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.

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

Learning and Living the Experience

My brother-in-law, Bill, is building an RV-9 in his basement with my sister Jensie. You may have heard Bill on the other end of the Online Builder Hangouts, guiding the conversation and promoting the Facebook page. It’s a great opportunity for both Bill and Jensie to live the customer experience by asking for help, learning how to use all the tools, and figure out the best way to solve problems during the build.

They are starting where many new builders do. They have had exposure to the techniques, but solving problems that come up in their own shop is just different.

I always tell our customers, “Use the best tools that you can afford.” In Bill and Jensie’s case, they moved to Portland a year ago. In doing so, they left the convenience of a fabulous shop for a basement work area and the bare minimum of tools. Of course, the first step in the plans makes sure that you can do basic craftsman skills. “Fabricate X from a section of angle,” the plans state.

This early challenge in the build leads many of our customers to ask questions like, “Do I need a bandsaw, a belt sander, a drill press?” The answer is, “Need? No. Benefit from? Certainly.” Bill gained some mad skills and techniques making, and remaking, those brackets using a hacksaw and a file; and I believe that is Van’s point.

Bill and Jensie’s experience was the inspiration for our next Online Builder Hangout. We are going to show some tips and tricks on how to use simple tools to get great results. You may still want to have the fancy tools as they certainly make the job easier, but we appreciate that many folks are building on a shoestring, and quality is achievable for everyone with a variety of tools.

Justin Inman – Featured Builder – May 2014

Justin Inman
Justin piloting the Teen-Flight I RV-12 plane around Mount Hood

This month we spoke with Justin Inman, a high school Junior, with an already impressive set of building experience under his belt, and the aspirations, energy and desire to make a career out of aviation. At the monthly EAA 105 pancake breakfasts, you can see Justin and his dad talking with other builders and aviators about what he’s up to, and when most people head home after the famous (or infamous) cakes, bacon, and grits breakfast—Justin heads to KHIO to serve as a TeenFlight mentor to other teens working on the third RV-12 TeenFlight project. (Read more about TeenFlight here)

The May breakfast is where we approached Justin about his willingness to do this interview, and with a good deal of humble enthusiasm, he agreed.

CAT: What’s your home airport?

JI: 7S3, Stark’s Twin Oaks Aipark

CAT: When did you first realize you had an interest in aviation?

JI: I have had an interest in aviation for as long as I can remember. When I was in early elementary school, I had a Sunday school teacher who was a pilot and A&P. He helped kindle my interest in aviation by talking to me about airplanes and flying. Living less than a mile from the Portland Hillsboro airport has afforded me submersion in general aviation airplanes flying over since I was born.

CAT: When did you first realize you had an interest in homebuilt aviation?

JI: My first real exposure to homebuilt aviation was when I took a Young Eagle flight in a local homebuilder’s RV-8 when I was 14. He let me fly a little bit and I was hooked. I could not believe how perfect the controls felt, how pretty the airframe was, and how fast it went. I enjoyed building remote control airplanes, so the idea of building a full size airplane was amazing.

CAT: Who do you credit for being most supportive in your aviation journey? What specifically have they done to help you?

JI: My parents have been incredibly supportive of my aviation interests and have been very encouraging. My most influential aviation mentor is Jerry VanGrunsven. He also has been supportive of my aviation interests and goals. As a TeenFlight mentor, he helped teach me about building airplanes but he has also taught me a lot about being an aviator and a person of integrity.

CAT: As a junior in high school, you’ve got a lot on your plate. How do you make time to focus on aviation? What motivates you?

JI: That’s true, I do have a lot on my plate. In order to maximize my time, I try to prioritize my activities. School and family come first and then aviation activities. However, as I homeschool student I have the added benefit of having a semi-flexible schedule. So on nice days I can sometimes skip out and go flying or build an airplane. I am motivated by people I know in aviation who have built many airplanes and have achieved similar goals that I strive to attain.

CAT: You’re a mentor in the TeenFlight program, what philosophy or state of mind do you bring to each build session?

