Monday, June 17, 2019

DOG Aviation RV-12 Receives Two Accent Trim Colors - Completing The Paint Job

As mentioned in the previous post, Jeff at Custom Aviation was given a picture of the desired paint scheme for the DOG Aviation RV-12. The paint scheme picture was made using a photo of a mostly white RV-12 found on the Internet which was edited using a photo editing program to create the paint scheme design. I feel Jeff did a terrific job of interpreting my picture and masking the RV-12 accordingly for the accent trim colors. I told Jeff that the edited picture was just an overall concept and that he had free reign to do what he felt would work out the best and look good based on his experience …  the end result closely matches my design.

I desired taking some photos of the masking process … so when Jeff finished masking one side of the RV-12, I made the drive to the paint shop with a trailer to retrieve the wing cradle (thanks Mike for towing your trailer up there and back) and while there, took a few photos of the masking tape applied onto the RV-12's fresh off-white base color.
Jeff at Custom Aviation has completed masking the left side of the RV-12’s fuselage for the accent trim colors.
The wing tips will also receive a little trim accent … the tips were masked accordingly so the main trim color will extend to just inboard of the landing lights.
Left main gear wheel pant masked for the accent trim colors.
The stabilator will also be receiving accent trim colors along the outboard tips.

A couple of days later, Jeff called and said the painting was completed and I could finish up attaching the rudder, tail cone fairing, landing light lenses and the inspection port covers … thus completing the reassembly of the RV-12. I’m pleased with the transformation from an unpainted, unfinished looking airplane to a stylish, freshly painted airplane that looks ready for travel. Below are photos of the before and after.
The DOG Aviation RV-12 about to enter Custom Aviation’s paint shop at Portage County airport.
The DOG Aviation RV-12 after being painted by Custom Aviation at Portage County airport.
A keen eye may notice that the fuel cap just aft of the rear window is not painted. I elected not to paint the fuel cap because over time they always seem to become chipped. The plan is to either try polishing the fuel cap or perhaps look into having it chrome plated.

As one can see in the above photos, the colors chosen for the Dog Aviation RV-12 are a little out of the ordinary, in that, quite a few airplanes are typically painted red, white or blue and/or combinations thereof. Wanting to be a little different, purple and green were chosen as the trim accent colors. These colors will match nicely with the green RV-12 stitching on the seat backs and baggage bulkhead cover along with the deep purple powder coating used on the instrument panel, flap handle and steps. I would have preferred a little darker royal purple …but here again, did not want to dive into custom mixed paints. So chose a purple that, although not quite as deep as I would have preferred, still looks good.
The top and bottom of the outboard portion of the wings received accent trim paint extending to just inboard of the landing lights.
The outboard portion of the stabilator received the same accent trim colors and scheme as the outboard portions of the wings. The new stabilator tip fairing is not installed in this photo, but it is painted purple as well.

The decision was made not to install the stabilator tips, wheel pants and gear leg fairings while the RV-12 was at the paint shop for a couple of reasons. Mainly, I want to get an accurate measurement of just how much weight the paint alone added to the RV-12. Plus, the RV-12 has never flown with the wheel pants, gear leg fairings and stabilator tip fairings installed, so I did not want to add any unknown variables during the initial flight home after paint. Fortunately, the RV-12 flew the same way on the way home as it did on the way up to the paint shop.
The freshly painted DOG Aviation RV-12 arrives back home to hangar 45.

Now that the RV-12 is back at the DOG Aviation hangar, the next step is to drain the fuel tank and remove everything except the items that are required to be in the aircraft at all times so the new weight and balance calculations can be made. After that is completed, the stabilator tip fairing, wheel pants and gear leg fairings will be added and another weight & balance measurement made. That way I will know how much weight the paint alone added along with the new balance numbers … plus, will also know just how much the numbers change when the wheel pants, gear leg fairings and stabilator tip fairings are added.

Return from the future. Rather than start a new post decided to just add a photo of the completed DOG Aviation RV-12 with the stabilator tip fairings, wheel pants, main gear leg and intersection fairings installed.

