First Wiring

Time: 6 hours

I had received a couple packages in the mail a week and a half ago from various vendors. One was from Summit Racing which had the elbow I needed for my smoke tank high pressure hose. This had a male fitting on one side and a swivel female on the other allowing me to hold the perfect angle as I tightened it down. So I installed the elbow and cut the high pressure hose to the correct length. With the hose cut and installed I tightened down the hose clamp and secured the rest of the hose with zip ties.  

   The other deliveries were from Aircraft Spruce, Avery Tools and Dynon.  
 The Avery box had the custom flap push rods that I knew I wanted to get eventually and heard they were retiring and closing shop so I placed the order. All the other stuff was for wiring avionics. Firs up was to run the pre made harnesses for the ADSB and Transponder. I figured out the route in which I wanted to use and ran the bundles. I put the avionics shelves back in place and taped the avionic mockup sin place to start the layouts.  Once I was satisfied with the routes I zip tied and used adel clamps to secure a place.  

 I ran the bundles thru various snap bushings and zip ties on their way to the front. I’m not sure to the exact length they will need to be until I solidify the panel and where items will be. So I curled up the remaining length and zip tied them for later work. I used my shrink tube printer to mark the bundles for easy identification later.  

   I installed the bracket I made to hold the EMS box to help with wire length planning.  
 The other Barnes I wanted to run was the network cable from aft area to the from avionics bay. The Dynon system uses this 9 pin d-sub connections to tie each and every component together so they all talk to each other. Each component has multiple connections so that you may tie others into and out of them.  Dynon makes a 5 port hub to allow 4 item to plug in and one out. My plan was to run one line from the two ADAHRS, via a splitter, from the back to a hub in the avionics bay.  Dynon makes these harnesses in various lengths starting at 1.5′ and up to 30′.  So I bought one that gave me enough length to make it up to the avionics area plus a bunch extra that I can use for other runs after cut. Dynon puts a connection on one end and just the pins on the other so you can fish through small openings.  

   I figured out a good spot for one of the 5 port hubs on the forward avionics wall.  
 Last item I worked on was the Hobbs hour meter. I took some advice from my buddy Glenn to install one even though the Dynon system will keep track of it. The reason is that it’s nice to be able to just look at the meter without having to power up the aircraft. This hour meter will be used to mark key maintenance items.  I wasn’t to fond of having this big gauge in the cockpit. While at AirVenture this year I saw another RV that had the meter inside his forward cargo area facing forward. I thought this was great, it isn’t inside the cockpit and it will be easily accessible by opening up the cargo door. So I did some measuring and came up with the spot that’s close to the edge but does not interfere with the door. I used my Dremel tool to cut the opening and drill the holes for the attachment hardware.  

   All this happened last weekend and I was a little behind in blogging about it. I was in Las Vegas for the NBAA convention and had a three day trip right after. Not sure how much time I will get in the hangar this week as its Thanksgiving and we are excited to have family here for the first time in our new home. I have a lot to be thankful for! 

Control Sticks & Smoke Oil Fill

Time: 6 Hours

Today I worked on installing, at least temporarily, the pilot and passengers control stick grips. I purchased the grips from Tosten Manufacturing after looking at them at AirVenture 2015. First task was to come up with a rough height for the pilots control stick as the original part is too long. After coming up with the link I took the stick out of the aircraft and cut it with a hacksaw. With the stick cut I marked a spot at the lower section to drill a hole for the wires to exit.  

 To make it easier to fish the wires down through I put some shrink tube on the end of the wires   
   once I had the hole drilled in the bottom of the control stick I was able to slide the wires through and do some measurements to see how the grip fit. It took me several tries to get the length just perfect so that it cleared the bottom of the instrument panel and crossmember. 
 A nice feature of these grips is the collar that the grip slides into. This gets held in place with a drilled hole and cap head screw which also holds the grip into position. This collar also allow for the grip to be twisted and raise up around 3/8″ as required to get a perfect fit to your hand position. I drilled a 3/16″ hole 1/2″ from the top and inserted the screw and jam but to hold it for now.  

 I basically repeated these steps for the passenger grip with an addition to putting the pilot seat back in place which is the limiting factor to the height as you don’t want the grip to hit the back of the seat when pushed full forward.  

