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Old 04-26-2012, 01:23 PM
sbalmos's Avatar
sbalmos sbalmos is offline
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Liberty Twp, OH
Posts: 688
Default RV-9A Scott Balmos (N112SB)

So here begins the build log of my RV-9a slider, N112SB, tentatively named "My Significant Other". Why yes, I'm single, why do you ask? I'm just shy of 30, and by day, I am a senior software developer. By night, I'm building this beast in the converted second bedroom and garage of my condo. Before you all drop your jaws, yes it's a tight squeeze sometimes. But I have the parents' basement available to store subsections as I finish them. Plus my dad is a woodworking shop teacher with a full shop, so I've got free reign of all his bench power tools (especially the bandsaw and drill press!). The build time will be long, but steady - usually a half hour nightly during the work-week, assuming nothing else is going on that night, and then a majority of the weekends. Amazingly, the neighbors do not hear the air compressor or rivet gun!

I've been PPL licensed for a little over half a year, since late October 2011, and figured that building my own plane will, in the long run, be the best way for me to have a reliable plane that is available on my schedule, with the equipment I want, with a **** of a lot more capability than the 172's I trained in. Ultimately, what sold me on Van's (as opposed to Mustang II) was the community size. It was going to be much easier for me to find help building an RV than a Mustang. After that, it was down to the 7a or 9a. I eventually went with the 9a mainly because I really don't care about performing aerobatics (really, I don't!), and being a low-time pilot, the added low-speed stability of the 9a is appealing. I'd rather drive a comfortable, capable all-around sporty car than possibly shoot myself in the foot trying to control a high-speed sports car. Doesn't mean I'll settle for a Corolla, but I don't need the Ferrari.

Below, mainly for posterity's sake for builders in the future, are some decisions I've come to make along the way. My intended flight profile is mainly VFR, mid-range regional cross-country flights (hello Ohio Valley RVator weekend UFOs!). But I want to equip it for full IFR, because I'm a gadget geek, being a computer guy, and I want the capability when I eventually upgrade my license.

Current Equipment Plans
  • O-320 engine - preferably a D1A or similar submodel that can/will run mogas
  • Dual P-Mags - I know I want electronic ignition for the increased fuel efficiency. Considered the dual Lightspeed, or a combo Lightspeed + Slick mag. But having the built-in mechanical fallback of a P-Mag seems to alleviate this.
  • Catto 3-blade FP prop - 3-blade for the cruise smoothness, and because it gosh darn looks cool. Gotta think ramp presence, you know!
  • Unsure of which autopilot to go with at the moment - maybe Dynon's if I go with them. Otherwise TruTrak?
  • Dual AFS 5600 EFIS screens. Maybe Dynon SkyView, if they catch back up. I like integrated everything, including XM music radio control.
  • GTN 650 GPS? Unsure of this one. I know I want WAAS-capable, so I can do full RNAV/LPV approaches eventually, even if I have to still file /U.
  • SL30 secondary nav/com radio
  • PMA8000B Audio Panel (maybe Garmin's GMA 240 or 350, depending on how it sounds when I try it up at Oshkosh)
  • GTX-330 Transponder (or Dynon's Mode-S if I go SkyView)
  • ADSB-In/out transceiver?
  • Classic Aero full interior - I'm thinking black/gray with red center seatback cushion panel and red stitching


Eventually it will be painted, yes. I *LOVE* the paint scheme of Steve Eberhart's (newtech here on VAF) N14SE, especially the deep candy-apple red. Combine that maybe with a dark metallic blue gradient, maybe some patches of polished aluminum. Don't quite know yet. But definitely the candy-apple red.


This took quite a bit of deciding, since it is such a contentious issue. I knew for a fact that I wanted to just deal with a rattle-can self-etching primer. I didn't have the resources - much less the space - to deal with the hazards and mess of a two-part primer, paint gun, etc. So, I've got the which primer out of the way. Now the harder part - how much to prime?