The DOG Aviation RV-12’s final configuration ready for traveling. The stabilator tip fairings, wheel pants, main gear leg and intersection fairings are all installed.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

DOG Aviation RV-12 Receives Off-White Base Color

The base paint color chosen for the DOG Aviation RV-12 is an off-white (not quite as dark as I would have preferred). When looking at color chips for a creamish off-white that leans towards brown, I found an off-white that was a tad lighter than what I wanted and the next darker paint chip seemed too dark for my liking so I went with the lighter off-white. Not wanting to step into the world of custom mixed paint, decided to just go with the lighter off-white color. Sure, could have opted for a custom mix … however, should a touchup be required in the future, hopefully having chosen a standard color from the color chart will result in a closer match. Interestingly, when looking at the paint for the first time after it was sprayed, it seemed really white to me … however, when compared to a bright white airplane just painted at the shop with Matterhorn white paint, it is truly a darker creamish off-white color.
Painted canopy sitting on the wooden canopy frame I made specifically for this purpose (mentioned in the previous post). The wooden frame keeps the thin edges of the canopy skirts that protrude below the canopy frame off the saw horses … this prevents the skirts from becoming bent and scraping paint off the fuselage where the canopy overlaps.
Fuselage and stabilator ready for reassembly.
Side view of the fuselage from the front.
Painted right wing, flaperons, rudder and anti-servo tabs. Jeff the painter taking a well-deserved coffee break.
The fiberglass parts …. wheel pants, intersection fairings, tail cone fairing and gear leg fairings.

Jeff wanted me to begin assembly of the tail section so it could be masked off for the accent trim colors while on the airplane. This will involve reinstalling the vertical stabilizer and horizontal stabilator along with temporarily pinning the rudder in place. The rudder will receive the accent colors while off the airplane. The wings will also be attached so masking can be applied to the fuselage and the wing tips for the trim colors.
Tail section and canopy reattached and cowlings installed.

Note to fellow RV-12 builders: Those that have completed the service bulletin for the bearing bracket on the stabilator will discover that attaching the stabilator onto the tail cone is a tougher challenge now. A few suggestions … grind down two AN4-12A bolts to remove the threads and put a small taper on them so they can be used as “pins”. Raise the nose wheel and place it into one of the holes in a standard concrete block. Tape really thin foam wrap sheets onto the side of the fuselage to prevent scratches. Place the stabilator onto the 25” saw horses you made to prop up the fuselage … the alignment will be close enough to work with. Have two helpers hold each end of the stabilator and insert the counter weight into the fuselage and slide the stabilator forward so the counterweight arm bolts can be installed. Carefully move the stabilator forward and in position. Forget about installing the washers on either side of the bearings and just temporarily use the tapered bolts to “pin” the stabilator in place. At this point, only one person needs to hold the stabilator in position as each “pin” is removed one at a time and replaced with the AN4-12A bolt and the required washers. I would suggest wearing a miner’s light (preferably one with an incandescent bulb to reduce glare) and use a comfortable creeper … you will be on your back for quite a while. If you don’t have a washer holding tool, use painters tape to tape each washer onto a thin metal ruler and slide the washer in place and slip the bolt through it. It sounds easy … but it is not … IT IS an exercise in patience … lots and lots of patience. Frankly, I think this is one of the toughest tasks to perform on the RV-12 … it is amazing how difficult inserting two bolts through two bearings and four washers can be. I also found using a small piece of vinyl tubing with a wire tie wrapped around the bolt and back through the tubing made for a very easy way to hold the bolts for initial insertion into the holes in the bearing brackets. I've installed the stabilator three times now and although it has become somewhat easier to do, it is not a task that can be done quickly … at least not for me.
Two AN4-12 bolts that have had the threads ground off and a slight taper placed on them so they can be used as “pins” to quickly get the stabilator in position without worrying about the washers on either side of the bearing. Once the stabilator in position, the “pins” are pulled one at a time and replaced with a threaded AN4-12 bolt and the appropriate washers. The vinyl tubing and wire tie shown makes a great tool for holding the bolts for insertion into the bearing bracket assembly since there is really not much room for a hand.

After the tail section was installed, work began preparing the wings for installation. The wings were placed in the wing cradle and the flaperons were attached to each wing.
Freshly painted wings attached to the fuselage.

