What would you do different

For general discussion of the Just Aircraft family of aircraft.
Includes: Highlander, Escapade, Summit and SuperSTOL.

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What would you do different

Postby Rambler » Sat Jan 02, 2016 9:23 am

New Highlander builder here. I have been lurking and reading posts on the forum for some time as I was trying to decide if I wanted to build a Just and which one. I have made that commitment and am ready to start. I thought I would seek the advice of the group on what to do differently from the plans or perhaps there is an item that is very difficult to do if you follow the plans and there is a better way. For instance, I have read that there is benefit to adding flap gap seals and that is a worthwhile deviation from the plans. Also saw an item about improving the flap return spring (that I don't know is still applicable). Are there items that are out of sequence in the manual in your opinion- I should really install Y before X?? Any help you could provide keeping me from experiencing some of the frustrations you felt would be appreciated.

Dennis
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Re: What would you do different

Postby gkremers » Sat Jan 02, 2016 2:03 pm

Dennis,
Are you building a Highlander or Super STOL.

Gary
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Re: What would you do different

Postby Rambler » Sat Jan 02, 2016 2:08 pm

Building a Highlander.
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Re: What would you do different

Postby FlyerChief » Sat Jan 02, 2016 2:25 pm

Hello Dennis,

Welcome to the forum and welcome also to the wonderful world of Highlander Builders!
You have certainly come to the right place for information. With almost 17,000 posts now, this forum is a wealth of knowledge, but can be a challenge to navigate through given the shear volume of information here now. You will likely find that as you begin your project, the search feature will become one of your best friends. You can always ask a question here and most of the builders will be happy to offer their opinion, but chances are pretty good that it's already been answered in great detail in previous posts, so it's always good to check first with a topic search. (In the upper left portion of the screen)

One of my friends is always pointing out that we fly a collection of compromises, so it's very important you decide up front what your mission profile is before you actually get hands on with the kit. Once you know what you plan to do with it, some of the decisions will become obvious. As an example, the moderator of this forum, another Dennis, has a great looking hybrid Escapade/Highlander with a bunch of speed mods such as wheel pants that allow him to cruise fast, but limits his off-airport capabilities somewhat, while others focus on keeping things light in an effort to shorten take-off and landing distance. Still others, like myself, knew exactly how I wanted my Highlander to look and feel, so the rest of the details fell into place ... but the speed and STOL capabilities are compromised ever so slightly to achieve the look and feel I wanted. If you know what your priorities are, the decisions on options become easier.

Another friend said he didn't like vortex generators because they make it hard to clean the wings, but I added them along with the flap gap seals because they really do make quite a difference in the slow speed performance and stall speed of the Highlander. It's all a matter of personal preference and mission profile. As you build, search the forum for what others did and find out their rationale for doing it and you will find a lot of your answers. You can always PM (private message) other builders if you have specific questions about their planes without posting it on a general forum. The staff at the factory have always been a great help too and always seem willing to take the time to talk builders through any technical issues they may experience.

The nice thing about the Highlander is that no matter how you build it or what your mission profile is, it will fly well and you will likely be very satisfied with its performance. I flew over 100 hours this summer in mine on extreme gear and can hardly wait for spring when it will be on floats! It's a very versatile and economical airplane, so I believe you made the right choice!

Regards,
Dan (FlyerChief)
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Re: What would you do different

Postby Tralika » Sun Jan 03, 2016 9:27 am

Rambler,
I am building a Highlander and so far found the experience challenging but rewarding. This is my first build so the learning curve has been pretty steep. There are lots of things I would have done differently and quite a few things that are easier to do than what is described in the build manual. I've called the factory several times and they have explained ways to accomplish a step over the phone using a different technique than the build manual and much easier. I've also received valuable help from people on this forum. I've tried to describe in detail how I did each step in my build log including deviations from the manual. I also tried to describe things that didn't go well and solutions to those problems. If you have the time to read through my build log (it may get pretty boring) you will see how it went for me.
Good luck.
John Nealon
Wasilla, Alaska
Highlander Extreme #191
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Re: What would you do different

