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Old 04-01-2018, 09:31 PM
N546RV's Avatar
N546RV N546RV is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 696
Default When to order finish kit / general order of operations post-fuselage

So I've finally gotten back to working on the plane (yay!), but that puts me back in the mode of trying to get some kind of mental map of what's going to happen when. The big upcoming purchases are obviously 1) finish kit, 2) engine/prop, and 3) avionics and such. So this leads me to thinking of what I should get on ordering next.

At the moment I'm working on the seat floors. Browsing ahead in the construction manual I'd roughly guess that I'll be to the point of fitting the empennage sometime this month. From there I see some general systems stuff (flap motor, fuel system, brake system), and then lots of stuff that I probably don't want to do right now anyway (wing fitting, upper skins).

So the question is, is it about time for me to be thinking about ordering the finish kit? Or should that come after I get the engine, avionics, and such ordered, or at least planned out? I seem to recall reading that you need to know what engine you're doing before ordering the finish kit - if that's the case, that kinda answers my question, I guess.

So yeah, any general thoughts on the order you did things would be helpful here. Thanks!
-8 fuselage in progress (remember when I thought the wing kit had a lot of parts? HAHAHAHAHA)
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Old 04-01-2018, 11:46 PM
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nzrv8 nzrv8 is offline
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Australia and NZ
Posts: 145

I ordered my finish kit with my QB fuselage 8 years ago, to save on freight. Since then, I've changed my mind on the engine (a cheap 200hp fell into my lap) which means I can't use the scooped 180hp cowl I ordered originally. So the freight savings I made initially will be lost given that I'll have to order a new angle valve cowl. There is no market for RV-8 cowls in New Zealand, so I'd be very lucky to re-sell the one I have. That might be different in your part of the world?!

I guess what I'm saying is - hold off until you're certain about your engine type, as although most of the finish kit items suit any configuration, some of the big ticket items (cowl, engine mount) are engine type specific.

Another option could be to order the finish kit without any of the engine related items, although I'm not sure what sort of discount Van's would offer. At least then you could keep your options open if a good engine deal came along.

Have fun
Paid up - Dec 2018
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Old 04-02-2018, 01:05 AM
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N546RV N546RV is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 696

Thinking it through some more - I believe the finish kits basically boils down to the canopy, engine mount/cowling/etc, wheels/tires/brakes/etc, and some assorted fairings and such? If that's the case, then it seems harder to make an argument for ordering the finish kit any earlier than the other big-ticket stuff. That is, it doesn't seem like I'd be sitting on my hands for two months with nothing to do while waiting for the finish kit.

For that matter, as I think through things, I have sufficient other pending tasks to eat up time as well. Most notably, the bottom skins on my wings aren't riveted. I think I'm at a point now where I could fairly easily finalize all the wiring and plumbing and work on getting the wings buttoned up. There's also the question of whether I want to handle the SB on the horizontal stab.

So yeah, plenty to think about. :-)
-8 fuselage in progress (remember when I thought the wing kit had a lot of parts? HAHAHAHAHA)
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Old 04-02-2018, 08:23 AM
rapid_ascent rapid_ascent is offline
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Dublin, CA
Posts: 926

I think I'm pretty much in the same spot as you. I haven't flipped my fuselage yet but I jumped ahead on many of the smaller items so I expect it should go pretty quickly once I do. Given the other distractions in my schedule it will probably be a couple of months before I order my finishing kit.
Ray Tonks
2018 Donation Paid
RV-7 Fuselage in progress
* Rolled the Fuselage
RV-7 SB Wings
* Both Wings fully skinned
* Fuel Tanks Complete - No leaks finally
* Ailerons Complete
* Flaps Complete
RV-7 Empennage - Complete (a little fiberglass work left)
Vans Training Kit # 2 - Complete
Shop Setup - In Progress (Gathering Tools, Never Complete)
RV-7 Preview Plans
Vans Training Kit #1 - Complete
EAA Sheet Metal Class - Complete
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Old 04-02-2018, 09:31 AM
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Mark Dickens Mark Dickens is offline
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Collierville, TN (KFYE)
Posts: 1,037

