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Sonex Aircraft Builder victord from Houston, TX

Sonex homebuilt experimental aircraft project Sonex

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Aircraft Project Log Entries (50 entries)

  • Apr 09, 2015 138 Lift Reserve Indicator probe (1.5 hours)
    Today, I fabricated and completed the Lift Reserve Indicator Probe. It is not the typical bar type probe you normally see. I cannot take the credit for the design as I saw one on the internet several years ago and I always had it in my mind that I would fabricate a similar one for my project.

    Final adjustment will take place after the aircraft is flying, and I will then seal the aluminum tubing in the acrylic plastic probe head with clear rtv silicone.

    The Acrylic I used for the probe was a little clear acrylic paperweight with a company advertisement on it. It looks like glass, but is very light when cut down to size and drilled. It will make a good conversation piece as well on my aircraft.
  • Jan 14, 2015 20 Visit from my Tech Counselor Mike Singleton (0 hours)
    My Tech Counselor Mike Singleton stopped by for a visit today and inspected my partially assembled right wing, and welded parts. There were no major issues noted, He did mention I should clean up any small holes in the welds so there would be no internal rusting of the component.
  • Jan 13, 2015 15 Fabricate, attach and drill Lower and Upper Aft Skins (22.3 hours)
    Since I am scratch building, my layout and drill procedure is a little bit different than the predrilled kit builders did. First, I cut both the lower and upper Aft Skins, and attached them with clamps with the ribs of the spar in the vertical position. I then marked on the inside of the skins both sides of the flanges each rib with a sharpie. Then I removed the skin, Drew a center line mark where each rib was marked on the skins and layed out and drilled the pilot holes. I then reattached to the spar and ribs, centered the line on the ribs in the pilot holes and drilled them. I then removed the skin again and repeated the process for the opposite side of the wing. I learned on the horizontal tail, that if I layout the holes per plans, and then drill and install, there is a good chance something will not line up correctly since each part is scratch built. So I layout the holes according to how the ribs are installed and I am then able to center each hole in the rib for a good quality build.
  • Jan 13, 2015 11 Fabricate Pitot tube assemblies (3.75 hours)
    I used the Aircraft Spruce Pitot tube preassembled and fabricated the bracket as specified by Sonex with the bracket mounted on the outside. I felt there was considerable additional metal riding in the slipstream which would possibly create additional drag, so I re fabricated the assembly to be mounted inside of the wing (behind the bracket) with only a small amount of the mount protruding into the slip stream. It is a much cleaner installation this way.
  • Jan 06, 2015 14 Attach ribs to Right Spar (18.5 hours)
    Starting on the Right wing box, Attached the ribs to the spar.
  • Apr 27, 2014 71 Polish Ailerons (5.6 hours)
    Completed polishing the Ailerons today. Unlike the Flaps, I gave the skins the first polish over the rivet holes before installing the rivets. This gave a cleaner polish job around the rivet. Final polishing up to C grade was completed after riveting. C Grade polish was only applied to the top side of the Aileron.
  • Apr 24, 2014 18 Fabricate and complete Ailerons (20.73 hours)
    Fabricated both Ailerons and completed. I have a couple of construction tips on cutting out the skins for counter balance and end tip. To fabricate the end tip, I traced the completed skin onto the metal blank and added the 1/2 to 3/4 inch lip and bent it on my 18" harbor freight metal brake and hand seamer pliers. That seemed to be the easiest way to make it instead of trying to exactly build from plans dimensions which looked more complicated. I am learning more to build parts to the airframe instead of from plans. Skin trimming was done with hand tin snips and my Olfa knife to score them.
  • Apr 17, 2014 74 Polish Flaps (10.4 hours)
    I polished both flaps completely with F9 and on the tops sides with C grade also. They still have swirl marks, but tops have a nice clear image. Once they are installed, I will give final polish to the areas.
  • Apr 05, 2014 12 Mate Spars (2.75 hours)
    Today I mated the Main Spars. I had some issues with drilling the holes perfectly straight. I noticed when the bolts were in they were not seated completely perpendicular. Will try to correct this to a better fit on the updrill to 3/8.
  • Mar 29, 2014 389 Falcon Heads arrive (0 hours)
    Falcon Heads arrived for me while I was working out of town. Unfortunately, since I was called to work out of town, I missed Corvair College #28 in San Marcos. What a disappointment that was. I ordered my parts from Dan Wesemen, Sport Performance Aviation, was hoping to pick up my engine mount and some other parts while in Florida for work and thought I may save a little bit on shipping. But as fate would have it, Panther kits have them backlogged on the welder, and William Wynne was out of town for CC 29 when I was relased and ready to buy. Typical hombuilding scenario, just when you think you have it all worked out, it doesn't work out. I will just have to order and have shipped like everyone else.
  • Jan 29, 2014 18 Complete Aileron Counter Balance Assemblies (7 hours)
    Completed the Aileron Counter balance Assemblies and control rod rib. ready to begin on the skins, assembly and polish.
  • Jan 26, 2014 18 Form Lead Aileron Counterweights (2 hours)
    I had some scrap lead from when I used to make surf fishing sinkers and some old lead pipe from plumbing repairs. I melted them down, created a form with scrap wood to the dimensions listed in the plans and lined the wooden form with heavy duty aluminum foil. I am surprised how well the foil held up to the hot lead. After making the lead bricks, I realized I probably could have used some scrap .032 and bent a form on my small break and sealed the corners with the metal duct tape, and it would have made really nice looking lead bricks.

