Sheepdog's Highlander Build-Yep New Posts :)

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Includes: Highlander, Escapade, Summit and SuperSTOL.

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Re: New Highlander Build

Postby SheepdogRD » Fri May 27, 2011 11:29 pm

GDS wrote:I bought this cable for my park brake: http://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalog/a ... shctrl.php

That's perfect, and they even have the label insert; it's in my next ACS order. Looks like 2" of travel will be enough if I mount the link a bit closer to the pivot that is standard.

. . . and I'm glad that drill jig worked. :D
Richard Holtz
Highlander N7340Z -- Ms. Tonka -- in gestation

If just enough is really good, then too much ought to be perfect.
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Current State of N1290Z

Postby SheepdogRD » Sat May 28, 2011 6:22 pm

Firewall Extension
We followed Steve Dentz’s idea and added extra firewall depth so we could run lines under the floor and through the firewall. Steve’s is a flat V-shape, but ours has been modified to allow use of the nosewheel mount if we choose: the center section in the area of the mount has been moved back a few inches. Josh welded the front panel to the center section, and I riveted the back panel on with flush rivets, mostly because I wanted some experience with flush rivets.

Firewall Extension - Complete.jpg

The center is 2-1/2” below the bottom of the fuselage. It sets up for a pretty nice curve in the belly stringer, which runs all the way aft to front of the access panel. I had to splice the stringer to get it to reach.

I may place the extension behind the firewall before I rivet the two together. Either way, we'll have to add a .040 shim at other engine mount points.

I shimmed all the firewall-to-fuselage mount points to get it completely flat. The factory guys said it's not necessary, but I want them aligned.

Fuel Tanks
I decided not to build my own aluminum fuel tanks, because I was pretty much at a dead end in the wings 'til I got tanks. Building my own would have been nice, but that Highlander Fly-In lit a fire under me to get flying. I went to the factory and picked up the 13-gallon tanks last week. Today, I added some thickness to the inner front corners so I can drill and tap for the added front port. I have to go to Lowes to get the tap for that operation. Once that's done, I can get the tanks in and start making progress on the wings.

<Edit: I found out Lowes doesn't carry that size tap. Nor does Home Depot. Not even Ace Hardware, although they could get a Hanson 3/8 pipe tap for me in a couple days for $12.99. I ended up at Harbor Freight, where they're in stock, and got a kit of 1/4", 3/8", and 1/2" taps and dies for $13.99. Even if they're only cheapies, I suspect they"ll do just fine in fiberglass.>

Wing Are On
She looks more like a flying machine every day:

Wings On.jpg

Big changes -- like getting the fuselage up on its gear, and putting the wings on -- are really encouraging. I know they're temporary, but it sure is fun to see this beauty moving along.
Last edited by SheepdogRD on Sun May 29, 2011 11:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
Richard Holtz
Highlander N7340Z -- Ms. Tonka -- in gestation

If just enough is really good, then too much ought to be perfect.
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Re: New Highlander Build

Postby stede52 » Sat May 28, 2011 7:43 pm

Look'in good, one step at time.

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Re: New Highlander Build

Postby danerazz » Sat May 28, 2011 8:52 pm

What size tires are those in the picture?
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Re: New Highlander Build

Postby SheepdogRD » Sat May 28, 2011 9:51 pm

danerazz wrote:What size tires are those in the picture?

They're 21x12-8 on Matco 8" wheels. They're 6-ply tubeless tires, and they run pretty low pressure. They cost about $68 each. Here's the link on Matco's site: http://www.matcomfg.com/TIRE21X1286PR6PR-idv-2789-38.html. We ordered the tires and wheels through JA when we spec'd out our kit.

Steve "Deadstick" Henry used to fly with them, and he said they work great and last a long time. He upgraded to the Alaskan Bushwheels, which cost $2750 more and add 40 pounds. While we'll go off-airport, we won't go as far off as Steve, so choosing these was a pretty easy decision.
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Highlander N7340Z -- Ms. Tonka -- in gestation

If just enough is really good, then too much ought to be perfect.
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Re: New Highlander Build

Postby Johnny C! » Sun May 29, 2011 1:16 pm

RD!

Looking good!

John
There are many things that happen really fast when you are
flying an airplane. There is no sense in rushing any of the others.

I would much rather be looking down at the runway, than up at it.

Duane Sorenson & Rick Norton Gone West 6/8/09. Godspeed
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Adding Fuel Tank Ports

Postby SheepdogRD » Mon May 30, 2011 6:21 pm

I set up our fiberglass tanks for front ports this weekend, and I learned some tricks.

