You can work inside the fuselage with it
laying on the ground, but you risk damaging the belly. I
elected to suspend it. I decided to sling it using a "cherry
picker" and a 1000 pound ratchet shipping strap through the spar carry
through. The tail is held up by inserting the actual tail spring
into a typical auto engine stand and strapping it down to
keep it inserted. Later on, I simply set the tail on a saw
horse on some thick layers of foam. I put the heavy empennage
bulkheads right over the sawhorse.
All the foam padding under the engine stand
and the empennage is packing from the truck that brought the kit.
There's lots of foam, and most of it is under the "canoe" of the
fuselage to protect somewhat in case the canoe falls.
Now I'm ready to get in there and work!
I'll begin with the baggage area and the battery hold down box.
Interior and Floor Panels
What you see above is the fuselage as it came
from Team Rocket. It is a quickbuild kit, and most of the fuselage is
factory jigged and assembled in the Czeck Republic.
Since I started my build project inside the
fuselage, the first thing to do is get the floors ready. It's a great
place to practice skills because the pieces are simple, the work is
very straight forward, the parts aren't structural, and you can easily
hide mistakes under the carpet.
This is where I've learned to buck rivets. I
started using a 4x gun, but it's defective and has to be sent back to
Taylor. So I'm using a 2x gun. I've learned through trial and lots of
error that a quick solid burst on the trigger makes for the best shop
head. Trying to ease into it, like when drilling, seems to fold the
rivet over more often than not. So a quick BRRRRP! directly down square
over the rivet with good pressure works best. It's definitely an art to
do them quickly and correctly.
The above pic shows the three baggage floor
pieces set in place. I'm not permanently attaching any parts at this
point. I have too much work to do under the floor.
Big note: Plans call for riveting nut plates
under all the longerons and cross braces to screw down the floor
panels. Like many others, I've bought a bunch of the clip on nut plates
for #8 screws and will be using them instead. Much faster and more
forgiving that way. Just trying to determine if I can countersink the
screws to get a nice finish.
This was a fun little project. Many of the
floor parts, and control surfaces for that matter, have stiffeners made
of formed aluminum angle. You simply cut and trim them to size, spread
them out evenly and rivet them to the bottom of the panel. This adds
considerable stiffness to the pieces. I did my floors per plans. Lots
of builders are making storage spaces under the floor, but I'm planing
on carpeting my entire cabin restricting access to the floor panels. I
can always go back and add storage lockers if I want. That's part of
the beauty of building it yourself. you can do it any way you want!
barely see the flush rivet heads on the floor panels. I back riveted
of these on the table top on a large piece of flat steel. If you're
going to do a project like this, the bigger back riveting plate you can
come up with, the better. I have a palm sized one, too, for taking to
the plane as needed. But in the bench top, big is good, huge is better.
These panels are the front seat panel and the
front floor panels. The longer seat panel is the location of the
footwells for the passenger heels and rudder pedals. I will install
them later. I have many things to position under the floor that might
interfere with the "heel buckets". Also, the plans are not clear on
positioning in this area, so I'll need clarification from Mark
at Team Rocket before proceeding. I think many places in the plans are
unclear because there are so many different ways of doing things and
setting things up, there's too many choices and too many variables to
contend with. However, since I'm a rookie builder, I'm going to get
help from the "home office". Via the Internet.
The brake pedal parts were match drilled and
ready to rivet. I have primed the rudder pedals, which are mostly steel
tubing and they are ready to paint. I need clarification from Mark on
dimensions of the hing points before installation. And oh yes, I'm
thinking of having the text on the paper above the parts cut into the
brake pedals instead of just drilling lightning holes. I'll price that
out and see if it's in the budget and time frame.
