Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Reposition RV-12 in Wales with the help of an Airbus Pilot

Long day yesterday but a very worthwhile one it was time to move my RV-12 from Manchester to my parents house in Wales something I have been dreading as its a long way from Manchester and I didn’t want to damage anything in the move..... I needn’t have worried.

Got up at 6:15am and headed over to Ashton to collect my friend Rob who was to assist with the move to Wales. He’s back in the UK right now from Dohar in Qatar to get married so he’d offered to help with the move and drive the lorry as he’s an ex HGV driver turned Airbus Pilot for Qatar Airways!

After collecting the lorry we arrived back at mine around 8:30am and had a quick brew then started to pack the truck up which went well with Rob suggesting we put the wing stand on bricks to stop it moving around then tie it into the side of the truck, it wasn’t going anywhere. After that the tail cone and other finished parts went onboard along with the fuselage kit and off we went for the 2 hour 30 minute journey to my folks place in Wales.

Without the aid of his Airbus FMC (flight management computer) Rob predicted our arrival time within 8 minutes of his original estimate which was rather impressive. A quick off load and then to decide how best to store the wings, tailcone, flaperons and horizontal stabilizer outside......? Wings on the stand, tail cone on pallets and other bits carefully placed around these pieces. I have to say Rob was brilliant at this having worked in general haulage for many years he looked at the problem and had it solved and securely wrapped in around an hour. After the unload it was time to head back to Manchester for the workshop benches and tools and this time we brought my Dad back as extra help.

On arrival back in Manchester another cup of tea was required then outside in the rain to load the workshop up before returning to a very damp Wales to unload in the dark. After the unload it was time for tea and then back to Manchester to return the lorry and drop Rob off at home, after being up for 20 hours the airplane move was completed safely and I guess at some in the future I’ll be moving it again once I get another job but for now it lives on a mountain side in Wales.

Plenty of photos online at in the general photo section.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Lovely Pair

Busy day in the garage today with the sole aim of finishing the flaperons and I'm pleased to report I managed it.

The wing kit has taken me 162 hours and 55 minutes to finish and brings the total build time so far to around 285 hours. My next challenge is to move the completed wings, empennage and associated parts to my folks house in Wales which I will do next Tuesday with the help of friends and a rather large lorry as at 15 feet+ plus long for each wing won't fit in your average transit van! Once settled in my temporary home I'll crack on with the fuselage kit and hopefully my Dad will be on hand to help as well which means thinks should move along a little quicker. Nigel my LAA inspector has also agreed to continue on the project as well which I’m pleased about as I hope I’ve gained his trust and he seems happy with the quality of my workmanship.

I will also start studying for the ATPL exams properly after the move as I've invested in Module 1 of a course from Bristol Groundschool and I aim to split my time between the two things whilst job huntint, so plenty to go at over the next few months.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Little and Often

Interesting day for me as I’m sat at hope waiting for a courier to arrive and deliver my latest wine order (which is nice) and another to arrive with my first module for the ATPL exams!!! Been considering starting to study for them since gaining my PPL and with the IMC rating in the bag and the build moving along I decided that’s what I must do next, plus the fact I don’t have any work beyond the end of October I need to have something positive to do each day and a reason to get out of bed each morning.

I’m also hoping to move the aeroplane in the next couple of weeks as I leave this house mid November so its needs to go to its new home...... Still not 100% where that is mind you as a phone call and job offer will change everything last minute - All very exciting and at times quite annoying!!

Managed a couple of hours on the build today and now have the flaperons half skinned and ready for inspection by Nigel my LAA Inspector so hopefully he’ll be over tomorrow or Thursday then it’s finish skinning them, then get them and the wings finally inspected in the daylight and I’ve done as much as I can before the move. My aim was to have the wing kit finished before the move and then its on to the fuselage which is sitting in my garage right now and I have a dilemma do I order the finish kit when I start that or hold off until the work situation is resolved? I always wanted to keep the plane to myself but grouping it may be the only way to fund the continuation of the project......... Some serious chats with my money man once everything settles down in a few weeks.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Drilling, tempoary fitting and deburring

Quick hour and 40 minutes on the build and marked the start of construction of the flaperons after all the preparation. I was a bit rusty using the squeezer on the solid rivets but all went well and I now have all the actuation brackets match drilled and ready to be attached properly.

I aim to have the flaperons completed in the next couple of weeks as the clock is ticking for my move away from Manchester and it would be great to get the flaperons and wings finally inspected and signed off by Nigel my LAA inspector before I leave then I have to find a new guy to take over the inspection process.

It’s been a busy week having driven over 600 miles in just over 24 hours this week as I had an interview on the south coast earlier this week but have nothing to report on the work front currently and I’m also considering life after radio as it seems likely that finding a decent radio job in the current climate might prove difficult. I also managed to fly yesterday with my Dad in my group C172 for the first time since its accident along with my friend John in a Eurostar, to say it was a little hazy would have been an understatement but an enjoyable and challenging time had by all and my new IMC skills came in handy as we climbed through cloud and the visibility dropped at times to around 3km especially heading into the sun.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

I was in work this morning at 5.30am and home again at 10:15am although I have to head back in for 10pm tonight..... Lucky me but its the last month of my contract so have to make the most of it.

After the standard bacon and brown sauce sandwich on a Sunday I ventured out in the heavy rain and decided to do an hour or so in the workshop. 3 hours later I decided I’d done enough for today. More flaperon prep and drilling of the counter weights something I don’t think was explained that well in the RV-12 plans so decided to take a few pictures to help fellow builders that you can now see on my website as I always find it good to look at a picture or two before taking on a new task.

All the holes are now drilled apart from the flaperon connection brackets and actuation brackets as these will be done once primed and I’m confident everything will rivet together nicely when the time comes. So next job is to de-grease everything and then prime it all, I can feel a trip to Brown Brothers coming on as stocks are low on a few things so probably best to restock before I leave Manchester in Mid November and who knows where I’ll end up then?

