Installing the Pitot Tube

Hours: 8

After a couple of weeks of taking some time off active building while life happens and figuring out and planning out some things, I’m back to actively riveting on the airplane.

Time to finish the Pitot Tube after having cut the inspection panel hole and running the wiring a few months ago and lots of learnings about new tools, from the wiring, to flaring the tubes and connecting AN fittings.

I’m using the Garmin GAP 26 heated & regulated Pitot Tube (GAP 26-20). This version automatically controls whether the Pitot Tube needs to be heated using a regulator controller that is mounted next to the Pitot Tube and will only apply heat if needed based on outside temperatures.
This basically will allow me to always turn on the Pitot Tube in my panel as part of my standard operating procedures and the regulator will control whether it actually needs to be heated to prevent icing.

The installation instructions for this can be found in the Garmin G3X installation Manual.

After studying the installation manual to make sure I install it correctly, I measured the tube and had to figure out how far I have to cut it in order to fit.

Fitting the Pitot Tube

The Pitot and Angle of Attack (AOA) mast are over 12 inches out of the box, and that won’t fit. I made an initial guess and cut a bit shorter, but I was still too long so I made a series of shortenings and test attaching the fittings until I had it dialed in.

First test fit shows that the masts are too long and need to be cut further.

In the end, I had the masts cut down to right around 8 1/2 inches. The Garmin manual says to keep a minimum of 8 inches between the probe and transition to non-metalic tubing, so I had a little bit of margin.

Time for flaring the tubes. The AN fittings use a 37 degree flare, so I got a Rigid 377 flaring tool and a metal tubing cutter to cut the tube. Before doing this on the real Pitot Tube, I made some test flares on a spare tube I bought from Aircraft Spruce.

Make sure you put the AN fittings onto the tube before you do the flaring (I may or may not have forgotten it the first time and cut and redo the flare once).
Make sure you put the AN fittings onto the tube before you do the flaring (I may or may not have forgotten it the first time and cut and redo the flare once).

After I had that dialed in, I did another test fit to get the length correct, accounting for the bend towards the tube and then mounted the fittings.

Mounting the fittings to the tube.

Final fit and connecting to the nylon tubes inside the wing after having cut the nylon tubes.

Final fit and connecting to the nylon tubes inside the wing.

Installing the regulator and wiring

With the Pitot Tube itself installed, time to finish the regulator and wiring that controls the heating of the Pitot Tube.

As I explained previously, I plan to mount the regulator unit onto the inspection panel plate, so I did some measuring and orienting to make sure the twist action of the round plate wouldn’t interfere with the wires coming out of the regulator.

Here is the final orientation that I figured out would work best (the screw will mount to the bottom, so the wires will come out the top):

Here is the final orientation that I figured out would work best (the screw will mount to the bottom, so the wires will come out the top).

I contemplated between screwing or riveting it on, but I figured that it’s unlikely that it will need to be changed out frequently, so I riveted it onto the plate.

Completed inspection panel plate with the Garmin Regulator mounted.

The last part was to create a connection from the regulator to wires I ran through the wings. I used some weatherpack connectors for this, which create a waterproof connection and a solid crimp, similar to the Delphi GT 150 that Midwest Panel uses to connect the wiring harness.

Crimped wires to connect to the regulator (blue connects to the panel to communicate with the G3X to see whether Pitot heat is active)

Final completed connection between the regular, the Pitot Tube and the wires running to the center.

Final completed connection between the regular, the Pitot Tube and the wires running to the center.

Installing the plate to the wing

The last and final part of the installation was to mount the inspection panel plate onto the wing. I did this last to prevent scraping up my arm while I had to do all the mounting inside the wing, since the backing plate that holds the plate in place has a series of pokey corners that love to eat airplane builder blood.

First I lined up the plate with the wing and then did the match drilling of the holes:

First I lined up the plate with the wing and then did the match drilling of the holes.

The I dimpled the plate and the matching holes on the wing and riveted it in place.

The I dimpled the plate and the matching holes on the wing and riveted it in place.

And here is the completed and closed up Pitot Tube and Inspection Plate that holds the regulator:

And here is the completed and closed up Pitot Tube and Inspection Plate that holds the regulator.

Timelapse of the entire installation

How to get started

I had an email conversation with a new future Sling TSi builder over the past two days. While he is waiting for the kit to arrive, there is the hard question of “how to get started”. This question comes up for every new builder, and those that haven’t made up their mind yet, but need some guidance on what it would take to actually get started.

