Archive for May, 2010

Plenum Checkerboard

Since I didn’t get home from work until about 7pm today, I don’t have much to report. I stopped by my hangar on my way home from Denver and picked up my plenum halves. I painted them on Thursday and they were dry enough to peel the mask today. I think they turned out fairly well if I do say so myself. I’m going to shoot a few layers of clear over the checkerboard to try and make them a little more durable. These should add a little pizazz to the engine compartment!

Diodes, Lighting, Plenum Checkers, Ignition Harness

Ah the diode. Many people say that diodes are a necessary part of the master and battery solenoid installation. They prevent a spike in current when the solenoid snaps closed and protect sensitive electronic equipment. Some people say their normally-certified airplane doesn’t have them and they’ve never had any problems. At about $0.75 each and about 0.01 oz. each, I decided I may as well install them. I covered them with heat shrink and crimped the ends directly to the diode wires. It was a 5 minute installation.

Here’s a shot of the 2 diodes installed. The one on the master solenoid goes from the ground trigger wire to the power input pole. The diode on the starter solenoid goes from the 12 volt trigger wire to ground. The orientation of the band on the diode is very important. Bob Nuckolls has a good article available on his website that describes diode use in technical detail. Advanced Power Systems has a cartoon drawing explanation that I found more appropriate to my level of understanding.

There were thunderstorms and severe weather in the Denver area last week so a few Frontier airplanes diverted to KFNL. I’ve been at Frontier for over 6 years so I wasn’t too surprised to know the captains on both flights. It was fun walking up to the left side window and asking them if they were lost… or what?

It was a little difficult to get a picture of this, but what I’m trying to show is my new nighttime loading/unloading lighting. I bought 2 12-inch strips of LED lights from Auto Zone and installed one under the right longeron and one in the baggage compartment. I’m not talented enough as a photographer to figure out how to get a good photo of this so I had to take the picture with the hangar lights on. The short story is that the lights are connected to a switch and the hot battery buss. The lights look great and provide plenty of light. Gotta love bling, right?

I was really dreading the process of finalizing the routing and tying off my ignition harness. I was convinced that I could never find a home for all that wire and make it look decent. Well, I’ll let you (and the inspector) decide how it turned out, but it’s done and I’m pretty satisfied. As it turns out, it took a fair bit of time (several hours), but it wasn’t a dreadful task after all. One more piece of the puzzle completed.

Just in case you were wondering what I was doing with better than half my day on Thursday… Here it is. I taped the checkerboard pattern on my plenum pieces. Wow. Checkerboard really is time-consuming. I had Aerographics make me a big sheet of 2×2 checkerboard to speed the process. It worked, but since the pieces had many compound curves, I had to “fill in the blanks” with some 3M fineline vinyl tape. I painted the black on Thursday afternoon and the parts are curing in my hangar as I type this message. I’m currently sitting in a hotel room in Milwaukee, but will be back out at the hangar later this afternoon and again tomorrow morning. My day will be cut short tomorrow because I’m scheduled to give my last 2 Beech 1900 checkrides tomorrow afternoon. My examiner designation expires May 31st and I’m not going to renew it. I enjoyed it, but I’m looking forward to freeing up the time for flying my Midget Mustang!

Fuel Vent & Cowling

I guess I didn’t take a picture of it, but I finished the installation of my new fuel vent system. To recap, I somehow messed up my originally installed fuel vent system such that I was losing approximately 20% of my fuel capacity. When you’ve only got 3 hours fuel to empty, 20% loss is not an acceptable situation. The significance of this picture is (a) it’s related to the fuel system and (b) more importantly, it means that there’s hope I’ll be able to run auto gas after all. This Shell station in Ft. Collins claims that their 91 octane fuel doesn’t have Ethanol. I’ll test it to be sure, but I’d love to be able to run 91 Octane auto gas for $2.83/gallon rather than the more expensive 100LL. I’ll need to run 100LL for the first 25 hours engine break-in anyway, but after that, I might be good to go!