I finally got the floor panel stiffeners and
the heel buckets in place and ready to go. I made a mistake on cutting
open the hole for the right heel bucket and wanted to see it in place
before riveting it in place. I think I'll have to retrim the part. The
"canoe" is starting to shape up. With the panel in place, and a couple
simulated instruments on there, it is starting to feel more like an
Man, what a chore! I was going to use those removable nutplates for the
floor and finally decided to rivet them in. It took me about 9+ hours
to get the floors prepped and the nut plates installed. Wow! A LOT of
work. I used the #8 screws and the nutplates provided with the
kit. I tried to make sure that every "loose" corner was screwed down to
keep that "snare drum" effect to a minimum. The toughest place was
inbetween the "triple trees", that triangular tripod area amidship. I
had a hard time getting a drill and squeezer in there to do all the
drilling and countersinking required to install the nutplates. Finally,
I used a pair of special Vice Grip squeezers to get on those rivets to
put them down. They aren't real pretty, but the nutplates are secure.
Here's the back seat floors temporarily screwed down:
Notice the screw pattern along the right side floor. The only thing I
would probably change is the screw between the rearmost "triple tree"
supports. Had I to do it over again, I would move that screw as
far forward as possible, or just skip it all together. The rear
of the floor is not screwed down at all. Since I custom cut the floor
and the supports for my rear seat change, there isn't enough meat back
there to screw it down. I can add some angle under the floor and change
that, if need be, but the center tunnel under the floor is more than
enough to support the rear seat pan.
Another note might be to recommend K1000 cs nutplates for the screws in
the area just aft of the rear passenger footwells. I think the rear
passengers legs won't drag on the screw heads, so I installed normal
pan head screws. If I get complaints later (doubtful) I may go back and
change a pair of screws just behind the heel wells to countersunk
Panel Sub frame
The instrument panel has a sub frame assembly
that uprights the panel to vertical, perpendicular to the long axis of
the plane. The canopy rail comes right up to the panel and is wider
than the longeron, so a little brace is necessary to support the rail.
I was able to rivet a piece of 3/4 extruded angle on the sub frame, and
keep the shop heads out of the way of the doubler on the back side.
I should have waited until the boot cowl and
cowl flange were ready to install before finalizing the instrument
sub frame and canopy rail. Regrettably, I got the canopy rail bracket a
little too high, and that effectively lowers the instrument panel. That
resulted in making the aft end of the boot cowl not fit the side skirts
correctly. It's only off enough to not let the skin lay flush, just a
few thousandths. I'm going to have to decide whether to relocate the
canopy rail/instrument panel bracket to raise the instrument panel back
up, or to shave and roll the boot cowl skins to get them back
flush. Stay tuned!
The panel sub frame is supposed to be riveted
to the top of the doubler. Once that is done, the sub frame cannot be
removed without drilling out the rivets. After the canopy rails are
riveted in, you can't get the instrument panel sub frame out, anyway,
without drilling everything apart. I opted to use bolts instead of
rivets at the top of the sub frame. I thought the bolts looked more
symmetrical, and since I've been taking the instrument sub panel in and
out, it was easier to use bolts.
This should be done with the boot cowl
clekoed in place!
Front Seat Back
What's wrong with this picture? Well,
the seat is installed backwards. Not to worry, the hinge pin isn't
clamped in. I was just getting all the pieces mated and match drilled.
The seat is ready for riveting and installation. It will be completely
removable, as will the brace under it which is part of the #5 bulkhead.
The control (steering) mechanism slides into position under the floor
this location, so if it ever needs service, it's good to be able to
just unscrew everything and take it apart. The seat appears to be a bit
narrow for my shoulders, but I'm sure I can work the upholstery around
The front seat and the panel with the rear
passenger foot wells are retained by the same screws. All these
pieces are just fitted in, but I haven't installed anything to the
airframe permanently at this point. So I'm just getting ready to
assemble the components, but locating their final positions before
finishing the pieces.
The plane essentially needs to be finished
front the bottom rear to the top front. Everything in the tail and
under the floor has to go in first. Well, it doesn't HAVE to go in
first, but it seems more logical to get the main systems and structures
in place in the hard to reach areas before building parts on top of
Here it is a year and a half later, and I'm back playing with the
floors and seats. I actually lost the angle that supports the front
seat back under the floor, so I had to cut a new piece of 1x1x.125
angle and match drill and install nut plates for the #8 screws that
hold the seat down. I also finally cut the hinge to assist cutting down
and bending the hinge pins so they can be screwed down.
