RV-14 Finishing Kit Progress Summer 2015

Added 9/17/2015

With the finishing kit delayed this spring, it pushed all of the major new parts out into summer, which was about the worst time for me to keep working.  We had a fantastic couple of vacations, had OSH, and in between we tried to hit the water as often as possible and use the 3 hot months of the year to their fullest.  But with August, came school activities and then school starting in September, which quickly gave me more time to get back in the swing of things.

I was trying to focus mainly on finishing as much as the panel wiring as possible, so that if it became necessary to seal off that area forward of the sub-panel, I could have far fewer wires to complete while laying on my back.  I got largely done with the wiring, with my remaining items being stick wiring, the engine monitor, lighting and dimmer controls, and a couple of other accessories.

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One of my bits of required info was in how the planned routing was for the battery thru firewall wiring.  Having that figured out, allowed me to wire up my solenoids, and use the battery to light up the panel for testing.  It didn't take long and I had the altitude encoder talking to the transponder, among other things.

As you can see below, the wiring starts to get pretty messy as you install it, until you get things secured.  Right now I have a bit of unsecured wiring that will need to be bundled up better before it's wrapped up.

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Above is a pic of the panel all lit up.  The Chelton screens are talking to the SL-30 for frequency transfer and such, and I have a great system ready to go for doing remote flip-flop and remote com swap...just waiting on getting the sticks wired to finish that, and before I wire the sticks, I want to have my seat cushions so I can cut the sticks down to the proper height.  Yes, that is me spending time in the tailcone...one of my favorite hiding places...NOT!

I got the ELT so that I could verify the bracket would fit (it does) and so that I could start working on hacking up that Van's tailcone wiring and getting the serial data from a GPS into it.  I am not using Van's molex connectors, but instead splicing directly to the wires for the forward part of the plane, eliminating one more point of failure.  Additionally some of the wiring I'm yanking, or adding to, for my needs.  Below you can see that I got my AHRS wired and connected, and it reads attitude well.

Also below is installation of the landing gear.  At first I was a bit concerned that somehow this landing gear wouldn't be all that rugged.  I still maybe worry a little big about how it would handle very forceful aft loads, like if you hit a big berm, but after seeing how the gear bolts into the spar and the structure, and how heavy that gear is, I think this is likely to be about the most durable landing gear I've ever landed on!  In fact, if there is anything now that is a weaker link, it's the 1/4" bolts that hold the axles on to the gear legs, but I see no reason that this gear won't survive some pretty hard landings.  I did have a slightly harder time getting the Right side gear up in place, but helped it in with a custom pin I made to align and lead in the bolt as it was inserted. It still took some tapping with a hammer, and I think if I ever have to pull the gear off, it's going to be a major, major chore.  But it went in.

Another stress point for me was getting the right 81194 antenna for my Freeflight GPS.  That was a purchase that I hope I will be happy with.  I like the concept, but the fact is, that GPS is old by today's standards, and these days I'm betting a $100 GPS module could outperform it.  Unfortunately, it would not have the proper serial protocol at that price.  So I put this in for the time being.  Should I choose to upgrade later, it should be easy.

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I took some photos of my Grove wheel assemblies, The Kit is 55-204, the wheel is 55-1M, the caliper is 30-4M, and torque plate is 020-001.  I put that in there so that later if I am searching my own site for parts, I can find it.

Below was one of the next slight disappointments I had. There is an aluminum bracket that swivels on the engine mount that connects to the elastomers for the nosewheel shock absorption.  Mine had too much gap between the bracket and mount.  In the plans, it tells you to remove the powder coat so the part fits well.  It also says if there is a gap to tighten the bolts together, but not add washers.  After looking at all the dimensions and the design, I saw this as a potential area of bad design.  You will have a steel bushing rubbing against a weaker aluminum bracket, eventually wearing it in. With such large gaps, I decided to bond some washers that were the same size as the bushings, right to the bracket, providing a steel on steel wear surface instead.  Also, the elastomer shaft is the same basic design as the RV-10, so the shaft itself will wear through over time...a problem I see coming on the RV-10.  You will probably need to replace the nose gear elastomer shaft every engine TBO or it will snap on you some day.  This will be the same.

As you can see, the nose gear elastomers are FAA/PMA'd for a Mooney M20.  The fork itself is the same fork, as far as I can tell, as the RV-10, although it has at least one more lightening hole in it that I can see.