Getting Started

I remember from my own journey of when I got started, that the sheer amount of information out there can be overwhelming and finding some kind of guide-posts can be helpful to make a start.

So I’ve written up a page on my blog on how to get started, from considerations about the workshop, to a few books I found helpful and the large list of tools you’ll need.

I hope this will be helpful to future builders and those evaluating their options.

Walkthrough of my workshop

It’s been a while in the making after a few requests over the past several months, so I finally took the time and do a walkthrough of my Workshop where I’m building my Sling TSi.

Apart from walking through my garage workshop setup and a bunch of the tools I’m using throughout the build, I’ve also given a small update on my current tasks. I’m waiting for the balance tube to finish off the ailerons and I’m currently finishing up the installation of the pitot tube, after running the electrical wiring the other day.

I’ll make a separate post on the installation of the pitot tube when I’m done, but here’s a preview picture of the first fitting to figure out the length of the tubing:
Fitting the pitot tube to figure out the correct length of the tubing

 

Pitot Electrical Wiring

Hours: 5

After cutting the hole for the inspection panel a few days ago, I continued and ran the wires for the heating.

I figured out where I want to run the wires a while back after some tinkering and I am using one of the strut channels for the length of the wing, except the very end at the wing-walk where I had to make one curve down the bottom.

After some trial and error, I found that 3/8 in size wire loom tubing fits perfectly in the channel and with the help of my Wireless Endoscope connected to my phone I was able to finagle it through the wing with some mild scrapes on my arms.

Starting to run the wire loom  Wire loom at the new Pitot Inspection hole Fishing for the loom (very bottom with the pliers)

The hardest part was figuring out a good way to come out the bottom where the wing-walk is, since the strut channel doesn’t go through there. On the last picture above, you can see when I finally managed to grip on to where I want the loom to come out of with the help of some duckbill pliers, which were a suggestion from my EAA chapters Technical Counsellor when he visited a few months ago.
Duckbill pliers to the rescue

Running the wire

With the question of where to run the wire solved, onto actually running the wires.

I am installing the Garmin GAP 26 Heated/Regulated Pitot Tube, which comes with a Regulator that needs to be installed next to the Pitot tube and controls whether the Pitot tube actually needs to be heated.

For this, there are three wires to run – two for the power and one for the discreet output, which integrated into the Garmin G3X Panel to show when the Pitot Tube is actually heated.

I ran the three wires through some braided sleeving to give them some extra protection and make running them through the wire channel easier in one go.Feeding the 3 wires into the braided sleeve

With that out of the way it “just” took a lot of back and forth, more use of the Endoscope and the thin arms of Juliana and repeated shouts of “push, push” and together we managed to run the wire all the way. She cheerfully pronounces “Congratulations, it’s a wire” as it came out the other end.
My friendly helper to run the Pitot wiring Congratulations, it's a wire

Cutting Pitot inspection panel hole

Hours: 1.5

I was planning to finish to Ailerons, but unfortunately in my final prep, I realized that I received two right side balance tubes instead of a left and a right one. The missing tube should be here sometime next week, so until then, the Ailerons are on pause.

This gave me some time to finally make the big step of cutting out the hole in the Wing for the Pitot inspection panel. I received the heated & regulated Garmin Pitot tube from the Factory and verified that it will fit nicely on the back of the round inspection cover, so I will mount that and I can keep my square inspection panel I designed for some other time.

First I did a lot of measuring and marking based on the plans. Since this is truly a moment of measure-twice, cut-once I measured and re-measured a few times.
Marking the center and hole to cut out Hole marked and alignments checked Time to prepare the cutter Marking the pilot hole for the cutter

With all the marks in place, I started with cutting the pilot holes for the center mark and the cutting head.
Using the center punch to mark the pilot holes Using the step drill to upsize the cutter pilot hole Pilot holes drilled

The final moment of truth – Time to cut the hole for the inspection panel using my nibbler cutting tool.
Time to cut a hole in the wing

I cut the first half of the circle and then reversed the tool since the Pitot tube mast was in the way of completing the cut in one direction.
First half of the circle cut - I had to reverse the tool at this point since the pitot tube mast blocked finishing the circle from this direction

The cut came out pretty well and I just had to do a little bit of sanding to smooth the edges.
Inspection hole cut Temporary placing of the backing plate Inspection Cover fits perfectly

 Timelapse video of cutting the hole

Aileron ribs priming

Hours: 1

I prepared most parts of the Aileron a good while ago, but I was missing a replacement for one set of ribs that were damaged, so I had put the Ailerons aside and finished the Flaps and Elevator in the meantime.

