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Old 04-16-2021, 10:01 AM
wjb's Avatar
wjb wjb is offline
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Half Moon Bay, CA
Posts: 1,081

I built this rickety-looking dolly while fitting the cowl and found it works very well for installing the bottom cowl single-handed. The lip on the right holds the aft end of the cowl. A couple of screws act as a hinge and the left end can move up and down end installing the cowl. The stick on the left is the third hand to hold the cowl in position.

To use, just plop the bottom cowl on top, lower the front end, roll the dolly to location the aft edge and then raise the front to slide the forward edge in place (requires some wiggling)

It was a quick hack, but works well. I'm planning on rebuilding it to something more robust, but that's down the to-do list a ways

Bill Bencze
N430WB RV-7 @KHAF, Flying
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Old 04-16-2021, 10:57 AM
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Ironflight Ironflight is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Dayton, NV
Posts: 12,610

There are so many inspiringly clever ideas in this thread that I am almost embarrassed to admit how I do it – but I will just to let folks know that it is possible because someday, you’ll have to do this by yourself on a ramp far away from home. I have been installing the lower cowls on RV’s for years all by myself with no frames or jigs – I simply lift the cowl from one side (it sags a bit, but doesn’t break), while supporting the bottom with my knee. Using my free hand, I slip the front part between the back of the spinner and the front of the baffle ramps. The rubber baffle seals can be stuffed up on top of the ramps, and that holds the front roughly in position. I then use the hand in back to pull the rear into approximate position and drop a hinge pin in place into the top couple of loops. Now the cowl can’t fall off. I then go around to the other side and do the same thing with the aft hinge pin on that side. This also works if you have camlocs – just fasten one near the corner to hold things in place. Now I go up to the front and carefully fit the baffle ramp seals and the “snout” to FAB seal (if equipped) in place. By now, the cowl is essentially in position, and I can put the aft hinge pins all the way in, and I am home free. The trick is sort of lifting and holding with your knee under the bottom of the cowl.


1) This works great with taildraggers - nose gears can be a little more problematic.
2) You might scratch the front of the cowl behind the spinner – not visible once the cowl is installed, and eventually, it’s going to get scratched anyway….
3) It’s more fun and creative to come up with cool tooling to do this – I admit it!

I think it is important to know how to do this because, as I mentioned up top, someday you will have to do this away from home to check something out, and you don't want to have any excuse NOT to check something out if you think there's a problem under the hood.
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)
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Old 04-16-2021, 11:24 AM
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rv8ch rv8ch is online now
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: LSGY
Posts: 3,755
Default use the rags

Getting the bottom cowl on and off isn't that hard if you don't care about your paint!

I do dread it, but can do it single-handedly since I have the skybolts.

I place a lot of microfiber cloths near the spinner and in the corners to protect the paint.

Remove all the skybolts but one on each side - doesn't matter too much which one, top one or two work.

Release the last one on one side, put the cloth between the cowl and the aircraft, while holding the cowl in place with my "free" hand.

Release the last skybolt, put the cloth in place, and just slowly lower the cowl.

Notice that I forgot to put down the protection for the cowl on the hangar floor, say bad words...
Mickey Coggins
"Hello, world!"
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Old 04-16-2021, 11:40 AM
John Tierney John Tierney is online now
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Vonore, TN
Posts: 448

This is something I picked up from Harbor Freight years ago and modified. They listed it as an engine stand (V-8? May not sell it any more).
The photo is from cowl construction but I still use it for most lower cowl removal/install.
My trick for the lower cowl rubber/ramp interference is to temporarily tape the rubber up & forward with wide blue painters tape. Once the cowl is on just peal the tape.
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John Tierney
Vonore, TN
RV-7A - N777JT Flying
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Old 04-16-2021, 11:58 AM
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GaryK GaryK is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Zeeland, Michigan
Posts: 407

My "system" was very close to Pauls... Mine was an RV7A but never had an issue. Minor scratches on the cowl behind the spinner after 1100 hours.

As Paul said, it's not a matter of "if" it's a matter of "when" you'll need to remove the cowl away from home.

Now my RV10 is completely different story, my wife is an expert helper.

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