JI: I try to remind myself that TeenFlight is about learning. I learned a tremendous amount as a student in the program, so as a mentor I hope that the students I help teach have the opportunity to get as much out of their project as I got out of mine.

CAT: How many RV homebuilt have you helped with since you were a TeenFlight participant?

JI: Since completion of the TeenFlight 2 airplane, I have helped build three RV projects: two RV-12s (including mentoring on the TeenFlight 3 project), and an RV-8A.

CAT: What is the one thing you repeat over and over to the TeenFlight participants?

JI: Clean up your messes, put tools away, don’t use metric wrenches on SAE bolts, and try not to finger paint with the Pro-Seal. But seriously, what I and the other TeenFlight mentors try to instill in the students is the importance of teamwork and following instructions. It is easy to not read the plans because the RV-12 build is fairly self-explanatory. However, it is very important to read the plans for clarification and sequencing. Reading for understanding is another item that cannot be emphasized enough.

CAT: If you could pick an airframe, what project would you take on next, and why?

JI: At this point, I would like to build an RV-3 equipped with an IO-320 engine setup with inverted fuel and oil for aerobatics, and a composite constant speed propeller. The RV-3 is a more challenging build than the RV-12 because it does not employ modern pre-punched technology and thus requires the builder to fabricate many more parts. I am also working on my own aircraft design that I would like to build once I have the means.

CAT: How do you spend time outside of school and aviation?

JI: When I am not doing aviation related things, I enjoy spending time with my brothers and hiking. I also play trumpet semi-professionally in various musical groups and put a good amount of time into that hobby.

CAT: How do you plan to spend your summer?

JI: This summer I have an engineering internship lined up that should help me grow towards my goal of being an aeronautical engineer.

CAT: What about college? Have you picked your path yet?

JI: As a junior, I am currently working on achieving good scores on the SAT and ACT tests with the hope that I can attend an engineering college where I will eventually earn a degree in aeronautical engineering. At this point, I hope to attend Embry Riddle in Arizona as a student of their aerospace engineering program.

May 2014 – Squeeze Box Update

NOTE: The Squeezebox project has permanently canceled. You can read more about the decision here.

Many of you have been asking for an ETA and a status update on our Squeeze Box that we unveiled at Oshkosh 2013. Unfortunately, we can’t provide an ETA. We can, however, provide a detailed status update and a big thank you to all our customers for their patience and understanding. While we strive for perfection for our new products, we understand that all of you are excited to get your hands on a new Squeeze Box.

While we are continuing to move forward with the project, the progress has been dramatically slowed by a number of specialized machining and electronics supply chain issues, on top of our commitment to keeping up with the current product line.
The following pictorial is an update of our progress and current status…
Not seen are the boxes themselves.  We need to have a new ‘platform’ cut to allow the use of the new cylinders.  I have them drawn and need to hand make one to verify dimensions.
I also have designed and acquired parts for a new circuit board for the control.  Once I am able to verify the function, I can order the production boards, and we get get wiring the board to solenoid, to battery.
The hydraulic hose has a wire running down it for control, I am not happy with it’s look or function. In-house we have several types of sleeves that I am going to try so that the wire runs down the hose.
Finally a user manual needs to be created.
I’ll admit, there is still a lot of work to do on this, but we are confident it will be an extremely high-quality tool that will make a lot of builds go faster with better results. Stay tuned for more updates.

How To: Using the Close Quarters Dimple Die Set

While Mike was in Portland visiting us (Bill and Jensie) we asked him to show us how to use the Close Quarter Dimple Die Set. We were dimpling the skin of the horizontal stabilizer, and the punched holes for the nose rib closest to the leading edge, you have to open the skin quite far to get the C-Frame in. To alleviate the spreading/bending of the skin, Cleaveland Aircraft Tool offers a Close Quarters Dimple Die Set that uses a “Pop Rivet” Puller, copper and steel mandrel, and a male and female dimple die. See the video to learn how to use it!