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Old 12-11-2012, 08:53 PM
txaviator's Avatar
txaviator txaviator is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Arlington, TX (DFW)
Posts: 1,177
Default Crawling into the tailcone...???

I've been searching the forums for specific tips on how to crawl into the tailcone without damaging the bulkheads, bottom skins, etc. Nothing real specific on what you folks have done?

I'm on the last pages of the fuselage kit and expect to jump into the finishing kit within a week or so. Thinking ahead (my avionics are on the way) I've been wondering what folks did whenever they needed to crawl back into the tailcone? By the time I get to this point, I'll be on the gears and will build a tail support to hold all of that up. The bulkheads surely don't seem strong enough to simply lay sheets of plywood over them!?

I spoke to a local -12 builder a few months ago, and they had cut foam pieces to lay between the bulkheads (much higher than the bulkheads, then it compressed) then laid plywood on top of that. However, I think their fuse was still on tables- but I am not too sure about that.

Any thoughts or suggestions? I sure don't want to screw something up this late in the build. I'm 5'11" and 215#, so it may be interesting crawling in and out, to say the least I'm also hoping there's a good 'construction beer' shelf back in there too? I'd better crawl in with my cellphone in case I can't get my big #*@ back out, lol.

Take care,
Gary Robertson
Cresson (50F), TX

RV-12 Built / Sold / Flying
Currently Flying: Cessna Skylane 182
* Hoping Vans decides to offer a bush plane, before I order something else! **EDIT**: got tired of waiting, and bought a '46 J3 Cub!
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:14 PM
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bhassel bhassel is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 979

I was wondering about that issue. Could you leave off the top skins or at least only cleco them until the wiring is laid? Hopefully I'll be able to integrate that into the build at the time since I'll be ordering the finish kit with the wings and fuse.

Bob Hassel

Subscription Paid for 2021

Home is where the hanger is...
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:33 PM
chaskuss chaskuss is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: SE Florida
Posts: 1,510

I don't play one [RV-12 builder] on TV and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn, last night. That said, for the other RV models, Vans recommends that you fabricate some temporary wooden floor boards so that you can rivet the top turtle deck skin on and do other work back there without damaging anything.
Naturally, I overdo everything. I figured why do a shoddy job on this, as I will need to get back there for the annual condition inspection every year. I glued two layers of the thin finish plywood that Vans uses for shipping boxes, then cut the temporary floors to size. I sanded the edges round [makes them easier to install and remove] and coated them with 2 coats of varnish [A friend had given me what was left of a gallon can]
I made cardboard templates first to test the fit. Best to make these BEFORE you rivet the turtle deck skins on. Round all the edges so that you can get them in and out with the turtle deck on. See photo below. These are for an 8A.

Multiple pieces will be easier to install and remove. If you plan to save them for future use, be sure to make cut outs for the elevator bell-crank and any other obstructions which will exist in the finished tail-cone.
Hope this gives you some ideas.
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:50 PM
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Ironflight Ironflight is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Dayton, NV
Posts: 12,830

I used wooden platforms to access the back of the RV-8 when I built it, and found them uncomfortable and worrisome as to the point loads on the bulkheads.

On the -3, we did something different, and it worked out great! We had a large stack of moving and hospital blankets laying around, and we used those to fill the space between the bulkheads on the "floor" of the fuselage, then when they were as thick as the bottom of the bulkhead openings, we added a few more to make a continuous soft floor on which to lay (or is it lie - I never get that grammar right!). Very comfortable, and the loads were well distributed. Easy to install and remove as well - you just grab and pull - no way to damage the structure with hard sharp corners.

It worked well for us.

Paul F. Dye
Editor at Large - KITPLANES Magazine
RV-8 - N188PD - "Valkyrie"
RV-6 (By Marriage) - N164MS - "Mikey"
RV-3B - N13PL - "Tsamsiyu"
A&P, EAA Tech Counselor/Flight Advisor
Dayton Valley Airpark (A34)

Last edited by Ironflight : 12-11-2012 at 09:59 PM.
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:57 PM
chaskuss chaskuss is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: SE Florida
Posts: 1,510

Originally Posted by txaviator View Post
snipped I'm 5'11" and 215#, so it may be interesting crawling in and out, to say the least I'm also hoping there's a good 'construction beer' shelf back in there too? I'd better crawl in with my cellphone in case I can't get my big #*@ back out, lol.

Take care,
The trick is to use some of that beer as a bribe to get a smaller friend to crawl in there for you! If you have grandchildren, candy works and is cheaper than beer. Besides, now they will like you better than grandma!

Got to say, Paul's suggestion is a lot less work than mine. I did not have any worries about stress on the bulkheads, as my wooden flooring also contacts the lower longerons along the sides.

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Old 12-11-2012, 10:18 PM
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Tony_T Tony_T is offline
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Lacey, WA
Posts: 1,433
Default Tailcone access

Make a platform out of crate wood. Block it up on the bulkhead so it doesn't rest on the control cables.
This will get you access as far back as you need to go to build the plane.

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Old 12-12-2012, 01:55 AM
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Andrew M Andrew M is offline
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Secluded Lake,Alaska (AK49)
Posts: 359
Default Bean bag chair

I have one I use weekly at work. I can throw some wood over it to. A couple of bags of packing peanuts with wood overlay does the trick to. Speaking of bean bags, I also have a vanity mirror that is carpet taped to a small bag of "peanuts". It stays just how I lay it no hands.
Andrew Miller
-9 empennage
Wings arrived 12 JAN 13
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Old 12-12-2012, 07:12 AM
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Dgamble Dgamble is offline
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 869

All you will ever need access to back there is the ADAHRS stuff. I was able to reach that stuff without ever leaving the baggage area floor. I did spend some uncomfortable minutes with the edge of the rear bulkhead digging into my back, but I never needed to put any pressure at all on the relatively weaker skins and formers back there. I did support the tail, though, with a scaffold I picked up at Lowes.

Dave Gamble
Grove City, OH

RV-6 N466PG Purchased already flying - SOLD!

The Book: The PapaGolf Chronicles

Built RV-12

The Book: Schmetterling Aviation

The above web blogs and any links provided thereto are not instructional or advisory in nature. They merely seek to share my experiences in building and flying Van's RV airplanes.
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Old 12-12-2012, 08:01 AM
esco esco is offline
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: SoCal
Posts: 407
Default Support the tail!

Originally Posted by Dgamble View Post
... I did support the tail, though, with a scaffold I picked up at Lowes...[/IMG]
Tail support is very good idea.

The slow teeter-totter fall onto the unsupported tail would have been interesting to see from the outside ("Dad, that airplane is trying to fly without an engine!"); the uphill and backwards crawl was less so.

Add the time pondering the damage you just heard, the time spent wondering who saw your "first flight", and actual repair time to the time spent explaining the damage, and the 15 minutes arranging the tail support is a no-brainer. Of course, that's after the fact.

VAF dues paid though exempt
RV-9A sold (I miss that bird!)
RV10 sold (miss that one too!)
RV-14A build underway
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Old 12-12-2012, 08:03 AM
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Brantel Brantel is offline
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Newport, TN
Posts: 7,513

Foam on the skins between the bulkheads and a board laying on top of that is how I did and do it on my 7. It works for my fat butt. May have to be more careful with the 12 however since its construction is lighter.
Brantel (Brian Chesteen),
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