BD-5B SN# 2544 has once again been sold. I considered bringing it with me to Texas, but the cost was prohibitive and I was not at all sure if I would have a place to put it. I sold it to Jose Lineros, an experienced A&P/IA in Puerto Rico, who is already hard at work completing the aircraft. I wish him the best of luck, and I hope to be there for the first flight.
In the meanwhile, I am now looking for an unstarted BD-5A or -5B, no work done whatsoever, in excellent condition, as complete as possible. Got any leads? Email me if you do!
September 13, 1998
Marked, cut but did not trim nose wheel well cutout from fwd fuselage. Trimming will be done when it comes time to do final install of the nosegear box. Found a brand new canopy in North Carolina for $225! Having it shipped this week.
September 12, 1998
Marked, cut and trimmed left hand main gear wheel well cutout. Marked nose wheel well cutout. Now have Genave A1000 working digital 760 ch Nav/Com with built-in CDI, very similar to Edo-Aire RT-533 360 ch Nav/Com that used to be sold for the BD-5. Updated construction logbook.
Note that on the wheel well cutouts, the plans show that the top edge of the cutout should be 0.95" from the bottom of FU-21. FU-21 was eliminated through a PCN. The construction profile showed that the bottom edge of FU-21 was supposed to lie 5.00" from the seam above it. That would mean that the top of the wheel well cutout would be 5.95" from the horizontal seam above it, but this is NOT correct. I placed the template for the wheel well cutout according to the water line and station measurements for the center of main spar FU-99, which are also marked on the template in the construction profile. The bottom of the template should line up with the bottom center seam of the engine compartment. With those three measurements (WL/STA of FU-99 and bottom edge of template on bottom centerline of fuselage) I got the correct placement. I made a 1/2" hole inside the marked section of the fuselage to cut out, and used a nibbler to remove the wheel well cutout 3/8" or so from the actual trim line. I then used a Dremel tool with an emery cutting wheel to do the final trim, and then filed and deburred.
July 18, 1998
Construction starts up again. Picked something easy just in case I was getting a bit rusty. Did the instrument panel glare shield. I found it a PITA to make the necessary bends on the 0.020 sheet metal, so I didn't make all the bends the plans call for. Will finish next time I'm in. I have to order one of those small 18" desktop brake benders.
This week I also sold the AT-50A transponder... or actually, traded it for an excellent Lowrance Airmap 5-channel GPS receiver with moving map, terrain mapping, VOR's, NDB's, airports, intersections, all airspace types, etc. It's a spectacular unit, I'm really happy with the trade, into which I threw in an antenna and a connector kit. Made a homebrew data cable to connect the unit to my PC and on the same day I got it I upgraded the unit's operating system to version 3.4, which adds many of the same features of the newer Airmap 300 (same thing, but 12 channel receiver, but IMO not worth upgrading, performance is the same as with the 5 channel receiver).
If you want to build your own cable, the pinouts are available on the Lowrance web site. You only need three pins: Receive Data, Send Data and Signal Ground. RX and TX go to pins 2 and 3 on the PC, 3 and 4 on the GPS. Signal Ground goes to pin 5 on a DB9 serial port, pin 7 on a DB25 serial port, and to pin 1 of the GPS connector. That's it. Tell the GPS to send NMEA data through the port and fire up your favorite comm program to make sure the pins are right. If the unit does not seem to send/receive, switch the wires to pins 2 and 3 on the PC side.
May 25, 1998
Construction is still on hold pending machined parts. The machine shop where I took the materials has been very busy, but I'd rather wait for them to get around to it, even if it takes a bit longer, because the owner is also an experimental aircraft builder and owner.
By next week I should have the money set aside for the engine, the Geo Metro engine from Arizona. 3,000 miles, 1997 model. Can't ask for better than that. It should take about a week to get here after inspection, palletizing, etc.
I have located some of the avionics I need for the pocket rocket. I bought a Narco AT-50A transponder with tray for $205, had it checked out for $50, turns out to be in perfect condition. I'm really happy about that purchase because that transponder normally sells for about $600-$700 in the used avionics market. I also bought a Genave A1000 Nav/Com radio with built-in CDI, digital display, 760 channel. That one has a bad freq display and the shop is working on it.
I am also working on my instrument rating with Caribbean Flight Training. Mostly I've done sim work on their brand-new Frasca 142. Tough rating. The biggest problem is learning situational awareness. I'm getting the hang of it, though, thanks to the Sierra Pro-Pilot PC simulator. It has its quirks and needs work, but it works well if you don't abuse it. My goal is to have both the instrument and multiengine ratings by the end of the summer.
April 5, 1998
I haven't done much work on the physical airframe itself in a month, mostly because I've been working on getting together the parts necessary for getting the aircraft on the gear before I continue. I bought the raw material to make the trunnion bolts, and was talking with a local machine shop, but the operator went overboard in his estimate (24 hours to make the trunnion bolt holes on the spar, make the trunnion bolts and make the holes on the parts that attach to the bolt, @ $40/hr). I will be picking up the materials on Monday to take them to another machine shop, where the owner is also a pilot and experimental aircraft builder. Hopefully I will get a better quote from him, otherwise I will just purchase the parts.
Also, the fact that my 7-year-old broke his leg during a birthday party a week or so ago has put a crimp on things because I had to pay the hospital and orthopaedic bills out of my own pocket. The company I started working for has not yet obtained my medical coverage, which they were supposed to provide a month ago, but they will be reimbursing me for the bills.
I have chosen an engine, though. I will be using the Suzuki 3-cyl engine. I have to find a suitable engine, model year 1990 or better, to convert for aviation use. I have ordered Swag Aeromotive and have been speaking with Steve, the owner of the site, for a few days, explaining my requirements. He has patiently answered all my questions and expressed support for the project. The engine weighs 150 to 160 lbs complete, and puts out 64 hp at 4800 RPM and fuel consumption is nothing compared to the Rotax or certified engines (about 1 gal/hr in economy cruise). Information on the engine and the conversion process is available on the site, and Steve sells a book covering all details for $49.95.
This weekend I also took and passed the Instrument Airplane Rating written test, with a score of 90 in some 34 minutes. I went the self-study route, using the Mentor (now Jeppessen) multimedia course on CD-ROM and the Jeppessen study review program that comes with a 3.5" diskette. Both run under Windows 3.1, Windows 95 and the Beta 3 release of Windows 98. I also have the video course, but I couldn't stand the acting.
(By the way, I no longer need the materials for the course, if you'd like to use them, they are for sale at $150, a significant discount over the retail pricing.)
This summer I will be single for about 2-3 months. During this time I plan to take my instrument rating training and hopefully pass the checkride, and I also plan to work on the kit. By the end of the summer I hope to have it on the gear, and I also hope to have at least the basic engine for the aircraft.
March 1, 1998
Didn't have much time to work today, all I did was finish putting some additional rivets in the root section of the right wing. The places for the rivets had been marked by the original owner.
The rest of the time I spent trying to get a Genave GA/1000 Nav/Com radio to fire up. I bought it used, non-working, on the Internet. It's a digital radio, all solid-state, pretty darn nice, with a built-in VOR/LOC indicator. The indicator can be removed and installed on the panel; Genave supposedly has a kit for this that includes a replacement front panel for the radio. It's about the size of a King KX-170. I opened it up and found several problems, like some cut wires from the rear connector, and on the rear chassis the connector was pretty much done for. The coax connector for the comm antenna had a godawful soldering job on it. Those are easy to replace, though. AMP makes the signal connector and the coax connector is easy to find as well. Using the schematics I resoldered the wires that had been cut from the rear connector and the radio fired up when I put 13.5 volts on it, but the frequency display doesn't turn on. Everything else seems to be working fine, so I suspect it's just the main board that needs to be repaired or replaced. Anyone have one of these for sale for parts, with a good main board?
Finally, BD Micro Technologies has once again enabled their web site. It's located at www.bd-micro.com and looks pretty good, though it is still under construction. Pay Skeeter a visit when you get a chance, you won't be dissapointed.
March 1, 1998
Finished the vertical stabilizer by applying zinc chromate primer to the riveted areas (masking the antenna first).
Set the fuselage aside and started working on the control surfaces of the left wing. The ailerons and flaps are finished but there are some spots where there was binding between the control surfaces and the wings/hinges. Using a Dremel tool, emery wheel and various rotary cutters I trimmed all the areas that needed trimming. The control surfaces are now free of binding along the normal ranges of travel. I have some more slight trimming to do in some areas, and need to apply a few rivets and PRC to close some portions that were left open due to uncertainty about possible PCN's. There are no outstanding PCN's on the wings so I will complete the closing of them, then wash, wet sand and treat with Alumiprep and Alodyne, then paint with zinc chromate. Then I will do the right wing. I may go ahead and do the fuel system after that, but I have to determine if there are issues that would preclude my doing the fuel system now, before I get to that point in the construction profile.
Also brought the plans and FU-99 main spar home, I will be taking those to a machine shop nearby that does aviation work to have the trunnion holes drilled, I also need for them to make some parts for me out of 4130 steel.
February 21, 1998
Today I closed the vertical stabilizer. Last weekend I did all the fitting and cutting, filing, deburring, etc. necessary to fit the comm antenna that goes into the VS-1 vertical stabilizer spar. I sanded the few spots where primer had gotten into areas that needed to be glued, and then cleaned those with MEK. The inside of the skin was taped where it glues to the stabilizer spars and ribs, so that was OK. I made a small batch of PRC, maybe 1/3 cup, and applied it to the ribs and spars in a uniform layer. I then position the skin from the leading edge first, holding the trailing edge open, and then pressed the trailing edge against the rear spar of the VS, securing it with clecos in all corners to keep it in place.
As with other components that need to retain their shape as they are riveted, I applied a few rivets on one side, then a few on the other, working from the top, down the leading edge to where the antenna begins, then back into the trailing edge. The antenna was the last piece to be riveted. I thought that the fact that the metal on the antenna frame cannot be dimpled would affect the contact between the spar and the antenna, but that is not a problem, there's plenty of contact because the aluminum of which the frame is made of is very soft and conforms to the shape of the dimples on the spar. the only thing I had to do was install some C-clamps to hold the very bottom of the leading edge of the skin against the spar while the PRC cures.
So now I have a completed vertical spar with a flush comm antenna, and I must say that it looks pretty good. Very aerodynamic; I highly recommend this antenna, which is still available from BD Micro Technologies (541-444-1343 voice and FAX). It's easy to install and will enhance the looks of your -5. The only thing left to do now is wait until the PRC cures and seal the edge of the skin cutout around the antenna. I know that some people have apparently used fiberglass to seal that area, but I think a bead of RTV silicone will do just fine.
Next week I will start finish work on the wings in preparation for corrosion treatment and painting with zinc chromate. I've put off the nose gear box because I think I will order it from BD Micro instead. For the price that Skeeter asks for that component (a little over $1000), it's worth it, considering how complicated the component is and how many hours it will take to finish.
February 15, 1998
Last week I was unable to go to the hangar, but today I managed to get in there and get some work done. I pulled the R8 bracket from the rudder in order to install a new one, which I will order this week. This is the safety-of-flight mandatory modification that I talked about in the last entry in the log. To take it out, first remove the rivets (six on each side) with a 1/8" drill. Make sure the drill is centered on the hole and perpendicular to the skin. Don't push too hard, let the drill do its work. The rivet should come right off and you should be left with a neat little rivet head ring on the bit. To remove the bracket, cut it in half at the bend point with a pair of snips. Use a heat gun to warm up the skin and loosen the sealant. You can heat from the inside or the outside, I found it easier to do from the outside. It should only take about 10 seconds of heating to loosen the sealant, so start trying to move the piece with the pliers. When one side is loose, do the other. For the inside half that's left after cutting, grab it with a pair of vise grip pliers and lock the pliers, then heat from the outside or inside. Do one side first, then the other. Once the bracket is out you can use a spatula or paint scraper to remove the excess PRC. If it's hard, heat it up a bit. When you order the replacement steel bracket, it also comes with a doubler. I don't know how that goes in, but I suspect I will have to derivet the bracket where the hinge attaches as well. I will post the procedure when I get the parts and instructions.
