N14YT - Firewall Forward Finishing

Posted 4/28/2016

With this update, the end is finally in sight.  Were it not for rules and regulations, this plane could probably be at least airborne and back on the ground safely, within maybe 10-15 hours of work.  Thankfully there are regulations such as the need for an airworthiness certificate, to keep the excitement under control, as there are realistically quite a few things to tidy up yet before any attempt at flight should be made.  Additionally, I would like to have at least the fuselage and wings painted before I fly, just so I don't have to take them back off again.  I will probably wait, against my own advice, on doing the wheel fairings, until after I fly it, simply due to wanting to get the time flown off.  Sadly, any work you do AFTER flying, seems much more like general drudgery, so I'll have some hours of suffering after I fly, just like I did on the RV-10.

My registration paperwork has been sent out, so this is one of the first write-ups made where the actual N-Number will be posted.  I had 2 of them reserved and didn't want to choose right away.  Whereas on the RV-10 there is much signficance to my chosen N-Number (N104CD), on this project it was done much simpler.  First, I wanted a 2 number N-Number...and why not go with 14 since it's an RV-14.  Then I didn't really care about the lettering, as long as it looked nice, and was easily spoken to ATC.  I find that having a 3-number with 2 letters gets tedious when speaking to ATC on IFR trips...so anything short is much better for me.

For this write-up I'll start with some general photos.  The first set being mainly for my notes.  I would like to introduce, however, my seats by Flightline Interiors!  Abby did a fantastic job on the seats!   Also, I was thinking of skipping my N-Number on the seats this time, so I spent some time with my younger, student pilot daughter, and we drew up an RV-14 emblem that we could have sewn on the seats, and probably later used on some shirts.  This emblem is available from Abby if anyone wants to use it on their seats as well.  It's a design that encompasses the RV-14 as an aerobatic, and cross country IFR capable airplane.

Regarding the prop governor, I spent a LOT of time figuring out what governor to buy, because I was going to buy it pre-availability from Van's. They used the Hartzell S-1-79. The nice thing about the governor is simply that you can use the RV-14 cable bracket if you buy it.  That said, I have an MT governor that has worked fine on the -10 and the same governor would have worked on the -14, so I'd have had an automatic spare.  You just need the proper gear ratio for the IO-390 which on the front governor mount is .895:1.  The only real "special" thing about the S-1-79 is that the arm is pre-mounted in the 180 degree position.  But, when you go to install it, you're going to have to adjust that anyway...and, if you're like me you'll want to not install it per plans, so you'll be buying a new arm too.  More on that below.

The other special picture is a tiny thing but may be handy for tons of RV-14 builders, since Van's INSISTED on drilling headset jack holes for us, and many of us will never use them.  I have Bose Lemo jacks so I only have 1 hole needed...so I had to find and buy plastic plugs to cap off the other pre-drilled hole.  Would have been nice if I could have just drilled my own plain-jain hole...

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The Air Filter used

Van's uses a NAPA hose

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Initial pics of my new seats!
By Flightline Interiors

My Prop Governor
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Cap plugs to cover unused Headset Jack Hole
Glareshield Fan
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My VDO (ignore the SF and OFF)
My Manifold Pressure sensor

RV-14 Vetterman Exhaust

This is my final configuration of my Vetterman exhaust.  You'll see all the heater hoses are run.  In these photos, there are many loose nuts or disconnected wires, so ignore those.  But you can see the exhaust system now.  They did make a slight tweak to the heat muffs to provide better hose routing for future buyers, but these should work for me.  The system is a work of modern art, with all its' tuned curves.  It differs from the factory exhaust by being a pair of 2-into-1 systems rather than a single 4-into-1.  It should provide better engine breathing with less back pressure due to the lesser restriction on the out flow.

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LED Nav Lights

With LED lighting packages being astronomically high, I went the route of D-I-Y and copied a few other RV-builders in their design.  These are Cree super bright LED's, picked for their proper wavelength of color, mounted on 1/8" plexi mirror stock, with an aluminum backplate that functions as a heat sink.  The LED's are driven 3 in a row, with 2 parallel rows (6 total LED's) in a series-parallel circuit, driven well below their potential power, using 700mW LED Drivers.  So 350mA each series.  On the opposite mirror plate, I have a strobe, and 2 more LED's, which are in series, driven at 300 or 350mA if I remember correctly.  The LED's are soldered together, temporarily held in place by RTV to the mirror just so I could position and glue them using Arctic Silver thermally conductive adhesive, to the aluminum plate.  They are extremely bright, and will leave you seeing spots if you look at them.

