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.
Today I worked on installing the seatbelts. Unspooling the belts was a challenge since the locking mechanism is gravity sensitive. Meaning, there’s a ball in the spool that has to be oriented a specific way for the spool to release. Once I figured that out, unspooling the belt was pretty easy.
The kit didn’t come with the penny washers that are in the instructions, but did come with some M8 penny washers that seemed to be close enough. I also see there’s some seat belt centering bushings, but I’m not sure where those go. I have a question out to the factory.
I also put together another floor panel that covers the flap and elevator controls torque tube assembly under the front seats. Now I just need to start installing the numerous M4 Rivnuts in the center fuselage, an item I’ve been putting off due to it just being a laborious task...
Update 1/31/20: I received word from the factory that there is a steel bracket that is already embedded into the canopy. The CAD drawing of the bracket is below. I enlarged the hole a bit and finally was able to see the bracket.
Just a quick update.
Installed the rear floor support channels. The skins bend in place if you press on them, so they definitely need them.
I also secured the rear parachute cable to the airframe with the AN6 bolt and torqued to spec.
I was missing some parts, namely the rear seat strengthening channel and one of the elevator torque tube brackets.
I put an order in for those parts, but it was holding up further progress on the fuselage.
So I decided I might as well go ‘Old School’ and make the parts to save some time!
I had the forward position rear seat channel handy, so I looked at the plans and it seems it’s the same part, just a bit longer in the back. So I trimmed off the end and it fit perfectly.
I took a spare piece of aluminum and drew the outline of the elevator torque tube bracket, cut it out, shaved it down and drilled the holes. An hour of effort saved me at least 6 weeks of delivery time from TAF!
I was going through the inventory shelves again to take stock of what I have left to do.
I came across a bag of parts that didn’t have any reference in the manual, so I sent an email to the TAF technical team.
The parts were labeled:
CF-CHL-031-X-C-0 Rear Floor Skin Support
CF-CHL-042-R-C-1 Side Channel Right and Left
I was fortunate enough to get a quick response from the man himself, Mike Bleyth!
He sent me a screenshot of the manual and pointing to where these parts go. I figure I might as well post this if anyone else had the same question.
Also, in my search I went ahead and downloaded the Sling Aircraft app from the Apple store. I downloaded the manuals to do a search and I actually found a nice treat - Work In Progress Sling TSi Manuals for the Fuselage!
They seems to be filling in some nice detail with colored images for construction. These are not available on the Dropbox account yet, so if you want a sneak peak, I suggest downloading the app!
Working on some odds and ends this week as I’ve had several items ready to be completed. Ideally I’d like to work on a single item and see it through to completion, but I either have a missing part, tool, problem to figure out, etc so I find something else to work on to move forward.
I received a shipment from TAF recently that had the autopilot pushrods, some misc parts and my joystick control assembly. Unfortunately, they only sent one, so I’m still waiting on the other. At least now I can finish up the control pushrods and test it out!
I finished up the main landing gear, so it’s all ready to mount. I went with the AN4-26A bolt they provided and just added 2 washers under the head of the bolt to make sure the bolt ends don't hit the wheel spat. I now just have to lift the plane and see how it fits.
However, I'm going to have to flip the plane around in the garage with the nose wheel on and angle it for it to fit in the garage.
I've also attached the rudder springs. I had to get a flexible drill bit to enlarge the holes for the M5 Rivnut as the luggage floor prevented the drill from fitting.
The nose gear took some time to get unbined. The vesconite bushing on the top of the gear was the main culprit, so I took some sandpaper and started sanding by hand and test fitting often. Once I was able to freely twist the bushing, I used a smoother grit to make sure the bushing was contacting the metal with a smooth surface.
Next up I'll be finishing up the control torque tubes and connecting the pushrods.. more to come!
The factory initially included 2 right flaps in my kit due to some mislabeling. They were able to ship me that along with some other small parts that were missing.
Kinda fun to rivet something again, oddly enough. The flap went together within an hour since I already had the ribs prepared and I knew what I was doing.
