5.5.0  Install Door Gas Springs

After finishing the layups for the gas spring attachment point in Section 5.4.0, I had to tap the hard point to accept the threaded ball end for each door. You can see it in the photo below. Once the ball end is screwed in tightly, the end of the gas spring just snaps into place.

Fuselage - Carbon Beams - Door Gas Spring Installed

Here's a closeup of the hard point installed on the carbon beam along with the ball end and one end of the gas spring.

The photo below shows a second ball end attached to the bracket on the door frame. The wood inside of the door stiffener channel only extends about an inch on either side of the door locking pin seen on the left (with the red grease on it).

And here’s a photo showing the gas spring attached to the ball end. I know it looks like the gas spring is out of alignment, but really, that’s the way it’s supposed to look!

This photo shows the door closed with the gas spring in place.

And here’s a photo showing the door being held open with the gas spring.

Once the first door is finished, the manual calls for the second door to match the first. It would look goofy if one door opened higher or lower than the other! I did the pilot-side door first, so with that door fully open, I took a straightedge (in this case, a 3/4” piece of electrical conduit) and ran it across the top of the two doors. I then adjusted the co-pilot’s door with my wood board until everything was level. (Of course, the fuselage has to be level for this to work, which it is.) My digital level has a magnetic base so using the conduit worked perfectly!

Fuselage - Doors - Checking for Level

Both doors should open symmetrically so after the first gas spring is installed, I check for level between both doors before installing the gas spring on the co-pilot door.

Fuselage - Doors - Checking for Level (1)

Here's a closeup shot showing level doors!

Both doors are now being held open with the gas springs. However, I ran into a slight problem! (Nothing is ever easy!) The gas springs tend to push the bottom of the door forward as it closes due to the tension of the spring. That means that my almost perfectly aligned doors are no longer aligned! Not good! After talking to the factory and asking for advice from the Velocity forum group, I discovered that everyone has this problem. It’s the nature of the beast. Solutions? Well, the left side door was so far out that I had to shim the forward door hinge with a 1/16” shim. (See the next paragraph below - I might be removing the shim!) That helped a lot but it still isn’t perfect. The right side door isn’t as bad but still won’t close properly without some persuasion (but it’s getting better with time). The recommendation is to close the doors using whatever to get them aligned, then go back to the old heat treatment to get them to ease into position. At the factory in Florida they close the doors and put the fuselage out in the sun and that supposedly solves the problem. I guess I’ll be doing the same thing here in Arizona!

Fuselage - Doors - Checking for Level (2)

And here's the final view showing both doors being held open with they gas springs!

I mentioned shimming one of the hinges to help align the pilot-side door. Well, that helped but created another issue. I spent more time talking to the factory at AirVenture 2019 and here’s their latest advice - using a ratchet strap to gently pull the door out of alignment a bit aft, then apply heat (using those 500 watt each heat lamps) for about an hour. Then, when everything is nice and toasty, turn off the lamps and blast the heated area with compressed air to quickly cool it all down. That’s supposed to lock things into place. It actually worked! It’s a tad scary while doing it, but success is success. However, now that shim that I added earlier probably needs to be removed since the door itself is now getting pushed up when I try to latch it. In addition to removing the shim, I may also have to adjust some of the latch pins - the pins on the forward and aft sides of the door. The door saga continues!

The good news is that the co-pilot door is working nicely. I’ve been keeping it latched closed when I’m not working on the fuselage and that seems to be helping it align itself. Yay!

Fuselage - Door Adjustment

Getting the doors to fit properly has been a struggle. At Oshkosh, one of the factory guys recommended this method. Pull the door aft with a ratchet strap, then heat the hinges for an hour to help ease everything into place. It pretty much worked!

So, for now, that’s where we stand with the doors. I’ll update this page later as I continue to work on the alignment problems!

ui© John Trautschold 2018