Postby scubarider2 » Sun Jan 03, 2016 10:15 am

Well put Dan. Yes, make sure you know what way you want to go first. Then do everything to meet that goal. Use the search feature on this forum as you progress. Keep up updated on your progress.
Dennis
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Re: What would you do different

Postby 957DK » Sun Jan 03, 2016 2:14 pm

Hi Dennis,

I spent two and a half years building my Highlander. It flew for the first time last April. It has been trouble free for the most part and I've got just over 60 hours on it to date. One of the things that has been problematic is that I used Stewart's EcoPoly top coat paint. Apparently, it isn't compatible with auto fuel and it has bubbled up around the fuel fillers and looks like complete crap. Not little bubbles, one is about 5" around. This is a known issue and has been discussed on this forum. Search for it to see what I'm talking about. I would not use Stewart's again if I was paid to do so.

One thing that I wish would've been available to me is being able to see a completed Highlander and talk to someone that had been through the build process face to face. I made many calls to the factory for help. Jak asked on more than one occasion what I was over thinking. The one thing I will probably change over this winter is the position of the control sticks. I'm a tall guy at 6'4" and when I have the seat pushed back for leg comfort, it's quite a stretch to get the stick full forward. I plan to make some new sticks with an S bend in them to get them back a couple of inches.

When I started I wanted an off airport capable aircraft that fit into the light sport category. The Highlander fit the bill to a T. Now that I'm done building and have a flying aircraft, I really miss the build process. Not saying that I don't enjoy the plane, I do! I just really miss the build. Who knows, maybe there'll be floats on it in the not too distant future.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

Dan Kretchmer
N957DK
KLVN Lakeville, MN

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Re: What would you do different

Postby warlev » Sun Jan 03, 2016 3:03 pm

I built an Escapade a few years ago, and the build process was enjoyable. Since I only use the plane for local flights and some instruction, I find it a wonderful training plane and a lot of fun to just putt around and sightsee. I would definitely use the largest fuel tanks available and use the large header tank too. The one thing I would not build again if I built another is the flaps. My flying for many years in an Aeronca that had no flaps was trouble free, and you will definitely learn to slip, a maneuver that I feel is one of the most important skills to learn. I only used the flaps during the flyoff, and not once since then. If you are going to fly to paved strips, I feel the flaps are unnecessary. Just my opinion. Had no trouble with factory support; every question answered with lots of help from Jax, Scott and Harry. I used a Jabiru 2200 and couldn't be happier. Trouble free and cheaper than Rotax. I did work on getting the oil and CHT temps to get WARMER. Engine ran too cold.
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Re: What would you do different

Postby FlyerChief » Sun Jan 03, 2016 4:57 pm

Hi Dennis,

As you can see from the responses already, everyone has their own mission profile. If you only fly from paved strips Warlev is likely correct that you don't even need flaps, but most of the people who build Highlanders have dreams of landing on short unimproved strips in the boonies where few others can go. Personally, I can't imagine flying without flaps since I use a lot of grass strips and farm fields. If I could do it over, I would likely switch the flap and aileron assemblies to make the flaps a bit bigger. Don't get me wrong, the plane performs very well on short fields, but like most builders, I would like it just a little better than I already have. I really enjoy taking off using the method shown here... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfXT38YIO6g Check out their approach and landing videos too. I think they are really informative and well done!

I would go with the extended gear since the thinner material in the small struts is much too light for off-airport operations (I switched mine out after the first season due to a gear bending incident) and switched to larger tires to suck up the bumps a bit. So far I only have a single set of Matco brakes, not duals like some of the guys with bigger tires, but I also used 1/8" brake lines (recommended by the guys at Matco to get more pressure and quicker response) instead of 1/4" lines.

You mentioned the gap seals in your initial message. I wouldn't install them unless you are also adding the vortex generators as they work so well together. Even the gap seals (a misnomer since they reduce the gap not seal it) can be installed a few different ways. If I were doing it again, I would install them with countersunk rivets as I built the wing and fair them in with Bondo, so that the fabric covered them. It would look much cleaner and not stick up into the air stream.

