Week 84 – Luggage Door and Firewall

This week I assembled the luggage door. Since it’s asymmetric, I had to note which side was outside so I didn’t paint the wrong side. I also added a striker plate for the latch, like others have done. I used an L angle and riveted it inside the door frame. I’ll eventually install some insulation on the door to prevent drafts.

I also started work on my firewall. I previously posted that I have an older Sling 4 firewall that has the holes in the wrong places for a TSi. I also don’t have a precut heat shield, so I traced the firewall and cut it out. I’ll delay cutting more until I get more firewall forward parts.

I primed it using Rust-Oleum Universal Bonding Primer, recommended for galvanized steel. To prep, I washed and scrubbed with soap, then cleaned with acetone, then etched with white vinegar. I got this process from someone I know who preps galvanized steel in a nearby factory. It worked well and the primer is pretty tough.

I’ll be painting the firewall with Contego intumescent paint, like Craig did with his.

Next is to install the firewall and paint with Contego paint. Then mount the engine mount to prep for gear install.

Weeks 82/83 – Fuselage

I was able to rivet the left side rear top skin this week. Everything lined up as expected with no issues. This lets me work on the baggage compartment.

I primed and painted the baggage door parts and got them ready to attach. I’ll do that this weekend.

I also finished up the left wing harness and routed that through the fuselage. The center console is turning into a bird’s nest, but I’ll organize it once all the wires are run.

I spent some time on building very rough paint scheme sketches. I’ll probably finalize that sometime this year. Once I get a few, I’ll use a professional company to draw actual drawings.

Once the baggage compartment is built, I’m going to start working on the firewall to attach the engine mount. That way I can mount the nose wheel this summer.

Weeks 80/81 – Rear Seat

I was able to finish up the rear seat these past few weeks. I painted it grey like the rest of the cockpit. Once I put it in place, I was able to position the rear seat back rest on the right side. I can’t do the left until I put the rear top skin on.

I also checked on my primer experiment from 2 years ago. I had to dig around for the parts but they were all there. They were outside for 2 years straight, in the rain, snow, ice, salt, and dirt. Overall, the primer I went with, Rust-Oleum Self Etch Primer, held up the best. The second best was the Zinc Phosphate Primer. Most surprising was the bare, untreated 6061 section was perfectly fine with no corrosion. It tells me that even basic prevention is more than enough for these airplanes.

I built wire harness for the wing wiring. I put Deutsch waterproof connectors on the outside of the fuselage so I can just plug in the wings when I’m ready.

I also bought a couple of Milwaukee M12 standing work lights. They’re battery powered so I can put them wherever I need. They’re perfect for working in the fuselage at night.

Next I’ll work on prepping the tail top skins.

Weeks 77-79 – Fuselage

I’ve been knocking out small odds and ends in the fuselage. I installed the front seat belt reels, but did not bolt them. That will happen once I bolt the parachute cables. I pulled about two dozen rivet nuts around the rear passenger area. I still have the old M3 holes, so I updrilled them and installed M4.

I’ve been working on building the rear seat. The lower half is done and now I need to build the seat back. Once that’s done, I can locate and drill the seat back stops. Mine didn’t come drilled so I want to make sure everything fits before I make holes.

I also wired up my ELT. Since I’m building in the garage, I built a coax extension cord and put the antenna outside to test the 406 mode. I don’t have my GPS yet so I can’t fully test it but when I switched it to test mode, the lights flashed the no errors code. So everything appears to be working.

Next is to finish the rear seat so I can place the back rest stops then start to close up the tail.

Weeks 75-76 – Fuselage

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been completing random fuselage tasks. I built some sawhorses that I will eventually put the fuselage on. This will make it easier to install the gear this summer.

I then installed the flap motor and then the aft center console. No issues and everything went as advertised. I’ve settled on a painted interior in lieu of the standard leather. It’s been holding up well to dings while I build.

I also got my ELT this week. It’s an Artex 345. TAF recommends installing the antenna to the left side of the parachute opening. I’ll likely mount it further aft since Artex recommends 3ft from a VHF radio antenna. I mounted the box under the rear seat like Jim Pavlick. Now I need to run coax and wiring to that box.

I’ve also started building the back seat. There’s some angles that aren’t described in the instructions so I had to ask TAF where those went.

Next is the ELT wiring and prime and paint the rear seat.

Weeks 72-74 – Fuselage

The next phase of this build will be to move it from my tables on to sawhorses. I’ll do this so I can more easily install the landing gear.

To do this, I rotated the fuselage around to rivet the underside. This way it’s stronger and not just clecod together. Once this was done, the fuselage is rock solid and sturdy. It’s also well balanced and everything is within spec per the manuals.

Next is to put it on sawhorses, once the corona virus restrictions are loosened.

Weeks 69-71 – Fuselage

I’ve been working on the center fuselage the past couple of weeks. It got warm enough to prime the side channels and get those installed. I have no 4mm flush rivets, so I have to wait for replacements.

Once that is done I’m going to move the fuselage off of the table and on to sawhorses. That way I can rivet the underside as well as work on the bottom antennas.

I’m planning on using intumescent paint on the firewall when I get to that point. I’ll use this paint as an extra layer of fire protection.