I am EXTREMELY happy to report that the paint shop called today to say that my cowling is finished. I picked it up this afternoon and it looks FANTASTIC. I think this cowling will absolutely make the airplane whole. Honestly, maybe it’s because I’ve been staring at it day in and day out for the past 6 years, but the mostly silver paint job seems boring to me. I think the checkerboard and red nose will add just the right amount of pizazz! Stand by for pictures of the completely assembled bird… Maybe tomorrow, we’ll see.

I knocked off at the airport a little early today to go on a motorcycle ride with a few friends from here in Loveland. We drove approximately 20 miles to the southwest to the small town of Lyons for sandwiches at a blues bar. A good time was had by all and I enjoyed the diversion. My bike is the one in the middle. Mine is a K1100LT and the other two are K75’s. They’re all about the same age. Mine’s a 1996.

Fuel Vent & Odds ‘n Ends

My oil filler tube has an extra tube welded in place for an air/oil separator return line. I’m not initially going to install an air/oil separator so I need to plug the hole somehow. I visited the aviation aisle at the local Ace this morning and bought this rubber plug.

I’ve installed the plug in the tube. It fits very nice and doesn’t look too bad, either. I’m thankful that the guy at Ace Hardware suggested it because I may have never found it on my own.

Looking back on yesterday’s post, I see that I didn’t describe the issues I discovered with my fuel system. A couple of years ago, just after the gas tank was finished, I checked the tank’s capacity. I remember that it held just shy of 15 gallons. I purchased 15.5 gallons of fuel with the intention of first determining how much unusable fuel I had and then determining the total capacity of the installed tank. Much to my dismay, the tank started peeing fuel out the vent line after only about 12 gallons. The fuel is a tube that’s snaked up to the high point of the tank so this shouldn’t be happening. Big time bummer.

This is a shot of the inside of my tank just as we were about to glue the phenolic block in place to hold the fuel cap filler neck. You can see the line that snakes from the front of the tank (lower left in this picture) to near where the filler neck will be glued in place. Unfortunately, I wasn’t thinking ahead and didn’t confirm the vent line was still open after we had applied to the sealer to the tank. I didn’t realize the sealer had blocked the vent line until after the bottom lid had been glued in place–forever sealing the tank from outside access. In an attempt to try and open the vent line, I ran a bunch of different semi-stiff things through the vent line. I think somewhere in this process, I must have put a hole in the line at the 12 gallon mark. My vent was no longer at the high point in the tank and I didn’t discover this until I started putting fuel in the tank yesterday. Bummer.

It dawned on me that the need to drain all the fuel out of the system today was also an opportunity to verify proper functioning of my fuel flow instrument. I hope I never see 13.8 gallons per hour in my O-200! As it turns out, I think I’ll need to adjust my instrument’s “K-factor” because I think the actual flow rate was closer to 17-18 gallons per hour based on how quickly the 5 gallon can overflowed and spilled gas all over my hangar floor! I was watching the “fuel used” display and figured I had another 5 minutes before I needed to switch out the gas can. Woops. I won’t tweak the K factor until I’m actually flying the plane. I will plan to land with more than an hour’s worth of fuel for each of my test flights. I’m not gonna mess around with a minimum fuel situation in the first hours of testing my airplane. That’d be stupid.

To relocate my actual fuel vent location back to my intended fuel vent location, I decided to install an AN fitting through a new hole in the tank near the filler neck.

Knowing how perfect the inside of the tank is sealed, it was a bummer to have to drill a new hole that I wouldn’t be able to dress out to the extent the rest of the tank was finished. I couldn’t really think of a practical alternative so I drilled away. I used my Dremel tool with the pencil attachment to make the hole slightly oblong so that the AN fitting would sit perpendicular to the forward edge of the tank. I installed the AN nut on the fitting just to give the epoxy something else to grab hold of.

I whipped up a small batch of West Systems epoxy and added a healthy amount of flox to make a paste consistency mixture. I then used a tongue depressor to fully encapsulate the AN fitting. I also buttered up the fitting before inserting it in the hole. I’m sure I wound up with a drip or two inside the tank, but I’ll take care of that tomorrow after this has had a chance to cure overnight. I’m satisfied that this shouldn’t leak. If nothing else, it’s not under pressure and it won’t be covered in fuel except for the few moments that the tanks are absolutely full.

