Jeff Page - Tundra #10
The continuing saga of the assembly of my Dream Aircraft Tundra aircraft kit.

The aircraft kit I am building is a Dream Aircraft Tundra.
The aircraft is a high wing, four person bush plane, with a payload of 1100 pounds. It is constructed of aluminum with solid rivets.

I will be installing Montana amphibious floats, so we can land both on runways and on the lake at our cottage. I will be building the aircraft initially with tricycle landing gear and flying it, prior to building the floats.

I am currently considering an ECI Titan IO-375 4 cylinder engine from Aero Sport Power, or perhaps an ECI Titan Xtreem from Ameritech Industries. These are 195-210 horsepower air cooled aircraft engines.

I have my eye on an Aero Composites 2250 constant-speed propeller, or perhaps a Whirlwind 200C.

I originally thought I would like to build an aircraft late in 2003. I spent almost a year selecting a kit. The perfect airplane for me needed to carry four people, full fuel and luggage. I wanted a high wing, aluminum aircraft suitable for floats. Of course I wanted an easy-to-build kit, from a reputable manufacturer that would provide excellent support.

I enjoyed two demonstration flights, once on wheels and once on floats and was impressed with the Dream Aircraft people and their facility. The aircraft and the kit met my requirements exactly.

On October 14, 2004, I signed the deal for the tail and wing kits. On November 30th, I picked up my kit directly from the factory.

I did not begin work on my aircraft until the summer of 2005, but I did a lot of reading and research.

I signed the deal for the cabin/fuselage kit at Oshkosh 2006.


LINKS

First flight of Bob Lepschi's Tundra at Midland, September 2005

Electrical System Design

Wing leading edge landing light modifications

Deburring HOW-TO


CONSTRUCTION PROGESS  (Most recent activity first)

Present

I have moved into a new hangar, with a washroom and a full electrical system, including lights, air compressor, central vaccuum, fridge and stove. I have only to complete the radiant floor heating and I will be back to building my Tundra.

August 2008 - First Wing Ready For Pre-Cover Inspection

All of the aluminum parts are acid etched and then sprayed with epoxy primer. Most of the parts were painted by Blair at Corporate Aircraft Restorations, but he also taught me the basics of spray painting. So I painted some of the parts myself using their paint booth.

Additions I made to the design took quite a long time, in fact, longer than building the wing itself.

This is the bracket I fabricated for the Dynon heated pitot/angle of attack tube.
This is the Guardian fuel sensor and controller. This will provide a low fuel alert like most automobiles have. There is a single controller, but a separate sensor for each tank and indicators for each on the instrument panel. The folks at Dream Aircraft helped me add a fitting to the fuels tanks to mount the sensor.

An important addition is my fuel tank venting system. The Tundra design is similar to many aircraft, in that a tube from the top of the fuel tank vents it directly to the atmosphere. This allows air to enter the tank as the fuel is consumed. It also allows fuel to escape out of the tube as it expands in the heat, which spills fuel on the ground. To make it more environmentally friendly, I have design a system to capture the excess fuel. First a one-way valve allows air in but prevents fuel from moving rapidly the other way. However, some output must be allowed to prevent high pressure in the fuel tank as the fuel expands. So some fuel will slowly pass out through the valve. This fuel travels up a tube to a small tank mounted on the wing tip. This tip tank is directly vented. It will only overflow if more than 1.5 litres of fuel passes the valve, which should be very rarely. When the aircraft is in flight, the fuel in the tip tank will automatically siphon itself into the main fuel tank.

In order to provide the best visibility I have added large landing lights and taxi lights to the leading edge of the wing near the tip. I fabricated the brackets using a fly-cutter, which is like a high school compass except that it has a sharp blade that is spun in the drill press. The landing lights in each wing will wig-wag, and the effect is very noticable as the aircraft approaches. This is supposed to scare birds far more than an apparently stationary single light, reducing the likelihood of hitting a bird in flight.

My father and my friend Mike helped out by running wires in the leading edge of the wing to power landing lights, taxi lights, navigation lights, anti-collision lights and pitot heat. Two tubes handle the air pressure for airspeed and angle-of-attack.

During August, Mike and I rivetted the top wing skin on. We hammered approximately 800 rivets in a week. While rivetting, the wing was positioned on a vertical stand and the twist was fixed with a crossed thread. Mike and I stand behind the wing on it storage stand. It is now ready for its Precover Inspection.

February 2007

During February, I moved my workbench into the maintainance hanger of Corporate Aircraft Restorations so I could assemble my wing where it was warm. I connected all the parts together with clecos. I drilled out the holes in the spars where larger rivets will be installed. I designed the modifcation I will make to the leading edge to install landing lights. Then I took it all apart again for corrosion protection and primer.

December 2006, January 2007

I spent December and January deburring wing parts. The edges of the aluminum parts as they are provided by the factory are very sharp. It is important that the edges be smoothed, to avoid a stress point where cracks form.

