle for doing that fix, or the other one which was to remove the right hand side hinges, re-centre the lip then re-glass and re-drill all the hinges. Anyhow I commandeered the help of a work mate who is building a fibreglass 1933 Ford and he helped me through the latter fix which was the correct one....Thanks Paul Trace - for your invaluable input ! It took about a day but the result was excellent and gave me the knowledge to go and fix a load of other minor f/glass issues. I now have a cowling which goes on and off relatively easily with the cooling ducts and oil cooler etc all fitted. AND it is symmetrical. Happy days !|
|2014-07-15||Exhaust extractors||The original extractor pipes that came with the Jabiru 3300 had me completely confused. I could get the right hand side extractor to fit OK, but no matter which way I rotated and swapped them there was no way that the left hand side was going to slide on without removing the nose leg.
An email to Sonex confirmed that this was normal and they cut, beveled and re-welded the pipe to suit. Without tig welding skills this seemed like a bit of a major task, so I contacted Jabiru about the problem.
After a careful measure up I sent drawing details to Jab and they kindly re-made my left hand side extractor to as shown in the photos....OK it took 2 attempts but ended up good !
Huge thanks to Kody at Jabiru in Bundaberg for doing this for me - hopefully now they have a template for making all future pipes this way for the 3300 nose gear configuration, ........... fit first time and alleviate unnecessary build time.
|2014-07-20||Exhaust extractor problem resolved||The prototype Left hand extractor from Jabiru did not pass through the cowling duct cleanly. It interfered with the side wall of the exhaust duct and stopped the cowling hinge pins from being installed.
The measurements were recorded and the second version fitted beautifully.
The retainer springs were then fitted and the exhaust system was ticked off as finished.
|2014-08-08||Propeller arrives.....||After getting the run around from yet another Central Queensland delivery company - I finally got my Propeller. It's a Sensenich fixed pitch W54SK-64G Wooden Prop. It looks pretty impressive in it's box.|
|2014-08-16||Fuel Flow Test||An assistant is required for this job, so good friend and RV builder/flyer Ian Borg offered to help me through the fuel test procedure.
Firstly all the fuel connections were checked for tightness and the valve positioned to off. 20L of unleaded fuel was added to the tank for this exercise.
The aircraft was then wheeled out of the shed so the back end could be dropped down to give a simulated climb attitude of 15 deg nose up. With this achieved, the tail was tethered with sand pegs into the lawn and tie downs attached. The nose wheel was chocked and the fuel inlet to the injector was removed and held at the same height as the inlet.
With a 10L fuel can positioned and the stop watch at the ready, the valve was opened and fuel began to flow at what looked like a pretty good rate for a gravity fed system.
After exactly 5 minutes the fuel was up to the 10L mark and the valve was closed giving us an available flow rate at worst likely situation - i.e. low fuel in tank and high nose attitude of approx 120L/hr. This is well above the Jabiru required figure of 50-60L per hour. No further testing was deemed necessary, so the tank was drained and the fuel hose re-attached to the injector.
|2014-08-17||Fuel Flow Test - more photos||Just some extra photos of the procedure.|
|2014-08-31||Prop Installation||Before the propeller could be installed I needed to drill and ream the drive bushings to accept 5/16" bolts. The Jabiru props must be fitted with 1/4" bolts as that's what size the bushes were.
With that done, I read the installation instructions that came from Sensenich, removed 1 plug from each cylinder and positioned cylinder #1 at top dead centre, I then lined up blade #1 at the 10 O'clock position and slipped all the bolts in. Not much to it really, added washers and nuts and left the assembly untorqued at this stage as it may need to be removed again to get the plane out of the back yard. The time consuming part of the operation was to get all the cooling ducts and cowls attached to make sure the prop cleared the cowling when spun.
|2015-03-01||Weight & Balance Day||I decided to use a professional weight & balance service rather than attend a course then try and get hold of the correct weigh scales etc. Getting this done right is something I considered fairly important, so a date was fixed for Doug Macarthur to come up from Brisbane and carry out the W&B.
Firstly, everything that will be fitted for final inspection was installed including all cowls, fairings, coverplates, wheel pants etc. All unusable fuel was drained from the 1 and only main tank and the oil level checked.
Doug and I moved the plane out of the hangar onto open ground, positioned the scales, leveled the plane and took the required readings. The scales were rotated to get an overall average and the results were recorded.
The final weight was 315.5KG slightly heavier than I expected but still OK.
5 days later Doug had produced a very useful report and a spreadsheet into which I can load my figures and get an instant W&B report. Pretty happy that I can load myself, a 75KG passenger, full fuel and 20KG baggage and still be within limits. Achieving the aerobatic category however does not leave a lot of margin. Fuel needs to be minimum and baggage in the rear storage area will have to be carried.
|2015-05-31||First Flight - finally||All CASA inspections, paperwork, noise certificate, Registration complete. Test Pilot Col Crittenden from Hervey Bay flew up to Rodds Bay in his beautiful RV7 and did the honors with no fuss. VH-YSX flew perfectly, straight and level hands off and no control adjustments necessary. 20 mins later she was back on solid ground and cowls removed for inspection....all was good so second flight, with me, was commenced.....what a massive thrill and very emotional moment after 7 years and numerous life changing moments on the way. My humble thanks to all those involved in the process for your patience, help and understanding of what this project meant to me.|
|2015-05-31||First Flight - return||What a huge relief - Col is back on the ground safely after the first successful flight....and a perfect landing !
Comments from test pilot Col...
1. Radio has interference issues at high rpm.
2. glareshield material not perfect as some reflection is occurring in the windshield - easy fix.
3. Throttle lever lock (aeroconversions) does not hold at high rpm, requiring a hand to be on it at all times. This problem was later improved by one builder suggesting spraying water on leather friction washer in throttle lever and backing off the friction screw between flights. Thanks to that person !
4. Plane flies great! and is easy to fly.
|2015-09-16||Some modifications to cooling ducts||After early test flying phase I have decided to make a modifications to my cooling ducts.
The main problem being access to the spark plugs and installation of the plug leads. As can be seen in the first photo the plugs are not accessible without removing the entire cooling duct which also involves removing the bolts that hold the valve covers.
So I decided to cut and access panel and fit a plate over the hole. This allows me to remove all plugs, check them for tightness, and have a far more positive feeling about whether the plug cap has clicked onto the top of the plug properly. This is very difficult to do when your arm is stuffed up the duct and trapped between the cylinder cooling fins and the underside of the duct top plate - thus leaving no strength in my fingertips to click the leads on. All seems to look OK...I will add some sealant to prevent airflow escaping where it should not.