Flying a B-17

As a member of the EAA 186 Chapter out of Manassas VA, I had the opportunity to volunteer while Aluminum Overcast was in town.  I spend the better part of 2 days providing ground support for the B-17 as it was doing paid tours.  Mostly crowd management and making sure people didn’t wander off the ramp.

Sunday afternoon I was told that there was a seat available for me on the B-17 as it was being re-positioned from Manassas VA, to Hickory NC on Monday 10/2.  Easy decision, and I informed work and my family I was going to be on the road.

Some of the photos from the weekend (including my daughters helping cleaning oil off the horizontal stabilizer.

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EAA Sportair Composite class – Debrief

This past weekend was the EAA SportAir Composite class in Manassas VA.  I had posted that I was planning on attending and was excited to become more familiar with the techniques of how to work with Fiberglass (and other composites).  My instructor had a ton of experience was as truly a veteran builder.  Granted he was not really the biggest fan of the Vans line of aircraft, however we all are entitled to our own opinions.  With that said, he presented a lot of information about composites, general construction techniques, and a breakdown of the generally accepted building materials.

After this intro, we got into the hands on portion of the class and started our first few projects.  Starting with the basics, we made a sandwich layup of fiberglass and last-a-foam board that was then vacuum bagged.  This was pretty straightforward, you just need the right materials / tools (vacuum pump, fittings, breather fabric, etc).  Then it was onto some hot-wire to make an airfoil.

While all pretty cool, these were not very “RV Specific” projects.  Yes, there is an RV Composite specific class, but I did not have the ability or time to fly out to Oshkosh to take it.  Maybe in a year or so?

The discussion of humidity and temperature control in your build space when working with composites is very valuable.  As was the discussion on the different epoxy systems.  I know that everyone is a huge fan of “West systems” and we even used it in the class.  Based on the properties, mixing methods, and recommendation of the instructor, I think I’ll be using Aeropoxy for my project.  Also why you use Flox, Micro balloons, or a structural epoxy vs laminating epoxy was priceless.

I think the best project for me was making a fairing for the wheel leg.  This involved using clay to create a contour for the fiberglass.  While not specifically what I was expecting, this was very close to how I was planning to make my modification to the VS fairing.  We’ll see how successful I am.

Anyway, as a primer to fiberglass and techniques on how to work with it, I think this was an excellent class.  I’m absolutely planning on taking the RV composites class as well as the avionics class in the future.

EAA Sportair Composite class

So I had wanted to take one of the SportAir workshops prior to starting my project, but I was unable to make any of the local ones, and didn’t have the ability to travel for a weekend class.  Ended up getting the training kits from Vans and figured it out as best as I could.  I did make sure I stopped by the workshop area and visited with some experts at SunNFun to make sure I wasn’t too far off and walked away with an axle wrench project.  🙂

Today I got an e-mail that there are going to be a few workshops at Manassas Airport (KHEF) in early September.  Perfect!  While I would love to take the sheet metal class just to reassure myself, I honestly think my time (and money) would be better spent on the Composite class.  I did the 1 hour workshops at SunNFun, but looks like this will be much more detailed and helpful as I look at the fiberglass work in the near future.  Excited to learn more skills that I can use on my airplane and hope to make some new friends along the way!


Hot and muggy. Time to fix that?

So after sweating through a few pages in the wonderful D.C. area humidity I decided I needed to do something about my workshop ( ok. It’s really just a garage). 

Been looking at portable AC units and even some of those mini-split systems. Not for full time AC but relief when I’m working. Decided that I really don’t want to spend my $$ on either and finally just grabbed a dehumidifier. Now I will preface this by saying I did put some work into insulating as much of my garage as I could prior to starting this project and I did recently add some foam around my garage door to better seal the space up when the door is down. Not perfect but it’s decent. 

Once I unpacked and plugged  dehumidifier it was showing 80% humidity after a lovely storm front. Give it about two hours and we are down to a much more comfortable 40%. Still warm but not sticky /sweaty. 

I have some high hopes but will know more in the next few weeks. Will likely keep it running most of the summer to try to keep my tools from rusting if possible. 

Backlog of videos / updates

So I’m totally behind on getting my videos edited, but still making lots of progress on the build.  (So much in fact that I think I’m working faster than my budget will allow).

Currently I have assembled and match drilled both elevators and have them disassembled for deburring.  Local weather is not allowing me to have long build sessions in the Garage due to high temps and high humidity, so I think for the next week it’s just going to be 10-15 min sessions at a time so I don’t overheat.  I really don’t have the desire to install an overpriced AC in my garage.