Tools and Supplies
Here’s what I needed:
- all the usual fiberglass materials and tools
- A series of drill bits to step drill up to final size
- 37/64” drill bit for the finished hole
- ⅜” NPT tap
- ⅝” 12-point socket wrench

Thicker Walls
I added about ¼” of thickness to the areas where the new ports would be added.

I was surprised to find that the ‘glass work was so easy. My last experience with fiberglass was decades ago, and I remember it as a miserable, messy experience. This time it was easy. Smelly, but easy. After the first layer, I found it was best not to stay nearby while the resin kicked, because breathing the fumes left a funny taste in my mouth, even with the shop door open. Lots of fresh air is required.

After I had the thickness I wanted, I cleaned up the surface with a sanding disc on a die grinder. I recommend doing that outside; I used a dust mask so I didn’t breathe any particles in.

<Start Rant> Realistically, this seems like a needless exercise. If the factory says we benefit from having a second port in the tank, why not just put the heavier wall thickness on the inside of ALL the tanks when they’re being built? They already thicken the tanks at the point where the rear port goes. It would be very little extra work and cost to thicken both locations. Then no one would need to do any fiberglass work. <End Rant>

Drilling
I looked up the right drill size for ⅜” NPT. It’s 37/64”. After a fruitless trip through Lowes, Home Depot and Harbor Freight, Ace Hardware had a two-flute HSS bit in stock ($20). I bought it because it was the only game in town. Based on my experience drilling other materials, I’d recommend using a four-flute bit, if you can find one. A two-flute bit in a hand drill is a challenge, and a four flute bit would make the drilling a far smoother operation.

I’d never drilled fiberglass before. I tried drilling a ⅛” hole and going in next with the 37/64” bit. That was a bad decision. The bit grabbed the ‘glass and ripped a chunk out of the tank wall; it wasn’t clear through, but it left more of a crater than I would have expected. Doh! After suggesting to myself that even idiots know about step-drilling in wood-like materials, I repaired the fiberglass with more resin and ‘glass cloth.

After it cured, I re-sanded the area and drilled again. The second time I went back in with ⅛” bit, and followed with ¼”, ⅜”, ½”, and 9/16” bits, and finished with the 37/64” bit. That way, the ‘glass drilled pretty easily. The final bit still wanted to grab, but I just moved in very slowly and stopped each time it tried to grab. I wound up with two nice holes positioned right opposite the existing ones.

Tapping
I figured a ⅜” NPT tap would be pretty easy to find. It was easier to find than the drill bit; Harbor Freight had one in a kit of ¼”, ⅜” and ½” taps and dies ($15), but it came without a tap handle. No sweat; I planned to use our tap handle. When I got home and opened the tap package, I found it has a full-size square shank, and our tap handle only takes up to ½” taps. Oops -- back to town, muttering about bad planning creating needless fire drills. That size tap handle wasn’t at Lowes, Home Depot or Ace, either. The Ace guy suggested a crescent wrench. I told him I’d considered that, but decided it wouldn’t provided much precision or control.

Then he suggested a socket, and it turns out that a 12-point ⅝” socket fits the tap just fine. I wasn’t sure if I had one at home, so I bought it ($3).

I got home and added a ratchet with a 3” extension. Bingo: a tool that works perfectly, provides very nice control, and is a whole lot cheaper than buying a giant tap handle just to tap two holes.

Before I started, I ran the tap down in an existing hole in one of the tanks and marked that depth on the tap; I took the new threads exactly that deep. [EDIT: Steve Dentz (Stede52) notes that we should be sure we get the fitting all the way down so fuel doesn't contact the added material. I had to tap mine a bit deeper than they came from the factory.]

Tapping fiberglass is a lot like tapping wood -- move it clockwise ‘til it gets tough, and back up a little. Repeat, repeat, repeat . . .

So now we have two tanks with two ports each.

[EDIT: To get the fiberglass particles out, I blew compressed air in the rear port while the front port was pointed down. I shook the tanks pretty hard while the air was flowing, and it looks like I got all the little bits cleaned up.]