 The grips turned out awesome and I love the feel. The pilot grip has a trigger that will be the push to talk button. The left lower thumb button will be for smoke. The hat in the center is for trim and the toggle to the left for flaps and to the right will be for COM 1/2 switching. There is a pinky button below the trigger for autopilot touch steering. The passenger will just have trim and the push to talk. From there I moved to another modification that I’m follow my buddy on. The oil tank obviously needs to be filled with oil at some point. The first way is to reach in and pour oil in via a cap on the tank. The next and better way is to use an external full kit that I bought from It allow you to open a cap like a fuel cap and pour oil in and not mess with the possibility of making a mess inside you airplane. Glenn showed me a photo of a P-51 Mustang and their center fuel tank fill port on the left side just under the canopy.  

 So we are gonna put ours just like that! Glenn had a side canopy fiberglass skirt from his last project so I used it to mark the location that it will lie on the fuselage.  

 From there I made the mark for the location of the 2″ hole. Glenn helped me hold the skin on the drill press to make the cut with the fly cutter. I used the support ring to mark all six holes for the screws.  

   I drilled the center of the holes with a #40 drill bit followed by a #11 for the #10 screw.  

 After all six holes were drilled I screwed the fill cap into position.  

   I will eventually paint the cap red to give that P-51 look. I’m really done with the items in the back except for a couple of wiring harnesses and those will arrive on Monday. So I started cleaning up a few items that I had on hold. First was to trim the cabin heat cable to its final size. I wanted to drill the tee for the smoke tank system that goes through the firewall. This tee will direct oil to both exhaust pipes. I drilled the 9/16″ hole and put the tee in place.  
 With the fitting in place I could cut the cabin heat cable to the correct length so it doesn’t interfere with the tee or my rudder pedals.  

   One last item was to cut the fuel boost pump wired and crimp some ring terminals on the ends. I then screwed them to a two place terminal block. This will allow me to unscrew them in the future for easy replacement as needed.  
Thats where I called it a weekend and will get back at it tomorrow when my parts arrive. 



Smoke Tank & Antennas

Time: 4 Hours

I had a couple hours in the shop before needing to head to Midway airport to pick up my girl :-). I’m still working on items that need to be done before riveting the top skin of the tail. One item is the smoke tank in the aft baggage area. The floor of the baggage area will be permanently riveted in place so I will need to put nut plates under the floor to attach the tank. I made some measurements to see where the best place was for it.  

I then measured for four holes and drilled them to a #30 size hole to start with. Then I match drilled  it through the floor. 

 Once I had the holes match drilled I worked on stiffening up the floor to support the tank weight. I used some .032 sheet to make some doublers.  

   I then figured out where the high pressure line would exit the floor and drilled a 1 1/8″ hole and put a grommet in. With the floor in place I test fit the tank and connections.  
 I cleaned up the doublers and primed them for riveting. I used the back rivet set to get all the rivets and nutplates.  

   Next up was to work on two of the antanaes that are located under the airplane. One is in the tail area that I need to do before riveting the top skin the other  is more forward but identical so I wanted to work on both. These will be for the transponder and the ADS-B radios. 

  I used the antanae to mark holes on some scrap .032 sheet that would become a doubler. I marked the center of the three holes and drilled a #30 hole in each to use as a match drill to the skin. I then placed the doublers in place to drill down through the doubler and skin.  
   With those holes I used the step drill bit to open the holes to the final sizes. I then cleaned up the doublers and primed them.  
 When the primer was done I put the antanaes in place and tightened them down with the torque wrench.  

   In between the primer coats I put the panel eyeball lights in place. These are red LED’s that will be on a dimmer and shine across to the side panels for night flying.  
   That’s where I called it a day to head and pickup my girl. 

COM Antanae Cables

Time: 2 Hours

I started the the time in the shop priming and riveting the parts together that made up the transponder bracket and put it into position. I had received a package from Aircraft Spruce the other day which included several different parts including the ones I needed for the antennas. 

 The parts I would be using is RG – 400 cable (similar to cable tv wire but aircraft grade and has a braided center core vs a solid wire) and crimp in BNC connectors. I watched several videos, including SteinAir, on the process of making these cables. After feeling good about the process I went about making my first one. The BNC crimp ons have three parts, the connector, the crimp sleeve and the pin.  

 The goal is to remove two sections of the cable.  The first is down to the center wire so that you can crimp the pin on. The second is just down to the inner braided sheath for the ground.  

 I then grabbed my label printer and printed the cable identification on 3/8″ shrink tube. This is a cool device that allows me to print directly onto white shrink tube that had a 1:3 shrink ratio.  

 I also got to use my new coax head for the crimpers. I will only be using two of the slots for this job. First is the .068 for the little pin then the .213 for the sleeve.  

