Miscellaneous engine tasks

Lots of little wrap-up tasks remain…this weekend I installed engine sensors.

Here are the PMag connection, oil temperature, current shunt, manifold/fuel/oil pressure and fuel flow sensors all wired…

Engine sensors wired

CHT and EGT probes wired on cylinders 2 and 4…

Cylinders 1 and 3 sensors

…and the same on cylinders 1 and 3.

Cylnder 2 and 4 sensors

I’ve been putting off safety-wiring the prop bolts ’cause it’s a reall pain in the ass.

Prop safety-wired and spinner installed…but now it’s done, and as a treat to myself I installed the spinner!

Tunnels and pumps

I found that all the wiring I’d run between the instrument panel and cockpit center section just wasn’t going to fit in the “tunnel” that covers up wiring, brake lines (for nosedragger RVs) and fuel lines running from the firewall and instrument panel to the fuselage center section. I had to modify the tunnel cover to relieve the 90-degree angle at its forward end and so create more room for wiring.

Tunnel angle

This bit of aluminum turns the tunnel’s 90-degree bend into two 45-degree bends and creates more room for wire.

Tunnel angle installed

Another picture? Sure!

Modified tunnel

That solved one problem in this area, but I still had another one – as I ran wiring from the tunnel to the center section I forgot to leave room behind the fuel selector for the J-shaped tube that connects it to the fuel filter/pump assembly. Oops.

OopsThe solution was to fabricate a bracket that moves the pump/filter up and forward enough to accommodate an L-shaped fuel line that doesn’t interfere with the wire bundles behind it.

Fixing the oopsThe bracket attaches to the existing pump mounting holes in the tunnel cover. This created a challenging fuel line run from the pump outlet to the firewall but Tom Swearingen at TS Flightlines solved the problem with a well-crafted flexible fuel line with a 90-degree fitting on one end.

Tom's fuel lineThe end result – a tunnel that fits nicely in the fuselage and a pump/filter that connects nicely to the fuel selector.

The finished tunnel

A riveting partnership

My wife is awesome. And she rivets like a pro.

My riveting partner

We finished riveting the turtledeck…well, almost. There are three rivets left on each side that are gonna be a beeyotch to get, but that’s a problem to be solved tomorrow.

The riveted turtledeck

Looks good, doesn’t it? It was all Ellen.

Baggage bulkhead cover

We clecoed the baggage bulkhead in place because we could, and it looks cool.  Plus, it helps keep dirt and dust out of the tailcone.

Buttoning up the turtledeck

The tailcone avionics and electrical wiring are done and I really want to rivet the fuselage “turtledeck” skin – the one behind the cockpit. But I also don’t want to dive back there to fix wiring problems once it’s in place.

I’ve smoke-checked the ELT’s RS-232 data connection to the GTN-650, the tail nav/strobe light and even the elevator trim servo. But the last bit to be checked is the servo’s position indicator and the only way to know for sure is to configure the G3x Touch display to read and display position indicator signals. So that’s what I did.

G3x Pitch Trim 1

Configuring the Touch was a lot easier than I feared. All that’s required is to move the trim servo to full up, center, and full down and tell the display when the servo is positioned at each point.

G3x Pitch Trim 2

The Touch calibration page reads voltage coming from the position indicator and displays a gauge preview…very cool. That’s a good confirmation that the tailcone wiring is fully functional.

G3x Pitch Trim 3

And now Elevator Trim shows on the PFD…even more cool!

Turtledeck ready for riveting

A few more minutes and the turtledeck is clecoed into place for the last time and we’re ready to break out the rivet gun and bucking bars.

Current progress

One of the cool things about this stage of the project is that after a few hours of wiring I can turn on some part of the RV’s avionics and see it work.

For instance, I’ve had these Oplite 6 LED lights for several years now and finally got them wired up to the Garmin GAD-27 as instrument panel lights, so they’re controllable by a dimmer on the panel. These lights are really rugged and when driven by one of the GAD-27’s PWM lighting controllers, they’re dead quiet too – no hash on the radio like I’ve encountered with some other dimmers. Very cool.

Panel lights

I’ve also had Whelen LED nav/strobe lights sitting around for a few years, waiting for installation. The tail nav/strobe is finally wired through to the cockpit, and here’s some video to show how damn bright they are…low current draw too, and no need for a heavy strobe pack like older nav/strobe lighting systems.

Next on the list was wiring the flap motor, but I need some hardware to fabricate a mounting bracket. So, I jumped ahead to wiring the Advanced Flight Systems Angle-of-Attack (AoA) system. This is the only “legacy” avionics system on the airplane, as Advanced doesn’t sell it anymore. I hope it doesn’t fail.

For those of you who aren’t into aerodynamics, AoA is the angle at which the wing meets oncoming air, thus generating lift. If AoA exceeds a certain value, the wing stalls and lift is drastically reduced – so you can see why knowing AoA might be important for staying in the air. If you’re really into the concept, watch this video.

AoA is alive!

Everything lights up, and the self-test lady says the system is working…

Of course with all the gee-whiz stuff lit up, I had to take a picture. Enjoy!

A thing of beauty

It’s alive…

Sometimes all those little individual tasks you’re churning on, come together in a moment of progress. Tonight was one of those nights – the battery contactor and avionics relay switches are now active, and the main and avionics busses are connected. It’s time to flip a few switches…

Lots more wiring to do, but motivation is high.

Right side subpanel wiring

Left side sub panel wiring

More wiring in the tail

Even more fun with wiring…working my way forward from the tail I routed serial data and power wires to the ELT and assembled the autopilot pitch servo DSub connector.

AP pitch servo and ELT wiring

I also ran coax to the GTN-650 GPS and G3x GPS/XM antennae.

GPS/XM and light wiring

Assembling coax connectors is fun, at least for me…

GPS/XM antenna connectors

More to follow as I work my way forward to the cockpit.

The nervous system arrives

Back from Thanksgiving with family at Bear Ass Cove on Newfound Lake, New Hampshire and guess what UPS delivered? That’s right – the avionics harness!

Unboxing the avionics harness

I’m almost ready to install the harness – just a couple of empennage things left to finish – but I couldn’t resist stretching it out. This is, essentially, the Mighty RV’s nervous system and having it fabricated by the neurosurgeons at Approach Fast Stack is saving me a *ton* of build time. Cool!

The whole nervous system