Chapter 24 - Covers & Fairings

It may seem that this chapter took longer than it should have. This is because I Made my own cowling and included the work as part of this chapter.

Seats & Armrests

This seems like a job I can do while waiting for parts for other chapters. I could buy these prefab, but I plan to do the upholstery in leather, so the finish doesnt matter. Think I'll just make them now and save the cash. Besides - it will be nice to see the interior start to look like an airplane instead of a box.

I build the front seat supports and front seats. On the supports I used my shrink wrap film method to avoid a cure time between sides. Just glassed one side, peel plied it, then layed it on the film to glass the other side. Next day I fitted the supports and, after cure, fitted and glassed the seats. It was nice to finally sit in the plane with the seats in place. Seems a little large for my relatively small frame (I'm 5' 7"), but I think the foam cushions will make it just right.

Now if I had any 3/8 foam I'd make the armrests. Hmmm. What about all that scrap foam from canard cutting failures? I could use the hot wire to cut it into 3/8 sheets.

Cutting 3/8 slabs of foam for my armrests was easy. Understanding the shape of the armrests from the plans wasnt. I saw some good pictures at Marc Zeitlins site and made my armrests. I don't have the control rods and side sticks in yet, so the armrests will need adjustment, but at least they're ready to work on. I carved the foam plugs for the map pockets then shrink wrapped them and used shrink wrap film for release on the bench. We had some friends round for the evening, so I decided to leave this chaper for a while and finish the landing brake. I made them help me flip the plane over before they could have dessert. Wayne Hicks says he flips his plane on his own. He must be a big guy. It took four of us and we were all puffing afterwards.

Once the Cozy was on its wheels again I was able to try out the seats for the first time. The seat feels a little long for me, but otherwise is very comfortable. Like sitting in a Porche. When I get my cushions I think the seat will be very comfortable. I saw some very nice cushions at Sun & Fun and kept the brochure for later. Much later.

The Transition Pieces

I had trouble understanding the transition piece when I first made the front armrests. Later, when it came time to install the armrests I finally figured it out. I installed the armrests, then made the vertical piece which goes at right angles to and against the IP. Once this was in place the "transition piece" made a bit more sense. I started with a rectangular block of blue foam about 6.5 * 3.5 * 3.5 inches, then I cut the corners off at an angle and hacked pieces off until I could fit it in place. Once I'd got the basic shape I carved the foam into a smooth complex curve with the band saw. Finally I squewered it with a hinge pin, attached it to the vertical piece and removed both for glassing together.

Later I made the rear seats. They seem really narrow, but once you sit in them they're fine. I cut and glued the foam for the rear arm rests, but will hold off fitting them until I've done the controls in Chap 16.

Lower strake fairings

Once the strakes were done, we turned the fuselage over once again. Char came out to help so, remembering that the plans say the strake to wing fairings can be either solid or hollow, I asked her to hollow out the foam from the fairings. After about 10 minutes of hacking she stopped and asked me to look at the fairing. Now the urathane was gone from the first few inches the skin of the fairing was quite floppy. We decided that removing the foam wasn't such a good idea after all. I'll have to get some more pour foam and fill up the hole she dug. Good thing she stopped when she did. I spent a few days working on finishing the bottom surface of the fuselage, wings and strakes, and then realized that it was finally time to do the lower strake fairings by the fuel sumps. I'd used quite a lot of urathane making the fairings from the strakes to the wings, so I decided to try doing the lower strake airings with blue styrofoam left over from the wings. I found a suitable piece and did a rough freehand cut with the hotwire saw, moving the foam around the saw wire to get a curve. This worked rather well. Next I carved and sanded with sandpaper until I had the right shape to fit alongside the sump. Before fitting the styrofoam I cut another piece for the other side and sanded it to match. I microed the foam in place, made pieces to fit aft of the sumps and microed over the sumps themselves. Once all this was cured I sanded the micro smooth, added a little more micro along the edges then glassed the fairings in place. My fairings seem to be a little larger than those shown in the plans, but my sumps were the correct size and the fairings were as small as I could make them and still enclose the sumps.

Gear fairings

Wayne Blacker was passing around drawings for full gear leg fairings. I looked at these, but decided to make a simple fairing at the top of the gear leg. I had a 1/2 gap between the gear leg, fuselage and gear cover. This took a total of about 3 hours over two evenings and I'm quite pleased with the result. First I filled the gaps with urathane and sanded it to a smooth curve. I then covered the gear leg with duct tape and used more duct tape to continue the curve from the urathane to the fuselage - essentially using duct tape as a form for the glass. I layed up a 2 ply BID tape over the taped gear leg, the urathane and onto the gear cover. Once this cured I duct taped the bottom (upside down) of the part of the new fairing which stuck out aft of the gear leg, and layed up another 2 BID tape to make the upper fairing from the fuselage to the taped gear leg. A little trimming and I now have a nice tight fairing which rests on the gear leg, but isn't attached to it. Half of the fairing is part of the gear leg cover. The other half is part of the fuselage side. I've seen cracked gear leg fairings on other Cozy's. Mine are mostly glass with very little micro. My first hard landing will tell.

Canard Cover

While doing the canopy deck I stuck urathane foam to the canard and carved the canard cover to match. The foam gets really thin, so decided to try hard shelling. I microed the foam over the cover, sanded it relatively smooth, then microed it again. I'm not using much micro, and this seemed to me to be the best way to get the shape right before glassing the cover. The canard cover looks good and will need very little fill to get a smooth contour over the nose. In retrospect, it would have been easier to get a good continuous line [if logistically harder] if I'd carved the nose, canopy cover and canopy deck all at the same time as a few builders have done.

