New Home

Time: Hours

So my girl and I have been working for a few months to get our home sold in Chicago’s west suburbs so we could buy a new home. We finally got it sold and purchased a home, before it even went on the market, in Poplar Grove IL in the BelAir Estates on the Poplar Grove Airport. This home fit is perfect and had a 2200 sq/ft hangar that is heated and has a half bath. So the last few weeks had us packing and moving all our worldly possessions and storing them in my other hangar. Then we lived in our camper for a week while we closed on the new home. After several truck loads in a U-Haul we have all our stuff in the new home. So I now need to get the wings taken off the RV so that I can trailer it to it’s new home. To say our life has been busy is an understatement…I’m ready to get back to building after I get the new hangar organized.

Inside Cowl

Time: 4 Hours

I started the process of sealing up the inside of the engine cowl. You do this for a couple reasons. First is to keep oil and other fluids from soaking into the cowl and the honey comb interior. The other is so it can be painted, although this isn’t required, as it will help down the road to identify any leaks. Most paint theirs with a light color like white to make the leaks easier to see. Another reason to smooth the lower cowl inside is so that the adhesive backed aluminum heat shield material will adhere better. So to start this long process I worked on the tube that will direct the hidden oil door retention pin. Ok so that may be confusing. So let me explain, I’m using the hidden hinge from Cleaveland Tool on my oil door. This makes a nice clean look without and visible hinge. To latch the door down you can do many different things but I decided to use hinge and it’s pin to secure the door. When the pin is in place the door is secure and cannot accidentally open if the door flex’s under pressure. So how to pull the pin when the cowl is in place and the door is secured. I decided to make the pin extra long and access it from the inside of the baggage compartment. The idea will be to open the baggage door, pull the pin just enough for the door to open. To close the door I would hold the door flush and push the pin into the hinge. But trying to aim the pin several inches to the first hinge eyelet with seeing it would be very difficult. So I decided to secure a aluminum guide tube to the inside of the cowl. I fluted the opening a little so that the short distance the pin will have to go and the flute helping direct the pin into the opening will make it easy. I used the pin to keep the tube aligned and some washers for the correct height. I then laid up two layers of fiberglass over the top of the tube and let that cure to give it a secure hold. After that I used Super Fill to give it a good shape and sanded it to look nice. I’ll work on the pin later but for this part it looks good and hopefully works ok. I then filled and sanded any big imperfections in the cowl surface before sealing it. The process of sealing for me is just using epoxy without any fillers and thinning it slightly with acetone. Then I brushed it on the entire surface with a cheap brush. Then with a old hotel key, the credit card looking ones, I scraped all the extra epoxy off. This forced the epoxy into all the tiny pin holes and voids. Then after that cured I did a light sanding with my maroon 3M pads to knock down the high spots. I cleaned up the entire surface again and repeated the process. I think I will repeat the process one more time then primer and paint. For now I’m thinking an aluminum color high heat engine paint but not sure yet. While this one cures I started the filling process on the lower cowl. I gave it a good sanding to get rid of a bunch of imperfections from the manufacturing process. I’m going to spend more time on the lower cowl as it will be seen more especially if I have it judged at AirVenture some day. When people are looking at the engine the lower cowl is really visible. I will keep working on it but for now I need to get all this dust off me.

More Baffle Work

Time: 6 Hours

I spent some time in the hangar yesterday and today trying to finish up the baffles. I worked all the airseals around the front baffles and got them to sit almost perfectly. I had to trim the upper air ramps a little to make it happen. I’m pretty happy with they way they seal and fit but I’m hoping they lay down after they are used on the warm engine aa they make it a little difficult to put the top cowl on due to their stiffness. So the next baffle task was to drill for three cooling blast tubes. These tubes will direct air to areas that need cooling. That’s for me are the two P-mags and the alternator. So I laid out where I wanted them and drilled a pilot hole followed a 5/8″ hole using the step bit. I used adel clamps to secure the ends and direct them to the P-mags. I ran out of the tubing and had to order more from Vans. I did drill the hole in the right side forward baffle for the alternator blast tube. I put in a small piece of tube in to check the fit. Two more holes I need to drill for are for the spark plug wires. I’m using a special pass thru clamp from Aircraft Spruce that holds the wires firmly as they pass thru the baffles. The shape looks like a number eight. I was almost sure I was finished with drilling on the baffles when I realized I had forgot the blast tube for the engine driven fuel pump. I had bought and installed the ShowPlanes cooling shroud that uses a 1″ blast tube. So I ordered a 1″ duct flange, some ducting and clamps from Aircraft Spruce and will drill for that when they arrive next week. I had one other task I wanted to get done and that was to plug the two holes on the aft side baffles. These holes are for a socket extension so you can get the spark plug in (I think). Either way they need to be sealed. So I made a cover using some sheet aluminum shaped into a circle and epoxied a spaced onto it to account for the angle that splits the hole. I also cut a couple of sheet for the opposite side. These two pieces will be screwed together and sandwich the baffle sealing the hole. So that’s where I stopped for the day after cleaning up the shop. I’ll get back at it next week after the parts arrive. Now to decide to paint or not paint the baffles!

