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Chapter 1410 High River Learn/Build Project

By Jack Dueck, Project Lead, EAA Lifetime 337912

May 2020 – We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, if not with COVID-19, then with our chapter’s learn/build project. You will remember that some 19 months ago a group of aircraft enthusiasts began a project to finish construction of a Zenith 601 XL-B aircraft. We believe we are now on the final phases of construction.


Fuselage construction.

Left to complete are the following components and tasks:

  • Complete the engine installation
  • Complete the instrument panel, electrics, and avionics
  • Complete cowling
  • Run the engine and check operations
  • Install the wings and complete the control hookups
  • Paint aircraft
  • Final Inspection
  • First flight and the first 25-hour flight test program

The engine installation is almost completed. We only need to run a few control cables and add the prop, oil, and miscellaneous items. Our chapter president, Doug Eaglesham, has taken on the engine installation task and his workmanship is just fabulous!

All of the avionic components (excepting the ELT) are on hand or have been ordered. Electrical harnesses are being put together by our electrics guru, Kelvin Downs — that is, when Kelvin is not busily involved with some aspect of cross-country or downhill skiing in the Banff, Lake Louise, area. Now that summer is approaching, Kelvin will no doubt find more time to devote to more important issues like building our airplane!


Instrument panel cutouts.

Once the engine installation is complete and the prop is installed, we should be ready to run up our Rotax 12 ULS engine (a milestone in our construction schedule). Then comes the work on the cowling.

This is and has been such great fun! We look forward to our Saturday workbees. And although the corona virus has placed extra concerns and restrictions, we have been able to continue our work, albeit with reduced members. We are all cognizant of social distancing and all that entails.


Heat muff and carb heat valve.

Our group currently consists of Kelvin Downs, Vance Lucas, Sukhman Singh, Ethan Chen, Kent and Lucy Barlow, and Debra and Jack Dueck. In addition, Doug Eaglesham, Ron Gardner, Ken Martin, and Dave Pridie come along to help, just because they can.

I want to recognize Doug for the fabulous engine installation; Vance for the instrumentation research and layout; Kelvin for the avionics design and hookups as well as the continued cost control, evaluation, and record keeping; and the rest of our group for the continued construction of the many components of the airframe.


Canopy construction.

Today our projected cost total is $46,237.58, or $6,605.37 per member. This represents a $600 cost override per person. Throughout the complete project, "cost creep" has been an issue that we have had to deal with. Our overrun in costs is caused mostly by the inclusion of excellent avionics, including two Dynon 7-inch SkyView EFIS displays, a TruTrak autopilot, and a uAvionix AV-30 primary flight display.

We are much indebted to many supporters. When our project is completed, we will publicly recognize the many individuals and corporations. In all, this project has been wonderful. We have learned so much, both in building the aircraft as well as the dynamic issues that come with group work. We are already evaluating a new project when this is completed. One of our main objectives when we began this project was to end up with a bunch of really good friends, and that objective has clearly been obtained.

Stay tuned as we work to complete this project.

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