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2014 Build Progress
2013 Progress of a Builder!
Kit 6-06 at its first home in Farmington, New Mexico. The airframe box was 14 feet off the ground. All parts stored in a climate-controlled warehouse...
Owned by a machinist, but not a single hole drilled yet. Flawless condition in original packing crates from Eagle...
January 25, 2013
Loaded for the trip to Austin, Texas.
Leaving Santa Rosa New Mexico the next morning. The beginning of a dream that had been dormant for many years ...
Arrived in Austin just before complete darkness set in... Time to unload for the night.
Part of the unloading crew the first day in it's new home... Shipments 1 and 2 from Eagle. Shipment 3 is finished, and waiting at the factory.
Unpacking the crates and inventorying the parts. The fun begins!!
This is a long building project. Installed some carpet to minimize scratches, and high intensity lighting so I can work late at night if I want...
The truck lid left serves at a place to put Eagle prints related to the part of the job I'm working on at the time...
Off to the Powder Coat shop. In hindsight, it would have been better to complete all drilling of holes before this step. One of many small lessons learned along the way.
The smaller airframe parts...
Tracing the cabin cut out lines...
After the first trip through all the DVD's, the level of effort to complete this project is much more clear. Not quite like assembling a lego kit. First, you have to build many of the lego blocks. Then you assemble them. BJ and I are getting to be good friends, based on how many hours I have spent with these "here's how you do this" instructional DVDs. Special thanks to the builders who created the index and detailed listing of sections. It's a lot easier to build a group 6 kit than it would have been for the pioneers in the first couple of groups... Thanks guys!
Added a 4x8 sheet of plywood and a couple of saw horses to make room for laying out small parts, and eliminate the need to do everything squatted down. It's very clear that some builders have very well equipped machine shops. I'm a newbie, but several builders with flying ships assured me it's possible to do a good job on the project, just using the types of tools BJ discusses in the videos...
Airframe is back from the powder coating shop. Time to seal off the openings in the airframe to prevent moisture from rusting the inside of the 4130 tubes.
More hindsight lessons. If I were to do this again, I'd do a better job of masking portions of the airframe to stop the drip of the 5-minute epoxy as it hardened. Just means I'll need to spend more time later cleaning up the excess glue in some spots...
Not pretty, but it's sealed, and I'm not expecting too many people to be looking closely on the under side of the hood bracket...
Grinding off some length at the front of the airframe. Dremel can do the job but it takes more time than the grinder BJ recommended. 4130 is tough stuff...
Polished the aluminum control tubes. I'll paint them later, but for some reason, the manufacturer's stamping and dull finish had to go.
I suppose it's possible to spend a lot fewer building hours than most of us will spend, but it sure is fun seeing things take shape...
The tail fin tube and collective / throttle stick were powder coated, but they look similar to the aluminum in this photo with low light.
All of the hardware comes very nicely organized from the Factory. Just cross-reference the parts on the prints, and you're likely to to do fine....
One of the builders took several photos at a Helicopter Meet and posted them on the builder's site.
This is Serial number 1-1, still flying. The Helicycle Builder's forum is a wealth of helpful information and inspiration... So cool!
Prick punching the airframe gear tubes before drilling through the 4130 shoe and one of the skids...
Cheating in the back (stool to hold up the tail), but it's starting to look like a helicopter airframe! A few angles and heights have to match the print. So far, so good...
Looks level to me. OK to fire up the hand drill and bolt the airframe to the gear tubes. This is a very cool project, and I'm still in the garage. Can't wait to fly it!
Using inch-pound torque wrench to tighten the bolts that hold the skid tubes in place. Every bolt gets a specific torque, either specified by Eagle, or based on the diameter of the bolt...
Preparing the fuselage halves. First used sabre saw to cut out most of the material, and then used a sanding drum to get close to the scribe line.
Not a bad fit, although I learned later that many builders remove most of the back of the cabin. Once the transmission and fuel tanks are installed it's very challenging to get a screw driver in to access the screws.
Blake at the factory sent me a photo of his, so I could see how much fiberglass to remove.... The way it looks here is as originally designed and discussed in the videos...
Amazing what you can do with tape. No holes yet drilled in the fuselage, but I wanted to see how the parts fit. The neighbors are starting to get curious at this point.
Don't have to use too much imagination at this point to figure out what I'm up to...
