Empennage kit arrives!

At long last the RV-14 empennage kit arrived today via FedEx. Receiving was simple and efficient. The crate was well-packed without any external signs of damage. The process of unpacking, inventorying and organizing all the parts will take some time given the long list of items from large fuselage skins to bags of rivets and bushings.

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Finish Vans toolbox practice kit

Finish Vans toolbox practice kit

Early during my research on building, I bought the Vans practice kits and started building the toolbox using borrowed tools. Now with my own set of proper tools, I was able to take the time finish it.

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Building Vans airfoil practice kit

Building Vans airfoil practice kit

Over the week I worked on the Vans “airfoil” practice kit from to hone my skills and complete the set-up of the tools and shop. The kit was easier the second time since I had completed one with a partner at the Synergy class, but I spent extra time ensuring that I had the shop and tools set-up properly.

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Build EAA workbenches

Build EAA workbenches

I spent the weekend organizing the garage and building the EAA work benches to spec. I followed the instructions exactly except that I added a 1/2” MDF to the top to create a smooth and easily replaceable surface. I might also add the ability to level these a little better since my garage floor is not very flat.

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Synergy Fundamentals Class

Synergy Fundamentals Class

In order to get some hands-on time with the tools required to build a metal airplane, I took the Synergy Fundamentals class at their facility in Eugene, Oregon. The class was a one-day introduction to the processes and techniques of sheet metal fabrication required to build a Vans RV.

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Vans factory visit and demo

Vans factory visit and demo

On November 2nd, I departed San Francisco Airport on route to Eugene, Oregon, to visit Vans and take the Synergy Fundamentals class. The overarching goal of the visit was make sure that this was the direction I wanted to go and that the building process would be something that I would enjoy.

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Pre-empennage preparation checklist

Looking at the project at this point is a little daunting, so I’m hoping that beginning with a to-do list will help give me a place to start. My goal is to complete these items before I order an empennage kit.

  1. Attend EAA AirVenture 2018 for inspiration — DONE

  2. Visit Vans to finalize kit (90% RV-7)

  3. Take Builder Fundamentals class from Synergy in Eugene, OR

  4. Reorganize outside shed for more efficient storage (including removing tabletop)

  5. Reorganize garage layout (shelves, tool box, fix wall paint)

  6. Identify and buy 20-30 gallon air compressor

  7. Locate compressor and plumb air lines using RapidAir and Cleveland lightweight hose kit

  8. Isham tool kit from Plane Tools

  9. Build 2x EAA workbenches

  10. Finish Vans practice kits (tool box and wing section)

Here’s some more inspiration:

Ran across this very nice Extra 330 LT for sale on Barnstormers.

Ran across this very nice Extra 330 LT for sale on Barnstormers.