Shop Update

As my two readers of this blog will know by now, I have been on a bit of a hiatus from building due to lots of other aviation activities, and due to multiple projects at our new (now 2+ years) home. The major project has been the construction of a new barn that has a 3 car garage / workshop. This workshop is the new home of my RV project. I had a company build the shell, but I have done the majority of the interior work from heating to plumbing and electricity myself. As a result – its taken me awhile, and distracted me from airplane building.

Luckily, the shop project is nearing its final stages. I have begun setting it up for airplane building again, and hope to be back at it again very soon!

I’m not going to go through everything I’ve done in this building. But I will point out that my buddy Chad and I installed a boiler and radiant heat in the concrete slab. The winter shop hours are going to be awesome!!

I modified my EAA benches so that I could sit behind them with my Dad’s old bar stools.


I need a lot of storage for airplane parts and regular farm / garage items. I built two large sets of shelves to add to my one existing shelf. I now have two 6′ high shelves with each shelf measuring 2 feet deep and 4 feet wide. I have one set of shelves that is 7′ tall, 2′ deep, and 5′ wide.


I also built a small workbench / shelf that is built into the wall on the end of the shop.


Here is the completed build in. Notice the ethernet plug (I have wifi piped from the house via a ubiquiti – just like my hangar) and I have the ceiling wired for 4 built in speakers.


After all of the construction, I have scrap wood everywhere. I’ve been trying to use up as much of it as I can in building various shelves etc. I had some small pieces left, and being vertically challenged, I quickly threw together a stool to stand on.


Here she is – moved into her new working position. You can really see that the shop is getting close to being usable here!


This is the larger set of shelves I built for the back of the workshop.


I added another shelf higher up for more storage.


Not related to the RV, but I had to do something with my ladders. Scrap wood to the rescue again!


As you can see I’ve made several trips to the hangar for airplane pats and tools. I don’t have everything moved back, but its getting really close. I’m starting to get excited about the project again!



Behind the firewall at

A blog detailing every step during the hundreds of hours required to build an airplane generally makes for some rather dry reading.  Most of this site is simply a journal of how I’m going about building a kit airplane.  That being said, I have learned a fair amount about blogging software and other useful applications in the process. Here is the quick down and dirty on the software I’ve used throughout the history of my blog.

Wordpress posting

Posting to WordPress

I chose to use a content management system called WordPress for my site. WordPress is currently the most popular and widespread CMS in the world. Examples of sites using the software include TechCrunch, The New Yorker, BBC America, Variety, Google Ventures and many many others. WordPress is easy to use and highly customizable. You can customize it straight out of the box with easy settings and thousands of themes to choose from. Slightly more advanced users can install plugins that add or alter functionality. And finally, the most advanced users can write code directly to alter the system to their needs. I have done all three at Eventually, will host more than this build log, and with WordPress I can rest comfortably knowing that 20 years from now, I can easily maintain the latest features and browser compatibilities. More importantly, I can re-design my site to suit my needs as I please.

So why WordPress? Well, first off its open source and completely free. Its huge popularity means there is a ton of expertise to lean on, and thousands of plugins, alterations, themes, and the like available. With over 14% of the world’s top one million websites running WordPress, you know its here to stay. If you use WordPress, development isn’t going to become a thing of the past. A recent survey showed that 22% of new websites in 2015 chose WordPress as their CMS. Its not just a blogging site. With WordPress, you can create any site of any format you use, and hook into the powerful baked in features of the CMS, and its worldwide community of support. For me the most important task in development of any site is to avoid recreating the wheel. Solving problems already solved is a waste of time. WordPress provides intuitive management of users, posts, pages, metadata, themes, comments, and everything you can possibly imagine. Its flexibility and power cannot be overstated.

Here’s a quick snapshot of a portion of the site’s admin page. You can see here, all the fields for adding a post. I can enter the title, format the text, and add media. These features are available straight out of the box. You’ll note at the bottom I have a segment called “excerpt” this powers the short descriptions of the site seen on the first page. This is a customization I have added that is part plugin, and part custom modification. Finally, you’ll see I can enter the time associated with the post in the categories of “Build Hours”, “Maintenance” and “Flying.” These are automatically computed and added to the counters across the site, and this section is completely custom coded.

That’s just a small snap shot of the dashboard. The dashboard gives you easy to use configuration of the site’s navigation structure, posts, pages, users, tags, categories and more.


