Originally Posted by ppilotmike
What about your panel? I'm being told that in order to hang the engine, you need to rivet in the top section of the forward fuse, which includes the subpanel, panel and the top skin above the panel. Once this is riveted in, it limits your ability to install avionics on the subpanel, doesn't it? It seems, if one wants to get all that panel stuff figured out when access is good, then it would have to be done way ahead of installing the front windshield, cabin top center brace and engine/prop. Is this incorrect information? Can one easily do all the avionics build out, with the metal work permanently installed? In the instructions for the fuse kit, Vans has you permanently install that section of the structure before doing the cabin top...
As long as you pre-fit the forward top fuselage and the cabin top, you can remove the forward fuselage sub-assembly and attach the cabin top with the forward fuse off of the airframe. You can also mount the engine with the forward top fuselage off of the airplane, but you'd need to rivet the firewall/side skins and cowl attachment hardware (hinge halves or skybolt strips) prior to hanging the engine. The difficulty there might be access to buck or squeeze a handful of the rivets because the motor mount could be in the way.
Personally, I'm close enough (I think)* to the finish line that I'm doing much of the panel installation and wiring right now while the cabin top is mounted, but the windows and forward top fuselage are off of the airplane. It is much easier to work on the top forward fuse and panel on the bench, rather than in the airplane. Also, the fuselage is sitting about 8" off the ground, which is much easier to deal with than it'll be once it is on the gear. In addition, off the gear and with no engine attached, the fuselage still fits in my air-conditioned basement with a bathroom 10' away. I'm much more productive down there than I will be when I move things to the garage.
*I have made the assumption that there won't be any major avionics announcements between Oshkosh 2017 and basically SnF 2018. In any eventuality, I'd need the avionics before SnF, so I ordered 'em with the idea of installing things now, when it'll be easier than in a month or three.
So, my schedule is cabin top & doors (finished), panel, upper front fuselage mounting, windows, gear, gear fairings, FWF,...airport.