Tool update

The tools are all either here or on their way to me. I received the DRDT-2 and a torque wrench on Tuesday. My air compressor should be here soon, it shipped on the 19th. And the full tool set that I ordered from Cleaveland Air Tools shipped from Iowa yesterday.I also received the tool kit practice project and plans CD from Van's on Tuesday. I ordered a couple of items from Van's earlier this week, a 1"x12" piece of AS3-063 sheet metal that I need to make a gusset for the left elevator, and 1 oz of ProSeal to glue in the trim ribs.

More solo circuits

Went up this afternoon in really good conditions - minimal wind. Did 2 circuits with Mark and then dropped him off on the apron and went out for 5 circuits solo. Active runway was 34 which is a left hand circuit. A fair amount of traffic today, at least one other plane in the circuit the whole time with a few other flights coming in or going out. Visibility was good, had no problem picking up the traffic. I did hear an RV7 transition the control zone east of the airport, but never saw him. My circuits were good, I was controlling the plane well. I really noticed the lower weight on climbout, I was already making my crosswind turn (500' AGL) just past the end of the runway. Approaches were mostly bang on, still erring on the side of shallow on a few. Landings were decent, got better as I went along, my last one was my best one. 0.5h dual, 0.7h solo in C-FZRO.

  • Time this flight: 0.5h dual, 0.7h solo
  • Time to date: 24.4h dual, 1.5h solo
  • Cost this flight: $236.67
  • Cost to date: $6,473.35

Back to solo

After 3 weeks of cancellations for weather, I got up again this afternoon. Windless day, smooth flying. I went up for a few circuits with Mark, I struggled a bit with my approaches, the layoff wasn't helpful. We were flying off of 34, doing a left hand circuit - it's been quite a while since I've done left circuits. My landings were okay, had to watch my sink rate late on approach, coming in too shallow. Had one extended downwind for traffic that led to a 2 mile final, on another circuit, I had some struggle getting lined up and Mark called for an overshoot which went okay, I was a little slow on getting the power all the way up. After 4 circuits, I landed and taxied back to the apron and dropped Mark off. I then went up for a quick couple of circuits on my own. Those circuits went not too badly, I was better on my approaches but still a little shallow. I bounced my second landing, but not all that badly as I managed to stick it down cleanly and slow down in plenty of time to make the turn off. This was my second time in C-GYHA, the first was my intro flight, so it wasn't very familiar to me. 0.7h dual, 0.4h solo in C-GYHA.

  • Time this flight: 0.7h dual, 0.4h solo
  • Time to date: 23.9h dual, 0.8h solo
  • Cost this flight: $225.12
  • Cost to date: $6,236.68

More tools

I'm spending money at a furious pace now. Cleaveland Aircraft Tool contacted me yesterday and suggest that I order my DRDT-2 from aircraftspruce.ca instead of from them. Their reasoning was simply one of cost, I checked out the prices and found that it likely was going to be cheaper to buy it on this side of the border between shipping and duties/brokerage charges. So the Cleaveland order was adjusted and I placed an order with Aircraft Spruce. I also ordered a 3/8" torque wrench.This evening I sat down and searched through the air compressor options I had and decided on a Pulsar 28 Gallon model from Home Depot. It is oil filled, can do a bit better than 5 CFM at 90 PSI and comes in under 300$ (not including shipping).Yesterday I ordered CD plans and the toolkit project from Van's. On the paperwork side of things, I received the response to the letter of Intent, so I'm good to build whenever I'm ready. I also submitted the forms needed to Van's to transfer kit 91081 to me.I'm expecting everything I've ordered to get here before the trip to Seattle on Feb 13th.

Tools and training

I have just purchased the tools from cleavelandtool.com. No idea how long until I get them. I was quite surprised at the shipping cost, $14.60. This is for well over 100 pounds of tools, shipped from 2 locations. I was expecting 10 times that cost. It offsets the price of the tools a very small amount - they cost a little over $2,800 US and the exchange rate to Canadian is terrible right now. This purchase will be most of my tools cost, but there are a few specialty tools that I'm still going to have to buy, torque wrench, tubing bender and tube flaring tool that I know about now.I also confirmed and booked the Building Basics course with Axsys Air for February 14-15. The course is held just north of Seattle, WA, about a 14 hour drive away. My 17 year old son, Andrew, and I will travel down for this.With the help of my 19 year old son, Tim, I managed to shuffle things around the garage so I can get my van back in. I don't expect that I'll be doing much on the plane, other than reading through the plans some more and determining what work needs to be done, prior to the Building Basics course. I do know, so far, that there isn't going to be a lot of work that I can do before the pre-cover inspection. Since that inspection is expensive and will need to be done on the fuselage as well, the empennage and wings won't be completely finished until the fuselage is ready to inspect. I suspect that I'll be ordering the fuselage a lot sooner than I ever imagined.

