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!



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Engine Purchase

I have purchased an IO-360-A3B6D. The engine is an angle valve Lycoming with 200HP originally out of a Mooney. It has 0 hours since major overhaul, and 1400TT. I hadn’t originally wanted an angle valve version of the 360. I’d have preferred a parallel valve engine. The angle valve is about 30 lbs heavier, and this increases the already forward CG of the RV-8. I can compensate with a composite prop and EI, but its still a bit of a weight and balance penalty. However, I believe for the price and horsepower I’ve made a good decision. 200HP with an EI should get me close to 205HP. With that, this thing is going to climb like a raped ape!

There are a few downsides. First, the engine has been in long term storage since its overhaul. 17 years to be exact. Second, the -D on the end of the model indicates a dual mag setup – which isn’t ideal. The dual magneto (as opposed to dual magnetos) is essentially two magnetos in one housing sharing one drive. This increases the likelihood of failure slightly and increases the repair and replacement cost due to its unique nature. However, its not all bad in this regard. There are ways to pair with an electronic ignition like the Lightspeed. Unfortunately an EI like the PMAG isn’t feasible.

17 years is a very long time to be in storage. The engine was pickled, coated with lubriplate during the overhaul, and stored in a finished California basement. It has never been rotated. I had a local A&P inspect the engine. He removed a valve cover and inserted a borescope in the cylinders and a few other locations. We couldn’t find any evidence of corrosion whatsoever. The engine appears pristine. Additionally, review of the logs and overhaul records indicate that the work was done thoroughly and properly.

Ultimately, I offered the seller a good bit less than he was asking – and he accepted. My thought process was simply that with the amount of time in storage there is a fair amount of risk involved in the purchase. Despite the pre-purchase inspection – we may still find issues when we remove the cylinders and get further down the road towards engine start. Ultimately, I think I offered a fair and reasonable price. Its quite costly to get the engine inspected, crated, and shipped across the country. If the engine doesn’t need any work then I will wind up with an incredible deal. If the engine does need work – I should avoid completely losing my shirt but it might not be such a good deal. Time will tell. For now, here are some photos from the inspection as well as the engine details.

Our local engine guy is going to help me pull the cylinders etc and I will post more when the engine arrives.



  • Engine was overhauled by Aircraft Engine Resources, Brighton, IA.
  • Zero hours since major overhaul.
  • Full record of overhaul and rebuild is available along with extensive list of new parts and yellow tag certifications.  The original engine log is also available (the engine came out of a Mooney, I believe).
  • The engine has not been rotated since the rebuild, so all the assembly lubrication (Lubriplate) is still in place for long-term storage.
  • Engine has been stored in the basement of my house (low humidity and California temperatures).
  • New parts include:
    • OEM cylinders.
    • Rocker arms and covers.
    • Crankshaft gear retaining bolt.
    • Crankshaft bearings.
    • Counterweight rollers.
    • Air Tec piston pins and plugs.
    • Lycoming fuel pump.
    • High-strength connecting rod bolts.
    • Connecting rod nuts.
    • Connecting rod bearings.
    • Lycoming oil pump body.
    • Hardened oil-pump impeller kit.
    • Thermostatic Oil Cooler Bypass Valve.

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Engine has one new magneto (I planned to install a Lightspeed electronic ignition system in place of the second magneto).  The engine comes with all of the Bendix fuel injection parts, etc., but these have not been installed on the engine itself.

Other major engine components have been certified by:

  1. Engine Components (the crankcase).
  2. Aircraft Specialties Services (the crankshaft, tappets, connecting rods, crankshaft gear).
  3. Rock Aviation (the camshaft).















I haven’t been very active working on the project, but for good reason. As I mentioned previously, my wife and I are building a barn that includes a three car garage workshop. I debated for quite some time whether I should move the plane back to the barn when it is complete, or keep it at the airport. I decided that bringing the plane home would result in the most comfortable work arrangement and the quickest progress. The downside is that I’d have to complete the garage first – which is a big undertaking. Its going to be at least a three month delay in total. I plan to have the plane moved back by late January.

So far I have completed the barn side of the building. I have also trenched and installed the water and electric lines. Now that I have the horses settled and power and water its time to turn my attention to the garage itself. First I am going to tackle the ceiling and then the floor. I have a very healthy Christmas break courtesy of a new policy at work that gives us the entire week off between Christmas and New Years. During that week I plan to pour the concrete. That will give me a few weeks while the concrete cures to do the walls and garage doors before I begin using the space.

Here are some photos of all the progress:


Here is the future home of the RV Project!!




I borrowed a friends kubota with a backhoe attachment. It took me about 16 hours to dig the 250 feet of 4′ deep trench for the water. Then I had to backfill to a depth of 18″ for the electric installation. It was a big project – and the weather did NOT cooperate.




Installing the automatic water for the horse paddock was a beast. That culvert is 8′ long and 1100 lbs. The culvert brings ground heat up from below the frost line to prevent water line freeze.


The only thing remaining on the barn side are the dutch doors – which have not arrived yet.


Oh, and I somehow found time to get my Commercial Multi-Engine add-on knocked out. I’ll try and post notes at some point.


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Ailerons 18 (2.0 hr)

Today was a collection of random tasks for the hangar. First, I finally got a new torpedo heater to replace the propane heater I was using. This is a Procom 175VT factory reconditioned unit for $259. It includes some whiz-bang features like automatically variable BTU output from 125k to 175k based upon the thermostat setting, and manual btu selection. Its also multiple fuel burning kerosene, diesel, heating fuel, or jet A. I’m running tax-free off road diesel in it. 

The hangar mascot was quite cold until I fired up the heater.

I temporarily installed the bell cranks.

I also bought some new parts organization bins to organize some parts I’ve left sitting around and in anticipation of the fuselage kit’s arrival in May.

I also installed the ailerons in order to match up all the hardware for easier installation later.

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New Hangar

A hangar with a concrete floor became available at the airport, so I jumped on it.  The location is better too, in that I’m now walking distance to the head, and facing west.  Supposedly ice is a problem for eastern facing hangars in the winter.  The new hangar feels much brighter due to the floor, and certainly makes things easier to move around! With the help of fellow EAA members, I was able to get everything moved in one day. There is still some organizing to take care of, and I need to move the empennage, but other than that, its close to completion.



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Oshkosh 2014!

A few weeks ago my buddy Mike emailed me asking if I had any interest in flying out to Oshkosh.  What a silly question!  Of course, I immediately took him up on his offer.  This would be an excellent opportunity to get ideas for my project and visit vendors on top of just being a darn good time. We decided to do homebuilt camping, and I’m glad we did.

The plan was to depart from Westminster (KDMW) early Wednesday morning and stay at Oshkosh through either Friday afternoon or Saturday morning.  From there we would visit Mike’s friends at their lake house in Wisconsin (5K6) and return to Westminster mid-day Sunday. We wound up leaving Oshkosh mid-day on Friday, and with the incoming weekend crowds it was the right decision.

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We met at Westminster airport at 0600, and were quickly airborne.  We made only one stop in Gary, Indiana (KGYY). I had initially planned to capture a variety of excellent GoPro footage and overlay it with both cockpit audio and monologue; however, at Gary, our technical difficulties began.  Between the two of us, we had three GoPros, but only 2 memory cards. Then, my cockpit audio app stopped working and I had to use Apple Voice memos. But the difficulties didn’t stop there. Upon arrival in Oshkosh I promptly deleted all of the audio. Initially, I also thought the video had stopped during arrival, but upon later inspection I was relieved to find everything captured. I was severely disappointed with the difficulties as I had hoped to put together a rather complete video detailing the VFR arrival.  I am still working on a video, but it will be substantially shorter and more basic than my original intent. I will update this post with the video when complete.  ***Update September 14, 2014 – Oshkosh video is complete and available at the bottom of this page, on the media gallery, and via Vimeo***

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Ohio’s landscape is as perfectly boring as one imagines Ohio to be…

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We did have to dodge a little weather on the way out, but nothing to worry about or divert over.