 In the past, I’ve used a couple of pieces of metal bent into a" V" and taped  them onto the outer edge of the wing and flaperon with duct tape to secure the flaperons from moving while the wings are off the airplane. Not long ago I read a post on the forums where a guy suggested using a welding rod inserted through the very aft edge of the wing and slid into the aft portion of the flaperon to capture it. This worked really well … and I can wholeheartedly recommend using this method to secure the flaperons during wing removal/instillation.
Two welding rods with 90° bends on at the ends makes it easy to lock the flaperons for wing instillation/removal.
As can be seen in this photo, the aft edge of the outboard portion of the wing has a gap just large enough to insert a welding rod.
The gap along the aft edge of the flaperon aligns with the gap along the aft edge of the RV-12’s wing.
Looking closely one can see the welding rod in the gap between the inboard edge of the wing and outboard edge of the flaperon. The welding rod captures the flaperon securing it in the neutral position. Using the welding rod to “pin” the flaperon means the flaperon no longer needs to be held during wing instillation or removal.

The next step involves Jeff interpreting a picture made of my desired color scheme which I overlaid onto a photo of a RV-12 using a photo editing program. Jeff will use the edited picture as a reference for applying the masking for the trim colors and N numbers. When the masking is completed, the two trim colors will be applied to the DOG Aviation RV-12.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

DOG Aviation RV-12 Arrives At Paint Shop

Last fall, I inquired with a local aircraft paint shop about scheduling the DOG Aviation RV-12 for a long overdue paint job. At that time, I was told that the shop was booked until spring … probably the first week in April so went ahead and put my name on the list. Due to some unforeseen delays, my early April timeslot got pushed back to mid-May.  But two weeks ago finally got the call … bring the RV-12 over to the shop. (Yeah, two weeks ago … I've been a little late in posting).
Fortunately, the following morning the weather cooperated and although thunderstorms were forecasted, it was for much later in the day. Decided to take advantage of clear, relatively calm morning and fly the RV-12 to the paint shop. The stars aligned … not only was the morning a great morning for flying, but the owner of a Mooney the next hangar row over offered to fly over to the paint shop and shuttle me back home. Thanks Don ... much appreciated, and my first ride in a Mooney! As it turned out, after dropping the RV-12 off at the paint shop, I offered to buy breakfast … so Don headed to Carrol County airport for a good breakfast at the restaurant there.
The paint shop chosen to paint the DOG Aviation RV-12 is Custom Aviation at Portage County airport. There is a gentleman at my home field that is constantly buying and selling used aircraft and he uses Custom Aviation exclusively to either completely repaint, add trim or touch-up paintjobs on the aircraft he purchases. So over the years, I’ve seen quite a few airplanes that have been painted by Custom Aviation and the work has always looked quite nice. Another reason Custom Aviation was chosen is their willingness to let me enter their facility and perform the disassembly and assembly of the airplane.
The DOG Aviation RV-12 about to be taken inside the hangar for a long awaited for paint job.
Custom Aviation began work on the RV-12 by doing an acid wash followed by scuffing the metal so the primer will get plenty of tooth. I was told it is easier for them to do the acid wash and scuffing with the airplane assembled then when parts come off the airplane, it only requires minor tweaking to get the parts ready for primer. After about a week, I got the second call … the RV-12 was ready for disassembly.
Side photo of the RV-12 after the acid wash and scuffing. The canopy was just removed prior to taking this photo.
Aft view of the RV-12 after the acid wash and scuffing.
NOTE TO FELLOW BUILDERS ABOUT CANOPY REMOVAL. It has been reported more than once that the side skirts on the canopy (most all RV models) can easily become bent during the painting process and subsequently scrape the paint on the fuselage when the canopy closes. This is because the thin metal skirt that overlaps the fuselage when the canopy is in the closed position can become deformed from all the weight of the canopy assembly pushing down on the thin metal edge contacting the saw horses. To mitigate that issue, I cobbled together a wooden frame that allows the canopy frame to sit on the wood keeping the canopy side skirt off the saw horses. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of the wooden frame … but it is trapezoid shaped because the forward portion of the canopy frame is narrower than the aft portion.
Admittedly, it sucks to disassemble the airplane for paint … but necessary if one wants complete protection for those surfaces that are inaccessible if the aircraft is left intact during the painting process. I know there are quite a few builders that paint the aircraft prior to assembly  and that is something I would truly consider if doing it again … especially if an aviation paint shop were nearby or an auto body shop willing to paint parts during off hours.
Although heartbreaking, the DOG Aviation RV-12 was completely disassembled … wings removed and flaperons separated from the wings, canopy and upper forward fuselage skin removed, inspection port covers removed, horizontal stabilator removed and anti-servo tabs separated along with the removal of the rudder and vertical stabilizer.
As one can see in this photo, the untouched aluminum under the vertical stabilizer is quite smooth and shiny compared to the rest of the airplane. If the vertical stabilizer were left on the fuselage that large area would not be protected by paint.  That area will be hand treated prior to primer and paint.
I’ve decided not to paint the screws … over time, the paint begins to chip and look nasty so will just go with unpainted stainless hardware. The only screws that will be left on the fuselage are the screws on the turtle deck securing the rear window in place …probably should have removed that as well … but elected not to. The canopy screws will also end up being painted as well.
The flaperons were removed from the wings while sitting in the wing stand. Of note: Because the wing spars are anodized, the decision was made not to paint the spars. I figure the spars can always be hand treated later with CorrosionX for long term protection.
Parts removed from the fuselage consisting of the two flaperons on the far right, and back to front … the stabilator, rudder, vertical stabilizer forward skin, upper forward fuselage skin (one with the curve) and the vertical stabilizer.
Just got the call today that the main portion of the airplane is primed and painted so reassembly can begin. The paint shop prefers having the airplane assembled prior to beginning the masking for the trim accent colors … need to head up to the paint shop tomorrow to begin reassembly. We are at the two week point now … so things are moving along nicely.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