At this point I removed the entire rudder from the vertical stab, since I was going to install the comm antenna that slides into the vertical stabilizer front spar. These instructions only apply if you have not closed the vertical stab. To do this, remove the vertical stab skin and remove the forward rib extensions that give shape to the leading edge of the skin. Derivet and debond using the instructions I gave above (much easier to do this than the R8 bracket). Clean up the excess PRC with a paint scraper. The antenna (which is still sold by BD Micro, by the way, and makes for an excellent comm antenna that creates no drag) fits into the VS1 main spar. You slide the top end into the spar and then force the rest of it into the spar, while at the same time pushing it up. The leading edge of the antenna replaces part of the leading edge of the VS.
Now, look at the bottom of the antenna. it has a metal plate from which the coax cable comes out. That plate is supposed to be aligned with the bottom rib of the VS. That's how you know it is placed correctly. Remember that when you are finished the VS should have the same leading edge shape and length. Make sure the antenna is well seated into the spar and makes good contact with it. Next step is to drill through the rivet holes in the spar and into the metal along the side of the antenna that slipped into the spar. Drill with a #28 bit and no further than 1/2 inch into the antenna. Put in a cleco every 2-3 holes to make sure the antenna doesn't move as you drill, and drill a few holes in one side, then alternate to the other. Make two marks on each side of the spar at the point where the antenna foam tapers a bit (this portion slides inside the upper leading edge of the skin).
Once you are done drilling the holes, remove the antenna and reinstall the skin, but put clecos on one side only. Lift the other side, and make a scribe mark along the inside of the skin to match the edge of the spar. The reason for this is that you have to trim the leading edge flush with the leading edge of the spar. Transfer the mark you made at the taper point of the antenna foam to the inside of the skin. The marks now show where you have to cut the leading edge for the antenna to be exposed. Repeat the process for the other side of the skin. Remove the skin and carefully cut from the bottom of the leading edge along the scribe mark to the top mark. Repeat for the other side. On the outside of the skin, make a scribe mark connecting the two end points of the cuts you just made. This scribe mark should be straight and perpendicular to the spar. Remember, you are cutting the skin so that the antenna, when installed to the VS spar, will be exposed, because if it is under the skin you will never be able to hear or talk to anyone. Cut along this scribe mark and remove the piece of metal, which should be shaped like the antenna. Trim, remove sharp corners, file and deburr the skin. Install it on the VS and make sure the cut is flush with the VS spar flanges where the rivets attach. If not, trim to size.
At this point I elected to treat and prime the VS spar, ribs, and skin. I did this now because you can't do this to the VS once it is closed and I want maximum corrosion protection. For the skin, I used masking tape to make sure I didn't apply zinc chromate in the rivet hole areas where I'm supposed to glue the skin to the VS. Clean with MEK, wet sand if necessary, clean with alumiprep, alodyne and paint with zinc chromate in light coats, waiting 15 minutes between coats instead of trying to cover the entire surface in primer in one or two coats.
For the VS, I masked off the same areas that touch the skin (remember, PRC and ProSeal will not adhere properly on top of zinc chromate!) and I also masked off the entire area of VS-1 spar where any portion of metal on the antenna touches the metal of the spar. In this area you want full metal to metal contact for proper functioning of the antenna. I treated the VS and primed it with zinc chromate. After it dried I removed the masking tape. Attach the skin fo the VS to check for fit. Do not apply zinc chromate primer to the antenna itself. The instructions for the antenna (at least the ones I got with mine) explain what kind of primer and paint you can use to finish it.
This is as far as I got this weekend. Next week I will close the VS with the antenna fitted inside, then I will probably use some fiberglass and epoxy to seal the edges of the skin where the antenna is exposed.
January 31, 1998
I spent all day today working on the vertical stabilizer and rudder. The majority of the time was spent trying to figure out the mystery of how to install the aftermarket VHF broadband antenna that came with the kit. It is the type that used to be sold by Bede (Sport-Air) and goes in the lower leading edge of the vertical stabilizer. After puzzling over it and talking some more with a couple of avionics techs, the light went on and I decided to go check all the pictures in the catalogs, magazines and newsletters to see if I could find a pic of a BD-5 with the antenna installed.
Sure enough, I found a pic in one of the issues of Rich Perkins' BD-5 Bulletin, with Rich himself standing by the aircraft. The issue was whether or not I needed to trim the antenna. I now understand that I don't have to (in fact, if you do that you will ruin the antenna.) What you need to do is remove the rib extensions in the leading edge of the VS in order to fit the antenna inside VS-1. I'm talking about the two parts that install in the forward-facing area of VS-1, to support the leading edge portion of the skin. If you have one of these antennas, don't install those two pieces. If you already did that and want to put in the antenna, you need to remove the rivets and use a hot air gun to loosen the PRC/Pro-Seal and remove the pieces then use MEK to remove the remaining sealant.
Once you do that, it's a piece of cake to get the antenna (make sure the bottom flange where the coax cable comes out of the antenna is level with the VS' bottom rib) into VS-1. Then it's a simple matter of cutting the skin to expose the antenna (22.7 inches from the bottom of and perpendicular to the leading edge, then down the sides above the existing rivet holes, which you'll need to affix the skin to VS-1), drilling holes into the antenna flange (no more than 0.5 inch into the antenna), and proceeding to close it as usual (albeit with a few less rivets).
I didn't close it yet because I need to treat and prime the inside of the vertical stab and I also need to make the R8 rudder hinge bracket mod (having a machine shop duplicate the R8 in 4130 steel), which also involves removing rivets and using a heat gun to take out the old R8. If you have not replaced your R8 with the 4130 steel version, this is a safety of flight modification that must be done to the aircraft. The original R8's are known to fail after about 40 hours of flight, maybe sooner, and making the part out of heavier aluminum or using a doubler is known not to work!
January 26, 1998
Not much progress has been made in the last two weeks, given the fact that I spent one weekend in Boston interviewing for a job and this past weekend I was a customer site doing some programming and network consulting. I have not yet found any information about the Rotax Ltd. turbine that is used on the Harrier VTOL jets. I have been doing more research on engines but I'm still leaning either to a Rotax 582 or some sort of small turbine for a turboprop setup.
There is a strong possibility that I may move to Boston for a job in Cambridge. If any of you know of a good place at an airport where I could continue the work, or perhaps one of you has some extra space to work together on two BD-5's or some other type of all-metal aircraft, let me know.
January 12, 1998
The primer on the fuselage has dried completely and it looks pretty darn nice. The people around the shop have been complimenting me on how good I job I did of this, so I must have done it correctly.
Today I went in with a box of misc hardware and spent some time organizing that stuff. One bag was full of unidentified AN and MS hardware so I used the time to learn how to identify MS and AN parts using a caliper and an Aircraft Spruce Catalog. Now I know what the final A means on an AN4 bolt, how to identify an NAS high strength bolt and what a cowling safety clip is. Such fun, eh?
After I finished that I took apart the vertical stab, which has not been closed because there is an aftermarket VHF COMM antenna that goes into the VS and which came with the kit. The problem is that there's no mention in the installation instructions on whether or not the dielectric foam on the antenna can be trimmed to make the antenna fit into the space between the two ribs on the VS. It is obvious that the foam has to be trimmed on the upper section of the antenna, otherwise it would never fit on a standard BD-5 VS, but how far do I trim? And how do I make sure I do not damage the antenna inside the foam? It appears the antenna is set in an arc inside the foam, low points of the arc at each end and high point in the middle of the antenna, but I am not sure. Has anyone ever installed one of these antennas that was offered in the 70's as an aftermarket addon? Please let me know via email.
I will be in Boston this coming weekend, arriving late Thursday evening and leaving on Monday afternoon.
January 4, 1998
Continuing with the corrosion treatment saga, I again took the bird out, this time for treatment with Alumiprep and Alodine. Make sure you wear gloves when doing this type of treatment, the chemicals are corrosive and you should avoid any skin contact with them. First a rinse, then I washed the entire aircraft with a solution of one part Alumiprep and four parts water. I actually only used about 8 oz. of Alumiprep, since the aircraft was clean to begin with. The solution helped removed the last traces of soil, oil and whatever else was on the skin, including loose pieces of PRC that had dripped from the seams during assembly. Again, a good rinse, then pure Alodine applied with a paintbrush. Note that you should not let Alodine dry on the surface, so you do one section of the aircraft, wait a few minutes for the chemical to have its effect, then rinse and move on to the next section. The type of Alodine I used changes the color of the aluminum slightly, to a tan or gold color, but not much. That just tells you it had its desired effect, creating a layer of chemically modified aluminum on the top to protect from corrosion. Once you do the entire aircraft, then rinse very thoroughly and dry with an air hose and clean rags.
The next step was applying the zinc chromate primer. I have received some email and read some comments about zinc chromate, to the effect that I should be using an epoxy primer instead, and that zinc chromate technology is old. I talked about this with a local aircraft restoration expert, and was told that the reason it's 40 year old technology is that it works. I had already bought the zinc chromate primer, so I decided to use it. Took me some three and a half hours to paint the entire basic fuselage, including the engine compartment doors, but not the left hand side rear panels, which I have to do next week along with the wings.
The result of these two days of very hard work, lugging the fuselage shell around, washing, sanding, and all of those things is, to put it mildly, stunning. The fuselage is now bright green, inside and out, and well-protected against any corrosion. I need to apply a little more primer inside the cockpit and in the engine compartment, where I didn't get as good coverage as I wanted, but that should take no more than an hour.
January 3, 1998
Took the bird out of the hangar and into sunlight for the first time in a long time. Did the first part of the anti-corrosion treatment on the basic fuselage; wash with industrial aircraft detergent, and wet sand with 320-grit sandpaper to remove crud and smooth the metal. Spent all afternoon on that, then brought the bird back into the shop to dry and clean with MEK to remove any remaining crud. Tomorrow I'll drag it out again to treat it with Alumiprep and Alodine. If I finish that early enough I'll start priming it with zinc chromate. I'm doing this now because I'm going to be spending a lot of time on the nosegear box and the horizontal stab and I don't want to let it sit any longer than it has to unprotected from the salt air here in the Caribbean. I will also do the same thing on each wing before I continue.
January 2, 1998
Today I completed the basic fuselage construction, the first part of chapter 1. I installed the FU-49 and -50 angle parts that go inside the engine compartment, riveted and PRC'd to FU-1 and the longerons. A word of advice on these; use tape to position them on the longerons and FU-1 and then use a #28 or #29 bit to drill the holes. Remove the parts, deburr and clean, then glue and rivet them in place.
Once I finished that I did some more organizing, comandeering an abandoned desk that UPS had thrown out into the garbage. The drawers are not quite straight but it looks OK and will do the job. I organized all the paperwork, books, magazines, Trade-A-Plane's, etc. The cage looks neat. Too neat, I guess. I put the engine compartment panels back on because next comes the nosegear box and I won't be touching the fuselage for a while. But before I tackle the nosegear box in earnest I will be washing, wet sanding and treating the fuselage and wings with anti-corrosion chemicals, and will be priming them with zinc chromate.
As to the Aeronca I mentioned in the previous update, it's not a C-3, it's a 1946 7AC Champ that is in need of restoration and a possible wing spar replacement. The owner wants $3k for it. If you are interested, it's very complete including engine (A65) but no prop. Email me if you would like to consider purchasing it. How you get it out of Puerto Rico is another issue altogether. Boat? Plane? Floats? It's not really for me, I'm not that good with wood.
