Peter M. Cowper's RV-8 Airplane Visalia Airport Visalia California

Pete Cowper's New  House, Visalia, California

My favorite hangar photos     




February 2008

After four sessions with riveting helpers over the past three months, the
fuselage lower pilot's floor and side skins are riveted on to the fuselage.
This past weekend I finished riveting the sides of the gear leg boxes to the
thick heavy metal support for the gear legs with 27 rivets in each of the
four sides and riveting the top 3/4" x 3/4" angle supports to the sides of
the gear leg "boxes" with the four rivets in the center between where bolts
will go.

The next step is to take the fuselage out of the jig stand and flip it over
so it is right side up and start working on the upper fuselage skins and
building the interior of the cockpit.


February 2007

These pictures show the fuselage side skin after drilling the rivet holes.
You can see my blue sharpie rivet call outs, sorry for the crappy picture.
The other photo is of the plans with rivet callouts.

These are pictures of the gear leg mounting towers that I have been working
on.  The lower welded metal "box" that has all the rivet holes in it is the
one that I had to reorder for each side when the four outer flanges did not
line up with the aluminum angle that forms the large "V" in pictures 4 and
5.  The whole assembly is riveted to the side skin and upper and lower
aluminum angle longerons. In picture 5 you can see the heavy reinforcing
plate inside the outer skin.

The box of fuselage parts is slowly emptying.  The finishing kit is the only
purchase left from Van's Aircraft.  I already have the landing gear legs,
brake system master cylinders, rudder pedals and front and back seat frames.
The finishing kit comes with the canopy and fiberglass fairings for canopy,
wing and tail section fiberglass fairings, plus engine mount and front
fiberglass cowl.

I wonder what type of engines will be popular in the 5 to 7 years it will
probably take me to get to that stage...diesel. Electric, solar power, used
vegetable French fry oil, or will the satellite GPS system feed me engine
power too while it sends be everything else I need to navigate displayed on
my one-piece glass instrument panel?

This is a wing attachment bracket that bolts to the fuselage at the gear leg
towers to bolt to a matching bracket at the front spar at the leading edge
of the wing.  You can see my high tech machining equipment used to gnaw this
part out of the large U-shaped aluminum AC6-150x2x4 channel. The channel is
0.150" thick on the sides and 0.230" thick on the bottom.  Not enough little
projects like this to justify buying a heavy metal cutting band saw.  I
think they leave these thick non-critical dimension parts for us to slave
over to keep the builder in the 51% of the work range for the FAA
requirements of a homebuilt experimental plane.  The giant CNC cutting
machines at Van's Aircraft could certainly make quick work of this project
that took me two days of cutting, filing and grinding.

January 2007

The attached photo show my progress on assembling and drilling the gear leg
boxes (WD-822 weldment) to the fuselage. Pictures 1,2 & 3 are my ruinged
parts from the first attempt.  Pictures 1 and 2 show how the metal welded
and powdercoated gear leg boxes slip in-between the F-843 lower fuselage
longeron (with bend) and the F-844 longeron.  Picture 2 clearly shows my
problem with the drilled rivet hole on the WD-822 weldment upper left ear
not being at least 7/32" inch in from the outer edge of the WD-822 weldment.
Picture 3 shows my new $88.61 each book ends clearly showing the misdrilled
rivet holes too close to the edge.

Pictures 4 and 5 show how the gear leg box tower is assembled in the
fuselage with the three sides forming a box around the WD-822 weldment (the
inside of the fuselage skins reflects a mirror image).  The fuselage is
upside down in the jig at this point of construction, so the lower floor
will fit on top in these pictures.  The gold anodized part in the upper left
of picture 4 is the wing spar center section into which the wing spars are
slid into and bolted. The right side of picture 5 is the cockpit side of the
stainless steel firewall.  The white powdercoated support bracket in the
lower corner is one of the four places the engine mount bolts to on the
front side of the firewall.