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After our stop in Gary, Indiana we flew the coastline past Chicago.  What a beautiful sky line!  The lake water looked brilliant.  I’ve always written Chicago off as a place not to visit, but seeing it from the air has forced me to reassess my position.

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Arrival into Osh was certainly busy, but the controllers had done a fantastic job, and Mike did an excellent job flying.  I backed him up with the approach procedures.  I really can’t speak highly of the professionalism of the controllers working this event.  All told we logged a little over 4.5 hours of flying time! Not too shabby.

Airventure is big.  Really big.  There is no other way to describe it and until one goes, statistics and photos don’t convey the scope.  But I will provide both.  This year’s Osh saw 500,000+ visitors and over 10,000 aircraft!

On the first day we did a lot of vendor visits.  Near the beginning of the list was Van’s and Sonex.  Here I am pictured next to the JX-2 homebuilt jet prototype.
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Here is our camping setup.  If you’ve been to Oshkosh, but not camped, its a great way to go.  We couldn’t have asked for a better parking spot.  We were right in the middle of all the action… as central as you can get.  More importantly we were close the Beerventure and the facilities!

Oshkosh 2014 iPhone 504

Here are some more photos from our vendor visits.  The Angel from Heaven’s Landing was the owner’s daughter and aside from being very pretty she was a good salesperson.  Mike almost purchased a lot!

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The Aircam.  Love it, and this isn’t the last photo…

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Just a quick demonstration of the scope of Oshkosh.  Also, note the number of RV’s in attendance.  Every other airplane.  We are like cockroaches.

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On the second day, Mike and I attended one of the hands on activities and tried TIG welding.

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We spent lots of time at Beerventure.  Especially the first night.  I was so hungover after the first night, that the second day was kind of miserable for me.

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On the final day we took a trip to the Sea Plane base where we found this beautiful Aircam on floats.  The Aircam is definitely on the top of my airplane list.

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My buddy Wes swears his Hybrid Tahoe is economical. He gets 19.5mpg.  I shot the below photo to prove him wrong… at 180mph!

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Our neighbor, Brian, a mathematics professor from Louisiana had a really interesting plane.  I don’t recall the name of it, but we enjoyed taking a look over it.


This is no lie!


Mike operates, and as a result, he was able to score free media passes for us to the event.  Golfcarts were a big perk!  We checked out curtesy media golf carts twice. Here I am in the cart displaying my media credentials.  I’m still waiting on my paycheck from though…


We used the golfcart to make the rounds and get ideas for my RV-8.  Below are some interesting designs.  The first RV-8 pictured had multiple modifications. First up auxiliary fuel tanks in the wings. Not something I would do, but an interesting mod.


He also had a storage compartment in the wingtips.


I did, however, love the clear plastic mats he had for entering and exiting the cockpit.  I prefer these to the black ones you commonly see.


We also came across this beautiful RV-8 with the showplanes fastback & tipover canopy modification.  Every detail has been meticulously attended to.  I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not do a fastback / tipover.  This airplane makes me want to.

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I’m a big fan of this intake cover…


Some interesting work to cover the slide behind the canopy on an RV-8 slider.


Here is Mike’s RV-7 in the line.


After departing Oshkosh, we stopped to visit Mike’s friends who have a lakehouse nearby.  We spent two days on the pontoon boat.  Kara, Terry, Chris, and “Rose” were extremely welcoming and generous.  I had a blast!

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Departing the lake house on Sunday, we flew back past Chicago.


And stopped for fuel in Warsaw, Indiana.  We took the courtesy car into town for some Mexican.  Sadly, the local Pho place was closed.

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Oshkosh 2014 from Peter Barrett on Vimeo.

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Current Stage: Fuselage

Total Build Time: 1268.5 hours.