The Dog Aviation RV-12 Receives Stabilator Tips Fairings

One of the only complaint most RV-12 owners have had about the RV-12 is purely cosmetic …  it has to do with the unfinished look of the horizontal stabilator’s outboard edges. Quite a few years back the owner of a RV-12 decided to do something about the unfinished look of the stabilator and made a mold to create stabilator fairings for the RV-12 made from rugged ABS plastic. Early on during the building of the RV-12, the DOG Aviation Procurement Department purchased a set of the stabilator fairings for the RV-12 … yet another project that required completion prior to the RV-12 heading to the paint shop.
As can be seen in this photo, the outboard sides of the RV-12’s stabilator just simply has an unfinished look …. Hopefully, the ABS tip fairings will give the DOG Aviation RV-12’s stabilator a much needed finished look.

Before going through the steps for the instillation procedure for the ABS stabilator fairings, it bears mentioning that when Van’s introduced the upgraded fuselage for the new RV-12iS, Van’s designed a fiberglass tip fairing for the RV-12iS’s stabilator. Fortunately, for owners of the original legacy fuselage, such as mine, Van’s has provided a pathway for installing the new stabilator tip fairings. Installing the Van’s tip fairings involves removing the stabilator’s outboard ribs and replacing them with new ribs that create clearances for the fiberglass tip fairings. I elected not to install the Van’s tip fairings because the ABS stabilator tip fairings were purchased long ago … plus, solid rivets were used to rivet the ribs onto the stabilator’s spar box which would increase the difficulty level of removing the existing ribs a tad. Truthfully, the Van’s tip fairings are probably the better solution because the fairing slides under the stabilator’s skin which is a better solution compared to the ABS tip fairings which are just butted up against the outer edge of the stabilator.
A photo from Van’s WEB site showing the newly developed stabilator tip fairings for the RV-12iS. It is hard to see from this photo, but Van’s stabilator tips slide under the stabilator’s skins and can be installed on legacy RV-12’s by installing new outboard ribs on the stabilator.
The ABS stabilator tip fairing kit purchased for the RV-12 consists of two metal mounting plates, two ABS tip fairings, a bag of mounting hardware containing screws, rivets and tinnerman nuts (which I’m not a big fan of and will likely change out for a threaded version) and instructions.

