I've started my adventure to build a Van's Aircraft RV14a. For several years, I've been planning to build an Experimental (homebuilt) airplane - once retired.
But first, I needed to get my Pilot's License. (Kinda key !) So... first things first: I retired March 2014 from Caterpillar - and started flying lessons in the Summer of 2014. Soloed a day after Christmas, and got my Private July 2015. Shop set up, tools acquisition, and practise kits during Fall launched me into my build starting Dec 31, 2015 !

I've chosen to build the RV14a since it's about 10% larger than Van's prior models - so it fits my 6'4" frame well. Van's is well known for great value & outstanding flying qualities. It's been a no brainer decision for me. A tour of their facilities and demo flight in Oct 2013 clinched the deal. My wife - also a pilot - exclaimed after her demo flight "retire NOW so you can build one of these". The RV14a fits my mission of a good compromise between cross country & aerobatics. Plus...I fit, too.

So far, one month into building, it's been rewarding. Very challenging, but certainly a learning experience. The builder community is terrific - as is Van's tech support. I'm finished with the Vert Stab and Rudder (Jan 2016). So... with a 5 month delivery lead time, I've ordered the Quick Build Wings and Fuselage.

I hope this blog assists other new builders, just like several others have been valuable to me. Plus it will serve to document my build step by step. Please drop me a line via the "contact me" form on lower RH margin.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Finish Kit

Data Plate, Vinyl N number, Experimental label ( 2 hrs )

Applied EXPERIMENTAL vinyl lettering to rear bulkhead panel (ie rear of baggage compartment).  Purchased last year the EAA Homebuilder's Step by Step Certification Guide, and this vinyl label is included.  It's really valuable with great instructions, and all forms needed with examples shown -- highly recommend to all builders.  Attached new Data Plate to LH side Aft Fuselage under leading edge Horiz Stab using 2 flush blind rivets.    Applied 3" vinyl N number to Aft Fuselage (both data plate and N number letters bought via Net Engravers).  Easy to apply, and although temporary (until I have airplane painted), I think they look great.
required EXPERIMENTAL label done
Data Plate ...done.

showing location of Data Plate. 
Similar to most Certified airplanes
easy process to transfer vinyl letters to Fuselage

these 3" letters meet Experimental regs...will do until I have plane painted

impressed by quality and strength of adhesion.  

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Firewall Forward Kit

Exhaust Installation ( 2 hrs )

Continued Exhaust install per 48-02.  Added Hangar Links.  Adjusted angle of Hangar Angles to 123.5 deg using provided template.   Step 4 required disconnection of Nose Gear Link (ref Sect 40A-06). to install Tailpipe.  Fortunately, another builder documented this - Vans doesn't describe.  I tried w/o doing 1st, but seemed impossible otherwise.  Used engine hoist to release load on nose wheel.  Tailpipe installed and gear re-assembled.  Ready to add remaining exhaust tubes, but trying to do as much as practical prior to opening engine to air/moisture - since 1st start is likely few weeks away.
removed bolt holding nose gear link...with engine hoist
lifting load entirely off nose wheel

tah dah ! 
Tailpipe installed on hangars in central tunnel

re-attached support link to Nose Gear. 
Ready to add exhaust tubes forward

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Firewall Forward Kit

Exhaust ( 3 hrs )

Received engraved Data Plate, Fuel Caps, and N number decal from Net Engravers.  Very pleased with results.  Re-installed 4" SCAT (air duct) to oil cooler.    Installed RH Vent cover per Sect 48-04, Step 1.  Completed Steps 1-4 at Sect 48-03, various hangars, tubes, & brackets.  Belt sanded raised edges at relief notches ( per Step 2, 48-04) on eight Heat Muff Ends.
Data Plate engraved,  Fuel Caps engraved, and N number
decal.  Small decals "free" for trial application, etc

Looks great !

Re-installed 4" SCAT after adding
TCW butterfly valve

various pieces prepped for installing Exhaust.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Finish Kit

Replaced Left LH master cylinder ( 2 hrs )

Replaced LH master cylinder on Left side with one Vans shipped free.  [ After initial installation, when I pumped this brake, bubbles in the line would immediately appear and the brake would get soft...all others were OK.   No leaks anywhere...so appeared to be ingesting air.]  Drained per gravity the brake fluid, then disconnected the cylinder.  Please no drips.   Transferred original elbow fittings, and installed new cylinder.  After refilling -- No leaks, No bubbles, and stays firm.  Hooray!   It was a defective cylinder (probably at shaft seal) sucking in air on back strokes.  Rare, but another builder had reported same issue in VAF forums a few years ago. 
Left master cyl is slightly darker finish vs
original and mate on right side

