The RV-6 Rebuild project
Page 2

February 2020 - I ran across this RV-6 in Albuquerque, NM.   It has been damaged, but was priced about right, so I bought it.  Not sure if it was the right thing to do or not, but now I'm committed.  At first glance, it doesn't look too bad.  But then there are all the things I didn't know that I had to learn before I moved it.  

Continued from Page 1
The engine  Page 3
Final Assembly on Page 4
Flight prep and test flying on
Page 5

July 2, 2020 - Installing entry steps to get access to the cockpit.  Yes, I know they aren't necessarily needed on the RV-6/taildragger, but my wife is short, and I am getting old.  These were 3/32" holes and clecos.  They were used as pilots, then the holes were redrilled to 1/8".

Under the baggage floor.  Hole through the side of the plane and rivet holes for the step.  Hole through the next rib, then a HDPE collar bolted to the next rib which the back side of the step goes through, then gets a through bolt to hold it in place.

July 3, 2020 - Inserted the freshly painted step into the holes we cut yesterday and the HDPE collar that holds it in place.  The collar is bolted to the rib and there is a bolt that also goes through the collar and the shaft on the back side of the step to pin it in place.  

Step is now riveted in.  I also removed the peeling wing walk, scrubbed it clean, then masked and painted with Herculiner truck bed linger.  I also painted the same for traction on the entry step.

Masking peeled away.  Finished Herculiner wing walk.

We reassembled the baggage floor and riveted and screwed it back in as appropriate.  Then I remembered I have an ADS-B antenna coming that needs to be installed under the cernter strip of the baggage compartment, so we stopped here.  The uAvionix Echo UAT ADS-B unit and antenna should be here early next week.  The blue wire hanging out here is power for the ADS-B unit.

I also swapped out the compression springs that came with the Vans landing gear kit for extension springs.  It's just a personal preference thing.  I prefer the steer with the rudder and have the tailwheel help.  That keeps the tailwheel from oversteering when rolling out on landing.  Most pilots seem to prefer to steer primarily with the tailwheel instead.

July 4, 2020 - Happy Independence Day!  We took today off to go flying.  Flew the CuperCub to Bolivar, MO for lunch with some buddies, then to Jonesboro to look at an engine for another friend.  We stopped briefly at the hangar when we got home so I could test fit the new short arm I got for the RAM mount for mounting the GPS.  I like it!

July  6, 2020 - Not quite a match on the paint.  I patched the panel where it used to have a no longer needed GPS antenna mounted.  This panel was a real mess, so I decided to just hit it with rattle can paint for now.  

Closed up the last of the firewall penetrations today, so now the firewall is completed and ready for an engine.

I started fitting up the gear and wheel fairings.  The wheel fairings apparently never fit quite right and have some of the mounting hardware missing that I'll have to fabricate.  The wheel pants are also pretty beat up, so will require some composite repair work.  It never had the intersection fairings on it, so I bought them and will add them in as I rebuild the existing fairings.

July 7, 2020    - Today I installed the new Echo UAT for ADS-B In and Out for the RV.  It's mounted to the upper channel behind the pilot and passenger.  I also installed a blade antenna on the belly for the Echo.

Echo UAT from above, outside the plexiglass.  Notice the spotlight mounted just in front of the Echo.  That comes into play in the next couple of photos.  I have a piece of RG-50 coax temporarily strung to the antenna so could power up the Echo unit without damaging the transmitter.  I am waiting for a new piece of RG-400 to install, then we can finish putting the baggage area back together.

I also replaced the failed rheostat/power supply for the post lights.  Since the new one is a digital switching power supply, I also used it to control dimming the trim indicators in the upper center of the instrument panel.  Here's what it looks like with everything fully bright at night as it was with the failed power controller.  The single spotlight in the previous photo was lighting the panel.

This photo has the dimmer working, so the trim indicators are toned down to where they aren't blindingly bright at night, and the red post lights are lighting up the panel.  Additionally, the white spot light behind the pilot is illuminating the panel.  The bright red light in the panel will go away once I have an engine and it is running.  That's the warning light that comes on in the case of a vacuum system failure.

July 8, 2020 - I worked some more on the gear and wheel fairings.  I had everything in place including the intersection fairings.  When I went to take a picture, I noticed the mounting angle of the wheel fairings were way off and didn't match each other from left to right.  I was so distracted I put the camera down and forgot to take a picture.  So, I recycled the same picture from about 5 pictures above.  I had already drilled the wheel intersection fairings and had clecos holding them to the wheel fairings.  Those holes will get filled back in and new drilled after I remount the wheel fairings correctly.  The plane goes to the back corner of the hangar for a few days now while I do a 100 hr inspection on a friend's plane.  I'll get back to this next week.

July 9, 2020 - I remounted the wheel pants and got the angles right.  I also have the intersection fairings sitting in place.  I took a phone call as I was closing up shop and going to take photos and got distracted, so forgot to take photos of the gear.  Guess I'll do that tomorrow.  The coax to complete the ADS-B install also didn't arrive, so the baggage bay will be in pieces for one more day.

July 10, 2020 - Still no coax, so still can't put that baggage area back together.  Not really happy with the Ebay vendor.  I spent most of the day doing a 100 hr inspection on my friend's "new to him" Cardinal.  Late this afternoon, I finally got back to the fairings.  I think I have the angles of the wheel fairings corrected, so drilled and clecod the intersection fairings into place.  Now they need to come back off for some glass repairs modifications and refinishing.

Left lower intersection.

Left upper intersection.  I guess I need to create a bump to go over the cutout for the brake line that protrudes through the fairing.  Notice the cut in the lower cowl for the nose gear.  That will have to be repaired as well.

Right lower.

Left upper fairing.  I'll need to form a bump over this brake line as well.  The intersection fairings are pretty rough, so will require a layup or two of glass and some filling to smooth.  But they do fit nicely.  The gear leg fairings and wheel fairings were painted without filling the pinholes, so have thousands of pinholes in the paint.  They will need to be sanded down and filled properly before painting.  The wheel fairings had to have new mounting holes drilled, so need some repair work to fill the old holes.  I'll also be mounting nut plates in the wheel fairings and lower cowlling to mount up the intersection fairings.

July 11, 2020 - I used a piece of 3/8 aluminum fuel line bent to fit as a spacer to build out a bump in the intersection fairing to accommodate the brake line shown in the picture just above this one.

These are the repairs I did to the wheel pants.  Both had been cut tight enough that the tires had caught the pants and broke them.  You can see the cracks under the new glass on the one on the left and you can see where I pieced the fairing back together behind the tire in the one on the right.  Both got two layups of 4.5 oz bidirectional glass both inside and outside to make for a nice stable repair.  Obviously, the fairings will need to be cut back from the tires quite a bit more to make enough room for the tires to flex, pick up mud and other things that happen to tires without breaking the pants again.

These pants were mounted at the wrong angles and were all catiwompus.  It was easier to redrill the holes and move the fairings on the mounting brackets than to move the mounting brackets.  So, I circled the holes I need to use, and filled them all with milled fibers, and two layups of BID on the back side.  I'll redrill the circled holes.

These two photos are of the front of the wheel fairings.  I filled the holes with epoxy resin and milled fibers, then laminated two layups of bidirectional glass on the back side.  I'll redrill the holes I need (the ones that are circled) and have them ready to mount.  All of the fairings will have to be sanded down and and pinholes filled before priming and painting.  That was never done when they were installed, so the paint on them looks pretty bad with tons of pinholes through the paint.

July 12, 2020 - Finally got in the RG-400 coax yesterday, so completed the installation of the Echo UAT ADS-B unit and put the baggage compartment back together again.  As far as I can tell, the airframe is now complete other than the gear and wheel fairings.

I riveted #6 nut plates inside the wheel fairings today for mounting the intersection fairings.  Also mounted some in the cowling and fuselage for the upper intersection fairings.

I fitted the upper intersection fairings over the brake lines, then did another lay up with peel ply on one side of each of the intersection fairings to smooth up the rough finish that comes from Vans.  I'll do another layup on the other side of the fairings, then start sanding and filling with micro.

July 13, 2020 - I finished laying up 4.5 oz BID on both sides of these fairings with peel ply to smooth out the finixh a bit before I start filling and sanding.  

This is a good example of the paint job on the gear fairings.  They didn't do much with the pinholes, so I sanded down the fairings today to address this problem.

The fairing on the right is coated with two coats of Rustoleum high fill primer.  Stir the primer until all the solids are suspended, then brush on 2 or 3 coats.   They dry in a matter of minutes, then I wet sand them with 180 or 220 grit to take off all the primer.  It fills the pinholes and leaves the surface ready to shoot with the real primer.  The fairing on the left has been dry sanded and is ready for the rustoleum fill primer.  Don't worry about the weight of all that primer as the only thing that isn't going to get sanded off is what it left filling the pinholes.  It is a simple, and inexpensive way to fill pinholes in composite surfaces.  I did the same to fill the pinholes when I fabricated the carbon fiber spinner.  I just used a black dye in the primer to turn it black to match the CF. (See photos of spinner)

Gear fairings after brushing with 3 coats of rustoleum high fill primer, then wet sanding it all back off again.  Now they should be about ready for the real primer.

July 14, 2020 - No photos.  Did a little resin and microsphere filling on the intersection fairings and a little bit of sanding.  Nothing to show for tomorrow either as I'll be out of town on the 15th.  Things are going to slow to a crawl until I get started on the engine next week.

July 16, 2020 - Not much for this page.  Just more sanding and filling on the intersection fairings.  But, today I got started on the engine, so check the engine page for an update.

July 18, 2020 - I think I have finally finished sanding and filling on the intersection fairings.  Had I ahve looked at them before I fabricated and installed the new brake lines, I would have known they were going to interfere.  I didn't.  So, when I fitted the fairings, I had to build out a little bump in the fairings to cover the brake lines.  Not a huge deal, but it takes time and a lot of sanding to get it right.  At this point in time, I'm ready to redrill the holes in the intersection fairings and check the fit one more time.  If all fits well, I will prime the wheel fairings, the gear leg fairings, and the intersection fairings.  They will be ready for paint when I get to the actual paint work.  I'll save that until I have repaired the lower cowling as well.  I am off traveling the country to deliver parts to various vendors for overhaul this week.  Back at it again in a week.

July 26, 2020 - Final fitting for the gear fairings.  I'm pretty happy with the fit and finish, so they are ready for primer.

On to the next problem.  The cowling was split to make room for the nose gear, which I have removed since I have converted the plane back to a RV-6.  How to patch the cowl without making it look like a patch.  This slot in the cowl measures roughly 1-3/4" wide by 12" long.  This patch work will be old hat and simple to anyone with any composite experience, but should be interesting to those that haven't worked with composites.

Here is the hole in the cowl drawn on my formica layup board, then the overlap I'll use to fabricate the patch.  The whole patch measures out to 8" x 16".

I cut a piece of 5.8oz BID carbon fiber to patch it.  Experience tells me that after wet out and a good squeegee job with peel ply, the CF will only be roughly .010" thick.  I can put this on the outside and feather it in, then build up the inside of the cowl with glass.  Notice that the CF is cut so the threads run at an angle (on the bias).  That is on purpose and costs me in waste of some very expensive CF cloth.  However, it makes for a stronger lay up when it's finished.  Since I only plan to use one layup of CF to begin with, I need for it to be strong.  I'll build it up further once the CF is attached to the cowl.

I chose to use Aeropoxy for this layup rather than West eposy, only because it seems to wet out a little easier.  Either would work just fine.  The formica layup board was waxed with Johnsons paste floor wax.  I find that to work better than the designed mold release waxes.

