Build Philosophy

 
 
One of the criteria that was important to me in choosing the Sonex was that it could be built inexpensively. Generally, cheaper is better, but in the case of homebuilding, this usually means trading time for money. I definitely have more time than money, but that's OK because I like to build anyway. The Sonex is somewhat unique in that the plane can be built entirely from plans, as every detail of the construction (everything!) is completely and thoroughly documented in the plans. (The plans truly are the best in the industry.) However, should you decide to trade some of that hard earned money, each individual component can also be purchased from the factory. So in my case, having no welding experience and not really wanting to tackle that skill just yet, I will choose to buy the pre-welded components from Sonex.

This allows builders like me a great deal of freedom, and a nice confidence boost. I can tackle scratch building every part one at a time, and if things donít go well, or I canít get the precision I need, I can order that particular piece from Sonex.

This approach fits perfectly into my overall build philosophy:

ďStart small, build from scratch, buy parts I donít want or canít make myself. Exhaust all available materials before buying more. Put off high cost items (engine, prop, avionics) as long as possible.Ē

Start small. Spend the least amount of money necessary at any given time.

Build from scratch. Buy raw materials instead of the full kit. This allows me to spread the cost over a longer time, and essentially finance the cost myself. It is better to potentially pay slightly more money (shipping, no quantity discount, ect.) but to keep the remainder of that $12,000 kit price in the bank for a few more months or years! Along this line, I worked up a few scenarios where I spent more in the end buying piecemeal over time as opposed to one lump sum up-front and paying the interest rate on the loan while the parts sit in the garage. There are a whole bunch of factors to consider, but the indication I got when I had finished cranking through some numbers was that over a four year build, as long as I didnít get ripped off on the materials or place multiple orders per month, I was still better off "self financing" the project.

As I mentioned above, I am estimating a four-year build time. Considering my available free time, family obligations, and cash flow, I feel this is a reasonable goal. Weíll see how this turns out.....

I estimate the cost of the plane to be $25,000 all-up with basic VFR instruments and the AeroVee engine. Figuring $7,000 for the firewall forward and $2000 in the panel, this suggests the majority of the plane can be built on a budget of about $300 per month. This is doable even on my single income family.

To implement this philosophy here is my plan:

  1. Purchase a base supply of raw materials to get started. This will consist of 8 sheets 0.025" aluminum and 3 sheets 0.032". This should allow me get a reasonable quantity discount and still keep the price under control.
  2. Start collecting sheet metal specific tools. Buy only what is necessary at the time. My purchasing analysis suggested that it was alright to spread this out even with shipping costs rather than stock up and pay the interest.
  3. Buy the angle stock and piano hinge.
  4. Purchase the pre-formed aluminum kit from Sonex. This eliminates the hassle of forming the larger channels and control surface skins.
  5. Next, rivets and hardware. Order extras from quantities listed in the Wicks hardware kit (based on other builder experiences). Extra Hardware Spreadsheet (Excel)
  6. When I can go no further, buy the welded components kit from Sonex.
  7. Buy accessories and finish components as necessary at this point.
  8. Get the engine, cowling, canopy, and instruments only after all other work has been exhausted.

This plan was laid out in the following excel spreadsheet: Build Plan Spreadsheet (Excel)


UPDATE 11 OCT 04: I have decided that I am going to buy the full kit. Everything I previously said still holds true, but my financial outlook says maybe I can swing the full kit soon. So, the new strategy looks like this.

  1. Purchase a base supply of angle stock to get started. This will consist initially of 1", 1.5", and 2" angle in 0.125" thickness. The idea here is to only buy what I need to work with for the next few months. Then, when I order my kit, I will see if Jeremy will just omit the material I already have and reduce the price a bit.
  2. Start collecting sheet metal specific tools. Buy only what is necessary at the time. My purchasing analysis suggested that it was alright to spread this out even with shipping costs rather than stock up and pay the interest.
  3. Purchase a full kit from Sonex when finances allow (hopefully at the Feb '05 builder workshop so I can get the $400 discount).
  4. Next, rivets and hardware. Order extras from quantities listed in the Wicks hardware kit.
  5. Get the engine and instruments only after all other work has been exhausted.

 

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Updated: 5 Jan 04