Once that was done I fit it to the wing along with the aileron I had already done, except for the riveting leading edge. I made sure they alignment was good and riveted the leading edge of the flap while on the wing.
From there, I checked alignment with the aileron and the wing tip. It required some maneuvering.
I put in one rivet in the center of the leading edge of the aileron and checked again. Made another adjustment, added a rivet, made another adjustment.. getting harder now. And placed the third rivet in. Now it was pretty much secure and aligned! Went ahead and did the rest and it turned out great.
From there I connected the pushrods to the aileron and flaps, bolted, applied blue loctite and torqued.
On to other things!
Happy New Year!
For the second half of the month I’ve been traveling and spending time with the family, so not much progress on the plane recently.
I did find a couple days before the new year to start working on the landing gear.
First I started putting together the nose gear, thinking this would be a quick install. It turned into anything but quick. The first issue I ran into was the alignment of the long bolts that hold in the bushings. I had to run a drill through the brackets in place, but without the nose gear in place to be able to align the drill.
When I put the nose gear in place it was quite a tight fit. It took some light tapping and fiddling, but eventually got them in place. However, now it is quite hard to turn the nose gear.. I couldn’t imagine a smooth flying experience with it requiring that much pressure to turn. I tried applying some grease to the bushings to help, but that didn’t do much.
I have seen other builder’s nose gear and it seems they have sanded off the powder coating to get a better fit. Looks like I’ll have to get the belt sander out with some fine grit to shave off a few micrometers.
Update 1/3/20: I spoke with Jean and he recommended to identify which bushing is causing the binding and shaving the vesconite bushing itself instead of the nose gear. The welds that hold the brackets settle and cause a bit of misalignment, so the easiest course of action is to just loosen the bushing a bit to relieve the binding issues. Will provide an update once this is done.
The next item was the nose gear tire. It was going along pretty well until I realized I needed to secure a washer and nut on the tire valve stem. I tried this with the tube in the tire first, but couldn’t get enough leverage to push the valve stem far enough into the rim for it to catch.
I took the tube out and pressed the valve stem from behind, resting on the rubber mallet. That gave me enough leverage for it to finally catch! From there, securing the bolts and ensuring the tire wasn’t pinched between the rims was a breeze.
Now on to the Main Landing Gear!
I repeated the same process for the tires and applied the grease to the bearings.
I thought securing the axle to the mains would be quick.. it’s only 8 bolts...
Well, it seems the predrilled holes from the factory had some alignment issues and I couldn’t get all 4 bolts through. It took me a few hours of light drilling, tapping, removing everything and trying again for it to finally fit. I didn’t want any ‘play’ in the bolts since this is an obvious area of large forces and if there was any movement, it could easily snap a bolt.
I finally got one side down and the other side was easier since I knew what I was doing.
One thing to note is there is an axle edge spacer that goes between the axle and the main gear to ensure a snug fit. It’s not mentioned in the instructions and I only noticed this after I finally got the bolts to fit, there was a space between the axle and the mains. I put the wedge in and it was a perfect fit!
I does look like the supplied bolts (AN4-26a) are a bit too long. I could add 4 washers to the bolt, but that doesn’t seem practical and the bolts will likely hit the wheel spat anyway.
The instructions call for AN4-22a, so I’ll have to replace them when I put in my next order with aircraft spruce..
I had my back seats cleco'd and ready to rivet, so I set aside the canopy door puzzle and decided for a quick win. I riveted the back seat base and attached it to the seat back.
The fun part was placing it in the fuselage and seeing it all fit! I did have to figure out where to install the back seat stops, as they are not mentioned in the instructions.
After a bit of a game of tetris, lining up rivet holes and figuring out the positioning of the stop, I cleco'd it in place.
I confirmed on another builder's blog of the positioning.
However, the position isn't so easy to get to since I have the QuickBuild and it looks like I'll have to drill some holes in the fuselage ribs.
I figure it's about time I climb in the plane and getting to work in there!
I was feeling up for a challenge.. and man, did I get it.