Tuesday, April 16, 2019


Power to Instrument Panel ( 2 hrs )

I had a 2 week delay powering up my panel when I discovered a critical wire running power from Master Relay (Battery Contactor Relay) to Main Bus was missing.  I'd connected everything per Vans instructions, and connected everything from Stein Air for my panel & related.  My mistake was not looking at overall electrical schematic.  Stein Air picked worst timing for me to move to new offices, then another week at Sun n Fun.   Eventually I connected (pun intended!) with Josh at Stein Air, and we quickly diagnosed I needed a 4.5 ft 8AWG wire from Master Relay on firewall to the Aviation Bus Bar (which connects to Main Bus at CB panel).  Josh provided the wire with appropriate ring terminals.   I told him they should provide notes on schematic identifying what Stein Air was not intending to provide.  My mistake was assuming I had "everything" needed to complete the installation.  Now it seems obvious!   I ordered from Aircraft Spruce a 2 pc Firewall Shield (#61-275 ) and Silicone Grommet size 5/16 (#11-13460 ).  I didn't want to re-do the firewall penetration, & here,  but instead add specific hole for this 8 ga wire.    So NOW I have full power with 1st time I've powered up G3X, G5, GTR 200 Radio, and GMC307 autopilot.   Lots of tuning to do, and missing connections to most lights (wings, tail, canopy), ADHRS, etc.
Powered up panel !
New firewall penetration.  Silicone gromment under shields.
  Wrapped wire with silicone tape to make tight fit in grommet,
covered in hi-temp RTV.

view showing original firewall penetration just above.
 Master Relay on lower left, with Starter Relay below it

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Transition Training

Transition Training with Mike Seager

Flew commercial to Portland, Oregon, then drove an hour northwest to Vernonia, Oregon.  Stayed at Carpenter Guest House B&B (carpentersguesthouse@gmail.com, 541 961 8601).   Met Mike Seager for my Transition Training (email rv6cfi@hotmail.com, 503 709 4075) at Vernonia Muni Airport (05S).  The week prior, Mike notified me Vans RV-14A would NOT be available (until June 3! ) due to scheduled updates, etc.  Discovered the RV-14 (taildragger) instead had been reserved back Feb 1.  I quickly received confirmation from Falcon Insurance that the underwriter Global was OK w/ using Vans RV-7A for my training.  Mike assured me the 7A flies nearly identical to RV-14A.   We flew Thurs & Fri, April 11-12 in morning and early afternoon.  Rains and low ceilings made flying over  mountains exciting enroute to Scappoose (KSPA) and back.  Lots of pattern work at KSPA.  I gradually got used to CS prop and high sink rates on approach (vs C172).  Abundance of power is understatement -- takeoffs were more like launches!  Mike's a great instructor ( 22,500 hrs mostly in RVs).   On Saturday, I had time prior to flight home to visit Evergreen Aviation Museum ( about 1.2 hrs south of Portland)...the Spruce Goose is amazing!
Mike Seager getting RV-7A ready.

Rare partial blue sky...it's damp in Spring in Oregon!

Spruce Goose.  Over 300' wingspan. 
You could stand up inside wings.  8 engines each 3000 hp.

One of many planes of all eras on display.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Finish Kit

Crow Safety Harnesses ( 2 hrs )

Installed Crow 5 point Safety Harnesses ( Part # R40004P ) purchased earlier via Abby at Flightline Interiors.  I received 6 replacement "Tangs" with 5/16" holes at mounting points after contacting Fred Crow - to match Vans instructions and dwgs using their provided bushings.   Probably could have used the original w/ 1/4" holes, but prefer matching Vans plans per Sect 42-06.  They were easy to replace.  Waiting to install Crotch Straps (which actually did have 5/16" holes to match AN5 bolts) until I'm ready to install Seat Ramp Covers - per Sect 42-02, Fig 1 & 2.   Starting to install Exhaust system.   Per 48-04, drilled out LP-4 rivets on right side to install Right Vent Assembly (ie cover) per Fig 1.   Engine mount tubes makes this difficult (Vans should insruct this step PRIOR to adding engine mount, etc !).   Used 90 deg angle drill for one, but other needed 11" extension also.  Gonna be real tight to blind rivet soon...but seems do-able.
Crow harnesses mostly installed.
Poor access required 90deg AND 11" extension
 to drill out rivet.  Seems Vans should have
 you do this well prior to adding engine mount
and engine! (vs during exhaust install)