Project Update

Hey Guys,  

I’m back working on the shop pretty much full tilt.  The main task now is to finish insulating and covering the walls.  I consider this quite essential since there is no predicting what the sweet spot is regarding weather temps before it really starts getting too HOT to comfortably work in the shop without AC.

I’ve just finished the 6th wall section out of 10, so I’m over the hump and on the downhill slide to truly finishing the workshop in prep to getting back onto the plane build full time.  That being said, each of the 4 remaining sections of wall will most likely take 2-3 days each to finish, so my best estimated timeline is mid-April for returning to full-time airplane building mode. 

Again, I’m working it all as fast as possible!

Tooling Up – Another wall done!

As I mentioned in my project overview post, I’m seeing that each wall section is taking about 2-3 days per section (between the large poles) to complete. That timeline held true with the back right sidewall as well, clocking in at about 2.5 days until finished.

This is wall section number 6 of 10, so in raw numbers I’m 60% complete on getting the walls knocked out. And not a bit too soon either since today was quite warm, but not unbearable without AC. I don’t believe that will be the case in another month, when AC will be pretty much mandatory for working in the shop.

To provide an idea of what section of wall I was working on, here’s before shot of it with the back wall I just finished shown as well.

I cleaned off the workbench since, although a nice robust fixture, it needs to go to make room for tools: specifically the roll-around tool cart with the lathe mounted atop of it.

I started by removing the old window and the “chain link security system” from over the window.

I then framed out and installed the new window.

Here we have the majority of the old workbench removed.

I then got busy filling in the area between the wood purlins with 2″ thick foam insulation. As per usual I then covered the wall with OSB flooring board.

Here is day 3 when I actually finished insulating and paneling the wall segment.

And later in the evening after outfitting this area with shelves, pegboard, a narrower workbench and the centerpiece: the roll-around tool cart that will have the lathe mounted on top of it.

I then assembled a tool cart I picked up a couple of months ago that will hold machining specific tools. I set it in the place in the corner where I had planned for it to go… I’m happy with how well it fits.

I then backed up just a bit to include a shot of the milling machine’s blue base to provide an idea of how the “machining corner” will be configured.

Tomorrow I’ll start on the right front sidewall that is adjacent to –and to the right of– the section of wall that I just completed.

Trudging forward…

Tooling Up – Yep, Mill Machine Wall

Today I finally got the back right wall finished, at least to the point where I can move forward with the rest of the walls.

As you can see I added white vinyl panels to the wall paneling to protect the wood from cutting fluid that will be flung its way during machining operations.

The blue cabinet in the bottom center of the pic is the base stand for the milling machine. I placed it there to get a better perspective of the space requirements I was looking at for installing the mill.

As for the white wall covering, I still need to add white plastic caps to cover the screws, mainly for aesthetics but to also protect the exposed screw heads.

Tomorrow I will start work on the wall 90º to the right of this one, which will also entail removing and replacing both a window and pretty much all of the workbench shown in the lower right side of the pic above.

Tooling Up – Milling Machine Wall

First off, I knocked out the final piece of the workshop compressed air system by installing a CamAir QC3 filter/dehydrator canister. This setup is connected to the shop’s compressed air system via the reel hose as it is shown connected here, and will only be used when I have a no-kidding need for really dry air as when shooting paint . . . or for any other future tools that may need super clean/dry air.

Over the last couple of days I finished framing out the back right wall to allow for cabinet installations on each side of the window. I then set about cutting the blue-green 2″ foam insulation and installing it.

As the first piece of top wall panel I reused the large 1/2″ piece of plywood that was previously attached horizontally to this wall, and then added more OSB panels around it.

Here’s the finished product…. as in insulated and paneled.

I had already assembled one of the cabinets last week. Tonight I installed it on the wall to the right of the window. I then assembled and installed the cabinet to the left of the window. As per this blog post’s title, this area –and thus the cabinets– will be for the milling machine, which will pretty much be centered on the window.

Unlike the workshop walls I previously finished, this section of wall will get an overlay of a thin white vinyl sheeting (often used in restaurant kitchens) to protect the wood panels from cutting fluid overspray that will occur during milling operations.

Chapter 26 – Seats: Phase I complete

Today I finally got a major milestone knocked out on the airplane build: Phase I of the front and back seat core fitting.

After finally spending a good amount of time –1.5+ hours to be exact– test-fitting the seat core fitting and comfort, I then annotated all my notes into an email and sent it off to the good folks at Oregon Aero. Then 2 different ~1 hour long phone calls ensued to discuss the particulars of my seat configurations and the tweaks required to modify the cores to meet my requirements.

From the last discussion I was given some homework: some measurements to take… specially to enable the Oregon Aero seat gurus to add vertical sections to both my front and back seat cores so that they follow the contour of their respective front and back seat structures.

