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Old 07-22-2019, 06:44 PM
Earl Findlay Earl Findlay is offline
Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Coeur d?Alene, Idaho
Posts: 52
Default Am I capable of building an RV?

I really have the itch to have an RV.. and not just have, but BUILD one. My issue is, I am not at all a "builder." Heck, I can't even build a table and chairs from Ikea, so I wonder how the heck am I going to build an airplane?!

How common is it for a builder to start with what essentially amounts to zero building ability?

Is starting with no building ability more of a challenger than one should undertake?

Lastly, does starting with zero building ability guarantee frustration?

Basically, I want to build, but I feel foolish undertaking such a major project with my complete lack of skills. Talk me off of the ledge.
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Old 07-22-2019, 06:52 PM
wirejock's Avatar
wirejock wirejock is offline
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Estes Park, CO
Posts: 3,828
Default Builder skills

I'm in the encouragement camp because I feel anyone can do anything they put their mind to do. That said, it's easy to find out. Find a mentor by attending a local EAA Chapter meeting. Buy the Vans Practice kits and together, build them. Then drill them apart and put them together again. You'll knowvery quickly and for very little investment, if building a plane is something you want to do.
Larry Larson
Estes Park, CO
wirejock at yahoo dot com
Donated 12/03/2019, plus a little extra.
RV-7A #73391, N511RV reserved (2,000+ hours)
HS SB, empennage, tanks, wings, fuse, working finishing kit
I cannot be, nor will I be, held responsible if you try to do the same things I do and it does not work and/or causes you loss, injury, or even death in the process.
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Old 07-22-2019, 07:00 PM
Stockmanreef Stockmanreef is offline
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Midland, mi
Posts: 957

or take a building class. I took Troy Grover's building class about year before starting to build.
Ken Stockman
Midland, MI
EAA Chapter 1093 member

FaceBook Page: Ken's RV-14
RV-14a (serial number 140073)

Plane at hangar and the wings ON.
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Old 07-22-2019, 07:01 PM
Robin8er Robin8er is offline
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Socal
Posts: 423

You will go through just about every possible human emotion building an airplane. Will you be frustrated? Yes. But it will be worth it. Next question...

Its certainly helpful knowing how to use basic tools and being able to accurately measure things. But it's really not that hard.

Buy the Van's practice kit. You will most likely destroy it and it will look awful. Then build another one. Maybe even a 3rd. If by then you feel like you got it, then go ahead and build. It's really not that hard.

Although the tail kit and tools are expensive, in the grand scheme of things they are relatively cheap. So worst case scenario you will be out a couple thousand dollars. That's no small amount of money, but if you really want to build your own plane then I feel it's an acceptable risk.

There is a big support network and Van's instructions and very clear. To the point that it's almost litterally step by step. A little motivation goes a long way.

I say go for it!
RV-8 N695RA flying
Working on an RV-4

Born to fly, forced to work
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Old 07-22-2019, 07:11 PM
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sbal0906 sbal0906 is offline
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Winnipeg, Canada
Posts: 214

None of us came out of the womb knowing how to build an airplane. The question isn't if you can build an airplane. It's can you learn how to build an airplane.

I'm willing to guess that there are things that you know how to do that at one time, you didn't know how to do. This is no different.

Like others have said, get the practice kits, attend a build class. If you really want to do this, then you will.

Shamit Bal
Started on wings.
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
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Old 07-22-2019, 07:15 PM
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GeoffP GeoffP is offline
Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: NSW, Australia
Posts: 143
Default Definitely

You'll need plenty of persistence to get through the build - the technical skills you'll be able to learn along the way.

Youtube, and the EAA training videos will become your best friends.

I started building almost a year ago, and a year ago I didn't know how to rivet, how to spray paint, or even how to put fibreglass together, but I've learned how to do all of that, and the end result is so rewarding.

The other thing that really helps is the support and encouragement from others - builders, spouses, friends. My wife reminds me with words like "you'll appreciate the plane so much more" whenever I talk about how I stuffed something up and had to go back and re-work it to get it right, or if I mention how tedious it all seems.
RV-9, Tail Feathers done, Wings almost done.
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Old 07-22-2019, 07:24 PM
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pilotkms pilotkms is offline
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 380

Completing an RV is a Masters Degree in PROBLEM RESOLUTION. U will run into one problem after another. U will get frustrated over & over. And u will feel immense satisfaction conquering the problems and frustration that u encounter along the way. O - and when u fly it - no other feeling in the world. Giddy with joy.
RV 7A RV #9700 May 2017
N325KS the Flying K
Built in SoCal KCCB, now in GA @ KPXE
550+ Hours & 7X cross the USA
OSH flyin 2018 & 2019 & Petit Jean 2019
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Old 07-22-2019, 07:31 PM
Vlad's Avatar
Vlad Vlad is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Utah
Posts: 8,075

Originally Posted by Earl Findlay View Post
I really have the itch to have an RV.. and not just have, but BUILD one.

.... snip...

Talk me off of the ledge.
I have a recipe for you Earl. Buy an RV fly it for while and while flying think about building. Report back

Where is N666BK?

Не имей сто рублей, а имей сто друзей.
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Old 07-22-2019, 07:53 PM
bhassel's Avatar
bhassel bhassel is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 961

Yes, to answer your question, you can build a Van’s Aircraft. The newer models are really a lot easier to build than the older ones. Van’s has really changed the game with continual improvements to the both the aircraft and the build process. Add to that the thousands of builders all over the country/world that you can rely on for help and guidance.

Ok, so how do I Know? I had never built anything either. Well there was one bookcase, but I had to prop it up on the sides so it wouldn’t fall over side ways.

Notice I said a Van’s aircraft. Other manufactures may not be up to that level. (Dodging flames here).

Now, do I wait for the RV-14 equivalent of an RV-9 or just go back to the 9?

You can do this, you may end actually missing building more than flying!

Bob Hassel

Subscription Paid for 2020

Home is where the hanger is...

Last edited by bhassel : 07-22-2019 at 07:55 PM.
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Old 07-22-2019, 09:02 PM
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N546RV N546RV is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Brookshire, TX
Posts: 981

First off, you're already on the right track when you say you want to build, and not just own. I always encourage people who just want to own an RV to go buy on. For one thing, it's not really any cheaper to build, but more importantly, building will be a trying process if you can't find a way to enjoy all the minutae.

The perspective I've long taken towards my build is that I don't really think of it as a project that will have a defined end. Academically, I realize that one day there won't be anything left to do except go fly the thing, but pragmatically, I just think of it as another thing I do in my spare time. I don't expect to ever stop doing it, in the same way that I don't expect that if I mow the grass enough times it'll stop growing.

This may sound depressing, but it's quite the opposite. A weeknight work session, instead of being "well I'm 0.05% closer to flying," is "I did A, B, and C small tasks." It lends a sense of achievement that can get lost if you keep eyeballing the big prize at the end.

The best part is, this attitude fits well with learning to build. Instead of thinking of it as building an airplane, think of it as learning and continually refining a new set of skills. Every work session is a new challenge, a new way to apply the skills you've learned and maybe learn a few more.

As others have said, see if you can hook up with a local EAA chapter and find someone who's building and is willing to let you come look over their shoulder. Just seeing the process and getting a little hands-on can do wonders to take away some of the mystery.
-8 fuselage in progress (remember when I thought the wing kit had a lot of parts? HAHAHAHAHA)
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