Wings back on

Time: 2 Hours

I worked a little in the shop today after being gone for a week for my six month recurrent training in the Lear 45. I finished up the wheel pants where I had filled in some holes and reprimed them. I’m calling those done and removed them for storage until flying time. I helped my buddy Glenn remove his wings now that he has all gear leg Fairings done. After rearranging the shop plus a little sweeping we move my RV into position so I could put the wings on. I’m doing this for two reasons, first to be able to do the fairings from the top of the gear legs to the fuselage/wing and the second is one last fuel leak test. Glenn had 20 gallons of 100LL that he used for his test and he let me have it for mine.

So the fuel went into the left wing and will sit for a week while I’m at the NBAA convention in Las Vegas. If there is no blue stains on the bottom or the paper I laid out I’ll call the a passing test and transfer the fuel to the right wing for its test. I’m slowly getting tasks done ahead of my engine build school, 34 days and counting down.

Wingtip Lenses Done

Time: 4 Hours

So after I had the lenses cut, sanded and fit to the opening with a little extra gap I placed a layer of electrical tape over the edges of the lenses to do some fill work. I then screwed them back in place and use some epoxy/fiber-fil to fill the irregular gap to get a nice match to the lenses.

After that cured I removed the lenses and cleaned of the fill with sandpaper. I reinstalled the lenses to check the new fit and they look great! Very little lip to be felt as you run your hand over them. This will change with temperature as the plastic will expand and contract. But for me they are perfect!

I removed them once again as well as the nav light hardware I left on the left wing tip. This way I could prime them with a light coat to find pin holes.

I found a few pin holes and some irregular spots so I filled them with Super-Fill, sanded and re-primed. After the primer set up I reinstalled the NAV lights, Taxi/Landing lights and lenses for storage.

Wing Tip Lenses Take 2

Time: 6 Hours

Ok it’s been a while since my last post. Life sometimes gets in the way and that’s ok especially since my available project items are dwindling down as I wait for an engine purchase. I have been excited to get back in the shop and get back to building. The process of adjusting and cutting the lens to shape and sanding to final fit was the same as the last post. 

Once I got them to a very close final fit I drilled for two screws, one on the top and one on the bottom, so that I could ensure they return to the same spot as I removed for sanding. 

Once I had the fit perfect I worked on the nutplates for the screws. I tried blind riveting the nutplates in place with countersunk blind rivets. I just wasn’t happy with how they were fitting so I turned to another idea. I just clecoed the nutplates in place and covered them with epoxy/flox which cures extremely strong. After they cured I countersunk the lens for a #6 screw and put them in place. 

The fit was great and the flox worked perfectly. I had to careful with the nutplate placement so they didn’t interfere with the landing light attach points. I then removed the lenses and filled the drillled holes from the blind rivets with Super Fill. 

I will sand those areas down and reprime the tips to find any pin holes. After that I’ll reinstall the lights, lenses and tips back on the wings for storage. 

Wing Tip Lens

Time: 4 Hours

Now that I had the landing/taxi, NAV and strobe lights installed I broke out the lens that cover this area. Vans sends these as on piece that needs to separated for the left and right side. The material feels flexible and not like plastic so I did some tests using snips to cut based on other builders experience. They worked perfect and I separated the two halfs easily. They are way to big and need to be cut down to fit your opening. I started with the right wingtip and positioned the lens over the opening until I had a good shape and the curve matched the wingtip. I taped in place and use masking tape to mark the edge of the cutout. 

Are use the snips to cut along this line for the bottom cut.  With that edge nested after being cut I then worked on the other edge. 

After I had both edges cut are used sandpaper to fine-tune and get the lens to nest all the way around the opening. Once I was happy with that I drilled two holes to hold them in place as I continue to work the shape.

I cleaned up the edges so they sat within the lip all the way around. I was pretty happy with most of the fit except a few areas that had a very slight gap under the lens where it didn’t sit flat on the wingtip. What I decided would be the easiest fix for this was to sand all the fiberglass on the lip, wax the inside of the lens, apply a thin layer of epoxy/fairing filler to the tip and put the lens back in place. I applied tape to the edge to edge and buttered the lip with the epoxy and put the lens in place. 

