Kitfox Aircraft Stick and Rudder Stein Air Grove Aircraft TCW Technologies Dynon Avionics AeroLED MGL Avionics Leading Edge Airfoils Desser EarthX Batteries Garmin G3X Touch
Page 1 of 41 1234511 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 409

Thread: Project 5 build thread

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Location
    Steilacoom, WA
    Posts
    659

    Default Project 5 build thread

    Well originally I wasn't going to create a build thread, mostly because there are already many great ones and I didn't feel like I would have anything new to contribute. However, I recently read about how important it is to have some kind of build log with photos showing all my work - including all the mistakes I make along the way. The other thing I learned is that not everything required for the matrix brain transplant is found in the "hints and tips" section.

    Instead I'm finding that many of you experienced builders follow along on current build projects and offer great advice and encouragement. I'm plenty encouraged so far, but will take all the advice I can get. So here goes!

    I'll introduce myself in the next post but I wanted to start with the important part, and that is the project I just obtained.
    IMG_20200415_183625.jpg
    I saw this project online sometime in late February. It's an old Skystar Kitfox 5 that was never finished or flown. It appealed to me because it came with a bunch of upgrades, and included the 912 ULS FWF kit for a model 7 and a bunch of white Oratex. Upgrades include one piece windshield/skylight, aero struts for wings and tail (along with the originals), fiberglass leading edges, upgraded tail wheel spring and the AWB tailwheel that looks suspiciously identical to the Scott 3200 on my Citabria.

    It has also had some defects and some mistakes made. The most glaring defect was the less than flawless powder coating on the fuselage structure, which was apparently common in the Skystar days. And the most glaring mistake made was by the previous owner when he drilled the strut attach fitting and ended up with insufficient edge margins on the internal spar extrusion. The good news is that the kit came with new spars, new internal extrusions and new wing strut attach fittings.

    The seller disclosed all the above and it appeared that from 2000 miles away I was still getting a good deal. That only left the issue of transporting the project to my hangar in Tacoma, Washington. I started with the basic cost of flying me and my youngest son to Ohio and renting a 26' Uhaul. From their I sought quotes for a semi truck, DIY shipping container, etc. The Uhaul would have cost about $2600 by itself, not including gas, airfare, hotels and incidentals.

    While I was in the process of getting quotes the Corona Craziness took hold, and before long it became obvious that air travel to Ohio was probably not in the cards. Fortunately one opportunity presented itself. At the airport where the project was stored there was a truck driver (a pilot and guy who restored a C150 under the supervision of an IA), who drives west twice per month and is always looking for things to "back haul". Win, win. His quote was about equal to what I was getting from the DIY container places. This left the burden of loading on the previous owner and the truck driver. Thankfully they were willing to do so, and now that the project is here I can say both of them were stand up guys who kept in contact, sent pictures of the load and the plane arrived without a scratch. The trucker sent me a satellite tracking link and he arrived within 15 minutes of his predicted ETA.

    The picture above was taken the day the truck showed up. I wheeled my Citabria out of the hangar and tied it down outside so that we weren't wasting the truck driver's time and I had the space to look things over.

    More about the unpacking, the builder/pilot and what I've done so far coming up.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Dave S's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    St Paul, MN
    Posts
    1,790

    Default Re: Project 5 build thread

    Alex,

    Congrats on your find and successful delivery.

    I will say, for the record, if you have the S7 FFW for a Rotax, that is great. Some of my friends with the S5 and old "dynafocal" engine mount system used at the time of the S5 leaves a bit to be desired - those had to have the intake manifolds reversed port to starboard which places the carbs so far away from the engine centerline that vibration and consequent fuel leakage as well as the carb popping off the socket were not unheard of.

    Best to you and keep us old timers on the list informed of your progress.
    Dave S
    Kitfox 7 Trigear (Flying since 2009)
    912ULS Warp Drive

    St Paul, MN

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    WA
    Posts
    219

    Default Re: Project 5 build thread

    Alex, Congrats on the success of getting your fox. Just rigtht down the road on south Hill. Should get mine soon too. So please keep us updated on your build.
    Starfox

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Location
    Steilacoom, WA
    Posts
    659

    Default Re: Project 5 build thread

    Thank you for the warm welcome. I've had the plane now for a bit over two weeks. I spend time every day with the manuals (I have one for the 5 and one for the 7). Some days I focus on my very first steps and other times I flip to the end to see how the story goes.

