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Thread: RV-12 builder seeking advise

  1. #1

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    RV-12 builder seeking advise

    Greetings,

    As a soon to be private pilot I plan to build a Vans RV-12. I believe this is a good choice for a low time pilot. It is also quick and easy to complete so I can get flying soon.

    I am looking for input from RV-12 builders about setting up my shop. I am planning to build one or two of the "EAA" benches. I am also wondering about what tools I will need.

    Is anyone selling tools or benches after completing a project?

    Any comments would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    rv8bldr's Avatar
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    Hi Wayne

    If you haven't signed up already , head on over to the Vans Aircraft Forums (http://www.vansairforce.com/community/index.php) and sign up. Thousands of members, and there is an RV-12 specific group.

    Cheers
    -------------------
    Mark
    EAA 367635 VAF 185
    RV-8 80965 C-GURV (Flying since Nov 2004) RV-8 Build Log
    Bearhawk #1078 Bearhawk Build Log
    The Strawbale house we built Strawbale House Build Log

  3. #3
    Eric Witherspoon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne J View Post
    ...It is also quick and easy to complete so I can get flying soon.

    ...I am planning to build one or two of the "EAA" benches. I am also wondering about what tools I will need.

    Is anyone selling tools or benches after completing a project?
    Get flying soon. Not to burst your bubble, but the quickest / lowest cost way to get flying soon is to buy one that is already flying. The lowest-cost version of nearly* any homebuilt is to buy one that is already flying. Why? Because the kit/parts/engine/etc. prices NEVER go down. So in your years-long journey to get the thing built, the price of nearly everything will become higher. Second, you don't pay for the original builder's mistakes. They did, and have a heaping big scrap pile to prove it. You build an airplane because you want to build an airplane, not because you want an airplane to fly. You write one big check for one that's ready to start up and fly away if you want to fly...

    *the exception - if most of your preferred design are sold/built as kits, but the factory also offers a plans-built option, and you can plans build / scrounge / weld / machine your own stuff, it is possible to build an example for lower cost than they are typically selling for, but you could have an even larger fortune in tools, and a more extensive commitment in the build time...

    Input from RV-12 builders. As a blind-riveted airplane, input from other blind-riveted designs' builders could also help. I built 2, fly 1 Sonex from plans. Believe it or not, there are exactly zero more tools required to build something from plans as from a kit, you just use them a little more. As a blind-riveted airplane, I would bet the tools are nearly the same as well, though the RV has some composites fabrication in the canopy area that the Sonex doesn't have. If you want, take a look at my website (in the sig on this post), pick the "homebuilding hints" link off the home page, then "tools". Probably >95% the same.

    EAA benches - I modified this design to be 3' x 5' rather than the 2' x 5' they show and LOVE it. 4' across a table gets a little wide for reaching things on the far extent. 2' seems like not enough room (at least to me). I don't recall what height they show, but I built them to ~41" high at the table top. No stooping down / bending over to work. Another benefit of 41" high, even with 2x4 framing under the table top is I have 6" deep drawers - 1 drawer under each table, which are 2 feet x 4 feet, more or less. TOOLS go in the left-hand drawer, AIRPLANE HARDWARE goes in the right-hand drawer. That way, it's all right there. Yet another mod - I believe they show them with the table top flush with the table top frame. This makes clamping things to the table much more difficult than if you build the table top frame 3 - 4" undersize (on 3 sides). On the 4th (short) side, have the table top flush with the frame so you can clamp 2 of the tables together to give a 3' x 10' table. Just about right for most airplane building.

    By the time you are working on stuff bigger than that (like joining a forward fuselage to a tail cone) it's off the table and onto saw horses anyway.

    Selling tools? Difficult to find. I've found that clecoes on eBay are completely over priced. There's plenty of 10- 20- or 25- cleco "kits" out there for race car hobbyists or something. Never anything in the multiple-hundreds quantities that an airplane requires. I bought mine from Pan American Tools in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. They have a $50 minimum order, but consistently have about the best price for standard and deep-grip clecoes. Another reason I say "difficult to find" is once a builder collects their airplane-building tools, they generally will hold onto them for life - because there's always repairs and mods in the future, and of course, the next airplane project. So don't feel the least bit bad about having to buy all-new on the tools, and be assured, that when you're done with them, someone will buy them REAL QUICK. (My first airplane project I sold the tools. They went to European buyers almost instantly. After the 2nd airplane project, I didn't sell the tools, and guess what, there's a 3rd airplane project...)