One of the other things that you have to do is cut holes for the seat
belts to penetrate through the seat back. There's not much to speak of
in the plans on that topic, so I guessed! First thing was to mark
where those belt supports sticking out from the center of the ship hit
the back of the seat. I wrapped them with plastic and then marked
directly on the seat back where those supports touched the back.
Seems simple enough so far, eh? Now what to do? Well, I decided
to give the belts room to move. I measured my Hooker Harnesses and
looked at the corrugated seat back. Based on the location of where the
belt supports hit the back, and the width of the actual belt, I settled
on centering 1.5 x 2 inch rectangular cut outs. I measured a little
inboard from the support marks just to get a little clearance there,
but mostly the belts will go outboard through the seat back and then
around my big fat gut. The holes ended up just a skosh inboard of
the aluminum angle side frame of the seat back, and evenly spaced
between the corrugations. I drilled the 4 corners of each hole,
then dremeled and filed them open. I kept feeling from the back to the
front thinking that the small lip I was leaving was not symmetrical.
Then I realized that, yep, I forgot that the seat back tapers outward
toward the shoulders.
If anything, I might have to trim the belt holes a little more inboard.
It doesn't look like it in the pic, but there is enough room for
a bolt head and them some on the inboard side of the holes. However, it
that area gets banged around in service, I could easily open the hole
another 1/2 inch toward the middle. I thought about going back
and putting lightning holes in the seat back, but decided I liked
having the seat back full strength.
This is the canopy rail and F-017 gusset
trial fitted in place. It sure is easier to put the gusset on the
rail, then install it as a unit. I had to take the gusset through the
roller on my brake several times to flatten it out. The bends from the
factory are about twice what they needed to be. My brake rolled them
right out. It also broke the primer,too, so I had to sand and repaint
prior to riveting. The rails are ready for drilling and final fitting
to the airframe.
Am I ham handed or what! If you look at
the pic above, you'll notice a few "smileys" at the bottom edges of the
universal head rivets. I was not as careful while bucking these as I
should have been. The rivet set was not well centered, and hammered
little half moons around the edges of some of the rivets. If the rail
was not such a long, difficult (and pricey) part to mess with, I'd just
replace it and do it over. But I'm going to first try to use filler and
see if I can dress them up. The dents aren't deep, but they are
noticeable. The problem is more cosmetic than structural.
The canopy rails have taken hours to trim and
fit. The left rail is clekoed in place and ready to final drill, debur,
dimple, prime, and then permanently install. The instrument panel
sub frame has to be installed first. Once the instrument panel frame is
in place, you'd have to remove the canopy rail to get it back out. So
the canopy frame will be the first part to be irrevocably installed.
The part fits well and is all ready to go mechanically. The only
problem is that I was going to try to paint it before installing it.
And I don't like the color I used. So I'm going to sand it down,
re-prime it, and paint it later. This is not that big an issue since I
have to paint the canopy rail that butts against it anyway.
Another note: Had I to do this again, once I had the rail set in place,
before drilling, I would mark all the obstacles that would not allow
bucking rivets. I also would probably just delete a few rivets, too. I
was able to buck the rivets in between the "triple tree" on the
sidewalls above. I can guarantee that they are not up to specs. There
are a couple places where I put rivets in that are just for cosmetics
and symmetry. I wish I would have just skipped them.
Control Stick Steering Mechanism
A couple things are apparent in the pic
above. The top longeron is machine countersunk and ready to accept the
canopy frame rail. That is the part that appears to be date stamped.
Also you can see a wood spacer that is in the wing spar carry through.
That keeps the carry through dimensionally stable while you bolt up the
stick control system.
You can see the stick control system in it's
final position mounted in place. It's a clever piece of engineering.
