I started by doing an inventory of the parts. There are a couple hundred little bags with screws, nuts, bolts, and various other parts that I need to confirm are all there. This took over an hour.
00 Task List
The manual that I’m working from is arranged by topic (wings, landing gear, fuel system, etc.). The plane is not built by starting a page one and working through the manual sequentially. There is a “flow chart” that lists the tasks to be performed in the order they are supposed to be done in.
So to get an idea of what I’m doing, here it is. Some of the tasks are missing because they don’t apply. For example, there’s a fixed landing gear version which has tasks that I don’t do. I’ve removed those steps. So if you notice some missing numbers, that’s why. If it’s red, it’s done!
1. ✔︎ Read chapter one of your manual and review the construction DVD’s
2. ✔︎ Cut out Doghouse
3. ✔︎ Cut out and install premolded NACA scoops
4. Install Overhead plenum NACA (do not install plenum until flipping airplane)
5. ✔︎ Fit keel in airplane and then remove to install control system
6. ✔︎ Install wood hardpoints for control system in keel
7. ✔︎ Cut out and layup inspection covers in keel
8. ✔︎ Install nut plates to hold inspection covers
12. ✔︎ Cut out nose gear door hinges
13. ✔︎ Install top Triax pads on firewall for Continental engine
14. ✔︎ Complete fiberglass portion of nose gear door installation
15. Install Heater flapper valve and aluminum outlet tubes in oil cooler exit
16. Cut out oil cooer inlet and outlet ducts
17. Install front oil cooler ducts
18. ✔︎ Install rear aileron control bracket to keel rear section
19. ✔︎ Install aileron torque tube and control stick in keel
20. ✔︎ Mid bearing support installed in keel
21. ✔︎ Install main gear and nose gear cylinder
22. ✔︎ Install AN fittings into main and nose gear cylinders (tape over the ends)
23. ✔︎ Install flexible hydraulic lines between nose and main gear cylinders
24. Fit and install battery tray
25. Fit and install Landing Light Assembly (no landing light in the nose)
26. ✔︎ Structural Adhesive front of keel in place
27. ✔︎ Install front keel stiffening layups
29. Install nose gear bushing plates
30. Glass edges of canard cutout to seal it
31. Fit and fair in nose access cover
32. ✔︎ Install nose gear gas spring and shock assembly
33. Install nose gear door cylinder and assembly
34. Install RG hydraulic power pack
35. ✔︎ Install MG pulley and cable assembly
36. Install rudder pedals
37. Fit instrument panel into airplane
38. Install seat hardpoints
39. Use Velocipoxy and micro to fair in back of windows
40. Construct sump tank
41. ✔︎ Glass side of canard bulkhead opposite the flange
42. Install sequence valve assembly
43. Install Dump Valve
44. Install nose gear guides
45. Install hydraulic power pack
46. Install hard lines for RG system
47. ✔︎ Install Center Spar
48. ✔︎ Triax reinforcements between the center spar and the gear bulkhead.