If you search the forum for "Recommended Build Order" you will find a list from Just Aircraft that works very well during the build process. I found that as I got closer to the end of the process, I was jumping around a little in the last section because there are so many little things to do and to finish in the second 90% of the build. But overall, I found the list worked very well. I printed it out and used a highlighter to indicate the ones that were done, which is very satisfying and motivating as each step gets finished and the to-do list gets smaller!

Some of the changes you will make, may be those dictated by local jurisdictions during the inspection process. In Canada the ministry in charge of transportation (Transport Canada) uses a third party to do the inspections. MDRA (Minister's Delegate for Recreation Aircraft) inspectors will not allow the plane to be built in the Amateur Built category (same as Experimental in the USA) with the fuel lines supplied in the kit. They want 3/8" ID fuel lines to be installed in order to meet their fuel flow requirements. Depending on your location, there may be some mandatory changes. That said, if you build the same plane in Canada as an advanced ultralight, you have to build it the way it is supplied by the manufacturer. Same plane... different rules!

If we knew where you lived it might help with the recommended changes.
There may be other builders near you, so if you are willing to disclose that, we may be able to recommend a contact or two during your build.

Regards and Happy Building!
Dan
When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. ~Henry Ford
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Re: What would you do different

Postby Jack L » Sun Jan 03, 2016 6:42 pm

Dennis,

Structurally my aircraft was built to factory standards. Early in the build I visited the factory and got to know Jak and Scottie very well and quickly learned that they had tried or seen just about everything ( except Dane's rotary engine) you could imagine on the Highlander. I quickly realized that most of what they did or recommended was logical and made sense so I chose not deviate from the lessons that these guys have learned through years of building.

The things that I would consider now are improved person doors and/or door frame and better access to baggage. The doors are great in fair weather but I would like a better seal for the rain and the cold weather. The baggage area is massive but access makes it difficult to get things in and out. Due to the area I fly in I carry a survival kit all of the time and supplement it in the winter with Parka, Sleeping Bag, warm clothing, and a survival gun. If I am going anywhere I may need engine pre-heater, engine cover and my personal baggage as well. Getting access to these items or trying to tie them down can be challenging. I have seen what other builders on this site have done with their person doors and baggage access and the results are outstanding.

I agree with Dan K's comments on the paint process that he used and I would have to think long and hard before going down that road again. Dan's plane and paint job look great and I continually get positive comments on my paint job but the agony, cost in materials and effort required to achieve the results need to be considered. Dan like you I have issues around one of my fuel caps and we are not alone, auto fuel and Stewart's do not mix. I like your propeller, I tried the Kiev for a while and am back with the Sensenich. Both good props but I like the Sensenich but will try the Kiev again.

Some non structural changes I made that I would definitely do again are; Steve Dentz windshield, 3/8" fuel lines, rigid line where possible, dual header tanks with L-R-Both-Off selector (I have on-off and will change it), fuel pump, gas collator and off set control sticks.

Jack
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Re: What would you do different

Postby gkremers » Sun Jan 03, 2016 8:11 pm

Dennis,
The input from the group has been great. I was going to mention the windshield from Steve Dentz, that would be number 1 on my list of changes/upgrades. Some like the larger header tanks. I installed 2 normal size header tanks with inline fuel filters/shut off valves approx 18" downstream from each tank. Simple to clean the filters. These both feed an Andair fuel selector. I also used as much hard line as possible for the fuel supply. 1/8" brake lines vs the standard 1/4". I also don't care for the Matco master cylinders that have the reservoir built in. I traded them out for the standard masters with a remote reservoir mounted on the firewall. I have the standard gear legs but upgraded to 8.5 x 6 tires. The tire diameter is 22" so I've got plenty of tire for the places I land. My home airport is hard surface so the heavy duty gear was not necessary. If I lived and flew to more remote rough strips I may have gone with the heavy duty gear legs. Troy Branch had some really good ideas. I stole his method of sealing the firewall to the boot cowl. In my opinion is didn't add much weight and made the boot cowl to firewall transition much stronger, plus the boot cowl is easily removable since its attached with nut plates. Many have used a Ray Allen trim servo to control the trim tab on the elevator. I have used them other aircraft I built so that was an easy mod. I also didn't install the windows. Living in MI it's never that hot flying in the summer. Just open the doors while taxing. Heck, I even took the doors completely off for several week last summer. I wish I would have added stiffeners to the turtle deck, it does flex in flight. I also used a 3/16" dark gray Lexan for the sun roof. It's very dark but easy to see through during the day.