Luckily, I had enough left over aluminum tubing to fabricate a completely fresh vent line to attach to the new vent location. The bottom end of the vent line attaches to a 90 degree bulkhead fitting in the wing root. From there you can see it comes up the side of the fuselage and then goes to the highest point I could reach and then makes a 180 degree turn back to the corner of the tank and around the tank to the new vent fitting. The goal is to provide a vent, but make it difficult for the fuel to actually flow overboard in a full tank situation.

Another example of miscellaneous progress in the finishing stages. I’m test-fitting the strip of LED lights near the front of the canopy. Believe it or not, those tiny 9 lights provide plenty of instrument lighting for night operations. I didn’t put a meter to it, but I’d guess those 9 lights are pulling a combined total of less than 100 milliamps. I need to get some double-sided tape tomorrow to finish the installation. I’m planning to have similar strips, but in white lights under the right cockpit longeron and in the baggage compartment for loading/unloading at night. I started the wiring for these other lights this evening and am hoping to have more progress to share tomorrow evening.

Another one of those nagging projects that distracts from the airplane project. Last fall, I managed to nearly pull my small hangar door off the hinges when I opened the big door with the little door open. One of the casualties in the disaster was my mechanical combination door lock was pulled out of the door. The screws holding the lock mechanism are metric and needed to be approximately 3 inches long. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find 3 inch long socket screws (with the allen head) in metric size. I could, however, find phillips screws 3 inches long in metric size, but the heads were too big around to fit in the door lock. I ended up chucking the phillips screw in my air drill and spinning the screw head against a coarse file, my benchtop belt sander and my scotchbrite wheel.

Argh, Argh, Arghhh. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a hangar full of airplane fabrication tools! With the screw head turned town to a reasonable diameter, I was able to (finally) properly attach my door handle to the door. The next step will be replacing the door altogether. It was sprung pretty badly in last year’s door pulling event. What makes the door replacement a little more difficult is that it will need to be cut down to a smaller height. I’ve never cut a steel, exterior door down, so I’m not exactly sure what tool I’ll use to do the deed and I’m not sure how it’ll turn out. I got an estimate from a local pre-hung door manufacturer and they wanted ~$500 for the door. I can buy one at Home Depot for less than $100 so I’m going to give it a shot.
Well, I guess that pretty well wraps it up for the day. I’m going to the airport again tomorrow, but I don’t know how much work I’ll get done. Every vehicle I own needs an oil change so today might be an oil change kinda day. I was going to do my Honda today, but it was too windy to pull the airplane outside so that I could do the oil change in the hangar. It was really blowing today. I’m still somewhat north of 200 pounds and I was almost blown off my feet walking to the porta-potty today. Springtime in Colorado!
If everything goes well, I’m hoping to go on a motorcycle ride tomorrow afternoon. That’ll cut my workday down by a few hours, but I’m really looking forward to taking a ride. I had a new rear tire installed last Saturday and it bugs me to see those little hairs sticking out of the tire. Gotta go wear those down a bit!

Weight and Balance

Today was a Weight & Balance kinda day. I bought a new set of Intercomp Racing Scales from a place in Reno. I borrowed a set from a friend several years ago and was really impressed with how well they worked so I bought a set for myself. Neither a borrower nor a lender be… I first helped a friend weigh his RV-7A. He had recently removed an inoperative FADEC system and replaced it with dual Lightspeed electronic ignition systems. He added a little here and removed a little there and wound up within 4 pounds of his initial weight. This is my Midget Mustang in my hangar rolled up on the scales.

This is the display I see on the scale brainbox. I don’t have my cowling back from the paint shop, so these are just preliminary numbers. I’m expecting my cowling will weigh between 15 and 20 pounds. I’m very happy with this weight. The airplane weighed 626 pounds when I first purchased it. I’ve added paint, a battery, a starter, wing root fairings, a GPS, a Comm radio, a Fuel Flow gauge, lights, 2 fuel pumps, etc. and it looks like I’ll be within 20 pounds of the original and will still be within the “fairly light” realm as compared with other Midget Mustangs.

