How Much Space Does it Take to Build an AirCam?

garage-doorCustomers often ask," How much space does it take to build an AirCam?  What tools will I need?  What is the preferred order of building the sections?"

Before the 1960s garages tended to be smaller then those from the 60s -90s.  Again recently the garages have decreased in size. That being said an AirCam airframe's sections can be completely built in any single or larger garage.  However it may not be able to be assembled.  Let's investigate further. All sections of the AirCam except for the fuselage can easily be built in any one car garage. However, in a single car garage, after finishing a few sections you would need to make room for the next section(s) you're building by storing the completed  sections off-site.  In a two car garage it is not necessary to store completed sections off premises.

Length Issues:

An Aircam fuselage comes in two pieces temporarily riveted.  One piece is 14 feet long and the other is 8 feet 4 inches.  Both are less then 32 inches wide.  Therefore, you don't have a space problem until you've finished drilling out all the holes to their proper size, disassembled, primed the parts, assembled the two sections and are ready join them into one 22 foot 4 inch section.It is at this point you need either a two car garage or to open the garage door and keep it open.  Even in a two car garage you could go no further then adding the skid rail assembly, bumpers, and the nose cone.  At this point you're 24 feet 8 inches long.  If you were to add the vertical you would finish at 28 feet 8 inches which on the diagonal would require a 2+ car garage or continuing with the garage door open.  

Height Issues:

The Center Section is at 6 feet 7 inches tall and mounting the engines only adds another inch. Adding the vertical w/o tailwheel you are at 7 feet 10 inches tall.  With the tailwheel you are pushing 8 feet 10 inches, so you would need a 10 foot ceiling.  You can raise the nose to get under an 8  foot header.  I'm not so sure you could raise it enough to get the vertical under a 7 foot header and I know I wouldn't attempt this with the center section or engines on.

Width Issues:

An AirCam fuselage with the gear legs on is 7 feet 5 inches wide w/o wheels and tires.  With wheels and tires it's 8 feet  9 inches wide.  Usually the narrowest garage door is 8 feet.  Some builders buy a small set of  heavy duty ball bearing hard tire wheels.  They are only 3-4 inches tall and can be found at tractor supply.  Installing these instead of the normal wheels and tires lowers the height of the engines and center section by 5 inches and keeps the width under 8 feet.  The center section is 7 feet wide and with engines mounted it's 8 feet 4 inches wide if you've mounted the oil coolers too.  That is if both coolers are to the port side, which is normal.  You would save 4 inches in width if you mount and plumbed  them both inward to the center.  I have never tried to pass the fuselage with engines mounted through an 8 foot wide door.  That's not to say it can't be done.  When the Horizontal is mounted to the Vertical the total width is 13 feet 4 inches.  You could probably get this through a 12 foot wide door.  I wouldn't be so sure of a 10 foot wide door.

What Tools Does it Take to Build my AirCam?

Surprisingly to many people, it doesn't take many tools to build an AirCam.  Here is a list compiled by Lance Truax.  

  • 2 - small air drills
  • 2 - air rivet guns
  • 1 - manual rivet gun
  • 1 - 8-32 rivnut driver
  • wire crimpers
  • #40#30#29#20#19#12#2 drill bits + 7/32 1/4 5/16 3/8 drill bits
  • 1/4" reamer
  • 1/4"or 3/8" socket drive + 11/32", 3/8", 7/16", 1/2", 9/16" sockets
  • 11/32, 3/8, 7/16, 1/2, 9/16 combination wrenches, 
  • 400 - #3 Clecos, 400 - #4 Clecos, 50- #5 Clecos, Cleco pliers
  • Awl
  • 100 degree countersink
  • Assorted files, Deburring tool, Right angle drill attachment
  • #40, #30 right angle drill bit
  • Scotchbrite pads
  • Phillips and straight screwdrivers

What is the Recommended Order of Build?

Once again Lance says to start with the fuel tanks. They need to cure for two weeks and then be leak tested.  Do your Control surfaces, ie horizontals, rudder, flaps, ailerons.  Next the vertical.  Put everything aside and do your fuselage then center section. Wire it all, then build your engine package. Leave your wings for last as they take up a lot of room and are delicate.

By Robert Meyer