Things We Learned
This is from Richard Kane and Associates. There are some excellent ideas here.
Builders- please take this opportunity to learn from us.
Procedures we would improve on the second plane:
Flush and Flush and Flush all 4 fuel tanks after finishing. Our first 5 hours generated lots of crud in the fuel filter, and we continue to have problems. We could have easily lost the engine in the first 10 hours due to blockage in the fuel filter. This same issue grounded us at the Splash In. We would suggest flushing them with Avgas.
Ditto for hydraulic lines. We can't be certain but suspect contamination contributed to cycling problems we encountered.
Finish the nose compartment and the aft bulkhead area. Easy to do before you install the hardware and avionics!
Check each hydraulic component individually before adding to the system.
Kidnap Mike Pastelak from SNA twice to look at your aircraft during construction. We got more squawks from him in 5 minutes than an entire EAA chapter could generate ... Mike and Dick and the SNA group know the airplane inside and out ... leverage their knowledge to help yourself.
Put wing wiring bundles in conduit for additional protection.
Let an avionics shop build, assemble and install your panel, even if you want to change the materials later. Our wood panel looks great and we wouldn't trade it for the world, but complex avionics like a Garmin/STEC-55 stack are best left to avionics shops. Hint: They won't warranty their work properly if you only have them do the wiring harness and not the installation.
Make all of your engineering drawings (fuel system and wiring harness) while it is fresh in your mind. Don't put this off, it costs you later.
Finish the aft canopy area headliner or your back seat passengers will complain about being reminded they are flying an unfinished fiberglass @#@#$@!.
Don't locate the OAT probe next to the hydraulic pump, place it where it can get exterior airflow or you will add 15 degrees to your temps.
Have an A&P or SNA check your baffles and leave no gaps, and don't install anything without directions for it. (we got the first new baffle kit and could have done better with it if the instructions were available at the time)
If you are going to build it in 5 months, don't rush the last month, even if it is getting to be 100 degrees in Florida in the hangar in the afternoons. You'll just spend an extra month getting the squawks out.
Cut down the back bench seat ... it's too long and you restrict baggage space and move the CG aft.
Check the fit of the rear seatbelts before planning to carry rear seat passengers on a 700NM cross country.
If your boost pump shows some pressure then drops off, or if it doesn't sound right, or if you need more than a few seconds of prime with the boost pump on to start the engine, check for crud up stream of the boost pump. Check for proper operation every pre-flight. Our pump failed and grounded us at the Splash In ... we could have diagnosed it early based on tougher engine starts and the requirement for additional seconds of priming ... as well as changes in the pumping noise.
Add a fifth headset jack for the bench seat middle passenger. We have a 6 place GMA340 headset, plus two pilot positions, but didn't fully utilize it. We must have told the wiring harness avionics people it was a 4 place plane and they didn't pin out a fifth passenger set of jacks.
If you use Mack stick controls, check for rubbing wires and shorts inside and around the yoke which could cause run away trims and open mikes. The metal edges of the yoke lend themselves to damaging the wiring ... we have had 3 repairs on this already.
Put in trim indicators x 3 or at least run extra wiring to install them later.
Utilize swedge cable ends instead of the wrap around / islet / nicco press cable ends. This will eliminate the need to periodically re-tension the cables, which has been a real concern for our aircraft. It will also provide a stronger connection, as used in certified aircraft, and as recommended for aircraft that routinely exceed 150kts. The added expense of this type of connection will be offset by the repeated need to re-tension the cables, and the resultant increase in safety. We will likely switch this out at the annual.
Corrosion proof the gear assembly using wet zinc between the plate that holds the gear axle pivot point and the gear arm. We had extensive corrosion on both main gear as a result of failing to do this. Had to remove, clean and repair.
Use stainless brake lines instead of the plastic tubing specified. We had an incident that involved separation of the brake line during rough water handling and could have resulted in a boat ramp disaster. It's better to replace the lines and check for corrosion on a scheduled basis then risk brake failure.
Give some thought to further water proofing the two dry compartments in the nose. Either with small bilge pumps or extra covering. And don't place 24 volt power inverters in this compartment!
Make sure you have the nose gear door stops in place to keep the nose gear doors from swinging inward. Not having these gear door stops has caused us two repairs on the nose gear doors, and contributed to popping the nose hatch after a rough water takeoff. (water enters through the bottom, compresses the air, and the hatch flies off). See note 22.
Walk all boat ramps before using them.