It pays to look at other people’s RV’s at Fly-ins….you find so many good ideas that you can steal! One of the things that I have planning to do for some time (ever since we saw Shawn Scott's very nice RV-4 which is loaded with clever ideas) was to build hatches in to the cheek cowl extensions and use them both for stowage and as access points for the cowl side pins. The cheeks are usually just empty space, but can easily store tie-down ropes, a few tools, a couple of rags, oil funnels – all of the things that normally bounce around the baggage compartments on most RV’s.
Taking a cue from several recent RV-3 builders, we discarded the sheet metal parts supplied in the kit and built fiberglass extensions over male foam molds. Once we had rough them out and done some initial filling to get the surface where we wanted it (relative to the cowl), we finished up the cowl fastener flanges and made the whole external structure rigid. I then played around with hatch sizes using some heavy card-stock. While my initial plan was to build a hatch large enough to insert a quart bottle of oil, I quickly realized that with the small size of the RV-3 cheeks, I was going to have to make the doors awfully large in order to get the bottle inside – the hatch would have to be close to the side profile of the bottle, since the cheek is fairly shallow. I settled on an opening “That Looked About Right” at approximately 5”x5” – the same as the oil door.
After laying it out on the cheek with marker, I cut the hatch out with a thin cutting wheel on a Dremel tool, carving the corners with a very small diameter die grinder bit on the same Dremel – this minimized the kerf losses. I used some 0.032” Alclad to form the flanges, drilling it to the inside starting from one corner to allow it to lay where it wanted on the inside of the tapering conic surface – I then straightened up the lines after clecoing it on using a sanding disk on the angle grinder. Piano hinge on the bottom edge could have been replaced with a hidden hinge if I wanted to take that much extra time, but it would also have taken up some useful storage space, so I went with the simple option.
Latches will be two Hartwell’s per door – one forward, one aft. When I get those installed, I’ll add a glass stiffener rib to the door to make sure it doesn’t bulge out into the flow in flight.
These little storage pods should be really nice in such a small airplane – they don’t add but a couple of ounces, and should keep the baggage compartment clean and organized – at least that’s the plan!
The cut-out – done with a thin cutting wheel on a Dremel:
Door Open (clecoed in place) – note aluminum flange:
Door Closed (needs finish trimming to make the gap neat of course) – need to add latches: