Answers to Frequently Asked Questions On The RV-LIST

This list was originally compiled by the Home Wing web site administrator for the RV-list. Feel free to send any suggestions for updates, corrections, or changes.


How do I contact Van's Aircraft?
What other sources of information are there that could help me in building my RV?
Is Van's ever going to do a four-place?
What's the RV-5? RV-6B? RV-6T? RV-10?
Which is better, the RV-7 or RV-7A? Should I build the -4 or the -8? How about the -3?
I'm thinking of buying a completed or partially completed RV. What should I look for?
Are there any RV builders in my area? How about a local builders group?
How good are the quickbuild kits?
What's a RMI (Rocky Mountain Instrument) micro encoder?
Whats the best kind of fire extinguisher to use?
Why did the RV-8 prototype crash?


What tools do I need, and where do I get them?
What should I look for in a compressor?
Which rivet gun should I get?
Do I really need a drill press? Floor mounted or bench mount?
Lots of people talk about pneumatic squeezers. Do I really need one of those?

Materials and Processes

What primer and/or paint should I use? Should I prime at all?
What are alodining and anodizing?
Where can I get non-corrosive RTV?
Doesn't anodizing the wing spars make them weaker?
What is alclad?
What about heat treating (annealing) rivets?
Where do I get dimpled nut-plates?


Should I use fuses or circuit breakers?
What's this I hear about an 8 degree tilt for the gyros?
Is it really that difficult to build your own RV-4 or RV-6 wing spar? What about the Pre-built (Phlogiston) spar option?
I've heard of single piece wing skins -- what's the deal there?


How do I get an N number and certify my homebuilt?
Is it legal to get flight instruction in an RV?
Is it legal to fly IFR in an RV? What are the equipment requirements?
Can I use a VFR or handheld GPS for IFR?

Building Tips and Techniques

I'm having trouble setting 1/8" rivets with my hand squeezer -- they keep bending over. What gives?
Should I dimple or machine countersink my skins?
My elevator horn hits the H-Stab spar flange before I get full down elevator travel. What gives?
After I rivet my parts together, there is a gap between the parts. What's the deal with that?
I accidentally slipped and poked a hole with the dimple die right next to the "good" hole. Do I need to replace the skin?
How do you tell a good dimple from a bad one?
What's an "oops" rivet?
Where do I get dimpled nut-plates?
How far inboard to the RV-6 fuel vent ports need to be to clear the gear leg intersection fairings?
I've heard the cowl hinges are prone to breakage. How can I avoid this?
Do you have to trim the flap to clear the aileron pushrod (RV-6/6A)?

Operation and Maintenance

How do I know if I'll be able to fly something as sensitive as an RV?
When I have my engine oil analyzed, it just comes back "normal". What do the actual numbers mean?

Internet and RV-List

How do I access the RV-List Archive?
Why isn't there an RV-list internet newsgroup?
Is Van's accessible through the RV-List?
What's IMHO? FWIW? <g>? Colon-dash-parenthesis?
The sheer volume of traffic on the RV-List is overwhelming! Is there anything I can do about it?


How do I contact Van's Aircraft?

Van's Aircraft, Inc.
14401 NE Keil Road
Aurora, Oregon 97002 USA

What other sources of information are there that could help me in building my RV?

There are a lot of them. Start with these:

Is Van's ever going to do a four-place?

Van resisted the idea for a long time, stating that he would rather stick to the higher performance sportplane end of the market. In 2001, he relented, and a four-place prototype is now well along. Rumor has it that they hope to fly it to Oshkosh 2003, and Arlington is a good bet too. Check their web site for updated information on that project.

What's the RV-5? RV-6B? RV-6T? RV-10?

The RV-5 was a one-off prototype of a "swing-wing" single seat low-cost plane. Built in the 70s, it was an attempt by Van to address what he saw as a need for a lower cost way to get into the air. Originally designed to use a Volkswagen engine, and later retrofitted with a Rotax, it had slow cruise speed but used very little fuel. It also had a "swing wing" which meant it was trailerable, to save on those high hangar costs. Flown for several years but never put into production, the prototype now can be seen hanging from the rafters in Van's hangar.

The RV-6T is the Red factory demonstrator, and has been through some changes over the year. It started out as basically an RV-6A with a few mods to prototype some modifications specified for the Nigerian Air Force, who wanted to use them for trainers. The mods included a taller canopy, taller tail with counterweighted rudder, and fiberglass main gear legs. Dubbed the "air beetle", the Nigerians purchased 60 of them and use them to train their pilots. This plane was eventually converted to a taildragger configuration and is currently used by Mike Seager as the RV Flight Training taildragger check-out plane.

The RV-6B was another modified RV-6A, built to test some design concepts. Differences from the standard -6A included a taller vertical tail, counterweighted rudder, leaf spring style main gear, milled wing spar, and larger, slotted flaps. None of these changes were incorporated into other RV-6 kits, although the milled spar concept, counterweighted rudder, and leaf spring landing gear did all end up being used on the RV-8 and RV-9.

Several years ago the RV-6B was seriously damaged in a non-injury crash landing, and the wreck was eventually rebuilt as the prototype RV-9A. This plane was subsequently destroyed in a fatal accident (weather related) while being flown to a regional fly-in.

The RV-10 is Van's latest project. A four place kit, it is currently under development, and many people are looking forward to its introduction with great anticipation!

More information is available on Van's web site.

Which is better, the RV-7 or RV-7A? Should I build the -4 or the -8? How about the -3?

Yeah, right. Check out the RV-list back postings. If you still feel brave after doing that, go ahead and post the question to the RV-list, and watch the sparks fly!

Seriously though, the only way to answer this question is to look at Van's literature and compare the different options to what suits you as a builder/pilot. Size, range, aerobatic capability, cross-country comfort, build-time, etc. etc.

The nosewheel vs tailwheel question comes down to personal choice as well. Conventional gear RVs do have some advantages over tricycle gear versions in the soft/rough field department, but not as much as you might think, since the small wheels preclude landing on more than moderately rough surfaces. The other advantage is (arguably) aesthetic, so it doesn't make a whole lot of sense for someone who hasn't logged any tailweel time to buy/build a tailwheel airplane without at least first getting a tailwheel checkout and getting a chance to see first-hand what it's like to fly/land/taxi this type of aircraft.

I'm thinking of buying a completed or partially completed RV. What should I look for?

The most important thing to look for is an A&P and/or RV builder (preferably both) to check it out. This can not be over-emphasized. To the inexperienced eye, a homebuilt plane may look fine -- only someone with experience in aircraft building and maintenance can really tell whether a plane was built with a craftsman's hand or slapped together using an hardware store air-hammer and a crescent wrench. Horror stories abound, about folks who purchased a plane and found out only after flying it that little things were missing like wing spar bolts and fuel tank attach pins -- I kid you not! Finding someone to help at this point could save you much grief, and possibly your life!

Are there any RV builders in my area? How about a local builders group?

For lists of builders in your area, call Van's. If you tell them where you live, they can generate a list from their database of active builders.
Van's web site has a list of links to builders group sites.

Another source is the Van's Air Force - World Wide Wing web site. Hosted by Doug Reeves, this site includes a listing of RVers around the world who have provided contact information to this site.

How good are the quickbuild kits?

Most builders, whether they're building a QB or have just had a look at one, will tell you the QB kits are a very good value. The QB kits are well-built and there is no reason someone couldn't make one into an award winner. They will save you a ton of time, so if your focus is on getting done and flying, the QB is a good way to go.

Don't be misled by the name however -- yes, you will save a lot of time doing a QB kit, but there's nothing "quick" (or easy) about building an airplane under the 51% rule no matter how you slice it. You'll still have to have, or be able to develop, all the skills (metalwork, plumbing, electrical, etc.) that it takes to build a "slow-build" kit. You'll have to rivet and drill and cut and form and trim and smooth and deburr just like people who build the regular kits. And just like them, you'll curse the plans and manual. Sure, the QB plans and manual are generally easier to follow than the slow-build, but they still don't lead you by the hand step by step. And if you get frustrated (and you will, believe me), just try to remember that there are still people building planes that are MUCH less complete (take a look at an RV-3 or -4 kit some day.)

Is it really that difficult to build your own RV-4 or RV-6 wing spar? What about the Pre-built (Phlogiston) spar option?

(With the advent of the milled spar that's used on the RV-7, -8 and -9, this has become something of a moot question for many builders. But it still doess apply to -4 and current -6 builders...))

No it is not difficult, and yes the Phlogiston is a good way to go -- for some people. Basically it's an issue of time vs money. The pre-built spars are nicely corrosion-proofed (anodized) and very clean and well built, and there is a high satisfaction rate with those who opt for them. But the spars are not particularly difficult to assemble yourself either, since the holes are all drilled in current RV-4 and later -6/6A kits. The time involved is not excessive, averaging around 50 hours.

Setting the big rivets isn't particularly difficult, and can be done in a few hours with just a C-frame arbor and a 4 or 5 pound hammer. The key to this method is to do it on a concrete floor, and use blocks of wood to support the spar exactly perpendicular to the shaft of the arbor when driving the rivet. And don't try to get away with a smaller hammer. You'll work-harden the rivet a good final set will be more difficult to achieve.

Many other methods have been discussed on the RV-list. Some swear by the Arbor-press method described in Tony Bingelis' books. Others use a 4x or larger rivet gun on the Avery arbor. Or you can go all out and borrow, rent, or buy (!) a BIG pneumatic squeezer (the smaller CP-214 single piston type like the one sold in the Avery catalog isn't up to this task).

If you think that the "big hammer" method is just too cave-man for you, there is a lot of discussion about the alternatives in the RV-List archives. But really, the simple approach works just fine.

Doesn't anodizing the wing spars make them weaker?

There has been some question in the past about loss of strength as a result of anodizing of the spar. Anodizing does convert the outer layer of the material to a corrosion-proof, but brittle, layer. Van investigated this, and in an article about it in the RVator newsletter he described his findings. In a nutshell, the loss is in FATIGUE strength; that is, the parts are not significantly weaker, but will not stand up to fatigue (cycles) for as long. How long? Van's calculations estimated an 80 year lifespan under the most demanding conditions (high use and regular hard aerobatics) for the anodized spar. Since most non-anodized spars would fail as a result of corrosion before that (and all of us will be dead of old-age in any case), the anodized spar wins out. (See also "What exactly are alodining and anodizing?".)

I've heard of single piece wing skins -- what's the deal there?

This used to be a common mod on RV-6s and -4s -- using a single piece of .032 2024-T3 (from Vans or elsewhere) in place of the two-piece (inboard .032 and outboard .025) top wing skins. The main advantages were easy alignment with the spar and elimination of the skin joint. Eliminating the joint is a nice aesthetic touch, but with the advent of pre-punched (plus shipping hassles, the addition of approx. 23 oz extra weight per panel, some extra cost), it really doesn't make much sense anymore. Van's has somewhat grudgingly shipped the one piece skins to people who ask for them, but they do so in a large crate instead of rolling them up, so the shipping costs are high. If you are determined to do this, you should investigate whether there is a source for .032 2024-T3 aircraft aluminum close to where you live, and consider getting it from there.

What's a RMI (Rocky Mountain Instrument) micro encoder?

It is a 3 1/8" instrument, which is an altimeter (inches or Millibars), Vertical Speed Indicator, Airspeed indicator (knots, or mph), and an encoder to interface with your transponder. Also it can be programmed to give warnings for Vne, Vs, closing on or deviating from an assigned altitude (great for IFR training). It also is an Outside Air temp, and gives TAS, pressure altitude, density altitude. Get the brochure, you'll be very impressed, and you'll save $ over buying separate instruments, and have panel space to spare. Van put one in the RV-8, and if he's happy with it, I guess most of us would be too. The kit cost is $849.00 and the assembled version is $1149.00. Their phone number is 307-864-9300, web page at

What kind of fire extinguisher should I use?

Halon is probably the most widely used general fire supressant for aviation, due to its non-corrosive and non-vision obscuring properties. Chemical type fire extinguishers will corrode the heck out of the metal unless cleaned off quickly, but more importantly, they will, if used in the cockpit, fill it up with cloudy mist that will obscure your view of the instruments and out the window. Halon is clear, has very good fire supressing qualities, and won't cause residual problems with corrosion (or in fact leave any residue at all).

Halon does have toxic qualities but these are generally going to be less than those of the burning material itself. It will displace air however, so a person could theoretically suffocate if he sat in an unventilated cockpit after discharging a Halon fire extinguisher. Simple solution: open the vents!

Since Halon is an ozone-depleting chemical, Halon fire extinguishers can no longer be purchased through "normal" channels. They are available through aviation and other specialized industrial sources. Most if not all of the Halon available nowadays comes from recycled sources. All of this of course means that it is EXPENSIVE -- a 1.4 pound extinguisher will cost upwards of $60, two pounders $100 or more.

There have been numerous discussions about this in the past, and there is ample information about fire extinguishers in general and Halon in particular in the RV-List Archives. So please, before posting questions about this to the list, check there first.

Why did the RV-8 prototype crash?

A report from Vans on their investigation and conclusions, along with a link to the FAA final report, is at

Even notwithstanding all the investigation and testing that's been done by people who know very well how to do such things, from time to time someone will come up with a new "theory" (usually just an old recycled one) and present it to the rv-list. This usually prompts a discussion that lasts about three weeks, wherein much misinformation is tossed around, passions are inflamed, the only real result of which being that some of the talent on the list will unsubscribe in dusgust.

Get the picture? If, after reading all of the available information including archived postings, you still have questions, then ask Vans. But the subject has already been beaten to death many times over, so please think long and hard before bringing it up on the rv-list again.


What tools do I need, and where do I get them?

Doug Bloomberg has provided a very good list, entitled What Tools Do I Need, from his Rocky Mountain RVators newsletter (
reprinted below). For tool vendors, see the RV Yeller Pages.

People sometimes ask whether they need all these tools even with a Quick Build kit. The answer is yes, you pretty much need all the same tools from at least the "basic" tool list.

What should I look for in a compressor?

The consensus seems to be that a good size is 30 gallons and 4-5hp, and stick with belt-driven, as opposed to oil-free types. A cast-iron pump is also a feature to look for as they are more durable.

