Back in black!

Ok, so after a month-long detour my fuselage is back where it’s supposed to be: in North Carolina.  Along with the left wing and motorcycle.

However, before loading the fuselage onto the trailer and departing Virginia for trip #2 down to NC, I decided that I wanted to actually sit in my fuselage and actually look out of the finished canopy for the first time.  I started by peeling the protective plastic wrap back over the canopy to just aft of the roll bar.

Then I climbed in and closed the canopy.

This was the general view I saw looking forward over the nose.

And the view 45° out to the right.  Yes, the bright garage lights were on, but it was night and remember that my canopy is tinted.

I then lowered the nose significantly to check out the nose gear deploy/retract system with me sitting in the fuselage.  Although it sounded like death warmed over, the nose gear actuator did it’s job like a champ both going gear up and then back down.

I then climbed out of the fuselage, replaced the canopy’s protective plastic cover, and loaded the fuselage onto the trailer.

Here’s a shot of fuselage and wing back in it’s proper place: the storage unit in NC.

I still have a few more major build components to bring down, including the canard and the engine, but beyond that I’m calling the build pretty much moved.  On my next trip (in a few weeks) I’ll be bringing those last components down along with my very near to final load out of household goods.  By the end of October my house should be ready –or very close– to put on the market for sale.


Project move update

I thought I’d provide a quick update on my project move down to North Carolina.

I’m not sure if I reported it, but I had previously removed and taken my GNS480 GPS down to NC on my last trip down.  This time around, after updating some new software on the HXr and Mini-X EFISs, including NAV databases and approach charts, I removed them and packed them up in their original shipping boxes.

In addition, I also removed the Trio Pro Pilot autopilot, TruTrak ADI, Vertical Compass Card and Radenna SkyRadar-DX ADS-B receiver from the panel as well and packed them up for their trip south.

Along with a bunch of the panel components, I also packed up a good majority of parts, consumables and hardware for the build and hauled them down to NC.  As for major components (read: big), in this load I also loaded up the left wing and the wing dolly, which are shown below with the fuselage in front of my NC storage unit.

And here are a couple different angle shots of the left wing and fuselage stowed inside my NC storage unit.

You may note that in the pic below you can clearly see my mini-lathe attached to the workbench that was formerly the fuselage dolly.  As an aside, below the lathe is the EVO Harley-Davidson motor for my custom chopper motorcycle project that I actually started before the Long-EZ (and which I’ll finish after I finish the Long-EZ!).

Again, just a quick update on the move….


Fuselage on Trailer!

Today was about loading up the fuselage on the trailer to haul it down to NC.

I started out by using the Fein saw to cut a notch on each side of the aft nose cover about midpoint where the openings for the canard will be located.  I then spent a few minutes digging out the foam to create a channel from one side to the other.  This channel will be used for transiting tie-downs through the nose.

I then spent a bit of time reconnecting the wiring (with the requisite bit of troubleshooting) for the nose gear system.

I then got to work rolling the fuselage out of the shop and positioning it into place for loading it onto the trailer.

I then wheeled the fuselage into position just on the edge of the trailer ramp, with all 3 wheels positioned so that the fuselage was on the trailer CL.

I then rolled the fuselage up into the trailer and secured it into place.

A few hours and one rainstorm later, I had the fuselage and canopy ready to roll!

With duct tape in all the right positions, I was ready to head off on my trek down to NC.

I’ll be down in NC over the weekend delivering the fuselage to its new home.  When I return my primary focus will be on the house to get it prepped to sell!



Chapter 13/18/23 – Glare shield trim

In prep for getting the canopy install much farther along than it currently is in order to haul the fuselage down to North Carolina, I measured, researched and then ordered some black trim for the aft vertical edge of the glare shield.  The trim will serve two purposes:

  1. Keep from slicing open body parts that come in contact with the rather sharp edge.
  2. Compress slightly into a groove on the bottom of the canopy skirt to guard against incoming rain and moisture, wicking it to the outer edges of the glare shield/canopy.

I ordered the trim from McMaster-Carr a few days ago and it came in today.  I have to say I’m quite pleased with both the fit and the look of the trim.

Here’s a bit closer look.  When the airplane is finished to paint, the current green area of the glare shield will be a flat black, whereas the Balsa wood area will be painted whatever color the nose and canopy frame is painted (haven’t decided yet . . .).

I also received yet another L12 micro-linear actuator that I’ll be using to manipulate louvers that will cover the oil cooler to adjust the airflow for optimized oil cooling temps: louvers closer to closed in the winter for less engine oil cooling and pretty much wide open during the hot summers, with stages in-between during the fall and spring.