December 30, 1997
I went to the hangar today to hang out and see how the Staggerwing was coming along, but I couldn't just stand there while I watched everyone else work. So I went to work at 3pm and by 7:30pm I had installed the other doubler (FU-29). Had it all done, PRC'd and riveted, then went to install the AN509-8R10 screws. Found out I was short a couple of screws. The -8R11 screws are the same except for the shank length but I decided not to use those. So, I have to find some more, somehow. I'm getting a package of misc. AN and MS hardware (or at least I'm supposed to) from another BD-5 project, hopefully there will be some there.
Tomorrow I'm also going to see an Aeronca project that someone has in a garage. It's supposed to be a pre-WWII Aeronca C3 or C4. I've never even heard of this aircraft, and there are no links on the Internet specifically related to that model, so I guess tomorrow will be a surprise. It's disassembled and needs repair of a wingtip, recovering, and general restoration. Maybe that's what I need to keep me flying inexpensively (read "low and slow") while I finish the BD-5.
December 27, 1997
I didn't do anything on the aircraft today. Instead I decided to get organized. My wife gave me a 60-bin parts organizer (which turns into 180 bins with the separators), so I took every last small part that came with the kit, from washers to brake cylinder rebuild kits, and organized them into the bins, with labels and all. That actually took all of Friday afternoon and half of today. I also needed to get a set of wing stands, so I decided to use some scrap wood and build my own. They don't look pretty, but they sure do the job. UPS recently remodeled their offices and installed new carpet, and I had saved some of the longer pieces of old scrap carpet. I built two wooden stands (horizontal stand with two small legs and three vertical pieces) and used finishing nails to attach a long piece of carpet so as to hang the wings between the vertical pieces, resting on the carpet "belts." I took pictures of everything I did yesterday, as well as of the fuselage as it stands now, as soon as that roll is finished I'll scan and post the pics. I also took pics from the result of a pissing contest between a Convair and a FedEx Caravan. The Caravan lost. And how. Bent the tail completely out of shape.
December 20, 1997
Today wasn't a particularly productive day for the BD-5. The only thing I had time to do was finish filing, trimming and shaping FU-29 (the other large doubler), marking its location on the fuselage and placing it with tape. I spent most of the afternoon trying to upgrade a Compaq Deskpro/I 486 PC for a friend at the hangar. Wasn't very succesful, no thanks for Compaq's weird memory upgrade requirements.
I also found out that I am missing the FU-75/76 spar saddles, which I will definitely have to order from BD Micro next month. Well, at least I have some money coming in on January, so I might as well order the other things I am missing, like FU-66, a new canopy to replace the one the cargo company busted on the way from Idaho, etc., etc. Oh, yes, I bought some supplies; a gallon of MEK and another pint of PRC.
By the way, if you're one of those people that have always dreamed of owning a BD-5J jet, one that was built in 1993 will be auctioned January 17 at the Fantasy of Flight museum in Polk City, Florida (along with a ton of classic and not-so-classic aircraft, including... get this... a DC-3 on floats.) If you want to find out more about this auction, and maybe buy yourself the ultimate pocket rocket, click HERE.
December 13, 1997
Tried to install the two small angles that attach to the end of the longerons and the inside of FU-1, but it didn't come out quite right, have to redo the angles. PRC'd and riveted the upper right section of the tail. Finished trimming and filing the FU-30 doubler from the preformed blank, measured the location and attached with duct tape (turns out the two distances given in the plans for the location of FU-29/30 are all you really need to place it properly) started drilling the holes for the screws and rivets. Using a piece of string I laid out the location of the seam between the engine compartment and cockpit panel, then measured the hole locations and started drilling. I drilled one hole, check the other side, drill another hole, again check the other side, and so on. Doing it this way takes time but since you are drilling blind it's better to do one and check where it is so you can correct the location of the next one if necessary. Also drilled the additional holes through the cockpit and engine compartment skins for the inside doubler. Then deburred and countersank the holes in the large doubler with the microstop. Careful with these countersinks, they don't always come out right because the doubler is bent to fit the shape of the bottom side of the fuselage. Use a screw to check fit in every hole. Cleaned everything with MEK, made another small batch of PRC and placed the doubler. First applied the rivets, then fit the screws. Note that the screws that go through the engine compartment skins will need more AN960-8L washers because of the lesser skin thickness. The others only need one. And it helps to have another pair of hands to tighten the nuts. It took some 6 hours to complete FU-30. Take your time, it has to be right. Measure everything two or three times (or more) to be sure it is in the right place.
Tomorrow I head out to Humacao with the family to go see the parachutists and ultralights. Next weekend I'll tackle the other large doubler.
The issue with title to the kit has been resolved. Jon Hartway finally paid what he owed to the original owner and he in turn will send me a completed FAA bill of sale form so I can register the aircraft. I am so relieved that this has been straightened out...
December 6, 1997
Today I finished the few rivets that I didn't do last weekend, as well as fixing the ones that were put in wrong and riveting the splicing strip on the bottom of the cockpit. I also riveted the FU-55's with the solid double-countersunk rivets. That was a lot easier than I thought with the rivet squeezer that I borrowed from a friend. Just make sure you keep some clecos in there as you rivet to keep the small holes aligned.
I also made FU-49/50 but I didn't put them in yet. I riveted and glued the small tabs that attach FU-1 to the engine compartment hat section (where the canopy center rail goes). I cut and started to trim FU-29/30 but didn't finish that before I got tired and decided to go home. Putting those in will be tough; there are no instructions for installation, just a couple of measurements and a drawing, and I have a feeling the position of these two items is important.
The pictures from September to last week are back from Walgreens. I will try to scan and post them this week.
November 29-30, 1997
This weekend I permanently attached the forward fuselage to the engine compartment. Saturday was spent finish drilling, deburring, dimpling and countersinking all the holes for FU-1/69/70/48(2)/55(2), etc., in other words, the basic fuselage from FU-1 forward. Eight and a half hours of holes on Saturday. By the end of that time I had had enough of holes in aluminum.
Probably the most interesting thing I did on Saturday was learning how to use a microstop countersink tool. This is a tool that holds a threaded countersink bit. You then put it on the end of the drill and use it to countersink holes. The depth of the countersink can be adjusted in very small increments in order to make the countersink exactly the size you need. Once you have it set right, you turn the locking ring until it seats against the adjustment ring and make your countersinks. The beauty of this is that you set it once, and do all your countersinks. They come out exactly the same for every hole, as long as you're careful and don't manhandle the drill. The key to using the microstop countersink tool is practice. Drill several holes in a piece of scrap metal (in this case it was #40 holes) and then adjust the microstop until you get the right countersink. Remember that the rivet head must not sink into the countersink, nor protrude above the sheet metal. Once you have it right, do it again five or six more times and check it with a rivet to make sure it's set right. Make sure the locking ring is tight, and don't let the part of the tool that touches the sheet metal spin when you're running the drill, otherwise the sheet metal will be marred.
By the end of the day on Saturday I had every hole prepared for riveting (with some minor exceptions). I wasn't planning on coming in on Sunday but the wife and kid went to my sister's house to splash around in the kiddie pool and I decided to head for the hangar again. It was 2:30 pm, and I decided to PRC and rivet with a vengeance.
First, I decided to make PRC in small batches, because I knew that I would have to rivet some pieces before moving on to gluing and setting in place other pieces. If you're at this step, it's important to be careful about putting the glue in all the places where metal joins to metal. Before you start this part, run through the process in your mind and make notes of where you need to put glue. If you're not careful, you could wind up with a part that needs glue, but since you can't get to it you have to remove rivets, etc. Messy.
I started with the FU-48 doublers, riveting the five holes that go through the angle in the engine compartment. A couple of clecos on the bottom ends held it in place while I then applied glue to the edges of FU-1 in order to permanently attach it to the engine compartment. I slid the doublers that go on the bottom sides FU-1 and held them in place with clecos. Once that was in place I riveted around the engine compartment. Be careful not to place rivets in holes that take another piece, like where the FU-69/70 longerons go over the FU-48 doublers. If you do that you'll have to take out the rivets. Again, messy. Next was the cockpit/nose assembly. I applied glue on the underside of the large strap that extends from the bottom center of the engine compartment, and also to the edges of FU-67/68 where they meet with FU-1. Tip: If you leave FU-35 attached across FU-33/34, you can use the bar to help position the cockpit for attachment to the engine compartment. This is of particular help if, like me, you are working alone. This was the hard part, attaching the large cockpit/nose assembly to the engine compartment. It took some doing and some well-placed clecos but it works. I had the longerons attached as well while I was doing this, to slide them in, but I had to take them out anyway to put glue on the edges.
At this point I stopped and carefully reviewed what I had done so far. Once I started riveting the cockpit, longerons, etc. it was going to be much harder to take things apart. I wanted to make sure I had glue in all the right places. Once I knew everything was right, I pulled out the large bag of rivets and started riveting the cockpit to FU-1 and the longerons. With a vengeance. Remember to do a few rivets in one side (10 or so) then move to the other side, do ten more, then back again. Alternate sides, otherwise you run the chance of ruining the fit. Remember the aircraft has to be symmetrical. Don't do all the rivets on one side, then the other. Also, don't worry too much about the PRC drying, it takes several hours to truly dry up. Remember to keep adequate ventilation running through the work area. And remember that the top row of rivets on the longerons stops at the #29 hole that goes through the FU-55's.
I did make some mistakes in riveting, and I have to take those out, some five rivets or so, and redo them. For some reason they just didn't go in right, and the protrude.
So, now I have a solid airframe, nose to tail. What a sense of accomplishment. Next week I'll fix the rivets that went in wrong, check out the couple of holes where the rivets wouldn't go through easily, and install the FU-55's.
On another note: I just got an email from the original builder, Bud Lloyd. I managed to contact him thanks to the USPS, who forwarded a letter sent to his last known address. Needless to say, I was very happy to finally contact him, but he had some bad news for me. Turns out that the person who sold me this kit, Jon Hartway, never finished paying Mr. Lloyd for the aircraft. Mr. Lloyd still holds title to the kit. I am really angry about this, because I was under the impression that Hartway had indeed paid Lloyd for the kit in full and had clear title to sell. I couldn't do a title search at the FAA because there was no registration number assigned to the kit. Now I have to find Hartway again and deal with this issue... Caveat emptor, no? I better go get some sleep, it's getting late and staying awake and pissed off will do me no good.
November 22, 1997
Fabricated, positioned and drilled pilot holes for new pair of FU-48 doublers. Fabrication was a simple matter of making a template from cardboard, then scribing and cutting 0.025 2024-T3 to match the template. They came out nicely, and fit just right. The pilot holes must be drilled from the inside, though, not from the outside. Don't forget that the FU-48's are inserted between the outside panels and everything else, including the FU-51 flange, FU-1, FU-67/68 and FU-69/70. In other words, looking from the outside in, the first slice of the sandwich is whatever outside panel you are looking at, then FU-48, then everything else. It is important that you remember this otherwise the FU-48 will not be able to do its job reinforcing the strength given by the longerons (you don't want your cockpit to come off in flight, do you?).
I then took off FU-69/70/48's/55's, etc. and proceeded to begin finish drilling, deburring and dimpling those holes that do not take screws or solid rivets. I completed the right hand side and began working on the left hand side of the cockpit panels before it was time to go home. I also put in the additional 8 rivets that I had left out from the seam between the nose and the cockpit panels.
So far I've put in some 180-190 hours or so. I think the progress has been good for the number of hours I've spent on the project.
November 19, 1997
Completed drilling of all pilot holes for FU-69 and FU-70 longerons, including drilling of FU-55 doublers. That in and of itself was all I could do, it was a ton of holes and I triple checked to make sure everything was aligned properly. I also had to file down fwd side of the left hand cockpit panel, it was not trimmed properly to match the height of the longeron.
I started to do something about installing the FU-48 doublers inside the engine compartment but it turns out that the plan drawings do not match what I need to put on the aircraft. In other words, the size of the pieces are wrong. Don't make FU-48's until you finish drilling all the pilot holes for the longerons. Chances are it won't fit if you cut the doublers from the plans. Make a template instead from the aircraft fuselage itself.