51. Place airplane on jacks and remove main gear
52. Cut out fuselage to allow main gear retract, complete transverse bulkhead
53. Install main gear bushings
54. Triax over main gear bushings
55. Permanently install steel bushings in gear legs and make aluminum spacers
56. Install straws on MG for brake lines
57. Install canard attachment reinforcements (triax)
58. Install Canard bushings
59. Complete all canard Triax reinforcements
60. Install hinges on elevators
61. ✔︎ Install hinge arms in canard
62. Attach canard tips
63. ✔︎ Install concentric torque tube
64. Install counterweights
65. Check balance of elevators
66. Install elevator pitch trim actuator
67. Install main gear
68. Install main wings prep for strake install
69. Temporarily install doors (hinges do not have to be completed yet)
70. Fit lower strake
71. Cut out baggage access opening
72. Install lower strake bottom
73. Fit top strake
74. Remove wings to provide more space
75. Glass dyvinicel sheet to make fuel tank baffles
76. Cut out opening for gear and wheel well
77. Fit gear and wheel well
78. Cut out baffles a little larger than templates
79. Glass top flange on wheel well
80. Fit baffle bottoms to bottom strake
81. Fit baffle tops to top strake
82. Reposition all baffles in bottom strake and tack in place
83. Glass bulkheads and baffles to lower strake
84. Install hardpoint for fuel vent and main fuel line
85. install sight tubes
86. Install fuel caps in strake top
87. Seal fuel tank with 2 coats of Jeffco or EZ-poxy
88. Coat strake top with Jeffco or EZ-poxy in fuel tank area
89. Cut wing access bolt hole
90. Practice fuel strake top installation with partner
91. Install strake top
92. Cut wing from strake
93. Remove wings
94. Cut leading edge from strake that will go on the door
95. Install door and glass leading edge of strake to it
96. Install outboard end stake reinforcement
97. Finish glassing fuel tank bottom seams-back of spar-strake top and bottom
98. Pressure check each main fuel tank
99. Complete finish work between strake top and fuselage
100. Reinstall wings
101. Complete finish work between strake top and wing
102. Remove wings
103. Flip airplane
104. Finish glassing on exterior of fuel tank top seams
105. Complete finish work between strake bottom and wing
106. Complete glass work between strake top and inside of baggage well
107. Install overhead fresh air plenum
108. Fit main gear doors and install attach brackets onto gear legs
109. Fill sand and prep gear legs for primer
110. Complete all finish work on bottom of airplane.
111. Prime and prep for paint
112. Remove wings
113. Flip airplane back onto it’s gear
114. Install sump tank
115. Install fuel plumbing between main tanks-sump tank-firewall fitting
116. Install Fiberfrax and stainless steel on firewall
117. Install oil lines to forward oil cooler
118. Install rudder cable nylaflow in airplane from pedals to the firewall
119. Bond in rear keel (whale tail) section and install rear aileron bellcrank in keel
120. Install Aileron push/pull cables through firewall
121. Install Aileron torque tube
122. Install Aileron bellcrank and bearing brackets in wing root
123. Install Rudder hinges
124. Install rudder horn
125. Install rudder return spring
126. Install Aileron hinges
127. Install rudder cable in airplane and wing nylaflow
128. Install rudder pulley and cable adjuster between firewall and wing root
129. ✔︎ Install winglet bottom
130. Fit top and bottom cowling and flange
131. ✔︎ Install Door hinges
132. ✔︎ Install secondary lock in door
133. ✔︎ Install key lock
134. Fit door trim panels
135. ✔︎ Install door gas springs
136. Assemble seat backs to bases with seat hinges
137. Install seat belt hardpoints
138. Remove wings
139. Engine installation.
140. Fit fiberfrax and stainless to firewall and install
141. Install front oil cooler lines and bracket on firewall
142. Install secondary oil cooler
143. Install electric fuel pump
144. Plumb aluminum lines between firewall bulkhead fitting and fuel pump
145. Install wiring
146. Mount the engine mount on the engine
147. Mount the engine on the firewall
148. Fabricate oil access door
149. install oil and fuel line plumbing from the airframe to the engine
150. Install engine senders on firewall and wire
151. Plumb flexible lines between engine and senders
152. Jack airplane up and fit brakes to gear legs
154. Check for toe in and camber. Shim axle to correct
158. Installed prewired panel
159. Connect panel wiring to premade harness Harness instruction
160. Install Throttle , Mixture and Prop control cables
161. Install pitot tube
162. Install Static port
163. Install Pitot/Static system tubing
164. Install engine cooling plenum and runners to NACA scoops
165. Cut exhaust exit in cowling
166. Trim exhaust tubes and permanently install on engine
167. Install prop and trim or modify rear cowling as necessary to fair in
168. Install canard
169. Complete control stick to concentric torque tube installation
00 Sebastian Pre-Departure
My last day at the Builders Center. Not all of the parts were brought over from the production facility so once I finished the inventory I rode over to the factory and sat down with Ken to go over the missing parts. Most of the missing items were already boxed up and ready to ship. A couple items were on backorder. The few remaining missing parts (it’s possible that I used them and forgot to mark them off) he just grabbed them out of inventory. No questions asked.
I also found out that the wings would not be ready for transport for two weeks. My plan was to have Travis arrive on 2/18 with the airplane and stay for a couple days to help get started with the strakes. After the two weeks in the middle of February, I’m not going to have much time to dedicate to the build until the 10th of March. Frustrating. But since it’s a two year project (hah!), three weeks isn’t that much of a setback… I guess.
I did get to actually do some work on my wings.
Here I’m fitting the pocket for the rudder bellcrank earlier in my visit.
By the time I was packing up to leave, we had finished glassing the wings and winglets and the lower winglet is being attached.
Considering that with the fastbuild option, my amount of work on the plane is 51%, having worked on the wings puts me well over 51%. 🙂
00 Shop Prep
For the past two weeks I’ve been working on the annual of the Cessna and getting the shop ready so when the plane arrives I can start working on the plane.
One of the things that I need is a heated epoxy cabinet. The epoxies that will be used need to be stored at a relatively narrow temperature range. I knew this, but I thought that since the shop is heated, I wouldn’t have to worry about that. When I was in Florida, the shop I was working in kept their epoxy in a heated cabinet. And that was Florida! If the epoxy gets too cold it becomes thick and doesn’t flow very well.