    How do I melt Lead?

    This is an outdoor only project. A simple propane burner and a hand held torch is all I used. I actually used the burner on my outdoor grill, but you can also use a camp stove or free standing propane cooker. A cast iron pot is the best thing to use because it retains the heat and keeps the lead in its molten state longer while pouring. I used an enameled tin pot as that is all I had at the time, and it worked well for me. Important to remember: Anything you use that comes in direct contact with lead is no longer suitable for any other useage.

    Caution: Lead is a very toxic metal. If you try this, be sure there is plenty of ventilation, use the appropriate mask for protection from fumes, and do not use any of the items exposed to the lead for food use again.
  • Jan 26, 2014 18 More counterweight photos (0 hours)
    These are some additional photos of the counterweight making process for the ailerons and melting and forming the lead to do so.

    Where to Find Scrap Lead:

    There are multiple sources you can find your lead cheap or free. A great place to start is your local tire shop. They usually have buckets of old wheel weights sitting around and are usually happy to part with some or all for free or a very reasonable price.
    I also did some plumbing repairs in some old homes that still had lead pipes in the walls behind the sinks and saved those as well. I even bought some lead ingots off of ebay as well someone had melted down and cleaned the lead before selling. Roofing Jacks (plumbing) are also a good source of lead as well and a good place to stop when you see a new roof going on as they are usually replaced at that time. Your sources are only limited by your ideas.
  • Jan 25, 2014 135 Complete Flaps (30.73 hours)
    I completed both flaps and during the course of trimming the skins, I ended up cutting a second right flap skin instead of the left skin. So I had to order more metal to complete another flap skin.
  • Jan 19, 2014 135 Flap Rib Drive assemblies and Bend Flap Skins (6 hours)
    Fabricated Flap Ribs and Drive Rib Assemblies. Also Bent the Flap Skins. I had a tough time bending the flap skins on my home made brake. It really was difficult to have a nice crisp bend in the center of the skin. The edges nearer the bolts were much sharper and nicer bends. But it was acceptable. They were straight at least. I will try to tighten the center bend radius using a 2 x 4 board.
  • Jan 17, 2014 13 Aft Spars (3.5 hours)
    While reviewing the plans, I realized I would not be able to bend the Aft Spar Blanks on my Dave Clay Brake because it was only 7 1/2 feet long, and the long piece is just short of 8 feet. So I called up a friend of mine that does custom metal roofing, and he let me make the two pieces on his 10 foot brake. Bonus to that is I made the entire spar in one piece and did not require the use of the splice plates I had fabricated years ago. I had some problems and drilled some oversize holes in the attach brackets, so I will have to order some 5/16 pop rivets to correct it.
  • Jan 17, 2014 13 Bend and Complete Rear spars (16.5 hours)
    I discovered that my 7 1/2 foot break was not enough to bend the rear spar blanks, so a quick call to a buddy of mine with a 10' brake, and I was on my way with the blanks. The bending went without a hitch, in fact I was really impressed how nice smooth a real sheet metal brake really operated and made nice straight bends. Since I was able to bend the spars in a single piece, I eliminated the splice plates and rivets. I probably saved a couple of ounces right there! Once back at my garage shop, I completed the rear spars.
  • Jan 15, 2014 135 Flap and Aileron Rib forms (2.25 hours)
    Fabricated the forms for the Flap and Aileron ribs from plans.
  • Jan 12, 2014 12 Rework Spar Attach block bolts (2.25 hours)
    The spar bolts had bottomed out and the nut would spin instead of unscrewing. I had to cut the nut and bolt from the attach block and replace with a new one and used 2 washers to avoid bottoming out again.
  • Oct 06, 2013 65 fabricated tail wheel pushrod and tail wheel assembly (3 hours)
    Welded and Fabricated tailwheel pushrod according to plans. Received 5" Tail wheel from Great Plains and fabricated tail wheel Bracket to wheel size. Plans call for 4" wheel, but decided from other builders experience to go ahead and upgrade to begin with.
  • Aug 07, 2013 65 5" Tail Wheel Received. (0 hours)
    I ordered the 5" Tail Wheel from Great Plains. It is supposed to be softer and long lasting. Not making as much of the "megaphone" noise while rolling. We will have to see how it performs. Price was right at $39.95.