Most riveting work (gun or pneumatic squeezer) does not require a big compressor. Drilling takes more, but is not generally as continuous so usually doesn't put too much of a load on it. The biggie is the die-grinder (cutting canopy, smoothing edges, cutting holes and notches, grinding edges), which will draw the air down pretty quickly. If your compressor has to keep kicking on to keep up with the load, it will get hot (hard on the pump), and generate condensation, which translates to water in the tank and hose, not good for either the compressor or your tools. So the larger the pump and tank (within reason), the better.

The main problem with oil-free (also known as "dry-diaphragm") compressors is that they are extremely loud -- you would not believe how much noise these things put out. There is also some (hearsay) evidence that they don't last as long as the belt-drive type, but one should certainly last at least as long as your project. On the plus side, they are generally less expensive, and they don't require much (any?) maintenance, whereas belt-drive compressors require minor maintenance and oiling now and then.

If you have 220v in your shop, you might want to look for a compressor that is, or can be converted to, 220 volts. This is a nice feature as it requires less amperage, which translates to less strain on your house wiring (and fewer blown fuses!). Of course the downside of this is it makes it less portable.

As for brands -- there are a lot of them, but one name which has come up that people seem to like is Campbell-Hausfeld. Most of the oil-free types seem to be coming from DeVilbiss and Sears, although both companies sell both types. Be sure to check which type you are getting, and try it out in the store if possible, especially if noise is an issue.

Some sort of water trap is probably a good idea. Pre-oilers are not so good as they put oil into the hose, and since most of us use the same compressor and hose for priming and painting, this can cause big trouble in that area. A few drops of air tool oil in the tool itself before you start using it for the day will do the trick.

Which rivet gun should I get??

Get a good quality gun, Chicago pneumatic or "clone" (available from Avery, Cleveland, etc.). Do NOT use an "Air Hammer", even if it is touted as being OK for driving rivets, on your expensive aluminum aircraft kit! Think about it -- this is a tool that will be used to drive most of the more than 20,000 rivets on your plane. It is NOT a place to go cheap!

As for what size to get, it should be a 2x or 3x. The main advantage to a 2x is that being smaller and shorter, it's a little easier to control with one hand. The 3x will drive 1/8" rivets with fewer "hits", which is good as you don't want to work-harden the rivet with too many hits. But the 2x, turned up, can also do an adequate job of driving those rivets. Whenever this question has been asked on the list in the past, there have been answers from people who swear by one or the other. So it's a bit of a toss-up. Note that neither gun is hefty enough to do the big wing spar rivets, for that you will need at least a 4x. But there are other methods for that which work just as well without using a gun, so it isn't really necessary to get one of those.

Do I really need a drill press? Floor mounted or bench mount?

Most builders agree that a drill press is virtually a must-have, even for the newer kits with all that fancy pre-punched, pre-built stuff. Floor or bench mount is mostly personal preference, but most people seem to prefer the floor mount since it doesn't take up valuable bench space. But if you have a bench mount model you can always make a base for it. Be sure to get one that is variable speed down to 350 RPM or less. Otherwise the job of cutting lightening holes with a fly-cutter may get a bit too "exciting". (Some people claim that they've been able to do it as high as 600 RPM without problems, but that's probably as high as you'd want to go). A medium or heavy-duty duty drill press is best. The small, light-duty ones (the ones that aren't much more than a hand-drill mounted on a shaft) may not be quite up to the task.

Lots of people talk about pneumatic squeezers. Do I really need one of those?

No. But don't ever borrow one from someone or you'll be hooked. This is one addictive tool. It saves time, and also makes the job of riveting and dimpling along edges go more quickly. One of the biggest advantages is that it makes a two-handed job out of a three-handed one. Consistency is improved since you can adjust to a specific depth and it will always be that depth, and it's easier to to hold the tool normal to the rivet than with a hand squeezer.

There are basically two types of pneumatic squeezers -- the "C Yoke", type and the pivoting, "alligator jaw" type. The "C Yoke", Chicago Pneumatic #214 or "clones", are the ones typically used by RV builders.

 Some people claim that if you have a pneumatic, you don't need a hand squeezer at all. This is true, but its nice to have both if only because it allows you to save on switching dies -- put the squeezer dies in the pneumatic, and the dimple die in the hand squeezer, and you can spend half as much time switching dies. If you do buy a hand squeezer first, make sure it's the one from Avery that takes the same yokes as the pneumatic (plus most people think it's the best hand squeezer available).

Where can I get non-corrosive RTV?

The notion of "corrosive" RTV is one of those myths that refuses to die. Regular RTV contains acetic acid, which every now and then someone gets excited about because someone told them that acetic acid will corrode the aluminum. Well, the real scoop is that the acetic acid is there ON PURPOSE to ETCH the metal for a better bond, and will not corrode anything once it has cured. This info came from one of the RTV manufacturers' reps, and a couple of years ago Van, who has never been one to blindly take the word of a manufacturer's rep, had some tests performed with this stuff in an environmental chamber. The "corrosive" (i.e. acetic acid based) RTV not only didn't result in any corrosion, it also bonded better then the "non-corrosive" (no acetic acid) stuff.

Where can I get dimpled nut-plates?

You can dimple the ears of the nutplates yourself. Grind off enough of the edge of a female dimple die so it will fit next to the threaded portion of the nut plate, then dimple them in your Avery C arbor. It takes a harder whack than with aluminum of course, but it's not difficult.

OR... use NAS-1097 "reduced head" rivets to hold the nut-plates on. These only take a shallow countersink (with your deburring tool even!), so you can use 3/32" NAS1097 rivets in material down to .025 thick without dimpling. Since the rivets are only there to hold the nutplate on while torquing and are not structural, the reduced head size isn't an issue. NAS 1097 rivets are available from Van's, Spruce, etc. (These rivets are also handy for filling "extra" holes, and the larger (1/8") ones can be used in the occasional over-sized hole. Hence the common nickname "oops" rivets).

Materials and Processes

What primer and/or paint should I use? Should I prime at all?

This is not a question that can be answered in a simple FAQ. The subject has been hashed over many times on the RV-list, and information and opinions abound. Further complicating the issue is that paint technology has changed quite a bit in recent years (though mostly for the better).

That being said, there are a few key points that can be made:

  • Priming alone doesn't necessarily provide corrosion-proof barrier. Many primers are designed to be top-coated over, and won't completely seal the surface against corrosion without a top-coat. Epoxy primers are the main exception. Unfortunately they're also generally the most toxic. Check the MSDS for your particular primer to find out if you're really getting the corrosion-proof coating you think you are.

  • If you don't live in a wet/salty environment, it isn't really necessary to prime most of your parts. 2024-T3 "Alclad" has an outer layer of nearly pure aluminum which provides good corrosion protection. The fact that many 30-40 year old Cessnas without primer on the inside are still around is a testament to this. It should be noted that Cessna has an advantage -- well practiced assembly procedures that minimize the likelihood of scratches through the alclad. Regardless, most RV builders do elect to prime their interior parts because they want to build the best plane posssible. Can't really argue with that.

    Notwithstanding the above, be SURE to prime the non-alclad parts, such as the wing spar strips (if not already anodized). There are a number of such parts in your kit, and the manual indicates which ones they are so you'll know which ones MUST be corrosion-proofed.