That's pretty much all I did today. Saturday I'll be making the FU-48 doublers and then start doing the dimple/countersink/deburr song-and-dance number. Plenty of holes to prepare for rivets, so that will take a while. I also need to find a rivet squeezer or someone to help me do the rivets to attach the FU-55's to the longerons.
November 15, 1997
Completed and installed FU-33/34/35 (the brackets and spacing tube across the cockpit where instrument panel mounts.
Completed trimming (sides and rear) of FU-69/70 cockpit longerons (still have to trim fwd ends after mounting is complete), as well as fitting and initial installation instructions.
Be careful when you start trimming the sides of the longerons to 0.50" and 0.60". Remember that the 0.60" trim goes up (top edge of cockpit panels) and the narrower side goes down. Make sure that you check this, the longeron's are pre-shaped and only fit in one direction.
Began drilling pilot holes and installing clecos for longerons (from inside engine compartment forward, except for area where FU-55's are installed on longerons). Have both rows of pilot holes completed on right side, one row on the left side.
Still have plenty to do to finish first part of main fuselage section of chapter 1 but got a lot done today.
November 8, 1997
First thing today was to finish fitting the RH cockpit longeron. Piece of cake, all I had to do was trim the aft end slightly to get it parallel to the angle in the engine compartment. Okdok, that worked, now I cut the LH longeron, and clamp it to do the slot in FU-1 and... and... darn. The battery on the Dremel is dead. So much for that for the next few hours.
Ok, so I did FU-33/34, those turned out fine. I used a hacksaw to cut the 1.50" side to size after carefully measuring the distances in the plans. If you're confused about the fact that the instructions tell you to drill two holes but the plans show three holes (one for the instrument panel and two for FU-35, relax. You're supposed to drill two holes, one of them for FU-35. When you attach FU-33/34 and then fit FU-35 then you drill the third hole (#39 first, then #19) and put in the screw, washer and nut. Also, the 0.375 OD x .058 WT tube called for in FU-35 wasn't labelled in my kit. Took me a while to finally find the darn thing at the bottom of the very last box, of course. With that part, if the drawings confuse you, I've done the calculating for you. The first hole goes 0.26" from the edge, the next one half an inch further in. Repeat on the other side, and be careful to make sure those holes line up, otherwise you're either going to have a good time trying to fit FU-35 into FU-33/34 or you're going to have to get yourself another piece of tube and do it again.
I also made the fuselage spreader out of wood. For what it's worth, I just made two notches on a piece of wood, using the distance called for in the instructions. Slide the notches over the FU-67/68 skins at the distance also called for in the book (measured from the forward edge of FU-67/68, where they meet the nose cone), and you've got an appropriately spread fuselage for final longeron attachment.
So, the Dremel battery hasn't charged. Good thing my buddy Pedro has an electric one, 28,000 RPM. Slipped on a emery cutting disk and went through FU-1 like butter, then used two sizes of rotary cutters (carbide) to trim and smooth out the slots. One way to get a good idea what size slot to cut (and where) is to clamp the longeron onto the skin and then place a scribe on the longeron itself. Holding it tight against the longeron, place the tip against FU-1 and move the scribe up and down, transferring the shape of the longeron onto FU-1. Leave yourself plenty of room, you don't want the longeron rubbing against FU-1 and causing a failure which could turn out to be catastrophic. I left about an eighth to a quarter inch space around the channel. If I can get away tomorrow I'll do the four pilot holes where the longerons are attached to FU-1 on each side and do the final fitting.
I'm thinking that probably the best to mark those holes on the cockpit skins for the solid and avex rivets will be to use masking tape and template. Should be fun!
November 1, 1997
First task today was finishing the instrument panel. I filed and deburred the edges down to the scribe marks, then drilled the #29 and #19 holes. I then cleaned it thoroughly with MEK and painted it with Zinc Chromate. I was told that two light coats does a better job than trying to do it all in one coat, and that's true. Let the first light coat dry tack-free (about 15 minutes) and then apply the second finishing coat, and a third if necessary. It dries to the touch in about an hour or so. I know I've seen these before, but it's still hard to believe how small that instrument panel really is.
Next task was to rivet the nose to FU-67/68 using the splicing strips. I used up the last of the first batch of PRC I bought, after cleaning all the bonding edges thoroughly with MEK. Only 30 or so rivets, so that was pretty easy. Now the nose is permanently on the aircraft.
I then made the two FU-55 0.063 doubling strips that attach to the top of the FU-69 longerons, for the forward canopy. I went through two 38 tpi sabre saw blades. I have to get myself something better for this kind of task. I'm thinking maybe a band saw, tablet-top size. But more about that in a second. File, debur and trim the one edge of the FU-55's 0.10", and set those aside.
Now I had to do the longerons, FU-69's. At first I was a bit confused about what I had to do with those, but my first hunch was right, they do need to be trimmed and nearly half the material is discarded in the process. For the 0.60" flange I used the FU-55's as a guide for the scribe (FU-55 is supposed to be 0.63" wide). For the 0.50" flange I carefully measured with a rule, which was not easy because of the channel. I was going to cut them with the tin snips but just then a friend pointed out to me that the band saw in the Staggerwing cage was available. Darn thing went through it like butter. Ten minutes later I had one longeron cut and ready to file. Now I know I need a band saw. That's my next power tool purchase, when I get some extra money. Took a few minutes to file the edges smooth and debur. The next task was to make the cutout in FU-1 to slide the longeron through it and to FU-51 inside the engine compartment. For this I used the scribe to mark a rough outline of the cutout, then I used the portable Dremel tool with an emery cutting disk to cut out the rough outline. Using the notching tool, I cut out most of the rest, and then used the cylindrical cutters with the Dremel to smooth out the shape of the outline of the longeron. I cut out more metal, trial fit, then repeated the process; took four tries to get to the right size. I'll say it again, the Dremel tool is great for jobs like this, it's a "must get item" for any BD-5 builder.
By the time I finished this I was ready to call it a day, as my wife wanted to go to dinner that evening. But I was pleased with the progress, and particularly with how the instrument panel turned out. Pretty soon I'll be finished with the basic fuselage! Then it's time to get serious about making the parts for the nosegear box.
October 26, 1997
Today I made a short trip to Sears and found that the tool department had finally stocked up on rotary (Dremel) tool thingamajigs. I bought a few cutter and cutter/engraving tools, a vial of emery cutting wheels and a wire brush tool. I also picked up one of those funky looking drill bits that can drill various sizes of holes. Comes in handy, according to one of the speakers at the BD-5 Expo. But I bought the one with two flutes, so I think I better also get the single-flute type. I decided to go to the hangar to put them in the toolbox. While I was at it, I cut and shaped FU-123/124.
I also finally got around to cutting the instrument panel. After copying the design and scribing it on the sheet metal, I was wondering what I could use to cut it. The shears wouldn't work, it was much too thick a material (0.063 2024-T3). About then a friend of mine came in who used to run an avionics shop (the owner of the surplus avionics that are being sold, check the home page link) and he suggested I use a sabre saw. Sure enough, I remembered I had purchase a couple of 38 TPI blades just for this purpose. It took a bit of setup and a lot of noise, but I cut the instrument panel. Tip: leave yourself plenty of working room when cutting, you can always trim later on; and don't try to make the curves with the sabre saw; make them square and trim them later. I used the notching tool for this purpose and then roughly shaped it with a file. Looks good so far; next weekend I'll finishing filing it into shape and smoothing things out, then clean it with MEK and prime it.
October 25, 1997
I got in very late to the hangar today, about 1pm. Spent most of the morning finding my kid's preferred Haloween costume. I couldn't believe it. No superheros, no monsters, no Spawn. All he wanted was the deluxe skeleton outfit. I thought I got him his size, but it's too small. He tried it on and it ripped. I'll have to get him a larger one tomorrow.
Today I bought quite a few supplies -- half a sheet of 0.063 2024-T3 (I want to cut the instrument panel now as I have a friend who has an avionics shop and he's itching to get to work on it, and I have other parts I need to make out of .063 aluminum). I also bought heavy duty aircraft cleaning concentrate, two boxes of Zinc Chromate cans (6 ea), two plastic bottles of Alumiprep and two more of Alodyne. Yup, I'm going to treat the wings, either this weekend or the next. Watersand, clean, Alumiprep and Alodyne and then zinc chromate primer. I need to protect them, too much dust and stuff flying around the work area.
I made some parts today for the nosegear box... the FU87/88's that I had screwed up before I left, FU-121/122 and I think it was FU-118. I really should bring my builder's log home on Sundays so I can remember the part numbers of what I built... <sigh> I didn't get to anything else because I came in late and had a visitor who wanted to talk. Interesting conversation with a died-in-the-wool statehood advocate. No, he didn't even come close to convincing me that it's a viable status option, but we had a good time debating the subject.
October 22, 1997
As you probably have noticed, I haven't posted much in the last two weeks. That's because I was in California, attending a the BD-5 Expo! We had a blast over at Livermore, in the facilities of Attitude Aviation, Rich Perkins' new business. He bought AA about two months ago and is working hard to turn it into a great school. So far, the work he's done really shows. In the week that I was in SF I managed to get my high performance, complex aircraft and taildragger endorsements. If you live in the Bay area, I highly recommend Attitude Aviation.
The Expo was fantastic. There were three flying aircraft and several others in various stages of completion. One of the flying aircraft was Freedom, the BD-5J that used to be part of the Coors Silver Bullet team. It is also the aircraft awarded the title "World's Smallest Jet" by the Guiness Book of World Records. Bobby Bishop said that he never applied for the record, it was given to the aircraft out of their own initiative. Jim Bede was there, so was Seth Anderson of the NASA Ames Research Center. Skeeter James of BD Micro Technologies was there with a huge box on his pickup truck. Turns out he was delivering one of his turboprop BD-5 kits at the Expo, and his FlightLine BD-5TP kit was a hit. I wish I had $40,000; if I did I'd sell my unfinished kit in a heartbeat and buy his TP kit. His Quantum engine, derived from the Solar T62A1 APU turbine, was there, and it looked REALLY good.
Of course, there were plenty of items for sale at the Expo. One man brought in two jig-aligned and drilled kits, with three wings, one set of landing gear, two sets of plans (one with Chapter 7) and tons of parts bought from BD Micro. The whole kit and kaboodle sold for $3,500 the second day of the show. There were also several other kits for sale, most on the gear, that needed various amounts of work. Rich had his own plane, already on the gear, on display with "A" wings for show (and a sign clearly stating this). He plans to turn it into a -5J. He's not going to use the TRS-18 engine, though. He told me which engine he's planning to use, but I've been sworn to secrecy on that subject, and my lips are sealed, at least until he's flying.
There were several presentations on various subjects during the Expo, from construction and tool tips to taxi-test and flying techniques. I also picked up a nearly complete set of newsletters from Rich (missing only one, which is coming by mail) and Rich says he will continue publishing the newsletter. He also asks subscribers to please be patient with the schedule, he's got a tremendous amount of work on his hands and will be taking a little longer than usual to put out the next issues.
So, this weekend I go back to the BD-5 project with renewed confidence. I saw aircraft that fly, I found out that I do indeed fit inside a BD-5, and I got a tremendous number of answers to my questions and doubts about the aircraft and its construction.
And yes, I have tons of pictures that I will be scanning and posting over the next few weeks.
October 4, 1997
Today I decided to work on the nosegear box jig. I bought some wood and managed to put together the jig in a couple of hours, which is not bad considering I am not exactly a talented woodworker. I also started to trace, cut, shape and drill some of the components for the nosegear box, but I only did FU-87/88. I didn't work on the fuselage for various reasons; I need 0.063 sheet metal, I ran out of PRC and have to buy some more, etc. But I'm going to wait until I get to the BD-5 Expo in Livermore Oct 11-12 before I continue, because I have plenty of questions and doubts I need to clear up before I go on. If you are planning on going to the Expo, look me up, I'll be around all day the 11th and 12th, and I have offered to volunteer time working at the Expo.