    The statistics for the tailwheel:

    5" diameter 2 1/2" from center.
    1 1/2" wide @ bearing
    Made in Canada (not china, that is important for me)
    There seems to be 2 independent bearings in the center. Each side can move opposite direction from the other.

    17.75 oz
    1.110 lbs.
    504 grams
  • Jul 02, 2013 389 Starter modification (2.5 hours)
    The starter has been partially modified by having a different ground down gear installed for contact with the flywheel. Also the top bolt ear has been cut off to provide a low profile. Todays modification is to install an aluminum "ear" to replace the mounting point previously cut off. Bolts used to attach the ear were upgraded to grade 8 hardware. A rear stabilizer bracket was also installed at the rear of the starter that attaches with one of the aluminum top cover bolts.
  • Jul 01, 2013 389 1 modify and weld valve covers (4 hours)
    The stock Corvair valve covers are plain with no fittings. The Aero conversion required welding an oil fill spout on the right (passenger side) rear upper corner of the valve cover. The oil filler tube is the original taken from the oil filter housing and cut down to fit in the valve cover. The Left (pilot)side of the engine requires two oil breather tubes to be welded into the rear facing side of the valve cover. The upper (larger tube) being 5/8 steel tubing and the lower smaller tube being 3/8 steel tubing.
  • Jul 01, 2013 389 2 modify and weld valve covers / fabricate starter brackets (2 hours)
    Completion of the valve cover modification by adding the oil breather tubes. Also fabricated and welded the two starter attach brackets pictured in black in the final photo. These mount to the top of the engine block cover plate and anchor the starter in place.
  • Jun 26, 2013 20 Fabricate and Weld Aileron and elevator control rods. (5.41 hours)
    Keeping up the welding pace, I am having a blast! Fabricated the aileron long control rods and the elevator pushrods, short and long.
  • Jun 25, 2013 65 weld and fabricate tail skid (7.66 hours)
    There was no drama here other than some minor straightening after tac welding the plates on the tubing and making sure the plates are at the correct orientation angle.
  • Jun 24, 2013 34 fabricate and weld canopy corners (2 hours)
    This was back to the micro torch for some finesse welding. Cutting the small tubing and welding the canopy corners.
  • Jun 22, 2013 28 fabricate and weld Rudder pedals (9.5 hours)
    This entry represents work from 6/21/13 to 6/24/13 for 9.5 hours.The rudder pedals were the first welding with square tubing and round tubing. The metal was thick, and my micro torch could not heat it hot enough, so I used my full size torch to weld these, and it had no problem. The welded ring on the end of the tube using #7 welding rod was a bit challenging. Also, when you weld the pedals on, the 1" main tubing becomes warped and distorted and requires straightening. I used a torch in the vise to bend it back in line just like bending the flap tube.
  • Jun 16, 2013 28 Fabricate and Weld Flap control tube. (15 hours)
    This entry is for work from 6/16/13 to 6/21/13 for a total of 15 hours. This part was only slightly different in that I was applying tabs and a ring to the tube. The tube was heavier walled tubing and welding the 1/8 steel plate it required just a bit more time to get the tube hot enough to weld with good penetration.
  • Jun 15, 2013 11 Fabricate and weld Flap pushrods (5 hours)
    As I am welding parts, each piece has a new procedure in addition to what I have already done. The flap control tubes have a bolt end and a plate metal end as I have already done, but it also had a bend in the tube as well. This was accomplished by placing the tube in the vise and heating the area cherry red in multiple areas and applying pressure by hand until I have acheived the bend and radius I am trying for.
  • Jun 13, 2013 11 Fabricate and Weld Idler Push Rod (4 hours)
    Today was a very big day for me. I had recently purchased a set of Oxygen/Aceteylene tanks and the cart at a great price after having searched for months. I also purchased a micro torch from ebay, so I was finally going to get to start welding! I have been apprehensive about this since I started the build. I took te EAA welding workshhop a few years back in 2010 so I was ready to give it a try. I ordered the steel from Air craft spruce a while back and it has just been sitting in my shop.

    The first part I decided to weld was one of the control rods since I thought they would be the easiest to start with. After welding up a practice rod, and it turning out pretty good, I fabricated and welded the Idler push rod. I was very pleased at how the welding was turning out. It was by no means a "pretty weld", but I tapped on it with my hammer after completion and it was a solid and good weld. Whew! what a feeling of accomplishment!
  • Jun 11, 2013 14 Bell Crank Assemblies (15.83 hours)
    Now this was a process that I quickly viewed a few times and underestimated, and never really realized how much work was involved in it. These actually had some detail to them and took me longer than I had originally anticipated. Total time was 15.83 hrs.
  • Jun 10, 2013 12 Wing Attach blocks and spar tips (5.75 hours)
    I riveted on the spar tips which had not been done yet. I had not pilot drilled the wing attach blocks before installation thinking it may be easier to drill on the spar. Well I ended up breaking off 2 pilot drill bits in the blocks and had to remove and remake one of them. I have not redrilled it yet as awaiting new hardware since the bolts stripped.
  • Jun 09, 2013 14 Root Ribs (5.75 hours)
    made the Root Ribs. I also took this opportunity to perform a mod on the forward root rib by cutting the metal between the two lightening holes for easier access to the flap rods after wing installation. This is an approved modification by Sonex.
  • Jun 04, 2013 14 Forward and Aft Gussets (20.75 hours)
    This entry represents work from 6/4/13 to 6/8/13 for 20.75 hrs. I was attempting to make the AFT gussets and when I completed the set, I realized I had made Forward gussets instead, which I already had. So second try, I completed fabrication and installation of Aft gussets, and also completed installing forward rib gussets as well.
  • May 24, 2013 14 Aft Rib Form Blocks (2 hours)
    I previously had problems making the forward ribs using the router method. I burned through 3 router bits and ruined the form blocks. I made new ones for the Aft Ribs, purchased a new router tip, and the black and decker router I have had for over 20 years gave out. I purchased an harbor freight router and used it once and everything started falling off of it. all of the screws were loose and it was mostly plastic. I went to Sears and purchased a router and another bit. This was my problem the whole time. The craftsmen router ran smooth as silk and made the cuts easily.
  • May 24, 2013 14 Forming Aft Ribs (24.75 hours)
    This log represents work from 5/24/13 to 6/3/13 for 24.75 hours. Difficulties with changing routers and burnt bits prolonged this process longer than it should have been. The Rib flanges look a little narrow, but I am thinking they should be ok as long as I am careful when I am drilling.
  • May 22, 2013 12 Flush Rivet main spars (7.75 hours)
    After over a year of not working on my project due to working out of state and other obligations, I am now back. This entry represents time worked from 5/22/13 to 5/29/13 for 13.25 hours. Flush riveted the main spars and also riveted the hard to reach rivets with the hammer and bolt method. I was impressed at the simplicity yet good control to smash the rivets. The only thing is that it leaves a bit of a flat spot on the round head from hammering.
  • Mar 18, 2012 12 Rivet Spars (9.25 hours)
    This entry represents work from 3/18/2012 to 3/24/2012 for a total of 9.25 hours. With the loan of the Hydraulic C Press, I began the riveting on the Spar Webs with the standard round headed rivets. Once the Press was set for the correct thickness of the squeeze, it was a very easy process to squeeze the rivets to correct shop head thickness.
  • Mar 12, 2012 389 modify starter and oil pump housing. (1 hours)
    Today, after having gone to CC#22, and learning a few new things, I modified the Starter housing to mount and also drilled out the oil pump case for higher output oil pump as mentioned by William.
  • Mar 10, 2012 389 Attended Corvair College #22 in Georgetown, TX (0 hours)
