Building the Tip-Up Canopy

July 12, 2016 through October 8, 2016
Vans calls constructing the canopy, whether tip-up or slider, one of the most challenging aspects of the build. Vans is always right.

Our “tipper” began with drilling the HDPE blocks that are bolted to the fuselage and serve as hinge supports for the front of the canopy.  These blocks support retractable pins that hold the front of the canopy in place.  The retraction mechanism is controlled by a tee handle that may be pulled to release the canopy.  Builders who plan on doing aerobatics while wearing parachutes will place the tee handle on the instrument panel.  Not having those aspirations, our handle is on the sub-panel where it is accessible on the ground by first opening the canopy.

Continue reading “Building the Tip-Up Canopy”

Flush Canopy Latch Handles

August 7, 2016

The standard Vans RV Canopy Latch Handle protrudes from the fuselage out into the air stream.  I purchased a JDAir system that is flush to the fuselage, sitting in rectangular slots cut in the skin.  The mechanism consists of a latch that is pushed in to release a handle that pops out of the skin. The handle can then be pulled to open the canopy.

The handles are fitted and bolted to doublers that will later be riveted to the skin.  Then, a metal template is cut and fitted to the handles.  The template shown above best positions the slot pattern that is transferred to the skin.

The slots are cut, and the latch mechanism is bolted to the doublers and riveted to the skin.  The above photo shows the completed flush latch handles at a later stage of the build.

This last photo, taken from the JDAir website, shows the cockpit side of the handles.

New Air Compressor

July 09, 2016

Dolly’s 20 gal compressor failed in July.  I replaced it with this oil-less 150 psi unit from Harbor Freight.  It works as advertised.  I learned however that a lower-pressure higher-volume pump might have been a better choice.  Our air tools don’t need pressures above 60 psi, and this pump can’t keep up with our die grinder or finger sander.  It also runs longer reaching it’s non-adjustable cutoff pressure of 150 psi.  Fortunately it fits under the weather cover built for it’s horizontal tank predecessor.

Learning Experience

This week I’ve started updating our WordPress Website.  After being away since May it takes time to get back up to speed.  But, we are making progress.

A primary change today was to set up this Blog separate from the RV-7 Builders Log.

Childhood Toy

First Model Airplane







This is my oldest existing childhood model aircraft. With too a high wing loading from it’s wire frame construction it never flew. The silk wing and tail coverings are now threadbare fragile. It hangs daily above our kitchen table in Florida. The model carries the current USAF wing roundel that was adapted in 1947.

In January 1947 red bars were added within the existing white bars on both USN and USAAF aircraft. In September of the same year, the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) became an independent service and was renamed the United States Air Force (USAF).

Earlier, during WWII, some Kellog cereal boxes contained thin pine wooden silhouette glider models of military airplanes. Occasionally they flew well.

Globe Swift

I first flew a Globe Swift in 1961. It was a 125Hp beauty that Inga and I rented and flew from Charleston, WV to New Jersey and New York. Our baby son KJ slept behind us on the hat shelf above the baggage compartment. I was a young pilot with less than 100 hours logged. All worked out fine until the windscreen was covered in oil on departure from Syracuse. A turn back to the field and emergency declaration followed. The engine froze as we taxied off the runway. The owner wasn’t upset when told his plane was AOG Syracuse. He said he had a new engine on hand and was planning on the change. Whew!

Almost 3,000 flight hours later I went to the 2008 EAA Airventure. There was a row of smiling swift cowls, and the bug bit hard. I searched for four months and found N141PW in the hands of Pat Waters of Mt. Plesant, SC. N78314 was it’s original factory registration number. It has been a wonderful airplane and has received many upgrades since it arrived in our hangar.  Unfortunately I must now sell the plane.

Click here to see more.

Emergency Locator Transmitter

July 3, 2016

For the RV-7 we purchased an ACK-04 ELT.  It transmits on 406 as well as 121.5 MHz. and connects to Garmin G3X providing  NEMA 0183 GPS position data.  The installation manual requires the ELT be mounted parallel to the aircraft forward axis; and also recommends it be near the rear of the aircraft.  Unfortunately a rear mount would make the transmitter inaccessible to CFIT survivors.


I have chosen to mount the ELT on the tunnel cover forward of the seats.  While this may increase the risk of ELT damage in a CFIT, an impact of that magnitude would likely eliminate survivors.


Another recommendation is that the mounting provide deflection stiffness so spatial movement is no more than 0.1 inch under a pressure of 100 pounds.  The pictured reinforcing channels do that.


The electric fuel boost pump is mounted on a separate section of tunnel cover.  An additional cover over the pump & filter will separate them from the ELT.

Autopilot Pitch Servo

June 20, 2016

The Garmin autopilot pitch servo is furnished with a mounting plate and specific instructions for installation in a Vans RV-7.  The plate becomes riveted to the center floor rib behind the baggage bulkhead.  The servo moves the elevator push-rod via its connection to the bellcrank.

Care is given to adjusting the length of the servo to pitch bellcrank connecting rod so that no over-center lockup can occur.


Wires from the db15 socket connect the servo to both the instrument panel autopilot controller and to the pitch trim servo located in the left elevator.  Torque sensors in the pictured servo generate signals fed to the pitch trim servo.