Our RV Project
Finish RV9/9A Links
Our RV Project
Matt's Subie Pwr'd RV9A
Bill Jaques Subie Pwr'd RV9A
Bob Cuttings RV9A
decided not to track our time on this project. We both do that at work
enough, this is for fun. Besides times are always relative. People work,
think and react at different speeds depending on their experience and events
in their current environment. Also, I don't want to box myself into a time
table. It'll get done when it gets done. We plan on working on the project a
little every night that we feel like doing it.
I am going to try and document each step along the way. I'm a newbie at this so, what I hope will eventually appear simple later is still somewhat challenging now. Maybe my on-line documentation will help someone else out. When I was trying to figure out if I could really do this or not there was one RV6 web site that I discovered (among the many) that showed each step. They showed how easy it was to rivet, how easy it was to do this step or that process. They also showed how to approach something that may not have been as clear at first glance. Perhaps I'll help someone else out along the way and return the favor that someone else so graciously gave me.
Why a Van's RV9A?
Ok, if you check out my ' Canard Resources ' page you'll find I bought plans for a Cozy Mk IV and feel in love with a Velocity (both are fast 2+2 aircraft). I wasn't looking so much for a 4 passenger aircraft as I was a 2 place with lots of baggage room (ie - golf clubs). However, I just don't have the temperature controlled room to deal with composite building, especially here in the Dallas area. Those projects will have to wait. Since those favorites were out I had to look elsewhere.
Ok, so now it's time for an update even to this page. My desire and
need to build a canard suddenly vanished when the
became a reality. Sanding isn't my thing. Why limit yourself to
taking off only from paved runways at least 3000 ft in length?
Insurance is extremely difficult to get for the canards and for many isn't
even an option. I sat in a Cozy and it was just to small for most
folks - ok it was really too small for my ever expanding girth. Even
before I started the unplanned expansion the instrument panel resting on my
legs was not what I'd considered comfortable. Nothing against those
two designs. They of course serve their niche and for many of us
represented a new look in aircraft, even though it was the original look of
the Wrights and was creatively resurrected with style and flash by Burt
Rutan in the incredible Vari-Eze series which both of those designs sprung
from. The Velocity poster has come down from it's place on the wall,
the cobwebs dusted off and placed in the trash.
I really like the looks and flying qualities of the Glastar, especially
since it has emerged from it's bankruptcy. The kit costs were clumped
together in bigger lumps than I could afford in a reasonable amount of time
and the cruise speeds were slower than what I was really looking for. Vans' kits are basically in $5,000 clumps - which goes down a little easier.
Van's also has great builder support. Van's has sold literally thousands of
kits and have continually refined their aircraft. For the last several years
I would periodically call Van's and beg for a 4 passenger aircraft kit (like
many others apparently had done). Viola the RV-10 is now
Why an RV9 and not a RV7? I'm a relatively low time pilot with virtually
no hours in the last 10 years. I just couldn't afford to rent. I am also a
fairly straight and level type of pilot. In my dreams I might think of loops
and rolls but by the time my stomach gets into the air those thoughts are
long gone! Much of our flying will be cross country. Our families and
friends are spread out from coast to coast. Also, my wife will be getting
her license in the plane. Considering our projected needs it looks like the
9 (or the 10) is our best choice.
What's my building 'skill' factor?
Gee, you really know how to hit below the belt don't you!
Ok, I'm a programmer/system developer by trade, a jazz musician for fun, but
I had never had a shop class in my life. I once built a book case that
looked really good, but it wouldn't stand up without being propped up on
each side. A friend and EAA Tech Rep Michael Pollock had taught me the
basics of composite building but metal was rather scary (no metal is NOT
mental mis-spelled). I found some RV builders web sites that walked through
their building process in enough detail that I thought it might be possible.
Still, thinking back on the book case and knowing that at altitude it would
be a little harder to prop up both ends, I figured some help might be in
Jan and I signed up for a 'hands on' class at
GBI . This is the home of
George & Becki Orndorff. They have a builder center just north of Fort Worth
and are well known in the RV builder community for their 'How-To' classes
and video series on all models of Van's aircraft, engine rebuilding video,
tools video, etc.
We drove over early one brisk Saturday morning in January. There we met
our fellow classmates, two couples from Colorado. We all introduced
ourselves and found out a little about each others projects. One couple was
from Denver and another from Loveland. George started right in teaching us
neophytes (me and Jan that is) and we didn't look back. Ok our first attempt
at riveting was not satisfactory for us, so we snuck in early on Sunday
morning to get more practice. By the end of class on Sunday afternoon we had
the basic skills to start building and even more important - the confidence.
What a blast! I really recommend this approach if you're unsure of your
I should warn you up front though, the building center/airport sets about 3 miles outside of a small town called Justin, Tx. Now not being a 'native Texan' I find some areas in the state a little ah... strange. A big sign on the road outside of a small shop in Justin proclaimed 'camouflage lingerie - come on in and see it!'. If it was camouflage - how could you see it? Go figure. And what's with all of them 'boot scrappers' and what's that smell? We decided to go back to Dallas for supper. Actually I'm just kidding here - Justin is a nice little town rich in the Texas country life style - I confess I'm a city slicker (legal mumbo-jumbo).
