Mike Robbins

On this page:
Finish kit
Panel & electrical
Firewall forward
Flying and beyond


Aircraft type: RV-8QB
Builder number: 80591
Date started: 12/31/97
First flight: 6/10/02
E-mail: robbinsrv8@msn.com



Hi, I'm Mike Robbins. I live in Samamish, Washington, which is just east of Seattle. My RV-8 project is my third experimental aircraft project:  I've already built a Volksplane and a Kitfox. I've tried to learn from my past projects, and also from other RV-8 builders. I have made several modifications to the RV-8 that will hopefully prove useful and that other builders might find useful...  check them out below.


(clic on pic for larger version)
shop.jpg (167441 bytes) paintbooth.jpg (178410 bytes)Hereís where I spend 99% of my time when I'm not at work, or sleeping (which I don't get enough of). I plan to add a section to the paint booth when he paints the wings and fuselage.  
ELT.jpg (169257 bytes) aftbaggage.jpg (156517 bytes) bikes.jpg (166122 bytes)
This shows the fuselage stiffener/bracket for the ELT and strobe power supply. This modification to the aft baggage compartment is to hopefully hold two folding bikes (Bike Friday, can be seen at www.bikefriday.com). My wife Jennifer and I are on the right... will our bikes fit?  Read on.
aftthcover.jpg (169732 bytes) StoragePockets.jpg (112395 bytes) fitcheck.jpg (163998 bytes)
I shortened the aft throttle as it will be (hopefully) rarely used, and put a cover over it for flying with kids, or anyone else I don't want messing with the controls. I've also added cockpit storage bins I'm installing along the right side. There are a total of three, the last being made from the Aft Cabin Cover, F-876. The forward and center bins were inspired by the ones Randy Lervold installed, which were in the front bay only. I have extended the concept back to the center bay and the cabin cover. All are installed with nutplates, so are removable. The pic on the right shows the aft throttle, aileron trim, forward throttle quadrant, and a few other odds and ends.
pitot_static.jpg (42044 bytes) static_valve.jpg (42773 bytes)Both fuselage mounted static ports and an input from the wing. This shows the simple valve used to switch between the two systems. The right pic shows the pitot and wing static lines routed through the center opening in the spar.
panelaccess.jpg (157246 bytes) bagdoor_straps.jpg (173757 bytes)Here's my variation of access to the back of the panel. Thanks Danny King for the inspiration. Using the straps when installing the inner skin makes for a tight fit. Except that even though I epoxy bonded both the inner and outer skins and used the straps,  the door still doesn't sit down in one corner. Oh well. On to the next challenge. 


Finish kit
skirtbare1.JPG (65529 bytes) skirtbare2.JPG (55622 bytes) skirtpainted.JPG (50066 bytes)
Here's a view of the unfinished skirt showing the buildup along the aft sides to seal the gap and the aft end buildup, and a closer look at the aft buildup around the canopy rail. Finally, the inside surface of the skirt gets painted prior to final attachment to the frame. The extra time he has spent here working with fiberglass will prevent wind leakage in the back. I'm using PPG Concept for all interior and exterior surfaces.
rivnuts.JPG (100919 bytes)I opted to use screws to attach the canopy skirt and edge to the canopy frame Here's a photo showing installation of one of the 66 rivnuts into the canopy frame. Details of the screws can be seen below.
canopy_1.JPG (168526 bytes) canopyscrews.JPG (177658 bytes)Here's the finished canopy showing the fixture made to transport and store the canopy off the airplane. You can see the allen head cap screws he used to retain the skirt/canopy while he painted it, and some of the SS #6 screws that will replace the cap screws.
windshield_1.jpg (167472 bytes) windshield_2.jpg (165071 bytes)When I layed up the windscreen fairing I used "peel ply", which is nothing but dacron cloth used by the rag and tube builders.  It smoothed out the surfaces and is the way to go. After the glass had cured and some preliminary sanding,it was time to crack open the canopy. But it wouldn't budge, not even with two people pushing on both sides.  So... I figured the only way to get it open was to somehow do it from the inside.  Jennifer, my wife, was able to craw in though the forward baggage door opening and ended up having to beat and pry it loose.
Here is the fabrication of my wheel pant to gear leg fairings using oil based modeling clay as the mold.  A messy and time consuming operation, but it works. You can see the use of dacron cloth (peel ply) to absorb extra resin and smooth out the bumps and blend in the different layers. The fairings were sliced at the rear with a dremel tool and removed.
Final version of my upper gear leg intersection