On a more positive note my IMC training is going well and I think with a few more lessons I should be ready for test and safe to say learning to fly under IMC conditons is the hardest thing I’ve done to date in flying.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Flaperon Actutation Brackets - Done

Took advantage of a called off IMC lesson today to work on the flaperon actuation brackets...... Or should I say make them from aluminum stock!

In total about four hours work to make both brackets and I’m as confident as I can be that I’ve done a decent job, all the measurements where checked and double check so they just need priming then I can fit them. Doing these was one of the jobs I feared as I heard lots of other builders having a few issues so I read up, read up some more and then proceeded with caution.

One tricky thing was drilling the hole in the bracket as it called for a 03/16 drill that I didn’t have or at least that’s what I thought, a quick trip to the local diy shop revealed a 03/16 drill is a No.8 or 5mm in new money which I already had so a couple of quid saved on this step.

Monday, 20 September 2010

A Couple Of Hours Outside Turned Into Four

Today I decided to go out to the garage and work on preparing the remaining 4 flaperon skins which went well and now they are all ready to prime so progress made. I also decided to tackle preparing the flaperon pivot brackets and the actuation brackets from raw aluminum - Pivot brackets went well still researching the best method to do the actuation brakcets....... Don't wanna get them wrong as I've given USP and Vans enough money for replacement parts!!

Used the drill press today in anger for the first time and pleased with how it performed and held everything in place whilst I drilled out the holes prior to threading them, amazing how having the right tools makes things go better. My birthday comes up next month so will probably ask for some cash towards a band saw, bit of a luxury I know but a good addition to the workshop all the same.

I reckon today might be my only chance to get on with the build this week as I have flying lessons twice this week IMC test prep hopefully if I fly the ILS well and I have time away lined up this coming weekend, plus need to invest time trying to find another job as that's not really happening right now!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Few Weeks Off Now Back Into The Build

After about 3 weeks off from the build I ventured back out into the garage today and started work on the flaperons and after 3 odd hours I have all but the flaperon skins prepared for primer so that's the next job before making the tie downs and flaperon brackets.... Which looks like a good challenge.

Before I took a break I managed to finish my 2nd wing with a fair amount of help from my Dad and both wings now have pride of place outside next door to the shed..... No idea what next door think but I'm happy to have got this far. Total time on the build to date is in the region of 260 hours or maybe if I'm lucky around a quarter of the way through. I didn't really update the blog for the 2nd wing as it's pretty much the same process as the first wing although I have placed some pictures on my website

Please don't think I've been relaxing too much over the past few weeks, yes I went to Belgium for the Grand Prix which was amazing, stayed with mates for a few days, I also passed my IMC rating written exam (flying test coming soon), got a months contract extension at work and also passed my Class 1 Medical at the CAA Offices at Gatwick Airport so now considering starting to study for the ATPL exams once I finish work and have a better idea of where home / work will be?

If I manage to get another job in radio well the next house will have to have a garage and some space to store stuff so I can continue the build, if I don't manage to get a job straight away then I will move in with my folks for a couple of months and they have plenty of space and I have a feeling my Dad will be itching to assist with the build as he was a huge help doing the 2nd wing skins.

Fingers crossed the Cessna 172 - Victor Alpha I have a share in will go back in the sky in the next week after a 4 month lay off due to some prop damage, then I can go flying without going under the hood as all the flying I've done recently has been in a student / instructor environment and I miss not being able to see where I am going and I hope the new skills I have will benefit my day to day flying.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Left wing finished today

Good productive day and managed to close out the lower left wing tip that means my first wing is finished and stored outside in the wing stand. I need to wrap the wing a little better for long term external storage but I'm very happy to have got this far in 98 hours and 05 minutes or 69 days working on the first wing, although I haven't worked non stop as the whole process is supposed to be fun and not a race.

Clearly I have to decide if I have time to build the right wing as I maybe moving house in October depending on the work situation or lack of work situation..... I imagine the right wing build will be a lot quicker as I have most of the metal primed bar 7 replacement ribs and the skins plus I don't intend to make the mistakes I made on the first wing which led to a fair amount of repair work. I also have to consider my IMC training as that is taking up a fair amount of time and I know need to study for the ground exam but I will have a good think and decide what's possible.

One of the largest challenges of the wing build was bending the wing tip tabs to the correct angles but with a little effort and dinning room table as a flat work surface the whole process went well, very much a case of take you time and do it right. I'm learning the hard way that mistakes cost money so the less made the better!!

Tomorrow I intend to tidy the workshop some more before preparing the replacement ribs and getting the remaining skins out of there crate and blowing some primer on them. I'll probably have to buy some more JC5A as I have about a third of the first tube left (remember I'm dipping every pop rivet in the stuff around 4,000-5,000 to date) and I'll also be into my 2nd 5 litre can of primer soon.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Busy Day

Busy day in the workshop after pretty much a week off due to flying training for my IMC Rating and fair to say my last lesson this week on Thursday it all kinda made sense although it took it out of me some what!

I went out to the workshop around 11:30am and came back in around 7pm after a small break for the F1 Qualifying this afternoon. Main job today was to fit the top rear wing skins to the left wing and pleased to report I managed to get them all secure by close of play and I also managed to use up another box of 1,000 pop rivets - I have no idea how many rivets are in each wing apart from a lot!!

I also managed to cleco all leading edge skins down today and hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to rivet these and the wing walk doubler then its time to build the wing tip and the left wing will be finished and my prediction is the first wing will take around 100 hours and the second one maybe 50-60 hours as I won't be making mistakes that need undoing taking up lots time, plus the bulk of the metal prep is done for the right wing.

My spare parts have arrived from America (7 rear ribs) and they will arrive next week so I have everything that is required for the right wing hopefully with just 7 rear ribs to debur, flute and prime before I can start building it up. I also have 2 thumb sized dents on the leading edge of the left wing skins which I believe will fill nicely and will decide later if its something I can do or wait until it goes into to be painting sometime in the future.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Look What I've Made!

