N3N and RV-12 builds make progress

March 30, 2024

Here's an update on the progress of two aircraft building projects our members are working on.

From Mickey, who is working on a Navy N3N-3...

Stripping fabric on lower wing panels. Inspection. Hardware Replacement. Etc.

Interesting discoveries:

  1. Wing tips of lower panels are covered separately and replaceable by slitting the fabric and removing eight screws. Makes student ground loops less impactful to operational readiness.
  2. Lower Wing panels are, thankfully, corrosion free and in really good shape.  Some steel hardware will need to be replaced, but basically it will be clean, prime, and re-cover.
  3. The number of stitches in a large fabric wing is humbling.
  4. Upper wing is one piece (unlike the Stearman) and is 34 feet long. Again, with the stitches…

From Ryan, who is building a Van's RV-12...

The tailcone is complete! Lots of rivets in this part, but aside from the amount of labor, it was fairly straightforward to put together. In particular, the rear bulkhead (the piece on the far right end of the photo above) required a lot of effort, as it has the most amount of solid rivets in any piece we've built so far. The pop rivets used almost everywhere else go in much faster.

Before sealing this part up with the top skins, you route the electric trim control cables, which you see coiled up on the right along with the hose going to the static ports. The yellow string will later be used to route the rudder and elevator control cables.

It's surprising how simple this part of the pitot-static system is. The static ports are just regular pop rivets with the mandrel driven out to leave a hole. Then you use slip a plastic hose over back end of the rivet, affix that with some silicon RTV, and zip-tie the hose to the frames and stiffeners inside the skin. You can test that it's airtight by covering the static ports with your fingers and blowing into the open end of the hose.

I then did a test fit of the vertical stabilizer. (It's a bit dusty from being in storage for a few months.) A few of the bolts are pretty tight, but it goes on well. The next steps are to attach the (already completed) rudder and stabilator (combined horitzontal stabilizer and elevator), and then rig up the controls. That will have to wait until I can move the parts out of the shed and into my garage, because the completed assembly won't fit through the shed doors!

After that... I will be out of parts to work on! I only have the first part of the aircraft, the tail kit. The next part of the kit is the wings, but I am looking for other partners interested in building and owning the plane before purchasing the wing kit. If I am unable to find any partner owners, I will look into selling the completed tail kit. It's been a lot of fun so far, but I'm not sure where it will go from here. Drop me a line if you're interested in buying into the project.

Check out the entire RV-12 build log so far.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Stay informed.

Our newsletter is the best way to keep up to date on chapter news and events.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Contact us

Get in touch.

Have a question? We'll have an answer—and probably a great story to go along with it.