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New member from Wisconsin, with many questions

PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2014 6:05 pm
by idleclamp
Hi, I'm new to this forum, and interested in the Just Aircraft Super STOL. I've never built and airplane before, so I have many basic questions on getting started. I've found a great amount of information on this forum already, and spend way too much time reading about things that are a long ways down the road. All great info., but I need to be realistic, and get organized at home first. My family seems to be genuinely on board with the idea, and even a little interested in helping. So, on to my list of questions.

1. First of all, how much space will I need? I have a 3 car garage, with one stall empty (approx. 13'x20'). Is that enough space, or is a car going to have to live outside?

2. What kind of tools/skills will I need? I believe I read that no special tools are required, but certainly there must be some things that I will need to make life easier. While I have some mechanical ability, I am by no means an A&P. Do you need to have experience working on aircraft to make this a project I can complete?

3. Has anyone ever attended the EAA workshops that they offer? They seem to be a good place to get some knowledge, and possibly network with others in the area. Any thoughts?

4. What is the build manual like? Is it detailed, or more of a guide of the order of assembly?

5. What is a realistic budget to complete such an aircraft? I'm sure it depends on the level of avionics, motor, etc.. but a basic build cost.

Thanks in advance for your input.


Re: New member from Wisconsin, with many questions

PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 12:37 am
by danerazz

I am building a standard highlander, but much applies to both.

1: I am building in a 16x17 area, unfortunately I have both the wings and fuselage in there at the same time. This makes for tight quarters but doable. It will move to a single bay of a 2.5 car garage for engine/cover/paint, but not both wings and fuse at the same time. I think you can do it in your space, but try to hang or store the parts you aren't working on elsewhere.

2: Only a few tools you likely don't have; reamers, wire size drill set, lots of extra #30 and 40 drill bits, debuting tools, bench drill press helps, bandsaw helps (bench top woodworking one is fine, aluminum cuts easy), lots of clamps, pop rivet puller, cable swager, files and basic hand tools. The kits are pretty easy to put together. If you are fairly handy you can do it.

3: Have not attended any eaa workshops, but will hit some at Oshkosh (fabric mostly). I hear they are good and can't hurt.

4: Ahh the build manual...I feel it is a little weak, and as I understand even more so for the SS, others can chime in to clarify there. It is what I feel more of a general guide with some detailed measurements sprinkled here and there. The nice part is this forum, and the kit really is simple enough that you can get it together without much more than the manual. I wouldn't sweat it.

5: How much money does it take to build ANY airplane? All of it.
Seriously though, my standard HL is likely to end up around $70k, but I don't really keep track. If I did it would not be built. I bought the kit, then hardware here and there as I needed for my personal mods, then the engine when I had the money, and next the paint stuff followed by the prop and panel probably over the winter. The SS will cost about $10k more due to kit price differences. I am going simple in the panel but many go crazy and put in modified rotax's and the price goes up considerably. It all depends on what you want/can afford. I feel mine will be at the lower, though not lowest end of the spectrum.

Good luck!

Re: New member from Wisconsin, with many questions

PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 1:47 am
by idleclamp
Thanks Dane for the info. I'm glad to know I can at least get things going with the space I have. I agree, this forum seems to be an excellent source of information.


Re: New member from Wisconsin, with many questions

PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 7:32 am
by SuperFly

I am building a SuperSTOL, and I agree with Dane pretty much across the board. You can do it in your garage, there may be times when you will want to leave one car out for some time, but for the majority of the build they will fit together. Youll have to do as Dane suggested and hang parts when you are not working on them. Find some of the large screw in style hooks at the local DIY and be ready to make a plan of where to hang them. (im talking about the large lag type hooks for bicycles etc...) Thats what I used to hang my wings.

The manual for the SuperSTOL is lacking compared to other kits out there, but again Dane is right, it is do able. Factory support is there, this forum is there, guys have posted pictures on here, and there are websites (just a few right now, more coming I believe) that have some pictures and help along the way. Don't fret it, you can do it. There are some great drawings that come with your SS, and they helped me more than written directions would have anyway. One thing I offer as a suggestion, take a video camera to Oshkosh (or the factory if you are heading down there) and video every inch of a SS. Do it in short bursts of 30 - 45 seconds. try to get wide angle shots at the beginning of each segment so you can reference general location, and then zoom in and scan slowly and throughly. When I say video every inch, I mean every nook and cranny that you can get into. It will take you some time, but it will pay dividends in the end. You can then upload them to your computer, and by just watching the first bit, label the segment to what part of the airplane it is. Then you will be able to scroll through later, find what you are working on, play the video, and pause it when the camera pans past what you are needing help with. I have found this much more helpful than photographs, because the photo camera never seemed to be at the right angle, or some other piece was blocking the view, etc... with the camera panning around, usually I can play ahead a second or two and see what I was questioning. Most of the time, I see what I need. If not, I pick up the phone, or post on here.

I HIGHLY recommend an EAA sport air workshop. Especially the fabric workshop. My advice would be to go to seminars about wiring, general building techniques, and "whats involved in building a kit airplane" at Airventure Oshkosh, then this winter (or next winter,depending on your build schedule) go to the weekend SportAir workshop for some in depth instruction. It will save you way more in wasted material and frustration than the $300 the class costs. And you learn a TON!

Cost to build... More than you think, but less than a Turbine Lancair. :) Depending on your comfort level with used equipment, you can find engines around $10K, and avionics on the same program, but you'll still have north of $70K in it when its flying. Its not as bad as it may seem though, because its broken up in to many smaller financial beatings. Dane is right on, buy the kit, work at it, save for the engine, then work on the FWF while you save for the avionics... Its do able, you just have to want it.

It is awesome that you have your family on board, and keep them involved as much as you can. It makes its much more rewarding.

On a side note, one of my kids was out in the shop "helping" and put a small hole in the bottom side of my finish painted fabric. I was upset, but its part of the deal, Its kind of his "signature". so don't sweat it, thats the kind of stuff that makes it a family project.

This advice is worth exactly the price paid. ;)

Re: New member from Wisconsin, with many questions

PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 12:57 pm
by kenryan
On the SuperSTOL the biggest thing is the wings. Pay Just to build your wings, unless you really want to do it yourself. You can have them provide wings that are nearly finished, and still qualify for Experimental Amateur Built. You will not regret it. There are some fairly difficult and fairly exacting aspects to building the wings and having the factory do it will save you weeks of work and avoid screw ups.

I think the quality of EAA workshops is highly dependent upon the particular instructor. I took a 2 day electrical workshop and felt it was mediocre at best (I'm being kind). I'm sure others are terrific, it's just the luck of the draw unless you can talk to someone who has taken a particular workshop with a particular instructor.

Re: New member from Wisconsin, with many questions

PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 3:23 pm
by idleclamp
Thanks to all for the info. and encouragement!


Re: New member from Wisconsin, with many questions

PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2014 3:34 pm
by danerazz
On the standard highlander the QB wings are worth a lot more than you pay for them, unless you love building jigs and wings.