Looking ahead I have another tube of proseal on order and planning out what is needed to get my parts cleaned up, deburred, primed, and ready for dimpling / assembly.  Mostly trying to do all the proseal on the Elevators and Trim Tabs in one go.

I’m also looking ahead at the tail cone and storage of parts.  I’m quickly running out of wall and ceiling space, so trying to come up with solutions.  either by removing some of my overhead storage to make room for the tailcone, or making a crate to put the tailcone in to protect it if it’s going to live on the floor.   Also looking at budget to determine when I can order the wings to minimize “down time” waiting for them to be fabricated / delivered.  Still hoping to have them delivered in early January if possible.


Post Sun N Fun

Wow, what a week.  Got back yesterday from Sun N Fun and awaiting the delivery of my Empennage Kit.  First off I had a blast at Sun N Fun.  I ended up spending most of my time over in the Workshop area learning a whole bunch of new techniques (Not all of them pertain to my RV-10).  Really didn’t walk away thinking I was doing anything really wrong on my practice kit, but got some tips on how to maybe make some of my things better.  Also realized that even some of the small dings will disappear when painted.

Learned a lot at the Electrical workshops, even if I won’t apply a lot of those things for a while.

Vendors booths were kinda crazy!  Tons to see.  I really didn’t even know what questions to ask or which vendors I needed to talk to.  The parts booths were amazing.  I’m sure I’ll be bringing a a shopping list next year!

The only down-side was the e-mail I got this morning letting me know the RV-10 was flown back to Oregon after Sun N Fun so I will not be able to take a DEMO flight.  This is very disappointing as I didn’t even take the time to sit in it while at Sun N Fun since I was scheduled to fly it on Wed.  Oh well.  Life happens so this means I’ll just have to work on my Empennage on Wed instead!

Off to Sun N’ Fun

Off to experience Sun N’ Fun. I’m excited to meet a bunch of rv builders as well as learning everything I can that may help my build. Also got the call from the shipping company. Delivery of my kit is scheduled for Monday. Looks like I’m going to have a very exciting 2 weeks of fun.  Hopefully my wife doesn’t leave me!  

Decided to post an intro on the VAF site and already have a lot of feedback. Besides my cousin, also have a few other A&Ps that are interested in coming over. Can’t beat that!  Even had my post make it to the front page (even with a small autocorrect error. Oh well). 

Hopefully I have everything I need to get through the first half of the empennage kit and will do my best to take lots of photos. Debating doing the whole YouTube thing like Jason Ellis, or just a time lapse.   I may give YouTube a shot but sure I’ll feel like a fool doing it. 

Cleaning tools (rust removal)

So while looking for a way to clean some of the rust off the steel bucking bars that came in the tools I purchased of the VAF forums, I came across a post talking about Evaporust.  After a few internet searches and videos, I started to see if it was something carried locally and was willing to give it a shot.

Setup and cleanup was actually pretty easy.  Fill a container with the Evaporust product and insert the rusty items.  Granted most of my tools only had what I would call slight or light surface rust, I still wanted my tools to be in excellent shape.  I let them soak for about 2 hours, then pulled them out to see how they looked.  Rinse them off in fresh water, then dry them off and they are looking great!

Realized I forgot a few bucking bars and figured I would throw some of my used clecos in the bucket to see how much of an improvement it would be.  The result is WOW.  For very little effort, the clecos look so much better, and actually are a bit easier to operate.

I’m letting everything dry off completely and will be spraying them all down with the Evapo-Rust rust block product to hopefully keep them from rusting up again.  This makes my initial purchase an even better value, and can’t wait till I have a few hours to take additional pictures / clean the remainder of my nasty used clecos!


UPDATE:  While this worked well for most of my clecos, I don’t think my copper clecos (1/8″) liked this process (or I just didn’t do a good job of rinsing them afterwards).  Something to keep in mind.

UPDATE 2:  While this did clean my silver clecos, they did re-rust. Honestly this was great to clean my bucking bars and other tools but probably not worth the time for the clecos unless you are aggressive with the rust block after. 

DRDT-2 Table and storage

Spend part of yesterday working with my daughter to build a table for my DRDT-2 based on the plans included in the manual.  The plans were pretty general, so I did change some of the dimensions slightly.

A trip to Home Depot for some pre-bound carpet, some wood screws and staples, and my table is complete.  (At least for now it is.  Once I start using it I’ll see if it’s big enough, or if I need to build some additional supports)

Decided to build a shelf under the table to keep it out of the way.  Grabbed some spare lumber and quickly mocked up a shelf.  (Had to rip down the 2×8 a little bit to make it fix.