Wheel pant final fit, gear leg fairing bracket

June 7, 2008

Ah yes Saturday, What gloriously hot day 95 deg with a heat index of 104. My aluminum box uh I mean my hangar was floating around 115 – 116 when I walked and promply open the door to let the oven cool. I removed the molds on th fiberglass and those came out really well. I am very happy with t the finall finish they a have. I promptly got to finishing the wheel pants. I started by checking the gap between the tire and the wheel fairing. I like to be able to fit my fingers between the tire and the wheel fairing. Because I mounted them slightly differently then with my old gear I had to do a little trimming. It took a lot longer then I thought and now my sweaty arms are covered in itchy fiberglass dust. Once I got everything trimmed up I installed the last two nut plates on the wheel fairings. They were never installed before because I had cut so much of the fairing apart I didn’t need them now that I have replaced most of that fairing I installed them. I obviously have some filling and fairing to do but this will suffice for now.

After that I installed the piano hinge for the RH gear leg just like I did the previous hinge on Thursday the 5 jun. I relined the brake pucks installed and safety wired the brake caliper bolts. I did the final install of the wheel fairings. I also made a bracket for the LH gear leg fairing to temporarily keep it from rotating during flight.

Time spent 8 hours


Drilling the Axle, More wheel pant brackets, Fiberglass on the wheel pants

June 6, 2008

Today I went over to my buddies shop to borrow a core drill and a 10-32 tap so that I could drill the axles for the cotter pins and I could tap the axle nuts for the wheel pant brackets. I tapped the RH axle nut for the wheel pant bracket and installed a 10-32 R6 SS machine screw. I also moded the LH axle nut for the same bracket exactly the same way I did it yesterday.

I drilled the axles for cotter pins. Pretty much just set the spot on the axle and drill use a #40 long drill bit make a small mark on each side. I then used my dremel hemispherical grinder to make a nice transition for the threads as to not gall up my axle nut. I then drilled the cotter pin holes using a core drill and my battery drill and lots of oil. The hole cut no problem. Rinse and repeat for the other side.

While the wheels were off and easy to get to I cleaned, inspected and repacked the wheel bearings.  After that was done I needed to patch up some cut out on my wheel fairings from when I had my old landing gear installed. I layed up some E-glass and used an spare sheet metal to make the mold using cleco clamps. I also took the time to add some more layers to my previous patch work to stiffen that up a bit. We will see how it comes out tomorrow.

Time spent today 8 hours


Wheel fairing bracket, Gear leg Piano Hinge and drilling axles oh my

June 5, 2008

Today I went up to get my wheel fairing brackets made. I need to use a sheer and a brake to make them perfect so I when up to my buddies shop to use his brake and sheer. Once I made the brackets I brought them down to my hanger to drill the center out for the bolt that holds the wheel farings on. I then installed the 1/4-28 nut plate. Once I had the bracket centered I could use the 1″ hole saw to cut the hole for the gear leg jack pipe. I didn’t have a 10-32 tap to install the screws that hold this bracket to the nut so I will have to wait til tomorrow to fully install it. I then switched gears and started in on my left hand gear leg fairing. I started by figuring out where to locate the piano hinge so as to keep the trailing edge sucked together. Once I had this figured out I marked and drilled the first two holes on either end and installed clecos to hold it in place. I then removed both side of the piano hinge and cut off the excess hinge. I re-installed half the hinge and drill the 1-1/2 spacing for the AN470AD-3 rivits. I also countersunk the fiberglass which and I didn’t think was possible but it worked out just fine. Just be careful on how far to countersink. Rinse and repeat for the other half of the hinge and install the pin.

Time spent 3 hours


Wheel pants and Gear leg fairings

June 4, 2008

Today my goal was to get the wheel pants on and secure enough to ground run the plane so that I can check my mags for leaks after changing the gasket. All I really had left to get the pants on and secure was to install 8 nut plates. This took a little while and after getting the right side installed and just cleco’d the left side on because a massive tornado producing storm was headed our way at 55 MPH. I was able to ground run the aircraft and check the mags for leaks. None noted. This means I can start closing up the the engine cowling! Anyway while I was running my engine I decided to taxi around and get a feel for the new gear. What I noticed was it was incredibly more stable with swerves unlike the other gear which like to depart to one side or the other. The comment is that this gear make the Pitts feel like a Citabria on the runway. At this point I can see the what they were trying to say, but maybe not quite that extreme.

Next is getting the gear leg fairing installed.

Time spent 3.0 hours


Landing Gear Fairings and wheel pants

June 3, 2008

Today I had a bad day at work. Going to the airport is a great soother so of course I went directly after work. I decided to work on my wheel pants. The mounting brackets are not quite in the same location as the last ones. I will have to do some patchwork which is not a real big deal just time consuming. First things first was to mark and drill the brackets for the mounting screws. I did a fair amount of measuring first to get them aligned and then I marked and drilled the locations. I then started working on the gear leg fairings. The way vans does this is to use slits and hose clamps to keep the fairing from falling down. I cut the slits and then decided this was going to last all of 2 hours until it breaks. I am now cooking up a design similar to what Guido has on this pitts gear leg fairing he got form Steve Wolf. sorry about no pictures I keep forgetting my camera at home.  What a tragedy.
Time spent 2.5 hours


Brake bleading, Engine run-up, compression checks

May 31, 2008

Today I back blead the brakes, so that I could run-up the engine to see if my compression came up. I had some trouble at first with bleading the right brake but I soon sorted it out and it blead just fine. I back blead my brakes because A) it is simple and B) it is perfectly bled everytime. I use a old mechanical hand crank fuel pump from my Radio Controlled airplane days to pump brake fluid up the blead valve and into the reservoir. I made sure to add oil to the engine (can’t forget that) I also hooked up the ignition leads and torqued the prop down temporarily since I still have to put the cowling on. I ran up the engine for about 10 minutes. I took some time to taxi around to see if the gear felt an different. No real difference slow taxiing around but I wasn’t expecting much at slow speeds. I shut down and played a real game of hot potato with the spark plugs. I took the comression of the cylinders and every last one of them was 79/80 PSI. As I would expect from a 61 hour TT motor.
Oh and here is a photo of the safety wire securing of the brake lines.

Time spent today 6 hours


Exhaust Channel Fairings, Brake lines, and Engine Compressions

May 30, 2008

Today, I had the whole day to work on the plane due to a glorious CWS day. Compressed work schedule for those who don’t know. At my job we work 4 – 9hour days and 1-8hour day followed by 4 – 9 hour days and Friday off. Pretty much the only schedule better is 4 – 10 hour days and every weekend is a 3 day weekend. Anyway, I started off using the shear and brake to make my cuts and bends of my exhaust channel fairing. Turns out it fit pretty darn good. I back drilled the existing wholes and drilled and installed two new nut plates on the firewall side of the fairing. I fabricated the other side just like I did the first. Don’t ask about the extra holes, Idiot me started installing the nut plates with the fairing in place good thing I caught myself before I riveted the firing the fire wall. The corner is not perfect so I will probably just fill in the corner with RTV and call it a day. I shortened the left side brake Aeroquip line just like I did the right all is well.

I completed my engine compression check. I usually do this cold to see if it will pass so that I don’t play the hot potato game with spark plugs when it is hot. The #1, #3, and #4 all came back excellent but #3 came back a little low. when I mean low it was 68/80 PSI when the rest are sporting 75 and above. So I decided I would do the compression checks with engine warm. Sound like a great Idea until this Idea get stomped all over by the fact that I don’t have my brakes installed. So there is the next logical step. I need to to route my brakes lines. I started off by flaring one side. of the tube (don’t forget to install the nut and the collar first!) I then started making the bends in the lines. Vans says you can route the line on the front or the back of the gear leg. I chose the back side of the gear leg. Anyway I routed both lines and secured them using electrical tape and a nylon tubing placed strategically in four places. My mechanic came by to see the progress and came up with safety wiring them to the gear leg. And finally she sees the light of day well at least dusk anyway.

Time spent 9 hours


Brake Flanges, On the Gear, and Mounting the Engine

May 21, 2008

Loads of progress today. I started off by installing the wheel fairing inside bracket permanently. I had to make a set of 3 stand offs out of the provided 6061 T6 seamless tube that Vans provided in the wheel fairing kit I bought a while ago. I first installed the wheel and used a piece of 1/16″ aluminum I had to set the gap between the wheel fairing bracket and the brake rotor. I marked the outside edge of the wheel fairing bracket on the brake flange. I then removed the brake flange and measured the distance, and cut the spacer/standoff to fit. Once i reinstalled the wheel the gap was a little tighter then I wanted. Vans plans say any where between 1/32″ and “.093” is acceptable. I shimmed my bracket using AN960-428L washers (these are the thin AN960 washers). I then repeated it on the other side. Below are pictures of the finished product.