Time to pretend and check the comfort of the seating arrangement ...
Preliminary fitting of the instrument pod.
Clecos holding the halves together temporarily.
And one of the aluminum covers on the bottom. The fiberglass scratched the powder coat. Some of the other builders protected their airframe with foam to prevent scratching.
I've of course done that now, but a little too late. Another hindsight lesson and one more reason not to paint or powder coat the airframe early in the process...
Dozens of nut plates to pop rivet onto the fuselage parts.
Eagle recommends rounding the edge of a plug of wood for the ends of the tail trim fins. Some builders leave the wooden plug flush with the end and screw an aluminum plate to the wood. I choose the contoured wood and filled with a very strong light substance - Fiber Fil.
Constructing the aluminum tail fins.
Checking for proper tail fin alignment.
Fitting of the windscreen and high density seat foam.
Zinc Chromate to treat the inside of the aluminum tail fins.
Braces for the tail fins.
Just wanted to see what this thing looks like, since it’s dis-assembled most of the time.
The fuel tanks require a lot of sanding to ensure leak-free seals.
Directional Control foot pedals.
Checking for the appropriate cable travel.
All of the small metal parts need to be primed and painted to prevent oxidation.
Lots of choices for seating position. This was some early analysis. I ended up sanding more away from the seat back foam insert than shown in these photos.
Eagle supplies as an option, a ready-made seat. I choose to make my own. Lighter pilots can use a back insert to position them forward for better CG balance. I glued two 2” thick blocks of foam together, and used 60 grit paper to contour for better comfort and fit. Encapsulated the foam in contact paper.
Car seats have a headrest so I decided my Helicycle should also have support for the back of the head. The stock seat tapers back several inches. I got this idea from other builders who made their own seat. I will work with a custom upholstery shop once the fit is how I want it. I use Eagle’s recommended high density foam.
Future flying area in southern Canada. It’s not healthy to stay in the garage and work on the Helicycle all the time!
One of the Eagle test pilots gets a view like this from his Helicycle.
Picked up the blades from Eagle on the way back from Canada. Blake did an awesome job wrapping them to keep water out. We went through a few showers on the way from Nampa to Texas.
Eagle Shipment 3 back home and unloaded.
Custom box to keep the blades safe. Thanks to a few other builders for the idea on how to do this.
Main transmission with plumbing removed for painting. Take LOTS of photos so you know how to put it back exactly how you found it!
Blade box painted and with hardware installed.
Tail Rotor Scissors.
Drilling holes in the fuel tank access port covers.
Parts in progress.
More work on the tail fins. Still not perfect yet...
My original transmission lift strut, and the upgraded version from Eagle. Some builders did their own version of the upgraded strut.
Filing some door hinge parts. This is too much fun…
More work on the door hardware.
Drilling holes for the main transmission bearing.
Broke several 1/16” drill bits
before learning how to successfully drill a hole in a Dash 8 bolt. Sure makes
you appreciate the pre-drilled AN hardware supplied in the kit. I wondered if BJ
specified this bolt just so builders would have to drill a hole in it… This
project has LOTS of holes in lots of places.
Tip: Use oil and the drilling goes much smoother. As a non-machinist, there’s a lot to learn, but the other builders are very helpful with their advice.
The kit is quite complete, but there are a few parts omitted. If one of their third-party suppliers discontinues a part, they may just instruct the builder to find his own replacement. I used a Harley Davidson throttle grip. It fits nicely, but it’s a 1” grip on a 1 1/8” 4130 tube, so it took some persuasion to get it seated properly.
Throttle and collective stick preliminarily fitted.
More seat adjustment. Headroom with a helmet may be a challenge. I plan to get a windscreen that has more headroom. A few builders have implemented solutions for this.
One draft idea, but I’m told it can’t be easily constructed… Sharpe lines on cabin are an idea for more visibility. One of the test pilots has implemented a solution similar to this.
Like all builders, I'm required to document the construction process to receive my FAA Airworthiness Certificate. This web page contains a small sample of the hundreds of photos I have taken so far. Obviously, I have a lot of work left to do, but don't recall any project I've enjoyed as much as the Helicycle.
I hope you enjoyed the pictures and I wish you happy building and happy (and safe!) flying.
Building a Helicycle is not for everyone, but if it's right for you, you'll know, and along the way, you'll learn and grow... Good Luck!
2014 Build Progress
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