This website details the building of a Van’s Aircraft RV-8, a single engine, two seat, tail-wheel, fully aerobatic, and cross country capable plane that strives to achieve “Total Performance.” This blog exists as a way to share the experience with friends, family, and other builders. Building a plane is a huge undertaking, and this site is my opportunity to pass it forward.

Current Update as of March 8th, 2016:  I’m currently working on the fuselage, after completing the majority of the empennage and wings. Recent work has focused on Service Bulletin 14-01-31 pertaining to the front spar of the horizontal stabilizer. The aft upper turtle deck was recently completed, and the majority of the parts inside of the cockpit are ready for installation. Also, I’m planning to fully detail all the work required for the Show Planes Fastback Build in a separate page. The details will still be available on the site, but this page should provide more comprehensive details. Check it out here. 


Wing Stand

I started building the wing stand this evening. Using deck screws I joined two 2x4s for each vertical leg instead of using 4X4s.

In the first photo I’m just playing around with the placement and clearance of the vertical supports.  I have to ensure that the garage door clears, and I wanted to center the stand on the lights. I’ve got plenty of room in my garage, so I spaced the two sides further apart then most people.  There are 30 inches between the uprights, which will give me plenty of room to work from either side. 20130806-211517.jpg

Here you can see how I’m planning to affix the bottom to the floor.  I’ve screwed a 2×4 across the bottom of the two legs.  That 2×4 will be attached with 2 screws into the concrete and some light adhesive. On the opposite end, I will have to trim the one vertical leg because of clearance issues with the stairs. I didn’t want to put a 2×4 across, because I don’t want to trip on it, but doing it this way is so easy and will ensure the stand is very stable.  Once I have that done, I’m going to mark all the positions on the floor, and then set about attaching the supports to the ceiling. I’m not going to install the aluminum angle supports until I’m ready to hang the wing.  This will hopefully allow the wood to dry and allow the stand to settle in place. It will also give me the opportunity to make any final adjustments to the leveling and spacing with the spars in hand. 20130806-211530.jpg

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Empennage Fairing 3

My Doug Bell tailwheel fork arrived today – I got the black painted version from FlyboyAccessories. I wanted to link it all up to see how everything fit. I then set it aside. The tailwheel is all but install – only a few bolts to torque and attach the rudder cables and she’ll be good to go.

Next, I gave the empennage fairing a little love. I checked fit versus the aluminum fairing that is installed underneath the horizontal empennage. And then I cleaned it up and gave it another good spray of filler primer.

While that was drying up I worked on the lower aluminum fairing and rear cover plate. Van’s instructions call for tapping the longerons to accept screws and then machine countersinking the skins. I’ve read that some people just rivet this part on, as there’s never really any reason for it to come off. I have to say, I’m not highly impressed with this part or Van’s method for attaching it, but I don’t see any reason to rivet it either. When in doubt, I’ll stick with the Van’s method.

First step was to match drill the fairing, and then debur and dimple. Next step was to drill everything to a #36 – then machine countersink the skins and longerons.

I’m pretty happy with the results.

Canopy Work and New Toys

Not a ton to report in this post. I started reviewing my work on the canopy to figure out exactly what remained. I had not attached the hinge cover that blocks air so I attached that. I removed tape and prepared the final portions of the canopy. I didn’t document this with photos well.



I also did some work on the instrument panel cover.

My current approach to work is to finish remaining work on the tail and the wings so that I can concentrate on the firewall forward etc. To that end, I made a number of purchases this week.

First, I bought the Garmin heated pitot tube (unregulated.)


Next, I bought the ACK ELT.


I also bought almost all of my lighting requirements from This included the 9000 lumen Seven Stars landing light (here’s the heat sink). The wingtip nav and strobe lights. (not shown)


The tail strobe.


I also bought the JD Air tailwheel arm, and still in the mail is a Doug Bell tailwheel fork. Also not pictured is the Archer wingtip VOR antenna. I only bought one landing light, as I wanted to see the build quality, and test the light against the Baja designs lights before committing to two. These purchases get me a lot closer to having most of the components required to complete the tail and wings.