The sticks pivot on delrin bushings for forward and back stick ( nose
up and down). The entire control system "tunnel" is hung by two control
rod ends and that allows the whole thing to swing left to right. That
gives you aileron movement and banks you left and right. I had a
heck of a time getting the system set up for free movement. I assembled
it on the bench and it worked beautifully. Once in the airframe and
tightened down, I found that the alignment was off. Probably due to
where I drilled in the rear hangar. Fortunately, I had some washers in
around the rod ends and I was able to reconfigure them to get a free
swing yet not have any slop in the movement.
In front of the stick at the firewall, there
are a couple angle braces that I installed per plans that reinforce the
brake/firewall area. I found that drilling through the stainless
firewall is not easy. Even though I used cobalt bits, my cordless drill
"punched" through instead of drilled through the metal. Next time, I'll
use the air drill and crank up the air pressure. I had to clean up some
ugly burs on the backside of the firewall where the drill punched out
considerable burs on the metal. My electric debur tool worked well for
this, cleaned up the holes nicely.
This is another pic of the control system.
You can see two very large nuts, one left of the wood spar spacer,
and one to the right on the yoke just under the "seat belt appendages"
(sticking up at an angle). The bolts hold rod ends attached to the
control tunnel that allows the entire mechanism to swing side to side.
Also note the seat belt bracket just right of the wood spacer in the
spar carry through. Not per plans, I made that out of 1.5x1.5x.125
angle. Now that I've made a couple of these, it only took about 45
minutes, not the 4 hours it took the first time. Power tools are
wonderful time and energy and hair savers!
I have assembled and constructed several
smaller assemblies on the F1 so far, but really haven't "permanently"
installed anything. So many structures are interdependent and literally
interconnected that you have to be careful what you install, and when.
I still have plenty of little "chores" to do with what I already have
"completed". Before long, though, I'll have to start "committing" and
get some things installed. Another consideration is that the more parts
that you have installed, the more cramped it is, and the harder it is
to work on subsequent components. And I'm trying not to damage or
scuff up the parts I already have. So a lot of things are going to come
together in groups, and some won't be fixed in place until close to the
end of the project.
Aileron "Roll" Servo
Note: The TruTrak roll
servo for the EVO wing should probably be the "C" model, not the "B"
model that was originally provided for the standard F1. Also, there is
much debate whether or not the "Torque Enhancer" feature should also be
purchased for an extra $100. TruTrak still feels that the "C" servo for
the ailerons is OK, but they are happy to sell you the torque enhancer
"just in case". I went for it. I thought in this case an ounce of
prevention was a good 'belts and suspenders" remedy for a potential
problem with a servo being too weak for the EVO wing.
Here's the standard setup:
I received my TruTrak autopilot servos. You
can buy the servos for a reduced price and install them early (when
it's easier). Then, later on you can choose which "brain" unit you
want. I bought two servos, one for each pitch and roll.
I went ahead and installed the roll servo
since I have been working in that area. The "kit" comes F1 specific
(well, RV4 modified specific), and has a mounting bracket that fits
very well in the rear passenger footwell area. The bracket required a
little filing to get it to position. I drilled out two factory rivets
and mounted the bracket in the factory rivet holes along the top. There
were also 5 or 6 predrilled holes along the side of the bracket that
holds the servo. It was a little difficult to get to the rivets, so I
used a blind rivet in one area. Had I to do it over again, I would use
the two factory holes along the top and squeeze the rivets, but along
the side, I would just use pull/blind rivets.
This shows the rivet location where the
TruTrak mounting bracket is located. Also, you can see the hole I had
to create with a dremel type tool in order to get the control rod of
the AP to the torque tube bracket. This hole was tricky, and still
needs dressing, but the servo and rod have a clear path with the full
swing of the control system. The drawing from the factory showing the
hole is very conservative at best. My actual hole was not in the same
location, and appears to be almost twice as large as the factory
I called TruTrack and arranged to pay the extra $100 and shipping to
return my "B" model autopilot servo for the stronger "C" servo WITH the
torque enhancer already installed. Word from Zack at TTFS is that the
servo needs the torque arm extended with some rod (provided) in order
to reach the steering mechanism torque tube. I got an RMA number and
now need to remove the aileron roll servo and return it to TruTrak in
Arkansas. Then I'll reinstall the servo and continue with final wing
My new "C" servo came back with the torque enhancer already installed.
