A Summer of Progress – 2015

June 2015

This is the picture story of the summer’s work on our RV-7.  Something was done every day, and pictures were taken only to supplement the daily handwritten log.  This is not an instruction manual as there were many, many steps in between those illustrated here.

As noted in our status report, the RV-7 Quickbuild Wings and Fuselage arrived in Michigan on June 4th.  They were delivered to Dalton Airport (3DA) in Flushing, trailered to our shop, and the wings set into cradles with the help of friends from EAA Chapter 77.


Dolly and I had fun uncrating and unpacking.

It was exciting to be introduced to our next airplane.


Into the shop it goes.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe remainder of June was occupied with parts inventory, studying of the plans, ordering wire and more tools.  Aerosun LED landing, taxi, strobe and navigation lights had been purchased at Sun-N-Fun in March.  With a desire to be well lighted I also purchased a pair of LED leading edge lights and DuckWorks mounts.


July 2015

Becoming more organized I started a notebook to record each day’s accomplishment.


The month began with removing plastic film from innumerable parts, followed by deburring, edge smoothing, ScotchBrite roughing of surfaces, and acetone washing in preparation for primer painting.  Sixty individual parts were primed with green two part AKZO, including the inside of  aileron bellcrank pushrods.





Aileron mount brackets W713 & W714 were assembled. Two were then riveted to the outboard ends of the wing rear spars.


I fabricated a wire bushing holder to mount under the left wing aileron bellcrank.  This will guide LED lighting wires away from the bellcrank mechanism.  A similar guide was made for the right wing.




By July 15th we had riveted the aileron and flap braces to both wings, and started riveting the inboard bottom skins on each wing.


August 2015


On the 1st I prepared parts for the fuel tank access plate installation.




The next day we installed fuel pickup line and fuel level sensor onto the tank access plate with proseal.     

The fuel pickup support was riveted to the access plate with coated rivets.


The plate was prepared and flow sensor installed, slipping the float carefully through the access hole.



Then, the access plate was sealed and screwed onto the fuel tank for each wing.

We used half of a 3.5oz. proseal cartridge.  A useful item was a dental pick for finding the screw holes that had been imersed in proseal.

It was very helpful to have Dolly helping to do photo documentation.

Proseal is said to have a two hour working window after mixing.  We finished in an hour and forty minutes.  The cartridge was still very flowable at the two hour point.

The installation used case hardened 1/2″ #8 capscrews as suggested by VAF members, rather than the #8 phillips screws supplied by VANS.



Both tanks passed a 48 hour leak test.



Both ailerons were assembled to their wings. Pushrods were set to final length IAW VANS procedures.

The aileron up movement stops were made by enclosing bolt shims in 1.5″ diameter nylon bushings a method developed by Mike Bullok.







Flap hinges were riveted to the wings, flaps installed, and by 08/15/15 we had moved on to the wingtips.  We had decided to use the hinge and wire method of installing the wingtips.  This required the edges of the tips to be trimmed.



Holes were match drilled and hinges riveted to the tips.  Wires were connected using DB pins and shrink wrap.  Additional wire restraints will be added.


An AOA heated pitot tube is planned.


A cutout for a pitot mast was placed on the bottom left wing near the bellcrank inspection port.  The mast was then riveted to the wing.

Toward the end of August, focus had been switched to the fuselage.  I started installing the Berringer brake cylinders.  Pilot and PAX rudder pedals were installed.

The LED wing lights were tested. They are so bright I couldn’t look at the spot they put on the floor.  The trailing edge of the right wingtip was split and reglued to align it with the trailing edge of the neutral aileron.

Nutplates were installed under right side baggage and PAX floors.  My technique for installing nutplates is as follows:

  1. Drill the structure hole to a size that accomodates the intended screw.
  2. Screw on the nutplate located so you see the ear(s) of the nutplate, and clamp one of the ears to the structure, as shown in the photo to the left.  Match drill the structure through the other nutplate ear.
  3. Cleco the newly drilled hole and remove the clamp from the other nutplate ear.  Match drill the structure and rivet the nutplate to the structure.

Left side floors were pop riveted per VANS instructions.  The elevator bellcrank was assembled and installed.

September 2015

On the 1st, the F774 top skin was clecoed onto the fuselage and match drilled for future riveting.


The next two weeks were given to fabricating the seat backs and braces, completing assembly of rudder pedals, and installing flap drive motor and covers.  (Those control sticks aren’t fastened to anything but our hands.)



In preparation for test mounting of the wings, I fabricated five drift pins on my mini-lathe. they were turned from  7/16th hardware store bolts.  Five pins – four to hold the wings to the center spar, and one to drive out the others when removing the wings.




Flap push rods were drilled in each end, and  1/4 x 28 tapped to accommodate rod bearing ends.






09/24/15   –  The Big Day

Both wings were mounted with help from family and friend Mike Goulet.




Over the next several days the wing  to fuselage geometry was adjusted.

Per VANS instructions, the rear wing spars were trimmed to clear a fuselage rivet, and clamped to set sweep and incidence.

Four weighted chords hung (two from each wing) were in perfect visual alignment.  Steel tape measurements from an outboard rivet on each wing to a common spot on the aft fuselage center-line differed by only 1/16 inch, well within specifications.


When all was set, the critical bolt hole was drilled, locking the rear spars together.

October 2015

By October 9th wing to fuselage lower skin holes had been drilled for future nutplates, flap pushrods had been fitted to holes through the fuselage lower skin, and the flap upper skin was trimmed to the fuselage contour.  Also, fuel tank to fuselage brackets had been fitted, drilled and bent as necessary.  Control columns were installed and adjusted to be vertically parallel.  The length of left and right aileron pushrods was adjusted to have both control columns vertical when the ailerons are in neutral trail position.  The wings were removed and returned to their storage cradle in the shop, along with the fuselage.


The wings and cradle were transported to the Dalton Airport EAA hangar #2.  On loading, a mounting brace failed and put a small crease in the left wing fuel tank bottom skin.  Tragedy! We no longer have a perfect airplane.  Repeated re-inspections and reflection over a number of days lead to the conclusion the damage would not over time impact the integrety of the fuel cell and aesthetic repair will be accomplished with epoxy/micro.

Work refocused on the fuselage.  There was more AKZO priming to be done, and the rollover bar to be fabricated.


Rivet holes are drilled in the flanges of the front and rear halves of the rollover bars.  Straps are match drilled and riveted to the inside edges of first one bar and then the other, making a rigid structure.  My first attempt at the match drilling step resulted in insufficient hole to edge distances on the straps.  Replacement straps were ordered from VANS.  With the second set of straps I did some serious clamping to make sure the straps were well seated into the channel of the rollover bars.








We are currently planning on a limited amount of cabin interior upholstery: seats, armrests and floormats.  With that in mind we selected Sherwin Williams Jetfles Beige (BAC 870) for the interior.

The interior was masked and spray painted.



10/18/15  –  11/09/15

The next twenty two days were devoted to smaller tasks and packing for the winter relocation to Florida.  However, some work was done.  The rollover bars were completed, primed, painted and fastened to the fuselage.  The elevator push rods were installed.  Parts were fabricated for the instrument panel supports.  The electric aileron trim was installed.

We left for Florida on November 10th and by the the 14th had finished unpacking the trailer full of tools and parts in our garage/shop.  It was a summer of progress.



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