Hold off on the engine and avionics. I ordered my engine in mid-2014, the plane flew in Nov 2016. I bought much of my Dynon gear in the 2013-2015 time frame. Some of it had to come out because of factory warranty issues. By the time I flew, I could have had the debugged stuff and the latest displays. Sometimes in these builds, you itch to "buy something" just because "building something" is such a pain. Get the finish kit and work on everything you hate and won't evolve on you. Build your wiring runs and pull strings now. It helped me to think about this from the back of the plane forward. What do I have to do to finalize the rudder, including the fiberglass? The elevators, etc, etc. When you get close to the front of the plane, it's time to think about the avionics and engine. My two cents...
RV-8 #81077 Super Slow Build
Titan IOX-370, Dual P-Mags, AFP FM200A FI, Sensenich GA Prop
First Flight 11/20/2016
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Old 04-02-2018, 10:37 AM
ctennis ctennis is offline
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Columbus, IN
Posts: 100

Originally Posted by N546RV View Post
So I've finally gotten back to working on the plane (yay!), but that puts me back in the mode of trying to get some kind of mental map of what's going to happen when. The big upcoming purchases are obviously 1) finish kit, 2) engine/prop, and 3) avionics and such. So this leads me to thinking of what I should get on ordering next.
Yeah, you're getting into the final bits of chick and egg scenario where you have to start pulling triggers on big decisions. I remember this well. Eventually you'll have half a dozen different "delay X until Y" kind of scenarios on your hands, and you'll have to start acting on at least one of them to keep moving forward without causing yourself more work.

My two cents.

1) The finish kit work was, for me, the most time consuming (and frustrating?) part of the build. The canopy and fairings and windscreen was slow and maddening. It'll definitely keep you busy for a while. Same with the front cowl. There's no shame in getting it because you'll have many many hours of fiberglass work ahead of you.

2) While you don't need to pull the trigger on your engine just yet, you really need to start honing in on a model. Similarly, while you don't necessarily need to buy avionics yet, you really need to hone in on an overall plan (steam gauges? Garmin vs. Dynon?, autopilot servos? engine monitoring?). It's much much easier to order those parts and get them installed and wiring put into place NOW.

3) Once you fit the wings, access to the inside is much more difficult because you're climbing up and down, or standing on the wing to work on the interior.

I settled on a Dynon system for my -8 early in the build, so what I did was start amassing bits and pieces for it from Spruce as I would need to order things, I'd add a $750 servo to the order and get free shipping, for example. Knowing what all I would have in place, where it would be located, and the wiring requirements let me pre-run bundles of wire to the appropriate locations before I buttoned up the floor, for example. Or put the rear fuselage top skin on - I got the ELT and ADAHRS all nicely mounted.

Now it's getting expensive! Good luck.
N29213 - RV8 completed 2017
RV10 - tail complete, fuselage in progress
Columbus, IN - KBAK
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Old 04-02-2018, 11:24 AM
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N546RV N546RV is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 696

Yeah, I'm at least generically settled on engine and avionics selections. Engine will be some injected 360 variant, most likely just a vanilla IO-360 unless I get splurgy and decide I want an Aerosport Power 390 or something. I've been on the Dynon bus for a while and I haven't seen anything from Garmin to change that so far. Rough panel plan will be something like:
  • one 10" Skyview
  • Skyview radio for COM1
  • GTN650 for certified GPSage
  • something like a G5 for a backup

But this is good guidance, in that I can start working on firming up panel plans, at least as needed to start making systems decisions. I like the "tail-forward" approach; I was thinking in similar terms for working on the wings. I left the bottom skins off for access to wiring and plumbing, but at this point I think I'm pretty well settled on what will need to go in the wings. I don't plan on having VOR capability, so no need to potentially put an Archer antenna in a wingtip (not even sure if they're still available after Bob's passing). If I order my pitot tube, roll servo, wingtip nav/strobes, and landing lights, then I should be able to get the wiring runs done, the bottom skins on, and the wingtips finished.

Anyway, your #1 point is what makes me think that holding off on the finish kit is good. This isn't the first time I've heard that these are frustrating tasks, but they really are "finish" tasks - doesn't seem like I can fit the canopy until I have the turtledeck on, which I don't want until I've got as much tail work done as possible, which I could expand all the way out into avionics considerations (ELT/ADAHRS). Same for the windscreen, I'd rather not have the top forward skin on until the panel is mostly finalized. And obvious cowl work is predicated on having an engine, at least to my understanding.