Regrettably, they omitted the extension rod. So there will be another
slight delay in the re-installation of the roll servo upgrade. Or I
could remove the torque enhancer and shelve it. When I returned the "B"
servo, I kept the arm used for hooking up the standard push rod. Maybe
I'll just do that for now. Still, so many other things to do, have
plenty of time to wait for TT to send the parts.
Seat Back Brace
The steel tubing that supports the front seat
is not a roll bar. There is not enough strength in the structure to
support the airframe in a roll over.
Once the canopy frame rails were riveted
in place, I mounted the uprights and marked approximately where the
crossbar would go. I took a digital level and marked for approximately
30 degree bevel on each tube to get the parts to lay nice and flat. I
ended up eyeballing it, using a 4 inch grinder, then finishing with a
hand file. It was kinda fun shooting sparks all over my house at
night. Now I have to convince my friend Bruce Dallman, RV6
builder, to show me how to MIG the parts together.
Tray and Elevator Pitch Servo
<>With the EVO edition
of the F1, this battery configuration is not appropriate. After having
gone through the motions to install the battery, tray and the elt and
tray, Team Rocket has since determined that for W&B, the battery
should be moved up front. Consequently, the battery tray on the left
side of the ship isn't installed. I have also cut down the ELT tray on
the right side, and moved the ELT back flush with the bell crank. That
gives me 4 more inches of baggage space behind the seat. But that did
require remaking the baggage floor and the "hat rack" "battery cover".
Note: If you have the EVO edition, you may
not want to bother making the battery tray or mount the ELT in the
factory location. Of course the ELT is very light (until you put
batteries in it), but all these items are best put as far forward in
the EVO edition of the F1 as possible due to the change in the CG and
loading envelope. I'll probably relocate my battery, ELT and anything
else I can fit in, under the floor in front of the spar. Another thing
location change would allow: You could lower the aft baggage floor. If
you scrap the factory pieces and make your own, you can drop the floor
to the very top of the bell crank, which would give you an additional 3
- 5 inches of height. You may not be able to put any more weight back
there, but you sure could get in more bulk. When I get to the point
that I'm finalizing the interior, I will probably cut down the "hat
rack" area and drop the baggage floor.
I drilled my ELT and Battery trays for bolts
on the center longerons and for screws on the outer longerons. I made
the hold down bracket for my Odyssey P-680 battery. The "dry cell"
battery is not recommended for inverted use, but otherwise supposedly
will work on it's side. So I mounted it with the terminals facing the
middle and laying on it's side. I hope that this will allow me to
remake the baggage compartment panels and lower the baggage floor about
4 inches. That will mean a LOT more storage space.
Note the TruTrak servo attached to the
bell crank brackets. Those are homemade hold down brackets made out
inch T6 extruded aluminum angle.. I installed the factory brackets
backwards. It would have worked fine that way, but I wanted to be
correct. Besides, mounting them the proper way gets the servo out of
the way of the battery. Barely.
BOOT COWL, FLANGE & SHIM
Note: My pictures show SCREWS across the aft edge of the boot cowl. If
you are going to put in a SPEED SLOPE WINDSHIELD (SSW), you DO NOT have
to use screws under the canopy. Knowing what I know now, I would not
bother putting the nutplates in the center 1/2 of the aft edge of
the boot cowl. I would recommend only using clekos in this area
(probably along the entire aft edge ) of the boot cowl until after you
have the canopy finalized. You cannot remove this part of the boot cowl
with the SSW in place, so there's no sense using screws. Countersunk
rivets will look much nicer, and are easier to install. If, however you
are using a standard canopy, use nutplates and screws from the
After our EAA83 chapter meeting today, I came
home and started working on the cowl shims and flange. The flange needs
to be set back from the outer skin to allow for the thickness of
fiberglass, so a thin strip of aluminum is used between the
the cowl attach flange and the firewall fingers. I used
several scrap pieces of 1/8 aluminum to use as a spacer on the shim.