    I've watched some builder videos (Bryan Bowen's work has really been helpful). I've made about four trips the hangar to put my hands on parts and compare them to what I know about the aircraft so far. The plane is starting to make sense to me and I can visualize most of the steps.

    To level set before I go on, the first builder (there have been two) had done quite a bit of work as evidenced by the parts in my possession and the second one did some work, but then became disappointed in the quality of the powder coating and decided to "back the truck up" to have the fuselage stripped and redone. I know this because he disclosed it during our discussions and also because he left a build thread here. It looks like he stopped posting at the time he discovered the errors in drilling up the wing attach fittings and also before he started removing everything from the fuselage.

    Initially I was going to continue stripping the fuselage but have changed my mind (several times actually). I am electing to NOT strip the fuselage to have the powder coating redone. I base my decision on the following:
    The previous owner inspected the entire fuselage for loose powder coating and corrosion, then addressed it all using white epoxy primer. Hey, at least it will be easy to see where to paint over it.

    Secondly, I have spent quite a bit of time examining the fuselage and have found no evidence of other defects in the powder coating.

    Third, I would either have to remove all the control surface bushings that have been installed with loctite or spend a whole lot of time masking them off.

    Fourth, I'm assured that powder coating has come a long ways in the past 20 years, but I notice that the manual for the KF7 still points out the need to look in all the places that powder coating may be thin or not present.

    Lastly, it sure seems like if I did have fresh powder coating I would still be spending a lot of time reaming through it, sanding at least part way through it, roughing it up, touching it up - and then gluing covering over the whole mess not to be seen again for at least a couple of decades. So as long as the visible sections look nice (and the red does look sexy), and corrosion has been addressed, what is the point?

    I spent about four hours in my hangar yesterday. I hesitate to call it doing inventory because I didn't document anything. Below I'm going to itemize the good and bad, in the form of what has been done correctly and then what has either been done incorrectly or removed by the previous owner.

    The good:
    The original owner did good work on the horizontal stabilizer, elevator and rudder. They are all intact and undamaged. The rudder appears ready for cover but the other two pieces will need their foam/balsa end caps added and filled.

    The original owner had most of the flight controls installed at one point


    The bad:
    The previous owner has removed all the previously installed wood ribs, bulkhead etc, access panel closeouts, etc from the aft fuselage and vertical fin. Most of those pieces were damaged in the process.

    The previous owner also removed the aluminum tube side stringers and the rudder cable guide tubes
    The previous owner removed the aluminum door trim pieces.


    The ugly:

    The wings? They're going to need their own post. Fortunately I have that plan worked out already.

    Step one took place took place after only two days, and that was to make it so I could fit my Citabria back in the hangar, along with my son's MR2 and one motorcycle. I hung one wing on the wall and dismantled the rotisserie, then got the Citabria in. Currently, if you want to fly the Citabria you have to wheel one wing outside and put it back once the Citabria is pulled out. It's not ridiculous, but hardly ideal.
    IMG_20200418_123533.jpg

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Location
    Steilacoom, WA
    Posts
    659

    Default Re: Project 5 build thread

    Last week I made my first order from John at Kitfox. I ordered all new vertical fin ribs, bulkhead, aluminum extrusion for the stab closeout panels, rudder cable guide tubing and foam blocks for the tips of the control surfaces. I also ordered new ribs for the wings.

    The only physical work I've done on the plane was to bring the aluminum door surround pieces home to test out removing Hysol with a heat gun. It was low risk and turned out to be quite easy. A few seconds of moving the heat gun around on it and the stuff nearly jumps off. On one of my trips to the hangar I brought the pieces back to the plane to see how they fit. That was a good exercise in RTFM because I had imagined them bonding to the outboard AND top surfaces of the square tubing, when in fact they only bond to the outer surface and stand proud of the tubing. I totally get why now, and was able to get all the pieces to fit in place. They aren't perfect but they are pretty good. I will probably just clean them up, fix one rivet location that was close to an edge and then turn to my new friend Superfill

    I was so encouraged at how easy it was to get the Hysol removed cleanly that I turned my attention to the wing not hanging on the wall. There I discovered a completely different set of characteristics. Basically that the structural adhesive used (my KF5 manual indicates it is a 3M product) does not reach glass transition phase as cheerfully as Hysol does. I could see where the previous owner had worked away at the adhesive around the forward spar and it appeared he wasn't getting it hot enough to cause the adhesive to turn to rubbery stage. After an hour of experimenting on a rib that I was willing to sacrifice I was only partially successful, and that only after seeing the wood start to discolor from the heat. The adhesive was still mostly rock hard.