It’s pretty cool to have scales that accurately show that 1 gallon of fuel really does weigh 6 pounds. I took pictures at several stages along the way in adding fuel. I plan to do the math to determine the exact arm of the fuel tank rather than trying to measure and approximate.

This is serial number 1 of a 1969 Honda CB-750. It is owned by a gentlemen in Ft. Collins, Colorado and was on display at an open house I attended on Saturday morning. I’ve got the little brother to this machine… a 1971 CB350. Mine’s got 5,500 original miles and I thought it was in pretty good shape until I saw this bike. Wow. I might have to dive in to restoring the CB350 once I’m finished with the Mustang project!

Baffles, Cables, W & B

I painted all my little cylinder baffle pieces. My custom carb air intake box is also in this picture.

The cylinder plenum pieces have been painted white. I’m planning to paint these black & white checkerboard. They’re far from perfect, but I’m happy with the way they turned out.

My friend and EAA Tech Counselor suggested that I add a little safety wire around this Adel clamp to hold the cable firmly in place. I ran the safety wire around the cable and then twisted it tight. My friend was right. This really worked well to keep the cable from slipping through the Adel clamp.

A close-up of where my throttle cable hooks up to the control arm on the carburetor. You can see that I’m using the top hole in the control arm. This gives me a little less throw from full power to idle, but the geometry for the throttle cable approach works out better when the control arm doesn’t draw such a large diameter arc.

It was a bit of a challenge to get these two Adel clamps to come together to hold the throttle cable away from the engine mount. I could see where the original throttle cable installation caused a little erosion on the engine mount reinforcement gusset. I’m trying to avoid any further erosion by using Adel clamps to keep the cable away from anything that might rub.

I fabbed this throttle cable bracket out of aluminum angle. I really enjoy working with aluminum versus steal because it’s so much easier to machine.

The throttle cable bracket is mostly installed. The slot in the bracket aligns with a cut-out in the cable. The slot in the cable fits into the slot in the bracket and the cable is held in place even when Joe Pilot is pushing and pulling on the throttle.

I needed some way to make sure the slot in the cable wouldn’t slip out of the slot in the bracket. I decided to keep it simple and just use a little safety wire threaded through a small #40 hold drilled in the bracket. Works good, lasts long time.

This is the mixture cable as it attaches to the control arm on the carburetor. I had planned to use an official “B” Nut setup to make this connection, but the B Nut assembly was too tall and interfered whether it was installed right side up or upside down. This is just an all-metal locknut with a drilled bolt. I put the wire through the bolt and then back the nut out until it bites into the wire. With the right number of washers, the bolt is reasonably snug while still able to rotate. I may end up finding some sort of crimp connector rod end bearing, but I’m confident this is secure for the time being.

The previous builder drilled a bunch of holes in the firewall for various pass-throughs. I didn’t need nearly as many holes so these are just “extra.” I’ve cut a few pieces of stainless to cover these holes. The pieces have been painted and will installed with JB Weld once the paint cures.

The only hose firewall forward that didn’t have a fire sleeve was my oil pressure line. I ordered the appropriate fire sleeve and stainless band clamps and covered the hose. I’d have to look back in my notes to see what I used the last time, but MEK works very well to dissolve a little hi-temp RTV to use as dipping juice for the fire sleeve ends. They really turn out looking professional AND you don’t have to spend $135 for a quart of the official fire sleeve dipping sauce!

Here’s the oil pressure line reinstalled with the fire sleeve in place. If nothing else, the fire sleeve will also provide a little more chafe resistance to the hose.

This is a profile view of my custom carb air inlet box. This will attach to my lower cowling smiley intake via a short neoprene sleeve. I hadn’t planned on using any type of filter, but I think I’m going to install a fine screen to keep bugs and bigger debris from entering the carburetor.

Cowl Cheeks, Gas Tank Cover, Canopy

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted. Been busy at work again. I’ve got a fair bit of time off again this week so I’m hoping to finish up a few of these nagging last minute details.

