||It all has to start
somewhere. This proves that I built the "slow build"
variety rather than the QuickBuild.
||Make sure you get
your jig straight in every dimension. The firewall must be vertical
in every direction also. Don't ask me how I know all this... please.
||Of the major airframe
sections clearly the fuselage is the most complex. There are far
more parts and lots of angles. The first thing you encounter, before
you jig anything, is assembling the seat bottom area as a
subassembly. That is when you realize this is going to be a lot
tougher than the empennage or wings. There's a good reason why they
have you build it after the empennage and wings... you'd be clueless
if you dove in right here.
||One of the frustrations of building these things is that you will
get something all drilled correctly only to have to take it all
apart again to deburr, dimple, and prime. It's like building
everything at least twice. Looks like I've got a fuselage here, but
it all had to come back apart.
||Getting the fuselage out of the jig becomes a goal you focus on.
Once you get it out and flip it right side up it's called a
"canoe", see why?
||Here's my friends and
fellow RV-8 builders, Jeff (left) and Randy (right) savoring the
||This is the F-821 cockpit
cowl skin. Some builder's drill this now but leave it clecoed until
later so they have access to the area behind the panel. I opted to
rivet it fairly soon because I didn't want to have to rivet working around
all the wiring etc. Also, I think it provides a more rigid structure
to mate the baggage door and windscreen to. In retrospect I'm
glad I did it that way.
||Starting to resemble an
actual aircraft cockpit here!
||Note that the landing gear
outboard u-bracket needed to be chamfered in order to clear the
skin. I'm convinced that the placement dimension on these outboard
brackets should be 3/8" instead of the specified 3/16"
from the lower longeron vertex. There's plenty of room for it to
slide inboard a bit which would let everything fit much better.
||Gear legs are now mounted.
After months and months of drilling soft aluminum, drilling the
holes in the steel parts was quite a shock. The trick is to use new
bits, apply steady pressure, use a slow speed, and use lubrication.
Glad that's over with!
||While scrutinizing the
factory RV-8A at AirVenture '99 I noticed they had modified the sides
of the rear seatbacks so as to provide better clearance for the rear
lap belts (they exit the slots in the sides visible here). Great,
thanks for telling me! I went home and made the modification you see
here which is very similar to what they had done. Shortly thereafter
they modified the seatback sides to incorporate this clearance.
||Another reason why I wanted
to rivet the F-821 skin early was to make sure I got a good
foundation for building the baggage door and making it fit well. It takes
a bit of tweaking to get this thing to fit well, but it will be
highly visible once the plane is done so I think time is well spent
||Mounting the empennage is
fairly straightforward. I highly recommend you borrow or buy a
SmartLevel for this phase. Frankly, I wouldn't consider any of the
critical alignment phases without it. It will reliably indicate to
within .1 degree. I want my airplane straight! Confession: my
fuselage ended up with a .4 degree twist in it. Van's tells me that
this is not a concern until you get up to 2 degrees so I feel ok
about it. I mounted the VS .2 degrees off to split the difference in
the error. This is only possible with the accuracy afforded
by the SmartLevel.
||Again I used the smart
level in setting the main wing incidence. This is another place
where it looks like a real airplane only to have to come all apart
again... darn. At this point I mounted and aligned the ailerons,
flaps, flap fairings, and wingtips. See the Wings
page for info on this process, it's an important one.
||At last, my sparkling new
engine takes it's rightful place on the front of the airplane.
||With the fuselage structure
done it's time to move on to the Finish Kit. this includes the
canopy, cowling, electrical systems, the panel, mounting the
wings/ailerons/flaps, and firewall forward
(FWF) area. See any of the pages on those areas for the next phases.