September 27-28, 1997
On Saturday I finish drilled, deburred and dimpled the upper section of the tail, including the doubler and splicing strip. I still have an alignment problem with the prop housing tube; the hole in the engine compartment was made off-center. I know I need to expand the hole and then install doubler(s?) to the prop housing tube diameter, but I want to wait until I get to the BD-5 expo in Livermore, California, in mid-October to ask the experts about this. On Sunday my wife and kid went to a birthday party. I went to get the house keys I had forgotten the day before on the work table and decided to stay and get a little work done. I finish drilled, deburred and dimpled the few holes I hadn't done on the left-hand cockpit skin. I also bought some more rags and two cans of MEK on Saturday, but I didn't need the PRC this weekend. I'll buy a kit next week, otherwise I'll get some when I come back from California.
September 20, 1997
Today I finished gluing and riveting the lower right hand portion of the tail, including the inside bulkheads, outside panel and splicing strip. I just made a big batch of PRC and jumped into it.
First I cleaned all the surfaces to be glued with MEK, including the engine compartment bulkhead. I had forgotten to debur the holes for the rivets on FU-56 and FU-61, so I did that as well. I then made a large batch of PRC glued FU-65 to the outside skin panel. I riveted only those holes that do not go through other bulkheads and cleaned off the excess with an MEK-soaked rag.
I then applied PRC to FU-61. I used a thin, wide piece of wood to apply a generous, even coat of PRC to the shelf, then carefully placed it against the engine compartment bulkhead. I had already loaded the rivet gun with a dome head rivet, so I picked it up and riveted the center hole. You'll still have to juggle a bit to load another rivet into the gun, and continue riveting the other holes. The space is a little cramped, but you can bend the shelf up a bit to give yourself more working room. Once that was done I cleaned up the excess PRC with a rag soaked with MEK and repeated the process for FU-56.
The next part was a bit of a hassle. The three small pieces that go inside the tail between the two shelves and the bottom portion of the outside panel have to be PRC'd and then set in place and aligned before you can rivet. I took the smallest piece and glued/riveted it on my workbench, then transferred the resulting part in between FU-56 and FU-61 after putting PRC on the faces that meet the bulkheads. It took some juggling, but I managed to rivet them correctly with dome head rivets. Then the bottom piece, which was also a bit of a chore because the rivets go through middle shelf as well. There's no way around it, you can't wear gloves while you are doing this and you're going to get messy. What worked for me was to insert the rivets and then slide the rivet gun over the mandrel and squeeze.
Once that is done you'll have to support the assembly while you apply PRC prior to positioning the outside skin panel. I used a long piece of scrap wood, and then changed my mind and cleco'd the other skin panel in place to hold things together. I applied a generous coat of PRC to the side flanges of the bulkheads, making sure I coated everything that would come in contact with the outside skin panel. Make SURE that you coat all the contact points, because it'll be a bear to go back and put some more PRC in there after you've placed some rivets.
Using two clecos, I positioned the outside skin panel and started riveting. I worked my way down the engine compartment, then across FU-61. Don't start at one end then move to the other, work your way from one side to the other. When you insert the rivet, and before squeezing, take a quick peek inside to make sure the rivet has gone all the way through and not just pushed against the flange and moved it in.
I worked my way across and riveted all the holes. Then I put PRC on the splicing strap, positioned it and riveted it. I cleaned off the excess PRC with MEK (that will take a while), then checked for problem rivets. I found one that needed to be replaced (mandrel was not cut flush with the rivet head), so I drilled out the center, took it out and put in another rivet.
Once I was done I checked everything again, to make sure I hadn't missed anything, and used up the rest of my can of MEK to wipe everything down one more time. I was pleased with the results, and an FSDO inspector that was visiting agreed that it looked great.
This week I'll have to buy more rags (they become useless when they get full of PRC), another PRC kit and a 5-gal can of MEK.
This week I also sent out four additional sponsorship proposals. I believe the feature article in the San Juan Star where my project will be features is coming out tomorrow, and I hope that helps me find one or more sponsors. <Crossing fingers>
September 13, 1997
It's official. Today I started gluing and riveting components. And I have one thing to say.
Geez, PRC is a bear to work with. The stuff is thick, both the paste and the catalyst, so I quickly dispensed with the idea of using industrial-strength syringes to measure the qty's of each. Both of the A&P's that were there told me that I should be doing it by weight, but that experience is the best way to tell when you are mixing the two properly. In my case, the past is white and the catalyst is black. One of the A&P's did a demo and help me mix a bit of it, and showed me the proper color I should end up with after 5 minutes of steady mixing. Sort of an ugly grey color.
Biggest mistake was forgetting to wear gloves. I've washed my hands several times but I still have this black stuff everywhere on them. I guess I'll just have to wait until it wears off. So... WEAR GLOVES!! BIG RUBBER ONES! <grin> And make sure you have plenty of MEK before starting to glue and rivet, because you will go through it quickly as you soak rags to remove the excess PRC from the finished product.
The riveting part was actually more of a letdown, I thought it would be harder, turned out to be much easier. First I did FU-45 to FU-38, then the nose splicing strap to the left nose half, then FU-38/45 to the left nose half, then the right nose half. The end result looks extremely good, and the PRC even spread evenly in the gap between skins, which made me very happy. The rivets were a bit of a pain to insert into the holes at first, but I prefer them to be tight rather than too loose.
I also finish drilled, deburred and dimpled the RH cockpit skin panel. I was going to start working on gluing and riveting the right hand side of the tail, but I decided to take it easy and learn the skills with the nose first.
So, next comes the RH side of the tail. I also picked up a NAV antenna today, the kind that Cessna's have at the top of the vertical stabilizer, and it fits very well, but I suspect that the BD-5 is too fast for that kind of antenna. I'm thinking I may want to install the type of NAV antenna that's shown on the BD-5J brochure below the horizontal stabilizer, the type for high-performance aircraft. Richard Bach's BD-5J has them, click here to view the pics of his -5J, and look directly underneath the horizontal stab on the second picture; you have to install them in pairs, though, and you can barely see the other antenna on the top picture. Besides, it looks a heck of a lot better than two long antenna coming out of the top of the vertical stab. But it's also more expensive, about $250 per antenna.
Oh, and by the way, any of you folks have that COMM antenna that was made for the BD-5 and goes in the vertical stabilizer leading edge? Pretty neat, huh? Remember that you have to cut the leading edge skin of the vertical stabilizer when installing the antenna. Don't put the antenna under the skin, or you won't be able to talk to or hear anyone.
September 8, 1997
The tools and clecos I ordered from Aircraft Tool Supply finally arrived, so I took a bit of time off in the morning to go take the new tools and clecos to the hangar. Since I had some time to kill before I had to go to work, I finished dimpling the holes on the nose splicing straps and the rest of the holes on the fwd end of FU-67/68. I also drilled the last of the holes for the doubler that goes inside the tail at the prop shaft exit point.
On Saturday I am going to do my first PRC gluing and pop riveting. I'm going to try and get there early in the morning and do the nose. If that comes out well I'll start doing the tail bulkheads and left hand side panels.
September 6, 1997
Some of you have asked what the "DTP!" means on the graphic with the camera to the left of the picture of Princess Diana.
It means whatever you want it to mean. The camera represents the paparazzi.
Today I worked on FU-38 and FU-45. I was hoping that my order from Aircraft Tool Supply had arrived, but it appears the post office is intent on making me work harder to do simple things like flutes.
So, I put some elbow grease into it and shaped FU-38 around the form block with a ball-peen hammer. It came out a lot better than I expected, and a couple of people who saw the finished piece were impressed. I must be getting better at this.
Now I had to fit the piece to the nose. That was a pain, until I realized that all I had to do was drill the holes in FU-38 -first-, and then position the piece, clamp it and drill through the nose. It is a bit of a pain because it installs at an angle, but if you do mark the 3/4 inch distance from the edge to FU-38 before drilling, then adjust the edge of FU-38 to the mark, clamp and drill the center pilot holes first, working your way out, it's much easier than it looks. Careful when you cut FU-45: the length shown in the plans (first time FU-45 is shown) is not correct. Measure from the picture in the next page that shows FU-45 attached to FU-38, otherwise you'll have to trim it later on. Also, the BD-M-0002 width is 1"; you'll have to trim both sides to 3/4" in order for it to fit properly. Not a big deal, mark with a scribe and use the snips to trim, then file and deburr.
Cutting the web on FU-38 is also relatively easy. I used the rule and a pencil to mark the 1" distance from the top edges inward, then connected the marks and cut, file and deburred.
Anyway, FU-38 and FU-45 are now in place. I also finish drilled all of the nose, FU-38 and some of the holes in FU-67/68 where they meet with the nose. I also deburred the holes and dimpled them. Note that the two top tabs on FU-38 go underneath the splicing strap in the nose (in other words, the splicing strap end goes between FU-38 and the nose) and that you'll have to joggle the tabs to allow for the strap's position.
It's time to start gluing and riveting. Next weekend I will take a large fan with me for ventilation and start working with the PRC and pop rivets. That ought to be lots of fun...
August 31, 1997
I cannot believe that Princess Diana is dead. Some little part of me still holds out hope that maybe she's still alive; her death is such a loss for the entire planet.... I hope that her passing means that she'll find the peace she was never able to find while she was alive.
Today I finished attaching the nose to the fuselage panels. It took a bit of filing and fidgeting with the cockpit panels to get a good fit, but in the end it came out OK. There's a gap at the center of where the fuselage panels meet the nose assembly, but since that entire area will be cut out for the nosegear, it's not a problem. The alignment is what counts that that's good.
I also cut FU-38 and made the two top notches on it, also cut the form blocks, but I didn't continue past that because I want to receive the new fluting tool I ordered 3 weeks ago. I also cut FU-45 from the angle pieces that come with the kit. That was too easy. I looked around for some 0.063 2024-T3 Alclad that I needed at this stage of the plans but I don't think I have any. I'll to look closer and see if there is some in the kit; I hope I don't have to buy some, it's expensive.
I've noticed that as I gain confidence from building other components the work is going much faster. I still take a break every few minutes to survey what I am getting ready to do (or will do, or am doing), but it's much clearer in my mind, after having built other parts for the kit, how to proceed.
I finally got a lesson on mixing PRC, so it looks like next weekend I will glue and rivet the left hand side of the tail. I need to recover some of those clecos anyway...
August 30, 1997
The air conditioning is back!
Today I finished putting together the splicing strap on the cockpit area fuselage panels (FU-67/68). An alignment check once the job was done confirmed in-progress checks; the alignment, I'm happy to say, is perfect.
I'm shooting to "finish" the external fuselage this weekend, so I also cut the nose splice strips to attach it to FU-67/68 as well. I got one done, I will do the other strip tomorrow. I also have to file down the edges a bit, but just for fit, as the area where FU-67/68/72/73 meet is cut away later on to create the nosewheel well and install the nose gear door.
August 23, 1997
I walked into the hangar/shop area to sweltering heat. Turns out that because of the lightning storm last night the air conditioning blower that services that area of the hangar shut itself down and some portion of the electrical system did not work the next day. So I spent 6 hours alternating between the cage and the nearest place near the big elevator where I could find some breeze. It was -hot-!
Anyway, significant progress. I fitted the left hand side upper panel on the tail, completed the splicing strip and the doubler and got it all to fit properly. It was a pain drilling the holes for the doubler because you can't really get a good feeling for the position of the doubler unless you have everything put together, and that means that you wind up with about 6 inches of space where the prop shaft exits the tail to get to the area. Using a hole finder I was able to drill some four holes, but next week I have to pull it apart and finish drilling. I also drilled the holes that close the back end of the aircraft, from the bottom to near the doubler. After I finished I thought I was a tiny bit off center but it turns out the engine compartment's top seam is not complete straight, but the assembly is straight. I verified that with a string running from the back end to the seam where FU-67/68/72/73 join.