    Possibly I could develop the technique through continued experimentation. I know people buy older wrecked Kitfoxes and make them airworthy all the time, so maybe there is a trick I don't know. Bottom line, I know what my time is worth and if it took 100 hours to remove 16 ribs (all time spent going backwards and not forward) I should consider finding out how much new ribs cost. $1200 is the answer, to which my response was "shut up and take my money".

    The added bonus John brought to my attention is that by going to the new style ribs (no "hinge rib" or "plain" rib) I can use the new style flaperon attach brackets. After he said that I looked in both my manuals. Wow, yeah. I'll go with the new style for sure.

    Since my project came with new spars, new inserts and new strut attach brackets (the old ones are actually fine), the only thing I will be salvaging is the drag/anti-drag tubes and fittings. Now those I can get off even if it means extra heat on those ribs where they pass through. Building my own wings from scratch will be satisfying on several levels, and of course also contribute to my needed 51%.

    Oh, and because I'm babbling randomly: One of the reasons the previous owner elected to strip the fuselage was because he wanted to upgrade to the KF7 style turtle deck. I'm still not completely clear on what those differences are but I believe it would require tabs welded somewhere. I've seen versions of 1 piece turtle decks for KF5 on this forum and I think I'll be fine with that (my Citabria has no baggage door of any kind and I'm still alive).

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Location
    Steilacoom, WA
    Posts
    659

    Default Re: Project 5 build thread

    I thought I would throw in a couple of pictures of the other planes I fly while I'm on a computer that has them, and add a quick bio for the curious.

    First up is my 1965 7ECA Citabria, s/n 290 which I have had for about three years. It was upgraded to a 150hp O-320 decades ago so it is comparable to a 7GCAA. It has been a great aircraft for me and if I were able to perform my own maintenance, inspections and upgrades I would not be building a Kitfox. I was actually at the threshold of buying a kit three years ago when I realized I could buy a flyable aircraft and just put gas in it for less than the cost of a kit without engine/prop/avionics. No regrets, I've put a bunch of 100LL through this plane and it has treated me very well.

    IMG_20180623_105847-01.jpg

    Next up is the T-6, or more properly an SN5. Oddly I took this picture over a year before I ever met the owner or knew I would be flying it. At the time I was flying my uncle's BT-13 and this plane caught my eye because the paint scheme was similar to a T-6 my uncle restored when I was a kid. The green stripes indicate it was an instrument trainer. The cool thing about this particular warbird is that the paint scheme is not only authentic, it is in the livery that this exact airplane had when it last served the US Navy in 1956. After putting somewhere north of 120 hours on the BT-13 we sold it to a guy in Texas and I flew it down there with him.
    This SNJ popped up on the used market here in our state so we went and looked at it. I have only put about 20 hours on this aircraft. It had some radio issues that kept me from attending some of the airshows I wanted to get to, and we were also trying to flip it (for a T-28) but the buyer backed out in the end. I have since upgraded the radios to a GNC255 and a Stratus ESGi transponder. I liked the transponder setup well enough that I installed the exact same unit in my Citabria.
    IMG_20180908_150652-01.jpg
    Me, I'm in my 50s. I've been flying for about 24 years. I became a CFI in the early 2000s and made a go of it for a while. I thought I wanted to live out of a 21" carry-on for days at a time but ended up going back to a desk job and have now worked for a very large airplane company for the past 13 years. My career has been mostly CNC programming, aerospace tool design and more recently flight deck design. My current job places me as a link between the design engineers and the pilots. Prior to coming to my current employer I worked for various suppliers. I worked hands on with factory workers on sheet metal, machined extrusion and composite parts. I have also been building and flying model airplanes since I was a 2nd grader.