WordPress Mobile App – Published Posts

WordPress Mobile App – Post Edit Page

Another excellent feature of WordPress is the native app for iOS. All of the photographs on have been taken with an iPhone and uploaded directly using the WordPress App. And I can do it directly from the workbench!  The WordPress App has numerous great features, including allowing you to set a future date for a post to publishing, saving drafts, and configuring site settings. For anyone looking to chronicle a project this is about as simple as it can get.

Skitch Edit Page

Skitch Edit Page

Skitch for iOS, from Evernote, is another fantastic and free app.  Simple and quick, Skitch allows me to draw arrows, smiley faces, and much more. All of the graphics in any photograph on the site have been added right from my iPhone using this quick and easy app.

I use many plugins and tools in my WordPress install, but I’m only going to mention a few. I track website data with Google Analytics. Google Analytics is among the most powerful tools available for website statistics.  I can view visitors by location, referral source, time, operating system, browser and much much more. Several plugins for WordPress allow easy integration of Google Analytics, including step by step instructions on setup. For Google Analytics I use this plugin available here. 

On occasion I share my blog posts via Facebook or Twitter. I use a plugin named Social Networks Auto Poster, or SNAP for short.  SNAP allows me to automatically post to numerous social networks but it does require a little bit of legwork to get up and running. For most social networking sites, you’ll need to create a developer app via their api’s. Its a simple process, but it does take several steps.

There are services out there designed specifically for kit builders.  Unfortunately, these sites are dinosaurs among modern mammals. They offer little customization, poor photo handling, and limited feature sets.  For anyone looking to host their own build log online, I cannot recommend WordPress highly enough. Its easy enough for even the most computer illiterate, yet powerful enough for advanced users.  Gorgeous themes and powerful layout options make for beautiful and attractive websites that are easy to navigate and mobile responsive.

And the icing on the cake?  The software is free!


Multiple Sessions (12.0 hrs)

This post encompasses several projects over three sessions in the hangar. First up I needed to figure out a way to mount the tail of the fuselage to my rotisserie stand. The axis of rotation is offset from the center of the tail. There are a couple of options for how to mount. I decided to make a padded cradle for the tail. I wrapped a cotton towel around the tail with duct tape. Then I clamped some 2x4s around very tightly to get accurate measurements. A short while later I produced this:

I didn’t take a good picture of the front mount in my previous session, so here is that.

And here is the final product for the tail mount. You can see how the center of rotation is offset and how I padded the tail in the cradle. The entire stand is sturdy, but it still makes me nervous. Especially while in the rotated position, its hard to tell how much of a torquing moment may be applied to the engine mount connections or any part of the frame. To protect against any mishaps I will continue to use the adjustable saw horses underneath. Additionally, I have a friend who is giving me an adjustable motorcycle stand. I am going to use that to create a center support that can be adjusted for any position near the center of gravity.

Here is the Hangar 51 mascot showing off his handywork.

That’s not a blue bow. Its poop bags. Keeping it classy.

Next up, it was time to attach and torque the non-leaking tank to the wing. The screws get between 12 and 15 inch pounds of torque. I used torque seal to mark the bolts that were attached to the z-brackets.

A trick I learned a little while ago that is seriously awesome; use a small dab of valve grinding compound on the tip of a your philips head screwdriver to avoid “caming” out of the screw head. Works wonderfully.

I borrowed Mike Bullock’s screw driver click type torque wrench thing-a-majig. Works well.

I double checked that it work with my inch-pound bicycle torque wrench and a philips socket.

Squire enjoyed sunbathing. It was a gorgeous Sunday.

I also drilled the second line that will hold either the AOA line or the pitot line. I still have two ribs remaining. The two interior ribs to the wing walk doubler are rather difficult to get at. I stopped at Lowe’s on the way home and hopefully I have a solution.

My final project for the weekend was to complete the wing access panels. First I mounted the skins on the wings and match drilled. Then I deburred and dimpled.  Then I used a technique that I only just learned. Instead of using standard AN426AD3-3.5 rivets which require dimpling both the skin and the nut plate I used NAS1097 Oops rivets with the reduced sized machine heads. These only require a small countersink that you can do with your demurring tool in a few extra passes. Not only is it much quicker, but I think it results in a cleaner and more properly aligned product. There is no reduction in strength either. The nut plates bear the load… the rivets just hold the nut plates in place to prevent rotation.

You can see the results here:

And the final products.