The ABS stabilator tip fairings are fairly easy to install. First a mounting bracket is temporarily attached to the outboard edge of the stabilator using the existing tooling holes on the outboard ribs. The mounting plate is temporarily “pinned” in place on the outboard ribs using rivets. The rivets are not set at this time …. they are only used to temporarily “pin” the mounting bracket onto the stabilator’s outboard ribs. With the mounting plate “pinned” onto the outboard end of the stabilator there are two holes in the mounting plate that are to be used as guides for drilling two holes into the outboard ribs.
Looking closely at the above photo one can see the mounting bracket is “pinned” to the stabilator using two rivets and one Cleco. Tape was added to make sure the template does not move. Below my finger are two holes in the mounting bracket which need to be used to match drill into the stabilator’s outboard rib.

After the two holes in the mounting bracket are drilled into the stabilator rib, a line is drawn at every tab where the stabilator’s skin meets the tabs. After placing marks on the tabs where they meet the stabilator’s skin, the mounting bracket is removed from the stabilator and each tab is bent using the previously drawn line as a reference.
Photo of the mounting bracket after all the tabs have been bent.

The mounting bracket is once again temporarily “pinned” onto the outboard ribs of the stabilator and the ABS tip fairing is slid over the now bent tabs tabs for a trial fit. Odds are it will be necessary to sand some material off the edges of the tip fairing. In my case, material needed to be removed from the front and aft portions in order to obtain a tight butt fit with the stabilator. I found it quite easy to sand the fairing quickly by placing some sticky sandpaper on the workbench and sliding the fairing across the sand paper until enough material was removed from the ends that the center of the fairing just began losing material. At that point there was a nice straight edge to work with.
Looking at the above photo the viewer can see material was removed from the forward and aft portions of the fairing by sliding the edge of the fairing back and forth across the sandpaper. I continued sanding until streaks began to appear in the clean center area of the sandpaper at which time the edge was totally flat.
Trial fit after sanding. The upper portion of the fairing has a nice, tight, almost perfect butt fit to the stabilator as can be seen here. The fit on the underside is not quite as good as it has a slight gap in spots but not enough to be of concern so, I decided to move on.

After fitting removing and sanding the fairing tip a few times to achieve a good fit, the ABS fairing was removed so the mounting bracket could be riveted onto the outboard edge of the stabilator.
The stabilator fairing mounting bracket primed and riveted in place on the stabilator’s outboard ribs.

Once the mounting bracket is installed, measurements need to be made so the mounting hole locations on the tabs can be marked onto the stabilator fairing to obtain locations for drilling the mounting screw holes. This was accomplished by placing masking tape along the entire edge of the fairing and sliding the fairing onto the mounting bracket just enough so the mounting holes are visible.  Before making any marks, care must be taken to insure the forward tip of the fairing is in line with the leading edge of the stabilator. Center lines for the mounting holes are transferred onto the tape on the fairing. In addition, measurements are taken from the stabilator skin to the center of each tab’s mounting hole and marked onto the tape to obtain the exact drill locations for every hole. You only get one shot at this ... so it is necessary to make careful measurements prior to drilling the holes.
Tape is placed along the edge of the stabilator fairing and the fairing is slid over the tabs but not so far as to cover the holes in the tabs.  Measurements are made and marked onto the tape denoting the location of each mounting hole that needs to be drilled.

With all the locations for the mounting holes now marked onto the tape, the fairing is pushed all the way onto the mounting tabs and butted up against the stabilator. More tape is applied to prevent the tip fairing from moving during the drilling process. Next the mounting holes are drilled into the stabilator tip.
After taping the stabilator fairing tight to the stabilator, the mounting holes were drilled into the tip fairing.

Just realized a photo was never taken of the completed stabilator prior to moving the RV-12 to the paint shop. But below is a photo of the fairing setting on the mounting tabs which is representative of the finished look.
This photo was taken just prior to drilling the mounting holes into the fairing. It is representative of how the fairing looks when installed on the stabilator.

All and all installing the ABS plastic stabilator tip fairings went fairly fast and the end result looks quite good. Think most would agree, having the stabilator tips installed on the RV-12 certainly looks WAY better than the original look.