Workshop 99.9%

For a while I’ve wanted to restore some capabilities I used to have at the old house, namely metalworking tools that have been sidelined since we moved way back in ’14. I’ve been putting this off in favor of getting the workshop improved for winter operations. Now that the shop is properly insulated and heated, etc., I had the opportunity to move the machines back in and get them set up. Pretty much everything has been moved in and installed. There is some cleaning and final leveling and adjustment needed, but that will be on an as needed basis. Now that everything is moved in and warm, I can set the machines up at leisure.

First, I built a table to hold the lathe/mill. I soon remembered just how heavy this thing is, and needed to buy a shop crane to lift it into place (at the old place I installed a temporary overhead hanger for a chainfall, but I didn’t want to do that here). The lathe is now installed on its new table and mostly leveled. The table needs a bit of bracing to make it solid. I’ll tie it into the wall if it becomes an issue.


While I was buying the shop crane at Harbor Freight, I took advantage of their New Year’s Day 25% Off Sale and bought something that’s been on my “want” list for a while.


Now, of course, I needed a new table on which to mount the sheet metal machine. I decided that a single table to hold it and the mini mill was the best idea. I moved the credenza that used to support the drill press and some other tools to the far wall and installed the new table in its place, then lifted the machines up there and installed them.


This represents what I hope is the last bit of tool installation for the shop, and now I will have the capability to make small metal parts that may come in handy during the RV-10 build. My original plan had been to build a metal shop in the basement of the barn, but that was going to require pouring concrete and building a whole new set of walls. My primary project is now the RV-10, so that will have to wait for some time, maybe forever. But at the moment I’m pretty happy with the shop I’ve put together.



The main thing left to do is to install racks and hangers for the various completed aircraft parts that I want to store in the warm shop. I will probably end up bagging the rudder, vertical stabilizer, and elevators and storing them on the mezzanine with the horizontal stabilizer once they are fully complete. The tail cone will have to be bagged and stored on the main level of the barn. I don’t want to risk dropping or damaging it trying to lift it to the mezzanine.

Workshop Progress

Well, due to a lot of other obligations, I haven’t really begun building the -10 in earnest yet.  But that is about to change!

Part of the “other obligations” has been to improve the workshop so I can work in relative comfort year round, in order to hopefully reduce the total build time.  This has involved lots of amateur carpentry, drywalling, electrical installation, and in general plenty of relatively satisfying work.  I only have a few items left before I can start finishing the tail kit and order the wing kit.

Some highlights:

New large doors (for getting big pieces in and out of the shop–this will be the main exit for the fuselage once it is done)



Ceiling mounted utilities including compressed air and electricity. Plus, LOTS of LIGHT.  21 can lights to provide warm incandescent list (3 switched zones to save power) and banks of fluorescent tubes mounted in the ceiling corners to provide bright flooding light.


A whiteboard for lists, calculations, sketches, etc.


Looking toward the main work area


In general, the shop is now (or will soon  be) warm, draft free, and almost outfitted for work.  I have to finish the ceiling insulation, build some shelves, and move the lathe and mill in (that may be able to wait a bit) and things will be good to go.

brief update

I’ve been spending time this summer getting the workshop ready to go so I don’t freeze my butt off working on the RV-10 in the winter.  Pics will follow once I’m substantially complete.

Also I have been working on finishing up the instrument rating.  Once I have that in my pocket and the workshop is ready to go, it should be full steam ahead on the RV-10 construction (I expect some interruption in productivity due to the expected release of Fallout 4 in November).



So, the barn is big.  Maybe *too* big.  Why would I say that?  Well, there are almost too many ways here to set up a workshop, so many that I have fallen victim to some “analysis paralysis.”  There are two full size floors, a 1/3 size loft, and an “annex” with a large concrete floor and a second “office” above.   The barn footprint is about 36′ x 45′ inside overall.  On the main (2nd) floor, there is a wide open space that is ideal for pulling vehicles in and working on them.  On one side, there is a 36′ x 17′ room under the loft that might be just right for the airplane workshop.

wpid-20150328_121056.jpgThere should be plenty of space here even to build a fuselage once I straighten out the workbench and shelf situation.

The problem is, once I build a fuselage in here, how do I get it out?  There is a partially completed doorway that could be used, but *what are the dimensions of a completed fuselage less the landing gear*?


Currently my thought is to build the wings in this side room, and probably the fuselage, but once the gear goes on, if I don’t make provisions to knock this wall out later, I’ll have to move construction out into the larger main area.

wpid-20150328_120835.jpgThis space is huge, and would be perfect for building a plane except for one thing:  it is simply too large to heat.  The roof peak is approximately 20 feet up from this level, and there is no way I’m going to build a permanent ceiling in here (the aesthetics of the barn are just too cool to ruin with a flat ceiling, plus it would ruin the view from the loft).  You can see one frame of an EAA workbench under construction near the bike.


Once the empennage attach happens, the plane may be too long to navigate around the posts in the workshop room.  At that point, it may be necessary to build a false ceiling in the main room out of 2x4s and plastic sheeting just to keep the heat in.  Alternatively, I could try to time the project such that everything post-empennage attach is done in warm weather, but I think that would not go well.  Best laid plan(e)s, and all.


Coincidentally with finding a great deal on an empennage kit, someone posted a PlaneTools RV tool kit on Van’s Airforce at a decent discount with some great add-ons.  Sign me up!

So now, I have:  One partially complete empennage kit, a set of tools in the mail, and a workshop in deperate need of workbenches and shelves.  The only problem:  it is REALLY cold out right now, and I know the barn (more on the barn workshop later) is bound to be quite uncomfortable.  That means that before next fall, I need to get the workshop area properly enclosed and insulated, with some means of heating.