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Whelen Orion Tail Strobe

One thing I certainly didn't expect to be an issue, but gave me a couple hours of added work, was the tail strobe.  Many people these days are using the AeroLED's strobe systems.  But, I've also heard from many people who had issues with electrical noise coming from the tail strobe from AeroLED's.  So I wanted something more quiet, and the whelen light was not much if any more cost.  It's also certified, and I personally think it looks nicer.  So I got online and bought mine from Mike Stewart at the TeamAerodynamic.com store.  He's a great resource for things related to lighting.  I'm really happy with the product, but as you can see below, it turned out to be a small headache.  You see, the Whelen tail strobe is built rugged, with a nice heat sink body on it.  I'm sure the thing is practically bulletproof. But, it doesn't fit inside the RV-9/14 tail fairing (and I'd suspect may not fit perfectly in some of the others either).  The taper is too sharp on the fairing for that length of a light.

I fixed it by chopping a hole in the side of the fairing to get clearance.  Then I wrapped the entire LED in 2 or 3 layers of masking tape, and 2 layers of clear packaging tape.  Then I scuffed up the outside, and laid over a layer of e-glass, cut to a triangle, and on top of that I overlaid some epoxy with fairing filler in it so I could sand it down later.   My tail fairing was also weak in the back and wanted to split, so I reinforced that inside with some colloidal silica and epoxy. 

Additionally, whereas the RV-10 didn't have a doubler, the RV-14 has an EXTERNAL doubler (not really a doubler then), that you drill and tap and epoxy and rivet onto the tail fairing. I don't consider that all that secure, so I did it more like the RV-10.  I drilled a couple of holes larger into the fairing tail, using the Van's doubler as a guide.  I should note that the doubler won't work well with the whelen strobe anyway because you have to oversize the center hole which cuts into the 2 rivets holes that you attach it with.   Once I had the 2 screw holes enlarged enough to embed the nuts, I lubed a screw with silicone spray and put 1 nut, 1 washer, and another nut on it, and embedded that in the hole and pushed epoxy all around it on the inside.  It's pretty secure right now but you can see in my photo below that the nuts didn't get enough epoxy around the very outside nut, so I'm putting epoxy in from the rear face to fill those voids.  When all is said and done, the fairing should be stronger than before, faired nicely for the whelen strobe, and the strobe should be more secure than the plans method of installing a tail strobe.

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Lightspeed Ignition Coil Mounting

I waited a while to complete this step, just to ensure the baffles were all done so I know find any gotchas as to the mounting bracket.  In the end, the baffles were mounted just like the RV-10 so it was a non-issue.  It was a bit harder to find a good mounting location for the coils than it was on the much longer IO-540.  I wanted to mount them in a way that would not cause me to have to build many fancy brackets, nor have them interfere with the stainless fuel lines.  The coils needed to be mounted high enough to route wires off each coil, one to each side of the engine, without hitting the fuel spider either.  In the end, the best place I could find was right over the aft baffle bracket.  To do the job I chopped up some custom brackets out of 2x2x.125" angle aluminum.  Being this tall of a bracket, the moment arm on any vibrations would be more than I wanted, and I needed 2 brackets to avoid interference from the baffle bracket, so I decided to tie them together with a single bolt and spacer as well.  This would make the entire assembly much more rigid and should never break.  Additionally, the wire routing ends up being very nice.

In the first few photos below you'll see the original length wires.  In the end, I decided to shorten the wires to the proper length to get rid of any excess.  This is real easy if you have the proper tools and parts. 

The wire is MSD 8.5mm Super Conductor wire. (DO NOT use regular automotive wire!!)  You can get a 25' roll of wire for a bit over $50, part number MSD-34019.  (To shorten these wires you do not need wire...but for replacement at 500 hours you will)  The crimp tool required to install new ends is the MSD Pro Crimp tool MSD-35051.  This is the most expensive part, but you will want that for replacing the leads later anyway.  The terminals are sold in sets of 8 with new boots (I re-used my old boots), for about $25.  MSD-8852 is the part number.  I had all this stuff on hand from the last time I replaced my RV-10 wires, but ordered more wire and boots anyway, so I'll have plenty of parts for my next wire replacement.  To shorten the wires, I simply cut the wire where i wanted it cut, then pulled the chopped off wire out of the boot.  Strip and install a new end, and stuff it back in the boot.  Wala, a custom length plug wire!

For those of you wondering about the extra wire clips that I have, you buy those in a 16 pack, part number MSD-8841.  That helps to neaten things up.