Baffle Seal Work

Time: 4 Hours

I got to spend a few hours in the hangar today to work on the baffle seals. Before I started on that task I painted the snorkel and the fiberglass oil cooler plenum. I found a spray paint that is very close to the metallic silver on the engine. I really like how this paint turned out and look forward to seeing them on the engine. So now the baffle seals and new silicone material I got form Aircraft Spruce. I made a couple of templates for the aft section and sides to use to cut the silicone. Over a couple of hours I put on/took off the pieces and trimmed them as I went. It took several iterations to get them the way I wanted. I bought a leather hole punch that makes quick work of the attachment holes. I decided that I wanted to use screws vs rivets as the plans called for. I chose to do this so I could easily replace the seals in the future. So I’m happy so far and still have the forward seals to finish. The seals make putting the upper engine cowl on a little difficult as they have now formed to the final shape. I’m holding that will get easier as time goes on.

Snorkel Work

Time: 6 Hours

I have several factors working in conjunction with the baffles that all need to work nicely together as they come together. So I have to work on all these things at the same time to make sure they all fit together. So I took some time to work on the snorkel and it’s fit. I have the brackets that tie the snorkel to the left ramp finished and just need to rivet them to the fiberglass. I don’t want to do this yet until I finish all the surface sanding/filling. I also don’t want to do that until I fixed a contact point and install the alternate air door. First was the contact point where the fuel mixture arm hits in its forward most position.

As you see in the photo the arm hits and needs to move forward another 1/4″ or so. To fix this I decided I would just redo the fiberglass in this area. I marked the spot and cut out the area. At the same time I trimmed the part that attaches to the fuel servo to make it match the servo.

After sanding and cleaning the area around the hole I mixed up some epoxy and applied three layers of cloth. Informed the fiberglass into a cup inboard to create an area for the arm to move into when it’s in its forward most position.

So I let that cure overnight and started working on the alternate air door. The way the engine gets air for the combustion process is through the air filter I have been working on. If I get into a situation where ice or snow were to get into the filter while flying it could clog and block the filter. If that happens the engine could quit running. To keep this from happening you install a alternate way of getting air. This door in the side of the snorkel can be opened in the case of filter blockage while flying. This would allow unfiltered air to enter and keep the engine running. The door consists with a ring that gets riveted to the snorkel and a circular door that will pivot on a screw at the bottom of the ring. A cable will pull the top of the door and slide the door open when needed. I used the ring to mark the spot that I needed to cut on the side of the snorkel.

After cutting the hole and tweaking so the ring sat good I match drilled the holes into the fiberglass.

I strayed away from the plans a little when I came to how to keep the air filter in place. In the last photo you see one of three angle pieces that are used to attach the top section of the snorkel to the air inlet ramp. There is one on the outboard, one on the inboard and one on the aft edges. They have a step shape to them that creates a lip for the air filters flange to rest on. I put nutplates in all three and matched the ones in the aft flange to the baffle ramp rivet holes. Those rivets will be replaced with screws. These screws will serve two functions, the first is to hold the top of the snorkel in place and the second is to hold a retention cover that will trap the air filter between it and the snorkel.

This will make for an easy removal of the filter at the same time securing it well when in place.Once I had the filter brackets fitting perfect it was time to work in the finish of the snorkel. I removed it from the air servo and removed all brackets. I put a skim layer of epoxy/fairing filler to hell with all the pin holes and flaws. After that cured it was a long standing session to smooth it all out. With a little clean up I was able to add a few coats of filler primer. There are a few small spots that require a little filler but overall I’m happy with it so far. Next up will be to rivet the brackets on and paint the final color, I’m thinking a silver metallic to match the inner cylinders of the engine.