I also made the splice trip that joins the two cockpit panels, but by the time I was done with that and had drilled two holes to join it to FU-13, it was 6:30pm and I needed to get home. Besides, I have to joggle the splicing strip where it goes over the edge and onto the top of FU-13, and even though my Jeppessen A&P airframe textbook explains it, I want confirmation from an A&P on how to do that. By that time everyone else had left, and I did the same. Next week I will join the two cockpit panels together with the strip, and attach the nose to the fuselage. I may also start applying PRC and riveting the left hand side of the rear fuselage, leaving the right hand side open for future installation of the control systems. That'll also release some badly needed clecos, as the ones I ordered are not here yet.
Soon I will have to treat and protect from corrosion the aluminum components that are not being worked on, such as the wings, tail, etc. I plan to clean them with a nylon scrubbing pad and a mild detergent/degreaser, rinse thoroughly, wash with a 6:1 solution of Alumiprep and water, rinse thoroughly, treat with Alodyne (undiluted), rinse thoroughly and dry, then apply a coat of Zinc Chromate or an epoxy primer. If any of you folks have any other suggestions for this process, please email and let me know.
August 16, 1997
I finally picked up a sheet of Alclad 2024-T3 0.032 today. Geez, what an odyssey. It took PR Aircraft Supply two weeks to get the stuff in, and they are way overpriced ($108 for a 4x6 sheet!). Next time I'll order ahead of time from Aircraft Spruce, which seems to have the best prices.
Let's see... today I installed the left hand cockpit fuselage panel. That one was much easier, since I had already done one, but I have to trim the bottom edge, it was apparently not cut right at Bede Aircraft's contractor. Everything is, fortunately, very well aligned. There's need of a bit of filing all around, but the alignment is right, thank goodness.
I also did the top splice strip for the upper rear fuselage panels. One side is drilled and cleco'd, I have to do the other side. Oh, and I drilled and cleco'd one half of the doubler that goes inside the tailcone, to support the prop housing tube. I got a perfect bend on it to match the shape of the tailcone with a metal bending hand-cranked machine. I was surprised how easy that was and how well that turned out; the match was very nearly perfect, I only had to do a bit of hand-adjusting.
It looks like I installed FU-60 incorrectly after all. It appears to be slightly off center, to the right. I'll probably have to build another one, which is not a problem, and reuse the holes I put into FU-56.
I also took some measurements in the engine compartment for horizontal clearance, and found that the majority of engines I have been investigating will not fit. For example, the Two-Stroke Technologies engines in the horsepower range adequate for the BD-5 are 20.5 inches wide through the entire length of the engine. The BD-5 engine compartment is about 13 inches wide in the rear, 19.5 in the front, and that is maximum width.
Finally, I have a fresh roll of 24 pics I have to have developed tomorrow at Walgreens so I can scan and post them. The progress is very much evident in the new pics. I'll try to get them posted by next week.
August 9, 1997
Today I spent most of the day working on a new combination work table and jig for the fuselage. Rather than buying wood for the project, I dismantled the packing crates that the kit came in, and used that wood, after tediously removing tons of small nails, to build the work table.
The work surface turned out 26 inches high, 27.5 inches wide and some 9 ft. long. I have the rest of the hardware that I need to turn it into a jig (most eyebolts, nuts, washers and threaded plates; it's only meant to be a jig to hold the fuselage straight while I work on it) as well as plenty of leftover wood. The height of the table is great because I can comfortably work on it while standing or sitting.
The other thing I did today was install the right hand forward fuselage panel. It took me a long time to decide I had it right, and I had to trim the panel (those tabs on the corners and middle of the edges, used during forming of the metal, have to be cut off and filed smooth), file FU-1 to bring it into alignment and set up a jury-rigged system to hold the forward end of the panel while I used cleco clamps to affix and align it. I checked the alignment about 10 times, using various methods, and then drilled and cleco'd some 10 holes or so.
Other than that, and watching the ongoing work on the B17 Staggerwing next door (they're currently covering the control surfaces and applying dope), I didn't do a whole lot, but I felt I accomplished a lot. Go figure. :)
August 2, 1997
I didn't do a whole lot today, just finished drilling, deburring and dimpling the nose. I was planning on doing some other things but yesterday the San Juan Star called; they want to do a feature story on the BD-5 I am building. They came over today at 3:00pm, interviewed me and took a bunch of pictures of myself and my son, as well as the BD-5, of course. Seeing it come out in the paper should be a lot of fun, and maybe I'll get one or more sponsors that way.
Today I really spent most of the time thinking about what I need to do next. I definitely need to build a fuselage jig of some kind. I made a half-hearted attempt to align the FU-67 and FU-68 forward fuselage skins (the cockpit) but there's no way I can assure myself I'll do it right the way the a/c is sitting right now, on top of a wooden box. I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do, and have plenty of scrap wood to build it. What I want to build is a wooden stand with curved areas to fit the fuselage and a way to install clamps that will allow me to fix the aircraft in a given position to check for alignment. It will also allow me to work with those fuselage skins; it's a bit uncomfortable to work right now the way it is.
Another reason I didn't get much work done today is that I need to buy a sheet of 0.032 2024-T3 Alclad. The local supply store didn't have any, they're getting some next week. I need it to make several splicing strips to complete the rear fuselage and begin the forward fuselage. I also wanted to buy Alumiprep, Alodyne and Zinc Chromate to treat and protect the wings, but they didn't have any either, it's coming next week. Apparently the ValueJet crash has really tightened requirements (and prices) for shipping hazardous materials by air.
I was going to work on the jig tomorrow but I have to fix my car; the heater core appears to have cracked and it's dumping radiator fluid all over the carpet in the driver's side of the car. I'll have to find a way of taking it out of the cooling system by running a bypass (trust me, heaters are worthless in Puerto Rico). If I can finish that early enough I'll head for the airport and work on the fuselage jig. (Update: I bypassed the heater core and it works fine now.)I'm sure other builders will be interested in seeing what I do. I too would be interested in knowing what you have done in this respect. Have you built a fuselage jig that worked for you? If so, please send me an email. A picture would be nice as well.
July 27, 1997
Today I installed FU-60. It gave me a lot of trouble because the prop housing tube did not align properly. I measured and remeasured the FU-60 I had built and could not see what was wrong. Thank goodness one of the local A&P's came over the check on the progress of the Staggerwing restoration project, and he took a look at what I was doing. We reversed the orientation of FU-60, and realized that the problem is that the original builder did not center the hole in FU-6 properly. I will have to adjust the hole and install a doubler to correct that (or order another FU-6, but that would mean I'd have to reinstall the entire rear fuselage as well).
I found the mention of FU-66 in one of the newsletters. It can be substituted for a wooden circle 5.97" in diameter. I did that, but didn't get much further because of the problem with FU-6.
I was getting a little frustrated, so I decided to tackle something else, something simple. So, I built the nose cone out of FU-72, -73 and -74. It had to be trimmed and filed down in some places to ensure proper alignment, but I drilled and cleco'd the pilot holes and it looks great. Next weekend I'll tackle the adjustment to FU-6 and final work on the rear fuselage (minus bonding and riveting, which I will not do until much later).
July 26, 1997
More dimple work today. A lot of hours on that. I spent all day working on making the dimples on the RH rear lower skin and the bulkheads.
Something I found out today might be useful to others. Previously I was using a #39 drill to make the pilot hole, and then a #28 drill to enlarge to rivet size. The problem with this is that it is very difficult to use a dimple die set with a #39 pilot hole. If you can find a nail long enough and strong enough to fit in a #39 hole, more power to you, but I couldn't find one that wouldn't break in half after using the dies to make 2-3 holes. I also found that if I make the hole with a #28 drill bit and then use the dimple die, the resulting enlargement of the hole is a bit large for a 1/8" rivet. It still works just fine, but I felt uncomfortable with the play.
So what I am doing now is drilling the pilot with a #39 hole, and when it's time to enlarge the hole and dimple, I use a #30 drill instead. I then deburr with an oversize drill bit (hand twirling, works great) and then use the dimple dies, a 2" nail and the hand rivet gun to make the dimple. The resulting hole, after dimple dies enlarge it a bit as usual, is a perfect fit for the 1/8" pop rivets. In some instances, like when you need to drill and dimple a hole through a portion of FU-6 that is doubled, you'll have to use a slightly larger drill to make the hole bigger after using the dimple dies. That's fine, a #28 drill will enlarge to the proper size, but make the dimple first, then drill out to #28 if the dimpled hole is not big enough for the rivet.
So, I now have a finished lower rear fuselage, dimpled and deburred. I now have to order the missing FU-66 (or make a wooden dummy; does anyone know the outside diameter of FU-66?) in order to align, trim, install and finish the top half of the rear fuselage. Tomorrow I'll probably install FU-60 and make the strip that goes along the top seam of the upper half, and then I'll start working on the parts for the front of the fuselage while I get a replacement for the missing FU-66.
Another note: when building the rear fuselage, if you look further ahead in the plans you'll see that you have to build some inspection holes not only on the skins but in one of the bulkheads as well. I don't know why this wasn't put into the earlier section of the manual. I'm planning on doing it now rather than doing it later. Another tip: I'm going to use the standard Cessna inspection hole kits, which come with all the parts necessary to finish a standard 6" inspection hole after making the cutout. It's a lot easier than building your own doubler, cover, etc.
July 21, 1997
I had forgotten that today was a holiday (Luis Muñoz Rivera birthday), and that virtually everyone was closed, so I put in a third consecutive day (or half day, actually). I did the second FU-65 cutout for the horizontal stabilator in record time. For those of you that are wondering how to do that, this is how it worked for me (I'd like to hear of other alternative methods, even though I've already finished this; we can always add them here):
Once you have made FU-65 and marked the hole centers as per the plans, drill a hole in the center of the cutout with a large drill bit. Use a nibbler to remove material up to between 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch of the scribe mark. Clamp the piece between two pieces of wood and use a cylindrical rotary cutter on your drill to file down to the scribe marks. Be very careful that you don't go past the scribe marks. Use hand files (round and half round) to finish the shaping of the hole and debur. Take a good look at the plans before positioning FU-65 on the skin panel. Place FU-65 on top of the plans and mark where the center point of the measurements should be. Measure the distances from the top and rear edges of the panel; use a ruler to measure the distances on the edges, then use a straight edge protractor to draw perpendicular lines. The intersection is where the center point should be, as marked in the plans. If you have any doubts about positioning (and even if you don't have doubts) measure it two or three more times to make sure you have it right.
Now, look at the plans again. You'll see that the edges of FU-65 are not parallel to the edges of the skin panel. If you have constructed FU-65 accurately, you ought to be able to measure the distances from the rear edge of the skin panel to the two rearmost corners on FU-65. The plans may not be to accurate scale, so you may have to calculate the ratios of the distances to properly determine the angle at which it must be placed. Once you are satisfied with the placement of FU-65, secure it to the skin panel either with clamps or with tape and drill three holes in areas where the holes do not go through bulkheads and cleco the piece to secure it to the skin panel.
Once I got to this point I then drilled the rest of the holes and completed the full panel installation. I then removed the skin panel with FU-65 still attached and scribed the hole cutout. I removed FU-65, again drilled a large hole through the panel and used a nibbler to remove most of the material up to about 1/8" of the scribe mark. Then I installed FU-65 again with clecos and clamped it between two pieces of wood. Using the cylindrical rotary cutter and drill once more, I filed down to match the edges of FU-65. For the short radius rounded corners, I used the tree radius cylindrical cutter and the round file. File down any rough areas to assure an exact match, then debur.
Again, this is how it worked for me. The most important thing to remember is to measure, measure again and measure a third time, even if you are sure that the placement of the parts are correct. Note as well that you may have to trim FU-61 in order for it to clear the FU-65 opening.