A busy weekend preparing the lower left skins and they are now all riveted so the next step is to have the wing inspected which will happen tomorrow when Nigel comes over to have a look and hopefully he'll like what he sees.

So I've spent just over 80 hours preparing this wing but have a feeling the right one will move along a little quicker especially as I won't have to remove the rear ribs on the right wing as I had to on this one as the parts are handed and hard to tell apart or at least that's what I've found so 7 needed replacing as I'd trimmed the rear flange off them and that's required on the plans so they had to be replaced with fresh ones, so if anyone fancies some fully prepared rear left ribs let me know and we'll do a deal.

If all goes well with the inspection then I'll build the right wing and then stop the build until I'm sure where I'm going to be living longer term with the impending job change / lack of contract!! Although I'm not even a third of the way through the build I'm already thinking how the aeroplane will look when finished and have already indentified some areas that need some tlc, the odd dent and scratch etc that will need filling before final paint - More skills to learn

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Little Job Takes A Long Time

Started building the stall warner today and what looked like a pretty straight forward job took 4 hours to do! The Chapter 16 plans listed washers that didn't match the part numbers I was using so a quick search of the Vans Airforce Forum pointed me in the right direction, the plans also call to use 14 washers but the picture uses 16 so I built it to the picture spec and it seems OK.

I fitted the stall warner to the correct rib and then fitted the lower skin to make sure the stall warner worked and it did after three attempts!! It was then a case of running the cables to the terminal block at the fuselage end of the wing and then make the connections and after that it still worked to my surprise. After that I ran a nice bright orange nylon string to the wing tip for the optional navigation / landing light kit which I have decided not to fit as we rarely use the landing light on Victor Alpha and night flights aren't allowed in the UK on permit aircraft so I decided to save the money, but if the build mood takes me in a few years I'll be able to fit them without too many issues.

Next job is to fit the lower wing skins and get Nigel my LAA inspector over to give everything the once over after they have been riveted. It's a good job my mate Steve is staying at the moment as I need to flip the wing over to do this, its not a one man job unless you have 15ft arms.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Tough Week But Progress Made

Safe to say I've had an interesting week starting last Monday when I had a meeting with my boss who confirmed what I'd suspected for a while my contract will not be renewed at the end of September which means 3 more months money and then nothing unless I get a new job in the mean time. Like most industries right now radio is a difficult place to find work and if I can't I will consider doing something else whilst throwing myself into the build until parts and funds run out.

OMC training is proving to be bl..dy hard work and I wonder if I'll ever get the hang of it but did some training on Friday in Echo Alpha the glass cockpit 172 and Mike Delta the clockwork PA28 on Saturday and felt more at home in the PA28 but have decided to continue in the 172 as understanding flying in IMC on a glass cockpit is an important skill to learn for when the RV-12 arrives.

On a more positive note I've done a lot of work on the left wing and this coming week I'll be fitting the electronic stall warner and the lower wing skins before inviting my inspector Nigel over to have a look at the wing work so far before hopefully getting the OK to seal the left wing up and place it in the stand outside and hopefully if time allows and by that I mean weeks before I may have to leave this house I will finish the right wing as I figure it will be easier to transport completed parts rather than semi completed parts. I guess if I do end up moving house then the fuselage will have to wait until I'm established in my new location.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Your gonna need a BIGGER drill

After a day of small disappoints, missing out on an IMC lesson as no instructor was booked and as a result missing a road trip to Aero Expo after missing out on flying down yesterday as Victor Alpha is still grounded I decided to do something positive and watch the F1 Qualifying from Valencia and then head out side for 5 hours working on the build.

It felt good to get the rivet gun back in my hand after spending a fair amount of time working out that the wing spar on my bench was actually the left wing spar and not the right one!! The only way I could turn the spar the make it fit the garage best was to walk the spar out on to the main road and walk it back in the other way - I suspect the people who live nearby think I'm a bit mad. I also managed to store the wing skins in a way that frees up a lot of space in the garage - Amazing what you can achieve with a roll of gaffa tape.

One of the scariest things I've done so far was drilling and taping the wing tie downs as I've not done anything like this since school so the pressure was on to get it right first time as the spar is no doubt an expensive part and I took some friends advice about using cutting fluid to make the tools work better. I also added the additional rivets to the spar as called out in vans plans and put JC5A on all of the pop rivets as I heard a tale of a £150,000 80% kit Spitfire that has corrosion on a lot of the rivets so don't want to take any chances with my aeroplane.

Sunday is predicted to be the hottest day of the year so far and I aim to put in some more time on my build in between the Grand Prix and England playing Germany in the World Cup. So far this week done almost 15 hours on the build so can't complain with that level of progress.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Another Big Build Firday

Another big day working on the build and it started with the remaining left wing skin prep deburring the edges and dealing with a small dent in one of the skins! Not sure I did this but its only minor and will be under the left wing so I can live with it and to be honest once I put some primer on the inside skin it wasn't quite as visible. I also created my first AD470 rivet with a smiley face!

After the wing skins were sorted it was time to rivet up four flaperon brackets, two flaperon hinges (which I did twice cause I wasn't happy with them) and rivet various other parts to each other - Plenty of photos on my website

Tomorrow I will start the wing build proper after my IMC lesson bringing the left spar up on to the work bench all 15ft of it! Then's it's time to attach the various ribs, stall warner and finally the wing skins themselves. I also need to finish the wing stand and get my fireman's hose from John my flying instructor to do this as the wings will have to live outside until final assembly as space if limited in the workshop although once the fuselage is together I might be able to find some room inside. I'm also considering what kit next if all goes to plan and think finish kit is next followed by engine and lastly avionics as I'd like to take advantage of the latest offerings from Vans.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Lots of Ribs but no BBQ Sauce!