Now with the Elevator done and the replacement ribs in hand, back to finishing up the Aileron. After a quick inspection and deburring of the new rib I laid out all the parts and got out my small painting booth to prime the ribs.
Aileron ribs laid out for the left and right side Paint booth setup to prime

Once the primer is set I can get onto assembling everything and riveting the Aileron.

One side of Aileron ribs primed Primed Aileron ribs

New Sling Pilots community website & forum

A small non-direct building post for a change to talk about the new Sling Pilots community website & forum.

We recently had a discussion on the Sling Builders Facebook group about the very visible growth of the Sling Airplane community. With the bigger size, the community is slowly growing beyond the size of a Facebook group. There are also some people do not use Facebook, so a separate forum allows more inclusion for everyone.

So armed with that, we have started a new community organized standalone website and discussion forum that will hopefully help both active builders, people interested in possibly becoming builders and active Sling Pilots to come together and discuss all things Sling.

Check it out at https://www.slingpilots.com/

Cheers,
Philip

Finishing the Elevator

Hours: 2.5

With most of the preparations out of the way and half of the skins riveted, I took one more session to finishing the Elevator.

There was only one extra part I had to do for 3 of the rivets that were on the bottom edge. In order for them to fit correctly, I had to shorten the rivets so they wouldn’t protrude out.
Rivet too long to fit Fitting rivet after I shortened it I mounted the rivet in my bench vise and filed it down to size Shortened Rivets on the right and one with normal length on the left

Aside from that, I just went to town and pulled the rest of the few hundred rivets.
Time to pull some rivets Halfway done riveting the skins Final set of rivets ready to be riveted Riveting the Trim Tab

The last part on the riveting side was the front lip.
Clecoing the front lip Riveting the front lip

One of the holes on the lip has to be enlarged to fit a grommet for the wiring for the Elevator Trim Tab. I enlarged the hole using my step drill bit and then installed a snap bushing.
Marked out the hole that needs to be enlarged for the wiring Marked out the size on the step drill bit Hole enlarged and Snap Bushing installed

The last part was to install the center balance counterweight. I did some test fitting with this, but the AN3-13A bolts that one of the versions of the manual that I have mentioned are too short, so I’ll check with the factory on the proper length.
Test fitting the Balance Counterweight - the bolts are too short

With that being said, the general assembly of the Elevator is completed:

Timelapse of the complete construction of the Elevator

With the Elevator construction completed, I’ve also finished my video timelapse of the process:

Riveting the Elevator skins

Hours: 3.5

With the final preparations and alignments of the Elevator done, the last task is to rivet up the Elevator skins.

Horizontal Stabilizer and Elevator temporary joined for alignment and looking good

The process is pretty straightforward, but there are a lot of rivets to be pulled, so it’s a lot of repetition, so I spread the work out over a few sessions.
Setting up rivets Almost done with the left underside Finished left underside

I first did the half of the bottom, both left and right side, and then finished up the left side completely, followed by the right side.
Setting up the final few rivets for the right underside Bottom of the entire Elevator completed

For the Trim Tab control tabs I had to get out the close quarter wedge.
Using the close quarter wedge to be able to attach the rivets for the Trim tab Control

After I finished the entire bottom half of the Elevator I flipped it around and put a small padding onto the Trim Tab control so it can’t dig into the Elevator skin.
Protection for the Trim Tab control

Final Elevator fitting

Hours: 2.5

After reinforcing parts of the fiberglass tips for the Elevator for the front section that is countersunk to support the flush rivets, I finished fitting of the right side of the Elevator.

When I finished the alignment of the left side of the Elevator, I ran out of clecos, so I bought a couple more when I was at Oshkosh so I could properly put the Elevator together and get everything to align correctly.

So the first order of business was to finish clecoing everything including the (correct) control tabs for the Trim Tab.
Time to cleco the right side of the Elevator Everything clecoed together including the Trim Tab

With that out of the way, I moved on to do the fitting for the right side fiberglass piece. It took a little bit of aligning and filing away a tiny bit from the back so that the fiberglass piece can slot into the metal.

Once that looked all good, I started to do the match drilling of the holed into the fiberglass.

Time to drill some holes into the fiberglass tip First hole drilled and clecoed Continuing the match drilling All holes drilled

Now the only last part to do was to countersink the front parts of the fiberglass tips in order to allow the flush rivets to sit in there. It took a bit of back and forth to calibrate my microstop countersink attachments to ensure I had a good flush fitting.

Marked out for the holes that need to be countersunk Finished countersinking the holes Flush fit of the left side Alignment checks on the right side