Baggage Door

Time: 8 Hours

So for anybody who has built an RV-8 they know that the forward baggage door is a very tricky part to build. The issue is that there is a lot of geometry going on with the forward skin and the door needs to sit flush and align with the top skin. With so many parts being riveted together you can have issues with the whole thing sitting flat and flush with the surrounding skin.  May builders will tell you when they go to look at other builders aircraft they tend to start the judging of the builders skill by looking at the baggage door.  So off I went to tackle this task and had my fingers crossed I could get it to look nice. I had pre assembled the door months ago when I had some down time and treated all holes and edges. 

First items up were the locking mechanism. You use a basic keyed lock that turns 180°. As you turn the lock there are two pins that either extend or retract out of each side of the door. Vans gives you everything but the lock. I cut the pins out of a length of tune stock. 

I had to notch the ends of the pins so that they would slide into the lock arm. 

Once I had the pins all done it was time to disassemble the parts and prime for riveting. 

I then riveted the outside skin to all the internal ribs along with the hinge. A side note for the hinge I decided to go a little longer than what the plans called for. They do that to accommodate the pin and it’s insertion and removal from inside the baggage area. I decided that I was going to put the pin outside of the firewall which allowed me to extend the hinge and reducing the gap between the door and skin. 

Before starting the inner skin, which is where you can have issues with fit, I put the door in place to check the fit. I found that I needed a little bit of messaging of the edges to get a nice fit. 

I removed the door and cleckoed the inner skin in place. To get the fit perfect and tight I used a couple of ratchet straps to pull it al tight. 

With the door strapped down and nice an tight I climbed inside the fuselage and slid all the way forward so that I could put in a few of the blind rivets. I tell you that this was no easy task as it’s like a maze climbing in there and working. I climbed back out and removed the straps from door to check that the door was staying in place and it was. So I removed the door and put in a few more rivets and returned the door to check the fit. All was well so I continued, when I was completely done I returned the door and found the fit was way off! What the heck! So I did some head scratching and decided that the row of rivets on the top flange were the culprits. I drilled them out and all was well. So I thought I would open those holes a little larger to give some room for movement as I riveted. No luck! So I drill them out again and have decided I will not rivet that role of holes as they are not structural. 

Now I needed to attach the plastic blocks that will allow the pins to slide into for them to lock the door in place. There is one forward and on aft in the door opening. There are two pre punched holes on the firewall and the aft bulkhead that will be used to attach these blocks. The idea is to draw a line on the center of the blocks then tape them in place so that you can see to lines through the two holes. Then close the door and hope that the pins align with the larger 5/16″ hole. I can tell you that this was a real pain in the butt! I finally got the forward one aligned and drilled the matching holes just a 1/16″ deep. I then finished drilling them on the drillpress. I countersunk the holes for two screws and screwed it into place on the firewall. 

To get the aft one done I had to remove the instrument panel as well as all of my cables from the Dynon network hub so that I had access to the two pre-punch holes. I had a real difficult time getting this block aligned and found that no matter how hard I tried it was going to be of center for the screw holes. I just decided that I would live with it and drill away. I repeated the process and screwed it in place. 

So now with the door shut I could turn the key and it pulled the door nice and tight giving me a clean fit matching the skin surrounding the door.

Wow I am so happy with the fit! There are a couple areas that need a little tweaking but for the most part this thing fits perfect!  The door just opens and closes as needed, some builders have used various types of mechanisms to hold the door open. I decided to go with Matt Dralle’s installation of a McMaster Carr door strut. 

I went with the exact measurements that Matt used on both the door and the baggage opening.

For the door side I will blind rivet the strut and on the firewall side I will use nutplates and two screws.

I temporarily riveted the strut to the door and screwed it to the firewall to check operation. 

This strut works perfect as it’s spring loaded to hold the door open and also spring loaded to hold the door closed. To finish of the door I measured the hinge pin for the cut and 90° bend. I cut the pin, bent it and measure the bent leg for just enough length to put a single eyelet from a piece of hinge. After cutting the pin I put the eyelet on and put a slight bend in the end of the pin which keeps the eyelet from coming off. I then put the pin back in place and match drilled the wing of the eyelet to the firewall for a #8 screw. 

So that’s the baggage door! I will drill out the rivets on the door that are holding the strut on so that I can paint the inside of the door before putting it in place for good. Now I can sleep well since I won’t be having “baggage door” nightmares anymore! 

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