Here are pix of the original ports:

Fuel Tanks - Original Ports.jpg
Original Ports

. . . and the ones I added, with one of the strainers installed loosely:

Fuel Tanks - Added Ports.jpg
Added Ports

If you plan to add new ports to your tanks, I hope this helps . . .
Richard Holtz
Highlander N7340Z -- Ms. Tonka -- in gestation

If just enough is really good, then too much ought to be perfect.
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Cheap Towbar

Postby SheepdogRD » Wed Jun 22, 2011 5:52 pm

With the wings folded and the tanks in, N1290Z is so heavy that I can just barely lift her tail, mostly because there's no engine to counterbalance her. And I can't really get to the tail to pull or push her out of the shop, because the folded wings extend well beyond the tail. I decided I needed a towbar.

I have a Matco WHLT-8WD dual-fork tailwheel, which is over 3" wide, and I wanted to grab both sides of the tailwheel. I had an idea that a good, lightweight towbar could be based on used aluminum crutches. At Goodwill, I found a set in nice shape for $6.

I got the design pretty well worked out, and completed a prototype with aluminum sideplates that slip down between the tailwheel and the fork on each side of the axle. It worked, but the 0.077" thick aluminum sideplates were just too light for anything but straight-line pulling; they didn't have enough strength that I could turn the tailwheel without bending the plates.

So I simplified the sideplate design, and used some scrap 3/16" aluminum plate for the finished version. The new parts provide the rigidity needed without much additional weight. Here's the way it looks in use:
Towbar in Use.jpg

And here's the whole thing:
Towbar.jpg

Yep, that looks really, really long. But it works very nicely with the wings folded, and I can turn the tailwheel and not run into the wing as I pull or push. A shorter version would only save a few ounces, so I'll keep it this length.

The handle design is pretty straightforward. One of the crutch tops is used as is. I removed both adjustable-position lower legs, and pulled the little adjustment clips out of one of them. I cut just a bit off the other lower leg and drilled holes in it for the added adjuster clips so it had the clips on both ends. The holes are positioned so that, when the tops are slid onto both ends of the leg, the two tops just meet in the middle. Here are the components as revised:
Towbar Components.jpg

The plates for the business end have a slot that just slides down on the 1"-diameter tailwheel axle. The top of the slot is widened a little so there's just a bit of a catch to hold the axle when pushing or pulling. The slot is set at a 30-degree angle so it slips on at a natural angle while I'm standing.

The plates are bolted through existing holes into the second crutch top, which has been shortened a little over a foot. I used stainless steel countersunk 10-24 machine screws, some fiber washers, and some nyloc nuts to keep things together. To make the crossbrace at the business end, I used the long through-bolt from the discarded crutch handhold. I added some 5/16" tubing left over from making the Highlander belly stringer standoffs to get the spacing just right.

I can break the towbar down by taking it apart in the middle, so it fits in the plane pretty nicely:
Towbar Ready to Stow.jpg

Weight: less than 3 pounds.

Total cost: less than $10 out of pocket.

Time invested: Well, too much time, but it's like building the plane: now that I know what to do, I could build another one faster. It might take a couple of hours.

Once I have enough usage on it to know it's just right, I'll cut the sideplate attachment bolts flush with the nuts.

Other models of crutches might let you produce a fold-able version. The sideplate design is in the Google Sketchup 3D Warehouse as "Highlander Towbar Plate 2". If you're a Sketchup user, you could download it and modify the design to fit your tailwheel and whatever crutches you come across.
Richard Holtz
Highlander N7340Z -- Ms. Tonka -- in gestation

If just enough is really good, then too much ought to be perfect.
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Flap Handle Cushion

Postby SheepdogRD » Tue Jun 28, 2011 12:24 pm

Our Highlander flap handle wanted a cover -- something to grab onto, some sort of a grip. I tried using a pistol grip from an AR rifle, and, although it looked pretty neat, it was too short to be comfortable. Last night I figured out a better solution.

After building the Cheap Towbar in the post above, I had some crutch parts left over, and I put them in the “someday I’ll find a use for this” box. One of the leftovers was the second handle grip, and it turns out that the pad is just about right for the flap handle.

The flap handle is a bit small in diameter, though, so I dug out the oversize shrink tubing (available at Harbor Freight). I shrank on three layers of ¾” tubing plus two layers of 1” tubing. After the last layer had cooled, the crutch grip slid on with a little encouragement.

Now the flap handle has a nice cushiony feel to it. Here’s the finished product:
Padded Flap Handle.jpg
Richard Holtz
Highlander N7340Z -- Ms. Tonka -- in gestation

If just enough is really good, then too much ought to be perfect.
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Re: Current State of N1290Z

Postby xpflyr » Tue Jun 28, 2011 4:42 pm

That looks great Dog but do you think it may change the cowlings out flow of air?
If not, would you make me one? :D
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Re: Current State of N1290Z

Postby SheepdogRD » Tue Jun 28, 2011 7:59 pm

xpflyr wrote:That looks great Dog but do you think it may change the cowlings out flow of air?
If not, would you make me one? :D

Y'know, that firewall extension probably will change the airflow. We may have to trim the bottom of the cowling a little more forward to keep the opening large enough.