I decided to line the insides of my cowl cheeks with felt. I figure I might use the cheeks to store an extra quart of oil, rags, a funnel, and maybe even a soft overnight bag if I need to avoid the aft baggage compartment for C of G reasons. I taped off the perimeter and sprayed adhesive where the felt will go.

I cut the felt to rough size and then laid it over the still-tacky spray on glue. Once it was smoothed down, I used a straight-edge and a razor blade to trim the felt to the exact size.

I also taped off the side of the fuselage so that I wouldn’t get any glue where it shouldn’t be.

This is sort of a dual-purpose photo. You can see the cowl cheek installed with the felt on the inside. I don’t know if I’ll ever use the cheeks as a baggage compartment, but if I do, at least things won’t be rattling around against the paint. You’ll also notice that I’ve installed the skin piece over the gas tank. This seems like a minor little task, which I guess it was, but it represents a milestone in that it means that I’m done tinkering with the wiring behind the instrument panel. Woo, hoo! Progress!!!

Before I installed the forward fuselage skin over the gas tank, I applied a generous bead of Permatex #2 around the gas cap filler neck ring. I’m hoping that the Permatex will provide a seal such that if the tank is overfilled, the extra gas will run down the outside of the aircraft rather than seeping between the fuselage skin and the tank itself–eventually running down to the floor near the rudder pedals. Ugh. What a mess that’d be!

The Permatex oozed out around the perimeter of the gas cap ring. I carefully cleaned off the excess using a paper towel and a little bit of acetone. I think it cleaned up nicely. It nearly killed me to wipe my newly painted black skin with a paper towel. Black shows every hairline scratch and I think the only time black paint is truly scratch free is approximately 30 seconds after it originally comes out of the paint gun! I’m one of those freaky people, however, that notices the scratch left by placing a styrofoam coffee cup on the roof of the car. It really does leave scratches. Look closely…

A random picture of two of the ugliest planes I can ever imagine. They share a hangar with a friend of mine. The guys who built/own these things are really nice guys, but that doesn’t change the fact that these are butt-ugly! I’ve removed the N-numbers to protect their identity!

This is what I settled on for my canopy latch levers. These things attache on the inside of the canopy skirt to a couple of steel rods that engage into a simple bracket mounted on the top longeron. It’s simple and lightweight and the canopy is definitely held down securely. If I had built the canopy and canopy skirt from scratch I probably would have used some sort of a single lever cam system, but this will do.

This is my 1996 K1100LT BMW motorcycle. I’ve owned it for about 18 months. It’s kept me away from the airplane project for a few days over the past couple of weeks. The front fork seals were leaking fork oil and needed to be replaced. A friend offered to help me replace the seals. How could I refuse? We finished up late yesterday afternoon. If you look closely, we also installed rubber boots over the exposed portion of the forks. This should prevent the forks from leaking in the future. What happens is that bugs and/or road debris contaminate the smooth part of the folk. This contamination then erodes the fork seal and eventually causes a leak. Cherokees have similar problems with their landing gear struts. Maybe they need rubber boots, too?

Here are all my remaining fiberglass parts wearing a first round of primer. I’ll need to do a little more sanding and filling and then spray another round of primer before they’re ready for final paint. I should have these ready for primer as soon as tomorrow afternoon, but the actual priming session will be weather dependent. Hard to believe I’m still waiting for a warm day to paint outside in mid-May. Welcome to Colorado, I guess.

Baffles, Primer, Manifold Pressure

It’s been long enough since I’ve posted an update that I actually had to go read my blog to see where I’ve left off. I have to laugh because less than a week ago I mentioned how it was warming up and I couldn’t wait to ride my motorcycle. It snowed yesterday and today. Welcome to Colorado, I guess.
In any case, here’s a shot of my newly-painted baffles installed on my engine. I think they look nice.

I’m using the standard bulkhead pass-throughs for my ignition wires. I installed nutplates in my cylinder barrel baffles to accept these pass-throughs.