    To give an idea on clecoes, I have ~300 of the 3/32 size, ~300 of the 1/8 size, and I got 75 of the 5/32 size because that's the size of the solid rivets in a Sonex spar. I also got ~20 3/16 size, and 10 in each of those 4 sizes in the "deep grip" style. 3/16 is a common size for the bolts. My guess (not sure) is the RV might be using 1/8" rivets for the skins, though some blind rivet designs use 5/32 aluminum rivets. Find out which is the pilot hole size in the kit and the rivet hole size, and 300 of each should do ok. If you get all those on the airplane and run out, it's time to permanently fasten some stuff together...
    Murphy's 13th: Every solution breeds new problems...

    http://www.spoonworld.com

  4. #4

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    Nov 2011
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    Camas, WA
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    For the most part, I agree with the comments made by Eric Witherspoon. I would take a small exception from his comment that you don't need more tools to scratch build than to assemble a kit. Indeed, this would depend on the aircraft design you choose. In my experience building a Zodiac XL and replacing parts as I destroyed them there are a few very difficult tools needed when scratch building that the kit factory already has. One example is a sheet metal bending "Brake" for making 8 foot long bends in a piece of metal. You just don't need this for a kit build. (It took me 6 years of nearly constant effort to complete this plane that the kit manufacturer said takes 500 hours to build.)

    The really important point I want to stress is that building a plane from either kit or plans is a poor way to save money. You can buy a plane for a lot less than the cost to build one. It will be ready to go as soon as you pay the price and possibly have it delivered and obtain a checkout. Building takes YEARS to complete. You can be seriously fooled by kit vendors when they give you estimates for build time and cost. They usually are talking about just the airframe. After you finish that you need to install an engine, instruments, upholstery, paint, etc. etc. etc. Any estimate that you can build any plane in less than 5 years is hopelessly optimistic in my opinion. Building is a wonderful hobby for people (like me) who really enjoy building stuff. It is a horrible way to get a plane to fly.

    After you get your license, I suggest you start looking at the classified ads for older trainers and "Step up" models available for immediate purchase. You can find one of these planes for less than the cost of a RV-12 kit and be flying it immediately. Some particularly interesting models include the Cessna 150, 152 and Piper Cherokee. There are lots of older ones to consider too such as Luscombes, Cubs, and the like. These are all tail draggers so you might not want to go through the necessary transition training to allow you to fly them. All of these choices can be found for a lot less than the cost of a new RV-12 kit and associated costs.

    Good luck,

    Paul
    Camas, WA

  5. #5

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    Well Paul, I have to disagree with you.Building isn't really a poor way to save money. Yes you can have something to fly a lot sooner by not building. The problem is, as you stated they are older, and you can't do your own maintenence/inspections, just to name a couple of cons. By building an RV12, it's all brand spanking new. I do believe a novice could build an RV12 in less than 2 years.
    I built an RV10 to the point of installing the panel and engine. My mission changed so I sold it. My brother built an RV9A in 3 1/2 years, first flight was Feb 2005, he still has it, it stays in my hangar. He & I partner a 150. I'm planning to start on a Sonex or a Rans S19 next summer.
    I think if Wayne wants to build an RV12, we should get behind him and offer all the support we can give him. There seems to be a fire burning there that needs to be stoked, not extinguished.

    Marshall Alexander

  6. #6

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    Oct 2011
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    Superior, Wisconsin, United States
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    I agree that building an aircraft is a process for those who enjoy the challenge and appreciate the satisfaction of creating a one of a kind masterpiece. My Dyke Delta project lasted 39 years of off and on work, and led to a career in aircraft maintenace.

    There is no comparison between the time and skills needed to build an airworthy scratch built homebuilt, and that required for a project with full size matched hole tooling like the RV12. Along with my brother Jim (an RV9 builder) I help run the riveting booth at Kidventure, and over the past three years, we have completed both wings, the flaperons, the empenage, and have a good start on the fuselage. This with all of the riveting being done by the kids, and only during the 7 days of Airventure each year. The design needs no jig. We use two resin folding tables placed end to end for the largest assemblies. Our tooling is donated by Avery tools, and the RV12 kit was donated by Vans. I feel the RV12 is the easiest design I have seen to assemble into a safe reliable airplane. (I am an EAA Technical Counselor and Flight Advisor) The Kidventure project will never fly, but I have no reservations about the work done by the kids.

