Need Suggestions for First Build

Discussion in 'General Experimental Aviation Questions' started by Steve Davis, Nov 18, 2019.

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  1. Nov 18, 2019 #1

    Steve Davis

    Steve Davis

    Steve Davis

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    Hello,

    I hope this is the correct area for a suggestions thread, and I'm sorry if this is a taboo subject or one that gets asked too often. I've spent the last several days reading through a lot of older threads without finding quite what I'm looking for. I know I'm opening a can of worms with a million possible answers, but I'm really needing some direction as the availability of aircraft is mind boggling.

    I'm looking at starting my first build, and I need some suggestions of airframes to consider. I started looking at a lot of different things and I'm starting to feel like a kid in a toy store with $5 to spend and I need some direction from someone more experienced before I order a bunch of plans that never get unrolled.

    Background: I hold a private pilot certificate and an A&P. I have a shop and do wood work as a hobby, and I'm no stranger to a rivet gun. I'd say I have just enough knowledge, tools, and experience to quickly get in over my head if not careful. I'm hoping that my list of "wants" is not forming up an impossible aircraft, and if that's the case, I hope someone will be so kind as to bluntly tell me to take up a new path.

    - I would like to spend less than $40k on this project, and spread it out no more than two to three years. If I can build it for under $20k and in one year, that would be even better. I know that can be quite subjective, depending on how much time every week I can dedicate. I just don't want to jump into my first build with a 5,000 hr average build time.
    - I *strongly* prefer to build wood and fabric. I don't have any problem with metal work or composite parts when necessary, but wood and fabric is my comfort zone.
    - Two seats minimum. I prefer a tandem setup, but this isn't a major stumbling block if the best option for all other aspects is a side by side.
    - I need *at least* a 500 lbs useful load. 600 lbs would be better.
    - I don't really care too much if it fits the regulations as an LSA or not. If all other points are met, this would be a plus, but not a big deal.
    - Cruise speed greater than 50 kts, less than 150 kts.
    - 200 mile range is ideal. Absolutely no less than 100.
    - *Strong* preference for a design where there's a 4-cycle engine option.
    - Removable or folding wings are a BIG advantage. Even better if deployment is possible with only one person.
    - I don't want to re-engineer the whole plane to make it fit my specs. I understand that some things may be left to the builder's interpretation, but I don't want to get too far into major design changes. Otherwise, I'd just start from SolidWorks and create a tandem Volksplane-ish design from the beginning.

    Actually, if there's a design similar to a (non-existant) tandem VP-1 that fits most of the above criteria, that would be perfect. I'm just not sure where to look, and I'm not sure the VP-2 is really a viable option.
     
  2. Nov 18, 2019 #2

    BJC

    BJC

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    If you haven’t already done so, review the list of available plans (and kits) in Kitplanes magazine. Note that they include many designs not currently supported. Plans for those designs may be available second hand.


    BJC
     
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  3. Nov 18, 2019 #3

    Marc W

    Marc W

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    The two seat tandem Fisher Horizon 2 comes to mind. I believe it is all wood and it should fit your specs. I don't know about cost or time to build. Here's a partly completed project in Utah: https://classifieds.ksl.com/listing/58074658
     
  4. Nov 18, 2019 #4

    Dana

    Dana

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    Is tailwheel OK? Do you need rough field capability? Aerobatics?

    Kolb MkIII is an option... 80mph cruise with a 912, easy folding wings, good STOL performance, but it's riveted aluminum and fabric might stretch the $40k to the limit. For wood, there are the various Fisher designs, but I don't know the specs, I'm only familiar with their single seat FP-404. None of them fold AFAIK. The Sherwood Ranger is an aluminum tube and fabric biplane with quick folding wings.

    With any design, you can often save a ton of money (and time!) by buying a partially completed project.
     
  5. Nov 18, 2019 #5

    geraldmorrissey

    geraldmorrissey

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    Bearhawk LSA with a Corvair. No wood but a nice plane.
    Gerry
    Bearhawk Patrol #30 scratch build
     
  6. Nov 19, 2019 #6

    don january

    don january

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    I suggest checking out Bill Clapps Saberwing built similar to a KR-2S . Fair numbers for x-country plane behind a Corvair power plant. If time is spent on this Forum you will see many many projects up for sale at some really great prices. With your history in flight and repairs I'd say the doors wide open for you rather Homebuilt or GA restore. The Tailwind is a hard bird to beat saberwing.jpg
     
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  7. Nov 19, 2019 #7

    Marc W

    Marc W

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    I forgot to mention the Fisher Horizon 2 also has folding wings. Fisher also claims it is designed for large pilots. That may also be a plus, it is for me. Many homebuilt designs were designed by smaller people.
     