    That's me in a nutshell I guess.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Location
    Steilacoom, WA
    Posts
    659

    Default Re: Project 5 build thread

    I've continued to read through the manuals and compare between the series 5 and 7. I've noticed that on the aluminum side stringers they don't have you use the cross pieces anymore. They have also gone away from the single wooden stringer up the middle of the belly and replaced it with an aluminum tube. I actually like both of those changes.
    As for the door trim pieces, I am trying to figure out if the trim along the lower edge of the door has changed, or if the detail drawing view in my particular manual is in error. My pieces adhere to the outboard vertical face of the square fuselage tubing -end of message. However,the cross section view in the series 7 manual shows it covering the outboard face, the top face and the inboard face of that same square tube. Like an upside down U.

    Soliciting input from the gallery as I look ahead:

    1) Does everyone use the supplied seat belts, and does everyone route them the same way (with the slots in the seat pan) as shown on the drawing? So far what I'm finding in my search is "yes" and "yes". I'm just used to strapping in with a set of Hooker harnesses and I'm surprised they aren't more common, especially with the improvised runway crowd. Getting those slots in the right place seems a bit of a guess.

    2) For removing powder coating and paint from the various fuselage mounting tabs, what is the preferred method? I need to address all the floor mounting tabs where some plywood shims were de-bonded by the previous owner. I would like to clean them up and hit them with epoxy primer. I don't want to hit it with a wire wheel or sand paper if that is forbidden. I got the message regarding sandpaper on aluminum parts from the front section of the manual, and just want to know if I'm missing the same kind of instructions for the steel tubing.

    Scotchbrite wheel on an air motor maybe?

    3) Wing tips. My plane came with the Hoerner style (still untouched). I like the look and I like that they add a bit of wingspan. What I don't like is the weight. By they time they are faired and finished it will be like a couple of boat anchors out there. I'm thinking about the newer removable type, but only if they are significantly lighter.

    Dang, I had more questions but I blinked a few times. I'm sure they'll come to me when I hit "submit reply".

  8. #8
    Senior Member Dave S's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    St Paul, MN
    Posts
    1,790

    Default Re: Project 5 build thread

    Alex,

    To address the bottom door channel - the 5, 6, and early 7 (meaning pre John Mcbean 7's) had the piece bonded to the outside of the steel tube at the bottom of the door opening only. The current ones slide over the steel frame member which is a superior solution.

    Just a hint on that - the new one is better; however, the old version works fine if a person is careful to glue the fabric over the seam and into the corner and iron it in. I know of one S5 where the builder did not run the fabric over the bond seam and the angle separated a short time after the plane was finished. Those with the old version, including ours, stay secure with the fabric overlap.

    Don't know about the belts, however, I got mine from John and they are the hookers 4 points. No problem with slots in the seat pan - a person can sit in the pan and pull the lap belt out to where it will go and pretty see where the slot should go. There really isn't any way to use the seat pan without slots.

    Good to hear of your progress!
    Dave S
    Kitfox 7 Trigear (Flying since 2009)
    912ULS Warp Drive

    St Paul, MN

  9. #9
    Senior Member bbs428's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    SW Missouri
    Posts
    585

    Default Re: Project 5 build thread

    Great read Alex. I'll be following along. All the best!
    Somebody said that carrier pilots were the best in the world, and they must be or there wouldn't be any of them left alive. Ernie Pyle

    Brett Butler
    Building: 1998 Model 5 Outback, 912ul Zipper 110hp, G3x avionics, ss7 upgrades

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Location
    Steilacoom, WA
    Posts
    659

    Default Re: Project 5 build thread

    Got my first shipment from Kitfox a couple of days ago. It arrived in perfect condition and the parts all look great.
    IMG_20200507_213654~2.jpg
    I had no idea the McBeans were Italian (dang I hope at least one person gets that one).

    I sold my non-aero shaped wing struts to a member of this forum, and they left here this morning in a Prius owned by the builder of a Highlander - headed for Homedale, ID. Funny because he didn't know me or the buyer of the struts, just a guy helping out because of our common interest in amateur built airplanes.

    Today I'm in the process of building a set of precision 46" long saw horses so that I can begin fabrication of the wings. I just found some ideas on the internet and then bought the straightest lumber I could find. Then I further selected them to create a pair of pin-straight I beams.
    The rest of the lumber will be used for the legs, and when they are done I'll square them up and Bondo them to my brand new garage floor (cringing a little bit on that but sacrifices have to be made).

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •