Experimenter

JAN 2015

Experimenter is a magazine created by EAA for people who build airplanes. We will report on amateur-built aircraft as well as ultralights and other light aircraft.

Issue link: https://experimenter.epubxp.com/i/449720

Contents of this Issue

Navigation

Page 12 of 32

EAA Experimenter 13 also often unsure of where, or how, to start building. Pat and his wife, Mary, who was an integral part of the project, didn't have that much of a problem with either area. "Going into this, I had zero sheet metal experience, so we started at one of the Rudder Workshops that the Zenith people put on back in November of 2006," said Pat. "I took my wife and our dog, Piper, on a 'vacation' to Zenith's facility in Mexico, Mis- souri. We had a blast and met some wonderful people, and Mary got a ride in the factory's Zodiac demo. We came home from that event with a rudder, and more importantly, with the knowledge and confi dence that we indeed were capable of taking the next step, which was building the rest of the tail kit. We went through the same decision process several times during the build period: evaluate, decide, build, re-evaluate. "I bought parts pretty much section by section. First, we did the tail section, then the wing components, and then the fuselage. I bought what parts I could to make things easy but fabricated some things, too. When it was all said and done, the airplane was probably half kit and half scratchbuilt, especially when it comes to all the stuf that's above and beyond just the raw airframe. There is a lot more to completing an actual fl yable aircraft than just fi nishing an airframe. So much of the stuf in the new kits is prepunched and match holed, so it would be easier today. "I had to drill most of the holes for the rivets, which were mostly Avex pulled rivets. The actual rivets are the countersunk type; however, the heads are re-formed into a slight dome shape during the installation process via a concaved nose on the rivet tool. They have steel shanks. I used a hand riveter because it gave me better quality control than I got from the pneumatic riveters that I tried. "Riveting was very satisfying, because by the time I got to that point, there was a fair amount of prep work that had been accom- plished for each hole—drilling, deburring, application of a metal protectant, and fi nally, the riveting. Each time I pulled a rivet, it brought a feeling of completion, because that was the fi nal step in the process for that particular hole. There were also some large solid rivets in the wing spars that I used a traditional rivet gun and bucking bar on. "I was about 90-percent done with the aircraft when some required modifi cations to the spars and aileron balances had to be made. So, I had to backtrack and redo some things. But I was happy to do them and they resulted in an even better airplane. "Once I got started, I found the aircraft was actually fairly easy to build. At that point, I came to realize that the odds of suc- cess were increasingly in my favor as long as I could keep work- ing on it. One of the hardest things was asking neighbors for help whenever I needed to turn one of the wings over. I think most people around here thought I was crazy for building my own airplane. For a lot of the general public, the thought of someone building an airplane in their garage is way outside the norm. Now that it's fi nished and fl ying, however, things are a bit dif erent. There is a lot to be said for demonstrated success." The wings each house a 15-gallon tank, which the Zodiac community refers to as "long-range" tanks, and considering the low fuel burn of his Corvair engine, it's easy to see why 30 gallons is considered a lot. Pat reports he is using dual in-line electric pumps and fabricated his own 100-percent braided steel hoses using AN fi ttings. "I ran 100LL for most of my Phase 1 testing," he said, "and gradually tested 91 octane non-oxy. Now, I burn almost exclusive- ly 91 octane, except when I'm on a cross-country and can only get 100LL. Right now, there is a $3 per gallon dif erence in the cost of 91 octane at the local Fleet Farm pumps versus the 100LL they charged at an airport I recently visited." Pat's height dictated that he use a dif erent canopy on the air- plane, which he said was the biggest challenge of the entire build, a familiar homebuilder comment. "The one I used didn't fi t very well and I wound up having to fabricate a couple of fi berglass fairings. But they turned out really nice. I also fabricated a metal fairing that wraps around the back of the canopy that turned out Pat and Mary Hoyt.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Experimenter - JAN 2015