  • Priming the EXterior as you go is not really a good idea. For one thing, most paint systems are designed to provide a chemical bond in addition to the mechanical one, and letting the primer cure for too long will eliminate this feature. For another, most paint systems are just that -- "systems". If your primer isn't compatible with whatever topcoat system you eventually decide to use, well, then you'll have an unhappy moment. And finally, if you plan on having a professional shop paint your plane, you may be in for another surprise. Many painters are not willing to paint over someone else's primer as they won't be able to guarantee the bond. Not fun to have to strip off (or pay to have someone else strip off) that coat of primer you worked so hard to apply!

  • Alclad aluminum is quite smooth, and primer won't stick well to it unless some way is provied to give a "bite" to the metal. There are three ways this is generally done: 1) Fine sandpaper and/or scotchbrite pads, 2) Acid etch (Alumaprep) and optionally Alodine (see also What are Aloding and Anodyzing), or 3) Self-etching primer. Most people do some combination of the above. For interior parts, 3) alone will probably be more than sufficient, whereas 1) followed by 3) is probably the most common combination for the exterior. Some people still do all three steps, but with modern self etching primers the advantages to step 2 are just about nil.

    Whichever process you use, you'll always want to thoroughly clean the metal (with acetone or other solvent) before applying paint or primer.

  • That's about it for what can be reasonably covered in this FAQ. There is a ton of information including specs and names/addresses of manufacturers, in the RV-List Archives. The best thing to do if you really want to know all about this is to use the RV-List archive search engine to find the postings that relate to priming. This isn't to say you shouldn't post such questions to the RV-List, but please try to check the archives first.

    What are alodining and anodizing?

    Alodine is a "conversion coating" chemical that you can dip, spray or brush on your aluminum parts, and rinse off with water. It converts the top layer of the aluminum to a stable oxide, providing corrosion resistance and better adhesion for paint. It is available at automotive paint stores and in the usual aircraft parts catalogs. It is not strictly necessary, but if you are out for maximum corrosion prevention then it is the way to go. Be sure to clean and etch the parts first using Alumaprep or equivalent acid etch cleaner, or scotch-brite and solvent wash, or it won't do any good at all.

    There is a school of thought that says you should not etch and alodyne assembled parts (for example, your finished plane prior to painting). The reasoning goes that the acid can get trapped between the parts and not rinsed out adequately, resulting in corrision and pitting. At least one RV-lister has reported firsthand experience with this -- he dissassembled a wing part couple of years after building it and etching/alodyning the finished assembly, and found a pronounced "drip" shaped pitted area where the acid had evidently seeped between the overlapping parts and not been adequately flushed out in the rinsing process.

    In any case, proper preparation of parts to be finished (sanding with fine sandpaper and cleaning with solvent) and/or priming with self-etching primer should make it unnecessary to etch assembled parts prior to painting.

    Anodizing is an electrochemical process that converts the top layer of the aluminum to a hard, somewhat brittle, corrosion resistant layer. Anodizing is a somewhat involved process and is not normally something that a homebuilder does or needs to do, and there are industrial metal finishers in most cities who can do it for you (for a price, of course). Nevertheless, some people just have to at least find out about it -- if you are one of those, you can get a publication called "Finishes for Aluminum" from Lindsay Publications, P.O. Box 12 Bradley IL 60915-0012, which covers many different finishes including alodining.

    Anodizing does have an effect on the fatigue-strength of the material. See Doesn't anodizing the wing spars make them weaker? for that discussion.

    The above is only a quick summary of these processes. More information is available in the RV-List Archives.

    What is alclad?

    2024- aluminum, which makes up 95% of the parts in an RV, is actually an aluminum-coppper alloy (with a small percentage of other metals). This alloy has been determined to be have the best combination of properties (malleability, strength, etc.) for this type of aircraft construction. But everything is a compromise, and the alloy is somewhat less resistant to corrosion than pure aluminum. To compensate for this, a very thin layer of pure aluminum is applied to the surface of 2024 to protect against corrosion. This layer is known as "alclad", and if care is taken to not scratch this surface, an airplane will hold up against corrosion quite well without any additional corrosion protection. Even so, most RV builders choose to do some sort of supplemental corrosion-proofing to their interior surfaces, "just because".

    There are some non-alclad parts in the kit, some of them very critical (the wing spar strips for example.) These parts DO need to be primed or otherwise corrosion-proofed, even if you do not choose to do so with the rest of the parts. Generally the construction manual identifies which parts these are so you'll know which ones you need to prime.

    What about heat treating (annealing) rivets?

    The process involves using a dentist's oven or something similar to precisely heat the rivets to a specific temperature and then quenching immediately and storing in a freezer until use. This makes them nice and soft and therefore easier to drive.

    Van wrote an article about this subject in the RVator (Apr 93 issue, "Soft Rivets: Boon or Boondoggle?"). The upshot was that if you don't do it just right, you will end up with rivets that crack when set, and for the average builder it's a lot more trouble than it's worth. Nevertheless, a few people still do it and swear by it. If you want to know more about it, it's more thoroughly described in IAP publications' book "Aircraft Sheet Metal" (ISBN 0-89100-296-0), and also an article in the Dec. 87 issue of EAA Sport Aviation.

    Should I use fuses or circuit breakers?

    This is the subject of frequent and furious debate on the various internet newsgroups and email lists. One of the more vocal (and knowledgeable) participants is Bob Nuckolls, author of the book Aeroelectric Connection. Bob is a proponent of automotive spade type fuse blocks and fuses, and argues that in most cases, their lower weight, lower cost, and simplicity make them a better choice. He further argues that in a properly configured system, a popped breaker or fuse is virtually certain to be the result a short, so the ability to reset in-flight is not worth much and could in fact create a hazard.

    There are dissenters. Some listers like how circuit breakers give a visual indication of a problem as soon as it occurs, sometimes in situations where you might not otherwise know it until you need the system (flap motor or cockpit lights for example), and that they can be used to easily switch individual systems on and off during maintenance or troubleshooting (only if pull-type breakers are used however). One lister even reported a case where he had an intermittent short in a radio, and was able to reset the breaker once or twice, long enough to get into his (tower controlled) home base. Another had scary "smoke in the cockpit" moment, but his mind was quickly put to rest when he saw that the cockpit light CB had popped, thus telling him that a) the problem was with a nonessential (for day VFR) system, and b) the breaker had popped and further action (worry) was not necessary.

    In the end, you, as the manufacturer of your aircraft, (and probably the primary user), will have to decide which you feel the most comfortable with. For past discussions, check out the RV-List Archives (suggested search string: fuse & vs & breaker) and also Bob Nuckolls' article "Fuses Or Circuit Breakers?" on his Aeroelectric Connection web site.

    What's this I hear about an 8 degree tilt for the gyros?

    Due to the built-in tilt of the RV instrument panels, the artificial horizon (AH) will work best with an 8 degree panel tilt compensation. It's not strictly required, but the horizon will sit lower than normal without it. This compensation can be done either at the factory or a repair shop; be sure to specify this adjustment from whoever you purchase your instrument from. Directional gyros and turn and bank indicators do not require any tilt compensation.


    How do I reserve an N number and certify my homebuilt?

