When mounting the engine, the bolt that is nearest to the turbo needs to be trimmed a bit.. maybe a half centimeter. Be sure to measure 125mm from the bottom of the bolt head instead of the top. I initially cut mine too short and had to order another M10x130mm bolt from Bolt Depot... oops!
Once that was done, I swapped the coolant outlet at the back of the engine that comes with the kit. Otherwise, you can't reach the bottom bolt with the wrench as that is in the way.
Next up was connecting all the oil lines. Be sure to twist the AN fittings to the correct direction before tightening them with the ear clamps.
Also, be careful when you remove the yellow stoppers - there's a good cup or so of oil left in the engine from when the factory tested it. Just have a collection cup ready and 10 mins to spare to catch all the oil that drains out.
It's a tight fit on the left side getting the wrench in there to tighten the AN fitting. The right side is impossible to get to unless you remove one of the exhaust pipes.
They detail how to do this in the manual. It's pretty simple removing the pipe clamp and loosening the bolts on the engine.
I wanted to start fitting the cowling, but first needed to get the propeller mounted. Be sure to follow the Airmaster manual for this.
You'll need Aeroshell 22 grease and some anti-seize grease. The firewall forward kit does come with Copper Slip, which is what I used on the propeller lugs to prevent rust and ease of future disassembly when needed.
However, when inserting the lugs, make sure to insert them with the bolts, otherwise you won't be able to fit the bolts through later. I also recommend using the lug fitting tool that comes with the kit, don't push the bolts from the back, use the bolt threads to pull the lug through with a straight even force. These aren't easy to get in and require some decent pressure to get them set.
I was surprised that the propeller doesn't use any thread locking fluid on the bolts. Instead, they use the Nord-Lock washers. Apparently their design prevents any loosening from vibration and require more torque force to unscrew than to lock in.
After that, I put on the propeller hub and loosely fit the bolts for now. I need to get a crow foot wrench adapter for my torque wrench because the wrench won't fit between the prop flange and the engine.
Next up was some grinding.. removing the pipe below the welded section was easy, but it's not so easy getting to the section below the piece that sticks out. With that thickness in metal, it's going to take quite a few dremel metal cutting heads... I'll get to that eventually, but at least now I can fit the cowling!
I drilled the 4 holes on each side where the manual says to do. Not a perfect fit, but will trim that later.
I fit the latches to the front so I can put the coolers in front. I also drilled the hole in the top of the air filter and fit it to the plastic element provided.
I was inspecting the fuel pump on how the connections are fit. The stock 915is fuel wire doesn't have enough length to reach to the other side, so I'll have to splice and extend that to fit.
It feels great to finally see the engine mounted! Starting to feel like a real plane.
Before mounting the engine, I wanted to revisit the nose wheel movement. It was still a bit stiff and took a few pounds of force to move it. I was thinking I don’t want the rudder to stick during flight, so it was timely there was a discussion on the Sling Builder’s Facebook group on the issue. The idea is to take a 2” dowel, about the same size as the nose wheel, sand it down a bit so you can staple some sandpaper to the dowel. From there, insert it into the assembly and rotate it until you get smooth turns. What a difference!
From there, I torqued the nose gear assembly to the firewall and it was time for the big moment - mounting the engine!
Note: the engine did come with a bolt, mounted to the fairing just above the turbo that is held on by a rivet. Be sure to drill that rivet out and remove the bolt, it’s only used for mounting to the shipping crate.
Once the engine was mounted, I started assembling the oil hoses. It’s nearly impossible to get them on without any loosening. To help with that, I just put one end in boiling water for a minute or so and then lubricated the barb and hose with some oil. Be sure to slide it on in one quick movement.. it’s really hard to get the hose off once on the barb.. trust me. ;-)
The intercooler assembly is pretty straight forward, just connect the hoses and mount it in the approximate location.
Next up, mounting the propeller and fitting the cowling.