Picture 6 shows the F-843 lower longeron with the two 1/4" tabs sticking up
from the outer skin just level with the upper edge of the F-843 longeron.  I
originally had them level with the floor which was attached to the longeron
which made the outer skin which has the predrilled holes too low on the
dropped down longeron and made the hole going into the WD-822 weldment too
high up and too close to the edge.  By shifting it up the holes were exactly
in the center of all four ears of the WD-822 weldments.  Picture 7 shows the
outer skin with all the prepunched holes drilled through the inner WD-822
weldment and spacers. One of the 1/4" tabs on the skin to be aligned with
the longeron is visible at the top of the photo with the proper 1/4" of
longeron showing on either side of the tab when the longeron is properly
aligned level with the top of the two tabs. The tabs are later cut off
before riveting the skin to the longeron, as another skin snugs up against
this side skin and is riveted to the 1/4" of the longeron showing bare above
this side skin.  After the WD-822 weldments were drilled to each side, the
two sides of the gear box lined up perfectly with the pre-punched holes in
the skin. You can see the line of 1/8" bronze colored clecos (for AD-4
rivets) going down the skin and see the inside barbed point of the clecos in
Pictures 4, 5 & 6 going right down the center of the gear leg tower box's
flange against the inside of the outer skin.  The little ripples between
each rivet hole is the shrinking done with fluting pliers to make the web
flat so the line of rivet holes is straight with the curved outside skin's
prepunched holes.

I have the other little 3/4" x 3/4" .125 bracket, like the one already
attached to the firewall side of the gear leg box with two clecos, to drill
to the other side and cleco both brackets to the bottom floor after I
reinstall it between the firewall and center section (would cover the whole
top in these pictures).  I then remove these whole gear log box assemblies
and rivet them together on the bench to re-install and rivet to the skins
and longerons later.

I then start removing all the drilled bottom and side skins that are drilled
and clecoed to the fuselage in the Picture "Fuselage.rear."  After deburring
both sides of every hole, I dimple or countersink the external visible holes
then start riveting the skins to the fuselage.  The fuselage will then be
flipped over upright to finish the top skins and interior.




September 2006

I finished drilling the side and lower skins to the fuselage.  After these photos were taken, I finished fitting the rearmost skin by finishing cutting the slot for the tailwheel shaft (not needed on the RV-8A with a nose wheel intended for sissies) and drilling and securing it to the final three closely spaced bulkheads with clekos.  I now have moved back up to the front to start on the gear leg mounting boxes.


July 2006

These are some pictures of the earlier construction of the front area of the


The longerons (3/4" x 3/4" aluminum angle) are cut and bent from the
firewall back to the tail wheel assembly, all the bulkheads are clamped to
the fuselage jig positions and the side skins are drilled and clecoed to the





Tuesday night I finished the second side skin drilling and am now
fabricating rear seat belt mounts (three pieces per side) for the rear
passenger.  The bottom floor skins go on next.


The "Fuselage.Inside" shows the seatbelt attachments for the side and center
seat belt attachments.  Since the fuselage is being constructed upside down
at this point they are at the top of the photo.  The gold anodized part in
the back of the picture is the wing spar carrythrough.



The "Wing Spar Attach" picture shows the wooden shims that hold the wing
spar center section apart the exact width for the wing spar to slide into

February 2006

I attached the tail wheel spring to the rearmost F-811 & F-812 bulkheads.
You can see the holes at the rear for the tailwheel axle.  The F-811
bulkhead towards the front (firewall) is secured to the jig at its position
at 14' 5 31/32" (173 31/32") back from the firewall and 12 3/4" above the
reference line (where longeron 3/4" angle meets the jig 2x4 board) and
leveled and centered in the jig with a plumb bob on a string.  The steel
tailwheel spring mount bracket is clamped to the F-811 and leveled perfectly
so the tail wheel will track straight, the back of the tailwheel spring
mount bracket rests in the saddle of the F-812 last bulkhead which is
leveled and stands 12 5/32" above the reference line. The bracket is drilled
and bolted to the forward F-811 bulkhead, but the rearmost F-812 bulkhead is
not drilled for bolts yet as that is done later when the vertical stabilizer
is aligned and drilled to the F-812 and tailspring mount.  For now two
keeper rivets are used to hold it in position for aligning the skins, the
1/8 copper colored clecos are now holding it together though the two rivet
holes I drilled.