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The wheel used on the RV-14 is the Matco NW501.25, which is the same wheel as was sold for the RV-10.  This is the WRONG WHEEL for this plane, and it ticks me off that they would keep with the same dumb thing!  Refer to this post on MyRV10.com for more info, The short answer is, DO NOT order the nosewheel Van's will sell you.  This is the 2nd time I've been burned on this.  The valve stem will stick out too far with this wheel.  The PROPER nose wheel is NW511.25, that you can get from Matco directly.  Van's only sells this wheel because it's used on the other RV's (or was) as Main wheels.  They don't want to stock another part number.  That's a piss-poor excuse!  They are using grove wheels on the 14, and it is NOT that big of a deal for them to just sell us the proper wheel.  So all builders be aware and leave the wheel off of your kit order, and order the right one from Matco.  Don't be a double burned idiot like me.

So what do you do if you make the mistake, you've mounted your wheel so it's not brand new anymore, and you are stuck with that crappy NW501.25?

Call Matco.  They will allow you to ship your wheel back to them, they will sell you 1/2 of a wheel (well under $100), and machine your wheel with the proper hole so that you now have the hole cutout in the proper place so that the valve stem tube doesn't hit the fork.  I am in the process of doing this RMA right now.  I'll follow up on it in a future post.

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One thing that I didn't expect, as we didn't even address the issue on the RV-10, was toe-in or toe-out on the main gear.  When you mount the axles on the RV-14, you are supposed to check for toe in or out.  You don't want any toe-out, and only want very little if any toe-in.  Sure enough, mine was out by about .65 to .75 degrees, which requires shims that only come in .5 degree or .75 degree.  So I went with .5's to leave just a tiny bit of toe in rather than going toe out.  Be ready for this when you build...so if you need to order parts from Van's, my guess is most people will need axle shims...so do a parts order at that time.  They are around $25 each.  When you are testing for toe, make sure you use a block that is of perfect uniform thickness. I found that even the duct tape on the part could interfere with getting a good reading.

And lastly, another disappointment was the axle that's included with the kit.  It's a simple design, FAR better than the original one on the RV-10 that nearly trashed my fork and could have caused an incident.  But it still does not allow you to independently set the bearing preload, from the proper tension on the axle bolt.  So buy the Matco axle instead.  The parts you need are WHLAXLE24 Axle Assembly A24 1.25 inch, and WHLA24SPKIT spacer kit for 5.25" axles.  That will be a far better way to go for having a good functioning system where the bearings won't spin on you.

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With the wheels all on and greased, it was finally time to crack open the new lycoming box that I've had stored for 9 months!  The engine was shipped and packed very very well. I do prefer the wooden box that my RV-10 engine came in, but this one was packed better.  The humidity sensors were not tripped either, so you know it came dry and in good condition.  I got out my engine hoist, unused for nearing 10 years, and after a real tough job peeling away some of the crate (which ended up being mostly unnecessary) I was able to lift the engine out. My hoist has an extension bar on it that was very helpful, and with a single lift point, I didn't even need my engine leveler for this job.  It didn't take too awful long following the SK-90A sheet I found for getting the proper washer and hardness of rubber organization of shock bushings, and it was hung.  You do need to buy the "EA DYNA BOLT" kit pictured below, to get all the nuts, bolts, and washers you need.  This Engine Hanging document was also helpful to read beforehand.  Below I printed on the box which Lord bushing was the soft and hard one.  The Lord mount kit is "EA DYNA VI-STD" and it is a quantity of 4 of the J-9613-40 shock bushings.

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With the engine hung, the fuselage was now able to be rolled around with no weights on the front, where we could re-live a 10-year old video experience we had with the kids in the RV-10.  We had the engine on, and pushed it around the driveway in circles, while we gave them a ride.  Fun memories, but the kids are all growed up now!  Took some pictures below of fitting it into the smaller garage space again.

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Now that the engine is on, it's time to get the Right Mag (Mag...YUCK!) off the plane, and install the lightspeed ignition.  This engine uses long reach plugs, so the plugs are not the IK24 or IK27 plugs that my RV-10 uses, but instead the IKH27 long reach iridium plugs.  I got a set of 4 with my ignition, but bought a set of 4 for spares, and 1 to carry in the plane.  I also will be yanking out the 8 Champion REB37E massive electrode spark plugs, and replacing them with brand new Tempest UREB36S fine wire iridium plugs.  If you know spark plugs, you will know that not only historically has Champion basically sucked compared to Unison/Tempest, due to resistor issues (these may be fixed now but why bother?), but they are more expensive, and fine wire plugs give better performance, smoothness, and economy.  So I have a set of 4 of the UREB36S plugs enroute already.  All of my massives will either be sold, or I'll carry one as a spare.