I finally remembered to bring the Garmin 496 from home. It was one more thing I needed to install before I could button up the wiring and put the forward fuselage skin piece on for good. I think the panel looks nice all lit up like this. I need to make some labels…

I’ve been trying to verify the operation of all my instruments before I close out the top skin covering the fuel tank and the backside of the instrument panel. I was suspicious of my manifold pressure gauge so I called UMA this morning. My gauge is an electronic version–meaning it uses a transducer and wires rather than an actual manifold pressure line running to the gauge. My gauge was pegged at full scale showing 35+ inches of Mercury. I thought it should read ambient pressure which (at 5,000′ field elevation) should be somewhere around 25 in. Hg. Sure enough. UMA confirmed that my instrument was not reading correctly.
I spent HOURS digging through wires and breaking bundles of wires apart to test, probe and verify everything I could think of. I called UMA again and mentioned told them what was going on. He said it sounded like I was feeding 12 volts to the 0-5 volt sensor wire. This would cause the needle to go full-scale rather than reading ambient. I ended up pulling the gauge from the panel and bench testing the setup. Same results.
I started taking voltage readings from everything I could think of. I called UMA again and started telling him voltage readings. He determined that my gauge was calibrated incorrectly. It was calibrated for a 0 to 70 in.Hg. scale rather than the correct o to 35 in.Hg. scale. He had me pull the gauge apart and turn the trim adjustment until my gauge read 25 in.Hg. It was a little scary tearing apart a brand new gauge, but it turned out to be no big deal.
The whole ordeal consumed about 6 hours of time today. It also pretty well sucked the life out of me so I had a hard time getting motivated the rest of the day.

One of the little clean-up chores was connecting the capacitive fuel probe to the UMA fuel gauge. In the process of verifying the correct operation of my fuel gauge, I discovered a bad connection in some other wiring. After about an hour, I finally finished this 10 minute project!

For a simple little no-gyro VFR-only panel, I sure wound up with a bunch of little wires! I did my best to tie everything up and support it so I won’t be having intermittent electrical problems.

I made the final connections today for my electric primer pump and fuel solenoid. I decided to go with an electric primer system to avoid bringing the 1/8″ copper lines carrying fuel to and from the manual primer plunger valve. Since the aircraft doesn’t otherwise have an electric fuel pump, I installed this Facet pump just for the primer. The primer pump sucks fuel from the gascolator and then routes it through the fuel solenoid. I’ve got it set up so the solenoid opens at the same time the pump comes on. They’re both connected to a single, momentary contact pushbutton switch. Getting the right amount of prime will depend on holding the button down for the right amount of time. One-Mississippi, Two-Mississippi, etc.

This will be the next project: routing my spark plug wires. I spent the money for a “custom” harness for my O-200. Well, I’m not sure what makes it custom. From all I can tell, the wires are all cut to random lengths and I’ll wind up with just barely enough in some instances and way too much wire in other instances. I’m experimenting with circuitous routing to take up some of the excess wire. I still need to check on some internet forums to see if it’s possible to trim these babies down to size.

I installed the canopy so I just had to take a progress picture. Getting closer… I installed a string system to keep the canopy from springing open too far and damaging the hinge attach point. I was trying to come up with all kinds of spiffy brackets and mechanisms to hold the canopy open, but in the end I just decided to keep it simple and use a length of black nylon rope. Light, simple and effective. It’ll do.

Motorcycle Day

I did a bunch of Beech 1900 checkrides this week so I spent considerably less time out at the airport working on the MIdget Mustang. The weather is starting to be a little warmer these days so it is time to break out the motorcycle. Late last fall my 1996 K1100LT developed a small leak in the fork seals. Jim, a friend of mine, is very experienced in working on motorcycles and offered to help me replace the seals. I know almost nothing about replacing fork seals so I was happy to accept his offer.

Jim’s got every tool known to man when it comes to working on motorcycles. One of the coolest tools is the air/hydraulic motorcycle lift you see in this picture. It lifted my 700+ pound motorcycle without so much as a creak or groan.

I’ve been taking things apart since I was old enough to crawl, but I’ve never worked on a motorcycle. I must say that it was a little scary seeing my motorcycle in this condition.

