Service Letter SL-00014

Time: 4 Hours

Yesterday Vans aircraft came out with a new service letter that applied to the RV-8. It appears they have had some completed aircraft have issues with the skin on the sides of the fuselage at the very tail end. The problem stems from rapid turns on the ground while hitting bumps causing a side load to the skin. The few aircraft had some creasing of the skin in the affected area. So Vans came up with a fix which adds a piece of angle aluminum riveted to the skin at an angle. This helps carry the increased stress of side loads. There isn’t a requirement to complete this step but recommended. When I got up this morning we had already planned on moving the fuselage over to the paint shop.

I asked the painter if he would mind me working on the fix while in his hangar and he didn’t have an issue with that. His hangar is only a block away from our house/hangar so moving tools back and forth wasn’t an issue. The install was pretty straight forward and allowed me to buck some rivets which I hadn’t done in a while. I didn’t take many photos as it was hot and I didn’t want to stop working so I wasn’t in the painters way. He spent most of the day laying out the left wing paint masks and figuring all his measurements.

Here is a look at the two angle pieces I created and in place on the outside of the skin for drilling purposes. Once they were all done I cleaned the edges and primed them before riveting them in place. I’m glad this service letter came out when it did and I could complete it before the painting started.

Autopilot Pitch Servo

Time: 2 Hours

I received one autopilot servo from Aircraft Spruce today and got right to work installing it. I decided to put it in the pitch spot since that’s the toughest one to get to back in the tail cone. I had installed the mounting bracket a few years ago when I had the tail still open in prep for today. So the process was pretty easy. I started by putting a 9 pin d-sub connector on the end. This is the matching connector to the one I had wired already back to the location where the servo will be mounted.

I did a quick test by connecting the d-sub connector to the one in the RV and powering up the SkyView system. I had issues right away when I powered on the autopilot switch. After a short time searching for issues I decided to take a look at the d-sub pin layout of the wiring I did a few years ago in the tail. Turns out I had a different layout than what Dynon called for on the servo end. So I made a note of how the layout was and changed the pin layout on the connector on the servo. A re-test proved to be perfect. So I then installed the servo which isn’t very easy especially as you are laying in a tight space of the tail. I secured the wires and torqued all the nuts. I also safety wired the two bolts that screw into the servo.

I did the servo calibration and tested the function and all was perfect. Now to order the second servo for the roll axis and get that installed. Every step is getting me closer to flying.

Tail Wheel Bolt

Time: 1 Hour

I had bought the Bogi Bar tow bar from Flyboy Accessories a while back and was going to get the machined tail wheel bolt as well. It was back ordered as flyboy’s has several custom machines parts and it was backlogged in the que to be made. It finally made the air and I ordered one as soon as they were in stock. This bolt incorporates two lugs that the Bogi Bar fits perfectly on and prevents that chance of it slipping off and gives a solid feel. I jacked up the tail and remember the stock bolt and replaced it with the new one from Flyboys. I had to tweet the cotter pin a little to get it to lay flush so it didn’t stick up proud of the lug so the tow bar would slide on. I love the look and how clean it is.

Empanage Fairing Mod

Time: 4 Hours

Glenn had a great idea for his fairing to prevent it from scratching the paint when being removed as well as making it easier to remove. Here you can see the aft “wings” of the fairing descending below the level of the stabilizer. 

Since I made the fairing one piece I had the grab and flex up these wings so they cleared the stabilizer as your slid the fairing forward. Glenn had an idea to extend the aluminum inspection panel cover up and aft and cut off the part of the fairing in this area. So I grabbed some 0.025″ sheet and marked out the area using the original piece as a template. 

Using the fairing as a template unmarked out the areas that needed to be removed and the area of the fairing I wanted to cut off. 

After cutting the extra off I drilled two holes through the fairing and the underlying aluminum that will allow screws to go through into nutplates. 

Another cool idea Glenn had was to cut a 2″ hole in one side and glue a piece of clear plexiglass inside so that you have a window into this area so that inspecting the bolt on the flight controls will be very easy. 

Cool mod and makes taking the fairing off real easy. I forget how much work there is doing things like this but it sure is fun! 

Empennage Fairing

Time: 4 Hours

While I was waiting for fiberglass to dry on the canopy skirts I worked on the empanada sharing over a few days. Basically just consisted of filling with epoxy and micro and sanding filling and sanding filling and sanding too I got to the perfect shape that I wanted. I used a filler primer to find all the pinholes, the voids left by air bubbles in the fiberglass epoxy, so that I could fill those which seems like a never ending process.

After filling 90% of the pinholes I primed and put into place. I will do some more finish work on this later down the road prior to painting.

As you can see it has a nice tight gaps all the way around and only a few screws to hold it in place which prevents the faring from puckering. I’m very happy with how this turned out and I can’t wait to see how it looks once painted!