Picked Up Prop and Governor

I lucked out on the purchase of a propeller earlier this month.  Early last year, a number of builders organized a group buy through American Propeller Service for the Whirl Wind Aviation 200RV propellers.  I missed out on the group buy because it happened right around the time I started on the kit and I wasn’t looking for a prop yet.  Luckily another builder had a $1,000 deposit in this group buy that he needed to sell.  By the time that I saw his email though, at least four people had responded that they’d take it.  I sent him an email and offered him $1,500 for his deposit, and that was enough to put me at the top of the list.  I sent him the money and he transferred the slot to me.

I paid for the rest of the prop and ordered a PCU5000 governor at the same time.  Since American Propeller Service is based in Redding, CA and I’m in San Jose, CA, I decided to fly our Cardinal up to get the prop.  I got up at 4:50 and was wheels up by 6:50.

Here’s a shot of the north bay with the mothball fleet visible near the center of the picture and Napa, CA just beyond.

I got a tour of the propeller shop as well as the engine shop where we had our Cardinal’s cylinders overhauled last year.  They have a great shop and really do outstanding quality service.  If you need a prop, give Kevin Russell a call there and tell him I sent you.

Afterward, I loaded the prop, spinner and governor into the back of the plane and headed home.

Redding, CA is just south of Mt. Shasta, and it’s visible on a clear day for 100 miles in any direction.

The flight up was into heavy headwinds, so the 192nm flight took nearly 2 hours.  The return flight was quick though with 150+kt ground speeds for most of the flight and 170+kt ground speeds as I started a shallow descent out near the Travis Air Force Base.

Here’s a shot of one of the blades.  The 200RV is a hollow carbon fiber blade with a nickel leading edge erosion shield.

Here’s the tip of the blade using my hand as a reference so you can see just how short the chord is at the tip.

Here’s a shot of the widest part of the blade with my hand as a reference.

The Whirl Wind propellers all come with a spinner that is ready to bolt on.  With any other prop, I’d have to fit the Van’s spinner myself.

Here’s the aft mounting plate for the spinner.  The entire spinner is made of carbon fiber, so I should never have to worry about this cracking.

Here’s the governor that I picked up.  This will bolt on to the back of the engine and regulates oil pressure to the prop to vary blade pitch.

Fit Right Main Gear Leg

I fit the right main gear leg tonight and packed the right wheel bearings.  The tailwheel spring has not been installed yet, so the tail is still sitting on a sawhorse.  The plane is only a few inches taller than it was when the entire fuselage was on sawhorses since I intentionally set them high because of how tall I am.  Access to the inside while leaning over the longerons is still totally fine.  The plane is also much more stable this way.  Although the sawhorses were steel, the legs could move back and forth slightly, so this is a definite improvement.

Fit Left Main Gear Leg

I fit the brake flanges to the gear legs.  It was only after I took this picture that I realized the bolt had to come back out to fit the caliper mounting bracket.  This required reaming the holes in the mounting brackets (which were slightly undersize) out to 1/4″ for the 1/4-20 socket head bolts.  I have no idea why these aren’t standard AN hardware.  In fact, the nut looks like something you’d find at the hardware store, but this is what Van’s specifies.

I reamed the caliper holes out with my 1/4″ chucking reamer for the AN4 bolts that hold the caliper mounting bracket to the brake bracket and attached in with some AN4-6A bolts.  I would have used AN4-5A bolts except that I didn’t have any.  The plans specify AN4-11A bolts because these also go through some spacers and the wheel pant mounting bracket.  I’ll do the phase 1 flights without that bracket installed though since it’s prone to cracking without the wheel pant in place, so this will probably be how this stays all the way to first flight.

I lubricated the gear leg with some AeroShell 33MS grease (the only grease I’m using for the entire airplane), and slipped it into place.

I installed the AN5-21A bolts ad torqued them down.  AN5-20A would have been better since I had to use two washers, but I don’t have any.

Finally, I repacked the wheel bearings with fresh AeroShell 33MS grease and mounted the wheel and brake caliper.  Nothing’s been final torqued at this point.

Finished Finish Kit Inventory

No pictures tonight, but I finished the finish kit inventory and sorted all of the hardware into my storage bins.  No missing items fortunately, and just one backordered item (gear leg fairings).  I got most of the large pieces put away, but I’m still looking for a place to store the canopy until I’m ready for it.  Jenn’s not liking my idea of storing it in our daughter’s room or on our guest bed.

Fit Engine Mount and Main Gear

Andre stopped by today and helped me fit the engine mount and main gear.  I used a couple of long Bessey clamps to clamp from the vertical side tubes of the mount to the center section.  I then used a dead blow mallet to adjust the mount until it was evenly spaced all around, then tightened the clamps to prevent the mount from moving.  I used a 3/8″ drill bit and drilled the holes in the firewall.  There are six holes in total, and all pass through beefy structure on the backside of the firewall to transmit the engine loads into the rest of the airframe.

Here is the engine mount all drilled with four of the bolts installed temporarily.  Now that the mount is in place, I marked where the gear legs will interfere with the lower firewall flange.  I used a carbide burr in my die grinder and removed the material that was visible through the landing gear tube.

I slipped the landing gear in the mount and with a little muscling, I got them all the way in so that I could slip an AN5 bolt part way into the hole at the top.  The gear legs have bearing surfaces inside that only touch the engine mount at the top of bottom of the outer tube.  There is a single bolt at the top of the tube that holds the gear legs on.  It doesn’t seem like much, but I’ve never heard of one of these failing, so it must be plenty strong.