The switch that I also bought from the Robot Shop is a latching type switch (analogous in function to a latching relay) that will allow a simple actuator to be stopped at discreet positions –versus just merely fully opened or fully closed– to allow for a myriad of settings to dial in the oil cooler to temp during flight ops versus having to mess around with making, sizing and attaching oil cover plates on the ground.

As a point of note, I got the louver idea from Marc Zeitlin who incorporated this simple mod on his Cozy IV with great results.  The main difference in my configuration vs Marc’s is that Marc incorporated a cable to manipulate the louvers whereas I will be using a significantly lighter micro-linear actuator.

I’ve been painting the house all week with the phenomenal help of Stacey from North Carolina.  It’s been a very productive week but I am quite tired, so after taking just a bit to recharge I’ll be back on the canopy build for the next 2-3 days (interspersed with some house prepping tasks of course).


Chapter 13 – Nose job

I started off today working on my AC unit for a couple of hours.

I then got around to some wet sanding and painting on the oil “tower” box lid, and then some wet sanding and clear coating on the box portion itself…. both endeavors were rife with annoying issues and the outcome of each one is yet to be determined.  I suspect that there is a fair more work to get the surfaces dialed in to an acceptable (not perfect!) level.

Today was really more of a research & modeling day to tie together all the loose ends and integration questions I had regarding the nose.  I set up the canopy in its near-final configuration and then got to work on the nose.  I took a fair amount of notes and changed my hand drawn plans to account for the finalized dimensions, angles and curves.

Some outstanding questions I answered was that, A) I’m extending the height of F28 0.4″ at the center line, and B)  I installed (with duct tape) a 0.9″ gap-filling piece to account for the depression in the Napster bulkhead.  When the nose is final this gapped area will be filled by the thickness of the nose hatch.

It may be a bit hard to get an exact idea with the big roll of duct tape on the nose, but this is outline of the upper nose.

Here’s a shot for the left side.  This provides a better depiction of the nose’s top curve.

And a shot from the front.

I then taped in place the nose hatch template (which is currently only half the hatch) to assess its size, shape, accessibility, etc.  As a point of note, the dimensions and shape of this particular nose hatch template is based off the Berkut nose hatch…. at least it started out that way!

I then set the battery in place to ensure it would fit.

Regarding the battery, I assessed topside cable clearance and clearance for removing and installing the battery.  The PC680 battery is around 7.1″ wide and my nose hatch at the narrowest point above the battery with this shape and configuration would be 7.8″ wide.

Here’s a shot of the left side nose hatch template taped in place.

The above is somewhat of a quick overview of my planning process.  Again, I took a myriad of measurements, checked angles and clearances, then made quite a few notes and annotated drawings and pics I have of my nose design.  There are a number of things that I will cover as I build since it would difficult to provide overviews without pictures of the components and build process.

One such area –that happens to need correcting– is the very front top corners of the fuselage where each side intersects with F28.  I’ll cover that tomorrow as I go through the process of remedying my 6-year old error.


Last 2 days . . .

Just an update on my build and related non-build activities today and yesterday . . .

I started out yesterday by wanting to get a quick round of paint in before the multi-day bout of rain and T-storms rolled into the area, which were scheduled to start mid-afternoon.

I wanted a label for my oil box that, quite conveniently, would identify the box as “OIL.”  I had thought about it a number of times while building the box and just decided to do it in a quick and EZ manner.  I painted the lid top black and then –using PowerPoint– made up a good sized block lettered version of the “OIL” label.  I then taped my “OIL” stencil pattern to a wide piece of painter’s tape and carefully traced the letters with a razor knife.

I then simply affixed the painter’s tape block letters over the black painted lid top.

Again, not absolutely perfect, but I’m not building an oil box, I’m building an airplane so I want to get this thing off the plate of things to do.

I then shot the oil box and lid with a few coats of yellow paint.  I added an extra coat for extra measure so that when I wet sand it, the carcasses of all the tiny little divebombing gnats that apparently love yellow so much they’ll literally die for it . . . would not show up in the final paint.  I guess painting this during the day is like being a big boxed food manufacturer, lots of bugs for added protein!

I let the yellow paint cure for about a half hour then brought the parts inside.  By the time I grabbed my keys, wallet and phone to head out to Harbor Freight for some consumables and check out some tools, the rain started.  While out, I also stopped by Lowe’s to pick up a long 3/4″ x 1/8″ piece of aluminum to use as a spacer on the longeron for the canopy build.

Now, the rest of the story….