    I had a great time and learned quite a bit at Corvair College #22. It was hosted by Kevin and Shellie, and they did a wonderful job of hosting it. Great food, Great organization, and great hanger! William did a great job of helping us out, and spreading his enthusiasm for the Corvair movement. I look forward to getting my engine completed soon. It will be a 3.0 liter engine. William took my Engine case back with him to Florida so he could bore out for larger cylinders. I am looking forward to getting some progress done on my engine at the next Corvair College! Oh, We had 3 engines get run on the test stand over the weekend also! Great success and adrenalin pumper!
  • Feb 22, 2012 12 Redimple Spar skins (4 hours)
    After a visit from fellow aircraft builders Bernardo and Jerry, we discussed the dimpling on the spar skins and it not being deep enough. So the decision was made to redimple the skins deeper.
  • Feb 16, 2012 12 Visit from Jerry and Bernardo. (0 hours)
    Today, I received a visit from my friends and fellow builders Jerry and Bernardo. Jerry is building a Waiex with Jab 3300 and Bernardo is building a Lightening also with Jabiru 3300. During the visit, and discussing my dimpling the spar skins, it was decided that I needed to dimple them deeper. So that was the next thing on the list to do.
  • Feb 16, 2012 12 Visit from Jerry and Bernardo. (0 hours)
    Today, I received a visit from my friends and fellow builders Jerry and Bernardo. Jerry is building a Waiex with Jab 3300 and Bernardo is building a Lightening also with Jabiru 3300. During the visit, and discussing my dimpling the spar skins, it was decided that I needed to dimple them deeper. So that was the next thing on the list to do.
  • Jan 15, 2011 12 Drill/Layout Main Spar Web (2 hours)
    After almost 2 months of not working on my project, I finally got in there today, cleaned off my workbench of all of the kitlites stuff, and unrolled my spar web blank, and the one I purchased from the factory. I used it as a template, and laid out and drilled all of the holes within 2 hours. This web has ALOT of holes, and it would have taken me forever to layout accurately and drill them out. By using a factory predrilled web, it made the job very simple.
  • Jan 15, 2011 12 Spar Webs (74.25 hours)
    This entry represents time worked from 1/15/2011 to 1/15/2012 for a total of 74.25 housrs working on the Spar Webs. Purchased one from Sonex and used as a drill template for completing the second.
  • Dec 15, 2010 138 Lift Reserve Indicator (2 hours)
    I constructed the first part of my Lift Reserve Indicator which was the gauge. I will use an Air Craft Spruce Pitot tube for my sensor mounted to the opposite wing of the pitot tube.
  • Nov 21, 2010 19 Latest LED Light designs and welcome (0 hours)
    Here is the latest LED position lights I have made. I am beginning to fine tune the design and making it a more efficient, lighter and aerodynamic design while still looking good and providing excellent lighting qualities. This design uses the latest led technology. a combination of Superflux LEDs and How Powered LED anticollision lights and Strobes that rival many of the designs on the market at a fraction of the cost for these kits that will be available through . My New Webstore for Experimental Aircraft Builders.
  • Oct 15, 2010 19 New Led Position Lights Design! (0 hours)
    I have been working on a new Led Navigation /Strobe lights design. I am very pleased at how they came out. I believe there is a need for a good kit that homebuilders can assemble themselves for Sonex and other aircraft, so I am working on getting a good affordable kit to market. Check out my new website for LED Aero Kit lites...
  • Sep 27, 2010 389 clean, degrease and paint (3 hours)
    Cleaned and degreased The Valve Covers, Finished the Push Rod tubes and prepped for paint, cleaned and degreased the Harmonic balancer, and the cylinder cooling tins and then painted them all fire engine red.

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