It’s like Christmas Morning when you get that phone call.. “the truck will be arriving in the next 30 minutes...”!!!!!! I’ve been anticipating this day for a while since this final shipment contained the finishing touches that transform the plane from a aluminum form to a luxurious efficient fast flying machine. 😎
Soon after the parts arrived, I began inventorying and stapling them to the parts board. Everything is there (except the fuel system 🤨 ugh..). Apparently the factory is revamping the fuel system kit and it’s a “TBD” on shipping date, but I have plenty to play with until I press on that subject.
I’ve made quick progress on the Firewall Foreward, despite having a Sling 4 Firewall - basically just had to move the oil tank to the right side and drill a few other M5 Rivnut holes.
They did send me an extra silver adhesive foam, so I decided to double it on the front and back of the firewall for some extra sound protection.
The Upholstery looks awesome with the grey tones and red trim along the edges.. looking at paint schemes to similarly match!
Next up, finishing up the firewall forward items and lifting up the engine for mounting!
It was exciting to get the rocket & parachute! Installation was pretty straight forward. The key for dropping the parachute in the box is to put a strap around it (temporarily) to be able to place it in there and lift it out later if needed. You definitely DO NOT want to pull on any straps from the parachute itself, otherwise it's an expensive repack.
I installed the rocket holder with the correct AN bolts, this is a bit of a pain since your fingers cant reach in between the rocket and where you put the bolt through, so I used a magnet pen to hold the washer and nut in place.
After that was done, I used zip ties to secure the parachute bag to the frame. The holes lined up perfectly and I used a flathead screw driver to help pull the other end of the zip tie out. I visually inspected to make sure the zip ties went through the bag straps.
I did route the cable through the airframe and secure it, but will hold off on installing the rocket until I read up a bit more on what triggers it. I definitely do not want me to try to install it and that thing go off and put a hole in my house. ;-)
I am also waiting on the carabiner to connect the rocket cables to the parachute. Seems that they missed that item when packing my components. Until then..
I finally decided to try my hand at some metal work again. It’s been a bit since I had to rivet or cut any aluminum, so I was a bit rusty.
A huge thanks to Phillip’s blog showing the steps to install the missing inspection door for the pitot tube.
I certainly wasn’t as precise as he was, but mainly I measured the placement recommendations from the factory and traces the outline of the cover.
From there I tried my best to find center. I knew it wouldn’t be perfect so I intentionally set the nibbler to be a smaller diameter than the cover. Once done cutting, I just used the file to get the hole to match the drawn outline.
I did use a handy pull rivet style dimpler, which made things really easy to get flush rivets in there.
Once everything was dimpled, I just drilled the holes for the rings and viola!
So during my move to Colorado, I did have some damage to the vertical stabilizer skin - a nice hole on the side and some major scuffing on the skin. I ordered the new skin back in April and it finally came last week.
I made sure I had some sharp drill bits and started de-riveting the skin.. ugh.
While I have the skin off, I’m going to remove the VOR/ILS antenna since I decided to use the GNX375 (GPS only for approaches) instead of going for the more expensive option of the GTN650. That’ll save me about 3lbs of drag! ;-)
Not much of an update this week. The main item I accomplished was to run the remainder of the RG400 to their respective locations and add the BNC and TNC connectors.
I installed the GPS antenna in the rear instead of the proposed location in the manual due to several factors and mainly a strong recommendation from MidWest Panel Builders below from Adam.
Words of wisdom:
We very strongly recommend against having the antenna under the cowling. We have seen time and time again issues caused in this area. It’s not the fiberglass that’s the problem, actually.
The main problems are:
When considering Garmin’s installation recommendations, they give you the order of importance of items. Being that avoiding shadowing is higher on the order than distance from COM antenna, it is acceptable to put it in that location. Plus, we have had plenty of installations by now with it behind the canopy with good success.
The second GPS antenna, being how different it operates can go under the cowl. Its small size lets it sit far enough forward on that bracket to work well.
This week I focused on getting most the antennas installed and wiring up all the connections.