Even more specifically, the data Oregon Aero really needed was the measurement from the bottom seat core aft edge to the angle at the top of the seat bulkhead, again both for the front and back seat.

This task for the backseat was simple and straightforward, taking only a minute or two at most.

However, there was wrinkle that popped up for the front seat core: the cut angle on the aft edge of the bottom core didn’t quite match the seat back. As you can see below, at the midpoint of the seat cushion this gap was about 3/4″. On each side it was about 0.9″.

I annotated this information on the pic below and then sent it on to Oregon Aero so they could deal with it appropriately. Clearly if I had blindly followed their instructions the measurement for where the seat cushion angle met the seat bulkhead could have easily been off over 3/4″.

When I say that Phase I for the seat cores is officially complete it’s because I drove about 45 minutes up to the FedEx facility at the New Bern airport to ship the cores back to Oregon Aero.

At over $100 to ship these cores back, believe you me I want to ensure that they are as dialed in and optimally tweaked as possible when they arrive back so that ZERO major tweaks are required when they go back for upholstery!

Tooling Up – Shop compressed air lines

After I got the air compressor installed a couple of days ago I then started in on knocking out the installation of the workshop’s compressed air line system. I ran a line over from right next to the air compressor closet door that followed a ceiling joist over to the main beam, from which it hits an immediate “T” fitting and continues on down the length of the main beam with another “T” fitting about midpoint.

The first “T” junction on the left (upper left corner in pic below) swoops down down to feed yet another “T” junction that runs over to the right (carport) end of the shop, and also feeds the pole-mounted compressed air hose reel.

The mid-beam “T” junction carry an air line run forward to a coupler situated between the two main shop doors.

The main line then continues down to the very end of the shop to feed air to “end-of-the-line” air coupler (visible just above the plane’s nose in pic above).

Here’s the line traveling forward from the mid-beam “T” fitting to the front wall coupler….

which we see mounted here.

From the first set of “T” junctions (upper right) we see the line coming down from the second “T” to the red air hose reel feed and then continuing over to the left to a coupler on the side wall middle pole.

Before I could make the final connection between compressed air line system and the big orange filter I had to remedy an oversight that I had made in forgetting about a feed I’d need for the milling machine’s pneumatic tool changing drawbar.

As you can see below, I have a coupler on the left side of the big orange air filter, but that’s for miscellaneous air tools. On the right side I had previously installed the 90º elbow (which I’m holding below) for the workshop compressed air line system feed, but late last night realized I would also need a coupler hanging off the right side for a permanent line to the milling machine pneumatic drawbar. Hence, a freshly installed “T” fitting did the trick.

I then tied in the main shop compressed air line feed which in turn provides compressed air for the entire shop air line system.

I have one more desiccant filter to install on the center pole for an as-needed dry air feed for painting and any other future tools requiring dry air. I should have that knocked out in about an hour tomorrow.

I also have the plane’s seat cores packed back up and will be shipping those back tomorrow to Oregon Aero for modifications.

As for the workshop, you can see in many of the pics above that I have over half the walls yet to insulate and cover with OSB sheeting. I will start in on that tomorrow afternoon and hope to be finished with that in the next week or so.

Tooling Up – Compressor Closet Door

First off, wanted to let ya’ll know that I spent well over an hour compiling all my seat core notes and pics and sent them off to Lisa at Oregon Aero. Over the ensuing days she conferred with Alice who then spent an hour with me on the phone today going over all the seat core mods that need to be done.

I have some homework to do on them: a couple of fit checks and some measurements to take before I pack up the cores and send them back to be tweaked. Should get them out by the end of the week.

I grabbed a close-up shot of one of the MaxLine kit’s Air Outlet that I’ll have in the center wall at each end of the shop, and also one between the big doors. Each outlet has a water drain. I think they did a great job machining them and they are both well built and good looking pieces of equipment.

Over the last couple of days I was able to get the air compressor closet door filled in. I started off by adding an OSB panel to the backside of the lower doorway wall. This structure is permanently mounted for the most part and is something that I don’t plan on removing unless I really need access into the compressor closet. It allows for a shorter upper door to help reduce its weight.

I then insulated with 2 layers of 2×6 insulation in each compartment.

And covered the outside with another OSB panel.

I then framed out the upper door. However, since I wanted the frame of the upper door to be fairly snug in the doorframe itself, I realized that the hinges I had just wouldn’t work. The door is simply too thick to swing into the closed position as a regular door would. Thus, I have relabeled it from compressor closet door to “hatch,” since there will be no hinges now.

I had planned from the very beginning to build in a window to allow me to gain access to the compressor’s controls and view the gauges. And although most likely rare, I can also connect 2 more air hoses up to the compressor front hose ports if need be.