This should match the inside edge of the lens to the fiberglass and make a solid fit.  I let them cure overnight and started the process of removing the lenses. I used a pop sickle stick to slide under the lens and work my around the lens. The left side released without any issues and looked great however when I worked the right side it was a different story. When I got to the lower side I heard a pop and noticed that the lens cracked at the drilled hole followed by another right next to it, that lens was finished. So rather than fretting this I just jumped on the laptop and ordered another set of lenses from Vans. I then sanded all the edges of the wingtip to remove the epoxy I just put on so I can start over with the new ones. I’m thinking this time I’ll live with the little amount of play I have rather than risk cracking another lens. I takes Vans about a week to ship things to my house so I decided to do some serious shop space cleaning and removed a lot of stock/supplies that I just no longer need. It’s amazing how much dust is created with composite materials! It took 8 days for the lens to come so I’ll be back at it soon. I also ordered a axle nut wrench that Vans cuts and you rivet together. I will keep this in my aircraft tool bag so I can change a tire on the road. 

It’s Easter break with my kids this week and taking a much needed break the following week to join my girl in Kona, HI after her weeklong program is over at the end of this week. It’s been kinda nice having only a few little tasks left to do on the RV which forces me to enjoy other things around me! I’ll be back to being supper busy building after I order and receive my engine from AeroSport power. The goal is to order it around the end of June and attend their build school sometime September/October timeframe. 

Landing/Taxi Lights

Time: 8 Hours

This last summer at AirVenture I purchased my landing/taxi and position lights from AeroLed. My plan was as soon as I ran out of stuff to do this Winter I would work on these lights, that time has come! The wheel pants are almost done so I figured I would start the process of installing these lights. I would start with the landing/taxi lights first. These are specifically made for the RV aircraft and the shape of there fiberglass tips. The model is AeroSunVx and include led’s for taxi and led’s for landing. They send a wood template to use to mark the area to cut as well as the two adjustment screws. 

Once you have all the sight slots adjusted on the template you drill the two holes and clecko it in place. 

Then you can use the template to mark the area that needs to be cut.

I started with a Dremel cut off wheel followed by the Dremel drum sanding tool to get close to the line. 

Then I used 80 grit sandpaper by hand to take it right up to and removing most of the line. The plans have you put two layers of blue painters tape around the perimeter of the light to give protection as well as spacing. You then insert the light from inside the fiberglass tip to see the points that are tight. With a single layer of sand paper facing away from light you slide it between the light and fiberglass and pull outward. This sands the fiberglass to the shape of the light as you push pressure on the light. This is a very very slow process but they tell you to have patience with this so that the reveal is equal all the way around as the adjustment screws are in place. 

Once you have the light in perfect shape it’s time to mount the pivot arm to the leading edge. This arm just connect to a rubber bushing housed in a plactic piece that is the shape of the leading edge. The plactic piece gets permanently mounted and the bushing allows for the light to pivot and vibration control. You can drill holes and blind rivet it in place or epoxy it. I decided to go the later route so I didn’t have four blind rivet heads showing. I did drill two holes so that I could hold it in place as the epoxy cured. So I mixed up some epoxy/flox and covered the part and installed the light. 

While this was setting up I started work on the AeroLed Pulsar NS (Nav/Strobe). This was pretty easy to line up with the dimensions provided. They have a attach bracket that is held in place with three screws.  I decided to use nyloc nuts instead of nutplates. 

Then I drilled a 3/4″ hole for the wires to pass through. After feeding the wires through the hole you slide the light ontonthe bracket and slide it forward. There is a set screw at the aft end that holds it in place. 

I repeated the entire process on the opposite wingtip with the same results. 

After this cures I will remove the lights and clean up the edges and re-prime the tips as well as work on the lenses that cover the lights. I will also finish up the wiring and make a temporary pigtail so I can put the tips by the fuselage and test them without having to put the wings on.