Monday, October 29, 2012

Building A New RV4 Extended Baggage Compartment

After about a year of flying my RV4 and being frustrated that I couldn't carry anything in the baggage compartment for being too small, I decided to finally do something about it. I had heard that many builders had taken the rear baggage compartment bulkhead out and continued the baggage compartment back to the rear of the plane. So, this is what I set out to do.

There were many things to think about when making a change like this, the biggest of course it a weight and balance issue is created. I started thinking about when I travelled, what were the items that I could not fit into my RV? The heavier luggage I never had any difficulty with, because it always was stored in the larger bin area behind the rear seat. But once that area was full, things like pillows, sleeping bags, my 2 person tent, and extra pair of shoes, and things of that nature were the items that would not fit.

These items were not really heavy. If I were to place my pillow and the far aft of the plane, followed by my sleeping bag, then the tent, and all the other stuff being lose, more towards the front, that would put all light stuff in the rear of the plane and all heavier stuff towards the front. Hmmm, sounds like it could work. But the wise thing to do at this point, would be to calculate the weight and balance for the aircraft, and then calculate what the extended baggage compartment would do to the weight and balance. Then, if everything was ok, determine the limitations.

So, that is what was done. Here are the calculations with the added extended baggage compartment.

Notice for the ARM I used 165 for the extended baggage compartment. I used this number because there was no way all the weight of an item placed back there would be at the 170 mark. Therefore, moving the center of the possible furthest aft weight up to the 165 mark seemed more plausible. I used all weights at their maximum to see what it would do to my CG, and as you can tell, the CG still was at 73, well within limits. I very rarely, if ever, carried bags that weighed 50 pounds, and never in my life carried a pillow that weighed 15 pounds.

So, now that the numbers were acceptable, what about the construction of the extended baggage compartment? I removed the aft baggage compartment bulkhead. This provided access to the rear of the plane.

Some things to consider at this point were....1) I did not want to build anything that would hinder the operation of the control rods for the elevators, 2) I still wanted to have access to all moving parts in the rear of the plane for inspection purposes, 3) I did not want to hinder the static ports that were located above the longerons in the next bay back.

Taking all of these things into consideration, I proceeded to make a shelf out of aluminum sheet that was braced with stiffeners, the same way we stiffened the control surfaces like the rudder and the elevators.  This worked out nicely. Then I riveted a brace to the further aft bulkhead so that it would hold the new shelf in place. Fitting my body back into the baggage compartment was a real challenge, and on the more-times-than-not occasion that I squeezed myself back into that God forsaken hole, just to realize that I had forgotten a tool, I became very good at waiting for the next passer-by to hand me my tools.

I drilled holes into the longerons and bolted the sides of the extended baggage compartment to them, so that I could remove them later for inspections. Once everything was bolted in place, the last piece of the puzzle had to be installed. There was still a gaping hole at the rear bulkhead where baggage, shoes, or anything else I could have back there, could find its way to hinder the movement of the elevator control rod. I considered how I was going to close this area up for sometime, as climbing back into that abyss was not desirable, as well as resting my 200 pounds on that shelf would not be favorable as well. I decided upon a better route. I purchased a 3 inch piece of foam, and made a pillow out of it that who fit very snugly into place at the rear bulkhead. The pillow could not be pushed through the hole, as it was a firm foam. I put the same material on it as my seats, and decided to embroider my seat logo on it as well just to give it that personal touch. It worked like a charm and was super easy to install, requiring just a broom handle to push it into place.

Carpeting on the new shelf helped to dampen the noise coming from the back of the plane, and helped to make it more esthetic.

Here is a picture of the finished product for my extended baggage compartment.

My new extended baggage compartment turned out really nicely. With all the added space, I could easily carry a set of golf clubs (accept I don't golf), but more apres peau, I could carry my gas powered Go-ped scooter strapped in place, so that I had cool transportation when I arrived at my destination.

I hope that this helps you with building an extended baggage compartment in your plane, but I will also strongly advise that you calculate the weight and balance numbers on your plane first, as all experimental planes are different.

Happy building!