There are a couple pics below of my mags, and engine data plate, and shim bags for the axles, just for info.

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Well talk about going down a rathole fast!  For me, one of the most precious things these days is time.  Having heard that you can do at-home anodizing of aluminum parts, I decided I'd quick give it a shot.  The brackets pictured above by the axle shims, are for the heater vent controls, and alternate air door control knobs. I custom made the brackets for where I wanted to mount them.  I figured I'd try to anodize them black.  But first, I thought I'd practice with some other parts, trying to make a pretty sky blue bracket for my lightspeed ignition to mount on the firewall.

I obtained Sodium Bisulfate (PH Down pool chemical), Sodium Hydroxide (Lye) for cleaning and prepping, and aluminum wire and Cathode (scrap aluminum) for the anodizing bath.  I also got Royal blue and black clothing dye, and followed the instructions on the internet. I got highly mixed results, as you will see below.  The color was NOTHING like the color on the bottle of dye...it was darker.  You also need to use aluminum screws to hook the wires to your parts, as steel will be eaten away quickly, and if a part doesn't have just the right conditions, it doesn't anodize.  Once it's anodized you can dip it in the dye, and if you did a good job, it will take on the color.  In my case, that was not all that fantastic.  I must have had bad wire connections.  Also, I realized quick that my fuel and oil pressure manifold would be NOT a good item to anodize blue, as that would hide fuel stains, so I stripped the anodizing off when I got done.
That was 2 wasted nights, on something I didn't even use!

At any rate, if you skip down through the photos, you can see the supplies, and in the end, I threw it all back in Lye and stripped off the anodized layer, and alodined them.  I'll tell you what, Alodining is WAY easier than anodizing, it's much less prone to failure, and it takes 1/10th the time.  Stick with that unless you have a part that you absolutely have to have look pretty!  Or you could say...."save the time, alodine!" (kinda rhymes, no?)

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Above are a few more pics of engine accessories, and above and below are pics of the anodizing attempt, along with the alodined parts below.  And, finally, my Lightspeed plasma II mounted to the firewall!  I threw in one picture above of the airplane out in the yard.  If you look closely, you may notice something on it that I won't talk much about just yet.

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The "Light" at the end of the tunnel

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At OSH I had been scoping out the Whelen nav/strobe kits, and the AeroLED kits...the only 2 kits I think I'd recommend. The Whelen is slightly more expensive, but I think better looking overall.  Both are good kits though, but will set you back $1200 or more.  I'll tell you right now, if you just want to make it easy, like I should have, probably, you should just go to TeamAerodynamiX.com and buy this Orion 650E and 500 kit from Mike.  These will be as bright as you'll get.

For me though, I spent $389 on the tail strobe, but after seeing a buddys DIY Nav/Strobe lights, I decided to go that route on the wingtips. Yeah, it'll cost me probably 20 hours of fabrication, but it will save maybe $650 too!  You can buy Feinex Cannon 120 strobes for $70 each, and LED's and drivers for under $100 to do the entire plane.  Then you just need some heat conductive adhesive, and some mirrored plexi, and you're on your way.  I'm actually adding more LED's (2 to the strobe side panel) than the ones above, but I'll be doing the same basic thing as above.

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Braking News!

While this isn't quite complete yet (we're going to try one more rev with a little tweak), These are brake lines by TS Flightlines / Aircraft Specialty, that complete the kit for the RV-10A model brake lines  I can't stress how much more durable these will be than the bent aluminum that the plans has you make.  For some who install those, the shock and work hardening of the aluminum tubing will eventually lead to brake failure.  If you want, you can use whatever the heck you want to inside the cabin for brake lines, but on the outside, DEFINITELY do braided teflon. AND, buy the synthetic brake fluid as well...it has a MUCH MUCH higher flash point.  Safety first!!

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This is getting exhausting!

