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Sheepdog's Highlander Build

PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 8:41 pm
by SheepdogRD
Hello from Winston, GA. We just put down our deposit on a Highlander taildragger quick build kit. We plan to fly it as an Experimental Amateur Built aircraft, with weight at 1320 pounds so it can be flown on a Light Sport license.

I’m Dick, a mostly-retired manufacturing engineer turned software jock. Josh is an IBM iSeries senior engineer who designs, installs and repairs midrange and high-end computer systems. Yeah, we’re geeks. I have a private pilot license with a far-from-current instrument rating and some taildragger time, but I haven’t flown much for 25 years. Josh is a student pilot new to taildragger behavior.

I had originally intended to build a Bearhawk, but right now it seems to be more airplane than I want. I guess we could have gone with the Bearhawk Patrol, but the Highlander seems to offer nearly the capability of the Patrol, but with much lower build time and lower cost of operation, and it fits the LSA rules. The Highlander seems to be more of an airborne sports car, too, and we’re both hot rodders at heart.

We’d seen the Highlander over the last few years at both Oshkosh and Sun-n-Fun, and liked what we saw. Watching Steve put the Highlander into seemingly impossible situations in the Deadstick videos was pretty convincing, too. Comments on this forum really sealed the deal. By the time Troy took us for demo rides in Gary’s Back Country Monster, we’d already handed the deposit check to Harry. He says the kit should be ready in February, 2011.

This is gonna be fun . . .

Re: New Highlander Build

PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 9:56 pm
by scubarider2
Welcome aboard! I do not believe you will be sorry with your decision. This board will be invaluable to you as the building process gets under way so don't be afraid to use the search feature here and ask questions. The folks here are wonderful.
I live in Cleveland, GA. Not sure where Winston is though. Cleveland is northeast above Atlanta. Feel free to take a ride up this way sometime if you would like to see my bird for reference. I am not far from the Wahalla factory as well.
Dennis

Re: New Highlander Build

PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2010 11:02 am
by Sir Real
I like the Bearhawk a lot, too. Great plane. Here's the obvious differences: Bearhawk is a little roomier up front, and of course it has 4 seats and carries a lot more load. Highlander is about as roomy as you're going to find in a non-tandem LSA kit, and has the highest payload. For my money, the best utility LSA out there, kit or factory-built, is the Highlander. Highlander is of course MUCH less expensive to build, operate & maintain. Less complex, too.

My only concern for you is your "sporty" definition. If you mean small, relatively nimble, and gets off the ground in a hurry, that's a Highlander. But if you are talking speed, the Highlander may not be what you are looking for. As you read the older posts in this forum (which is the best Highlander/Escapade forum there is), you'll see a number of threads about trying to get more speed, and 107-108 mph seems to be about the best, and a majority run at below 100. LSA allows up to 134 mph. The Bearhawk will definitely be faster. Not as "quick", though.

Re: New Highlander Build

PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2010 11:57 am
by SheepdogRD
Sir Real wrote: . . . My only concern for you is your "sporty" definition. If you mean small, relatively nimble, and gets off the ground in a hurry, that's a Highlander. But if you are talking speed, the Highlander may not be what you are looking for. As you read the older posts in this forum (which is the best Highlander/Escapade forum there is), you'll see a number of threads about trying to get more speed, and 107-108 mph seems to be about the best, and a majority run at below 100. LSA allows up to 134 mph. The Bearhawk will definitely be faster. Not as "quick", though.

I agree: the Bearhawk is a solid airplane. It carries more load, has more seats, and cruises significantly faster than the Highlander. It has great factory support from AviPro; it's such a good airplane that I bought the plans. But that's as far as I got. As you note, it costs more to build, takes longer to build (even with the quick-build kit), and burns a lot more fuel. Its wings don't fold, so it really needs a hangar. The kicker for me is that it can't be flown as PIC by a light sport pilot, which I may be as I get older.

Sure, I'd like the Highlander to have more speed for traveling, but every aircraft is a compromise, and high speed isn't in the Highlander's mission profile. Nimbleness is: departure and landing at the factory were simply awesome, and the flight in between felt just right. Troy cranked the airplane up on its ear, and it was as comfortable as any plane I've been in. Roominess? With the bulge in the doors, the Highlander fit us just fine, and Josh is a big guy.

If we have as much fun as we expect building and flying the Highlander, we may go on and build something else as well. But, right now, we're confident we've reviewed the compromises and made a good decision.

This picture (of the Back Country Monster) is my desktop background: http://www.airport-data.com/aircraft/photo/424852L.html. Every time I look at it, I get a grin on my face. Yeah, I think we have the right airplane.

Re: New Highlander Build

PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2010 1:57 pm
by Johnny C!
Dick & Josh,
Welcome to the Just family.
I'm building #126 at the factory.
It's red, white & blue, back near
Troy's clean room.

I agree that it's the best, by far, of anything
else on the market.

John

Re: New Highlander Build

PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2010 12:37 am
by SheepdogRD
Thanks, John. Looks like I should have taken pictures during the factory tour so I could identify all the airplanes. I probably won't get back to the factory 'til January, but I'll check yours out next time I'm there.

Re: New Highlander Build

PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2010 5:51 pm
by jak
Welcome Dick & Josh as you see the forum is a real friendly place all your questions can be answered here but if they can't call me at the factory and I can get you an answer. Jak By the way if you would like to unload the bearhawk plans I could possibly be interested.