Anyway, after that I finished drilling all the holes for the skin panels, and through the bulkheads. Another tip for drilling the bulkheads through the skin: you shouldn't have a problem drilling through most of the bulkheads and the skin once the bulkheads are positioned properly. For the places where you don't have enough room for the drill, mark and drill the holes on the bulkheads first and then, after positioning the bulkhead, use a hole finder to drill through the skin.
Once again, if you have figured out other techniques for these items, please send me an email with the descriptions of what you did; I will be more than happy to add them to the web site. Perhaps we can even start a tips and tricks area for each section of the aircraft!
July 20, 1997
Dimple day. And how. All I did today, for some 6 hours, was drill, dimple and debur holes. From the top of the fuselage down the left side to the bottom seam strip, and from FU-6 back to the trailing edge. And everything in between. Yes, I finally got the tiny dimple dies from Aircraft Tool Co. and went straight to work with the dies, the pop rivet gun and a nail. For about 2 seconds. I put too much pressure on the gun and broke the nail in half. Lesson learned. Thank goodness Aircraft Tool had included a second nail (I wonder if they knew this would happen), and that lasted until just about the last 3 holes I had to dimple.
The tip in the manual about using the oversize drill bit to debur the holes is an excellent one. I just twirled the bit between my fingers, putting no pressure on the hole, and it worked much better than if I had used the universal deburring tool. In some cases, like in the trailing edge side of FU-56 and -61, I had to use the tool, but in all other cases I used a large drill bit, and it worked fine.
The end result was very good, and in fact the panels actually fit a little better when I was done. Now I can use the larger clecos, which means I don't have to buy more of the smaller clecos for the right hand side. I'll probably have to buy more clecos later anyway, but for now I'm fine.
I also verified that I am missing FU-66 and that the prop housing tube will probably have to be replaced since it has some areas that appear to be scuffed or scraped and are marked with red marker ink. No matter, the prop housing tube is a no-seam tube made out of 6061-T6 aluminum; I can probably get a replacement locally. I'll have to buy FU-66 from BD Micro or Alturair, though. Seems like BD Micro has better prices; both are on the west coast so shipping costs will not be a factor.
Anyway, the rear right hand side is finished, the metal needs to be cleaned and MEK'd, and then I'm ready to glue and rivet. For that I'm going to make sure I have an A&P there to show me how it's done before I go it on my own. But I'm not going to do that until I have the entire rear end aligned and finished.
July 19, 1997
Today I worked on continuing installation of FU-42. I drilled most of the holes through the FU-56 and FU-61 shelves and the rear bulkheads. Alignment looks excellent, except at the top of the rear fuselage. I'll have to trim the right hand top panel a bit. I also positioned and installed the other FU-65, after an hour long round with FU-61, which needed to be trimmed a bit for clearance for the horizontal stabilizer hole. I didn't cut out the hole that goes through FU-65 yet.
I also found the panel mount kit that had come with the Delcom 760 channel portable radio I had bought a while back, and found that I have solved my radio problem -- at least initially I won't have to buy a comm radio!. The panel mount kit for the Delcom is the shape of a standard instrument hole. The radio is slipped into the plate, which has two screw holes to secure the radio. The fit is excellent, and all I'll have to do is 12vdc get power from behind the panel (and I'll have a built-in NICAD backup!), run the antenna wire to the back of the panel and out the front to connect to the radio, and hook up my headset adapter. I might just put a 10 watt amplifier somewhere between the radio and the antenna (which mounts inside the vertical stabilizer) to boost the portable's output. I've been using the Delcom for quite a while now and it has always worked like a champ -- I highly recommend it as an inexpensive backup COMM-only radio (receives NAV freqs but has no nav functions other than audio). I can also hook up the speaker/mike combo, but there will probably be too much noise in the cockpit to use it.
July 12, 1997
I decided today to install FU-42 (rear fuselage lower right hand side panel) onto the fuselage. I ordered dimple dies and other stuff from Aircraft Tool Co. but I haven't received them yet (it's only been two days) so I couldn't go through with what I was planning to do today, dimple all the holes, drill out to #29 and switch to the larger clecos.
After checking for alignment, I went ahead and drilled the holes through FU-42 and the FU-6 bulkhead, and through the bottom reinforcement strip. I installed all the clecos and was going to continue, but I thought it would be a good idea to install FU-39 (upper left hand side rear fuselage panel) and make sure that the entire left side was aligned. I did that and cleco'd it in place, and found that even though the top edge of FU-39 is a bit off center, it can be easily corrected with a little filing. The bottom seam is centered, so it's an issue of FU-39 needing some trimming. I spent most of the day doing these two pieces and carefully studying the plans, referring back and forth to the fuselage, to determine how best to drill the rest of FU-32 through the FU-56, FU-61 and other bulkheads. It looks as if I will have to be very careful to maintain alignment while I do that.
As it turns out, the breakdown of the time I am spending on the a/c is similar to the breakdown of time spent on software development -- 90% planning, 10% action. I spend a lot of time just measuring, checking, putting a little duct tape here and there to hold pieces while I use the chalk lines and plumb bobs to check for alignment. The plans are missing some information in some areas -- they make too many assumptions in some spots -- and that usually brings me to a dead stop while I try to figure out what they really meant. Since I usually work Saturdays or Sundays, there aren't any mechs in the hangar that I can consult. I'm going to have to take out a day during the week to get to the hangar early in the afternoon with a list of questions and see I can lasso someone to help me out.
So far I'm pleased with the progress. As I go along I'm finding it easier to perform the various tasks and the plans make more sense. The feedback I am getting is that the people who work in the shop during the week are impressed with the work so far. Hopefully this week I'll try to get one of the A&P's to come by and do an inspection to see how everything is going and determine if anything needs to be redone.
July 5, 1997
Today I spent most of the afternoon working on the rear fuselage. I fit FU-65 (the doubler for the stabilator cutout on the rear fuselage) inside FU-41 (the fuselage skin). That took a while, because I had to trim and file down FU-61 to get FU-65's cutout to align properly. I measured, remeasured and measured again for good measure, and finally got it right. So I drilled and cleco'd FU-65 and did everything as per plans.
After that I fit FU-56 (top shelf in rear fuselage), drilled the holes through FU-6 and then drilled the holes through the top edge of FU-41. I had to do a little maneuvering to get FU-56 to the proper position, but when I was done drilling and putting clecos in it all worked out fine as well.
I also found out I need to redo FU-63, the bend on one of the tabs is not parallel and it needs to be recut and reformed. No big deal, it's a small part and I plan to do it tomorrow afternoon.
Finally, I determined positioning for FU-60 (through which the prop shaft travels), marked and checked distances. I'll probably drill and cleco that one tomorrow as well.
Checked alignment again today on the rear fuselage half with everything cleco'd, and so far alignment is good.
Manny Suárez of The San Juan Star came by today to take pics of the a/c in progress; he wants to see if he can talk the Star into doing a general interest feature story about the project. One of the reporters at the Star is a pilot as well and he's sure he'll be interested in the story. Maybe it will help me get one or more sponsors, who knows.
If you haven't done so yet, check out the new entry in the library covering Harry Riblett's reprofile for the BD-5 wing (NACA 64212 wing root). It appears to be a relatively simple modification to make to the wing, and is supposed to give excellent results (lower stall speed, greater lift, more docile stall characteristics) for very little drawback in weight or drag.
Tomorrow I'm going to continue working on the rear fuselage. After I finish that part, I have to start working on the forward fuselage, but I definitely have to come up with some kind of a rudimentary jig before I tackle this part of the plans. Not only will the jig help with alignment, but also it's becoming more cumbersome to manhandle the fuselage.
June 29, 1997
This weekend I took the leap and started making holes in the fuselage structure. Boy, what a trauma. Good thing it lasted all of a minute.
After finishing most of the rear fuselage components (I still have to make the cutouts in one FU-65 and the FU-60), I started putting together the rear fuselage. I found that FU-42 (left hand side lower panel) had not been cut as well as should have been done back at the factory. Apparently whoever was doing the cutting didn't follow a straight line. However, after speaking to a couple of A&P's, I decided to fit all the panels together to see how they actually came together. Turns out that I should not do any trimming because I can't add metal to what was cut, and the gap between the panel and the engine compartment panels is small and can be closed with body filler.
So, I started making holes through FU-42 and FU-6. It turned out extremely well. Where the FU-42 meets the engine compartment panels the gap is almost non-existent, except for that one area. I checked to see that it the panel was straight, and it is. (Good thing the fuselage can still be manhandled by one person). I measured all the holes as called out in the construction manual and put clecos into the #39 holes.
Next was FU-59, if I remember correctly; a strip of .032 aluminum, 1.44" wide and running from FU-6 to 2.5" from the end of FU-41/42, and tapered slightly at the end. I couldn't find any .032 raw panels long enough, and was getting a bit upset until I several strips of various lengths. One was made from .032 2024-T3, so I cut it to size, trimmed it appropriately, and installed it on FU-42. Then came FU-64, which I had already cut and shaped. I almost installed it upside down, but since I decided to double-check everything before drilling holes, I caught it and straightened it out.
I also realized that I'm going to need more cleco's, unless I drop to one cleco every 3 holes or so, which I figure is OK for now. Tomorrow I'm picking up some more cleco's that a friend is donating to the project. Looks like I'll pick up again where I left off on Monday evening, with installation of FU-61, attachment to FU-64 and FU-41/2, and on from there.
Today I went to see Jim Mathyas' SeaRey in Condado. He's building it in a garage where the sun comes flooding in about 1pm, so he can only work on the a/c from early morning until that time. Nice amphibious kit. Also takes much less work than the BD-5, but then again it's not meant to fly at over 200 mph on 60 hp. It also turns out that he's going to put a Rotax 582 engine on it, and I really, really wanted to be able to look at it but the engine was still in the box and I don't think he wanted to open it yet. He must be about 1/3rd of the way into the kit, which only takes some 400 hours to build (compared to over 3,000 average for the BD-5!).
Many of the folks at Isla Verde continue to be surprised when they see me in there for hours at a time. I don't know if they're just showing enthusiasm or surprise that I would actually want to do this. But it's nice because they offer help and advice, and plenty of moral support. One older gentleman who owns an avionics shop was impressed with the internal construction of the BD-5 and how strong it really is.
The pictures of the project are in from Walgreens. I'll see about scanning them tomorrow and putting them on the web site.
June 26, 1997
Over the past few days I've been working on the rear fuselage section. Yesterday I finally got electrical power from an adjacent avionics shop, so I can now use my power tools. The crew starting to work across the hall on a Staggerwing restoration want to put pressurized air for air-powered tools into the area. I've agreed to help, but I don't plan to buy air tools for the moment. My budget won't allow it right now, but maybe later. One thing I plan to buy is a Dremel tool with a few accessories.
I had a really hard time cutting out the section of FU-65 for the stabilator installation. A friend from the avionics shop suggested I buy the Dremel tool with the cutting disks -- it makes a lot of sense. Once I test the tool I'll add it to the tools list page.
Most of the other rear fuselage parts are straightforward in their construction. I cut a some wooden form blocks and finished FU-62 and FU-63. I also fit FU-41 and FU-42 onto the engine compartment bulkhead with duct tape to check for alignment and fit. Apparently whoever made the parts for Bede didn't quite follow the cut line, but the fit is within tolerance. This weekend I'll probably attach FU-41 to the engine compartment bulkhead and start fitting the other parts that I already made.
I found out today from the Rotax Owner's Association that the Rotax 583 100 hp engine is not an aircraft engine. It's actually a snowmobile engine, and is not recommended for use in aircraft. So much for that one. Looks like I'll be continuing the search for a 582 at a good price. Of course, if I hit the Lotto, it's Solar T62 time!
I probably should also take time this weekend to build some shelves. I need to get the parts better organized and completely out of the boxes. That would allow me to make some more room in the cage for work.
Pictures of the initial state of the cage just prior to beginning work on the rear fuselage should be available soon.