I've not updated much recently as I am doing the same process everyday preparing the front and rear ribs for the wings - 54 in total and I've got my fluting skills nicely sorted now (same I'll have no more to do for the moment) and the debur process has gone pretty well quickly on these ribs when I started using my dremel type tool with sandpaper wheel attached - OK I've used a good amount of wheels (1 wheel to 2 ribs) but cost £2 for ten from Amazon so in the grand scheme of things not the most costly piece of equipment in the build but a handy one all the same and a great time saver.

I've 12 out of the rear 13 right ribs to debur next and then it's stall warner prep before looking at the wing skins although I have 2 repair jobs to do from the empennage build so will tackle these at the same time as the wing skins as they will need primer.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Wing stand, imc lesson, prop strike and rib prep

Busy weekend with my sister, brother in law and the the kids coming up from down south so decided to put the brother in law to good use helping build the wing stand and we did a great job using pre-sawn timber and bits of old packing cases for the corner pieces. I reckon just short of 200 screws secure this item and it's since been treated with a fence treatment as it will have to live outside due to space issues. I've also got a fireman friend sourcing an old hose to use as straps as I think carpet would rot in time. Fair to say it can take some weight with Mike and Oliver on top of it.

On Saturday I had an IMC lesson in the haze doing recovery's from unusual attitudes 60 degree angle of bank with high nose or low nose and now have Power - Roll - Pitch in my head as a recovery technique. I also need to stop looking at the turn and slip indicator on the G1000 as its misleading, so that's my homework to get that out of my head. I was much happier with flying Echo Alpha this weekend than the first time as it's a C172SP with glass cockpit which is rather different to the 40+ year old C172 Victor Alpha I have a share in.

Back at Barton I had a message to say VA was grounded as a fellow group member had left the nose wheel hitch on during start up and it hit the prop so an investigation is required by the engineers on Monday.

Sunday meant finishing the fluting on the left hand front ribs and starting working on the right ribs trimming the flanges etc. I found the dremel type drill with a sanding wheel great for deburring the lightning holes and the rest was done with hand files and scotchbrite.

I had one slight problem as the aluminum split cutting off the rear flange on one rib so a repair was approved by Nigel my LAA inspector basically I used a round file to stop the crack growing and I discovered its not best to use the tips of the snips to cut, a nice smooth action does the job well.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

June is here and rib prep has begun

I started to prepare the wing ribs yesterday and discovered its going to take a fair amount of work to get them all done as left and right front ribs number 14 each with different processes to be done on various ribs so I'm keep track of my stock as I go, then the rear ribs need to be done again with different processes on different ribs required. Fluting (straightening) of the wing ribs is proving tricky as they have a machine press bend in them that will only come out when they have been rivetted in place but once again I'm happy with my efforts and will troubleshoot later if required.

From experience gained so far I'm going to do all of the metal prep before constructing the wings proper as space is limited and building is more fun that prep if I'm honest. I'm not sure if I should prime the wing skins before building up the wings proper but I guess I'll have a better idea once all the ribs are prepared for priming.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Building the wings

Back into the build proper today and started on the wing kit with some pretty serious counter sinking just short of 160, 120 degree counter sinks done this afternoon and the dimensions are as per the plans so I'm happy. More counter sinking tomorrow and then it'll be on to wing rib prep and there are a lot of those to do and various versions to make.

Yesterday brought some cutting fluid for doing 4 big taps on the main wing spars and a small spray gun which wasn't really required if I'm honest but will be handy for touch up work / small areas as and when.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Wings & Fuselage Parts Sorted

A week after my fuselage and wing kits arrived in Manchester Mum and Dad came over to help sort the contents of the crates and hopefully help me find some more space for the build.

Unpacking went well with only a couple of washers missing and 2 damaged wing ribs which Vans had issued an alert on (picture above) so these will be replaced by them and I will also order a few replacement parts I need the biggest of which is a skin for one of the anti servo tabs as I dropped it whilst building and it has some ripples in that will drive me mad once the aeroplane is finished and painted so for the sake of $22 I will replace and rebuild this part and make it 100% again. I've also had to store the wing skins outside as I've run out of space in the garage so will be covering the crate top with felt to keep the rain off until these parts are required.

In the last week I've started my IMC training which really bakes my noodle so that will form the bulk of my flying this summer. I'm training in a Cessna 172SP complete with Garmin G1000 glass cockpit all good experience ready for the Dynon in the 12. I am also going to consider changing the standard avionics com for a better one that will allow you to do instrument approaches in IMC if this is every allowed in the UK.

I guess I'll be back into the build next week and think the wings are going to take some serious metal prep!!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

After 76 days of building or 117 hours and 20 minutes I've finished the empennage kit!! An amazing achievement having never built anything apart from flat pack furniture before. Today's tasks involved rivetting the final skin on the HS and cleaning up the skin as JC5 once again got everywhere - I might leave the blue stuff on the wing skins when I get on to them as it made clean up on the VS a lot easier.

I also had my first experience of working with fibre glass and that stuff is rather dusty!! My scotch brite wheel made short work losing excess material and then 80 grit sand paper finished the part quite nicely. A good feeling tonight to put my workshop set of empennage plans away for a while until it's time to do the finish kit.... A good few months away before I need to worry about that.

Tomorrow at some point my Wings and Fuselage kits will arrive on a lorry so all the finished parts are on my wheeled work benches tonight so I can move stuff out when they arrive and I think I will need to plan how to use the space in the best possible way as I currently have to store the tail cone in the garage. Right now I suspect it will be easiest to unpack the wing crate of small parts as this takes up a lot of space in the workshop and maybe store the wing skins outside in the wooden case wrapped in a tarp for bad weather protection?

I guess the build will re-start next week and now I think I deserve a decent sized drink to mark my achievement.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Tail Cone Finished - Empennage nearly done

The next two kits arrive at my house in Manchester on Thursday and I need to get stuff finished to make some room for the wings and fuselage. Just wondering now where to put a 8ft long 3ft wide tail cone?

