Monthly Archives: March 2017

Backwards to move forward…

I have a bit of “build debt” to pay off now that the shop is done.  The trailing edge on the right elevator was not great, so I started working on it last week.  I also needed to mount the counterweights in the elevator horns.  I also need to pull a couple of rivets in the vertical stabilizer to smooth a rough edge.  Oh, and the left aileron I built is garbage.  I started removing a lot of rivets.  My neighbor (ex Air Force crew chief) suggested using a very sharp #40 bit.  It worked really well.  I started a lot of the holes by hand to be sure I had a well centered hole.

I pulled a few rivets and re-squeezed better ones.  My buddy Ernie stopped by later and suggested that I could sand down high rivet tops and then I showed him this picture to show why I was resetting them.


With a head that high, trimming the rivet head would leave nothing holding the sheets together.  I ended up with a big pile of removed rivets.  I think I need to re-redo a couple of the rivets still, but the elevator is much improved.

So, I started working on the counter-weights.  The last time, I mis-cut the slabs because I forgot to orient the holes correctly.  This time, I wouldn’t make that mistake again!  And indeed I didn’t.  I made a new mistake.  You need to trim part of the back side of two of the weights so that it fits in the narrow part of the horn.  I removed three back sides.  So, once more, I’ll be ordering some new parts from Van’s.

I started deconstructing the left aileron.  When I was assembling it in my basement last year, I forgot to rivet part of the nose skin to a nose rib.  I tried reaching through skins to rivet it late, but all I did was horribly bang up the nose.  So I started pulling it apart.

It looks like I can salvage the nose ribs and main ribs, but I’ll replace the spar and skins.

The battery in the RV-12 was run down during a failed Dynon Skyview update.  The device said not to interrupt the update, so I let it go for a while on the main battery and even more time on the backup battery.  When I tried to start the plane when I came out with some co-workers mid-week, there was no juice left, so I got a battery charger to top it off.  Ernie said that was a good idea in any case since the weak voltage regulator on the -12 tends to blow under heavy draw (like recharging the battery).  So I pulled the cowl and charged it up.  While the charger was providing current, I tried the update again  This time it finished in a couple minutes.  The charger I bought had a ring mounting adaptor cable, so, when the charging was complete, I mounted that and routed the plug over to the oil door.  Now, I’ll be able to charge up the battery without pulling the cowl.  That will also be good for playing around with or updating the Skyview.

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My wife and son came out in the late afternoon to visit.  Ryan wanted to fly (my wife just came out for some Texas BBQ).  We got a chance to test out the canopy latch I installed last week.  I really like it.  We did a trip around the pattern to a full stop and then headed out off airport for the first time.  I’m definitely feeling more comfortable in the plane and my landings are still going well.  I really need more practice with the Skyview though.  I couldn’t remember how to load up a Direct-To route. I was planning on testing it to get me back to the airport.  I knew I could return with pilotage, but wanted to practice the button mashing and knob twisting.  Clearly, I need some more time hangar flying it.  In any case, it was a pretty easy return flight.  I did like that the Skyview called out traffic and indicated towers along the route (lots of towers between Houston and Galveston!).  Ryan was smiling after the trip.

Next week, my buddy Carver returns and we’ll get started on the fuel tanks.  Once I get the replacement parts, I’ll rebuild the aileron and complete the elevators as well.



A shop emerges/First Texas rivets

Last week, my daughter was home from college on Spring Break.  She spent one day with me out in the shop and we finally got the shop organized and the tools unpacked.  There’s a nice spot at the back of the T-hangar about 15’x20′ that makes a good build area.  With the -12 rolled out, I have plenty of room.  There’s another 10’x15′ area near the door that I can also do work in.  When the fuselage goes together, I’ll put it on a rotisserie back here and move the tables to the front “lounge” area where I have the beer fridge and the comfy chair.

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So this week, I was determined to actually get back to work.  I wanted to get the new canopy latch installed on the -12.  This required drilling out three rivets and then pop-riveting a new steel piece in to act as a catch.  I also wanted to do some of the rework (read as “salvageable mistakes”) that had piled up whilst building the other parts.  I have to re-rivet the trailing edge of one elevator (heads of the double flush rivets were not very flush), I have to dress the edge of one of the rudder skins that got banged, up, and I have to rebuild one of the ailerons that I messed up the skin with an errant rivet gun.

My new friend Carver stopped by the shop to help.  He’s an interesting character.  His dad was a no-shit Tuskegee Airman in WWII.  Carver was an F-4 driver and Air Force Academy graduate (and more interestingly, a Dodger’s ballboy!). He’s interested in building a plane, but had never so much as touched a cleco.  So I walked him through the tools and we started in on the backlog.  The first project was the RV-12 canopy latch fix.  It’s a small piece that will hold the canopy latch in place while taxiing.  I saw this video online in which a gust of wind blew a popped open canopy up and over into the prop.  The latch was cheap insurance to keep the canopy in place.  So I drilled out the three pop rivets.  Pretty easy since the mandril hole is there to guide it.  I used a pin to crack the head and paint around the rivets off.  Then Carver got to insert his first cleco’s!

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We soon had to pull the cleco’s out again because I had to do a quick ream out to clean up the rivet holes that were just a touch too small for the #4 rivets.  Then Carver became a real builder when he pulled those three rivets!  He was very excited to actually build something after watching so many videos.  It came out great with nice tight rivets.  It seems to hold the canopy handle quite nicely.

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Next up was the elevator.  When I built it, I tried back riveting the double flush rivets.  The results where not very good.  The flush heads were tipped out of their holes.  When I did the other elevator, I squeezed the rivets first and then drove the shop head flush after (that worked much better).  So, I have 50 rivets to pull and replace.  I drilled out every other rivet so that I could keep the trailing edge straight and tight.  Carver added cleco’s (he’s now an expert!) behind me as I got them out.  I did elongate three of the holes, so I reamed them for 1/8″ oops rivets (You can see the copper clecos if you look closely).

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I demonstrated how to squeeze a rivet with my nice geezer squeezer (but not the sense of the urban dictionary meanings!) and he did the last 24.  Next week. I’ll pull the remaining 25 rivets and then finish the 50 double flush heads on the bottom side.

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Still a lot of work to do before I can really get rolling again.  The plan is to catch up on my re-work while Carver does parts prep for the dreaded fuel tanks!