Blog,  Build Log,  Empennage,  Fuselage,  Wings

It’s Been A While…

It’s been nearly two years since I last updated this site! Holy moly! A lot has happened in that time, both with the airplane and in life. If you’ve been following my Instagram account, you’re a little more up-to-date than if you’ve been following this site. If you haven’t been following my Instagram account, here’s a recap of what’s happened in the (nearly) two years since I wrote about completing the empennage:

February 2020

After completing the empennage I had a few months of wait time before the fuselage arrived so I took the opportunity to get some housekeeping and utilitarian tasks done. I got tired of outside temperature and relative humidity dictating when I could prime parts and further delaying progress, so I set out to build a DIY spray booth:

Positive pressure via two intake fans and one exhaust fan

It looks a little janky, but it worked surprisingly well. I said “worked”…past tense…because, though it was very effective and one of the best things I’ve built for this project in terms of utility, I ultimately had to tear it down when the wings arrived and the garage got too crowded. But I digress. This was a very effective booth for creating positive pressure (we don’t want negative pressure pulling in dust and other crap when the booth door is opened) by using two fans for the intake on a low setting, and a fan on medium setting at the bottom, far end of the booth for the exhaust. All three fans had run-of-the-mill air filters on the intake side. It did the trick:

First parts prepped and in the spray booth!
All sprayed and ready to go

Notice the air filter on the exhaust fan is catching all the overspray from the primer. This was critical to ensure I didn’t cause a neighborhood mesothelioma epidemic. I haven’t asked any of my neighbors if they are grateful for not having lung issues as a result of my consideration, but I’m sure they are, ha!

It’s important to stay humble

February wrapped up by finishing the forward mid fuselage bulkheads and half of the mid fuselage lower structure:

Rear fuselage bulkhead done!

March 2020

March brought a lot of friggin work. Between prepping/priming tons of ribs and dimpling the fuselage bottom skin, it felt like the prep work would never end. But it did end, and we got the firewall and forward fuselage lower structures completed:

Some intense calculation happening here
Dimples for dayyssssss
This was, by far, the easiest way to rivet the bottom skin
Buy several sacrificial bits for drilling the stainless steel firewall!
I can almost feel the bugs in my teeth

April 2020

April was another exercise in prep and endless dimpling, and one of those where you put in lots of hours but don’t feel like you’re actually making any progress. We did, however get the firewall and mid fuselage sections joined. This was about a painless process as one could expect, and it really shows the quality of the Van’s kits (the RV-14s come almost fully final-drilled). We also started fitting the side skins to the fuselage structure, which was very exciting to see the “canoe” stage start to come to life:

It was scary to leave this in that position
Test fitting the side skins
Skins dimpled and ready to be riveted

May 2020

May was literally all about getting these side skins riveted. There are some tight spaces and some challenging rivet locations that took some ingenuity to get properly set. I did have one issue with a CherryMax rivet that didn’t set properly, and the ensuing battled to get it drilled out caused a pretty significant wallowing of the rivet hole, but after conferring with Van’s tech support, a mitigation plan was put in place and the build continued.

Happy to be done with that!

June 2020

June was dedicated to getting the mid fuselage joined with the empennage and getting the fuel system installed. I bought the upgraded fuel lines from AS Flightlines and they were nothing short of superb. Great build quality, and matching customer service!

July, August, September 2020

July, August, and September were mostly dedicated to getting a new boxer, Bodhi, and acclimating him to his new surroundings:

The initial transition to his new digs did not go as planned…

October, November 2020

As Christmas 2020 approached, I started to slowly get back into the swing of the build. I got the fuselage painted, brake assemblies built, and brake lines installed:

January 2021

Happy New Year! Lots happened this month. I finished the second coat of interior paint in the fuselage, installed the optional access panel kit in the forward fuselage, installed the control sticks (holy moly, what a pain!), and connected them to the elevators:

March – July 2021

Life got in the way. Of note, I started a new job and had a severely impacted wisdom tooth removed that subsequently ended up in a dry socket, and then had recurring bone fragment issues that kept me busy with trips to the oral surgeon. Fun times! The wing kit did get delivered, though, and my dad and I also made a trip to Arkansas to pick up a finish kit that a builder was selling after deciding not to continue on with his build.

This was literally all the progress from March to July. The right wing top skin got partially riveted to the wing ribs. Sigh…

So now that we’re all caught up, I hope to make more regular posts here and hopefully provide some builder insights to those that might be building or considering building (stop considering and just do it!). Cheers!

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