I can't say much at this time, but, I will say that it's been MORE than frustrating that the Finishing and now the FWF kit are taking forever to receive.
One big relief, however, is that there *IS* going to be a 3rd party exhaust kit for the RV-14, that may indeed have better performance as well.  Here is just a picture of the plain old Van's demo tailpipe, for now, coming out of the ugly and IMHO, poorly conceived tunnel.  Lets just hope that this crazy tunnel design doesn't hinder things rather than help.

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Flightline Interiors Strikes Again!

For many many RV builders, there are a couple people that they find themselves doing business with, who are absolutely the nicest people you will find.  People who actually have it be their GOAL to make interiors that are nice, while being affordable to the builder.  I am such a lucky person to have Abby and Brad from Flightline Interiors in my home state.  As with the RV-10, every now and then, Abby has made the 4+ hour drive to come swing up and test fit some parts in my fuselage, and then rework them, to ensure that builders will have interior pieces that not only fit right, but are easily able to be installed by the builder.  Yes, you will find some really awesome custom stuff out there, but you will either pay a LOT more money for it, or it will need to be professionally installed.  Here you find the way to go for the big lot of us...those who just want a really nice plane, without breaking the bank.

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Above are some photos of the carpet as it was being made for the initial test fit of the Van's prototype.  The carpet that is being made today will likely fit even BETTER than what is pictured.  Also, I should say I was pretty worried about the center rib that runs up between your feet along the floor. I thought it would be a real pain having that rib there.  But with this carpet, it sound insulates the floor and lifts the carpet up over that rib just perfectly.  You'll love it.  Yes, it will add weight, so weight purists may want to seek other methods, but this will be the way many many people will want to go.  The carpet even comes up around the stick area.  One thing to consider is, I'm told that many builders will want to not secure the boot with the metal ring, but with velcro instead.  This may slightly change what you need to do while finishing off those parts.

Below you will find a few more pictures of carpet, but also some pictures of the one of the 4 designs of seats she offers.  These are NOT my seats, but they are absolutely beautiful.  Mine will likely be one solid color, and all darker, because in the RV-14 you will probably NOT find a way to get in without stepping on the seat.  So rather than worry about wrecking my seat, in case I don't have a towel to step on, I decided I should go dark all the way around.  I'm also not much of a fan of light colors in the cockpit, because they lead to glare on the canopy which wrecks photos, so I try to stay dark with everything if possible.  That said, these seats were so attractive that I was tempted to just do them that way, or even reverse the colors.

And one more thing, you'll notice the Crow 5-point harnesses I got.  These are now available right from Flightline Interiors, so you can order them right with your interior or at any time.  We did test fit the standard RV6 / RV7 / RV9 harness, and it fits this plane just fine.

I should also note that she isn't done yet getting the cockpit trimming done for RV-14 builders.  There are armwrests, seats and boosters (we're talking about a possible short seat for short pilots, like the ones in my family that aren't ME), and carpet pieces right now, but future work will also be done on side panels to cover the aluminum, and carpet for between or under the seats.  In my neck of the woods, you don't want to fly around about 6 months of the year, with non-insulated side panels.  Touching that aluminum will be COLD!  The goal is to make this just as cushy as the RV-10.

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And finally...something nobody will care about!

These are just pics for my reference, of the mag gaskets used by the slick mags.  The one on the right is for under the mag, while the one on the left is for under the impulse extension housing.  I just ordered them for future mag check maintenance on the Left Mag, that will have an impulse coupling.  For the Right side, the mag will get a blank cover plate, to replace the Right mag.  That cover plate is installed with no gasket, but just a liquid sealant.  RTV is a poor choice.  I am using Loctite 515, which is a great product for many things.

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What's else is next?

Well, at this point in the build you find yourself being boxed into corners. It's like navigating a maze.  You may start building on something, only to find out that you needed to order some other part in order to finish it.  So you start on another task, and again find that unless you finish step 3674, you can't complete that section.  So you get used to jumping around on things.

Goals for the near future:
  • Finish painting the remaining interior panels, and roll-over structure
  • Silkscreen the panel labels
  • Complete stick wiring
  • Complete Lightspeed ignition installation
  • Install Prop Governor and then determine control cable routing and lengths
  • Get exhaust system installed
  • Fit cowling
  • Install engine baffles
  • Complete wiring to wing root connectors
  • Determine engine hose lengths (because I'm not using Van's hoses, but Teflon)
(All this in no particular order)

Quote of the day:
"My favorite childhood memory was not having to pay bills."

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