    I recomend Vans website and the RV12 specific site to get in touch with builders in various stages of construction, as well as some who are complete and flying.

    Alan

  7. #7

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    I would love to encourage anyone who wants to build a plane to do just that. It is the most rewarding thing I have ever done, and I am glad I decided to do it.

    Unfortunately, there are limits to home building that seem to get in the way of a lot of people who start this massive project. It takes years of dedication to complete one of these planes. While there is ample reward for those who do complete one there are a lot of people who start and just don't ever reach the goal. I have no idea what all the reasons are for failure to complete a plane but I think this is the majority outcome. That is, most people who start a plane don't finish it - ever. I have started three different plane builds and only completed one. Another one I stopped when I discovered I didn't fit in the cockpit and the third one is sitting half built in my shop. I started it when I wasn't able to continue on my Zodiac because of design problems that surfaced when a number of Zodiac XLs fell apart in the sky. Now that the Zodiac situation is resolved I lack the motivation to complete my third start - a Wittman Buttercup.

    So, my whole point in discussing this issue here is to try to deal with the issue of building a plane vs. buying one. If a potential builder only wants to do this because it is a way to get a plane to fly for a reduced dollar cost then I would recommend not trying the build path. If the person really wants to enjoy the building process and the resulting personal aircraft is just a big bonus then I highly recommend this hobby.

    One more little point. Home building seems to work really well for retired people. After a long life of working 5 or more days per week the adjustment to retirement is a hard one. A huge project like building a plane provides a perfect transition to go from really overworked to really bored. This is not the case for someone who is younger and trying to maintain a career, build a family, save money for retirement, and keep up with all the other demands of life while adding a huge task like building a plane.

    For some people it just makes a lot more sense to buy a plane than to build one.

    Paul
    Camas, WA

  8. #8
    Bugs66's Avatar
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    Wayne,
    If you like to build then by all means go for it. When you get done your airplane will be brand new and not a worn out beater. If you buy a beater, chances are it will need $$$ maintenance or you will want to restore it and then you are back in same boat. Certified planes can be huge money pits as I personally witness this regularly from my hangar neighbors. Sure, you get in cheap with a $15-20K C-150 or Champ. When your first annual comes around, lookout!

    I do agree with the prerequisites that you should really like building things and have a built-in perserverence to see a project to completion before you take on a homebuilt aircraft.

    I built my Super Cub from scratch in 5 years and I have a family. The key is to want it really bad and to work on something every day, even if for 15 minutes. An RV-12 will go together fairly quickly if you stay on it. Substantially faster than a plans built.

    If you have some rental aircraft nearby, then that will satisfy your urge for flying while you build your RV-12. However owning an airplane and also building your first homebuilt is usually not a good combination. I have witnessed this too with others. They will spend most of their time flying (not such a bad thing I admit) but their homebuilt collects dust in corner of their shop. Like I said, you have to really want it bad and have motivation (like no airplane to fly) to get it done.

    So follow your dreams and if that includes building your own airplane, then make it happen!
    Last edited by Bugs66; 11-24-2011 at 02:51 AM.
    Bugs
    EAA 459462
    www.supercubproject.com

  9. #9

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    Paul & Bugs wre both correct. The bottom line though is, if you want to build, go for it. If you're a true to the bone novice, check out your nearest EAA chapter, & pick the brains of the group. You'll probably find a wealth of information, in fact, you'll probably get answers to questions you didn't even know you had.



    Marshall Alexander

  10. #10

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    The key is to want it really bad and to work on something every day, even if for 15 minutes. An RV-12 will go together fairly quickly if you stay on it. Substantially faster than a plans built.

    If you have some rental aircraft nearby, then that will satisfy your urge for flying while you build your RV-12. However owning an airplane and also building your first homebuilt is usually not a good combination. I have witnessed this too with others. They will spend most of their time flying (not such a bad thing I admit) but their homebuilt collects dust in corner of their shop. Like I said, you have to really want it bad and have motivation (like no airplane to fly) to get it done.
    Quoted for truth!

    If I owned the Champ I rent there is no way I'd put in the time to build my aircraft (not an RV) - there is a huge financial drive to complete it!
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

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