Below is what I see looking through the small portal in the air compressor hatch.

When I put in the air compressor lines, including a water trap inside the closet that has a drain valve, I figured I would simply open the compressor closet door, open the water trap drain valve for a few seconds and then close the door. However, with the door now being a hatch and it being too heavy to remove on a regular basis, I decided to add another small access portal in the lower right corner that is big enough for me to reach my arm into the closet and manipulate the water trap valve.

Below you can see the new lower corner opening framed in, as well as the backside hatch paneling.

As with the lower doorway wall section, I double insulated the upper hatch.

Cut and attached the lower external panel.

As a point of note, all this OSB is scrap from a bunch of it that I have out under the carport. So here is another scrap piece that I cut to use as the upper panel to the air compressor closet hatch. Also note the view of the compressor control panel through the center portal. These hatch openings will be filled with thick foam to minimize the sound of the compressor.

You can also see that I repurposed two stainless steel handles that I pulled out of the house to use to pull the hatch open and replace it when it’s time to button it up.

The hatch is quite heavy, but not too heavy to occasionally remove it to change the compressor oil and perform any other required maintenance.

With the hatch mounted I did fire up the compressor and checked the noise level. One foot away from the hatch I got a max dB level reading of 70 dB. The average though was around 67 dB. When I moved 6 feet from the hatch the noise level dropped greatly to 55 dB. Clearly the noise will be notable when the compressor kicks on, but will be very acceptable and not ear-splitting when it does. Moreover, I expect those noise level numbers to drop quite a bit once I get the openings filled with foam plugs.

Tomorrow I hope to get the shop air hose conduits installed so I can then move onto insulating the walls and covering them with OSB panels.

Tooling Up – Air Compressor Install

Yesterday and today I focused mainly on getting the air compressor positioned inside the air compressor closet, while also finalizing the design and configuration of the workshop’s compressed air system.

Besides figuring out where I would need the air hose couplers situated throughout the shop for decently optimized access and workability, I also had to account for ridding the air lines of excess moisture (quite common both in the south and near the coast) and ensuring it is dry for both my current tools, and any future tools I may acquire (wink, wink).

As for configuring the shop for access and connections for compressed air, I’m using RapidAir’s MaxLine air system piping kit from Northern Tools.

To facilitate moisture removal, I created two up/down air line water traps prior to the first point of contact for the above air line kit. The first water trap is in the compressor closet while the second one is just to the right of the compressor closet door, where it then terminates into a large filter/moisture extractor/regulator (orange thing).

Note the tubing legs extending down at the low points to collect any moisture in the lines. At the end of each line is a valve to remove any water in the lines.

I also installed an on/off valve on the side of the compressor tank where the air exits into the shop compressed air line system.

Following the manual, I drained a bit of oil in the nearly completely full motor to the required level as denoted by the small glass bubble window on the lower front of the motor. I then fired this baby up and let ‘er run for a good half hour with the side valve open (I wired it up yesterday and very briefly turned it on just to check that the wiring was correct).

I also installed the auto-drain to remove any water in the bottom of the compressor. This should greatly help extend the life of this compressor tank since I’m not as vigilant as I should be in draining my compressors after use! I set the timer for the max time, about 45 min, and was actually pleased to hear it kick on unexpectedly as I was working elsewhere in the shop.

As you can see, I ran clear water drain lines both from the auto-drain and the interior closet water trap that tie into a plastic “T” fitting that I then placed into the drain pipe at the corner of the compressor closet.

Here are two of the three compressor feet, sitting on their respective rubber vibration dampening pads and secured in place by 1/2″ bolts.

After getting the compressor bolted in place, I then turned it on to see how long it would take to go from 0 to the labeled 175 PSI. Well, it fell just a bit short of its mark by making it just above 160 PSI (fine with me) but in a very impressive time as it took only 5 minutes to fill up.

I then finished up the evening by completing one more task of installing my shop air hose reel to the center pole. In addition to the air hose coupler on the orange filter canister and the one on the end of the hose reel, I’ll have one at each end of the shop on the center poles, and one more at the front of the shop between the big bay doors.

Again, starting from the orange filter canister, the shop compressed air line system will get installed as shown by the dashed blue lines.

Tomorrow I’ll continue to knock out as much as I can on the air lines and workshop to in order to get back to work on the airplane build ASAP!

Chapter 26 – Seat Core Check

Ya’ll better sit down for this!

Today I actually did something airplane build related. Yep! Something that has been on my list of things to do for quite a while (along with a few hundred other build tasks, eh?!) … function testing the Oregon Aero seat cores.

Ok, so today was all about the front pilot seat. I plan on doing another stint in the back seat within the next day or two.