So, first off, this plane will be in southwest Ohio, hangared. No worry about saltwater corrosion or such. After discussions with other builders at my eventual home 'drome (KHAO), and reading all the entries in the flamewar threads (which basically all boiled down to "I wouldn't do nearly as much priming next time around"), I decided that I'll do a combination of priming where required, priming the inside rivet lines of skins, and priming after riveting the insides of rivet lines and spar/rib flanges, where my bucking bar is likely to have rubbed off the top layer during bucking. Everything else can stay unprimed in my mind. I'm sure that'll set off some "friendly discussions". When I mean priming after riveting, see the pics below of the front spar and main rib assembly of the HS. I just spray a quick layer on the rivet lines to seal everything up and cover up any bucking bar rubbing points:

One side note - I went to my local NAPA to get the NAPA 7220, and without really realizing it, they gave me the military-green Duplicolor DAP 1690 - at the higher $9/can price! What a ripoff. I can get it from AutoZone or Wal-Mart for around $6-7/can. Oh well. Hopefully I can source the beige color primer for the interior.

If anyone has any other questions, or suggestions for other sections of background info I should add on here, let me know!
Scott Balmos - RV-9A N112SB
Cincinnati, OH, KHAO
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Old 04-26-2012, 01:25 PM
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sbalmos sbalmos is offline
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Liberty Twp, OH
Posts: 688
Default Horizontal and Vertical Stabilizers complete

Now here's fate for you - I reserved N112SB because tail numbers with the combinations my birthdate numbers were already taken. So I went with 112, January 2012, the month I would start building. Lo and behold, I was at work, and got the call from FedEx that the kit had arrived for pickup at 1:12pm ET, 1/12/12. No, there was no full moon out that night when I picked it up, although it was extremely windy.

Okay, so actually I finished the horizontal stabilizer back on 4/7/12. But that marks almost 3 months that I was working on it. I was immensely happy to finally finish a chunk of the plane. Most of that time was waiting for other tools and such to come in from Avery or Cleaveland. Whether it was a pop rivet dimpler, a new dimple die, a Scotchbrite wheel for a bench grinder (new builders - get one of these!!! Don't question, don't complain about the price, get the $40 Skil grinder from Lowe's and one of these, and save yourself the angst of hand-filing edges!), etc, it was always something I was ordering. And then there was ordering a replacement main rib or two because the 12" drill bit had ground into the raised area of the web around a lightening hole. Van's says better safe than sorry.

More time waiting around for an EAA Tech Counselor to tell me my riveting really was okay, even if my first ones were smiled because I didn't put enough pressure on the rivet gun. Oh well. I'm a newb.

Horizontal Stabilizer Build Time: 59 hours (that's probably a bit high - my time estimates on my build log spreadsheet tend to round to the nearest 15 minutes. Rounding errors add up! Plus I was hand-filing lots of spar and doubler edges, before I got the grinding wheel.)

The vertical stabilizer, unsurprisingly, was finished much more quickly - approximately 2 weeks, on 4/21/12.

Vertical stabilizer build time: 12 hours

Slowly but surely, an half-hour here, a weekend there...
Scott Balmos - RV-9A N112SB
Cincinnati, OH, KHAO
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Old 04-26-2012, 01:54 PM
rockwoodrv9 rockwoodrv9 is online now
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Meridian ID, Aspen CO, Okemos MI
Posts: 2,921
Default just ahead of you

Scott - Im just ahead of you. I have all the empannage kit done except the elevators and some of the fiberglass is fitted, but not finished. Have fun with it. I think I am going to have to do a bit of "body work" on a couple rivets that the gun got away from me. Keep posting.
Williamston MI
O-320 D2A
Flying N376E
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Old 04-26-2012, 01:55 PM
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RickWoodall RickWoodall is offline
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Ontario Canada
Posts: 1,472
Default Keep at it

Good job, one bite at a time. You will really enjoy the build and LOVE the plane.

One suggestion. Dont get too set in your ways on the equipement. The stuff that will be available in a year or two will make your list look like the first pc.

