What Our Members Are Building/Restoring — Massachusetts Van’s Aircraft RV-10

By Richard Dupée, EAA 551203

This piece originally ran in the What Our Members Are Building/Restoring section in the April 2020 issue of EAA Sport Aviation magazine.

After I retired in 2011, I moved to the Falmouth Airpark,
transitioned to sport pilot, and built an RV-12. However, when BasicMed came
along, I was no longer restricted to light-sport aircraft, so my partner,
Sherry, and I started on the RV-10. The empennage kit arrived in February 2017.
Working mostly in our basement, that subkit was essentially completed by
September 2017, and we decided to save time with a quick-build fuselage and

I found that the flush solid rivets on the skins of the -10 were
more difficult than the pulled rivets on the -12. That’s the price to pay for
speed. Doing the pulled rivets on the -12 was a one-man job, but the solid
rivets on the -10 required Sherry’s help. When it came to a major event such as
mounting the wings or engine, a couple of phone calls recruited more than
enough helping hands in no time.

Our wings and initial fuselage work came on quickly, and we soon
mated our tail cone to the front fuselage. However, the fiberglass canopy, door,
and cowling work seemed to go slower and required more perseverance to keep
working during the cold New England winter weather. The old saying “try to do
something every day” helped me to keep at it.

We decided to order all Garmin avionics (G3X, G5, GTN 750, etc.),
a Tosten military-style grip, and a brand new Lycoming Thunderbolt IO-540 with
a Hartzell VP prop. SteinAir helped us with the control panel layout and
fabrication, but Sherry did all of the wiring herself. This started with the
front fuselage cover and control panel on our dining room table during the
winter months of 2017 and early 2018 while I was out in our unheated garage
shaping the fiberglass canopy.

We delayed the order of the expensive GTN 750 GPS/nav/comm until
the aircraft was mainly complete because of its shorter warranty and in case it
became obsolete. SteinAir kindly lent us a rack unit so that we could do the
metalwork and wiring for this in advance.

The canopy, windows, and doors were fitted to the wingless
fuselage on a wheeled table. The engine was mounted with the fuselage still on
the table. Soon after that, the undercarriage and wheels were installed and the
table was removed.

I ordered the Airflow Performance fuel servo and a single
experimental six-cylinder electronic ignition. This nonstandard setup required
special mounting brackets supplied by Airflow Performance and different length
fuel hoses, but I was able to use the original Van’s supplied control cables.

By February 2019, we had nearly run out of jobs to do, but the
electronic ignition had still not arrived. So, we changed at this late stage to
Electroair (EA) ignition. This came with a six-cylinder coil pack, which I
mounted on the firewall. I removed the ignition key switch from the control
panel and cut a large hole for the EA ignition switch panel.

After weighing the completed aircraft, I calculated that with me
flying solo, the CG would be very near the forward limit, so I put in more than
100 pounds of stones in the baggage compartment.

The aircraft was signed off, and the first flight was in April
2019. It flew like a rocket on its first flight. In a small community like ours,
you have no secrets. The word gets out, and people converge on the “Shack” (our
airpark community building) to monitor the radio and track the flight on their
computers or smartphones. The ADS-B worked the first time, so everybody could
get a log of the first flight!

The first flight issues list included one partially blocked fuel
injector, one or two avionics wiring problems, some G3X software setup changes,
nonreading fuel gauges, and a need for a small trim tab on the rudder. All of
these issues were fixed over the first few flights.

In the 40-hour Phase I test flying while running in the engine, I
had high CHTs in the climb at full power. However, with reduced power, I could
stay in the green and still get a rapid climb, even in the very hot summer
weather. Now that it’s winter and the engine has run in, the overheating
problems have gone away.

I saw from online sites that the fuel gauge problem is common on
RVs. It turned out that there was an open circuit between the flange on the
fuel level sender and the wing tank rib it was screwed to. The instructions say
to dip the screws in Proseal and not tighten them tightly so as not to squeeze
out the Proseal behind the sender flange. I had forgotten to go back a week
later to tighten the screws after the sealant had hardened. A quick retightening
of one or two screws restored the fuel level readings on the G3Xs.

We completed the 40 hours and then flew a practice cross-country to New Jersey and back before EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. Along with several neighbors, all in various forms of transport, we made it in one day (IFR) from the East Coast to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. A huge thanks to many friends and neighbors for their help and advice on the project. We have a truly remarkable four-seat IFR and night-equipped 200-mph rocket ship.

Share your craftsmanship with EAA Sport Aviation readers worldwide! Send us a photo and description of your project, and we’ll consider using it in the What Our Members Are Building/Restoring section of the magazine. Please include your name, address, and EAA number. Share your story now via www.EAA.org/submissions.

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