Any Rans Builders or flyers here?

Brad W

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I'm just looking for experience with Rans kits in general
and I'm most curious about their S-21 Outbound and their S-7 Courier, or maybe their S-20 Raven

I was really hoping to have a look at them at Sun N Fun, but sadly they weren't there...and I didn't spot any on the field. Interestingly enough, I did spot a handmade sign posted by someone else looking to do the same thing...specifically for an S-21. I texted him and he said no luck, and also said others had also reached out to him looking to do the same. It seems Rans missed at least a little bit of interest....oh well.
 
I built and fly an S-7. 2015 kit flew it in 2022. I'm happy.
 
I'm just looking for experience with Rans kits in general
and I'm most curious about their S-21 Outbound and their S-7 Courier, or maybe their S-20 Raven

I was really hoping to have a look at them at Sun N Fun, but sadly they weren't there...and I didn't spot any on the field. Interestingly enough, I did spot a handmade sign posted by someone else looking to do the same thing...specifically for an S-21. I texted him and he said no luck, and also said others had also reached out to him looking to do the same. It seems Rans missed at least a little bit of interest....oh well.
They had the s21 at osh. Sat in it. I'm big, it's small. Like kitfix small. Probably fine if you're under maybe 6'1" and 200lb. On paper it looks like a near perfect combo of short/unimproved field and cruise characteristics. Turns out I'm more RV14 sized.
 
I built and fly an S-7. 2015 kit flew it in 2022. I'm happy.
I think my biggest questions at this point
1) What is NOT included in the kit?.... I understand most kits don't include paint, avionics, and sometimes engine...but some do. I was looking at Sling at Sun N Fun and their kit pretty much can cover pretty much everything I think but paint. That of course isn't necessary, but I do need to know for getting a better overall feel for the end cost​
Looking at the "order sheet", it seems that everything might be included except avionics, wiring, and paint....​
2) how did the kit go together for you? Any major snags or question points....such as poor drawings or instructions, etc...?​

I suppose a variable playing into your answers...Did you do any sort of quickbuild?
They had the s21 at osh. Sat in it. I'm big, it's small. Like kitfix small. Probably fine if you're under maybe 6'1" and 200lb. On paper it looks like a near perfect combo of short/unimproved field and cruise characteristics. Turns out I'm more RV14 sized.
The S21 is looking on paper to maybe a be a good fit for what I'm thinking.... I'm not so interested in the "backcountry" or STOL mission. I love camping and wish that I was looking for back country....but I live in the East. That seems much more of an out West kind of thing. If I'm honest, I'll be landing on pavement and occasional an improved grass strip. Almost certainly never anyplace you couldn't take a Cessna 172 with wheel pants!

Still, that design focus brings with it a lower stall speed which I think is good for safety. That hits the high end cruise speed, but the S-21 is probably still fast enough for me. Certainly faster than many of the others I've considered...and I like the nose-dragger option. As much as I'd prefer conventional, a trike makes better sense for lower insurance rates and safety.

I want to get a hands-on look with one, to try it on for size. Fortunately, I'm small.... 5-10 and about 150#...but I still want room for larger folks. Anyway, for me it's more about feel, visibility, baggage access and baggage area size, etc... Sadly I didn't find one at sun n fun....

I spent quite a bit of time at the Van's tent at sun n fun the year before last, and quite a lot of time in, under, and around their RV-14. I think that really fits my mission probably better, but there are things I just can't get past with that design.
 
They had the s21 at osh. Sat in it. I'm big, it's small. Like kitfix small. Probably fine if you're under maybe 6'1" and 200lb. On paper it looks like a near perfect combo of short/unimproved field and cruise characteristics. Turns out I'm more RV14 sized.
At 5'7" 160, an S21 with a Rotax seems like the One True SLSA/MOSAIC All Metal High Wing Taildragger without going full rolling coal STOLbro.
 
Definitely sit in an S-21, and more importantly have your passenger (if yiu have a regular one) sit in it. The S-21 has a hump on the floor midway between the seats and pedals, so the passenger either has their toes on the pedsls, wedged in between, or their legs are scrunched up. Other than that, the S-21 is a great plane. A couple neighbors have them - they’re capable, well-made, a piece of cake to fly and own.
 
I made quite a few mods as I built my 2015 year S-7S so my construction is not typical, I suppose. As I recall, the kits were complete as you stated.
Two fellows with lots of experience built S-20's at the same time I built my S-7. One was an experienced aviation engineer and built his own avionics panel. Another, a serious and meticulous car and motorcycle rebuilder, overhauled the fuel lines. We did much building either together or fed off each other's experience. So, we made a lot of changes which we liked and are improvements but didn't need to be done.
I think the kit as it comes is complete. Absolutely do a thorough inventory right away. (That will introduce the first problem - break out all the parts or keep track of the bag associated with each assembly?) I am happy with all the changes I made, but in retrospect, I would build my first one (this is my first one) just by the book. Every change I made is worthwhile, but it adds time and money. BTW, I had a 3 year time-out, so my build time was 4 years. I should have made one stock, flew and sold it, and made all my changes on my second one when I had lots more experience.

You have three build books and you need to print them on good paper and have all three out at the same time. Text, Plans and Drawings. You need to use them together. Go over everything first and have a good sense of each step. I absolutely used both the book and a big computer screen and printer for reference. Each has benefits. I actually wrote in the manuals for diaries, with dates, work time, changes, etc. Use the documents that come with your airplane (I changed a couple of things and ended up using a later model build book, which of course I had to go back and redo as the original book said. My dumb.)

I used Oratex fabric and am glad I did, but it doesn't get you out of much painting. You still have to paint everything not fabric. Plus, you have to match paint (my match is OK) and of course some things like screw heads and rivet heads may not get painted. I'd use Oratex again but am not flogging it.

I changed the avionics panel so that it hinged on the bottom, and boy am I glad that I did. Take out a few screws, hinge the panel down and I have access to the wiring behind the panel. I had to reroute the choke and parking controls. I use Dynon instruments and all are shallow or fit on a shelf I installed. What a good idea. But, admittedly not stock.

I moved the ELT so it was easier to get at. The original is under the baggage compartment which you have to remove. My location is better - but it's different and you need to make a mounting plate.

I didn't like their header tank (I think their new one is better) so I had my own fabricated.

I put in auto pilot and am glad that I did. I had to invent the mountings because Rans had mountings info for Garmin but not Dynon. No problem, just took time and effort.

What will run the money up also is the extra tools and equipment you'll end up thinking and believing you need. Good compressor and air drills for tight places. Several torque wrenches. Good 1/4 and 3/8 inch wrenches and sockets with extensions as needed. Good riveter (I have two and don't have to change mandrels all the time.). Good paint equipment (and a paint booth) if you paint yourself, including the air breathing gear if you use the two-part paint.

You'll find you want to build a rotary stand for the fuselage and stands for the wings. Spend some time looking at other people's designs. You'll rotate the fuselage and wings much more than once so be able to stop them at various angles. Figure out how to label and store the parts. You may end up buying a bunch of drawers or boxes if you break out all the nuts, bolts, rivets, etc. I did that and think it worked. Some keep each bag separate and try to relate it to the part it was shipped with/for.
That's off the top of my head. There is probably more.
I am happy with Rans' support. I really like the airplane. Again, I'd build the first one stock and build another with the changes later.
 
........ Spend some time looking at other people's designs. ......
Thanks!
I tend to spend a lot of time up front researching... that's where I am now. Trying to do a fairly deep dive into understanding the model to help me decide which aircraft I'd like to build. A long time ago, I found through a not-aviation topic, that discussion forums like POA can be great resource to learn!
Of course POA isn't focussed on homebuilts so much and as evidence in this thread there's not a lot of Rans specific activity here.
So I'm wondering.... have you ever found a forum that is active for Rans?

Interesting points you make about building in modifications. This is an area I've considered a lot as I daydream about building something.
There are things I see as I browse around that are...well, stong "wants". I've not yet touched a Rans S21 but one example that jumps out at me is a desire for opening windows. I saw the same thing when I was spending time at the Sling HW during sun n fun! I would really want to build that into my build for both of these planes.
but other times I see folks going "off-book" on youtube etc.... and I think about unintended consequences.... and "star trek engineering.... going where no man has gone before". Even though it might seem like an improvement in every way imaginable, what about the way that they are not imagining?...
and, I think to the point you are making.... even if it is better in every way, is it worth the extra time/effort/money?
 
@jnmeade .....
since there's not a lot of experimental discussion here at POA, and especially it seems for Ran's
I'm wondering if you've come across any other forum/discussion sites that are active for Ran's types and builders?
Seems like the factory one is not active, nor is the facebook group I found. Are there just not that many builders out there?....or are they just out enjoying their planes more than the Van's pilots are... (that van's airforce forum site is very active by comparison)
 
@jnmeade .....

Are there just not that many builders out there?....or are they just out enjoying their planes more than the Van's pilots are... (that van's airforce forum site is very active by comparison)
Rans - about 3,000 planes.
Van’s - more than 11,200.
 
The company forum or chat site seems moribund. The Rans Clan (kind of like Vans Air Force) https://www.ransclan.com seems to be struggling. I used to follow it daily but haven't been on for a while. Three of us local Rans owners tend to talk among ourselves. We get good support from the factory when we need it.
 
Just saw this, not sure if you're still looking for input. My dad and I built an early version of the S21 Outbound, so if you have any questions or whatever feel free to ask. I bought the wing kit first, and I think it was #13 to be shipped. And apparently the kits were considerably cheaper back then from looking at their website. There were some kinks that had to be sorted out, modifications, fixes, etc. It was totally workable, but I know the new kits have all those changes incorporated. Good documentation and drawings, and I figured it's probably one of the easiest kits to assemble. One person I knew figured it wouldn't get done, using the historical figures of how many kits sit uncompleted. But based on the construction process of this one, I expected it would get finished and I was right.

I have never flown a tail dragger, so mine is a tricycle and have been happy with it. In the eastern states it will probably do anything I want to attempt. The vast majority of S21s are probably tail draggers though. The seating design is less than perfect as was mentioned above (I'd rather sit more upright like in a chair), but I'm still very happy with it overall. I was excited to see that another S21 came to my home airport, but sadly I wasn't able to get there to see it. And so far I've never seen another one "in the wild" other than mine, but there have to be quite a few out there.
 
Just saw this, not sure if you're still looking for input. My dad and I built an early version of the S21 Outbound, so if you have any questions or whatever feel free to ask. I bought the wing kit first, and I think it was #13 to be shipped. And apparently the kits were considerably cheaper back then from looking at their website. There were some kinks that had to be sorted out, modifications, fixes, etc. It was totally workable, but I know the new kits have all those changes incorporated. Good documentation and drawings, and I figured it's probably one of the easiest kits to assemble. One person I knew figured it wouldn't get done, using the historical figures of how many kits sit uncompleted. But based on the construction process of this one, I expected it would get finished and I was right.

I have never flown a tail dragger, so mine is a tricycle and have been happy with it. In the eastern states it will probably do anything I want to attempt. The vast majority of S21s are probably tail draggers though. The seating design is less than perfect as was mentioned above (I'd rather sit more upright like in a chair), but I'm still very happy with it overall. I was excited to see that another S21 came to my home airport, but sadly I wasn't able to get there to see it. And so far I've never seen another one "in the wild" other than mine, but there have to be quite a few out there.
The S21 checks many boxes. Compared to other homebuilts it seems fairly inexpensive and easy to build. However, like many homebuilts, the design seems to favor STOL, which requires a low wing loading. I'm coming from a heavy Skylane which is fairly stable in gusty conditions. I'm curious if a STOL aircraft like the S21 would be grounded under conditions where heavier aircraft would have no issues.
 
that's exactly my stance as well. As much as I like the idea of short back country operations for camping and hiking, realistically that's not gonna be my mission. I do like the idea of very slow stall.... but I'd prefer the stability in the bumps over STOL operations.
 
Funny. I just came here to search for any posts about the S21 OB. For whatever reason, I've been seeing them pop up on YT videos recently and they seem interesting. A little disappointed (but not surprised) to hear that they aren't sized well for larger-than-average folks. I'm 6'7", so I'm used to not fitting in most things, but it sounds like the S21 is even more size-limiting.
 
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