I installed the Comm1 Antenna on top and made the RG-400 BNC connection. I then test fit the parachute skin and it looks like that may be a tight fit. Will have to make sure I figure out where that goes before I fully secure the antenna. Additionally, I’ll need to put in some rivnuts there since there’s no access to the bottom of the antenna.
I then installed Comm2 on the belly between the ELT and center channel. The antennas come with hole templates for mounting, so it was pretty simple to drill through to size.
The Transponder / ADS-B antenna was a bit more difficult to mount. They have a hole pre-drilled on the center bottom of the fuselage, but with the inside skin, it took a bit of work to create holes for access to the mounting screws. I used a 1/2 inch drill bit on the inside skin to get it big enough for a socket wrench to fit and secure the bolts.
I then turned my attention to figuring out the wiring diagrams and crimping the pins for the Delphi connectors. Took a bit to get into the rhythm, but eventually figured out how to crimp without the right crimper - I had a molex crimper and apparently these type of pins require a bit more expensive tool. The Molex crimper worked, but it took about 4x the time.
I finished up the canopy wiring and installed the lights. The front ones were easy since I just had to mount them with 3 screws each. The back lights took a bit more work since I had to enlarge the hole and clear some styrofoam to give it a flush fit.
Since my pilot light dimmer is on the panel, I now have an extra hole in the canopy I get to work with. I figure I install some sort of power source for a GoPro camera, so I spliced the power from the rear lights and ran some wires there.
I was able to order my battery! I decided to go Lithuim since the weight savings is pretty drastic. The Rotax 915 requires a battery with at least 350 cold cranking amps. The ETX900 battery fit the bill with 400 CCA’s and only 4.9 lbs! Bonus, I was able to get the 10% AirVenture discount. Good timing!
I decided I might as well get to doing Service Bulletin 17, which has me replace the aluminum rivets in the elevator control stops to stainless steel. To do so, I had to remove the ribs in the center console that hold down the elevator torque tube. After that, drilling the rivets out was easy with a flexible 90 degree drill bit.
The service bulletin didn't specifically specify, but I decided to use some anti-corrosive on the stainless steel rivets since it will be in contact with a dissimilar metal.
I was not fully satisfied with the stiffness of my elevator and wanted to make sure it was butter smooth this time. While I had the elevator ribs out, I decided to give them a good shaving around the area that holds the torque tube bushing with a dremel. I tried fitting a few times and sanded a bit more. I finally got it to where there's zero resistance! Definitely happy I got that resolved.
Before you install the side panels, the factory suggests using some high density foam to block open areas in the rear passenger air channel. I couldn't find any decent foam blocks, so I decided to get some polyurethane based foam. It did the trick and shaving it to size was easy with a hand saw.
Next I moved on to starting to wire up the canopy for the front and rear lights. There's a tube that routes from the back left of the cockpit through the canopy and exits in the center between all the light holes. Not too easy to see in there, so I used a wireless borescope to understand what I'm working with. I had to punch some holes through the styrofoam in the canopy to get the wires through to the front pilot light areas. The rear passenger lights were easy since the tubing routes by the hole. I'll put on a protective sleeve on the wires that exit the canopy and route them below the rear seat for connection to the harness.
I was really excited to get the avionics mounted and wired up. It would also let me know the proper placement of the wiring harness so I can secure the harness to the fuselage’s channels with zip ties.
I did have to get some angled aluminum from Home Depot to help secure the doubler plate on the back to the rib flange, but that was the only item that required a bit of work.
It took me all of 20 minutes to wire up all the avionics on deck! Can’t thank the guys at MidWest Panel Builders enough for their work on the harness!
It is a few steps ahead, but I wanted to see how it looked with the upholstered dash and the avionics panel. Looking good!
I’ll be taking those off so I can do the firewall forward kit and engine.. expected to arrive in September.
Until then, I’ll make sure all the wires and pitot static lines are secured in the channels. I already started with the passenger headphone jacks. The sticky square zip tie things come in handy! Just stick it on and run the zip tie through the channel.