I had originally planned on building a cabinet, but while shopping for the heating parts at the local home improvement store, I ran across a simple cabinet for $49.
I lined the inside with 1/2″ foil faced insulation.
Then I installed a thermostat and a single fixture for an incandescent light bulb. I was going to put in two fixtures, but I wasn’t sure if I needed two so I decided to put in one and add the second if required.
To maintain about 70 – 80 degrees, the 75 watt light bulb is on about 15% of the time.
During construction, I’ll need to retract the landing gear from time to time so I’ll need some way to support the plane. The front will be easy since a sawhorse will fit under the nose perfectly. For the back (under the wings) I could use Airplane Jacks, but they’re rather expensive since they’re designed to work under different types of airplanes. While I was down at the factory, I saw a couple different types of fabricated jacks. So here’s what I did:
I went to Harbor Freight (I’m really starting to like that store) and picked up a couple 6 ton hydraulic bottle jacks.
Once it’s completed, the airplane will only weight about 2,000 pounds so I don’t need that much capacity, but these jacks had a longer throw than the 2 ton jacks and they only cost $12 each!
Then I had to make them work for the 37″ – 42″ span under the wing. So I used some leftover 1/2″ plywood from when I built the shop and made a base.
With the jack on top, it’s the correct height to raise the wing. I haven’t decided how I’m going to secure the jack to the top of the stand. I’m thinking something along the lines of lag bolts with fender (wide) washers around the edge.
Now I’m off the New York City for a week to teach an ACCS class. Then I’m in Downtown Chicago for a week teaching an ICND1 class. After that, I’m hoping the airplane will arrive.
00 Airplane Arrives
We have an airplane. And I think I should have built a bigger shop.
At around 3:30pm, Dan Fast pulled in the driveway.
Because I went ahead and mounted the center wing spar, the fuselage had to be transported almost on it’s side.
Me and my son Steve. That’s the left wing we’re standing in front of.
Dan removing all the straps that held everything in place.
The wings are in.
The left main wheel was removed so that’s got to be reinstalled.
It takes four people to get the fuselage off the trailer and on it’s own wheels. With me, Dan and Steve, we needed another person, the bigger the better. So we made the call to our good friends Tim and Anne. Here’s Tim with Steve probably wondering how this thing is supposed to fly.
Tim’s wife Anne brought the necessary celebratory refreshments.
The following show the fuselage coming off the trailer and into the shop.
My wife Ann (left) with Tim’s wife Anne (right). It’s got to be good mojo to have a couple hot babes celebrating the new project, right?
Family photo. Me, Ann and Steve.
Two more pictures. These are from the web cam.
See what I mean? I should have built a bigger shop.
Next, I get to do inventory… again.
00 Shop Prep
Trying to get the shop organized. Space is a bit tight so I’m trying to get things moved around so that I won’t be tripping over stuff.
For doing fiberglass prep, I built a 4×8 top for my tablesaw.
All the small parts (nuts, bolts, brackets, fittings, etc.) come in small ziplock bags that are in large ziplock bags for each major assembly (landing gear, fuel system, control system, etc.). It’s a real pain digging through 50 little ziplock bags looking for a washer. I did a lot of this in Florida at the factory. So I went to Lowes and got some utility boxes just for the hardware. I spent most of the day getting that stuff sorted out.
The next task for the day was building a platform for getting in and out of the fuselage. Without this, climbing in and out gets real old, real fast.
The final job was setting up the epoxy pump. There are about four different types of epoxies used on this project. Most are mixed at a 1:1 ratio. But the epoxy that will be used the most is mixed at a 44:100 ratio. Some people use a scale. That would be fine except it’s takes time and it’s easy to screw it up. So I purchased a metering pump. It has two tanks and a single lever that will dispense whatever ratio I want. But I had to calibrate it. Which meant I had to pump a sample of the resin and hardener into two separate containers and then weigh them. Then calculate the ratio, adjust the metering and do it again. And again. And again. And again. Until I got it to 44:100.
00 Airplane returns
The airplane arrives back from Tom’s shop today.
Backing down the long driveway.
Unfortunately, there was some shipping related damage (I wasn’t there when it was loaded up). Either the wing shifted forward or the fuselage shifted back (that’s what I’m betting on) and the upper fuselage skin dug through the winglet.
The good news is that it was relatively minor and since it’s a composite, the repair isn’t that difficult and there will be no loss of structural integrity.
Here’s an animated GIF from the shop cam that shows before and after.