I formed the extension from the .040" material shipped for the turtledeck (ours will be Lexan). It's pretty hard stuff, and the 30" bender just didn't want to bend it. We butt-welded the parts together, and it was a hassle. If I were making another, I'd cut the pieces out of the material, and I'd carry them to a fabricator for bending and forming flanges. It would cost a little more, but it would take a lot of the pain out of it. I'd rivet the parts together. I was surprised how much fun the solid rivets were (but I don't think I'd like to buck an entire airplane).

One technique I didn't try, but which would be dead simple, would be to rivet the whole assembly together from flat pieces and 1/2" aluminum angle. It might be a few ounces heavier, but it would do the job when you don't have access to bending capability in your area.
Richard Holtz
Highlander N7340Z -- Ms. Tonka -- in gestation

If just enough is really good, then too much ought to be perfect.
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Wing Trailing Edge Slotting

Postby SheepdogRD » Wed Jun 29, 2011 4:32 pm

The Highlander manual calls for chain-drilling the slots in the trailing edges of the wings, but that’s a tedious process that entails lots of follow-up filing. I wasn’t looking forward to that task. I thought about using my Roto-Zip for the job, but that would have required quite a bit of setup and critically careful guidance for each of 24 slots.

I decided I’d look for one of the multi-function tools, but found they were pretty pricey, even on sale. Then I spotted a variable-speed one that's air-powered, rather than electric, at Harbor Freight (Item #67538). It was $20, and a 1-1/8” reduced shank plunge-cutting wood/metal blade (Item #67490) was $10. Here's the tool:
Multi-Function Air Tool.jpg

From inside the wing, I set the flat blade right against the rib, turn the tool on, and slide it up to the trailing edge. It goes through the aluminum nicely, doesn’t chew up the rib, and puts the slot right where it needs to be. As cut, the slot isn't wide enough. But, with a little judicious work from the other side -- still using the air tool -- I can widen or lengthen the slot as necessary. Add a small amount of hand-filing with a mini-file to smooth the edges, and there’s the slot, fast and easy.

Here’s how the slots look, with just a bit of filing:
Wing Trailing Edge Slots.jpg

Compared to chain-drilling, this is an amazingly easy way to get the job done.

A couple of points to consider:
- The tool is very controllable, especially when compared to my Roto-Zip.
- The blade can be rotated in 45-degree increments, and that's useful for getting inside the wing.
- Be sure the Allen-head screw that holds the blade on is tightened very well. It can vibrate loose. That doesn't damage anything, but the tool stops working. Yes, that's from experience . . .

[EDIT: This tool is also very nice for cutting slots in the fiberglass leading edges of the control surfaces, and for trimming them.]
Last edited by SheepdogRD on Mon Aug 15, 2011 8:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Highlander Build

Postby KevinC » Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:03 pm

Very nice & great idea. I didn't have my 'bone saw' back then, but I used an air die grinder & skinney wheel and got the same result. Not as controllable, though.

k
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Aileron and Flap Leading Edges

Postby SheepdogRD » Sat Aug 13, 2011 9:24 pm

I started on the aileron leading edges this week. When I got the first one fitted, I noticed that there's a good bit of material to be removed from the bottom, but the top stops way too soon. It appears that the leading edge material should go an inch or so further back to make a truly smooth top surface.

It looks to me like there's going to be a ridge at the top, even after the fabric is on. I'll use tape under the fabric to make it as soft a ridge as possible, and I expect it'll be okay. But I don't see any way to make a truly airfoil-shaped surface from it.

Has anyone else noticed this? Am I making a big deal out of something insignificant? Is there an easy way to make it better, or should I just ignore it and forge ahead?

Thanks . . .

Dick
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Highlander N7340Z -- Ms. Tonka -- in gestation

If just enough is really good, then too much ought to be perfect.
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Re: New Highlander Build

Postby wayira » Sat Aug 13, 2011 9:52 pm

Dick,

Go to Brian's Kitlog Pro web site: http://www.mykitlog.com/users/display_l ... 781&row=20
He has some good pictures of the aileron leading edge.

Wayne
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