Nigel my LAA inspector came over on Friday last week and signed off all the empennage parts so time to get the rivet gun out and bang a good few rivets in to seal up most of the parts for good. I'm amazed just how much I've managed to do in just 76 days and 110 hours to date. After the rivet process is finished I have two fibreglass parts to work on and that will pretty much finish up the empennage. I have also sourced all the wood for the wing stand (bottom right of the picture above) and need to get that built up and can't help thinking the 4 inch by 4 inch piece of timber that goes along the bottom is a little on the large size but its what the plans called for.

Away from the build I've just signed up to do my IMC rating so that will be the focus of my flying for the next couple of months and I have no doubt it'll bake my noodle at times but I think its a really worthwhile rating to get and should improve my flying overall.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Waiting For An Inspector To Call

So I've done pretty much everything I can until Nigel my LAA inspector calls round to check the parts I've made so far. Basically I have lots of parts that need a final inspection before I can finally rivet the skins closed for good and I guess that'll be a good few hours work to do well and then clean up the finished parts to remove the JC5 jointing compound that is as suggested rather messy! Then I have a small amount of finishing trim to sort out for the rudder and vs then the empennage kit will be finished.

I have to construct a wing stand at some point soon, my next two kits the wings and fuselage cleared UK customs today although the ship they are on doesn't dock until the weekend so I've a little bit of time on my side to get straight for the next stage of the build. I currently have a few replacement parts to order but nothing major, the odd electrical connector, some rivets and that's pretty much it. I will hold off until I've checked all the wing ribs as Vans have put out an alert on them and if my parts need replacing them I'll add my replacement parts to the order.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Longest Build Day So Far

Busy day in the workshop after a weekend off as the lads came up to Manchester to see Peter Kay on Friday drink beer and talk nonsense and drink more beer on Saturday..... Sunday was spent recovering!!

Today's tasks included fitting static points left and right, running trim cables, rudder strings and then it was time to rivet the lower and upper tail cone skins to the tail cone frames, quite an undertaking but done now and all that remains to be done is to fit the final skin to the tail cone and this bit of the build will be finished. I will aim to invite my inspector over this week to take a final look at everything and hopefully he'll be able to sign everything off and I can finally rivet all the parts closed and prepare for the wing and fuselage kits arrival hopefully next week and this involves sorting the workshop again to make as much space as possible, I also need to buy some wood for the wing storage frames and build them.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Tail cone final assembly

Started working on the final construction of the tail cone this afternoon, what was supposed to be a few minutes in the workshop turned into two and a half hours!!

The plans call for you to construct the tail cone on two saw horse that are 38 inches high but I didn't want to build anything special to do this stage as space is limited so I gave my work benches a boost using the pop rivet boxes and pleased to report they worked a treat.

My skin bends for the lap joints seem OK, I've only had to rework a couple to make them better and I guess its easier to put more of a bend in than take it out. One thing I have had to do is prime some additional tail cone metal using a paint brush where skins overlap and I also used some of the JC5 jointing compound on one of the joints as I wanted to be sure it was a good joint between the panels.

I am hoping to fly tomorrow and if I don't I'll be in the workshop with rivet gun in hand. I've also noticed most of the skin holes will need a drill running through them as the primer has made the holes a little smaller than when it was bare metal and once again each rivet will be dipped into JC5 before setting - Overkill some might say but I feel it's a worthwhile step if a little messy thing to do.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Squeeze Me

Sunday is always a busy day for me but I managed to spend 4 and a half hours in the workshop starting to rivet the tail cone parts up and as you can see I've done a fair bit today creating the F-1211 Assembly (basically a rear bulkhead). 6 different types of rivets go to make up this section and most of them are hand squeezed and task that is still tough to do but I think my speed and results are improving.

Once minor issues inserting plastic bushes into some attach brackets I managed to split two of them but as the kit came with 5 I'm hoping that Vans over supplied this item and as my next two kits arrive in just over 2 weeks I'll probably hold off ordering replacements until I've checked out the contents of the next two kits.

Time on the build so far 83 hours and 10 minutes.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Big Build Friday - Prime Time

Very productive five hours in the workshop today. I started by finishing the final two tail cone skins which took about an hour to debur and prepare for paint.

So on to paint and I started with the internal parts and did the smaller parts as before in my cardboard box spray booth!! Whilst the small parts were drying I started spraying the inside of the tail cone skins and reckon I mixed close to two litres of of primer this afternoon to do the job and I'm really happy with the results. Next stage of the build is to put the tail cone together which I hope to do over the next week or so.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Building a box of bits

Another three and a half hours in the workshop this afternoon working on metal preparation for the tail cone and tonight I only have 2 skins to prepare then I can prime the metal ready for assembly.

One thing I did today that has been an issue before was countersinking and I'm happy with the results having taken my time and made sure surfaces were level so this time around no mistakes which has to be a good thing as the bulkhead looks like an expensive part.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

A productive 3 hours in the workshop today working on finishing the metal prep on the two remain fuselage frames. A fair amount of work to get a nice finish on the metal before it's primed and to think that once they are covered in the skins they shouldn't need to be seen again unless something goes wrong..... Hope not!

Also prepared the F1211G Tail Skid pictured above and again something that looked quite simple actually took an hour or so to finish. Preparing this part used a template for hole drilling, files and for the first time a drill tap, something I haven't done since I was at school many years ago in metal work.

Next work to be done is prep of various brackets, bulk heads and stiffeners. I'm happy to be back on the build and I'm still managing to fly as well, yesterday took advantage of UK Airspace being closed and flew my group Cessna 172 in Manchester International Airport a rare opportunity that just had to be done and I've posted some pictures and a video here we also got to look around Ocean Sky who do private jets for the great and the good of the world but still use wooden wheeled build tables like us RV builders do.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Back to the build - Big Build Thursday

After a few days off from the build enjoying myself flying and sorting out plenty of overdue jobs I got back into the workshop today and spent 5 hours preparing some of the skins for the tail cone. It was odd to be in the workshop today with no aircraft flying over the house as I'm only a few miles from Manchester International Airport as all UK airspace was closed today due to Volcanic Ash read more here.