I wanted to get the plane back on its wheels tonight, but I was worried I would have to do more work on the wheels. Any work on the wheels is very easy with it on the stand. I need a way to Jack up the plane in the future to do wheel maintenence ect. My old method was to insert a 3/4 Natural gas iron pipe into the axle and jack it up using a floor jack. Well my 3/4 iron pipe was too big for this axle. I went to Lowes Aerospace (this is a joke for those outside the country, Lowes is Hardware store) and bought a 12″ Long 1/2 iron pipe. This fit nicely. Now all I need to modify my axle nut so that I can remove the nut plate and insert the pipe. This will entail using a hole saw and cutting a 1″ diameter hole in the nut. There is a good explaination on this RV7 website. http://www.rvproject.com/20030411.html The only difference is is I will be using a $2.30 pipe and a floor jack I already have instead of $40 plus shipping jack kit bracket from Avery Tools and then using a bottle jack in my Jeep. www.averytools.com

Any way I have digressed. The important part is that I am able to jack up my aircraft while it is on its wheels so that was the last item before dropping it off the stand. I picked up the plane the same way I picked it up to put it on the stand. Right from the engine mount, but this time I didn’t want to hurt the power coating so I wrapped the chain with some of my old shop rags for padding. At last she was finally supporting her own weight.

The next logical thing was to mount the engine. At this point it was around 2300 and getting late once again. Me being the usual obsessive person wanted to get the engine back on the plane. Milestones folks …milestones chop chop. So getting an engine on a dynafocal engine mount is a pain in the ass on the best days. because of the angles of the engine mount you have to have the engine almost in the exact location in order to get the bolts in. It sucks but the best way is to get one bolt partly installed with a nut at a time while moving the engine the best you can to get the other in. That sounds easy but its not. Once you get 3 in the 4th is usually ok but it is still a pain.

And the engine is mounted…Yes folks I got by engine mount back on Tuesday After noon and this is Wednesday Night and my plane is back on its feet and engine mounted, now that is some progress.

Time spent today 5.5 hours total time spent on the mod 58 hours


Installing the Engine mount and Gear

May 20, 2008

Great New today! I got my engine mount and landing gear back from the powder coating place. Some pictures before I installed them.

I got right to work getting the hardware in place to mount the engine mount. I just about had it installed when I realized I hadn’t notched out my fire wall to accommodate the pinch bolt nut. So I took it all apart to get the angle grinder in there to cut the notch. Once that was all done I started installing the engine mount again. I had ordered new bolts for the engine mount again because of the welding and multiple installs had trashed my other bolts. Plus the lower mount bosses were lengthened 0.5″ so I ordered a 0.5″ longer bolt so I thought. It turns out my bolt is about 0.5″ to long. So instead of tossing the bolt and waiting for a new bolt I just added a bunch of washers. Which is not Ideal but no big deal either. Once I got the engine mount installed I started installing the gear legs so that I could orient the brake flanges that still need to be drilled. I marked both gear legs and used a drill press again like I did when I drilled the top of the gear leg to the socket. Once again X bits are awesome. I used and 1/8″ X bit followed buy a 1/4″ X bit followed by a 1/4″ piloted to 5/16 quad fluted drill/reamer. Beautiful holes. As long as you use some cutting oil these bits will eat the gear leg 6150 tempered steel like a fat kid would a cup cake. I installed the brake flange AN5 bolt and AN364 nut remember the short bolt because of the very little room in there. I re-installed the gear legs and installed the top bolts and cinched down the pinch bolt at the the bottom. I installed the wheels just to see how the wheel fairing bracket is going to fit. I also temporarily installed the brake caliper and the axle nut to also see how every thing was going to fit. So far so good. Below are some pictures of the installation. Yes I worked from 1900 – 0130 Tonight…yes on a Tuesday night.

Time spent 6.5 hours Total time spent on the mod 52.5 hours.


Sandblasting the Engine mount

May 7, 2008

Today I was annoyed by the fact that they powder coater wanted a 1.5 weeks to get my engine mount and legs powerder coated.  Most of this time was because he need to sand blast them.  So I asked if I sandblasted them would it take less time and he said only a few days.  So anyhow I decided to sand blast them my self.  I got most of it done but ran out of sand in the in end so they will need to be cleaned up but it won’t take them long.

Time spent 1 hour total time spent on the mod 46 hours.