 I crimped the pin then slid the sleeve in place. The connector them slides on and under the braided wire. You push hard enough to feel a snap as the pins ridge catches on the connector. Slide the sleeve back to the connector and crimp.  Then check your crimp to check for a short between the pin and the shield.  

   I then figured out the final length needed for each cable and cut. I then put the cable in its place in the fuselage going through all of the snap bushings. I didn’t repeated the process of adding the connector on the final and as it’s now in place and not forgetting to put the label on this and before crimping.  I secured the cable alongside of the flexible conduit with zip ties and put the 90° adapter on the end that will connect to the actual antenna. I left plenty of cable in the back to connect to the radio’s when they get installed. 
 A new skill learned and feeling accomplished! 

ELT Bracket & Components

Time: 10 Hours

This weekend I wanted to finish up the support brackets for both the ELT and transponder. Before I got to those I riveted the parts of the COM shelf together pretty quickly with the pneumatic squeezer and put it into its place.  Some of you might notice that the aft end, side with the notch, have an unusual rivet pattern. I did my best to lay out the rivets so as to not interfere with the attach hardware of the avionics that will be housed there. We will see how my planning is when I get to that stage!

   For the ELT and transponder I decided to do side mounts, one on each side. I started with the ELT bracket and made some marks using the actual ELT to make sure there was clearance for the antenna wire and others cables. With the location figured out I used some angle brackets to create a top and bottom bracket and two side supports.  I spaced the side supports perfectly for the screw holes in the ELT bracket that comes with it.  
   With everything lined up and marked I removed the bracket and drilled for holes, one in each corner for screws.  With the four screw holes drilled I return the bracket to the sidewall and drilled rivet holes in the top and bottom bracket.  The top and bottom bracket will be riveted permanently and the two side brackets will be removable with the screws. 
 With everything aligned I remove the bracket again to match drill the ELT’ssupport to the bracket. This support has two clamps that will hold it in place.  

   My son Chandler came to the shop and helped drill and countersink the holes for the nutplates on the top and bottom brackets. I took all the parts apart and cleaned and primed them. 
 it’s a common practice in the RV-8 to put the ELT antenna laying horizontally in the tail area.  This area is covered up by fiberglass fairing and conceals antenna. So I drilled a 3/4″ hole with my step bit and put a grommet in it for the antenna to slide through.  The aft and of the antenna will be secured with a adele clamp on the horizontal stabilizer after it is installed. 

   I screwed in the ELT’s control head in the instrument panel as well.  There’s a short cable that connects to a battery powered alert speaker that connects to the control head. There will be a cable run from that alert speaker back to the ELT itself. 
 While I was upfront I went ahead and put in the grommet edging that I had receivedAircraft Spruce in the upper gear towers lightening holes where wires will pass through.  

   I used some on the pass through for the ELT’s antennas cable. 
  After the parts were dry from priming I riveted the nutplates to the top and bottom supports. I marked out 4 holes on the top bracket and 3 on the bottom to drill for the blind rivets I would use to attach them to the mid and lower longeron.  

 I used the holes in the supports to match drill the longeron’s with my angle drill. With all the holes drilled and deburred I attached the ELT cradle to the two side supports.  

   There was a little play with the holes in the cradle so I left them a little loose and place these parts on the side wall with their screws. I tightened them down and then tightened up the cradle screws.  
 With the parts all secure now I grabbed the ELT and put it in the cradle.  

 I connected the cable that runs from the ELT to the panel mounted control through the flexible conduit I have installed. I also hooked up the antenna wire and secured it with a couple adel clamps and a zip tie anchor. 

   I still have one more bracket left for the transponder but decided to take a break from building these. I decided to work on the rudder cable fairings.  I bought these fairings from Avery tools as they look a lot better than the ones you have to fabricate from scratch. I made some marks on the side of the fuselage and came up with a design I liked for the final cut. 
 after a few minutes at the bandsaw and deburring wheel I had both the left and right side done. I carefully align them and came up with a rivet pattern that wouldn’t interfere with any of the items inside. I match drilled the fairings to the skin and clecko’ed them in place. The area that needs riveting on these fairings is pretty small and you have a potential for slipping off the faring with the rivet gun. So I used some sheet the same thickness, .032, to create a ledge to support the gun and secure them with tape.   

 The riveting went perfect on both side and I had them done in about an hour.  

 I decided to get the supports and sheet cut for the transponder bracket and drilled the holes for the nutplates. 

 I decided to call it a weekend and cleaned up shop. This was a fun weekend in the Hanger. I need to finish up the transponder bracket and do the smoke tank installation and I think I have most of the items wrapped up for the aft fuselage top skin to be riveted on.