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Bits and Pieces

RV-9A Rebuild Update: Nearly Complete (With a Lot of Help)

By Ian Brown, Editor - Bits and Pieces, EAA 657159

After six months of reconstruction of my RV-9A post-flip-over, the good news is that most of the problems are solved. It didn't go as fast as I would have liked, but I'm happy to look forward to flying next season.

New tail cone panels

The rebuilt rear section is finished, thanks to a friend, Edmond Perreault, who is not only very capable but also compact enough in stature to fit inside an RV-9A tail cone to buck rivets that could not be reached any other way.

Inside the new tail cone

My other good friend, J-P Riendeau, has been a regular contributor to my progress, and as a dentist, he's a great asset with his facility to tackle work with a Dremel or figuring out how to peek into small spaces!

Not being the richest dude on the planet, I'm looking for ways to improve the interior on a budget. If anyone has any ideas on carpeting, let me have them. I can certainly tell you what didn't work last go-around. However you get into an RV, you can't avoid pushing forward on the carpets which then slide under the rudder pedals unless they're firmly attached at the rear.

One idea I had recently was to improve the stuffing inside the cushions. Memory foam for aviation is really expensive, but I discovered an economical way to buy it: a bed overlay at Mr. Walton's emporium.

We learned a lesson with the acrylic canopy work. Not only do you need to make sure it's warm enough when you start the work, but you should also keep an eye on the ambient temperature while work progresses on this $1,100 piece of plastic. It was a beautiful warm day when we started work on the windshield, but it cooled off during the time-consuming, delicate work of smoothing off the cut edges. We managed to crack the front lower edge of the windshield, hence the rather unusual shape of the masking. It will be stable and solid once it's epoxied to the fuselage, and maybe I can claim to have a uniquely stylish windshield - even if it looks a bit illogical.

Stylish windshield

Spraying matte black paint on the inside of the windshield masks the area where the epoxy and glass mat would show through. It's far easier to do this before the windshield is attached.

The biggest problem to deal with recently was the fit of the engine cowl. It turns out that no two engine mounts are the same. However well made this one appears to be, the engine, when mounted and snugged up, sits a good half-inch lower than it did before, leaving the starter motor and alternator in contact with the cowl. The engine can be lifted by means of washers between the engine and vibration mount, but we're now at the limit of how many washers can be added safely.

Three washers on lower mount points

The main part of the canopy is ready for assembly and that should go smoothly second time around. My builder's log shows 200 hours on this part alone, but a lot of that was learning curve and fabricating pieces that have been rescued this time.

New Canopy

The work is winding down before popping off to Florida for a bit of sunshine, but the plan is to complete the canopy and engine cowl in the next few weeks. Once that is done, all that remains is finish work on the empennage, a little bit of avionics rework, refitting the interior and the remaining side panel, and then reassembly at the airport. Once the wings and empennage are reattached, it will begin to look like the aircraft I was flying a year ago.


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