When I returned from my errands I was ready to get back to work on the build.  I checked my task list and at the top was a note to call U-Haul to reserve an auto hauler trailer for moving the fuselage down to NC.  Time was a bit critical in that U-Haul has different rates for summer than the other 9 months of the year, with the summer rates being about 3 times the price as the rest of the year.  The demarc date for this price increase is Memorial Day, but as long as you reserve the trailer (or truck, etc) prior to Memorial Day you still get the significantly lower rate.

On the phone with the U-Haul bubbas they then asked for the year, make and model of the vehicle I was hauling.  Since I like to be up front about stuff but also realize the bias companies have against catering to anything aircraft related, I told them it was for a wheeled project I was working on.  The bottom line ended up that if it wasn’t a standard vehicle with a normal make and model, they simply would not rent me an auto hauler trailer.  I’ll spare you my commentary on what I think about our current social mores.

Concerned, I then spent a few hours investigating possible courses of action that would facilitate and result in my ability to move my fuselage down to NC.  This of course included researching what constitutes “wide loads”  for both Virginia and North Carolina.

In short, all things considered, my build endeavors were done for the evening.

After the detour I took yesterday, I started off this morning by heading to a local ma & pa diner to have breakfast and list out my tasks for the day.  I had to make a couple quick stops and by the time I returned it was HOT in the house.

I haven’t had my AC on (due to my cheapness…ha!) but it was time to deal anyway with an AC issue I’ve been having, which I finally deduced as most likely a clogged evaporator drain (all evidence points to this being a side effect of the AC drain being filled with rocks and garbage [I was told most likely the building crew] that was discovered by my tenant while I was in Germany… not only did it physically block the draining but facilitated the growth of algae, mold, gunk, etc. that blocks the drain line and forces the water to exit where it can out of the unit).

Again, due to my cheapness, and not wanting to pay the extortionist HVAC guys a ton of money only since they know the simple magic and I don’t, then I went into quick apprentice mode on becoming an HVAC “technician.”   Anyway, I believe I found the issue and thus had to go into HVAC repair/maintenance mode.  This is not only for my immediate comfort, but something I would have had to address anyway to sell the house…. so the work gets done either by me (on the cheap) or by a certified technician (muy expensivo!). So far the progress has been good, but it will take a few hours a day over the next few days to really clean up some of the rust in my drain pan, clean the drain lines, etc.

So that, folks, is where I am on the build…. and the move.


Chapter 3/22/23 – Back at it!

I just returned from my North Carolina sortie late this afternoon.  I of course had to attend to some normal life stuff before getting back into the groove of things.

I would like to actually start out by reporting on a couple things I did/noted before I left for NC.  The first is that before I left out I flipped the engine inverted and recharged the cylinder dehydrator plugs with fresh desiccant.  Since I have 4 of the these dehydrator plugs I removed them from the top plug holes on the cylinders and replaced them with standard aircraft spark plugs before flipping the engine upside down. [This is a previous “stock” pic I took of the engine positioned inverted on the engine stand… it’s mislabeled stating that it was inverted only for a few hours vs 5 days].

After replacing the desiccant in the dehydrator plugs I then pulled the 4 standard aircraft plugs on the bottom of each cylinder (of course facing up at this point) and replaced them with the dehydrator plugs.  Since the oil filler cap was facing downward and the top mounted crankcase vent would leak into the Engine Dehumidifier air lines if I tried to attach it to the inverted engine, I just left both unconnected for the duration of my trip.

In addition, as I was packing up for taking a load of household stuff down to NC, I found my cardboard mockup of the Trig TT22 transponder.  It became readily apparent why I thought the actual TT22 unit was much smaller than I expected as I realized why when I compared the two.  The dimensions for the TT22 unit are given from the tip of antenna jack to the end of the wire mounting spring clip on the other end.  Clearly the box section of the unit is not included in those dimensions, making it much smaller in real life than my mockup.  Just an observation I had in how there always seems to be some sort of wrinkle in the planning of this stuff for the aircraft build.

So I got back home late this afternoon from NC and immediately kicked off an overdue Seattle Avionics chart data update for the GRT HXr EFIS (I missed the previous one… ).

In addition, the desiccant I left in the oven while I was gone was clearly saturated with moisture and had turned a bright light pink, so I fired up the oven to refresh the desiccant to its desired brilliant blue state.  A while later, after letting it cool a bit, I put it back into a sealed container to use in the Engine Dehumidifier after I flip the engine upright tomorrow.