I started working on the canopy door gas struts and the latches. There aren't any published instructions out there for the TSi, yet, but I was able to get a 'Work in Progress' instruction set from the factory to help move things along.
First problem I ran into is that when I drilled holes through the support notches for the gas struts, I didn't drill them at the smallest point. I was thinking I'd want the hole to be a bit closer to the frame for additional support, however the supplied bolts are a bit too small. Not a big deal, but I'll aim the drill a bit differently on the other side. Drilling through the material, it is quite solid.
I moved on to try to figure out the latch system. I had to size up the hole for the door handle and drill the two holes on either side to secure it in place. However, it seems the larger hole isn't exactly centered, so the bracket on the back side was catching on the interior frame. I'll just need to shave away a quarter inch to get it to fit snug.
I was moving to assemble other parts, but I was missing some important tension pins. I asked the factory and confirmed the size, 3 x 10mm. I was able to source some at Lowes, but will need to shave down to length once inserted.
I'm quickly running out of inventory on my shelves!
I'm kinda glad I pulled the trigger on the avionics, I just hope it doesn't take the whole 3-4 months of lead time to get everything in. That would mean some down time, unfortunately.
I started working on the Throttle and Brake Controls to get them mostly assembled. I am keeping the center console channel undone for a while so I can run wires, but I figure I might as well get parts pre-assembled and out of bags.
The brake and throttle went together easily, but it looks like I'm missing some parts.
Of course they are small things, like one Castle Nut and one Bolt Bushing used for the throttle cable.
Speaking of missing parts, I did get a shipment in from Aircraft Spruce with some bolts I needed to finish up the front seat and the rudder pedals! Nice to finally check those off my list.
Started working on the back seat base. The instructions were pretty clear and things were cleco'd together in relative short order.
I did run into some alignment issues of the pre-drilled holes. Some I had to drill fresh, others I just had to ream out to get a rivet in.
I've been chatting with MidWest Panel Builders about the avionics package and have made my decision.
At first, I was going to go with the full Advanced IFR Package, but after a bit of sticker shock and reevaluation of what my needs truly are.. I'll be going with the Basic IFR Package with only one G3X Screen.
The GNX375 doesn't have a NAV radio included, like the GTN650, but the cost difference just doesn't seem worth it for something I will probably seldom use. I do have the VOR antenna already mounted in the tail, but I figure I can run the wires and have them handy if there's a future owner that has different needs.
I checked all the airports that I plan on flying into and there's more GPS approaches than there are ILS, with the same minimums. If I do have an avionics or GPS failure, I could just use the Sporty's SP-400 handheld radio or similar to get a Localizer / VOR fix.
I don't foresee too many other pilots in the right seat needing to fly the plane and I have been wondering where in the world I'd be placing my iPad since I use ForeFlight quite often. With a glovebox option, I can store important items, such as snacks, backup handheld radio, flashlight, etc..
For mounting, I can place a ball joint mount on that side and have the iPad floating in front of the glovebox. It also serves as an in flight entertainment screen for the kid. ;-)
Initial deposit is submitted and it's looking like up to a 4 month lead time, which gives me time to finish up the fuselage and run some electrical wires.
Now that that's done, the hard part is deciding on an N number!
GARMIN G3X 10" SCREEN
GNX 375 NAVIGATOR
GAD 29 ARINC 429 INTERFACE
GTR 20 COM RADIO
GMC 507 AND 2 GSA 28 AUTOPILOT SERVOS
GAD 27 FLAP AND TRIM CONTROLLER
GEA 24 ENGINE MONITOR
GMA 245R BLUETOOTH AUDIO PANEL
DESCRIPTION OF WORK G5 BACKUP WITH BATTERY
2 - IBBS BACKUP BATTERIES
INSTALL AND CONNECTOR KITS
LASER ETCHED TOSTEN GRIPS
GAP 26 HEATED REGULATED PITOT
Harness, Rack and Panel
CUSTOM MADE PANEL,CUT, COAT, ETCH WITH GLOVEBOX
PANEL DESIGN AND BUILD
AVIONICS AND ELECTRICAL WIRE HARNESS