November 2006

After bringing my cabin and fuselage parts home in the trailer, I clecoed the cabin together in my basement. It will need to come apart for priming. This gives me the opportunity to work on it without driving to the hangar.

November 2006 - Builder Assistance at Dream Aircraft

I spent one week at the Dream Aircraft facility in Granby, Quebec.
Patrik, Yvan and Jason (left to right) pose beside my cabin and fuselage.
With the help of Patrik and Jason, I assembled it together with clecos and enlarged the holes with a drill. Yvan (the designer of the aircraft) provided valuable assistance determining the location for additional holes to route hydralics and electrical to the pump for the amphibious floats. He also provided guidance on the suitability of fuselage modifications for additional storage.
Patrik indicates the status of my progress.
Patrik is constructing a useful storage compartment I designed. It is intended to hold oil, windshield cleaner, tie downs, etc., and will be accessed from the side of the aircraft. This will be much easier than digging under the luggage in the cargo area.
This shows the cabin and fuselage assembled with clecoes. At the front is the framework for the firewall. The handle to control the flaps is installed in the cabin floor. The cabin is contructed of numerous parts, all of which I have to rivet to together.
Here I sit in the assembled cabin, imagining a lot more of the aircraft being completed.

October 2006 Tail ready for pre-cover inspection

After the frames, we rivetted the skins on. Each piece could only be partially completed, since the inspector needs to be able to see inside. Here, Mike holds the skinned left elevator in his right hand and the right elevator frame in his left.
Mike and I are riveting the upper skins on the horizontal stabilizer.

September 2006

This is the horizontal stabilizer, clecoed together after deburring, acid etching, alodining, and priming. Rivetting is the next step.
Rivetting with a rivet gun is a two person job, and you find out who your real friends are. First to step up to help was my friend Mike. Since he is very skilled with his hands, Mike learned the rivetting process very easily.
In a couple of days, the frames of the stabilizer, elevators, fin and rudder were completed.

August 2006 - Rivetting Begins

I spent my spare time in the spring and early summer 2006 deburring all of the tail pieces. Most of this was done sitting on the deck of the cottage with a file.
Finally, on August 23rd, 2006 I installed the first rivet in the rudder. I felt I was building an airplane !
The Cleveland Aircraft rivet squeezer has mechanical advantage, similar to Vice Grips and does an excellent job of installing rivets. It is possible to over squeeze rivets and distort the aluminum. I quickly got the hang of it.
 
There are many places that the rivet squeezer cannot reach. So most rivets are hit with a rivet gun, which is basically an air pressure driven hammer with a dish-shaped head to fit the rivet. A heavy piece of steel, called a bucking bar is held behind the rivet. This mashes the end of the rivet to a nice blob and the aluminum is held very tightly together. This is faster than using the squeezer also.
This is a different portion of the left elevator, after rivetting with the gun and bucking bar.

May 2006 - Work Resumes at Oshawa Airport

Fall 2005, we rented a hangar at Oshawa airport. There was lots of room for our Cessna 172 and building the Tundra as well. It was very cold in the hangar during the winter, however, so I made no further progress on my aircraft.
In the spring of 2006, I built this workbench 16 feet long, using two 2 x 12 beams, which support a 2 x 4 frame covered by 3/4 inch plywood. It is very flat and level, since I build it upside down on the flat hangar floor. Construction adhesive fills the gaps where the wood joists are not perfectly straight, so the table surface is fully supported. The table has large caster wheels, so it can be easily moved.

July 2005 - Work Begins at the Cottage

Yvan, Jeff, Lesley and Luc at AirVenture 2005
The manual indicates a sixteen foot long workbench is required, since that is the length of the wings. I built an 8 foot long workbench to start on the tail. I quickly discovered that the stabilizer is eleven feet long :-(
I started on the horizontal stabilizer, since it is the first item in the manual.
It probably makes more sense to start with something like the rudder, since it is smaller.
The drawings and manual are easy to follow. Most of the assembly is easily done with the colour-coded drawings. It is like a big Mechano set.
I quickly had the stabilizer clecoed together.
The stabilizer hung over the ends of the workbench, which made it a little harder to work on.
This is a close-up of the corner of the left elevator clecoed together.

December 1, 2004 - Pick Up Tail and Wing Kit

I stuffed the tail and wing kits for myself and Bob Lepschi into the Jeep and trailer
The tail and wing kit when first unloaded into the garage.
Nowhere to park the car for a few days.

August 24, 2004 - 1st Demo Flight of Tundra 200 on Wheels

Teresa (our flight instructor)
Myself
Robert (Dream Aircraft pilot - has already built a Tundra)
Luc (Dream Aircraft Sales Manager)
This is the 2nd prototype and is quite similar to the aircraft I am building.
This aircraft is a "taildragger", whereas I am building a tricycle gear model, which has the third wheel under the nose instead of the tail.
The main wheels are positioned at the rear of the door.