Good luck with the build
Gary
N325AB Highlander
135 hours in 17 months
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Re: What would you do different

Postby Rambler » Mon Jan 04, 2016 12:23 pm

Thanks to all of you for the input and keep it coming. I owe you input on some of the background/type flying questions. First of all I live in South Carolina about a 3 hour drive from the Factory. I live on a 3000 ft paved strip. My interest in the highlander evolved from zero interest to high interest. I finished building a fast plane in 2012 and swore I would never build again. I enjoy flying more than building and have put on 565 hours on it. I, the person who could never understand why you would want to go low and slow, was offered a ride in my neighbors champ a year or so ago. I loved it and was hooked. Then I went to Sun N Fun and saw the Superstol takeoff and land and queried people as to what that thing was. Finding it was a Just I searched them out at Oshkosh and talked with Billy Payne and went to his presentation and sat in his plane. Billy patiently answered a lot of questions. I told him I would definitely be calling him for a flight. I scheduled a tour of the factory and a ride in a Superstol then I went and got a little time in the Highlander with Billy and his brother.

You may wonder with a 3000 foot strip why I would want a STOL plane. Well, my wife and I are seriously considering relocation or at least purchasing some property in the country, preferably near mountains where I would clear a grass strip for access. We have both dreamed of this for some time. The highlander allows us to purchase and use it for retreats and if we like that lifestyle, build a hangar home or home there. So my bird will start life with the 21 inch tires and only move to the 29 inchers if the land we buy is pretty rough. I want to cap the gross at the LSA limit and the highlander seems like it fits that bill nicely carrying my wife and I and full fuel and a load of baggage/camping gear. So keeping it light is important but since it will be a little commuter too, I will add in speed/lift mods that add little weight like the gap seals. I was thinking that streamlining struts and gear legs would be light and easy to accomplish (and a search shows that's been done). It all adds up so I have to be careful. I put 23 lbs of carpet in the bird I finished in 2012 but that was lost in its 3500lb gross weight. So I know that carpet weighs a lot and will avoid that in the Just. My gut tells me to keep the interior the nylon fabric and just paint it. The floor will have to be metal I guess. I saw someone used a polymer but that it sagged with time. I saw wood floors and don't know if that's lighter or heavier than metal. I have fretted over how you install antennae but I saw someone named Wes says you can bond the ground plane to the fabric. I assume you want to minimized holes in the tube structure and unless you can weld, you are limited to hysoling parts to tube structure. I would think adel clamps would be problematic in areas that were covered with fabric since they will clearly show through. Is there a general rule you used on when it was acceptable to drill and tap a tube structure?

I go pick up my kit in two days. I was hoping to build it under the watchful eye of Billy Payne but my wife did not like the idea of me being away from home. Either way I am investigating as much as I can up front so I can Blitzkrieg it when I pick up the kit this Wednesday. I tend to be goal oriented with ridiculous goals. Wish it were not true. But I worked 12-20 hour days on the last build. I have already ordered avionics. I see that around 700 hrs is a build estimate and it looks like at least a couple of people were close to that time estimate. I will search time estimates, but if you don't mind sharing your build time, I would appreciate that. I fortunately am blessed with a neighbor who has built over 20 tube and fabric airplanes and he will teach me the fabric ropes. He likes the polyfiber process- it sounds heavy to me but the web site claims its lite. He says that its the best fabric glue out there and that its the most repairable system. I have bought and watched the videos. All I can say is rib stiching looks painful to a man with no patience. It may the equivalent of sanding on a composite bird- oh how I hate sanding. Said I would never paint again. Guess I lied.

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Re: What would you do different

Postby SheepdogRD » Mon Jan 04, 2016 2:23 pm

Rambler wrote:Is there a general rule you used on when it was acceptable to drill and tap a tube structure?