I’ll also be working on some of the Service Bulletins that came out for the wing spar rivets and the elevator stops and replace the aluminum rivets with some stronger stainless steel rivets.
It's been a while since I was able to work on the plane with summer vacation, family visiting etc... So I was happy to get my hands dirty again.
I drilled a hole for the outside air temperature sensor on the pilot side air scoop. It's good to get this done before you mess with trying to mount the avionics panel, as things get pretty tight.
The modular panel rack system that MidWest Panel Builders provided requires that the top fiberglass skin be on to provide adequate support of the 'panel' rib. So I went ahead and used my nifty hole finder tool. Just plug it in the rivet hole and place the drill on the other end and viola!
I couldn't imagine trying to get those holes aligned blindly. I'd highly recommend them!
The only remaining metal pieces I have are the cowling strips that connect the fuselage and the cowling. It is a bit difficult to figure out exactly how they are placed based on the instructions, so hoping the close up pictures help others. It took me reaching out to a fellow builder to stop scratching my head!
You take one skinny strip and one larger strip and line them up. The side with an angle will be at the bottom of the fuselage, the flat end on top. You then have to dimple the first 18 holes in each for the countersunk rivets on the fuselage. Make sure to fit the pieces to the frame before and label which side is which first - they only fit one way. You don't want to end up with a strip with dimples the wrong direction (almost made that mistake).
From there, you'll fit the skinny strip between the outer fuselage skin and the firewall flanges. I used a rubber mallet to assist getting that in there. Then you can fit the larger strip on the inside of the firewall flanges. It helps to cleco from the bottom up as you go to make sure the holes align.
Now that those items are done, I can finally start mounting my avionics panel!
I decided to route the awesome wiring harness that MidWest Panel builders made. Needless to say it took quite a bit of effort to push the harness through the channels and holes.. like pushing fragile rope, making sure not to pull too hard or nick any wires.
Sure enough, the harness fit the plane perfectly with all the attachment points where they were supposed to be.
I did find that I can remove some wires from the crowded center channel, the tail nav light and trim servo wires are pre-wires in the harness with an attachment point underneath the rear seat.
Routing the rear seat passenger headphone jacks proved to take a bit more effort. I had to drill a decent sized hole (1 inch maybe) in the baggage compartment to route the wires correctly.
I also unraveled the firewall insulation. It’s not pre-cut, so I’ll have to make some measurements and plan it carefully.. I probably will just wait until I get the firewall forward kit to make sure everything is right.
And finally, I mounted the GMU 11 Magnetometer and ran the harness endpoint to it. Securing the wire is going to be a bit of a struggle with the limited access back there.
I heard from the factory that my Engine, Firewall Forward Kit, and Upholstery is on it's way. It's a pretty big and heavy mix of items, so they had to put them in a container and on a boat - 6-8 weeks delivery time... ugh. Looks like a September timeframe for delivery with an order that I put in January.
So I'm doing a mix of odds and ends, torquing bolts, kicking tires, etc..
This week I focused on fixing things I made mistakes on or that were quick and easy.
Phew! That was a lot.. looking forward to moving on to digging into the avionics a bit more next week!
It’s been a whirlwind of a month moving into the new house, unpacking boxes, hanging pictures, buying furniture online...
Well, now that it has settled down a bit, I turned my focus to getting the garage workshop set up again and organized. It’s getting there, but still have to figure out where I was again in the build process.
I was hoping to start putting the firewall forward kit and engine on by this month, but Covid-19 has really slowed down international shipments. Not sure where my stuff is and it seems that the factory doesn’t either.. so it’s a waiting game.
However, the guys at MidWest Panel Builders we’re still cranking along with my panel and I was ecstatic to receive a shipping notification of my panel & avionics!
Everything came in 2 we’ll insulated boxes. The panel turned out beautiful! I pulled out the wiring harnesses and that really made me confident in my decision to go with these guys.. I couldn’t see myself wiring up all that!