Re: New Highlander Build

PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2010 6:59 pm
by SheepdogRD
jak wrote:Welcome Dick & Josh as you see the forum is a real friendly place all your questions can be answered here but if they can't call me at the factory and I can get you an answer. Jak

Thanks, Jak. I agree, this is a very cooperative place . . . same attitude that I found at the factory. You gave an excellent tour.

jak wrote:By the way if you would like to unload the bearhawk plans I could possibly be interested.

I suspect we can work something out where we'll both be happy . . . :)

Re: New Highlander Build

PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2010 8:54 pm
by jak
Just let me know you can call if you wish 706-599-0017

No Powder Coating?

PostPosted: Tue Dec 28, 2010 9:19 am
by SheepdogRD
I've been thinking about the powder coating process, and wondering about its benefits. Unless I can find a compelling reason otherwise, I think we’ll skip the powder-coating process.

At the time of his second annual, with 190 hours on N1010Z, Alan Arnold said here on the forum: “Paint all exposed powder coated parts . . . I have rusting struts and cross bracing in the cockpit. The powder coating should be considered as primer only.” That makes sense to me, because powder coating is hard, so it can crack. Cracks provide a place for moisture to make its way to the metal, and that means corrosion.

So, if we need to paint the parts anyway, I have a hard time seeing the value in $750 worth of powder-coated primer. Seems that I'd be wiser to take the welded-up parts home unpainted.

To be sure I’d thought through this well, I called Dan Stewart (of Stewart Systems) and asked for his recommendations. He agrees that sprayed paint is more flexible than powder coating, and suggested these steps on the bare metal:

    (1) use a wire wheel on a hand drill to buff the welds;
    (2) wipe the whole part down with lacquer thinner;
    (3) Use a Scotchbrite pad to scuff the entire surface;
    (4) use a tack cloth -- one specifically marked for waterborne media -- to wipe the parts clean;
    (5) prime with EkoPrime Primer/Sealer;
    (6) paint with EkoPoly 2-Part Polyurethane Top Coat. If there’s a long delay between primer and topcoat, scuff the primer again and use the tackcloth before painting.
The other option Dan recommends is to media-blast the bare-metal parts before using the same primer and paint on them. He suggests media blasting because sandblasting raises little tiny bits of the metal. Those tend to grab onto the wiping cloth, which leaves cloth hairs in the paint job. Media blasting uses a softer material which cleans the metal, but doesn’t move it around as much.

We’ll likely do the Scotchbite scrub.

Yep, it’s more work and more building time to paint the parts ourselves, but the cost savings are significant. If we buy only enough primer and paint to do the parts that would be powder-coated, and then double that figure to account for any miscellaneous stuff, we’d only spend about $250 -- 1/3 of the cost of powder coating. More bonuses: the welded parts will be painted in our exact final color, and I’ll know the finish is top notch.

There's one caveat here: I haven't done a lot of painting, so this will be a learning process. Luckily, we have a friend who's done a lot of painting, and he does very nice work. He’ll guide us through it.

Re: New Highlander Build

PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 10:08 am
by jak
Guys good luck with the painting. I have painted a few fuseloges in my time and I can tell you this It will take three pairs of eyes and a lot of redo's to get it all and then when you know your done you'll find places that didn't get painted. The tubing is very hard to get to in all places, even using a finishing gun or touch up gun to spray with. Set up a good spinner to rotate with and have a good spray booth setup there is an awful lot of overspray to deal with.And by the way I'm not sure im intelligent enough to tell you how much the christmas gift means to me Thank you very much. Hope I can help during your build. Jak

Re: No Powder Coating?

PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 7:13 pm
by SheepdogRD
jak wrote:Guys good luck with the painting. I have painted a few fuseloges in my time and I can tell you this It will take three pairs of eyes and a lot of redo's to get it all and then when you know your done you'll find places that didn't get painted. The tubing is very hard to get to in all places, even using a finishing gun or touch up gun to spray with. Set up a good spinner to rotate with and have a good spray booth setup there is an awful lot of overspray to deal with. Jak

That's good information, Jak. My primer and paint color choices apparently show my inexperience. I had originally thought we should go with both primer and paint in our final charcoal color. Now I wonder if we'd be better to go with a lighter-colored primer, medium base coat, and the charcoal final coat. Then we'd be able to see where we've missed, and go back to touch up before moving on to the next part or the next coat.

Does that sound like the best path?

Re: New Highlander Build

PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 8:43 pm
by jak
You should be able to see almost any color you use.Thats not the problem the problem lies with reaching all areas with spray as you try to get the interior pieces you inadverntely touch the outside with the hose or the gun or something and then its a redo in that place, and when you get all of those done and fixed somebody will come up and ask why you didn't paint that place. You'll see. It's a lot harder than it appears to get as good a job as the powdercoating. Jak P.S. Thanks again

Re: New Highlander Build

PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:01 pm
by scubarider2
My advice for what it is worth is to forget the painting and do the powder coat. For the little extra money you will have a far better product. To get the needed coverage and layer needed you will have spent the same on paint and headache. The best way to do the painting would be to do the dip method. I am no painting expert but have done my share and the round tubes are the worst. I do not think you will be happy. Just my two cents.... 8)

Re: No Powder Coat?

PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 10:22 pm
by SheepdogRD
So, if -- as was reported here on the forum -- powder coating doesn't adequately protect the fuselage, what's a builder to do? It sounds to me like we have to make a choice: accept the likelihood of corrosion coming through the powder coating, or consider the powder coating as primer and paint over it.

Since I want more corrosion protection than the powder coating apparently offers, it appears that I have to paint. And that brought me to ask: if I have to paint anyway, why invest $750 in powder coat primer?

But maybe I'm asking the wrong question. How about this: if we want better corrosion protection than we can get from powder coating, is there a way to get it that's less painful than painting?