  8. Nov 19, 2019 #8

    fly2kads

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    Steve, a few options come pretty close to your requirements:

    Piel C.P. 750 Beryl:
    http://www.slittneraircraftplans.com/cp750.html

    All wood (steel tube fuselage is an option), two seats in tandem, payload of >600 lbs, decent speed and range, Lycoming O-235 to O-320. As a bonus, the cockpit is reasonably wide for a tandem. The only thing it's lacking is the folding wing. The drawback is that the Beryl's wing is, like many of its European counterparts, one-piece tip-to-tip.

    Cvjetkovic CA-65
    http://www.cvjetkovic-aircraft.net/spec65.htm

    All wood, two seats, payload of 600 lbs, excellent speed and range, same Lycoming O-235 to O-320. This one is side-by-side, but has the folding wing option you want. It also has a manually-actuated retractable gear, don't know if that's something you want to consider. You get RV-class performance in a wood airframe.

    Turner T-40 A and AS
    http://www.turnert-40airplanes.com/new_page_3.htm

    All wood, two seats, payload of 530-550 lbs, good speed and range, again the same Lycoming O-235 to O-320. Side by side also, and has a folding wing. Gene Turner passed away a few years ago. The web site is still up, but I don't know if that means the family is still selling plans.

    There may be some other options, too. These are the ones off the top of my head that are close to what you're asking for.
     
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  9. Nov 19, 2019 #9

    wsimpso1

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    Steve,

    Welcome aboard. You have answered the big one for me - pick a material you love working in.

    Your preference for wood presents a different question - how much risk are you willing to take on hard or forced landings? Fuselage sturdiness and landing speed are involved in this topic. I advise you assess where you are on this topic and then look into landing speeds and wood vs other fuselage construction approaches before committing to a design.

    Understand that I am building a self-designed fiberglass ship now, with a deliberately sturdy cockpit, but am thinking ahead too. I like the Buttercup and Tailwind for my next airplane. Wooden wings satisfy the wood lover in me, their sturdy steel tube fuselages make the welder in me happy, all while accepting that I may have to put the bird in a small rough field sometime. YMMV.

    Enjoy the build.

    Billski
     
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  10. Nov 19, 2019 #10

    TFF

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    The wood Fisher planes are going to be hard to beat for all wood. A Beryl or Emarude would be the best, ok Falco too. Those three are not VP-1style planes and only one is tandem. They are the cats meow though.
    I personally would build something parasol like a Baking Duce or Acey Ducey but they have steel tubes for the fuselages. I’m going to second the Tailwind as one of the best overall first project designs. It was designed to be built at home with crude tools, ie hand tools, and performance is hard to beat. It still has steel fuselage.
    You need to ask yourself, do you need a true two seat plane, or is the second seat just a novelty to give someone a hop occasionally, but not seriously two up for lots of time. I would say lots of small two seat planes are really one and a half seat planes. Most people riding who are not use to that tend to say once is enough.
     
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  11. Nov 19, 2019 #11

    addicted2climbing

    addicted2climbing

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    If your on the west coast and don't mind side by side seating than I have an Emeraude CP328a Project I am looking to sell. The hard parts are done including fully built ONE piece wing and all Empenage. Plus wood for the fuselage which has not been started. The wing alone will save you 1000 hours. Remainder likely doable for the 20K price range in 2 years. Project is located in Los Angeles.
     
  12. Nov 19, 2019 #12

    Steve Davis

    Steve Davis

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    A tailwheel is okay. I have no experience with it, but I'm not afraid to go get some tailwheel training from a CFI.

    I don't need really rough field capability, but I will be operating from a grass strip.

    I have no desire to do aerobatics. I've done some upset training and spent some time forcing a Skyhawk to spin. That's good enough for me.
     
  13. Nov 19, 2019 #13

    Steve Davis

    Steve Davis

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    Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone. It looks like I've got a lot more reading to do.

    I know I can save a lot of time and money by buying a partially built project. I'm just a bit skiddish of buying someone else's unfinished work when I'm betting my life that it's done right. I know there are lots of guys who've spent decades perfecting their construction techniques, many who will put out quality as good or better than what I can build. I just have a bad track record with buying a unicorn for a mule's price and finding out later that there's a major issue I couldn't see.

