Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fiberglass Prep

Masked the instrument panel and the canopy arms today. Have about 1/8" of masking tape on the instrument panel top to hold the paper in place. Should be OK. I do not want to mess up my powdercoated panel sections. I masked the canopy frame arms on both sides and the canopy frame cove per the plans. Don't know if is was necessary but masked all anyway. Then installed the three layers of duct tape on the sides and the single layer of duct tape on the instrument panel top.

Then fabricated the foam blocks. A small angle has to be formed at the aft portion of the block so it mates with the canopy skirt. The block also has to be shortened. Then the interior angle has to be formed per the plans. Raised the canopy and used a Sharpie to mark the cutline on the back side of the foam block. Used a hacksaw blade to cut it to shape and drilled the hole with a Unibit. As the Unibit goes to 3/4", used a round file to open up the hole to 7/8".

UPDATE: If I did this again, I would open up the hole only large enough to get a socket on the bolt head. The washer will remain in place and will not be removable after the layups. Reason being, if you open the hole to 7/8" there is a just a tiny bit of the foam block forward of the bolt hole.

Mixed some epoxy and added cotton flox. Put a piece of construction paper (cut to shape) on the foam and used duct tape to hold it in place. I should of left the forward part of the foam a bit longer. May have to glue a piece on both sides.

Time Yesterday and Today - 6 hours Totals - 167 Hours on the Finish Kit (65% Complete), 279 Hours on the Fuselage Kit (98% Complete), 108 Hours on the Empennage Kit (85% Complete), 175 Hours on the Wing Kit (100% Complete)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Returned My Nosegear Assembly

Returned my WD-1201 Nosegear Assembly. Spoke to Tom and explained the plate that rests on the firewall was not flat. Mine was warped more than 1/8". Also the gap near the lower firewall nutplates was not wide enough to pass over the nutplates.

Tom told me to send it back to Van's. When received, they would send a replacement. $30 to ship it back via UPS.

I am still reading and learning about the canopy fiberglass process which is upcoming.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Canopy Riveted and Screwed to the Frame

Glad it is over. The canopy has been mounted. Held my breath each time I set a rivet on the forward bow. All went well. Set the rivets on the forward bow using a hand rivet puller. Tightened all of the screws just tight.

Had a problem with one of the hydraulic struts. The ears broke off as I attempted to mount it. Have ordered 1 more. Don't know if I did something wrong or I had a lemon. $20 plus shipping.

Time Today - 4 hours

Not Too Happy with The Fuel Tank Service Notice

NOT HAPPY!!!! The tank is complete here, at least I thought so, and leak free. This is a simple thread mate issue. May have to send the entire tank back to Van's and let them modify it.

Removing the flange is going to be a chore if it cannot be re-tapped. Why NOT just retap it???

Click Here for the Link to the RV-12 Service Notice on the Fuel Tank Flange

Monday, May 25, 2009

Final Drilled the Canopy-Enlarged Holes with the Hand Drill

I used the hand drill to enlarge the holes in the canopy at the front bow to #27 using the plexi bit. Enlarging the holes this way worked very NICE. Every so often the drll bit would grab, backed it up, released a bit of pressure and continued. All holes and no evidence of cracking where the bit exited the hole. Am HAPPY!

Used a permagrit countersink with a #30 pilot to countersink the holes that will accept rivets. Little by little at a time, looking at the roundness of the CS and making adjustments to the drill/bit position. This bit worked very well. Thanks John Masterman!

Enlarged the holes that will accept screws using the Uni-bit. Ran the Uni-Bit in from the other side also as the step is not quite thick enough. Deburred ALL holes in the canopy, both inside and outside using my normal deburring bit. Looked at a sample of the finished holes using a 10X and they look pretty good.

Half moon'ed the most upper forward canopy skirt holes that were on the edge of the canopy. Rounded all sharp edges. This should minimize any stress in this area. Van's indicated that this was an engineering issue and would be corrected with future kits. This top most forward hole on the canopy skirt needs to be moved aft a bit.

Canopy Hints Link

Time Today - 3 hours

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Preparing for Canopy Fiberglass

The picture shows how John Bender prepared the forward part of the canopy for fiberglass. John added two additional pieces of foam. These two pieces are removed after the fiberglass sets up so they have to be taped and waxed. To add the lowest foam piece, the hydraulic strut has to be removed.

Adding these two pieces of foam prevents the glass cloth from settling into the crevice.

Others that have completed the fiberglass have indicated that this is a good idea. Another tip received was to put a dab of grease (vaseline or ?) over the forward bolt and washer.

