Fuselage Kit Arrives


Well the day finally arrived!  The fuselage kit was delivered.  They used a shipping company I had never heard of before.  "Old Dominion Freight".  The downside was, I usually have things shipped to my local freight terminal where I go pick it up...saving me a little cost, and, preventing me from having to take time off work to wait for the delivery.  This way I can just pick it up at my convenience.  This company doesn't have a local freight terminal, so that wasn't an option, so I had to be available to receive it.  On the upside, this is one of the first times I have received a shipment that hasn't had at least some sort of crate damage.  So "Bravo" to Old Dominion! 

You know who else deserves the big kudos?  Van's crating guys.  These guys did a spectacular job packing this crate.  I did find one flaw...one edge wasn't stapled down at all, but as long as 3 of the 4 were, it was ok. But inside, it's clear that they take lots of time and effort to find a way to pack things small and safe.  Great job, guys, if you're reading this.

I can hardly wait to get building the kit.  It looks from the plans sections that this kit section should move right along pretty well.

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Just as with the wings and wiring, there is one area of the kit that I previously had major concerns and I'm starting to see as a major disappointment....the panel plan.  I don't like the ideal that the kit is being designed around a couple of specific manufacturers avionics, but what is worse than that is when the kit is designed in such a way that it makes it less flexible.  In my RV-10, I have a 3-screen Chelton system.  I also have become very sold on the idea of 3 individual screens, that are independent in operation, and can be set to any of either PFD, MFD, or Engine monitor mode.  Split screens and large screens are not my favorite way to do this.  Keeping separate data on separate screens makes the user presentation much more clean and clear for the pilot/co-pilot, and makes quick recognition of the data much easier, as opposed to some of the large screens today that get very "busy" with too much data being presented.  Especially when it comes to "pretty" green shaded terrain and items like that. These have actually been proven in tests to detract from the ability to quickly interpret the data. So I wanted to do what I know, from experience, works well for me.
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As I said, in my RV-10, I have a 3-screen Chelton system.  I have one screen which is centered for the pilot on each side, and one that is up tight to the first screen as in the 2nd photo above.  The radio stack fits between.  All 3 screens are viewable in this configuration, to both pilots, and all 3 screens being independent are capable of each of the functions.  This allows me to totally turn over the plane to the co-pilot and they have all the data they need as well as the pilot does.

Looking at the frame that came with the forward fuselage kit, I was MOST concerned with getting the 3 screens all into the panel. It was easily apparent that in no configuration was I able to put in 2 screens side by side or near eachother, or even 3 spaced evenly as in the first photo above.  Keep in mind that none of these Chelton screens are as big as many EFIS that most people will have.  So the average person will either be stuck with 2 screens, or with lots of modifications to make.

In my case, I'm going to have to move the radio stack braces that are on this piece, and move the corresponding ribs behind them, so that I can have a layout like photo #2 above.  Another complicating factor is that the canopy has the breakaway latch, so as I build, I'm going to have to make sure that breakway latch handle still is able to be placed in a similar area, that functions.  The panel is also shorter in height than the RV-10 panel, so no matter how you cut it, there isn't as much room for placement of backup gauges and things like that.  That said, as long as I can successfully cut and modify the center ribs sufficiently, I should be able to get everything I need into the panel.  One thing that will definitely be required will be for me to cut my own panel sections, or a full one-piece metal panel...there's no way I'm going to be able to use the parts in the kit, when it comes to the actual panel sections.
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So while the kit itself is very complete, and has been done in an extraordinary way, when it comes to anything related to Avionics, I view this as a big negative.  But,the framework is there, and I have the clear plan in mind, so when the time comes, I am sure I can make this work.

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