Online Builder Hangout – April 2015

Our April Online Builder Hangout focused on proper tube flaring techniques and tool use. Check it out below.

  • Using the Parker Rolo Flare tool. Purpose of flare fittings, cautions in tube flaring.
  • Link to the tool:…
  • Question on how tight to torque flare nuts, see:…
  • Question of single vs. double flare. DOT/FAA Airframe & Powerplant Mechanics Handbook states: “A double flare should be used on 5052-O and 6061-T aluminum alloy tubing for all sizes 1/8″ to 3/8″ O.D. This is necessary to prevent cutting off the flare and failure of the tube assembly under operating pressures.”
  • To the question of hard vs. flex tube lines…As expected flex tube is used where movement is possible.

Also, sign up today for the May Hangout.

Guest Blog: Now is the Time to Support the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2

The following is a post written by our friend, fellow aviator, and homebuilder Randy Nyberg. 

In February of this year legislation important to all US pilots, builders and aviation enthusiasts was introduced in Congress. The Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2, sponsored in the House by Sam Graves (R-MO) and in the Senate by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), would streamline the appeals process and allow pilots flying certain aircraft to use a driver’s license in lieu of the third-class medical certificate.

Continue reading Guest Blog: Now is the Time to Support the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2

Getting started: What does it really cost?

Just ordered your kit and wondering about tools? Have a few tools lying around, but not sure what it will take to outfit your shop? Tools first, then kit? Whatever your situation, we understand that everyone is a little different. We handle the majority of “Complete Toolkit” purchases over the phone for that exact reason. We believe that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to getting a customer going on their build.

So, what does it cost?

Starting from scratch: $3,000

If the only tools you own are for routine home maintenance, or other small metalworking projects, you likely fall into this category. To outfit your shop with the essentials, you will need to buy compressor hoses, wrenches, tool boxes. There is always the “and more”. In this case, “more” means you are planning on going wild and adding a band saw, belt sander, small lathe…The list could go on.

Adding to my arsenal: $2,000

If you have a compressor and hand tools, you are probably in the market for only the aircraft specialty tools. This is by far where the majority of our customers land. Use this number for a budgeting number if you are just in the planning stages.

I’ve got nothing but elbow grease and time: $1,000

It takes a minimum investment of $1,000 in tools to make a safe aircraft. At this point you are just scraping by with the bare minimum. What we whole-heartedly encourage people to consider is that your time also has value. Even at $10/hr, 100 hours can quickly be sunk in not having the right tool to complete a task.

No matter what your situation may be, we will never pressure you into buying something outside your budget. However, we will always be honest with you about the benefit of using high-quality tools on your project. It not only saves you time, but saves in frustration, and you will have a better looking airplane at the end of it all.

Be sure to check out our Top Ten Considerations for Tool Purchases.

Give us a call to chat about what you need at 515-432-6794, or visit us online at to start shopping now.

Another update

Progress has been slow going with regular work going on, but we have made some progress.  Our friend Paul came up with a simpler setup for plumbing the valves making the exhaust cycle faster.  We also were able to identify that on the low pressure side that one of the solenoid valves was not working predictably.  This lead us down two paths, one using a more expensive valve, and the other, adding electronics that switch pressures rapidly. The latter allows the high pressure to open the valve, but dissipating quickly before the ram touches the rivet.  This configuration allows for a slightly quicker cycle time.  Currently this is controlled by a microprocessor for testing, and we are waiting to tweak a bit of code before we settle on timings.  It is hoped that some simple circuitry will do the job in the end, and figuring that out, and it’s cost will be the next step.  Then we can compare the cost, and the benefits to each solution and figure out which to implement.

4 Tire Pressure Management Tips

Winter flying prep can vary wildly by your individual region and ground conditions. Take a minute to review these helpful tire inflation tips to ensure you’re ready for taxi, takeoff and landing.

  1. Aircraft tire pressure must be checked when the tires are cool (at ambient temperature) because heat generated during taxis, takeoffs, and landings can result in elevated pressure readings.
  2. Avoid overinflation as it often leads to uneven treadwear and reduced traction, making the tread area more susceptible to cuts and placing greater stress on aircraft wheels and landing gear.
  3. Wait 12 hours before putting new 7″ tires in service after initial inflation. All tires will stretch after the initial inflation, causing a volume increase and thus a drop in pressure.
  4. Always inflate aircraft tires from the low pressure side of the regulated source.

For RV-ators with wheel pants installed, we just upgraded our Valve Stem Inflation tool to make inflating and pressure-monitoring a snap. Check it out!

Tips courtesy of

Status Update

We had a request for a status update on the Squeezebox project this morning.  I have been making steady advances over the last month, but have not been diligent about posting them…  The good news is I know how to thread-mill tapered threads in a blind hole now (ugh!).  I will just paste my reply to the email here.

“Hi xxx,

The last mechanical part is done… finally.  We have made a jig for modifying the stock tool boxes and are waiting for a cutting bit to arrive (today).  I have been unhappy with the control system as very occasionally it will lock up and not exhaust properly.  It seems to be a random problem found only when repetitively cycle testing the units, unfortunately just under half of them do it eventually.  We have a customer who is an engineer specializing in ‘controls’ looking at it and he thinks it will need another valve.  I am sending him additional parts today to try.  
Thanks for your interest and patience,

More Parts!

2014-07-17 12.47.28

After many hours of design and re-design, I sent the files off to Kit @ Profile Laser in Portland Oregon. Kit has been SO helpful in getting our items ‘just right’ a trait that many seem to be lacking these days. Nervously I waited for the parts, and they arrived yesterday.




They drop into the2014-07-17 12.45.50
 boxes perfectly without restriction, the control board and input jacks line up just right as does the new backer plate to protect the control board and provide some backing for the shop heads of the rivets inside the box.


2014-07-17 12.46.36


I can’t wait to put one of these together…

But I have to, Oshkosh prep. is very demanding.