The CF is wet out, although a bit too wet, but we'll take care of that.  It's just a waste of some epoxy resin.

I squeegee in some peel ply (dacron fabric).  Yes, the same stuff I used for covering my Supercub, although the less expensive non-certified version.

I have squeegeed out all the excess resin that I can.  The bottom side of this piece will have a very smooth finish matching the waxed formica board and will be the outside of the patch on the cowling.  The inside will have a very grainy finish matching the dacron fabric which I will rip off it tomorrow (thus the name peel ply).  That makes a really good surface for adhesion to the glass surface of the cowling.  I'll sand the cowl a bit, which will make feathering in a .010" thick piece of carbon fiber easy.  Then the rest of the repair work and build up will be on the inside of the cowl.

July 27, 2020 - I trimed the piece of Carbon Fiber from the photo above this one, then bonded it to the sanded bottom of the lower cowl.  It was clamped into place across the back edge with a piece of 1 x 2 and 4 clamps.  This piece of CF is only .010" thick, so should be relatively easy to feather in with some micro and sanding.

Here's the view from the inside.  This split is where the nosewheel fit in the cowl.

I laid in several layups of 5.8 oz BID glass, mostly narrow pieces to fill the space over the CF covering the nosewheel slot, then finished with 3 or 4 layups that filled across the bottom of the cowl.

I laid these pieces up with West System epoxy, then put them out in the sun in our 90° heat, so they cured quickly.  This is the finished inside of the cowl after I pulled the peel ply away.

July, 28, 2020 - I wasn't happy with the edges of the carbon fiber I had bonded to the bottom of the cowl, so was going to lay of a single lay up of glass over it.  Then I discovered that I was out of 5.8 oz glass cloth.  And for that matter, any kind of glass cloth.  So, I cut a piece of 5.8 oz carbon Fiber and laminated it over top of the existing piece.  I have since pulled the peel ply and applied a coat of microspheres and resin to smooth it a bit.  It should be ready to wet sand and maybe fill one more time tomorrow.

I also recieved this nice polycarbonite overlay for my fuel selector valve.  My buddy Oscar wanted to contribute something to this plane and offered to draw up the selector overlay and have it made for me. Thanks Oscar.  It looks perfect.

July 29, 2020 - Still working on the lower cowl.  A couple of coats of micro, then a tiny bit of bondo to feather in the edges.  I'm declaring it ready for primer and paint.  However, I've got to paint outside, and we have rain forecast for the next several days, so nothing is likely to happen for the rest of the week.

July 30, 2020 -  The forecast rains didn't develop today, so I got out the spray equipment and both primed and painted the composite parts.  I'm pretty happy with the way the cowl came out.  Definitely an improvement.

Some good and some not so good here.  The intersection fairings have a lot of pinholes.  I didn't really work at fixing them, so I shouldn't be surprised.  I did get the pinholes to fill nicely in the nose section of the wheel fairings.

And the not so good.  Despite all the work I put into them, there are still tons of pinholes in the wheel fairings.  I had some problems with the primer I usually use for filling pinholes, but thought I still did pretty well with them.  Apparently that was wishful thinking.

But, all this stuff is now midnight blue.  It doesn't look quite as dark as the Navy blue on the plane, but since it is patched with several shades of blue, I'm not too concerned about the fact that it isn't a perfect match.  We'll just name her "Patches."    Painting is a lot like playing golf.  On occasion you have a good day, but you never get it right.  But your bad days are there to show forever with paint work.

July 31. 2020 - Gear, wheel, and intersection fairings are all mounted.  I'm happy with the fit and finish with the exception of my paint work.  The Midnight Blue paint is noticeably lighter than the original Navy Blue.  But, I am going to live with it as it is.  

Return to Page 1
The engine  Page 3
Final Assembly on Page 4
Flight prep and test flying on Page 5

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