I have not installed my plugs yet, but those are Denso Iridium plugs, p/n IKH27 (5347), shown HERE and HERE. (Note that these are special long-reach plugs used for the IO-390...for my IO-540 I use the Denso IK24 or IK27 plugs)

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Aircraft Specialty FWF Hoses

With Aircraft Specialty doing all of my aft-firewall fuel and brake lines, with their very high quality, lifetime, conductive teflon hoses, I wanted the same quality for my FWF as well.  Steve at Aircraft Specialty feels strongly (as do I) that all hoses forward of the firewall should be firesleeved.  Additionally, since I'm using the Grand Rapids EIS for an engine monitor, my sensors aren't the same as what Van's would deliver parts for...they only provide things for the Garmin G3X and Dynon systems now. So it was time to order up some hoses!  What I got was a very nice set of firesleeved hoses, that fit perfectly!   When looking at the pictures, realize that many nuts/bolts/wires are not tight or final yet, so if things don't look complete, it's because they aren't.  One thing NOT to forget though in your install is that you definitely will want to heat shield the fuel hoses (and push-pull cables) from the exhaust.  There will be more pictures at a later date that shows the heat shielding. Look down at the Throttle Quadrant section for more info on the heat shielding things I'll be using.

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RV-14 Throttle Quadrant

One place where I think Van's dropped a MAJOR ball is on the throttle quadrant.  First of all, many formation groups will not let you fly with vernier push-pull cables.  You need a fast-acting quadrant lever to rapidly adjust when flying formation.  But beyond that, a quadrant is more comfortable, looks far nicer, is very smooth and allows very good control over precise power and mixture settings, and is generally the most common way to go with the RV people I hang with.  At OSH last year we took a poll of RV-10 builders, and everyone but one person built their RV-10 with a quadrant.  Van's at that time had the foresight to create 2 sets of plans for that section, so you could choose to install a quadrant or vernier controls.  A large number of people used the quadrant.  On the RV-14 they obviously are showing some ignorance because at present it isn't in any plans, or even an option.  When I brought it  up on a forum, I was even told that it would probably be at a bad angle or in the way with your knees in the RV-14.  This comment was done with ignorance as well, I can only assume the person hadn't even tried to mock one up and test it for themselves.  Me, I did mock it up, and not only does the standard RV-10 quadrant work in the RV-14, it is in a great position, and does not interfere with your stick or your knees at all.  It's a very natural feeling quadrant.

Having to do it myself though, did provide me with opportunity to improve on things a bit.

First of all, Van's buys these Cablecraft cables too, for their kits.  But, they buy the green covered cables.  When I had these on my RV-10, they didn't fare the heat well, and my jacket started melting off on one of the cables that went somewhat near an exhaust pipe.  These cables are available with a black jacket that is higher temp rated, which is what would be more appropriate.  Note the laughable "Not for use on Aircraft" label that is put on them.  Can anyone say "The US needs tort reform!"?  Yeah, that's for the lawyers. These are excellent cables for this purpose.

To route the cables, I used the normal per-plans routing, except for the prop cable.  The standard routing is tough on these cables.  The throttle cable is pretty well routed, without too many sharp bends, but the mixture cable really snakes around, and every sharp bend will increase resistance to the cable.  Sadly, I didn't find a better route that was just super simple easy.  It would be do-able, but just not easy.  So I went with their routing.  Both of those cables route out the right side firewall passthrough.

For the Prop governor cable, I installed an eyeball passthrough, the same as this one HERE.  It is located on the upper firewall, which provides a much smoother cable run for that cable.  In the end, if I were drilling it again, I'd do it the same way but maybe raise my hole another 1/2" or so, but it did work out just fine.

I'll explain more inline with the pictures...

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Here are the cables I got as-delivered.  The mixture and throttle cable should work for anyone doing the quadrant as I did, but the prop cable will likely be slightly different depending on how you drill the hole and route your cable.  I purchased these part numbers, for just over $70 each.

Mixture: 176-VTT-2-59.6
Throttle: 176-VTT-2.25-48.9
Prop: 176-VTT-2-54.5

The first number, 176 denotes the higher temp jacket.   VTT is the cable type.  The next number is the cable throw. When you order, you will want 2" as a minimum for ANY cable you use on the quadrant.  On the throttle I actually ordered 2.25" because the control arm required 2.25" to get full travel.  Unfortunately, the quadrant delivers a pretty standard 2 or more like 2.125" of travel when going stop to stop.  The issue isn't really the quadrant, but the throttle body itself.  It is very common to have to re-drill the arm on controls, or buy an arm of a different throw length.  More on that below.

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I didn't want these control cables to have early failure like the green ones did on my RV10, and with the Vetterman exhaust on my RV-14 the throttle cable is within .5-.75" of the exhaust pipe that runs under the engine sump, so it was time to heat shield the cable.  For heat shielding, I did 2 things. First, I bought 3 feet of 1/2" fire sleeve (the silver stuff pictured above).  This is the same stuff used on hoses, but I bought silver just because I could.

Next, I went on amazon and bought reflective "Thermaflect sleeve" in the 3/4" size, that velcros over the firesleeve.  It fits about perfectly. This fire shield says it's good for 1000F continuous, 2000F intermittent, so it should do well.  I'm going to put this over my fuel hoses as well.  Anything silver and reflective will actually reflect a lot of heat away from your hoses and cables.  Below you can see pictures of the 2 parts installed on the cable...the ends are sealed with red hi-temp RTV.