Also upon returning home I found that some packages had arrived, including a digital tachometer and project box (to mount it in) from Ebay for the lathe.  Since I had to make a Home Depot/Lowe’s run I decided to do a quick check of the upcoming tach install to ensure I had all the components I would need on hand…. which I didn’t so I ginned up a list.  While I was at it I spent another 20 minutes mounting the lathe Quick Change Tool Post (QCTP) onto the lathe compound/cross slide/carriage.

Once the heights of the various lathe turning/cutting tools are dialed in, the QCTP will allow me to swap out tools in literally seconds vs tens of minutes.  Below are examples of a parting (“cut-off”) tool [top] and a turning tool [bottom], each in their respective tool holder [the attached tools are from a cheaper carbide tipped “indexable” tool kit I picked up from Harbor Freight, since it had good reviews…. I’ll use these tools as part of my kit starting out so if/when I break them during initial lathe ops, my cost of learning will be cheaper!].

Late this evening I did some final updates on my nose and canopy build task lists and printed those off in prep for starting back on these builds tomorrow.



Chapter 3/13 – Tooling up…again?!

Knowing that my lathe was getting delivered today and that I needed to sign for it, I started by opening up the shop and got busy wet sanding the very front NG30 mini-bulkhead that I clear coated last night.

After wet sanding it I buffed it out with rubbing compound and then hit it with a couple coats of polish.  It’s not perfect by any means but I think it will look great as a part of the white center NG30 “console”.

Then the UPS guy showed up with my lathe.  Which came in 2 separate boxes. [I’ll warn you now that the rest of this blog post pertains to the lathe, so if you’re not interested you can shut this down now…. cheers!]

Yep!  It’s a lathe!

Two big benefits of getting this specific lathe was that A) it was actually in stock, and B) the reports on it NOT being delivered in a mangled, unrecognizable container were non-existent.  In fact, the feedback was that it was packed VERY well for shipping (Two boxes vs just one greatly verified that fact).

Box #1 contained the main body: the headstock and the bed (aka rails).  It also contained the chip pan.

I then pulled the rather heavy headstock and bed assembly out of box #1, still mounted to its wood shipping mount plate.

I then opened up Box #2.  Words can’t express how pleased I was with the packing quality of these components.  The foam here was not cheap styrofoam, and the overpacking was just off the charts.

Box #1 of Box #2 was the gear cover that mounts to the left end of the lathe to cover all the gearing on that end.  Now, the motor is a direct belt drive configuration, but the ancillary lead screw drive and threading is gear driven.

Here’s the outside of the left end gear cover.

Box #2 of Box #2 was the electronics box.

The outside of the electronics box is the front of the lathe and the top is the control panel.

Then there was the odd components: the rubber mounting feet brackets and bag of accessories.

A closeup of all the threading gears in the bag of accessories.  This bag also included all the hardware and handles.

The rear back splash was honestly the only “free’ floating component packed in Box #2.

With all that stuff that came out, and there was still 2 boxes left to go in Box #2.

And again, the overpacking and protection was spot on!

One of the boxes contained the Compound slide with the old style tool holder attached (this will get swapped out for a quick change tool holder).

The top view of the Compound assembly.

Here’s the cross-slide assembly underside.

And the top side of the cross-slide assembly.

And let’s not forget the 3″ chuck (that I’ll most likely never use).

Here we have the headstock, the bed, the tailstock, the compound and cross slide.  I should note that as all these metal parts were unboxed I cleaned them with solvent.

I then flipped the headstock and bed upside down to remove the wood shipping mount plate.

And then mounted the chip bed and feet assemblies.

I then set the lathe assembly in place on the work bench.

And started wiring up the electronics box.

A closer shot of the electrical wiring getting connected out of the electronics box.

As I was checking the operations manual I ran across a template with the dimensions spelled out to hard mount the lathe to the bench.  I liked this idea much better so I removed the rubber feet and spent well over an hour (my issues, not the machine’s) getting it mounted to the bench.  In the end, I like this configuration MUCH better… a lot more stable.

To see the lathe in action and overview of my latest tooling up, I created a fairly short video:

This will be the last post I make for almost a week as I pack up another load to head down to North Carolina.  For any curious types out there, I should be down in NC by the end of the summer.  After settling in I plan to stop offering up these silly excuses as to why my plane is not finished yet!



Chapter 13 – NG30 Cover Complete

Today I had a fairly lengthy discussion on Long-EZ building and flying in general with my buddy Marco.  We discussed an issue with his transponder and we spoke about my new Trig TT22 Mode-S Transponder.  He was curious about the size of the Trig transponder so I snapped this pic… to be certain, it is a fairly petite device.