Man, all this kind of makes you miss the good old empennage days. Just put stuff together, none of this "every thing affects every other thing" stuff. Though it is kind of fun since it makes me feel like I'm planning an airplane system instead of just a loose assortment of parts.


Anyway, thanks for all the info. I feel like I'm at least developing some abstract mindset as to how to go about planning things.
-8 fuselage in progress (remember when I thought the wing kit had a lot of parts? HAHAHAHAHA)
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Old 04-02-2018, 01:13 PM
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wirejock wirejock is offline
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Estes Park, CO
Posts: 3,028
Default Finishing the finishing kit

I'm creeping up on the canopy. Several items I've noticed.
You will eventually have to rivet the aft top skins but working tail forward will be the best order till you have to rivet the top skins for canopy work. No sense climbing in there till you have to.
The forward deck and cabin forward has some tricky stuff when you start looking at where electronics will be mounted. Do yourself a favor. Fabricate cardboard replicas of every box. It's amazing how fast the real estate runs out and it's better to find out and plan while there's access.
That's as far as I've gotten.
Larry Larson
Estes Park, CO
wirejock at yahoo dot com
Donated 12/01/2017. Plus a little extra.
RV-7A #73391, N511RV reserved (1,800+ hours)
HS SB, empennage, tanks, wings, fuse, working finishing kit
I cannot be, nor will I be, held responsible if you try to do the same things I do and it does not work and/or causes you loss, injury, or even death in the process.
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Old 04-02-2018, 02:19 PM
Reformed SeaSnake Reformed SeaSnake is offline
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: Beaverton
Posts: 30


I ordered the finish and FWF kits immediately after receiving the engine. I would hold off on buying avionics until as late as possible. I purchased some of it way too early and have had to replace a couple pieces unused as I will need to be ADS-B 2020 compliant.

You do need to know whether your engine will be horizontal or vertical induction and the type of engine mount you'll need before ordering the finish kit, and if you are buying Vans FWF kit, you will pretty much need to know the exact engine you're getting.

I am really glad I got the FWF kit, but unless you are ordering an engine from Vans there will be pieces that do not fit (mostly cable mounts and hoses). If I had it to do over, I would just delete everything related to the control cables and fuel/oil hoses and order them separately later once I knew how they would need to be routed on MY engine.

I am also happy I ordered the finish kit at the same time. There won't be much you can do with the engine until you get the finish kit.

The only other thing I held off on was the prop, mostly to maintain some cash in my account. I got a Whirlwind prop and they can send a simulator so you can fit the engine cowl without the prop. It's basically just a spinner backplate, and other prop manufacturers may be able to send you the same thing if you are going with a different prop.
Jason Rood
Beaverton Oregon | RV-8A, Very slow QB
No Pithy quote here; just the sincere hope that your day ends better then it began
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Old 04-03-2018, 04:52 AM
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longranger longranger is offline
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: 45G, Brighton, MI
Posts: 1,812

Phillip, I’m only a little bit ahead of you on my -7, having fit the wings and completed everything the manual says needs to be done with them on except fuel lines and wing root fairings (which come in the finish kit). I ordered the finish kit last week, thinking that 2 months is about what it will take me to comply with the HS service bulletin, re-skin the left elevator, fit the empennage, and take care of a laundry list of miscellaneous items I discovered during a recent review of the build manual.

I knew from the beginning that I wanted a parallel valve horizontal fuel-injected 180hp engine (IO-360-M1B or equivalent), and nothing has happened since then to change my mind. Before I ordered the finish kit, I did some research and decided on going with a James cowl and a Cummins spinner, so I knew what items to delete from the Vans order.

I haven’t decided on avionics yet, but I am leaning toward AFS. I figure I have a lot of time to research that, and the technology will have a lot of time to advance, while I’m working on the finish kit. I plan to leave the actual engine purchase off until I have pretty much everything else in the finish kit (and possibly the avionics) done just to minimize the lag time before first flight, and hopefully have the engine still under warranty when that time comes.
Miles (VAF# 1238, Paid up as of 2018)
RV-7 TU 904KM (reserved)
Wings Fitted and Finish Kit on site

Construction Log
Picasa: Empennage Album, Wings Album, Fuselage Album

1955 Cessna 170B flying since 1982

'To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.' -Unk.

Last edited by longranger : 04-03-2018 at 04:57 AM.
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