I needed to track down a tool from Avery's Tools UK supplier to prepare some of the tail cone skin edges for lap joints, a whole new experience for me but I think it went well.... Guess I'll find out when I start to rivet things together! I've been surprised by how much work is involved in deburring the tail cone skins as it a manual job with a file and scotch brite pads. I've stripped the blue plastic from the Fuselage Frames and match drilled a couple of holes as well today and know they are also going to take some work to prepare.

My work benches are working a treat and I hope to be able to complete the tail cone on them as I have about 8ft/9ft of length to work with. I've also recycled the empennage packing case into a raised planting bed for my garden which looks great.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

The Problem - The Solution - Moving On

It's been a busy few days and an interesting few days dealing with a problem of my own making. I was putting together the HS and adding brackets and bolting them in to a nutplate using my torque wrench for the first time........ And Snap!! I'd gone to far I should have stopped at the impulse but I was waiting for a click and got a loud snap B.gger!!

So I made a call to Nigel who suggested a screw extractor before drilling out 30+ rivets.... It didn't work so I drilled the rivets out and replaced the nutplate and reconstructed the parts I'd taken apart, all in all about 2 hours work although I need to wait for some additional CS4-4 rivets to arrive then all will be good.

Easter Sunday I spent 3 hours working on the HS Skin and now have a quarter of it done and will do the other quarter tomorrow before inviting Nigel my LAA inspector over to take a look at a fair few finished parts and then it's a major rivet job sealing them all up for good although I will fit and torque the bolts on the brackets on the VS before sealing it up.

Good news from Vans recently my next two kits the fuselage and wings ship from Seattle on April 10th arriving in London May 6th and then dropped off at mine on May 11th so I'd better get the empennage finished before then as I need the space.

I also decided to take my 'posh' digital slr into the garage today and are happy with the results. Total build time 61 hours to date more photos online

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Making Good Progress

Spent 3 hours in the work shop today working on the Stabiliator Skeleton Assembly and as you can see from the picture above its taking shape quite nicely, most of the work to date on this part has been preparation deburring, filing, drilling, sawing and priming and I'm very pleased with the results on this section of the build.

Still one of the hardest challenges is setting solid rivets properly and of the 24 AN470AF4-5's I set for the counter balance brackets I drilled 6 out as I wasn't happy with how they were sitting. One positive is I used the right rivet tool and as a result haven't flattened the heads of the rivets this time.

I would imagine I'll have the HS ready for Nigel's inspection by the end of the Bank Holiday weekend, plus I have 4 other half skinned parts that need signing off so the rivet gun will see some action over the next week or so. If all the work is approved I'll move on to the last bit of the Empennage Kit the tail cone which is timely as I paid for the next two kits yesterday and the fuselage and wings will be shipping from Vans soon and should arrive end of April or early May.

I've also downloaded the wood cutting plan for the wing stands so once everything is finished I'll be building that and I'll also have some more room in the workshop when the weather improves as some of the over wintering plants will be able to live outside.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Building The Stabilator

Been a busy week with one thing and another going on but managed a fair bit of time working on metal prep for the horizontal stabilator.

Monday 22nd - 2 hours metal prep
Wednesday 24th - 1 hour and 30 minutes metal prep
Friday 26th - 4 hours metal prep
Sunday 28th - 6 hours priming the preparing metal and then starting to squeeze mainly solid rivets on the stabilator

Total time on the build so far 52 hours in just over a month so making nice progress and currently have 4 parts that are half riveted and awaiting final inspection by Nigel before I seal them up for good. I will invited him over once I've finished the horizontal stabilator frame and then its onto the tailcone and I aim to have the Empennage / Tailcone kits finished but the time the Fuselage and Wings arrive probably late April or early May...... That's the plan at least!!

Friday, 19 March 2010

Big Build Friday - The 1st of many I guess?

Real productive day finally managed to finish the VS frame and attach the skin...... How many clecos and had to do make some minor adjustments as per the plans to get a good fit but all the effort paid off in the end and I now have a rudder, vertical stabilizer and two anti-servo tabs that are waiting inspection by Nigel and hopefully he'll sign them off and I'll have 4 finished parts from the Empennage Kit...... Amazing to think I started building less than a month ago and I have this much done although I suspect things will slow down as the next bits are no doubt going to be harder to build.

I've had to order a new hinge from Vans as I measured one of them wrong and cut in the wrong place but hey these things are going to happen and all the time I'm learning more and more.

Hopefully I'll be able to find time over the weekend to pull the parts for the Stabilator and start the deburring process and as before I will prepare all the metal, then prime and then rivet together.

Loads of fresh photos online

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Been working on preparing and priming the parts for the Anti-Servo Tabs this week and today tackled the countersinking of the holes on the control horns. I set my countersink tool on some scrap and off I went no issues on the first horn then onto the second one and on the first hole the sink is too deep for an AN426AD3-3.5 rivet but a 'bigger/fatter' AN426AD4-4 fits a treat and is flush to the surface - Just checking its OK to do this.

No idea why the tool over sunk the hole but will proceed with extreme caution when using the sink again.

Some good news this week the replacement rib from Vans has arrived and is prepared and primed and ready to be fitted when dry so I am going to half skin the VS before putting the Anti-Servo Tabs together.

Tonight did some priming with the spray gun and am happier with the results than my first attempt and made a lot less mess as well. Also my rivet gauges and Scotch-Brite wheel arrived from America and that is now fitted to my grinder and works much quicker than a file on suitable parts, an expensive part but a great time saving one.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Rudder Rivet

Only spent an hour or so in the garage today using the rivet gun to attach half the skin to the Rudder Frame after Nigel signed it off yesterday. It's amazing to think that I won't see the work under the skin again.

I've decided to use JC5A (jointing compound) on all the external rivets and was warned its messy to use and they were right!! Cleaned the panel with gun wash after finishing the job and that got most of the excess off whilst inside the JC5A remains which I guess is the idea?

Having time off from the build this weekend as I'm going to see a mate in Kent so will pick up again next week and the aim is to get the Anti Servo Tabs completed across the week.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

An Inspector Calls

Nigel my LAA Inspector came round and signed off the first two completed stages of the build the VS frame and Rudder frame so now I can half attach the skins and start on the next stage of the build 'The Anti-Servo Tab'.

I was a little concerned about some of the rivets as I'd used a flat head in the squeezer on about 30 solid rivets but Nigel OK'd these and said from now on use the concave head for all AN470 type rivets. His only suggestion was to give some of the rivets a little more squeezing which I've done tonight and am ready for some rivet and JC5A action tomorrow morning.

Really pleased with getting this far in the build.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Team T-Shirt

T-Shirt above was a treat for me and two friends Jo and Tim from my folks and I shall wear it with pride when the right moment arrives..... The LAA Rally and maybe Aero Expo as well?

No building today as I'm waiting for my LAA Inspector Nigel to come over and look at my work, I have a slight concern over some solid rivets as I used a flat head in the squeezer instead of a concave one..... Depending on what Nigel says tomorrow I'll either be happy or drilling out around 40 rivets.

I think tomorrow I might do some basic metal prep on the next bit of the build the 'Anti-Servo Tab' although I won't be riveting anything until my initial work is up to standard.

Monday, 8 March 2010

VS & Rudder frames finished

Finished the VS frame today (apart from replacement rib) and also got the Rudder frame finished as well ready for my inspector to call and check my riveting and metal prep.

Fair amount of solid rivets to pull today and I find them quite hard to do if I'm honest. I also used the hand pop rivet tool as well for 2 tricky rivets.. All I'll say is I'm glad I have the air tool for most of the work.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Solid and Blind Rivets

Spent around 6 hours working today started by touching up some of the stuff I primed yesterday and then I couldn't put it off any longer time to rivet and safe to safe I love the pneumatic blind rivet tool works a treat and I imagine quite quickly on large surfaces. I started using the JC5A jointing compound today and it's messy stuff already have a yellow mark on my jumper...... Wonder if it'll wash out?

I also squeezed a number of solid rivets and managed to screw up my first one on a nut plate so had to drill that out and replace it. Scary when your drilling a finished piece of metal you really don't want to mess up the whole thing. I decided after that to take my time and think I've done a good job with them it'll be interesting to see what my inspector says?

I also made two rudder attachments brackets complete with bearing in them so a fruitful day and more lessons learnt the biggest being it's easier to squeeze solid rivets when the surface is dimpled like it is on the VS Skin. I manged to do 18 nutplates in half an hour......... Is that good? I think so.

Tomorrow I'll hopefully start and finish the rudder riveting as I've done as much as I can on the VS until the replacement rib arrives from Vans and my inspector has been to look at what I've done so far.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Prime Time

6th March - Had a very productive 4+ hours in the garage this afternoon and finished all the metal prep for the rudder. Scary when the plans ask you to cut the end off one of the ribs but I took my time and made a good job of it.

Decided it was time to prime some metal as I can't rivet anything until that's done and another first for me in the build as I've never used a spray gun before and it seemed to go OK although I have noticed a couple of runs on some of the parts but as these are going to be hidden internally I'm not to worried.

I will stop off at Halfords tomorrow and buy a can of acid etch primer to make good in a couple of areas I've not covered totally. I guess like all the RV skills my spraying will improve as I do more of it. Tomorrow I'll use the rivet gun for the first time and the squeezer as well.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

New month and first build issue

2nd March - Spring has arrived and its warming up a little. I spent 5 enjoyable hours working in the garage today and achieved a lot building a drill press that now sits on top of the tumble drier I also had my first build issue but I'm not alone according to the Vans Air Force forum.

Basically my Vertical Stabilizer has a dodgy rib (VS1208 for those that have plans) its pre drill holes do not line up so I took some photos and emailed them to Vans who replied really quickly and are shipping a replacement to me so that means I can't prime the prepared metal until it arrives but at least when it does I'll be able to do the prep on it and see some serious progress quite quickly. I've posted more photos online

So far I've done around 13 and a half hours on the project and am getting more comfortable using the tools and working with the material. Whilst I await the new rib I will start work on the next step which is the rudder.

5th March - Spent a sneaky hour and a half in the garage working on metal prep for the rubber assembly and that's all done now so it's ready for drilling and preparing tomorrow. I really believe you can build the rudder in a weekend if you put your mind to it and that's my plan although I will probably hold off priming until the faulty rib is replaced..... Unless I decide to learn a new skill over the weekend?

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

It's arrived

Friday 5th February was the day I paid the shipping and import costs for my RV-12 kit... Well the first bit of it anyway!! A builders tool kit from Avery, an Empennage kit from Van's, a toolbox project kit to get me underway and 12,500 rivets.

I spent the weekend sorted a van out to collect my kit around lunchtime on Monday 8th February from Manchester International Airport and my kit has already been to Portland, San Francisco, LA, London Heathrow and Manchester so its well travelled already. After checking the crate contents (only one small washer missing) it was time for tea and then for me to go to work, I think doing the the 10pm-1am shift will work well when the build gets underway. Tuesday arrived and I did the paperwork for the LAA (Light Aircraft Associaition) and later that week a project number arrived so its officially registered I just need the paperwork and then I can get my inspector around to check my workshop over.

Thursday 11th - Went flying in my shared C127 G-AWVA first flight of the New Year and I was a little rusty in the circuit to be honest.

Friday 12th - I drove to Hook in Hampshire to have a build lesson with my friend Tim who's build a lovely RV-7 and has another project underway in his workshop. Whilst the boys talked planes and building Jo (Tim's better half) looked after the boys with food and beverages.