    From Herman Dierks:

    Here is some info I put together for our EAA Ch 187 based on what I did
    to certify my RV4 in Dec 95.
    There have been some questions on this lately so this may help. Herman
         CERTIFICATION of AMATEUR-BUILT AIRCRAFT.                Page 1 of 2
         Feb, 1, 1996
         Herman Dierks
         Reference: FAA Advisory Circular 20-27D  6/22/90 (may not be latest).
         This document was a little confusing.  Below is my 'flow chart'
         of what needs to be done.
         1)  RESERVE N-NUMBER 60 to 90 days before completion.
             Send $10.00 and a list of 5 possible N-numbers to
             FAA Aircraft Registry, P.O. Box 25504, Oklahoma City, OK 73125
             (see example form attached below curtisy of Gil Alexander, which
             is simpler than that published in 20-27D but they don't need to
             know what the model of the plane, etc is at this point as you
             can put the number on what ever plane you choose when you register it.
             You can call 405-954-3116 to see if a number is available.
             You can look up registered and reserved N-numbers on the web under
             the search secton of the web site.
             You can also get there via the IAC home page:
             Go to
             and then select 'Other General Aviation related information' and
             then select 'N-Number lookup'.
             Note that a N-number is reserved for up to 1 year. They will
             send you a notice when it is about to expire. You can keep sending
             in $10.00 a year to hold it until you are ready for step 2.
         2)  FAA will send back a confirmation of what N number is reserved
             and will also send you a copy of:
              Form 8050-88, Affidavit of Ownership for Amateur-Built Aircraft.
              Form 8050-1,  Aircraft Registration Appication
              Fill out 8050-88 and have it Notarized. Fill out 8050-1 and send
              the two forms and $5.00 to the address on form 8050-1.
              You keep the 'pink' copy and this is the 'Registration' form
              that can be used in the aircraft for 90 days.
              You may also want to send a copy of the Kit Bill of Sale or
              authority to build the kit.  This should be done a few weeks
              before the aircraft is ready to fly.
         3)   The FAA will send you back form 8050-3 which is your official
              'Certificate of Aircraft Registration' which you put in the
              aircraft (to replace the pink copy).  Check it for errors and
              notify FAA at 405-954-3116 if any errors are found.
         4)   Radio Station License.  At the same time you do step 2, you
              should apply for the radio license.  Obtain a current 'FCC 404'
              form from your local avionics shop.  Get their help on how to
              fill it out.  For example, you need to put 'PAAR' in box 8
              but this is only defined in a special book which you don't have.
              Send this form to the FCC along with $75.00 ( the current fee
              for this 'non-service' or tax which may be repealed).
         5)   Other requirements before the FAA signoff.
              1) N-number on plane. 3 inches high or 12 inches if Cruse > 180K.
              2) EXPERIMENTAL  2 inch high sticker.
              3) 'Passenger Warning' placard (except single place).
              4) Fireproof 'Data Plate' (builders name is the manufacture).
              5) Logbooks for airframe and engine.
              6) Placard and operating limitations.   (check-lists?).
              7) Weight and Balance
                                                                  Page 2 of 2
         6)  'FAA' inspection
             The FAA can inspect the plane (for free) or you can use a
             DAR which is a private individual approved by the FAA.
             Our local DAR is Richard Dumler 512-441-0629.
             The DAR will charge a fee, about $225.00 for the service.
             Why us a DAR?  He is local and will probably come out when you
             want him to (the FAA shows up when they want to).  Dick will
             show up when he says he will.  He will come out twice.
             He will give you the test area you want, within reason.
             The DAR provided the following forms and will help you fill it out
             or you can get them from the GADO and have them filled out
             before the inspector shows up.  Know what flight test area you want.
             Form 8130-6, Application for Airworthiness Certificate
             Form 8610-2, Airman Certificate &/or Rating Application
                          (this is for your 'repairman' certificate).
             These forms will be filled out and signed by both of you
             and the DAR will send them in to the FAA.
             He will also want copies of your Weight & Balance form and
             copies of several pages of your log books and copies of
             of the N-number and Registration forms from above.
         7)  The Inspector (DAR) will give you the signed Airworthiness Cert.
             He will also give you two other forms.
             8130-1, Experimental Operating Limitations  (Phase 1 for
                     the flight test period).
             8130-1, Same form, but this one is Phase 2 which begins after
                     the flight test period is signed off by the builder.
             These are part of the 'Operating Limitations' and go in the
             You now have all the 'ARROW' documents!
         Other Notes:
             Have project inspected 3 times by EAA 'Technical Counselor'
             and receive a 10% discount on insurance from Avemco/National.
             ( I deleted names of our CH 187 TC's here).
             Work with an EAA 'Flight Advisor' and complete the associated
             paperwork and the first 10 hours will also be covered by above
             insurance company (otherwise it is excluded).
             (I deleted names of our CH 187 FA's here)
    Form letter to reserve N number:
             I wish to reserve a Registration Number to be
     used at a later date.  The fee to reserve a Registration
     Number is $10 per year.
     My choices are:
     Signature: ____________________________
     Name: _________________________________
     Address: ______________________________
    Phone: ________________________________
     Mail request and Fee to:
     FAA Aircraft Registry
     PO Box 25504
     Oklahoma City, OK  73125
    Herman Dierks, Dept. E54S, AWSD, Austin, Texas

    Is it legal to fly IFR in an RV? What are the equipment requirements?

    In the US, IFR is essentially no different in a homebuilt than in a production plane. You do need to have the required minimum equipment, as outlined in FAR 91.205, and have performed the required pitot-static and VOR checks (FAR 91.171).

    A persistent myth is that in order to fly IFR, your plane has to be "IFR Certified". In fact there is no such beast. If the plane meets the criteria for IFR outlined in the FARs (see previous paragraph), it can be considered "IFR Certified" without any specific sign-off.

    Another myth that won't die is that instruments and NAV/COMs have to have TSO approval in order to be used for IFR. In the US anyway, this is simply not true, for either homebuilts or production planes. Yes, the FAA has started to crack down and require TSO approval on retro-fit radios, and in recent years aircraft manufacturers looking for certification have found that its a lot easier to use TSO'd equipment than to try to test/certify the stuff themselves. But TSO'd or not, if it's on the original equipment list, the FAA shouldn't have a problem with it (just go down the flight line and look at all those Cessnas and Pipers with their original equipment non-TSOd King KX-170As and Bs.) As the manufacturer, Cessna and Piper approved those radios for use in their IFR equipped aircraft, and YOU are the manufacturer of your RV, and have the luxury of not having to have your aircraft "certified" by the FAA.

    ELT and Transponder must meet TSO specs however. Ref. FAR parts 91.205, 91.207, 91.215.

    Some people have reported that an FAA inspector or DAR told them IFR is not legal in homebuilts, or that you need TSO'd NAV/COMs, or that the radios or other equipment must be installed by an approved shop, etc, etc. If he says this, you should probably just smile and nod and not argue -- but be sure to check the operating limitations. These are generally all written from the same template, and the language goes like this:

    What this means is that if the plane is EQUIPPED for IFR (and/or night), it's LEGAL for IFR (and/or night). No specific "IFR certification" exists or is needed. Furthermore, if your plane is not now so equipped, but you add the required instruments later, you do not need any further approval. (One caveat: any change is potentally a "major alteration", so if you want to play it safe you should check with your FSDO to find out if they want you to reopen a flight test period. Usually this isn't a big deal, and amounts to something like a 5 hour supplemental "test" period and logbook signoff by you.)