Decisions, decisions, decisions...
It's not enough to go through the agony of trying to make
the perfect decision of which aircraft, construction materials, etc. is
right for you. There are still even more decisions to make. In the case of
an RV which RV, do you go with a slider canopy or a tilt up, tail dragger or
tri-gear (yes rumor has it that that may even be an option on the 9),
electric trim controls or manual, if you put on identification lights what
type and where will they be located? Beyond that are the avionics,
instrumentation and the 'mother of all decisions' is the decision of which
Ok I'm only starting my project, but I'm definitely going the electric
trim instead of manual all the way around. So that means I need to order the
electric elevator trim with the Empennage kit. I've also decided that I
wanted the identification lighting enclosed in the wing tips with the
landing lights so I ordered the rudder fairing set up for the rear facing
On down the line, I'm leaning towards the slider canopy. My IP
(instrument panel) is an incredible vision in my mind which fortunately has
not had to connect with my wallet yet. I really like
Blue Mountain Avionics EFIS panel and that's my top dream. [See my
canard resources under Greg's canopy mod for some more pics on this panel
installed - I took the pics while at Oshkosh 2001.] Naturally part of that
panel is going to have an auto-pilot for all of those x-country cruises
we're planning. Greg's panel gives me a moving map system, but I'm also
considering the 'Anywhere Map/Wx' / Compaq IPAQ system by
Control Vision as a backup.
Complete with weather and all of the other features of this versatile
Last but not... is the engine. It may be one of the last things to go on
the aircraft but the decision of which engine must be made in some cases as
early as the the building of the wing. Why the wing? Because if you install
a diesel engine you must consider that diesel fuel or Jet-A will require a
larger fuel cap than 100LL or auto-fuel. Its much easier to take this into
account as you are building your fuel tanks/wings than need to retrofit it
When it comes to which engine should you should put in your blood, sweat
and tears into, proponents of each faction approach this choice with a
religious fervor. What are my real choices? Standard aircraft engines
manufactured by Lycoming and Continental, auto engines converted to aircraft
use and new generation engines like the Jabiru engines and turbo diesel
How do the three types rate against each other...duck I'm about to offer
an opinion (it's worth exactly what you paid for - ok you really should get
some change back). The standard aircraft engines' advantage is a long
documented history . Why is that important? Because this means the insurance
companies have some way of determining statistically at what level of
premium's they can profitably insure the owner. Because of this and other
reasons, generally speaking the standard aircraft engine may have lower
insurance rates. Most standard aircraft engines have a direct connection to
the prop without any type of gear reductions (ok I'm not counting the old
Cessna 175, the Merlin in the P-51, etc). This means aircraft engines
generally develop their best power band at propeller speeds/rpm's. Aircraft
engines can generally be repaired at most aircraft fields, should you find
yourself in need of repair during a cross country. The problems of
installing standard engines in many homebuilt aircraft is fairly straight
forward (though not trouble free) and already worked out by Van's and many
others. Van's has recently developed a firewall forward kit which includes
all the extra components needed when installing a standard aircraft engine.
So what's the down side of a standard aircraft engine? COST leads the
list. IF you are considering a new engine or you are faced with
rebuilding an engine be prepared to have a thick wallet go thin. Compared to
automobile engines parts for an aircraft engine are very expensive. Standard
aircraft engines are basically old technology engines. You must, in most
cases, adjust the fuel/air mixture at various phases in flight to maximize
performance. You must also be concerned with adjusting the carb-heat in
various phases of flight. Because it's air cooled you must watch for
overheating on the taxi-way and the dangers of shock cooling when attempting
to slow down from altitude at 185 miles per hour to landing pattern speeds
(although a constant speed prop can overcome this problem). Most standard
prop driven aircraft engines run on 100LL which will be going away. True
many run on auto-fuel but this must be considered.
Ok so what about an auto engine converted to an aircraft application?
Right off the bat auto-engines themselves are generally more advanced than
aircraft engines. Many installations include computer control, fuel
injection, auto fuel compatible, and they are water cooled. The advantage of
water cooled means that you no longer have to worry about overheating when
sitting on the taxiway or shock cooling when dropping down in speed and
altitude to make a landing. Water cooling also means you have the
opportunity to have a real heater for winter flying operations (only a
frozen dream with standard aircraft engines). There are many different types
of auto engine available for converting to an aircraft application. There
are engine packages that go from total fire wall packages to unique
homegrown installations. The more popular types of auto engines are rotary
engines, Subaru engines and the V-6's and V-8s. For less horsepower
application there are the VW engines (the VW's have many of the features of
aircraft engines in that they are air-cooled but without the significant
cost). See my links page under engines for a list of potential aircraft
Now how about the new generation of engines? This possibilities run the gamut from turbo-diesels to the Jabiru's. The turbo diesels have an initial purchase cost about the same as a standard aircraft engine. However, they also burn diesel or Jet A fuel which should be around for a long time and definitely a cheaper fuel to burn. In all honesty these engines have been a year away from production for several years now and other than perhaps the Thielert Engines of Germany marketed by Superior Airparts of Dallas. The Jabiru is a more modern design and at a significant price difference. They've also built up a reputation for reliability and quality.