Next step is to start fitting the upper longerons between the firewall and
center section and begin fitting the fuselage skins moving from front to

These pictures are of the Center Section (spar carrythough) what the wing
spars attach to in the fuselage with the fuselage floor suppor ribs
attached.  The "Seat Belt Attachments" picture shows the cleco side grips
still holding on the channel caps on either side.  The spring loaded grips
really make a painful blood blister when you are holding them and release
the cleco pliers and they snap closed on the edge of the finger you are
holding them with.

The fuselage is built upside down on the jig.

I mounted the center section to the measured cross member 2x4 standing on
its edge at exactly 34 1/32" back from the firewall.  I secured it straight
upright with a level at 25 9/16 above the top of the jig support 2x4
(reference line) then fastened the ends of the four floor ribs to the F-807a
bulkhead clamped at 81" from the firewall that angles forward with
pre-measured triangular shims and stands 23 7/32 above the reference line to
support the rear passenger's seatback... and the four floor ribs passively
met the bulkhead perfectly without having to move them about at all.  I bent
the 115" long 3/4" x 3/4" longerons at the 80 15/16" mark the required 3
degrees that bends each up 2 11/32" for the fuselage bend behind the
passenger compartment, then made the second bend at the 33 15/16" point the
required 5 degree bend for 2 27/32" upwards where the longeron angles back
flat from the instrument panel up to the firewall.  When I laid the 115 inch
long bent longerons on the jig and clamped them to the powdercoated support
brackets riveted to the firewall they virtually fell into the slots on each
bulkhead and were within a 1/4" of being perfect at the tail where they meet
the F-812 rearmost bulkhead.  The two baggage floor ribs span from the
angled passenger seatback rib to the next F-808 bulkhead.  The 3/4" x 3/4"
angle longeron is visible attached with Cleco side grips to the bulkheads in
the bottom of the "Baggage Floor Ribs" picture.

What a relief to have a year's worth of jig measuring and building come out
correctly and all the parts match up.

October 2005 Pics of Firewall and Wing Spar Section

Fuselage start....the jigs..........May 2005

I completed construction of my fuselage jig upon which the fuselage will be
constructed.  The firewall attaches to the end that resembles a guillotine
frame, the two 15 foot long aluminum angle longitudinals will attach to the
2x4 boards and the fuselage built upside down from those by attaching a
bulkhead at each 2x4 crossbar location.  The 15 foot long longitudinals that
attach to the jig are what my arm will rest on when I taxi with the canopy
slid back.

Now I have to decide exactly where to locate it in my hanger's rear tail box
area to still allow me to park my pickup alongside it when I want to leave
it in my hanger without having to move the Austin-Healey.  The tiny stripe
of tape on the floor in picture 1 to the right of the last two legs is how
much room I need to park my pickup to the right of the jig.  I will attach
it to the concrete floor with a quarter sized dollop of Liquid Nails.  I
realize that I will have to live with my location selection for years at my
construction speed.  Such decisions in building an airplane...


These pictures show both wings complete....Now for the fuselage........





These are the two boxes my fuselage kit arrived in.  I removed all the

packing paper and cardboard and put the stuff back in after checking it.
Note the international sign ($) for fragile.  The "Red" meant Redaway
Trucking Company.


These photos show the fuel tank end ribs with the pro-seal sealing the nose

mounting/reinforcing pieces.  Lots of areas for leaks at the nose where the
ribs don't fit tightly.


Nasty Stuff.  This is my tool and cleco cleaning center.


These photos show the fuel tank's inner (against fuselage end) rib before

and after riveting with Pro-Seal.  The sticky nasty black stuff turns to a
sort of grey color.  It is supposed to hold aviation fuel after the baffle
plate fills in the still open back of the tank.  That large open hole is the
inspection plate.  The plate nuts are riveted around the inside and sealed
with pro-seal.  The phillips head screws screw through the inspection plate
cover and into the plate nuts.  They are threaded.  The inspection plate
holds the fuel level sender and the fuel pickup tube.




This is the fuel filler neck.  The small clip is for the vent line which
runs all the way back to the inner rib next to the inspection cover hole to
a fitting going through a hole in the rib to the outside.



The skin stiffeners are the first part to rivet to the tank with pro-seal
when starting. 







My Airport Cruiser.......