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RV-8 Baggage Compartment

Mike Robbins, Van’s Air Force Home Wing
[RV-8QB Home Winger Mike Robbins, who lives in Issaquah, WA, wanted to make sure he could carry his folding bicycles in his new RV-8. Following is the story of how he modified his rear baggage compartment to create a greater storage space—-Ed.]

Looking aft between the F-808 and F-809 bulkheads, RV-8ers will notice the absence of the baggage step and the increased room created by Mike’s modification.

Aft Baggage Compartment

For many years I have wanted a low wing, all metal tandem airplane. I learned to fly in a tandem 39 years ago, although it wasn’t a low wing nor made of metal. Since I couldn’t afford to buy a new one, if one existed, I knew I would have to make one. But I also knew that time would be in short supply. Another desire was to have a baggage compartment with enough room to put a couple of bikes in it. I looked at the RV-4 years ago, but it was just too small. I considered the 6, which has a fairly roomy baggage compartment, but at the time I knew I couldn’t finish one, and of course it wasn’t tandem. But when the 8 came out I knew I had to have one.

Trouble was, the baggage compartment, as currently de-signed, still wouldn’t accommodate my desired cargo. I really wanted the 8, and I knew I could finish one if I had the QB, so I decided to redesign the aft cargo compartment to meet my needs.

I am going with the O-360 A1A, so can put the battery up front, either on the firewall, or behind it as Randy Lervold is doing. That way I could eliminate that step in the baggage compartment which would just be wasted space.

I started by designing full length side panels which will be pop riveted on the top and have nut plates on the bottom flange. The full length floor is secured to the side panels and the F-818 baggage rib by #6 screws. So the entire floor is removable. To get the right dimensions I made templates out of 1/8” rigid foam boards that are carried in the art department of most stationary stores. I just kept cutting them down until I got the correct shape. I wanted a fairly robust cover to protect the elevator bellcrank and push-pull tube. A friend of mine, and fellow RV builder, Larry James of Bellevue, WA, had some .063 5052 sheet. He suggested a design for the cover. I made a mockup of the cover again using the foam boards, and had the cover welded. Looks neater that way. The cover is secured to the floor, F-818 bag-gage rib, and aft bulkhead with #8 screws.

I made the aft bulkhead so it fits on the back side of the F-808 bulkhead and is secured with #8 screws. I made a cutout in the bulkhead so I could put long things in the back, like X-C skis or maybe a shotgun if I ever go up to Alaska. There are also some stiffeners on the back side of it. All the parts, except the cover, are made of .032 instead if .025. I felt the .025 is a little flimsy for this application.
After putting all the finished parts in I made a trial fit check of one of my Bike Fri-day folding bikes. It just barely fit with about an 1/8” clearance. It’s really tight, but I met my objective.

Although the parts look rather simple, it took me about two months to design and make that modification. But it was worth it to me.

Strobe Power Supply and ELT Bracket

I also wanted a strong foundation for my strobe power supply and ACK ELT, and I didn’t want to mount them in the aft cargo compartment. So I designed brackets for them that are riveted to stringers mounted on the floor behind the F-808 aft baggage compartment bulkhead.
The stringers are made from 3/4 x 3/4 0.063 angle, and are secured both to the fuselage floor with AN426AD3 rivets and tied to the bulkheads at each end with angle brackets and rivets (AN470AD3s). I had to use a pop rivet dimpler to dimple the holes in the fuselage bottom. I am using the same Whelen power supply and ELT that is in my Kitfox, so I was able to get the dimensions of the mounting holes and carefully duplicated them in the brackets that I riveted to the .063 stringers. I put #10 nutplates in the mounting brackets. I made the eight mounting brackets and the four stabilizing brackets from 3/4 x 2  0.063 angle that I got from Boeing surplus.
It adds a little weight back there, but I figure with a wife that weighs only 100 lbs. (that she will admit to anyway) and my battery forward I should be OK CG wise. Credit must be given to Larry James without whose help this project would never have come to pass.

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