It’s been ages since I posted – partly because we have actually been pretty productive with the build recently. I should get better at documenting progress, though, as I am sure we’ll enjoy looking back on it when we’re finished.

We have now passed the point of no return. We ordered our fuselage kit from Van’s a couple of months ago and it should be delivered by the end of November – definitely no going back now, and also good motivation to get the empennage complete so we can focus on the new kit parts when they arrive.

It’s getting colder so we’ve also been trying to make the most of reasonable daytime temperatures to finish off priming the larger surfaces – it’s not much fun scrubbing and hosing down large sheets of metal outside in freezing temperatures, nor does it feel like good use of time when it takes a couple of hours to heat the workshop to the requisite 15 degrees before you can actually paint anything.

Our landlord recently visited for his annual inspection and saw that the house is increasingly disappearing under various bits of aeroplane tail surface. I was a bit worried he’d think we were building in the house (which – mostly – we’re not) and be concerned about the potential for damage when moving large metal parts up and down the stairs, but he actually seemed quite excited by our progress and has offered us part of a stable down the road to store completed parts in, which will be a huge help in the very near future.

The last part of the empennage kit, which we’re working on at the moment, is the aft section of the fuselage. It’s been quite satisfying to build as it involves much larger parts and it really is starting to look like an aeroplane!

We have recently had a steady stream of visitors wanting to take a look at the build – including, but not limited to: family and friends, fellow builders, the chimney sweep, the plumber, a local priest, a poppy seller and the guy from pest control who came to check on the bat colony in our attic…#countryproblem number 356. News travels fast, it seems – all have reacted somewhere on the scale from ‘impressed’ to ‘baffled’ 🙂

The aft fuselage section is made up of increasingly large bulkheads which give it its shape; stringers which connect the bulkheads and provide additional strength, and finally large aluminium skins that are riveted to the outside of the structure and take the majority of the stress.


Bottom skin attached to the larger bulkheads
Bottom skin attached to the larger bulkheads


Bulkheads with first side skin attached
Bulkheads with first side skin attached

We have chosen to back-rivet our skins on wherever possible – this involves a large cylindrical bucking bar and a back-riveting set for the gun. For flat sections we have previously used a back-riveting plate, but for the curved outside edges of the fuselage we need this specially-designed bar. It takes more work than standard flush riveting, but the finish is incredible and we think it’s worth it. We managed about 300 skin rivets with only a couple of drill-outs, as well, which either means we’re getting more consistent or the technique is working – probably both!

We are really pleased with progress and it’s been nice to have some interest now that it’s looking more like a plane. Looking forward to getting the empennage finished (fibreglass fairings next and then some more wiring…) and cracking on with the main section of the fuselage when it arrives.

Both side skins on now...
Both side skins on now…


Internal structure with cables laid out
Internal structure with cables laid out


Largely back-riveted side skin
Largely back-riveted side skin

We had the pleasure of speaking to LAA Kent recently about our tour of Northern Europe back in May. It was lovely to re-live some of the experiences and share them with others who are passionate about flying. We were also a bit over-excited to get our own billboard – thanks Gary 🙂



RV-14 build: It’s beginning to look a lot like an aeroplane!

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12 thoughts on “RV-14 build: It’s beginning to look a lot like an aeroplane!

    1. Hi Philip, we don’t at the moment but we do post updates on EuroGA and on the Facebook page for Van’s Aircraft Owners & Builders UK. Might think about making a Facebook page for updates as some people prefer that, I’ll let you know details if we do. Are you building yourself or thinking of doing so?

  1. Hi Emily and J,

    Great work on both the RV-14 and on the blog.

    I have recently started looking into building an RV (once I finish my PPL in the first half of next year) and the RV-14 looks perfect for what I want to do with it, so following your progress on here is both inspiration and education! It’s a little daunting but reading your success helps.

    Anyway, you seem to be making great progress and I hope that it continues to go well for you both.



    1. Hi Angus,

      Thank you! Best of luck finishing the PPL 🙂

      Not sure where you are based, but you’re very welcome to come and see the build if you’re ever in the South East. Also feel free to ask us anything – we still feel a bit clueless and are definitely learning every day, but will help wherever we can.

      Best wishes,

  2. Hi Emily,
    Congratulations on getting this far with your build. This is really inspiring. Please keep posting updates.
    Also, will you tell me the approximate dimensions of the VS, HS and tail cone? I am considering building an RV as well but have very limited space in my garage. Just want to figure out how soon I will need to move in to a hangar.

    1. Hi, thank you for getting in touch and I’m sorry for the delay in responding! The HS is about 9ft long and about 1.5ft wide – it was just possible to turn it round in our 10ft wide single garage. The VS is about 6ft tall and 3ft wide at its widest. The tailcone we had to take outside to turn it around – that’s probably about 12ft long and max 5ft high. I hope that helps! How big is your space?

      1. Hi, Thank you very much for your reply and it is great to see your progress. I have an 8 feet wide garage and I want to build an RV-10. Looks like I will need a hangar as soon as I need to put the emp pieces together.

        1. Ah yes, it may be tight in that case! The RV-10 is actually a fair bit bigger than the -14 as it has 4 seats and I’m pretty sure it’s taller/wider in most places.

          Van’s publish the key dimensions on their site, although this refers to the fully assembled plane and doesn’t break it down by kit: The good thing about the empennage is that you can build the individual bits and not assemble them until a later stage – you could easily prepare the elevators, HS, rudder, tailcone and VS and keep them apart until you move your build into a hangar. You would just need to make a careful note of the steps you’ve skipped so you know which holes still need drilling once you assemble it for real 🙂 I hope that helps!

          I would recommend joining the Facebook group ‘Vans Aircraft Owners and Builders UK’ to speak to others who have or are building RV-10s. There is a guy called Carl Meek who finished an RV-10A last year and he posts on a lot of the pilot forums – if you wish, I could pass him your contact information.

  3. Hi, Yes. I have been chatting with an RV-10 builder in the US and got the dimensions for the emp. The VS is roughly 6ft tall but the HS is 12ft wide. I will have to drag the whole thing outside to temporarily attach them to the tail-cone to limit the number of steps I skip.

    Thank you for recommending the facebook group. I was not aware of that. Just joined it. Looks like there is a lot of information there.

    Please pass on my contact information to Carl Meek. Would love to get more information on building a -10 in the UK.

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