A bit later I got to work on the NG30 aft cover.  I wanted to get this thing knocked off my to-do list and it’s been long overdue.  I really screwed up the paint pretty good with all those runs on the surface, although I thought I took care of them.  But as I was buffing it out with some rubbing compound I could see some blemishes that needed more TLC with some very fine wet sanding.

My point in listing my self-inflicted woes on this thing is to highlight that I spent well over 3 hours finishing it up.  But it’s done! (Note the reflection in the front face of the NG30 cover).

And a view of the left side of the finished NG30 cover.

I noted a strong reflection on the left side, so I grabbed a _________________ (can you tell?!) and held it in place.

Here’s another reflection shot on the NG30 cover’s top that shows a distinct reflection of one of the shop lights.

Today really was a day of phone calls, errands, research and a bit of shop time, but tomorrow I do plan on getting a good amount of stuff done.


Chapter 21/23 – Wired . . .

I started out today with kind of a fun little project: assembling the engine stand that I picked up at Harbor Freight with a 20% off coupon.  As I was assembling it, a note in the instructions caught my eye: “Not for use with Aircraft” . . . hmmmm?

I also set the lengths of angled steel on the top and bottom mounts to provide an idea of how those will mount to both the engine stand and the engine mount (this angled steel was one of the pieces that Marco cut for me on his ginormous metal band cutting saw… which cut through this stuff like butter!).

I then did about 2 hours worth of spring cleaning in the shop to get it a little squared away for all the upcoming activity.

Next, although I didn’t get a pic, I mounted the right wheel pant.  I noted some trimming I’ll have to do on the wheel opening, but it’s seriously on the order of about a 1/16th of an inch.  That will get it in line with the opening dimensions spelled out by Gary Hertzler.  In addition, I took some measurements on the right wheel pant that I had already taken on the left.  The conclusion was that the wheel pants match perfectly from the gear leg forward to the front pant tip.  However, from the TE of the gear leg to the back tip of the wheel pant the right one is about 3/16″ farther aft, or maybe I should say 3/16″ longer.  No big deal and it was more of a curiosity thing than anything… I can tweak it a bit when I finish the wheel pants.

I then set my sights on mounting the 8″ prop extension to the flywheel and the engine prop flange.  It took about a half hour, a block of wood and a bunch of medium strength taps with a rubber mallet to get that sucker seated to within about 0.1″ of the flywheel. Then I very gently tightened all the bolts to get the prop extension to seat tightly against the flywheel.

Then, as per Sam’s (from Saber Manufacturing) directions, I torqued the 6 prop extension, prop flange and flywheel bolts to 50 ft-lbs each.

I then safety wired the bolts in pairs using 0.041″ stainless steel safety wire.

This is my first go at safety wiring, so if anybody out there sees anything disagreeable, please give me a shout.  I’m always open to constructive criticism.  Of course, I’ll have my EAA chapter bubbas look at the build as well.

Here’s the final shot of the installed prop extension.  Let me tell ya, the only time this thing is getting removed is when the alternator belt needs replaced! [Tomorrow I’ll test mount the prop and of course will take some pics… so I figured I would get the prop extension install out of the way today].

It was getting later in the evening, so I decided to relax and watch some TV while I played with my new toy: a ClampTite tool.  I removed and brought the fuel line and oil heat oil line with me upstairs.

Then, using the Clamptite tool (another first for me), I fire sleeved the 2 hoses.  Note that I’m using blue fire sleeve for fuel lines and black fire sleeve for oil.

As I’ve seen on Joe Caraggio’s site and others, there seems to be a requirement out there (or at least a good idea) to seal up the ends of the fire sleeve so the wool-type lining doesn’t soak up any stray oil, fuel, or what have you.  I had some of the expensive gray 3M fire barrier on hand so I decided to seal up the ends with that.

Here I’ve applied the 3M Fire Barrier to the ends of each fire sleeved hose….

However, I’m not a big fan of how the gritty, blotchy gray Hi-Temp RTV ends looked, so I cut a narrow piece of heat shrink and covered the RTV’d ends up…ahh, much better!

My final build act of the evening was to simply reinstall the hoses back onto the engine.  I definitely think the fire sleeving will work and I’m glad I went this route.

Tomorrow is picture day and my next door neighbor will be using his Uber awesome digital camera to get some nice aft end pics of my Long-EZ build.  Once that happens, my next goal will be to get the engine off the fuselage and onto the engine stand.  I’ll then drop all my engine focused shenanigans and will start on finishing up the nose and getting the canopy built.