Cowling

Total: 2648.1
Cowling: 100.0 hours

This was a frustrating step. Seems like every task had some repair associated with it. The plans are very poor in this section (in my opinion) and the quality of the parts provided in the kit are also not that great. To be fair one big mistake was all my own so my problems can’t all be blamed on the plans. I got a great deal more fiberglass experience than intended, to be sure. (And I thought the doors were a challenge. The cowling made the doors look a little easy.)

A lot of details are recorded in the picture captions.

The good news is that the cowling is mostly complete and fits very well. It also come on and off very easily. There are a few things left to do like coat the inside with a thin layer of epoxy and a few areas still need some body work, but nothing significant – the kid of stuff I’ll do while doing something else.

Propeller install

Total: 2548.1
Firewall forward — 37.1
Propeller install 6.5

Another task that should not have taken quite so long. First problem. Find straps suitable for hoisting the prop with Big Red. Had one and thought I had another but couldn’t find it. So then spent an hour looking up how to tie a bowline knot (something I used to know back in my deck-hand days) and a bowline-on-a-bite (something I never heard of before) so that I could use some rope for the task. That done, next step extract the front oil seal for from the crank-case so that that we can use this constant speed prop. The oil is regulated by the prop-governor to pressurize the innards of the prop in order to adjust the pitch of the blades in order to maintain the RPM of my choosing. I had looked up how to do this and though it would take about 10 minutes. Nope. It took more than an hour. The thing just did not want to come out. Eventually it did (and I forgot to take a picture of it in my frustration). Then with Scott’s help we hoisted the prop and maneuvered it over to the engine. Took a long time. Went on part way then I took it off because one bolt seemed to be running tighter than the others. It was fine. Just a little tighter than the others. …. Maneuvered the prop back into position and fastened it down. I did not torque the bolts or safety wire yet because it may have to come back off during the cowl and engine work. I hope not, but I’ll wait to torque and safety wire until I’m sure.

And that’s all for this one. Next will be the cowl. … More fiberglass work. … Really getting tired of fiberglass work.

…. Update (the next day) …..

Prop had to come back off again. It’s impossible to put the alternator belt on with the prop installed. When I realized this I decided to just do it now while the process is fresh on my mind. Prop off, alternator installed with belt. Prop back on. Still not torquing or safety wiring the prop in case it has to come off yet again. Good news is it was a quick process this time. 20 minutes getting it off, 60 minutes figuring out how to install the alternator and getting all its bolts torqued and safety wired, and maybe 40 minutes getting the prop back on (with Scott’s help).

Engine installed

Total: 2541.6
Firewall forward: 30.6
FWF since last time: 24.5

Got engine installed and spinner fit to prop. The only issue was four nuts on the back side of the engine mounts. Had RH over to help hang the engine. It took about 8 hours over two days to get those four nuts torqued. Two hours per nut. Ralph even tried modifying wrenches to fit. No way. In the end it took a simple swivel socket to do the job which we borrowed from someone at the airport. Not a swivel adapter and a regular socket. That won’t fit. It took an actual 9/16 swivel socket. Once we had the right socket, it took 5 minutes to torque those nuts.

If you ignore the wasted time torquing those nuts, the engine install took about 1 hour. The actual hanging with two people and a load leveler was almost trivial. We got the bottom mounting bolts in first then used the leveler and hoist to align and get the top bolts in. It was surprising how easy it actually was.

Then did all the metal-work and match drilling to fir the spinner to the prop. No issues with this.

Grips and Misc

Total: 2517.1
Misc stuff: 8.5

Put connector on the sticks that fit through the sticks so they can be removed easily. Also had what I thought was an issue with the PMA450a (audio panel) fit. It have some give vertically when in the tray. I thought I had done something wrong in the install but in the end this is normal. I’ll put some rubber between it and the GTN650 which will be installed above it.

Also installed the “shore-power” connector in the rear panel behind the baggage compartment. This will allow the battery to be recharged and for the charger to be connected when on the ground so as not to drain the battery when the engine is not running.

Not may pics of this stuff. Might add more later.

Cabin top finally done

total hours: 2508.6
cabin top this session: 141.5
cabin top total: 280.8

Wow. All the windows are installed, the body work done around the doors and windows, The windscreen fairing and the cabin top is primed. When it goes to the painter there will no doubt be some improvements he’ll be able to make, but it’s not too bad a job if I do say so myself. Took a LOT longer than anticipated, but it does look pretty good. Especially the windscreen fairing. I’m actually surprised with how good that turned out.

There’s still some cosmetics to be dealt with on the windows. And some minor scratches in the side windows to deal with. Yes, with a big box of bran new micr-fiber towels at my feet, right after window install was complete, I proceeded to wipe them down thoroughly with paper-towels. This was at about 1:00 AM when it happened. And now there are a thousand little scratches in these windows. What a dummy. Mercifully I realized my idiocrity before doing the same thing to the windscreen. There’s also a little bit of adhesive smear near the edges of the inside of the windows. I think I’ll be able to fix all these issues with the windows. 

On the windows I used Lord adhesive. It required just under two tubes for me. Doing two windows at a time really minimized waste. The window install was actually really easy.

The transition from window to cabin top was very time consuming. I used a 2″ fiber-glass tape thinking this would save me time. It didn’t. There’s just no way to get it to stick reliably to the windscreen. I roughed up the edges of those windows till they were white. The glass tape delaminated everywhere. I tried a few time and in the end just pulled it all off. I used a mixture of flox/micro/cab-o-sil and made the window transitions with that, blending it nicely into the cabin top and leaving an edge the thickness of electrical tape on the window. It came out pretty good. Not perfect in some spots, but pretty good for an amateur doing body work for the first time.

Put conductive aluminum tape on rear of cabin top to form ground plane for top comm antenna. Made sure we got good conductivity with the airframe. Then epoxied it over and primed.

And that’t mostly it. Anything forgotten will be in the pictures. … Oh, and I also installed the seats, That took all of about 10 minutes. See pictures.

Next update should be engine install!