That sets the shim back from the firewall to give it a little
clearance. The cowl shim goes on in 3 pieces and is
clekoed under the fingers of the stainless firewall. Weaving it
was not necessary, but the factory pieces will not look very good under
the firewall fingers. If I didn't plan on having the engine cowl
covering this 99% of the time, I'd make wider pieces and work on the
shim alignment to make it prettier.
The hardest part is shaping the cowl
flange and making it sit parallel to the outer airframe skin and
boot cowl. That is critical for keeping a real clean line at the
junction of the fiberglass engine cowl and the airframe skins.
So I was working on getting the boot cowl
skin and the cowl flange a doubler ready to install, and I had a brain
fart. Well, actually, it wasn't my fault, but I wasted several days
because I wasn't familiar with aviation hardware. I keep trying to
figure how I was going to dimple everything and then put a "k1100"
nutplate underneath it to hold a flush #8 screw. I tried one dimple and
tried to set a "k1100" under it, and it just wouldn't sit straight.
Which means the rivet would be crooked, so then the screw would be
crooked. After several emails, I finally figured out (with lots of
help) that my initial suspicions were true. I HAD THE WRONG
PARTS! The "boot cowl hardware" bag from Team Rocket had K1000
nutplates, not K1100. You can tell by the picture how the fatter K1100
will hold a dimple in the recessed area around the threads. Once I
figured out I had the wrong parts (and found a couple other things
omitted), I emailed for the correct parts and started borrowing from
other hardware bags, and from friends to keep moving on.
Again, if you are going to use the Speed
Slope Windshield, you are not going to need screws and K1100's at about
10 or 12 locations in the aft top of the boot cowl.
This screwed down boot cowl and engine
cowl flange (with underlying doubler) took a week of very frustrating
work. The toughest part was trying to read the plans and
read into the plans what I was really supposed to have and what I was
really supposed to be doing. Well, it turned out OK. I still have to
mount two screws, and two hold down rivets in the corners, then
trim/sand/roll/tweak the boot cowl. And then I have to hope that the
engine cowl flange is wide enough and parallel enough to the side skins
in particular for the fiberglass engine cowl to sit properly
against the boot cowl and sides. Time will tell. If the flange isn't
parallel enough, I can always flute or shrink it.
Today I finished the boot cowl and some other
little projects. The boot cowl has puckers and required some bending
and filing to get to fit. All this was because I prematurely attached
the instrument panel to the canopy rail, and it effected how the boot
cowl skin sat at the rear. It's not too bad for a beginner, but still,
I could have done better. Live and learn, on to the next steps.
I "completed" placing the clear soft plastic
tubing from the VAN'S static kit. Several days ago I pop riveted in the
static ports and used "Goop" to glue the tubing on ( as opposed to
RTV). I bought some adhesive pads that are for tie wraps and stuck them
in place and carefully tie wrapped the line out of the way of the close
out and rudder cables. There is a bit too much tension on the lines, so
I will have to reposition the pads, and later epoxy them in place. But
for now the static line is out of the way. The "T" in the line is above
the ports. Theoretically that should keep moisture from collecting in
After setting the pads for the soft static
lines, I ran a 5/8 poly conduit all the way from the tail
bulkhead to the front seat floor. I also drilled holes for the poly
tubing that comes from the static ports to the instrument panel.
Originally I was going to run the poly tube inside the conduit. There
would be plenty of room in the rear conduit because I think only 2
wires for the tail light and the elevator trim cable will be
going to the tail. But I decided to leave the conduit exclusively for
the wires, and run the static lines independently.