00 Flipping the Fuselage
There’s quite a bit of work to perform on the bottom of the fuselage. Mostly finish type work but some mechanical work too. Trying to do this work from underneath is difficult so while the fuselage is still fairly light it’s easier to flip the plane and do it from the top. So I built a set of semi-circular flip jigs and bolted them to the center strake. Then I put out a call for a number of people to help with the manual labor. Here’s Mark (left) and John (right) wondering “how in the hell is this thing going to fly?” before the flip.
I clamped a sawhorse to the top (it will soon be underneath) of the canard bulkhead to support the front once it’s flipped.
Ken walking around wondering “how in the hell is this thing going to fly?”
Me, Mark, John, Ken, Steve and Tom staring the lift.
Me (left), Steve (right), Mark (behind Steve) almost at the halfway point. John (far left) is looking like he wants to get as far from this operation as possible.
Over the top. Everybody else has moved over the other side. I’m just leaning on this side so everybody else can feel a little extra weight.
Just a little further. In addition to supporting the front, the sawhorse also makes for something to hold onto as John figured out.
The eagle has landed! Tom (left, and note the t-shirt on a 40 degree day), Ken (middle) and a happy me (right).
Rolling the turtle back in the shop. John (left), Mark (middle) and Steve (right, and note the shorts on a 40 degree day) pushing.
Official event photographer Sarah.
00 Moving to Hangar 18
So things have been moving along. I got a bit stalled when the plane got upside-down. The landing gear went okay, but I was having a hard time getting started on putting the wings on and finishing the bottom. I just couldn’t figure out how to get a wing on and without a crew of people to help. But I was getting there. I built a jig to hold the plane at the correct position and was getting ready to attach a wing.
And that’s when my lovely wife told me she was being relocated back to the Atlanta area. Now I was okay with that. The only reason we were up here was her job and it will be nice not having to plow the driveway a couple times per year and get sweet tea, BBQ and grits.
But then it occurred to me that I had a purpose-built workshop and that we may not find a house in Atlanta that had a workshop to hold the plane. So we made a scouting trip down and I discovered two things:
- The chances to finding a home with a suitable workshop were almost non-existent.
- The population of metro Atlanta has exploded in the 11 years we’ve been gone. It’s just plain DENSE with people.
And add to that, Ann got an offer that would allow here to work from home most days and she could live anywhere.
So the bottom line is; We’re moving… Again.
Which means that I went into warp drive trying to figure out what to do with the Velocity.
I could rent commercial space or get a hangar to build in. Either of those options would cost something per month but my biggest issue is that I would no longer be able to walk into my shop and spend 30 minutes on something. I would have to drive somewhere which would be at least a 30 minute round trip commute. I would also have to move all of my tools there so when I needed to do something around the house, I’d have to drive 30 minutes to get a wrench! Plus, no internet access (you’d be surprised how much time I spent in my shop looking something up on the internet while building).
So renting space looked like a no-go.
Which brings me to Hangar 18. Malcolm Collier (who I’ve mentioned before) is a professional builder who has built numerous Velocities (He’s been my “go to” guy when I have a question). That’s his business. People buy the kit, ship it to Hanger 18 and spend time there working with Malcolm building their Velocity.
But the economy has been hitting everyone. Malcolm finished his last project almost a year ago and his new builds kept getting pushed back by their builders while they wait out the economy. So he made the decision to shut down Hangar 18 and go to work with a startup company developing a new airplane. Which kept getting pushed back. So I asked if he was interested in “one last build”. And he agreed.
I’m really excited about this for a couple of reasons.
- I’m going to have one of (actually THE) best in the business looking at everything that I’ve done. If there’s anything that isn’t right, it’ll be made right.
- No more scratching my head for 2 hours trying to interpret the manual or figuring out how to do something. Now it’s “Hey Malcolm. How does this go together?”
- Labor. There will always be at least 2 people around so when something needs to be moved, lifted, etc…
- Labor (again). Nothing is as tedious as filling, sanding, filling, sanding, filling, sanding. With Me, Malcolm and his worker, it’ll go much faster.
Of course, the downside is I’ll have to spend a couple weeks a month in Greenville, SC. And I’m now going to have to pay for Malcolm’s time and his worker.
But then again, I’ll probably be in the air sooner.
So I’ve spent the last month getting ready for the move. Disassembling some things, packing, organizing, etc.
On July 22nd, Dan Fast (same guy who brought it up 2 1/2 years ago arrived to take it down to SC.
On the trailer and ready to go.
I got a call from Malcolm on the 23rd that the plane arrived and had been offloaded.
Now I’m looking for a room in Greenville where I’ll spend a couple weeks per month. For now there’s a bunch of filling and sanding and I’ve got to do “real” work for a good part of August so I probably won’t get down there until September.