June 21, 1997
Today was the day. I started construction today, 23 years after the last FAA signoff in the original logbook. I don't have electrical power for the tools in the cage yet, so I was limited to cutting some parts (FU61, 58, 62, 63, 64 for the rear fuselage section). They look pretty darn good, if I may say so. Tomorrow morning I'm going to try and figure out where to run the long extension cord to bring power into the cage.
And yes, I took pictures before I started. I have to get them developed and scanned, but it's all there; the cage, unpacked kit, good view of working area and a wide view of the entire 2nd floor I'm working in, to give you folks an idea of how BIG the place really is.
Today's little experience reminded me of items I needed to add to the tools and supplies list. Ever try to cut a traced pattern of a part with tinner's snips? Talk about sore fingers...
June 13, 1997
Construction of the cyclone fence partition at the hangar is finished except for the mesh to be installed on the gate. Considering it is the first time I build one, I'm impressed. It turned out a lot better than what I expected. Not that I thought it would look like a mess, but its not too shabby. I'll start taking pictures next week and as I scan then I'll make them available here.
This also means that I will definitely unpack and start preparing to build the rear fuselage section next week. I've located nearly all the tools I need, except for a couple of things; a 120 degree "suicide" countersink bit, a #30 x 120 degree bit for the microstop countersink I just bought, and a 37 degree tube flaring tool. The other things I am missing are things best borrowed rather than bought because they will only be used once; like the Nicropress sleeve squeezer for the control system, which is only used to put sleeves on the control cables. BTW, I did find most of the tools I needed, including many of the optional ones, at the local hardware store level. I even found out that one of the local hardware stores sells aircraft-quality stainless steel control cables. Surprised the heck out of me.
I've received a number of queries from other people who are interested in building BD-5's but don't know how to proceed. One person told me he'd like to buy a completed aircraft because he doesn't have the skill or time to build the kit. In both cases I referred them to BD Micro Technologies and their FlightLine kits. In my opinion, from what I have seen and heard, they offer the best kits for the BD-5. I just wish I had had the money to buy one of theirs. Still, I have a good kit, I'll just have to spend more time on it; it'll keep me off the streets! For more info on BD Micro's kits, call Skeeter at +1 (541) 444-1343. He's usually there from 3 to 5pm, Pacific Time. The same number is also the FAX number. He doesn't have an email address -- yet.
I did locate what looks like will be my choice of engine for the aircraft. The one thing that worried me the most was obtaining a good engine mount design for whatever engine I happened to pick -- which had to weigh under 100 lbs complete and not be too wide, otherwise it wouldn't fit in the engine compartment. It turns out a mutual acquaintance knows someone who flies a BD-5 in the mainland, and I called him on the phone. His wife said he wasn't in, but as soon as I said "BD-5" he suddenly materialized out on the lawn on top of a lawn mowing machine. Some feat, eh?
He bought a completed kit, refurbished it, and put a Rotax 582 in it, using an engine mount designed by Blaine Wills of Louisiana. Blaine actually did the work, and he did something I didn't think was possible; he installed the engine in such a way that he didn't need a counterweight in the nose or any of the stretch kits. Apparently he managed to mount it far enough forward in the engine compartment that it doesn't require lead weights for CG balance. Now -that's- my idea of a great BD-5 engine installation. I hope to contact Mr. Wills soon to get some pricing for the engine mount and whatever other optionals he sells for the BD-5. However, it looks like I will be using the 583 instead of the 582. The 583 puts out about 40 more horsepower, which I would really like to have.
I also found out that there's a BD-5 convention out in St. Louis on the 2nd week of September. I really hope I can make it, but with all the expenses due to the start of the school year I'm not sure I'll be able to make it. I'll try, though. Maybe I can hitch a ride in one of the cargo planes that fly out of SJU every day...
I've also been spending some spare time looking at avionics options. I know, it's early, but I like to plan ahead... waaayyy ahead! My number one option would be the Archangel EFIS system, but I'll have to win the Lotto to get that one -- with options and sensors, etc. it runs some $20,000. Size is right, price is not. So, I'm working on getting a few instruments at a time. I have the original Bede Aircraft instruments shipped out with the kit -- the tach looks like it came from Western Auto -- but I need a few other things, like a VSI, turn and bank, attitude indicator, etc. For radios, looks like it will be Terra. They're the only ones that make small (very!), reliable radios that will fit on the instrument side panels of the BD-5.
The other day I was web surfing the aviation sites and ran into the S-Tec site. When I saw the S-Tec 20 and 30 autopilots, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. An autopilot within the confines of a T&B! How ingenious! So, I wrote them an email, but they replied that there's very little chance they'll spend the money to find a way to put one on a BD-5. I can understand the reasoning -- not enough volume to justify the R&D expense -- but I'm still dissapointed.
Oh, I almost forgot, LEP Profit got back to me about my claim for the broken canopy. Apparently they're going to reimburse me for it; I got a postcard stating they were working on the claim and didn't need anything else from me. That's good, because the canopy costs some $400 with shipping. I wonder how many canopies were broken in transit back in the 70's when Bede Aircraft was shipping them in cardboard boxes...
June 6, 1997
This week I've made progress in setting up for continued construction. I've priced out the cost of a cyclone-fence partition that I need to build in the hangar space I was given, in order to keep my things separate and safe. The safety is not that much of an issue; the doors have no locks and there are no problems with pilfering or burglaries, but I have to be careful about keeping people out of my working area when I am not there. Clecos tend to bring out the kleptomaniac side of many apparently-sane people.
Today I bought a load of tools and accessories that I need. I went to Western Auto (they bought out the Sears auto stores here and now carry a selection of Crafstman tools). Spent about $230, but they didn't have everything I needed. I had to go to two more hardware stores, and I'm still missing some items like the sabre saw, rotary cutters, etc. I also noticed I need to get countersink bits and other small items. The large optional tools I already have at the hangar. All in all I spent some $420, and bought enough to get going. I already saw the other things I needed, I just have to go pick them up.
One of the problems with getting these tools here are figuring out how to translate their names into Spanish. I had a very hard time with that, and I still don't know how to explain to someone in Spanish what a cylindical or tree-radius rotary cutter is -- it doesn't help that I don't have the slightest idea what one looks like. It was funny trying to figure out how to ask for a half-round file in Spanish. Turns out in Puerto Rico they call them "media caña," which literally translated means "half a sugar cane." I was finally able to show them what I wanted, though. Some things I may have to special order from an aviation tool outlet, like the automatic stop countersinks.
The partition is a pain, though. It costs some $400 in parts, and I have to build it myself. The people who sell and install fences around here want an arm and a leg for the two segments, 15 x 12 and 20 x 12. One particularly greedy SOB wanted $2,500 for this! I spent a day browsing through hardware stores and I'm convinced I can do it myself with the help of the hangar's handyman. There are a couple of things I'll need additional help on, like welding the bases to the vertical tubes and drilling the holes into the concrete to put in expansions for the bolts to hold the bases in place, but I won't have problems getting the help. I should have everything up and in place by Sunday. When I finish I'll move all the boxes and tools into the cage and during the week I'll unpack, bring the steel shelf for the materials and start getting ready to build the fuselage jig. First thing I'll probably tackle is the aft section of the fuselage.
If anyone has jigs they've already used for a BD-5 that you would like to unload (like the fuselage, nosegear box and other jigs), please let me know.
I've also done quite a bit of homework on engine selection and it looks like I will probably use a Rotax 582 or 583 with a custom engine mount. I found someone who owns a very nice BD-5 (the one that was in Sun-N-Fun this year, arrived on thursday), and he told me who to contact for the engine mount. Apparently this person has figured out how to mount the engine so that the a/c needs no counterweights in the nose, and without the stretch! That's a pretty amazing feat, if you ask me...
So, that means that I'm now beginning to look for an engine as well. Got a 582 or 583 that you want to sell (or preferably donate)? Maybe a runout engine that needs an overhaul? <smile>
I also still need Chapter 7 of the Construction Profile. If you have it and would be willing to let me photocopy it, I would gladly pay for the repro charges, or postage if you want to send it to me so I can photocopy the appropriate pages and return the originals to you.
The web site is growing as fast as I can type. I'm currently doing the Flying magazine articles from the September 1973 issue. Lots of typing there, but there is a lot of good info as well, particularly the info on the Hirth engine and two-stroke engines in general.
After having received the aircraft kit last month, I spent several weeks trying to find a suitable place to continue construction. The portions of the aircraft that have already been completed (or nearly so) are the wings, with ailerons and flaps constructed and attached for final fitting; the engine compartment, including access doors; and the vertical stabilizer and rudder, which is already attached to the stabilizer. Several other portions of the aircraft have been completed, but they are mostly the smaller items such as a bearing block, etc.
The problem with finding a suitable place to build the aircraft are many. Of course, suitable space to build the components is of paramount importance. Minimum recommended dimensions for the construction area are 10 by 20 feet (200 sq. ft.). This is, however, the very bare minimum required to comfortably construct the wings or fuselage. When either one is done, it has to be either lifted up and out of the way or taken out of the construction area to make room for construction of the other. In my case I purchased a kit that had the wings already done, so I can make do with the minimum space.
However, I live in an apartment, and don't have a garage or other suitable area to do this, so I had to scrounge around to see if there was any space available in an aviation-related site. I tried Isla Grande airport, but all the enclosed hangars are full, and space is at a premium. This shouldn't have to be this way, if only the PR Ports Authority would pay slightly more attention to general aviation and 1) built more hangars for rent, particularly to people of moderate income and 2) quit giving up space from the airport to the shipping companies that do nothing more than store trailers and shipments for long periods of time, and do not contribute a dime to the aviation industry. It's not an issue of money: if PRPA was more responsible about collecting debts from people who owe them money (one major airline in Isla Verde owes Puerto Rico more than 50 million dollars -- $50,000,000!!!), there would be plenty of funds around to improve all of the general aviation facilities on the island, and not only Isla Grande.
I received some tentative offers of space in various points of the island, but it just didn't make sense to try to build this more than an hour's drive from where I live, in Santurce. Those two hours driving there and back would be better spent in construction.
So one day I decided to try my luck. I visited the facilities of a certain gentleman at Isla Verde airport (who will remain nameless for now unless he gives permission to disclose his name in this forum). I left a note with his secretary that I needed to locate some construction space for a BD-5, a photocopy of the cover of one of the information memos with a picture of the BD-5, and a note that I had a videotape of a rare warbird of his that had been ferried from Isla Grande to Isla Verde after water damage repairs.
To my surprise, the gentleman returned my call, said something could be worked out, and asked me to come over with the videotape, which happens to be the only record to his knowledge of his aircraft (since then I have found one more person that videotaped his aircraft right after the incident that led to its long stay in Isla Grande).
So, I went to his facilities, and he showed me an area where he thinks I could do the work. I was amazed: air conditioned, all the heavy sheet metal tools I could ever need, and another project in the works in the same area, a rare Beech Staggerwing. He explained that I would have to build my own cyclone fence cage to safeguard my project, tools, etc., and that I could ask his restoration experts any questions I wanted to, as long as I didn't overdo it. When I asked him how much he wanted to charge me for rent, I nearly fell flat on my butt: no charge at least for the first year, as long as I show progress.
It took me well over an hour to wipe the huge grin off my face after I thanked him and said goodbye, for now. I visited the site again the other day to talk to his handyman. We measured off an area of 15 by 20 feet, out of the way and with plenty of room to move around it, and he'll quote me for the construction of the cage next week.
For the time being, I am planning on having the cage done by the last week of May. I may move the boxes with the kit materials to the site prior to that. At the moment it's sitting in the hanger of Hill Aviation in Isla Grande. I'd like to add that I am very grateful to Bill Duncan, Eugene Dahl, George McKnight and Rodney Curbelo of Hill Aviation, who have been extremely helpful in letting me receive and store the boxes there, and evaluate the construction that's already been done (which is of excellent quality).
Next update will include pictures of the kit and the items that have been already constructed.