More John Bender Canopy Pictures

Canopy Hints Link

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Finished Painting - Canopy Frame and Tank

Finished painting and clear coating the fuel tank and finished the canopy frame by painting the front bow. The front bow now matches the instrument panel (flat gray) color. It is amazing how the stone finish now appears on the tank. The fuel tank sealant mess has just about disappeared.

Fabricated the canopy lift handles and the canopy guide blocks in advance of needing them. Used the 6" scotchbrite wheel to round the edges of the guide blocks.

Canopy Hints Link

Time Today - 3 hours

Friday, May 22, 2009

Painting Canopy Frame and Fuel Tank

Prepped the frame and the fuel tank for primer. Primed both and then waited a few hours to start the topcoat.

For the frame, painted the rear bow flat white. Also painted the outboard surface of the interior angles flat white as these will show thru the plexiglass. Painted the items that will show inside the cockpit the powdercoat color. This included the canopy frame rails and the inboard surface of the canopy skirt and the inboard surface of the interior angles. Will paint the front bow the same color as the instrument panel (on Saturday).

After priming all of the surfaces on the fuel tank, I painted the three (3) surfaces that will show using the stone finish. The stone finish masked all of the fuel tank sealant that oozed during fabrication. It covered everything and the fuel tank now looks respectable. Will add a coat of clear coat on Saturday.

Will post pictures after I finish painting the frame and tank.

Canopy Hints Link

Time Today - 4 hours

Thursday, May 21, 2009

More Canopy

Back to work on the 12 after battling a cold. Checked the curl on the canopy skirt. I formed this curl using a full 12 oz. can of pop.

Removed the canopy from the frame and faricated the canopy latch and handle. Took quite a bit of manual hand sanding to get the rod to fit into the handle. This item took a lot more time than I would have guessed. The screw that is ultimately used to secure the two is a AN509-8R14 (Page 34-10). ONLY 3 threads engage the tapped hole in the handle. The specified screw seems to be TOO short. Passed this information on to Van's support. Have read about many incidents where the canopy has popped open during flight.

The holes in the rear bow and the holes in the interior angles where screws will be used to secure the bubble have to be drilled to #27. This is NOT in the plans (or I missed it).

Countersunk the most forward 5 holes in the frame.

Fabricated and installed the guide blocks and guide plates.

Canopy Hints Link

Time Today - 4 hours

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Enlarging Canopy Holes

Per some advice via a Chapter meeting, I ordered a hand drill to enlarge the existing #40 and 1/8" holes in the canopy to #27 using a #27 plexi drill bit. Available from Ace hardware. Will practice with some scrap before trying it on the canopy. Theory says it should work, if it grabs you can stop and back it up.

Fiskars Hand Drill Link

The only other method that was recommended to enlarge existing holes was to use a Unibit at a very slow speed. BUT, the first Unibit step is 1/8" (approx #30) and the next step is 5/32" (approx #22-#23).

Have been told by a number of people to never enlarge an existing hole with a normal drill bit or a plexi drill bit in a pneumatic or power drill as the bit may grab and plexi will snap back before you know it.

Canopy Hints Link

RV-12 Canopy Fiberglassing Article in the RVator

How appropriate!! An article on fiberglassing the canopy has just been issued and appears in the 2nd edition of the 2009 RVator. Written by Van himself on the RV-12 he is building.

Click here for the RVator

Monday, May 18, 2009

Drilling the Canopy

Used the painters tape method to determine the canopy tangent line to the canopy frame front bow. It worked OK but used a Sharpie to transfer the line to the tube and then put the canopy on a few more times refining the marks each time. When I was satified, drilled the front bow every 2" using a normal #40 bit.

Before actually drilling the canopy, I went to the hardware store and bought some scrap plexi to practice drilling. I was able to crack the practice piece as the bit exited if too much pressure was used. The key for a FRESH hole -- a plexiglass bit, turning at high speed in a pneumatic drill, using virtually NO pressure. Enlarging an existing hole is going to require a different technique.

Drilled the front bow and rear roll bar alternatively per the plans. Lining up the drill to hit the predrilled hole in the bow was much easier than I thought it would be. Sight it one way, sight again 90 degrees and then make small adjustments till centered.

Then prepped the side skirts and aligned them getting the 1/8" overlap with the side skins to keep out the rain. First match drilled them to the canopy frame and then match drilled them to the canopy and inner angle with the plexiglass bit.