    Assuming you have the required gyros, transponder, etc., do you need dual NAV/COMs/GS/DME? The fact is you can be legal for IFR without a full King silver-crown radio stack. The regs just say "Two-way radio communications system and navigational equipment appropriate to the ground facilities to be used." So if you were to stick to VOR airways and VOR only approaches, you could technically be legal doing enroute and approaches with a single NAV/COM. Granted this would be the extreme, and in practice it's probably a bad idea to fly IFR with only a single NAV radio (plus your options would be very limited). But the point is that there's no rule that specifically calls out which specific radios and how many you need to be legal for IFR.

    There are exceptions to the above. The standard operating limitations have changed over the years, and will probably change again in the future, And there are some inspectors who add their own limitations to the standard ones. So it is possible to have specific restrictions wind up there. So if you're contemplating going IFR or Night, you might want to ask your inspector how he handles the limitations for such things beforehand, so as to avoid any surprises.

    Can I use a VFR or handheld GPS for IFR?

    There doesn't seem to be any FAR that addresses the IFR GPS issue, however, AIM 1-1-21 specifically says that for IFR use, GPS equipment must be approvied in accordiance with TSO C-129 and installed in accordance with Advisory Circular 20-138. Granted, neither the AIM or the A/C is technically supposed to be regulatory, but in fact they have been held up in court as being so. Bottom line, if you are using a VFR GPS for primary navigation under IFR and get into trouble, you could get nailed for it.

    Is it legal to get flight instruction in an RV?

    FARs prohibit using experimental-amateur built aircraft for compensation or hire, which means it's not normally legal to "rent" an RV for instruction or any other purpose. There is an exception to this however -- under a new experimental-amateur built transition training program, specific instructors are approved by the FAA to give transition training in a specific aircraft , so if you go with one of those, it is all legal and proper. For a list of approved transition RVs/Instructors, contact Van's Aircraft.

    If you have access to a flying RV (your own or a borrowed one), it's perfectly legal to hire an instructor to give you instruction in it. In that case, since you're only hiring the instructor and not the plane, there's no issue with "compensation or hire" as far as the aircraft itself is concerned.

    As far as getting instruction in your newly finished RV that has not had the time flown off yet, that is a bit of a gray area. The EAA has documentation of an "advisory" nature from the FAA that suggests it is OK under the "required crewmember" clause. Best bet is to contact EAA for more info on this.

    Building Tips and Techniques

    I'm having trouble setting 1/8" rivets with my hand squeezer -- they keep bending over. What gives?

    One of the most common problems people have setting 1/8" rivets is that they are using a deep throat squeezer yoke with a light-duty squeezer, such as the Tatco. The deeper (greater than 2") yokes for these squeezers tend to flex a bit under high pressure, and the result is bent over rivets. So if you have one of these squeezers, get no larger than a 1 1/2" or 2" yoke as your primary yoke. Note that the pneumatic squeezers and the Avery brand hand-squeezers don't seem to have this problem as they use heftier yokes.

    And on the same subject -- why are you setting 1/8" rivets with a squeezer anyway? You'll have to learn how to buck rivets with a gun sooner or later, so dive in and do it now! It's not as difficult as you might think.

    Should I dimple or machine countersink my skins?

    The prevailing opinion is to dimple everything you possibly can. While some of Van's manuals do say it is OK to machine countersink .032 or above, .032 is pretty marginal for machine countersinking, and in fact RV-Lister Gil Alexander once dug up the MIL-SPEC on the subject, which says that machine countersinking for 3/32" rivets in .032 skin results in a "knife-edge" condition, and is NOT approved. The MIL-SPEC also provides data showing that dimpled joints are significantly stronger than machine countersunk ones.

    Machine countersinking CAN look better, if you do it RIGHT. But its actually very difficult to get consistent machine countersunk holes. Machine countersinking also carries a greater risk of ending up with "smoking" rivets (rivets that "work" under stress and leave trails of aluminum dust behind them), which look lousy! Several people have reported experiencing "smoking rivets" on their machine-countersunk skins, particularly on the 3/32" rivets that used to be called out for the RV-6 forward belly skin. Around early 1997 Van's made a revision to this area to go with larger rivets and use a combination of dimple/countersink for this area. So if you have a newer plans set you should be OK.

    This isn't to say you should just dimple everything regardless of what the plans say. For example the aft row of screw holes on the fuel tanks on the RV-4 and RV-6 MUST be machine countersunk as per the plans. On the other hand, the fuel tank skin-to-back baffle rivets can be dimpled even though the plans say to machine countersink. Use your own good judgement, and when in doubt, ASK (the list, your local EAA Tech Counselor, or Van's). And of course, NEVER machine countersink any structural part that's less than .032 thick (unless specifically called out by Van's Manual/Plans.)

    Note: The MIL-SPEC on this subject (MIL-R-47196A "Rivets, Buck-Type, Preparation and Installation of") has some interesting info on what the military regards as a good and a bad rivet, and gives the full tolerance on the 1.5D width, 0.5D height the other books state as absolutes. If your rivet dimensions meet these specs, it is good enough and strong enough for fighters, and good enough for our RVs (there's actually more tolerance than you might think). Gil Alexander has put this document on his web site, at

    My elevator horn hits the H-Stab spar flange before I get full down elevator travel. What gives?

    On the RV-6 at least, it is necessary to trim some of bottom flange of the horizontal stabilizer rear spar in the area of the elevator horns in order to achieve full down elevator travel.

    After I rivet my parts together, there is a gap between the parts. What's the deal with that?

    Wherever possible, put the head of the rivet on the same side as the thinner material. This will minimize the "scalloping" that tends to occur on the shop head side of a bucked rivet.

    I accidentally slipped and poked a hole with the dimple die right next to the "good" hole. Do I need to replace the skin?

    An old Chinese proverb says: Everything needs a flaw in it for the devil to escape.

    If you're like most RV builders, you have enough problems without hauling the devil around.

    It seems like a lot of people do this at least once, and generally it's not something to worry about. RVs are certainly over-engineered enough that one hole too close to an edge or to another hole isn't going to make it fly apart! If the new hole intersects the other hole (a "figure-8" hole) you can just rivet as you normally would and plan to fix the cosmetic flaw with some bondo or JB weld when you paint. If its further than that, you can fill it with an "oops" rivet (NAS1097 reduced head -- see below) and it will barely show.

    How do you tell a good dimple from a bad one?

    Look for a "fisheye" (distorted area) around the dimple. If there is one, it usually means you've under-dimpled, and occurs when the dimple dies don't "bottom out". Fisheyes can also occur if you over-dimple and stretch the skin, but you have to hit it pretty hard to do that. If it's correct, the skin will be flat right up to the dimple, and have a fairly sharp shoulder on the dimple. To detect this, move it around under the light until the light source is reflecting right at the dimple.

    And of course, be sure to practice on scrap until you're comfortable that you can get it right, before attacking your precious skins!

    What's an "oops" rivet?

    Van's (and others) stocks "oops" rivets, more accurately called NAS1097. These are reduced head diameter flush rivets which have many useful applications.