The flanges for the two center holes in the engine mount don’t touch the firewall.  This is a pretty common problem since the engine mount can distort slightly during welding.  The fix is simple and requires fabricating little spacers so that the bolts can be tightened without flexing the mount.  These are pretty thin (0.016″ and 0.032″).  I took the mount off, deburred the holes and cleaned up the shavings.  I reinstalled the mount with the proper hardware, but then realized that I don’t have an appropriate torque wrench for these bolts.  These need to be tightened to 160-190 in-lbs, but my smaller torque wrench only goes to 150 in-lbs and my bigger one starts at 20 ft-lbs (240 in-lbs).  I’ll probably use an extension on my smaller torque wrench instead of buying an intermediate torque wrench since these are the only AN6 bolts on the airplane.  My current torque wrenches can torque AN5 (and smaller) as well as AN7 (and larger) bolts.

Finish Kit Arrived

My finish kit arrived today!  It came via FedEx freight in two days from Van’s.  I took a few pictures to document some minor crate damage in case there was any damage to the contents.

Here was one minor puncture.  Although small, it would have taken a pretty good hit to break through the plywood like this.

The top on the other end had separated from the side, but the metal strapping and some screws had prevented it from opening very much.

When I opened the end with the impact damage, I could see that one of the reinforcing pieces had pulled away from the side.

Once I got the top off, the first thing you see is the canopy and the aft edges of the cowling.  Nothing looks like it moved in transit.

My buddy Andre stopped by and helped me inventory most of the kit and get the crate out of the garage.  Here is the canopy with the engine mount and gear legs under it.  I was surprised at just how light the engine mount is and just how heavy the gear legs are.  The engine mount is constructed of relatively thin walled steel tubing, but the gear legs are roughly 1″ diameter solid steel bars.

Here is the cowling with the two halves roughly fit together.  There will be a lot of work to make these fit together nicely.

Finished Seat Pans, Fired Up Dynon SkyView

I finished installing the aft seat pans.  These aren’t primed like the baggage floors because these will get painted with a paint that matches the carpet color since part of these may be seen around the edges of the carpet.

I got my Dynon SkyView 10″ screen and associated extras (ADAHRS, backup battery, EMS and probes, GPS antenna, etc.).  I hooked up the appropriate power and ground pins in the D-Sub 37 pin connector as well as the ADAHRS and backup battery, and powered it on.  After a quick configuration, I had the attitude display up and running.  There is no synthetic vision yet because the GPS isn’t hooked up so it doesn’t have a position fix, but it was cool to play around with moving the ADAHRS and watching the display change.  The screen refresh rate is quite high, so the movement is very fluid.

Finished Baggage Floor, Started Aft Seat Pans

I finished the baggage floors by installing the rivets and nutplates along the back edge and along the center tunnel.

Next, I cleaned between the seat ribs and clecoed on the aft seat pans.  Immediately I ran into an interference issue.  Some of the shop heads for the rivets that hold on the hinges are bumping into the flanges of the seat ribs.  I had to relieve the flanges a little bit in a few spots to get the holes in alignment.  I got all of the right seat pan riveted (on the left in this picture) except for the aft edge.  I spent the last two hours bent over the longerons doing all of this.  My back and hands are aching.

Heater Box, Vent Line, Baggage Floors

The stainless steel attachment hardware showed up from Aircraft Spruce today, to I gooped up the back of the heater box with the 2000ºF fire block sealant that came with this and bolted it to the firewall.  I probably spent more time cleaning off the excess that oozed out of the joint than I did actually attaching it.I have no doubts that it’s well sealed though.

Here is a shot on the inside.  The specified AN3C-4A bolts were a little long, so I had to stack up a couple of extra washers to be able to tighten them properly.  AN3C-3A bolts would have been perfect.  The stop nuts are MS21046C3.  I originally thought they sent me the wrong nuts because these looked like aluminum.  It turns out that these are silver plated.

I used the right vent line as a template and knocked the left line out in about 20 minutes.  I’ll probably wait until the subpanel is riveted in for good before installing these permanently.

Before installing the baggage and seat floors for good, I needed to take care of one last tasks that would be impossible once they’re riveted on.  I have two conduit runs under these floors that pass through the F-705 and F-706 bulkheads.  Vibration can cause the aluminum to cut through the conduit over time, so I used some E6000 adhesive to secure the conduit to the bulkheads.  This will prevent any relative motion that could damage the conduit.

Finally, I put the baggage floors on for good and pulled all of the blind rivets.  I really wish I had bought a pneumatic rivet puller; my hand is killing me.  If you’re just getting started, do yourself a favor and spend the $35 to pick up one from Harbor Freight.

I still have to install the nutplates along the back and center tunnel, but I’m beat.

More Random Fuselage Tasks

I bolted the fuselage gussets to the side walls and final torqued everything.

My buddy Andre stopped by and we knocked out a bunch of riveting including this doubler for the contactors.

We also riveted this doubler for the parking brake valve.

I wanted to rivet the firewall recess in place while I had his help.  Before that could be done though, the rudder pedal brace had to be riveted to the firewall stiffener.  All of these rivets could be reached with the squeezer.

Here is the firewall recess riveted into place with firewall sealant under the flange.  Be sure you include the stiffener on the bottom edge of this hole.

Now that the doubler was in place, the contactors could be bolted to the firewall.

The battery box can also be bolted to the firewall and the battery installed.  I primed and painted the holddown components with flat black paint to match the powder coating.

I spent about 45 minutes tonight fabricating the fuel vent line for the right fuel tank.  It is a pain to get all the bends in the right place and my hands are killing me since this requires a lot of hand bending.  I’ll take care of the other one tomorrow.

Here is the most complex part of the line.  It has to curve around one of the skin stiffeners and then back the other way to go around the rudder cable.  You want to provide a little clearance here so that the parts don’t rub with vibration.