Saturday, September 24, 2011


You never really know for sure when you're tackling the process of installing the engine whether you're doing it right or whether it's going to work until you try to start it.

The engine is the only part of the RV-7A project that I couldn't pay for as I went along, so the idea of maybe ruining it while starting it for the first time is always in the back of your mind -- in my case -- for the three years I've been working on it.

The closer I've gotten to the first flight of N614EF, the slower I've gone. The big noisy thing in the front simply isn't the area I want to zip along on.

Today, however, was the day to see whether I knew what I was doing. It turns out, I did, I just didn't know it.

Famed RV builder and pilot Pete Howell was kind enough to drive over from the other side of the cities (the ceiling was too low for him to fly over) to handle the photography duties.

It took awhile to get the oil pressure up. I cranked it for a good long time while keeping an eye on the Grand Rapids Technologies EIS 4000 engine monitor. The spark plugs, of course, were not installed for this process. I never did get a reading, so I took the oil line off where it attaches to the manifold transducer for the oil pressure sensor, cranked the prop a few times until it burped oil and reattached.

Once the engine was eventually started, the oil pressure indication on the engine monitor came up just fine.

There were no leaks -- RV pal Brad Benson was in charge of finding them. My son Patrick did the video work (there are two cameras above) and stood by for any injuries (he's a paramedic). Adam, whose last name I've never learned but who stops by every weekend to help, provided critical guidance on getting the electronic ignition squared away, Vince Bastiani was on the radio with me as I barked readings, Pete took the pictures, and Ami the hangarlord was Ami.

I didn't run it past 1200 RPM and I didn't remember to check to be sure that BOTH the electronic ignition AND the the mag RPM readings were similar; there'll be time to do that before first flight. And my attempt to videotape from the inside of the cabin didn't work out because I forgot to put the start button. I prefer to think my focus was on "flying the airplane."

The next steps are finishing the firewall (I'm adding a GPS antenna platform under the cowl, finishing the cowling (sanding and then priming), adding a little more baffling and sealing the baffling with RTV, gear leg fairings, intersection fairing, empennage fairing (mostly done), and adding the interior. I have a new wet compass to install in the panel, I want to add a power adapter and a traffic monitoring system and that should be all I need.

I've planned all of the winter for this work and maybe sometime in the spring, we'll take N614EF for a ride.

Find Pete Howell's album of his fine photographs of the event here.


  1. Great stuff, Bob. Next stop, the SKY!!!

  2. Fantastic, Bob!! Wish I could have been there for this momentous occasion. One question. How come everybody is wearing sweatshirts and jackets? ^_^

  3. Way to go Bob! Front page VAF tomorrow, I bet. See you at Oshkosh next year.

  4. IT IS ALIVE!! Bob, this is awesome. She is now an airplane, not just a bunch of parts! Whooo Hooooo!!

    John Porter

  5. Great progress. A major milestone. You should be proud.

  6. Bob, a real fun milestone! Cool!

  7. love Love LOVE IT! Amazing. Good work.

  8. Congratulations, Bob. One step closer to take-off.