Jim used a little extra fork oil and his 50 ton press to force the old seals out of my fork tubes. It’s possible to just beat them out of the tubes, but this was more civilized and a little less noisy! ‘Course you gotta have a 50 ton press so not just anybody will be able to do this!

Baffles, Primer, Panel, Canopy

The good news is that rattle can primer and paint strips very easily with Aircraft Stripper. The bad news is that I spent 2-1/2 hours this morning proving this. I purchased some Ace Hardware hi-temp gloss black and sprayed it over the top of my SEM self-etching rattle can primer. The two didn’t get along and I had to strip all the baffles back to bare metal.

It took about 2-1/2 hours to strip all the baffles back to bare metal. To avoid any compatibility problems this time around, I bought Rustoleum primer and Rustoleum gloss black. It worked out very well and I’ve now got a bunch of shiny baffles hanging from my hangar door while the paint cures. I probably won’t be back out to the hangar until at least Wednesday of this week so I’m hopeful they’ll have time to fully cure.

I wasn’t happy with the routing of the copper tube for my primer system. I visited the airplane aisle at Ace again and purchased 5 feet of 1/8″ copper tubing for $1 per foot. I have no idea whether this is more or less than what Aircraft Spruce charges, but I don’t really care. It was nice to buy the stuff locally and finish the project. I routed the line out of the primer solenoid horizontally across the firewall and then followed the engine mount to the center of the case just inboard of the left upper engine mount.

I also covered the copper line with clear rubber tubing from a oxygen cannula that they used on my Mom in the hospital. They were just going to throw it away so I snagged it. It sure made it simple to tie the copper line wherever I wanted without worrying about chafing. You can see that I also included a loop for strain relief just forward of the engine mount. I figure there’s a good possibility that there will be a little movement between the engine mount and the engine.

I took the canopy to the airport with me this morning. It had been sitting in my living room at home since I finished the Micro Mesh process a week or so ago. A friend, who’s far more experienced than I in terms of building airplanes, predicts that it’ll take me another couple of months before I’m ready to fly. I was hoping to be finished before that, but who knows… I’ll need to cover my nice, clear plexi so I started by running a strip of fine line tape along the perimeter of the plexiglass. It shouldn’t screw up the plastic or leave any residue the way that masking tape sometimes does.

I then covered the canopy with masking paper to protect the glass. It’ll be a big milestone when the day comes to remove the paper.

Here’s a shot looking into the cockpit with the panel mostly installed. I forgot to bring the GPS from home or I think I would have finished the entire panel installation. I’ll need to order the graphics to label the panel from Aerographics sometime soon. For the unfamiliar, Aerographics is a great company for all sorts of custom vinyl work for airplanes or other applications. I’m very lucky in that they’re local and have lightning fast turnaround if I need it. I’ll probably go see Marilyn sometime this week.

Here’s a shot of the current status of my panel installation from the backside. Don’t be too critical just yet. I’ve still got to install the GPS and its mounting bracket. I’ve got a couple of hard points built into the GPS bracket where I’ll use a couple of Adel clamps to firm up my wire bundles. It’s amazing how busy a fairly simple VFR panel can get.

Here’s an overal status shot taken just as I was ready to leave the hangar this evening. I just laid the black forward fuselage skin in place to see what it will look like. It’s pretty exciting to see the project taking its final shape. I think installing the newly-painted black baffles along with the plenum, routing the ignition harness wires and installing the canopy will make a huge difference. I can’t wait until the day comes when I can roll it out onto the ramp and give it a good wash job. It’s accumulated a fair amount of dust over the past few months. I’m sure it will also require a light polishing to remove some hairline scratches in the clear coat, too. Oh well, a labor of love!
I’m scheduled to give 6 Beech 1900 checkrides over the course of the next 3 days. With this much going on, I sort of doubt I’ll make it to the hangar much this week until maybe Friday. My vacation from Frontier is coming to an end and I’ll have to go to work for 3 days starting on Saturday. I’m nearly out of clean clothes because I’ve been spending so much time at my hangar so I may have to play Danny Domestic on Friday rather than going to the airport. We’ll see how much I can accomplish in the evenings over the next few days. i’d really like to get another day at the shop in before I have to go back to work. Stay tuned!