-- Buzz -- RV Nation

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Never Give Up!

Part of RV Nation's mission is about going back to the grass roots of flying. Our mission statement says:

RV-Nation is an organization formed for the purpose of serving those who enjoy the sport of building experimental RV Aircraft, to revive the grass roots of flying, and to generate aviation interest in our youth so as to preserve the sport of experimental flight for generations to come.

A very important part of the mission statement is "to revive the grass roots of flying," something I have spent the last 25 years doing and believe in whole heartedly. Part of that, I think, is to tell the stories of those that have battled the wars of life, and through shear commitment to self, have carried the tattered flag on relentlessly towards fulfilling their dreams of building their own plane, learning to fly in it, and becoming that weekend warrior flying into the sunset with his best girl.....ok, so that last part was for my female readers who desire romance instead of nuts, bolts, and riveting. :^)

Bruce Swayze is one of those guys. The dream that someday his own plane would be sitting in his hangar sometimes felt like a pinball game, the ball bouncing erratically from one direction to another, never going the desired way. But after raising four kids, and all the footballs, soccer balls, baseballs, and tu-tu skirts that goes along with that, time slipped by really quickly. Soon all the kids were leaving the nest and starting lives of their own, and Bruce was looking at a still empty hangar.

But like a man on a mission, Bruce decided that it was now his time ... and building commenced. He decided to build an RV-7A from Van's Aircraft. A sleek, fast, and very popular plane, the RV-7A brought Bruce back to the grass roots of flying, back to his early days when building a plane was a powerful dream that was put on hold for half a lifetime.

The empennage was purchased and the dream began. Successes would be small along the way. So, Bruce logged his accomplishments on a website he created, where he kept meticulous records and pictures so that when he felt that he just wasn't getting anywhere, he could look back at his site, and realize how far he had actually come. 

Bruce with his RV-7A tail completed!

Jumping forward a few years and Bruce is sitting is the fuselage of his RV-7A, almost completed. The empennage and wings are done and the craftsmanship is that of a professional. Custom ideas that Bruce would think of over the years have been implemented into his craft and documented for all to see. The engine has been purchased, and Bruce is now deciding what part to work on next.

Along the way, Bruce joined ranks with other experimental aircraft builders and formed friendships that will last a life time.  Yes, folks, Bruce Swayze is living the dream! And the cool part about it is that the dream is just beginning. Within a few short months, maybe just a year, Bruce's RV-7A will be finsihed, a life long dream.....completed! And those flights into the sunset with his best girl can begin.....uuuummm, ahem, I mean, the Weekend Warrior can conquer the next $100 hamburger with the Flight of Seven RVs from the 391st RV Fighter Wing.... yeah, that's better!

For one of the best builder's logs I have seen, visit Bruce's website at Here is the latest picture of Bruce with his beautiful wife, flying into the sunset together. :o)

I have never met Bruce in person as he lives on the other side of the country from me. However, he is a member of RV Nation, and for that I am grateful, as it has afforded me a very good friend. His building story has inspired me to never give up in all the endeavors that I am undertaking! I hope that when we get our planes built, we can meet in the middle for that REALLY EXPENSIVE hamburger someday. Until then, keep riveting.....and never give up!

-- Buzz -- RV Nation

RV8, Luca Style!

Here is a new video from my friend Luca Perazzolli in Italy. Really awesome flying! By the way, Luca won the First Place in the Experimental Aircraft catagory in Italy for his work on his RV8! Congrats to Luca! This video is really good, and set to some great scenery and music. Just click on his picture. Hope you enjoy!

-- Buzz
RV Nation

RV Nation T-Shirt Sightings!!

The RV Nation t-shirts are selling all over the world, and fellow RVers are proudly displaying them in front of their beautiful RVs. Send me a pic of you with your RV Nation t-shirt on in front of your RV, or anywhere else for that matter, and I will post it here on Buzz Barnstormers, as well as on Van's RV Nation on facebook! Here are some of the pictures that have been sent it, arriving from places as far as Italy, to as close as North Carolina! Hope to see your pic up here soon!