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Thread: Is homebuilding right for me?

  1. #1

    Is homebuilding right for me?

    This will be my first time home building an aircraft, and looking through the many kit aircrafts, I've settled oin the Vans RV-12. I've settled on the RV-12 because I like it's easy to assemble design and the fact that Vans now offer a Skyview panel.

    However, I have no prior experience in building an aircraft, and I don't really plan on building the RV-12 as an E-LSA. Mainly because 1.) Vans has no plan to make a FWF kit for the 912iS, and I'd like to have a fuel injected engine in my airplane & 2.) I'd like to build and put in this fuel tank instead of the one that comes with the RV-12. Mainly because I think it's a better design.

    However, I don't have any real experience in building an aircraft, or any kind of metal work TBH. I've helped my dad build his Factory Five Cobra, but that's about it. So I'm doubting my actual ability when it comes to building a fully functional aircraft. *laughs*.

    Any advice or help would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Todd copeland's Avatar
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    Go for it, but think carefully through any changes from the design. You don't have to have the building experience, just the ability to read, the determination to see it through, and the foresight to take the project one page at a time. Too many builders get stopped before they start because they look at all the boxes and trays and manuals and are overwhelmed before they even start. You build it one page at a time.

  3. #3
    Neil's Avatar
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    If you are going to build one of Van's designs the best advice is to build it as Van's designed it. While I am not familiar with all the Vans designs I think they all carry the fuel in the wings. That way the fuel is not in the cockpit with you in the event of an accident. I'm baffled (pun intended) as to how you think sitting on the tank is a better design.

  4. #4
    steveinindy's Avatar
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    I'd like to build and put in this fuel tank instead of the one that comes with the RV-12. Mainly because I think it's a better design.
    What makes you think that is a better design? The only advice I can offer is that a fuel tank in the cockpit is not the best idea unless you want to run the distinct possibility of being bathed in fuel in a crash scenario. When it comes to fuel tanks and fuel lines, you want to keep them as far as possible/practical from the cockpit (routing them through the wing box and under the floor of the cockpit is slightly better than running a thin plastic line through the cockpit itself) and protect them from damage. Generally, the fewer sharp (non rounded) corners a tank has and the fewer welds or seams it involves the better. Rounded corners spread out the hydraulic force involved in a crash and minimizing the number of seams or welds gives fewer weak spots for the tank to be burst by the fuel slamming around inside of it as the aircraft comes to an more abrupt stop than normal.

    So I'm doubting my actual ability when it comes to building a fully functional aircraft. *laughs*.
    At least you're honest. Most folks given support and assistance can build an aircraft of some sort.

    Folks who doubt their abilities scare me a lot less than those among us who think they have it all figured out. Usually those folks wind up like this: http://rvnewsletter.blogspot.com/200...oyd-crash.html http://rvnewsletter.blogspot.com/200...dan-lloyd.html (BTW, before anyone gets up my butt about using Dan as an example, he was someone I considered a friend)

    The first rule of homebuilding should be don't assume that "Eh, it works" is a good approach. Other good rules:
    1. If someone doesn't look right, ask someone with knowledge and experience. Having one or the other is good, having both is best.
    2. If you have a question, ask.
    3. If something breaks, replace it completely. Some of the folks in this hobby want to push their build as far as possible to prove something to themselves and/or others and a few of us (Dan included) pay with their lives.
    4. A build is not something to rush. Never set a deadline for completion of anything. It's better to be sitting in the shop than to be sitting in the morgue or in the file cabinet in which I keep the autopsy reports and crash investigation records that form a large part of the basis for my research.
    5. The more people you get to look at your work before it is sealed up the better. Bribe the local EAA chapter(s) members with food if necessary.
    6. Don't take a criticism of your build personally if the person can give you an engineering, practical or mechanical reason for the criticism.
    Unfortunately in science what you believe is irrelevant.

    "I'm an old-fashioned Southern Gentleman. Which means I can be a cast-iron son-of-a-***** when I want to be."- Robert A. Heinlein.



  5. #5
    steveinindy's Avatar
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    That way the fuel is not in the cockpit with you in the event of an accident.
    Honestly, an integral fuel tank ("wet wings") is only a very modest improvement in terms of safety given how frequently the wings are damaged in the course of a crash.
    Unfortunately in science what you believe is irrelevant.

    "I'm an old-fashioned Southern Gentleman. Which means I can be a cast-iron son-of-a-***** when I want to be."- Robert A. Heinlein.