Above are the clevis and clevis pins used to connect the cable to the throttle quadrant.  A standard 10-32 jamb nut, and small cotter pin and light AN960-10L washer is also required.

Below you can see some parts baggies that I bought from Van's.  They provide control cable end kits.  I purchased these before I remembered I'd be getting some of these parts with the FWF kit.  So I have many spares now.  But these kits are pretty nice because you can ensure you get the proper quantity of the special washers/spacers and things.

Also below is the STOCK Hartzell arm.  This arm, in my opinion, is way too short.  First of all, because of the short length, it required Van's to mount the control cable rod end on the OUTSIDE of the arm, which means the control doesn't pull in a straight line, but pulls at an angle.  Not ideal....but by having a LONGER arm you can mount the rod end in a straight line with the cable pull, on the INSIDE of the governor arm.  MUCH nice...I should stress MUCH a little more.  If you don't have a longer arm, the rod end would bind with the arm spring catch.  With a longer arm it works perfectly.  Also, the quadrant only gets about 1/2 throw with the short arm, but by using the longer arm you can get nearly full (not quite full) travel on the quadrant.  Call Hartzell and they can set you up with the better arm. It comes with 3 holes in it, and they call it the universal arm.  It's about $30.

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A little more painful to deal with than the governor arm is the throttle arm.  The stock IO-390 fuel system comes with an arm with 2" reach from pivot point to control hole in the arm.  It also joggles over about .75" from vertical, being a bent arm.  This is not ideal in 2 ways....

1) With this arm the way it is, you get ALMOST full travel with the quadrant, but you will either not get fully to idle, or full throttle. 

2) Just like the prop cable, in order to have this arm be pulled straight, Van's has you add a spacer to the inside of the arm. 

I did drill my arm (see pics below) and by drilling a 2nd hole just above the first, it did work just fine. The cable throw was PERFECT.  My effective arm length now is a hair over 1-5/8".  It actually functions fine that way, and I almost left it as-is.  But, I wanted to improve the offset spacer/bolt situation a bit...

Having that spacer (in my case about 3/4") in place, means that there is one other place that you can get a twisting torque on that bolt shaft...because if there were anything broken internally holding the throttle arm from moving, and you forced it, you could put a lot more force on the bolt shaft and potentially snap it or bend it.  Reading through the forums, a lot of people have discovered that you can fix this by replacing the arm.  Avstar sells a mixture arm that is straight...same type of arm as the throttle arm, but straight, and it's 1-5/8" long.  By using that arm, you can have it all....a cable that doesn't require the spacer, pulls in straight alignment, and gives you full control travel with a bit of cushion on both ends so you can guarantee you get full throttle and full idle out of your throttle cable.  The only down side is you'll bay about $78 plus shipping, for the new lever arm, part number AV2522004.  Once installed, my cables can get full control throw to both stops on the throttle body.

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These pictures above and below show some of the hole drilling on my existing lever if you go that route, and also show the new prop lever and it's new control throw on the quadrant.  No binding and I can put the rod end on the inside of the arm now.
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Final Throttle Quadrant Photos

These are the final pictures from after I completed bolting up all of the cables, tightning the jamb nuts on the rod ends and the cable brackets, and testing it all out.  It isn't imperative that a builder replace these arms on the prop governor or the throttle body, and you could use it the way it was (other than drilling the hole in the throttle arm), but by replacing the arms, this is what you end up with.

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See the new throttle cable throws at the full forward position, and the fully aft position. In both positions, the device on the far end of the cable is hitting it's top, but the quadrant has a little cushion on both ends...more on the bottom than than the top.  I left only a small cushion on the top end because if you push hard on these levers I didn't want to bend anything if you're doing a full-power go-around and you start slamming the controls forward.

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Above are the pics of the new straight throttle lever (see the last pic in this section for the bag it came in for the part number).  You ca see it has a nicer straighter alignment.

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Here is the bag that the new prop governor arm came in, and the pics of it moving full travel.  Note the rod end is now on the inside of the lever for a straighter pull.

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And here is the mixture control mechanism.  It all works very nicely too.  Above you can see a couple of pics of my firewall passthrough eyeball right near my fuel/oil pressure manifold.  I'd probably move it up another 1/2" if I did it again, simply because it tends to settle on the engine mount in this position.  It does clear it but if you push the cable down it will then touch the mount.  So I added some silicone baffle gasket material, RTV'd in place, to prevent any wear.   I also used a double snap bushing arrangment on the baffle...one large one that the cable fits thru, then a smaller one, slit to go over the cable, installed from the opposite side, to take up some space. I'll top that off with some RTV to seal it from allowing air to leak out.
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