    Please don't take that as offensively as it may sound. I know there are some real artists on this forum and across the country with thousands of hours of flying time to back up their work. I'm just a bit chicken, I suppose.

    To boot, I have a little girl who is in love with airplanes and loves to make things with me in the shop. One big reason I'm building instead of buying is so that we can work on this project together.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
  14. Nov 19, 2019 #14

    Marc W

    Marc W

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    It isn't offensive at all. You need to be cautious if you buy a project. There are many meticulous craftsman out there that do excellent work. There are also many people building airplanes that aren't qualified to build a sandbox. It is always a good idea to get somebody who is experienced in aircraft construction to look at an airplane project you might buy. Your local EAA chapter should have somebody to help you out. It isn't any different than having a mechanic check out a used car before you buy it.

    You can save serious time and serious money if you buy a well built project. And I promise you will have plenty of shop time to spend with your daughter while completing a half built airplane.
     
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  15. Nov 19, 2019 #15

    Steve Davis

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    Thank you. I will definitely look into the EAA thing. I've been around aviation my whole life and somehow never got around to joining any of the organizations or subscribed to any of the magazines, except that I was briefly an AOPA member when I picked up the free 6-month student pilot membership many years ago.
     
  16. Nov 19, 2019 #16

    Toobuilder

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    +1 for a Tailwind. Low complexity to build and thy perform well. Also a huge variety of engines have been hung on them (and by the designer himself, no less) - from C-85s to V-8. And if you want to cut a significant chunk of time out of your build, projects (never completed and restorations) are all over the place for dirt cheap. Understanding your caution with projects, tube and rag airplanes are pretty easy to evaluate before you buy.
     
  17. Nov 19, 2019 #17

    pilot103

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    What ever you decide on make sure you locate an example you can touch and sit in. Years ago when Mike Fisher still had the company I was seriously wanting to build one of the Horizons. I made a trip to his shop to look at them close up. I'm a big guy with a touch of arthritis and could barely get in and out of it. Still love the plane but it wasn't for me.
     
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  18. Nov 19, 2019 #18

    geraldmorrissey

    geraldmorrissey

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    I had a bad experience buying wing components from a builder 1500 miles away. Made several mistakes, buying sight unseen, taking the builders word as gospel etc. Scraped everything the previous builder did and started from scratch. Lesson learned. Be very careful and as said previously get an experienced builder to check out the craftmanship. Unless its built in a factory will a history of consistant quality, I'm inclined to trust only my work and I sleep better at night.
    Gerry
    Bearhawk Patrol
    scratch built
     
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  19. Nov 19, 2019 #19

    Steve Davis

    Steve Davis

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    I have looked at the Fisher site and they have some really neat designs. In particular, I like the R-80 Tiger Moth. I don't think I'll tackle that one for my first build, and I think without folding wings I would have a hard time transporting it, but it sure is an eye catcher.

    I need two seats. I have a wife who loves flying and a daughter who is in love with anything that has an engine. It may be that they take one look at my home-made contraption and and decide they're happy on the ground; that's a real possibility. But I'd rather spend the time and money building something that includes them in the plan than to spend that same amount of time and money on something that is "dad only" from the beginning. Additionally, I'm no small guy at 6'2" and 275 lbs. I'm finding that most two-seat designs have a bit more useful load than single-seat designs. Even if my second seat stays empty 90% of the time, I'll be happy to have the extra useful load.
     
  20. Nov 19, 2019 #20

    narfi

    narfi

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    This is similar to the focus of my planning as well. I have a 10yr old son. I want him to be able to be as involved with the build as he wants, and when completed have a safe plane he can do all his flight training in that he 'built himself'.

    When he was 7 we built a plywood core composite canoe for him. We are almost done now with a 17' powerboat as the next stage.
    Our next step will (90% sure) be a plans built Zenith 750 super duty. The timeline isn't super tight yet as we just need to get it done and tested by the time he is 15 or so.
    We chose that plane because it is something he can be very involved with and it will be easy(for me) to inspect his work. Having worked my whole life on cessna/piper/beechcraft type aircraft, it took me a while to accept the idea of a plane put together with pull rivets, but there are plenty of them flying and they have proven themselves.

    Something to consider anyways... with the superduty you get the 2.5 seat capacity, so for short local hops your whole family could fit, and it will do very well off of your grass strip.
    It isn't something I was looking for, but I believe they also have a folding wing option. So the only box it doesn't really check for you is the wood construction.
     
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