I figure I can switch gears and start running the wires, fuel and brake lines so I can start closing up the center console area. It will certainly keep me busy while I wait for the final components!
Moving day has arrived!
I signed up for 2 uPack trailers, one for the household items and one for the plane. There definitely was a concern about insurance since it only really covered catastrophic damage - i.e. the trailer is totaled. So I focused on securing the plane as best as I could.
I loaded the wings first on each side and secured them with their own stand, attaching them to the floor and wall of the trailer. I made sure to add plenty of padding around them since it is guaranteed that there will be bumps on the 18+ hour trip to Colorado.
The fuselage was loaded tail first and it fit quite nicely. I secured the wheels with wooden blocks that were drilled into the trailer floor, with straps going underneath the blocks and around the wheels.
I also secured the tail with a wooden strut to make sure there is no pitch movement.
I did the 'jiggle' test and nothing budged!
From there I secured the empennage parts by hanging them above the wings against the wall with plenty of padding and straps.
Unfortunately, I'm sad to report there will be some repairs needed to the vertical and horizontal stabilizer.. somehow they were banged around enough to loosen the knots and had some damage to the skins. Oh well, I knew the risks.. just a few hours of de-riveting the skins and slapping on new ones.
Overall, I'm just happy that the plane is safely at home in the new place with a bigger garage!
Exciting things coming up, I'm expecting my avionics to arrive in May! I still have the firewall forward kit, Rotax 915is engine and upholstery on order (since January).. but Covid-19 has certainly slowed things down. I hope to have an update from them on the new ETA now that the factory has opened back up.
Before I begin my move to Colorado, I figure I get as many large components in the airplane as possible to help with the journey. I installed the seat rails and test fit all the seats and made sure they slid without catching any rivet heads.
Happy with a bit of progress, I brought my wife out to the garage to snap a photo of me in the pilot’s seat. ;-)
I received a note from Midwest Panel Builders that my panel is nearing completion! The harness is off the board and they are now undergoing testing.
Hoping to receive the panel in mid-April at the new house in Colorado. Stay tuned! Things are about to get exciting with the build!
It's been a while since I've posted, so I figure I should give an update.
Lots has been going on, but not with the plane. We bought a house in Colorado and had to get our current house ready to be sold, which took up all of my time. We're expecting to move and figuring out the logistics has been a fun challenge. Moving a partially complete plane across the country is going to be interesting.
I did receive my propeller so far, but still waiting for the Upholstery, Firewall Forward Kit, Engine and Avionics. It's looking like most of that will be delivered in April or May, which is fine since that'll be the time I can really start to pick things up again.
Stay tuned for updates!
This weekend I attended the EAA SportAir Electrical Systems course held in Fremont, CA.
The instructor reviewed quite a bit of theory at first, but then kept it interesting by doing projects. We made our own headset jacks and actually tested them out! Thankfully, mine worked on the first go. ;-)
I would highly recommend this course to anyone interested in doing their own avionics. Before the class, I had a hard time reading any electrical systems diagrams. However, now I'm feeling a bit more comfortable with it. The instructor even provided some information on online tools that help you design your own electrical system.
While I won't be doing really any electrical work since I have Midwest Panel Builders doing all that, now I have a bit more clarity on how the system is designed and how I might be able to troubleshoot issues in the future if they arise.
While I wait for additional shipments, I decided to try and place the center console skins to check fit.
However, that means installing a good amount of rivnuts in the center console ribs and floor. Almost all of the rivnut holes had to be upsized to M4. I think at some point the factory switched from M3 to M4.
Some places were a tight fit, so I used the angle drill bit to help reach some spots. The step drill doesn’t do the best job with creating a clean cut, so every hole also needed to be deburred pretty heavily.
I began fitting the skins and built up the center console box that fits above the flap actuator.
