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. 

Wheel Pant Intersection Fairings

Time: 4 Hours

I worked the fairings a little more trying to get the aft edge to sit nice. With these cut as they are scribed from the aft edge sticks out around 3/8″ aft of the gear leg fairing. I didn’t like this look and wanted the aft edge of the two fairings to meet so that it looked like one vertical line from top down to the curve. This causes the aft edge of the intersection fairing to open which I was ok with but I wanted the rest to be tight. You have a couple options from the instructions, one being to use a zip tie through a hole drilled through both sides and zip it tightly closed. The second is a small screw and nut to close it up. I didn’t like the zip tie idea so pondered the screw. What I came up with was to use a nutplate on the inside of the fairing with the threaded part portuding through a drilled hole. This eliminates a need for a nut that looked like an eyesore to me. 

Now I can use a screw that is cut to the perfect length and only have a small bit sticking out and barely noticeable if you really look. Once I was happy with that fit I countersunk all the holes for the tinnerman washers. The epoxy had cured from the holes I filled in the last post so I sanded those down and and drilled for the nutplates that will hold the intersection fairings on. Using the pneumatic squeezed I made quick work of riveting them on. 

While I was already riveting I did the two air valve doors as well but I used blind rivets as they helped my get them to lay flat as I squeezed them as the spring action tried to lift them up. 

I put all the parts in place and attached the intersection fairings and did some final sanding. These things are so nice and thin that I decided to just put a slight bevel along the edge to give a nice clean look. 

So I haven’t decided what if anything I will do with top of the fairing where it splits. I may just leave it and be happy with it. So now I just need to work all the surface of the wheel pants so I can fill pin holes and prime them as well as the fairings. 

Wheel Pant Fairings

Time: 6 Hours

I sanded the seams of both wheel pants to start the day. I will say that sanding the flox is tough work and it’s is surprising how strong cotton fibers in epoxy gets! My arms and hands are pretty sore, must be cause I’m old! After I had them sanded I put the gear leg fairings back on followed by the wheel pants. Now I started on the intersection fairing that ties the gear leg to the wheel pant. You can make these from scratch or use pre made ones. I opted for the later and bought some from RVBits sold by Cleaveland Tools. These are really nice and have a great shape. You still need to trim them and shape the aft edge based on your needs. My first task was to create a template and mark both side for the shape I wanted. 

Once I had a shape I was happy with I did a rough cut with the band saw. 

Then I slipped them in place and and marked for drill holes. I’m going to do four screws, two forward and two aft. I clamped them in place to check the fit. 

After I was happy and had them marked I drilled through them and the wheel pant and clecko’d them in place. 

I then made the mark for the top aft edge so it meets the gear leg and drew a curve to the very aft tip. With the Dremel I sanded them down and finished with my hands. 

I’m really happy with the shape and fit except the aft seam. It’s going to take a little work to get it to fit nice without clamping them. Overall I’m happy with the look. I will drill and install the four nutplates needed to attach these and screw them down before working on the aft end seam so they will be secure. 

More Wheel Pant Work

Time: 6 Hours

I repeated the syringe process for the the forward bracket on both sides with the same great results. After those had cured I marked the bottom of the pant for an even edge distance from the tire so that I could trim them. Vans gives you a minimum of 5/8″ space between the tire and the edge of the fiberglass but I have read that you need more like 3/4″ to an inch to allow side loads on the tire which would hit the fiberglass if the gap is too small. 

After getting both trimmed I moved on to the valve stem doors. Normally in order to check the tire pressure or inflate them you would have to remove the forward half of the wheel pants. I decided that I wanted to put in a 1″ doing loaded door so that I could do these tasks with removing a single screw. I ordered mine from Wicks Aircraft Supply but they are available from various shops. I rolled the fuselage around slightly to get the valve stem on the aft side of the tire and at a equal distance from the ground, about 6 1/8″ for mine. I then chocked the tires to hold that position and used my cross hair laser to mark the center of the stem. I then put the pants back on and drilled a hole on the cross hair. After I had the initial hole drilled I removed the pants and opened the hole up to 1″. I tried several different locations on how I wanted the door to swing, as seen with the different drill holes. Not sure why I decided on the top ones but it just looked better to me. 

I used some Super Fill to smooth out the edges of the areas that I built up for the brackets and sanded those after they cured. I also sanded the inside edge where the nutplates would go and riveted them in place.   I also riveted the outboard bracket in place. 

 Now that the nutplates were in place I could put the pants on and have them perfectly in their final place versus with just cleckos which have a little play. 

Now I could work on the seam and the transition between the forward half and the aft half.  After I sanded the edges I added some white electrical tape to the edge of the forward half of the pants so that epoxy/flox won’t stick to that edge. 

I then covered the white tape with clear packing tape. The electrical tape should leave a nice even gap after removed for a nice seam. It will need to be opened up a little down the road by the painter for the paint thickness. I mixed up some epoxy/flox and filled the seam as well as low spots on the aft section of the pants. After curing I will sand the edges down flush to make a nice transition between the two halves. 

In between work on the pants I had added a light layer of epoxy/fairing filler to smooth the transition from the side skirts and the glass I put over the rivets. After that was sanded I put three coats of UV Smooth Prime to fill any pin holes. 

More Fiberglass

Time: 4 Hours

I removed the peel ply from the canopy skirt to reveal nice layups over the horizontal rivet lines. So I repeated the process for the three vertical rows on each side. 

I then removed the ply peel from the gear leg fairings and sanded them down to prep for pin hole filling. 

After that I went on to the wheel pants. As I discussed in my last post I filled the uneven space between the bracket and the pant with epoxy/flox. That was pretty easy with the outboard bracket since it attaches close to the opening and I could get my hands in there. Now the inboard bracket is another story as there isn’t room for me to get my hands in there. I did a little research online and saw another builders idea and figured I would follow suit. The idea is to drill several extra holes around the screw holes in the pants. Then put the pants into position securing them with cleko’s on the put board and wood blocks at the aft end of the pants to keep the inboard holes aligned and not moving. Then with the same mixture of epoxy/flox use a syringe to inject the mixture in the holes and fill the void. 

This worked really well and I will repeat this process with the forward half of the pants. I finished up the day by putting a coat of UV smooth prime on the gear leg fairings. Tomorrow will be a sanding day.