Chapter 22  Electrical

 

This is the chapter that marks the beginning of the end in the long building process that has taken me now over 6 years.  I can’t believe it has been this long.  Many have commented saying they could not do a project like this that required a long term commitment.  I think you have to enjoy what you are doing.  I do enjoy working on the project after a long day at work.  It gives you time to think about things and gives me a real sense of accomplishment.  There are two things I just can’t comprehend about building these planes though, one is, how do some builders complete these things in as little as 18 months?! Second, how did Nat Puffer build 4 of these things?…..and I don’t think he started the first one until he was in his 50’s!

 

There is a great quote making the rounds in the aircraft building arena on how these planes get completed…..

 

          It's never skill or craftsmanship that completes airplanes, it's the will to do so,
Patrick Kenny, EAA 275132

 

I guess that pretty much sums it up!

 

 

Installing the panel into the airframe took well over 100 hours.  I had to run hundreds of wires to the panel and throughout the rest of the plane. Hard to believe, I know, but just think of the wire runs for the engine monitor for one system like the engine CHT/EGT probes.  Each probe has to have two wires run for each of the CHT’s and EGT’s.  Even for a 4 cylinder that is 16 wires that have to be run.  Add in, Manifold pressure, oil pressure, oil temp, mag wiring, electronic ignition harness, charging system, starter system, well, you get the idea!  Before the wires could be run, I had to figure out where all the parts were going to be mounted first.  Things like the master and starter solenoids, ignition black box, manifold pressure unit, voltage regulator, and don’t forget the battery.  Since it was the biggest, I mounted it first.  I than ran all the fat wires because they take up the most room.  I figured I could route the smaller wires easier afterwards.  Fortunately, my brother hadn’t been out in a few years and he scheduled a trip out to see me and what I have been working on almost every spare moment of my life for the last 6 ½ years.  He offered to help out for 4 days straight.  I don’t think he knew what he was getting into.  It sure helped having someone to feed the wire from the back of the panel to me in the back seat area.  I then fed the wire to him out the back of the firewall where it could be trimmed to length.  Otherwise, I would have had to climb in and out of the airframe for every wire run.  We were able to run all the engine wires from the panel thru the firewall at the back.  Even with two guys working, it still took the better part of 4 days to get done.  Well, enough of the description, here is what the mess looks like when the wires are just run……

 

 

The battery is the large black unit lower left.  The master solenoid is the small shiney piece to the left of the battery. The voltage regulator is above the battery. The manifold pressure unit is upper right, and the LSE electronic ECU is lower right. Between the ECU and the battery is the main grounding block for everything back there.  I also have another grounding block on the back of the panel that is connected through an 8AWG wire. Down below in the “hell hole” is the high boost electric fuel pump for the fuel injection.  Keep in mind this still isn’t complete at this stage.  I haven’t run the autopilot harness for the servo and the magnetometer, Nav/Strobe lights, Electronic ignition forward harness, mag harness, well…….and you thought I was slacking off during my last update.  Here are some shots of the back of the panel……

 

 

 

You can also see the runs of the nyloseal tubing for the pitot/static system.  I opted for two static vents for redundancy.  Other builders say they don’t like using the nyloseal tubing because it is rather rigid and hard to form.  I read on another builder’s sight that he used a heat gun to form the tubing.  This worked very well and I don’t have to worry about any kinks in the tubing.

 

Next, I went about wiring up the electric nose lift.  I installed Jack Wilhelmson’s unit and it is very nice.  I also opted for the auto extension unit.  This unit will automatically lower the nose gear once you drop below 90 knots.  Like I said, a great unit, but here is what you are looking at to wire it.

 

Well, just like everything else on this plane, just one step at a time.  I took a highlighter and marked off each wire I ran.  Amazingly, when I went to test it, all the smoke stayed inside the insulation and everything worked as planned.

 

 

Next, I installed the Nav/Strobe lights.  I held off on purchasing these until the last minute.  Technology is moving very rapidly with LED’s.  This is one nice thing about the experimental category of flying.  Some of the things we can use are so much better and cheaper than what the FAA requires on a production plane.  The lights I purchased use LED’s for the Nav lights.  The strobe is more standard and still requires a strobe pack.  GS air offers a low profile unit that looks like it was made for the Cozy.  Here are two shots of it.

 

 

 

If you look closely at the dark photo, you can make out the individual LED’s, some are at a more direct angle to the camera and appear white….The nice thing about using them is the should last much longer than a standard bulb, operate much cooler, only draw ¼ of an Amp, and cost half of what a certified Whelan set up costs. 

 

The last thing I did was to run the antenna wires from the wings up to the panel for the VOR, COM, 3-light Marker beacon, and Transponder antennas.

 

Once I finally got everything wired, checked, and in place, I had to spend many hours getting it all neaten up.  I was pleased with the outcome for a first time wiring.  Here are the results……

 

 

Here is a shot of the panel all installed and fired up…..

 

 

The hole at the top of the radio stack is for the Garmin 496 portable that I am waiting to purchase after Oshkosh with the hopes of a price decrease….