Things we’re going smoothly until I placed the bottle skin that fits along the main spar. It seems the space between the rib that holds the flap actuator and the main spar was too small for the skin. I emailed TAF about this and they said to check the alignment of the fuselage forward or the spar. This was a QuickBuild and the side skins were already on, so the alignment should be correct.
I’ll be looking at what options I have to get it to fit. I might just have to move the rib a bit forward to get things to line up.
Riveting the Control Torque Tubes in Place, Fitting Luggage Inspection Hatches and Parachute Rocket Skin
One of the more taxing exercises I’ve had on the project so far is getting the control rods to move smoothly.
The vesconite bushings are a perfect fit on the control torque tubes, but when placed in the aluminum ribs and there a slight misalignment or misshaped curve, the result is a binded bushing. Which can be hard to find.
I spent quite a bit of time using a flap sanding wheel to trim down the ribs to get a nice fit on the bushings. Then when in place with the brackets I had to find the rib that was slightly misaligned and sanded down the bushing a bit to get it unbinded.
Once that was done, riveted the brackets in place and tested everything out.. minimal friction!
After that was done, I decided to put the luggage floor Rivnuts in place and test fit the covers. Perfect fit!
Now that the landing gear strut is in place, I went ahead and torqued the bolts in place. It was a bit difficult since I didn’t have any metric wrench that fit an M12 bolt. Luckily, vice grip pliers were strong enough to hold and get the required torque value.
I decided to give the canopy doors another shot.
To get the lock mechanism to fit flush, I had to shave off a bit of the canopy resin with a dremel. The real challenge was trying to get the aluminum rod to fit inside the canopy. The curvature of the canopy is somewhat unique to each door. I was able to get one door done pretty easily with only a few slight bends. I used a table vice to grip the bar and get the bend where I wanted.
However, the second door I bend the rod in different directions to try to fit the canopy curvature, it started
to look a bit like spaghetti. I was able to finally get it to fit, but the angle of the cut that fits the door latch was off by about 30 degrees. Doh!
I’ll have to straighten it out and give it another shot later..
I put in an order for everything else I need at the end of December.
Items on their way:
1. Firewall Forward Kit- this has all the items to support the engine. Oil, brake fluid and coolant reservoirs, etc.
2. Rotax 915is Engine - 141hp of pure FADEC controlled fun!
3. Airmaster Constant Speed Propeller - designed specifically for the Sling TSi.
4. Upholstery - The leather interior and seat cushions. I went with the design below, Medium Grey / Charcoal with red piping.
It’s looking like I won’t be getting most items until March and the engine in May. I might be getting my avionics somewhere in between.
I still have to order the parachute, but that will be in a bit..
Now to start thinking about the exterior paint design and colors!
It was a quick exercise, but probably one of the more satisfying tasks to date!
I decided it was time to attach the landing gear. This bird has to learn to walk before she can fly!
I supported the front and rear with adjustable sawhorses from Harbor Freight so it would allow me to adjust the height as needed. Once I was able to fit the gear under, I carefully moved the rear sawhorse backward so the fuselage would start to rest on the gear.
It took a bit to get the right height and placement of the gear. I realized I couldn’t rest the fuselage on the gear right away, otherwise I couldn’t fit the bolt sleeves in. It’s not possible to insert them from inside the fuselage.
Once the placement was good, the bolts went in quickly. Just took a light tapping with a hammer to drive them all the way through.
I then removed the front sawhorse and rested the fuselage on the main gear! Now on to the nose gear!
The bolts didn’t fit through the firewall very well, it took a bit of reaming to get them to pass through. I certainly didn’t want any ‘play’ with the bolts, so I took my time getting the fit just right.
Now that everything was put together, the plane didn’t fit!
I had to turn the plane around and rest the tail on the cabinets. No big deal moving the plane.. surprised by how light it is!
I recently received another trim tab as the last one was a bit twisted. I took this opportunity to add the safety wire to the piano hinge as other builders have done.
The piano hinge is convenient to use, but the wire that is inside can vibrate out of the hinge so the recommendation is to secure both ends with safety wire.