Saturday 13th - Sent most of the day building the toolbox and having other important lessons from Tim, sadly we didn't have time to do any spraying but its an excuse for them to come up here once I get underway properly.

Sunday 14th - I had a romantic Valentines day ordering additional tools like stop drills, a centre punch and a couple of other things Tim had and I consider useful for the build. I'm also thinking my air drill might be too big but I'll wait and see if that's the case before sourcing an alternative. Went to B&Q and got an extension lead so plenty of power sockets in the workshop now. I also sorted all the bags of rivets, washers, bearing etc into plastic cases so a productive afternoon.

Monday 15th - Checked over my compressor and sorted out how the regulator works and applied to the CAA for a registration mark...... More as and when it's approved

Tuesday 16th - Workshop heater arrived a stolen idea from Tim's and a sensible one as it gets rather cold in my garage at the moment. Sourced material from spray table

Friday 18th - Still waiting for the LAA paperwork to arrive but the CAA have approved my aircraft registration application and my RV-12 will be G-OXII or GO-12 once completed if you prefer

Wednesday 23rd - Decided to prep some metal whilst waiting for approval to start the build proper from the LAA so split some brackets and made them look nice. I also ordered a Scotch Brite wheel from Vans and a pillar drill from the internet as I can already see the benefits of having both to hand. It's fair to say I have plenty of tools now but the hardest thing to find so far are soft jaws for my vice but luckily Amazon had so that should save a few teeth marks along the way. I've also decided as well as priming the internal surfaces of the build I'll be using JC5A which is a jointing compound on all external rivets to help prevent corrosion in the longer term, this stuff comes in a toothpaste sized tube and costs £40 a go so will be keeping that under lock and key

Thursday 25th - Postie drops off dark blue folder from the LAA so I'm good to go although the projects serial number has changed from what they initially told me so been on to the CAA to get my registration certificate amended which isn't a big problem. I also called Nigel my local inspector and hopefully he'll come over tomorrow night to inspect me, my kit and my workshop

Friday 26th - I HAVE APPROVAL TO START BUILD!!! It's all systems go

Saturday 27th - Spent 6 hours in the workshop today drilling, deburring etc etc so the build is underway and already I have some pieces of metal to show for my efforts. I had one small issue with the countersinking tool and not being able use it in the drill in one location so I removed the head and screwed it into at a hand deburring tool and did it manually. I also starting fluting some of the VS ribs and suspect this is going to be a black art to get right

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

It'll be here soon..... I hope

I got back from my annual skiing holiday to Canada on the last day of Janaury 2010 knowing that my RV-12 kit shipped from Van's on January 27th. Whilst in Canada I seriously considered a trip to Oregon to have a look at the demo aircraft but it was all a little too last minute to make it happen..... Next year maybe?

Anyway on arriving back home I had loads of post some of it from Van's confirming what had been shipped and what hadn't. I seem to have 3 parts on back order a rudder weldment, upper stabilator horn and lower stabilator horn but nothing that will stop me from starting the building. Also included in the information sent over was a list from Avery detailing the items in the RV-12 tool kit and a couple of additions I made and some stuff for my friend Tim who has had his RV-7 flying for almost 3 years now and has been a great source of information and I have no doubt will remain to be so.

Yesterday I put a call into the shippers DB Schenker to find out where the kit is and it's in London having already been to Portland, LA & San Fran on it's air freight journey to the UK..... I wonder if I have to log these flying hours?? Hopefully it'll be in Manchester soon and I can get the thing registered with the LAA, get my workshop inspected and have some lessons from Tim about applying primer and working with aluminium. I also finished my tool purchase with an expensive afternoon in Machine Mart buying air tools, an inspection lamp, tool chest and a few other items.

I'm pretty much set to go and am looking forward to a massive challenge and hope you enjoy following my progress.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

I've Bitten the Bullet and will be Building an RV-12

So after a lot of thinking and doing some sums I've finally placed my order with Van's Aircraft for my RV-12!! Initially I've ordered the empennage, wings and fuselage kits along with a tool kit from Avery and the Vans tool box kit as a my 'first project' having only every built flat pack furniture up until now.

So far I've cleared my garage and turned my garage it in to a workshop complete with build benches, a compressor, shelves, improved lighting and curtains..... My Mum's idea not mine. I've made contact with my LAA inspector and am ready to register the kit once it arrives at my house.

Kit one the empennage and tool kit will ship late January 2010 and should arrive at Manchester International via air freight early February after my annual snowboarding holiday with the other two kits sea freighting at the end of March for end of April or early May delivery.

The RV-12 is a 2 seater rotax powered aircraft that is made of aluminuim and offers good performance and economy whilst running on standard unleaded car fuel and has the ability to carry 2 large people along with 75 litres of fuel giving a range of over 500 miles. A glass cockpit comes as standard with modern avionics, the kit is almost like buying flat pack furniture as it comes with comprehensive instructions and everything you need to build a finished aircraft and another benefit it’s a ‘permit’ aircraft in the UK so the owner does the maintenance which means a saving of at least £3,000 a year compared with traditional aircraft.

So now the garage is clear the work benches built, compressor waiting and Machine Mart shopping list on stand-by....... Let the fun begin!


Length - 5.82m or 19.12 ft
Height - 2.56m or 8.43ft
Wing Span - 8.19m or 26.87ft
Fuel - 75 litres or 16.5 UK Gallons
Range - 560 - 614 statute miles (482 - 534 nautical miles) depending on power setting
Empty Weight - 740 lbs
MTOW - 1320 lbs
VNE - 136 kts or 156mph
Cruise - 90 kts or 104 mph or 108 kts or 124 mph depending on power setting
Stall - 41 kts or 47 mph
Rate of Climb - 1,135 ft/min or 900 ft/min depending on power setting
Service Ceiling - 12,000ft
Limit Load Factor Light Sport Category - +4.0g/-2.0g