Noticed one problem. The most forward, upper row hole in the side skirt just barely hits the underlying plexiglass. I have 1/2 of a hole on the left side in the plexi (the drill bit wandered) and have a hole as close to the plexi edge as you could imagine on the right side skirt. Compared my results with three other builders and all experienced the same. Was a bit worried but this appears to be a design issue. Sent Van's an e-mail. DO NOT drill these two holes before you mark them and check to see if there is enough plexi behind the hole!!

UPDATE: Sent an e-mail to Van's technical support and they acknowledged that this was a design issue that will be corrected. They gave me the option of leaving the screw out of the left and right side as that area is fully covered and supported by the fiberglass.

Now, looking for advice to do something with the hole very near edge and the partial (1/2 of a hole), right on the edge of the plexiglass canopy.

UPDATE: Will sand both holes to a half-moon shape and smooth all sharp edges. This should eliminate the stress risers and also give me the option of installing the screw and nut.

Canopy Hints Link

Time Today - 6 hours

Fuel Tank is Good!

The balloon has not changed the very least after about 30 hours. Will leave the balloon attached for a couple of days but it looks leak tight.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fuel Tank Testing-Looking GOOD!

Came down with a cold so I only tested the fuel tank today. It has been sitting for a week.

Initially tried the setup in the plans but had leaks around the filler neck and where the balloon was attached.

So went to Lowes' for some fittings and a short nipple. With the fittings and the rubber coupling (supplied by Van's), was able to attach the balloon to the large fuel inlet. Initially the balloon leaked here also, but, corrected it by first attaching the balloon, then put a few wraps of teflon tape over the balloon (to protect it), then tightened a small hose clamp over the teflon tape and balloon. Capped the fuel outlet/strainer and attached the air chuck to the fuel return line fitting.

When I went to the grocery store for a few balloons, found out that there is a cheap grade and a helium tight grade!!!!

Going to have to do something with the strainer. It only went into the fitting on the bottom of tank about 1 1/2 to 2 turns. NOT far enough! Will have to fix.

Link to VA-210 Fitting Issue on Van's Website

Remember your high school physics. PV = nRT. Barometric pressure changes and temperature changes WILL change the shape of the balloon!!! After 4 hours, IT IS HOLDING!!!

Time Today - 1 hour

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Trimmed the Canopy Sides

Used the same 40 grit sandpaper on a block to remove 1/8" off of the canopy sides. This gave me the correct clearance between the canopy and the frame on both sides. A lot more dust and muscle but it worked.

Ended up with a VERY good fit. Used the very coarse sandpaper (40 grit), then 80, 120, 220. Then formed the edges with the Avery plexiglass scraper to bevel the edges. And finish sanded all of the edges on the canopy with 400 grit. A nice polished surface!

Canopy Hints Link

Time Today - 5 hours

Friday, May 15, 2009

Removed 1/8" from the Forward Edge of the Canopy

Spent the entire day trying different methods to remove 1/8" from the forward edge of the canopy. Tried a 3" sanding disk (too imprecise), a sandpaper flapping disk (sort of imprecise) and then resorted to some 40 grit sandpaper on a block. A lot of dust and muscle but it worked. There must be a better idea and method!! A lot of dust later..........

Ended up with a VERY good fit. Used the very coarse sandpaper (40 grit), then 120, 220 and will finish the edge with 400 grit after I form the edges with the Avery plexiglass scraper.

Looks like I will have to remove 1/8" from the bottom of the sides where the canopy will be near the frame (the plans tell us to leave a 1/8" gap). The aft portion will then have to be finished, no material has to be removed. The rear window will need about 1/16" of trimming to get the 1/32" gap between the canopy and rear window.

UPDATE: Wear a dust mask!! I was out of commission for about 4 days after I sanded the front bow and sides of the canopy. Think the dust induced a pretty good respiratory infection.

Canopy Hints Link

Time Today - 3 hours

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Installing the Canopy - 1st Time

Time to update the blog. Installed the canopy for the 1st time. The canopy I received had been pre-drilled for the canopy latch and had been cut out at the forward outboard corners to clear the weld in the canopy frame. As such the steps in the plans pertaining to these two items were not necessary. A bit of trimming, tho, will be required at the forward outboard corners to clear the welds. Installed the low tack tape, but this is a bit premature as the canopy will have to go on and come off before the tape is required.

Had an initial TIGHT fit. Was obvious that some of the canopy would have to be removed where it abutts the instrument panel. Was also obvious that the canopy frame would have to lifted at its most aft position so the frame was even or parallel with the rollbar. Had to insert another 1/8" spacer under the most aft position of the canopy frame. (Total is now 1/4" at this most aft position).

Will remove 1/8" from the most forward edge of the canopy on Friday.

Canopy Hints Link

Time Today - 5 hours