    The NAS1097AD4 rivet has a -4 (1/8") shaft but a -3 (3/32") sized head. So if you mess up a -3 hole (bend over the rivet and wallow out the hole drilling it out for example) you can drill it out with a #30 drill and use one of these rivets and not have to re-dimple or countersink to a larger size.

    NAS1097AD3 rivets (-3 shaft and even smaller [-2?] head) have several uses. One is to rivet on nut-plates. The reduced head size means you can machine countersink in skins as thin as .025. Normally you wouldn't want to use these in structural applications, but in the case of nut-plates, for which the rivets only serve to hold the nut-plate in place when torquing the bolt or screw, they are a handy solution. The head is so small that they only require a shallow countersink which can even be done with a deburring tool, so you don't have to bother with a countersink cage or dimpling equipment.

    These rivets are also useful for filling "mistake" holes, since the small head, when squeezed into a shallow countersink, is virtually invisible. And they are useful as "tack" rivets, when riveting together the fuselage skeleton for example, and all you need is something to hold the bulkheads and ribs together until the skins go on. The small size and the fact that you don't have to dimple means you can get closer to flange edges or webs, and get them out of the way of the skin-to skeleton rivet lines.

    How far inboard to the RV-6 fuel vent ports need to be to clear the gear leg intersection fairings?

    Three inches will do it. If you replace the bottom cowl hinge with .063 plate/screws/nutplates (recommended), the outermost one should be 3" inboard as well.

    I've heard the cowl hinges are prone to breakage. How can I avoid this?

    This is indeed a problem on some RVs due to the high vibration in this area, It usually manifests itself as hinge eyes breaking off progressively from the ends. This is rarely a safety issue unless you let it go too far, but it is a pain in the neck regardless.

    If you have a flying plane and are experiencing a lot of hinge or fastener wear or breakage, the first thing to do is check the prop balance. Many RVers use harmonic balancers on their wood props with good results; metal/CS props can be dynamically balanced. All this costs money but it's usually worth it in the long run.

    Beyond that, RV builders have used a wide variety of methods to prevent hinge breakage. One obvious solution is to just go with Camlocks or screws all the way around, but that has obvious aesthetic drawbacks. Most problems can be solved by using a combination of solutions in different areas. We'll look at these areas one at a time, starting at the front:

    1. Front joint, directly behind the spinner bulkhead. The plans call out (or used to anyway) hinges here, but most people have gone to screws and nutplates. Most common is 3 or 4 #10 screws or 3/8" bolts. This works well, but be sure your nutplates are fastened to a good solid base, not just the fiberglass of the cowl. Use a piece of .063 AL, well roughed up (60-grit) on the back, drilled with bonding holes, then riveted AND bonded, with proseal, or cotton flox or milled glass slurry, to the inside of the cowl where the nutplates go.

    2. Top/Bottom cowl hinges. The hinge eyes tend to break off mainly at the front where the curve is greatest, but can also do so at the back. One reason may be that the hinges are simply not properly manufactured for this sort of duty -- they have sharp 90 degree inside corners at the hinge eyes, and if looked at with a microscope, have micro-cracks right from the start. Simple solution: take a jewelers file or 400 grit sandpaper or a combination of both, and round off these inside corners before attaching the hinge to the cowl. Tedious, but probably worth the effort.

    3. Top cowl-to-fuselage hinges. See 2, above. This is also an area where many people go with camlocks or screws. But smoothing the hinge eye corners will go a long way towards preventing this problem. Another issue here is the hinge pin itself. Vans specifies a reduced-diameter steel hinge pin here in order for the pin to be able to take the curve. But this smaller pin is more likely to move around and wear the hinge eyes from the inside. A neat solution is to get a normal diameter pin (steel, not AL) and use a belt-sander to narrow down the ends of the pins where they have to curve the most.

    4. Side cowl-to-fuselage hinges. This area is probably the least prone to breakage, although the smoothing-the-corners trick is still a good idea.

    5. Bottom cowl-to-fuselage hinges (except the -4). This area is the MOST prone to breakage. One solution is to go with stainless steel hinges, although reports from people who've done that indicate it is not a foolproof solution. Adding a cowl-scoop center brace (for those models that use a scoop) will also help. Probably the most successful solution is to just toss the hinges and instead rivet some .063 AL flanges to the firewall and screw the cowl to them with #10 screws/nutplates. 3 screws per side is enough, and 4 is more than enough.

    Do you have to trim the flap skin to clear the aileron pushrod (RV-6/6A)?

    Yes you have trim it about 1/2" up in the curved portion. Vans doesn't have anything about it in the manual or plans though (or didn't used to anyway).

    Operation and Maintenance

    How do I know if I'll be able to fly something as sensitive as an RV?

    RV's aren't 'sensitive'. They're RESPONSIVE! And pretty much anyone can get used to (and will learn to love) the incredible responsiveness of an RV.

    When I have my engine oil analyzed, it just comes back "normal". What do the actual numbers mean?

    There is really no such thing as "normal" numbers for the metals that wind up in your oil analysis. A new engine will have a different "normal" than a used or overhauled one, chrome cylinders will yield different results than steel, and planes used on rough strips and kept outside will show different numbers than hangar queens. The answer is to use trend analysis.

    This means you should get an oil analysis every oil change or at least every few oil changes. By doing this, you can spot out of the ordinary levels and determine from that what problems may be occurring. The better analysis labs will do this for you; one such is Howard Fenton (7820 S. 70 E. Avenue Tulsa, OK 74133 918-492-5844, HFentonTUL@AOL.Com) -- he is recommended by several publications. Aviation Oil Analysis is another good one -- they have kits available through Aircraft Spruce and Specialty. It's a good idea to choose an outfit that does Aviation Oil analysis specifically -- stay away from the places that do Diesel, tractors, etc. as they are less likely to know what's right and wrong for aircraft engines.

    For hints as to what might be going on when "unusual" levels are detected, refer the following table (copied from an internet discussion on this subject):

    Sn - Tin	Bearing and bushing overlay, piston plating. TCM/Rocker
    		arm thrust washer plating.
    Ni - Nickel	Shafts, anti-friction bearings, values/guides and rings.
    Fe - Iron	Steel components such as cylinders, gears, crankshaft,
    		rings, roller bearings, valve train, cam shaft, wrist pins,
    		and rust.
    Mg - Magnesium	Certain accessory sections, some Lycoming oil sumps,
    		Bendix 1200 series magnetos and traces in some aluminum
    		alloys. Additive in some automotive "Snake Oils".
    Cu - Copper	Bearings, bushings, thrust washers, and some valve guides.
    		TCM/Six cylinder starter adaptor gear.
    Ag - Silver	Bearings, bushings and platings. Master rod bearing. TCM
    		E-185 & E-225 front end bearing.
    Cr - Chromium	Plated engine parts such as compression rings or cylinder
    		walls. TCM/Exhaust valve stems with Nitralloy value guides.
    		Roller/Taper bearings.
    Al - Aluminum	Pistons, piston pin plugs, crankcase, cylinder heads, oil
    		pump housing, bearings, and can confirm airborne dust.
    Si - Silicon	Airborne dust and dirt, Usually indicative of improper air
    		cleaner service or induction system leaks. EXCESSIVE DIRT
    Pb - Lead	Bearing overlays, contaminant from leaded gasoline.

    Internet and RV-List

    How do I access the RV-List Archive?