Clearly I have a bit of time left on this build. Moreover, with the current state of the world and the Corona virus situation I figure I can wait a few weeks or so before shipping my cores back to Oregon Aero for tweaking and then another subsequent test fit.

In my mind, seat core configuration boils down to comfort, fit and style… really in that order as far as importance goes. I’ll get to style way down the road with color choices and seat material, whereas today’s assessment was definitely focused on comfort and fit.

First off, I know Oregon Aero deals with a lot of orders, and the process of tweaking one’s cores by sending them back for redo’s clearly helps ensure getting what you want at the end of the process. So this isn’t to dog them out, but they did miss one of my initial requirements to taper the front of the pilot seat core down to pretty much a sharp point.


Feedback from all my EZ-flying buddies, who ALL highlight the whole “heel-catching” syndrome if the pad is too thick at the front of the seat. Sure enough, when I egressed my cockpit today after spending well over 1.5 hours in the seat, the heel of my shoe caught the pad on the way out and flipped it over backwards [I’ve actually been pondering having it made so that one side flips back to then allow for me to plant one heel on the then bared thigh support . . .]. Thus, front seat edge reconfig is definitely on the to-tweak list.

I will say that the seat is definitely very comfortable. I’d also say there’s a significant difference between just sitting in one spot with no movement and no piloting actions (distracted brain usage) vs the real thing. I did notice that all that time sitting in one spot I could feel it my hips a bit, so I’ll play around with maybe putting a thin pad in just the flat section of the seat pan to see if that configuration helps a bit on the long term sitting position.

Another issue I have for both the front and back seat, is that the seat core back is essentially just simply a flat piece of foam, at least as configured here. But both the front and back seats have a vertical component to them as shown here with the front seat back….

and the CS Spar making up the top vertical section for the GIB.

In comparison, here’s a shot of Marco’s front seat pad, and at the top you can clearly see a dogleg.

Marco also snapped a shot of his back seat core for me, showing it too has a dogleg designed into it… unlike my seat cores (currently!).

Since I was stuck in one spot for a while, I figured I’d grab a selfie of my crusty mug for my blog to show the FAA that I’m the guy actually building this darn thing.

Also a shot of the headrest. It too will need some tweaking since, although nice and comfy, it is a bit too ever-present and needs to be reduced in thickness by about half.

Another shot of your’s truly with the canopy closed. I will say (again) with that oversized canopy that I don’t get any sense of being cramped or claustrophobic at all.

I did get a fair amount of computer work done (on the last blog post too) and took notes on some of my seat and cockpit configurations.

The pic below is after I ripped off the headrest pad to see how the front seat sitting felt without it. It was then I realized that it needed to trimmed down by about half in thickness (1.8″ to 0.9″ thick).

I was also querying Marco via text on his seat configurations, visibility, etc. So this shot below is at my eye level and pretty close to exactly what I see out of the front of the canopy with the current seat core as it is.

On the inside I can see about the bottom 2/3rds of the longerons where they dive into the panel on each side. With a lowering of my head or a slight tilt, I can easily see the entire top of the panel all the way around.

Here’s a shot of the back seat, which I know I took when I first got the cores. To be honest I’ll sit in it a bit just to check it out again, but until another 2″ gets added to the top of seat back core I don’t consider anything a valid fit test. As you can see, the top of the seat core simply falls into the oval storage opening in the CS Spar.

One last note on the back seat cores that I’m going to check with Oregon Aero on is the required width of the cores. The front seat seams fairly snug with a bit of wiggle room for the final upholstery. However, the back seat cores seem to have a good 5/8″ gap on each side of the bottom pad, and even more for the top pad.

Obviously tweaks need to be made, so I don’t want to take away from how very comfortable these seat cores are. Clearly I have plenty of time to tweak them, so I will at a minimum get my notes collected and documented, and then the cores packed up ready to be sent back to Oregon Aero for some refinements.

Tooling Up – Shop ceiling insulation

Yep, still dealing with necessary “evils” . . .

Over last couple of days I’ve been able to knock out nearly all the insulating of the underside of the workshop roof (aka ceiling!).

Below is what was left to do at the right end of the shop (Bay 3) when I started today. The strip along the wall will remain unfinished until I get the wall insulation and covering in place, which will give me something to attach the insulation to.

And here we have the ceiling insulation situation over the front (entry) portion of Bay 1.

And here’s the Bay 1 ceiling a few hours later. I still have two half strips to do to finish up all the workshop ceiling insulation except the strips along the sidewalls.

Here’s the same area as the first pic above, just taken from a side angle. With the ceiling insulation pretty much finished I can now really start in on finishing up the walls.

I also plan to start slowly mixing in some minor airplane build tasks here within the next week or so!