The rule is simple: Don't Drill Structural Tubing. Tapping makes things worse because it adds more places for fractures to start. If you decide you need something added to the structure, you can remove some powder coating, get tabs or other additions welded in, and repaint those small areas.

Rambler wrote:I was hoping to build it under the watchful eye of Billy Payne but my wife did not like the idea of me being away from home.

You're close to the factory. Build trips there into your schedule for each part of your build. You'll find the factory crew to be helpful and engaged, and you'll see aircraft in many stages. I find stuff I looked at on my last visit seems different now that I'm working on that part of the plane. I shoot way too many pictures, from every conceivable angle. I still miss shots, but the effort is worth it in between visits.

Rambler wrote:Said I would never paint again. Guess I lied.

One way out of that is Oratex fabric. It's expensive. It's a different process from other fabrics. But the color is in the fabric, so paint is minimized. There are little fittings and hinges and attach points that stick out of the fabric, but they're easy to mask off and shoot with matching paint. The only large parts we'll be painting are the cowling, tank covers, cargo doors, and tailwheel access panel. All of them can be painted in a small area away from the plane. We'll probably paint them all in a single session.

Oratex is tougher than anything I've seen on an airplane. I've made mistakes -- two big ones -- that should have destroyed normal fabric and paint. The Oratex took the impact with no damage. In one case, the belly fabric was stretched out over 2" by a protruding seat part I'd put in wrong. I removed the part, and the fabric was unhurt, but sagged. Two days later I gathered my courage to see how big an area I'd need to replace. The fabric had returned to its normal shape, and showed no sign that I'd tried to hurt it. I decided right then that Oratex was worth it.
Richard Holtz
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Re: What would you do different

Postby alan » Tue Jan 05, 2016 1:59 pm

Hi Dennis.

You mentioned rib stitching. I read an article years ago about a guy building a fast fabric covered airplane, I forget which one. He flew at 200mph with no stitching on the wings, just glue. If he could do it, so can we. See below.

I built a Kitfox model II, and our Highlander, using this technique. The Highlander was built in 2005/6 and there has been no (zero) fabric detachment from the built in, factory supplied, rib cap strips, or anywhere else. The concave lower side of the wing is the real test and they have passed even this. This procedure came from the cover manual supplied with the Kitfox. The build manual was crap, but the cover manual was written by someone who not only knew how to cover using the Poly Fiber process but could also do "Technical Writing".

Mix Poly Brush, the pink stuff, with Poly Tac, the clear stuff, 75/25 and brush three thick coats on all the ribs on the side you are covering and let it dry for several minutes until dry to the touch. By the way, also brushing all the edge areas around what you will be covering will vastly ease the work in covering large areas, i.e. the wings. The certified Polyfiber manual wants you to do this no more than a foot at a time. Can you say "Wrinkles'? Sure you can.

Lay the fabric over, lets say the bottom of the wing, and trim for size and protrusions. Using a paint brush, brush on some MEK. Don't over-brush, just get the fabric wet and layed down to the glue. You can see it wets easily. If you use too much it will remove the glue.

Carefully follow the rest of the manual's instructions about ironing and reinforcement strips.

Rib stitching is a requirement if there are no cap strips, but Troy and Gary supplied cap strips, so you have a choice.

Alan
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Re: What would you do different

Postby AV8R Paul » Tue Jan 05, 2016 4:46 pm

I saw this and figure it was something interesting. However, personally I would plan on using Oratex because of the weight savings & only needing to paint accent colors.

One of the Canadian building a rag & tube aircraft I know is using Endura with Polyfibe Material. He said actually don't need to rib lace as the primer is unbelievably strong. (If I try to pull it off my ribs it will rip apart the plys on the rib before separating from the wood. He said there is a special technique to remove it if you have to. He has decided to rib stitch regardless. He is concerned with will effect insurance, resale, or passenger peace of mind. Once done rib lacing we will have some finishing tapes go on. Then the whole wing gets primed with the same green stuff you see and then a urethane top coat. The primer blocks all the UV as well.

http://www.endura.ca/industrial_coatings/aviation.html
You can see the fabric products at the bottom of the page.
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