I have a plane

We picked up the kit from Calgary today. I built an open topped 36x20x96 crate and we brought it down to fill with the contents of the second Quick Build wing crate as well as parts of the empennage. The load took us about 2 hours, end result was loading the crate I built with the horizontal stabilizer on top of it as well as the large 360 lb wing crate onto the back of the 17' trailer. The loading of the big crate went easily thanks to the 2 snowmobile dollies I picked up for Costco last week. A couple of the built components went into my van and we headed home. Unloading was pretty painless, but it leaves my garage unusable as a garage for a little while.

Costs today - $8,900 for the kit, $250 for shipping, $45 to feed the crew. I also spent about $40 on materials for the crate.

Next steps include:

  • Submit Letter of Intent to MD-RA
  • Send bill of sale to Van's to have the project changed to my name
  • Order my tools, probably the Cleaveland Airframe Tool Package, with an upgrade to the pneumatic squeezer and the DRDT-2 dimpler
  • Reorganize and cleanup in the garage to make room for the project and hopefully my van. I think this will involve a large high shelf across one end of the garage that I can use to hold big pieces. I also want to get my tool table configured and possibly build my second work table.

Buying a project

Well, it looks like I have a plane to build. I've agreed to purchase a partially completed RV-9A project from a builder in Calgary. The project consists of

  • Empennage kit with Electric Elevator Trim option, mostly completed. The trim tab isn't quite finished. The elevators, horizontal stabilizer, vertical stabilizer and rudder are all pretty much ready for pre-cover inspection after which the skins can be riveted together.
  • Quick Build wing kit with Float Fuel Sending Units option. Nothing has been done with this portion, so the wings are about 80% complete as per Van's description of the quick build kit

I had a long visit with Ken, the builder of the kit. He kindly showed me around the project along with some of the tools and processes. The quality of his work was readily evident, it was his second build, having built a Challenger II previously (which he still owns and flies regularly). We verbally agreed on a sale and I will be making arrangements to pick the project up in the next couple of weeks. Logistics shouldn't be too bad as one of my son's friends has a truck and trailer that I can hire for pickup. With the wing crate weighing 360 lbs and stretching nearly 12 feet long, it will take some assistance to get it all loaded and unloaded.

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Changing my mind

I guess the time to change my mind is now, before I've purchased anything kit specific. I've decided on building the RV-9A now. This came down to a question of money. The RV-9A is a cheaper kit, but the big difference is in the engine. The -14A uses a Lycoming IO-390 engine that is not widely used and my only option would likely be new for somewhere in the 40-50K range. The -9A uses any Lycoming engine in the 118-160HP range, the higher end would be an O-320 which I should be able to find easily enough in the used mid-time market for 20K or so. That brings my total project cost down to the 70-80K range. The one problem with the -9A is the lower payload, which I mentioned in my earlier post. I did some basic calculations and found that I'd likely have to drop about 10 gallons of fuel to keep under gross if I'm travelling with my son. That still leaves a range of about 450 NM which is pretty much the most I'd ever want to do with one segment. We're also starting our mission to lose 100 pounds between us, so that would help a lot.

Since I made the decision to go with the -9A, I found someone who is selling their partially completed project and is only about 90 minutes away from me. It's a set of factory completed wings and an 80% complete empennage kit. He's asking $8,900 for that, which would be about $10,000 less than what I'd pay to get that myself - it also would save me a year of build time. I'm going down to have a look at the project this afternoon.

In anticipation of possibly getting a project going very soon (rather than in the spring as I was planning), I've started to prep my workshop more aggressively. I built my tools bench based on the EAA 1000 work table plans, it's 30"x30" and is on casters. I also started on the first of my two work tables - got as far as I could with materials on hand. These come together very quickly. I've got about 4 hours in on the tables.