    The back-postings to the RV-List, in archive file form, are available at You can download files from the above site and search them using your own tools, or go directly to the RV-List search page, at and enter search parameters for the entire archive RV-List Archive Search page from there. It is strongly suggested that you bookmark this site! Checking the search engine before asking the list will help keep list traffic down, so the NEW questions don't get lost in the repeats.

    Why isn't there an RV-list internet newsgroup?

    Initially there were few enough subscribers on the rv-list that an email list made more sense. Over the years the list has grown quite a bit, and from time to time someone suggests creating an internet news group. But it never seems to go anywhere -- in spite of the disadvantages, most people still seem to prefer the immediacy and universality of an email distribution list. If you just have to have an internet newsgroup to go to, try

    Is Van's accessible through the RV-List?

    Officially, no. But some of Van's employees are subscribers. Sometimes they lurk, sometimes they come out of the woodwork when you least expect it. If you have a specific question for Van's, you should send it to their technical support email address,

    What's IMHO? FWIW? <g>? Colon-dash-parenthesis?

    IMHOnet-speak, meaning In My Humble Opinion. Also IMO.
    BTWBy The Way.
    FWIWfor what it's worth
    :-)smiley face (many variations, tip your head to the side)
    TIAThanks in advance
    Check Sixfighter jock lingo meaning look behind you

    The sheer volume of traffic on the RV-List is overwhelming! Is there anything I can do about it?

    YES. First of all, do your part by reading and abiding by the
    RV-List Usage Guidelines. It's up to all of us to minimize irrelevant and repetitive traffic on the list.

    That aside, there are some other things you can do to keep from getting buried in all the traffic on the list. To start with, use your email program to file RV-List messages in their own folder, and also to "filter" unwanted messages. Here are some hints -- these apply to Microsoft's Outlook Express, but the tasks should be transferrable in some form or another in other email programs. To find out more, read your email program manual or help pages.

    First, set up a separate mail folder for your RV-List messages, so you don't have to plow though them to find your regular mail. Go to the [Tools] menu, select the [Inbox Assistant] item, then in the window that comes up, click on [Add], and another window will come up. In the [Subject] field, enter "RV-List", and in the [Move To] field, put the name of your RV-List folder (e.g. "RV-List").

    You can also [Add] separate rules that will delete messages with certain criteria. For example, you may be sick of reading about primer :-} [Add] another rule, put the words "RV-List" and "Primer" (without the quotes) in the [Subject] field, and check the [Delete off server] box. Then you'll never see those messages at all. Neat! You may want to be more agressive about it -- for example, people with RV-8s may want to set it up to get rid of anything with "RV-6" in the subject line. Just don't complain when you later find out you missed the message entitled "For Sale: new IO-360 and RV-6 engine mount -- $1000"....!

    What Tools Do I Need?

    From "The Rocky Mountain RVators" newsletter. Please mail any corrections or additions to Doug Bloomberg,

    The most asked question from new and prospective RV builders is, "What Tools will I need?" The following list is compiled by 4 builders, 2 with planes flying, one finishing the engine installation, and one midway through his wing kit. The list of tools is divided into 3 groups. First (1) lots of time low bucks, second (2), average Joe some bucks good job and fairly quickly, third (3), Donald Trump's little brother, lots of money.

    All of the following can be purchased through Avery Enterprises, Cleaveland Tools, and Harbor Freight Tools. (see last issue for tool vendors) We in no way represent any particular vendor but just point you to a known source. Shopping around will most likely save you money.

    First group:

    Air Compressor (75 psi min.) 1 to 2 hp
    Rivet Gun 2X or 3X [do not use air hammer]
    Rivet sets: straight & offset 1/8" Universal
    Flush Rivet Set
    Bucking Bars
    Drill Motor: Air or Battery (not AC powered, cutting power cord = loss of
    Drill Bits: #41, #40, #30, #12, 3/16", 1/4"
    Long Drill Bits: 12" long #30, #40
    Metal Files: flat, half round, round
    Scotch Brite, fine red color
    Bench Grinder: 6" preferred
    Scotch Brite wheel: 6"x1" (polishing, deburring, trimming)
    Deburring Tools: for straight edges and drilled holes.
    Bench Vise: 4" or larger
    Cleco Fasteners: 350 3/32", 150 1/8",
    (get metal bodied type, the plastic ones just will not hold up to use)
    Cleco Pliers
    "C" Clamps: 12 1", 12 2", having a few of each size in the deep throat type
    is advised.
    M/S Counter-sink stop Cage: w/#30 & #40 piloted cutters
    Hand Rivet Squeezer:
    Squeezer Sets: flush and Universal rivets 1/8" and 3/32"
    Dimple dies: 1/8" and 3/32"
    Bucking bar/set drilled for dimple die shank .187"
    Metal Cutting tools: Snips left, right, straight cuts.
    Hacksaw Blade & Holder
    Fluting pliers
    Hand Seamer (can use a piece of hardwood 3"x3"x1" with saw cut slot as seamer)
    Pop rivet tool
    Tape measure and rules (6" & 12")
    Level: Carpenters, bubble protractor
    Wood working tools: For jigs etc.

    Second List: Assumes you will have most items from the First list.

    Air Tool Regulator: for Rivet Gun
    Drill Press: Slow speed model less than 250 rpm.
    Fly Cutter: Cut lightening holes in ribs (kits now come with rib pre-punched
    but still useful)
    Drill Bits: use 135 degree split point bits #30,
    #41, #40 ,#12, D, 3/16",1/4" standard length; #30, #40, 3/16",1/4",6",12" length
    Drill Stops: Commercial type, or use 3/32" & 1/8" plastic tubing
    Unibits: #1 and #4
    Right Angle drill attachment: w/ #30 & #40 bits
    Bench Top Band Saw: (When using metal cutting blade for non-ferrous metals
    speed does not have to be slowed.)
    Hand Riveting and Dimpling Arbor
    Back Riveting Set
    Back Rivet Plate: steel plate approx 1/2" x
    15" x 6" smooth faces
    Flush Rivet Set (swivel with rubber guard preferred)
    Vise Grip Dimpler: 3/32" dimple die welded to tip
    Pop Rivet Dimplers: Used in pop rivet tool for 100! AN-426 rivets and 120!
    Flush pop rivets
    Dimple Dies: for AN509 screws #6, #8, #10
    Side grip Cleco Clamps
    Handi-Clamp: Sheet metal neat things with rubber gripping surface won't mar the
    Rivet Spacing Fan
    Automatic Center punch
    Plumb Bob
    Nibbling Tool
    Rivet Cutter
    Edge Rolling Tool or Hole Flanging Tool
    Vixen Tool: Body file
    Scotch Brite Surface Conditioning Disc/kit: Attaches to drill motor smoothes
    scratches in aluminum surfaces
    Paint Gun: Either Air Brush and/or touch up gun
    Hand Held Die Grinder: Air powered

    Third, Top of the Line: You have the Money$$$. All of the Above, plus all below

    Pneumatic Rivet Squeezer with multiple heads (Avery now makes a hand squeezer
    which uses the same heads, good deal!)
    Air Compressor: 3HP, 100psi or better
    Metal Cutting Bandsaw
    Turbine low Pressure, High Volume paint sprayer: To paint the aeroplane with.
    Electronic Level
    Someone Else to do It