Panel & electrical
Panel_front.jpg (137503 bytes) panel_back.jpg (169730 bytes)Here is my panel just before sending it off to Pacific Coast Avionics to have the Garmin GNS-430 mounted. I didn't use any computer aided stuff at all, rather I made up several foam board mockups and started dimensioning all the holes, designing as I went. I ended up making four mockups before settling on the final configuration. I made sure all avionics and instruments in-house before making any cuts to ensure there would be no interference problems. Using this method I discovered I had to swap the audio panel from the top to the bottom of the stack, moving the Garmin GNS-430 on top because it would hit the bottom of the rear baggage bulkhead. I borrowed a friend's instrument hole punch and punched out all the round holes, and used a Dremel with a cutoff wheel to cut out all the square holes including the one for the HSI. In the end everything fit. This was very time consuming, but satisfying to know that it I did it.  Okay, now what to do with all these wires?
Wiring_1.JPG (144480 bytes) Ext_Pwr_Plug.JPG (130433 bytes)Most of his electrical components are mounted below the front baggage compartment aft bulkhead to allow access to this area through the front baggage compartment. I'm using mostly fuse blocks plus six circuit breakers per Bob Nuckoll's advice. I couldn't convince myself to go 100% fuses. I'm also designed a cheap and light external power plug made from commercially available butt splices covered with vinyl tubing.  I will also make custom jumper cables consisting of alligator clips on one end and bare soldered covered wire on the other end which will plug into the receptacle. 
panel_back2.JPG (171160 bytes) panel_front2.JPG (301298 bytes)
Panel almost finished and ready to install in the plane. Looks like this might take more than a weekend! On the right you can see how I cut my front stick in two and welded on a collar so it can be removed when I have to crawl under the panel.
avionics_fitcheck.jpg (88612 bytes)A tight fit, but it all worked out. Here's the finished product!


Firewall forward
engremov2.jpg (172470 bytes)There's nothing like bringing home a brand new Lycoming! Here's how we removed it from the back of my Suburban. Two long ramps, two husky helpers (well, hard working anyway), and an old boat winch.
fuel_selector.JPG (159034 bytes) fuel_pump.JPG (153480 bytes)Standard Van's issue fuel selector valve. On the left you can see the routing of the 1/4" purge valve return line which Ts into the right tank inlet line. I'm doing an Airflow Performance fuel injection package on my O-360 A1A (from Van's), on the right is the pump and filter installation. The smaller 1/4" line is the purge valve return line which goes back to the right tank. The big vertical loop is the pump return.
firewall.jpg (71888 bytes) firewall_left.jpg (174810 bytes)
Firewall just before installing the engine mount, arrangement of the firewall components on the right side including the manifold pressure line going to Van's manifold pressure gage and the LASAR computer, and how I routed the purge valve control cable for the AirFlow Performance fuel injection system. You can also see how I beefed up the rear baffle holding the oil cooler. There is also a .062 plate bonded and riveted to the back of the baffle. All angles are epoxied on as well as riveted. I may also add a brace from the baffle to the engine.
firewall_right.jpg (166875 bytes) quarterview.jpg (196110 bytes)
I added an alternate air door on the airbox in case the front inlet becomes blocked. The center pic shows the components on the left side. I installed all the firewall components before I mounted the engine, and I wouldn't change a thing. I am especially pleased with the orientation of the prop governor cable. Right pic: getting close to paint.


paint_1.jpg (150728 bytes) wing_prep.jpg (184451 bytes) two_wings.jpg (160626 bytes)
Let the painting begin. I'm getting to where I sort of like orange peel. This is the setup I used for painting the wings.  Here this wing is being etched and alodined, one done and one to go.
Getting close...


Flying and beyond
Mods made after flying: First, I modified my tail wheel to give me more ground clearance. The tail wheel post had bottomed out a couple of times in ruts, and I was afraid it might get caught in a big crack some day and rip out the back end. I lowered it one inch. Second, I had noticed a vibration under my feet, sort of a "buzzing", after I had installed my first set of intersection fairings. I determined it was coming from the adjustable bottom panel, so I added these stiffeners. It dampened most, but not all of the vibration.
I finally got around to fitting my folding Bike Friday in the rear baggage compartment with only partial success.  I originally had hoped to be able to fit two bikes in the back, but was able to fit only one, sitting at a slight angle.  Also it is quite a hassle to get it in and out, so much so that it makes it impractical for me.

I made these rudder gust locks out of piano hinge wire.  There is one for each side.


This locks both the elevators and ailerons.  It's made of aluminum tubing, but could be made of steel. Best not to forget this one on the preflight.


Got this material from the F-1 Rocket folks. It's a static cling that seems to work well.  I left a test piece out over the summer and it didn't do any damage to the plexiglass


Strakes - Before installing the strakes I did a series of power off stalls flaps up and down. Then installed them the next day and repeated the stall series at the same altitude and about the same temperature. I consistently got a four knot reduction in stall speed. May not seem like much, but it makes a difference. I also found that my full stall landings felt much more comfortable. I can approach at a slower speed and touch down slower. I did have a tail shake in a full stall, and the strakes did reduce it. Didn't affect the top end at all.

Source: Bradford Heinitz, The Aerodyne Shop, 360 403 8737