  6. #6
    Flyfalcons's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil View Post
    If you are going to build one of Van's designs the best advice is to build it as Van's designed it. While I am not familiar with all the Vans designs I think they all carry the fuel in the wings. That way the fuel is not in the cockpit with you in the event of an accident. I'm baffled (pun intended) as to how you think sitting on the tank is a better design.
    The -12 is designed with a fuel tank that sits in the baggage area.
    Ryan Winslow
    EAA 525529
    Stinson 108-1 "Big Red", RV-7 under construction

  7. #7
    The fuel tank in the baggage area is a RV12 design. My problem with it is that it takes up half of the baggage area. Also, as for the fuel injected engine, so far the 912iS seems to be the perfect candidate. The RV12 already takes a Rotax 912 engine, so I'm hoping that only minor adjustment in the Foward Fire Wall will be needed.

  8. #8
    steveinindy's Avatar
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    My problem with it is that it takes up half of the baggage area
    Then the solution is to find something equivalent that doesn't increase the risk to the pilot and passenger. Honestly, in something designed to be a light sport aircraft, you probably don't need to be carrying that much baggage to begin with. Opening up the baggage compartment further just seems (at first glance) to increase the possibility that a pilot might chance putting more weight back there than the aircraft can tolerate. If the design does not work for you as is, then you might be better off looking for another aircraft to build rather than trying to push the fuel tank into the cockpit unless you have the ability to design a very, very resilient fuel tank (along the lines of what the US Army used to drop its burn mortality rate in helicopter crashes to effectively zero from something like 40-50%). We have a design that hopefully will be able to do do that in an LSA and other GA aircraft but it's still at least couple of years away from being ready to market as we are still trying to test out it against the various standards that are established by the military and by our own investigations into real world tests.
    Unfortunately in science what you believe is irrelevant.

    "I'm an old-fashioned Southern Gentleman. Which means I can be a cast-iron son-of-a-***** when I want to be."- Robert A. Heinlein.



  9. #9
    Auburntsts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SportyPilot View Post
    The fuel tank in the baggage area is a RV12 design. My problem with it is that it takes up half of the baggage area. Also, as for the fuel injected engine, so far the 912iS seems to be the perfect candidate. The RV12 already takes a Rotax 912 engine, so I'm hoping that only minor adjustment in the Foward Fire Wall will be needed.
    Looks like you're in for some major cowl work. Here's what Van's posted on FaceBook when the 912iS was announced:

    "Weīd been aware of this project for some time, and the concept is exciting; but there are several reasons that, in its present form, the engine is not suitable for the RV-12.

    Weight: The Rotax press release says the f.i. version weighs 6 kilograms more than the carbureted version. For the metrically-challenged, thatīs 13.2 lbs - a significant increase and difficult to absorb, given the RV-12īs forward-cabin configuration and legally limited gross weight.

    Size: The photos accompanying the Rotax press release make it quite clear that the engine will not fit in the RV-12 cowl. Re-designing the cowl and making new molds would be an expensive and time-consuming project, increasing the cost of the kits.

    Cost: We havenīt seen final numbers, but the new engine is likely to be priced significantly more than the one we use."

    Since you're new to building, I'd hold off on commiting to the engine right now. Get some build time under your belt first. You might find your appetite for making major mods diminished once you get your hands dirty. I can tell you that even simple mods can sometimes add major time to the build. The quickest way to flight is to build per the plans so you need to think long and hard about what your main goal is here. There's absolutely nothing wrong with experimenting and making the design your own, just understand the consequences of those decisions.
    Last edited by Auburntsts; 04-02-2012 at 08:42 PM.
    Todd Stovall
    Aka tsts4 on POA & Matronics, and Auburntsts on VAF, RV Airspace, AOPA, & Purple Pilots
    PP ASEL
    Building an RV-10 N728TT
    My builder's log (which is woefully out of date): www.mykitlog.com/auburntsts
    WAR DAMN EAGLE!

  10. #10
    Auburntsts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil View Post
    While I am not familiar with all the Vans designs I think they all carry the fuel in the wings. That way the fuel is not in the cockpit with you in the event of an accident.
    The RV-12's wings are removeable in just a few minutes without the use of tools, hence the fuselage tank. Van took some heat for the design but it doesn't appear to have hurt sales any.
    Todd Stovall
    Aka tsts4 on POA & Matronics, and Auburntsts on VAF, RV Airspace, AOPA, & Purple Pilots
    PP ASEL
    Building an RV-10 N728TT
    My builder's log (which is woefully out of date): www.mykitlog.com/auburntsts
    WAR DAMN EAGLE!

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