I often see builders buy all that stuff way too early and its outdated years before it gets installed, sometimes even the firm that made it is GONE years before first flight. Research it all, enjoy that part of it but dont buy it until you really need to bolt it in and fly.

Good luck.
Rick Woodall C-GSTT "ghost"
9a -TMX io-320, catto three blade, dual dynon hdx with a/p. 900+ hrs in 8 yrs flying.

Flew to Osh 11,12,15,17,19. SNF 2013. West to Cali /Washington/Vancouver/crossed the Rockies north to Red Deer east to Moosonee and over to maritimes. South to Jekyll Isl, cedar key, and Key West etc. 7 trips and 17 islands of the Bahamas. Flown turtles and dogs for Pilots n Paws too. Love our Rv's
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Old 04-27-2012, 10:50 AM
Steve Koziol Steve Koziol is offline
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Gettysburg, PA
Posts: 64

Scott, you will really enjoy your 9A when it is done. It is a great airplane as is all of Van's models. One comment that you made on riveting. It is always wise to have someone teach the proper riveting techniques and removal techniques for bad rivets. A rivet gauge to determine if a rivet is the proper height and width is a must. In one of your first pics, it looked like the shape and thickness of a few rivets may not have been the proper size. Pics can be miss leading though. Enjoy the build and reach out when questions arise.

250+ hours of fun!
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Old 04-27-2012, 11:06 AM
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sbalmos sbalmos is offline
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Liberty Twp, OH
Posts: 688

Steve, it's the angle of the picture, and the time (in the build process, not time of day) it was taken. I went back and set those main rib rivets a little more afterwards.
Scott Balmos - RV-9A N112SB
Cincinnati, OH, KHAO
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Old 04-27-2012, 11:42 AM
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longranger longranger is offline
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: 45G, Brighton, MI
Posts: 1,921

Originally Posted by sbalmos View Post
Steve, it's the angle of the picture, and the time (in the build process, not time of day) it was taken. I went back and set those main rib rivets a little more afterwards.
If you're talking about the first picture in the first post, the skin to rib rivets look fine to me. The ones in the skin to spar look underdriven, and the spar to rib rivets look clenched, though. I'll bet that you've already taken care of those.
Miles (VAF# 1238, Paid up as of 12/20)
RV-7 TU 904KM (reserved)
Wings Fitted and Finish Kit on site

Construction Log
Empennage Album, Wings Album, Fuselage Album

1955 Cessna 170B flying since 1982

'To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.' -Unk.
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Old 04-27-2012, 11:58 AM
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sbalmos sbalmos is offline
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Liberty Twp, OH
Posts: 688

Ayup, already taken care of. Again, who knows - angle of camera, the way I was zooming in to try and capture priming detail, who knows. All the rivets were measured with a rivet gauge and passed. And Ray, my Tech Counselor, stopped by and said things look fine.

Might not look pretty, but it's structurally sound, and you'll never see it anyway being inside the HS.
Scott Balmos - RV-9A N112SB
Cincinnati, OH, KHAO
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Old 04-27-2012, 03:04 PM
rv9aviator rv9aviator is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 1,505
Talking All you like is finishing UP

I built pretty much the same plane with an 0-320 that will run Mogas. It took me 7-1/2 years but it was so worth it. It is the nicest flying plane I've ever flown. Good luck with the build.
Jim Wright
RV-9A N9JW 90919 SoldArkansas
"It's a brutal struggle for the biscuit."
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Old 04-28-2012, 02:15 AM
rwtalbot rwtalbot is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 256

Originally Posted by sbalmos View Post
Might not look pretty, but it's structurally sound, and you'll never see it anyway being inside the HS.
Scott, I recommend you spend some time with an experienced riveter in your area. They will be able to show you a few things that will help you out.

Also, it is best to have someone help you with the riveting in the early stages. It is very helpful not to be working on both sides of the gun at once.


RV7A - Flying
Sydney, Australia
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