Upper strake fairings

Once the canopy was in I made dams and added pour foam along the top of the strake / canopy join. I carried the foam all the way to the front to help me get the curvature smooth between the fuselage sides and the canopy deck. Once the foam was carved to a nice shape I glassed it, right over the canopy join. In Chap 18 the plans say you'll be in big trouble if you epoxy the canopy shut. In Chapter 24 they tell you to glass it shut, both sides. Maybe Nat thinks you'll be more experienced with a hacksaw by the time you get to Chap 24. After cure I sawed along the top of the longerons until I could open the canopy again. My cut wasn't that good, so I sanded the edge down flush with the longerons, filled the voids with flox, covered with plastic and weighted a straight board down for cure. Now I have a nice flat base for the canopy to sit on.

Wingtip lights

My first attempt failed. I made the covers with no lips I hated the idea of getting the ugly, heavy Whelan light system for almost $800, so I decided to make my own. First I carved some blue foam to fit the wingtip and curve around the winglet. I covered the foam with saran wrap and glassed it. After cure I cut off the end and floxed in sawn off green and red lenses I found at autozone. See modifications for how this turned out.

Installing armrests

About a year after I made the armrests, it finally came time to install them in July '00. I'd installed the rudder cables, the roll trim and brake cables so the only thing that would pass under the armrests now would wiring. I made mounts for the headset jacks, drilled a small hole in the wiring conduit and inserted a rubber gromet. It looked like feeding the wires from the jacks would be difficult after I installed the fixed part of the rear armrest, so I pulled a wire before glassing it. After glassing I used this wire to pull the others through to the IP. Installation of the armrests went fine, but took a couple of days because I had to remake the rear armrests. I'd cut them out earlier but not glassed them. Somehow the foam pieces had been lost. While working on the armrests, I also remade the front heat duct cover. The one I'd made earlier was done with no foam, just glass and I felt it was a bit too flimsy. I'd been looking at how the rear seats were supposed to fit, and was a bit puzzeled as to how the gaps between the seats would get filled. Once I made the rear heat duct cover, everything seemed to fall into place nicely. I spent quite a few hours messing with the armrests and heat duct covers trying to get a good fit. I noticed that I'm wasting a good inch either side in the back. I put the torque tubes where the plans said to put them, and the armrest has to be quite wide at the back to avoid touching the torque tube. In retrospect, I think I could have moved the torque holes outboard about 1/2 inch at the firewall and gained some back seat space. Then again, the bellhorns would be real close to the rudder cables. I could probably carve some foam from the inside of the armrests and get them a bit narrower. Maybe later.

Rear seats

I decided to make the vertical pieces which hold up the thigh supports removable, so I taped the supports for release, then glassed them in with 2 BID tape. After cure I sat in the seats and found that they moved too much. Hmmm. back to the plans. I took a chisel and hammer to remove the 2 BID tape and was quite concerned to note that they broke off the heat duct cover after a couple of sharp blows. The tape came off easily (too easily) in one piece. Then I realized why. I've always been very careful to rough up surfaces before glassing, but this time I'd forgotten. I roughed up the surfaces and reglassed the supports.
[Later note: I stood on one of my back seats while working on the inside of the firewall. I probably gave it much more weight than it was supposed to carry. Anyway, it delaminated and broke. If I'd removed a bit of foam from the sides and floxed all around I don't think this would have happened. I remade the seat.

Wheel Pants

I read that there was a set of wheel pant molds available, so I asked Herb Sanders ( if I could get on the list to use them. In late Sept '00 they arrived complete with a can of release wax and an excellent instructional video. This was my first shot at using a mold to build anything. Wow. Laying up 2 ply BID in the molds was a 45 minute job. Todd Silver dropped by to watch the "expert" at work. One thing that was obviously different from the video was the ease of laying up with MGS. The guy in the video (Terry Scheuler) was using the "brown stuff" and it seemed to wet up like molasses compared with hot MGS. I think I'll make myself a spare set of pants while I have the molds. Later in the day, Bulent Alieve dropped by to admire my engine (even though he has one of his own) and to drool over my semi-finished bird. Bulent is still sanding, filling and sanding, and sanding. I agreed to make him a set of pants in exchange for all the work he's done, and has promised to do, on the engine side.

I asked Herb if there any neat tricks to assembling the two halves of the pants. It turns out that there are two pairs of molds, one with a vertical split and the other with a horizontal split. I only got the horizontal one, so I had to wait for the other molds to catch up to me before I could proceed. the wheel pant mold halves with the vertical split

Once I had the full set of molds I cut the shells vertically and used the new molds to hold the parts in place while joining them up. In all I made 4 sets of pants. One for me, one for Bulent, one for Todd and a spare set of shells for me. After glassing and joining 3 sets I ran out of enthuiasm for wheel pants and just stored the spare set of shells. The instructions which came with the pants decribe a long and fairly complex fitting and finishing process. I'll get to it eventually. the wheel pants joined up some initial finishing

Much later, in June 2002, when I was doing the wiring and waiting for parts, I decided to put my pants on. If I wait until after she's flow I know I wount have the patience to fit them. The first problem was that I couldnt find the plans that came with them, and the video didnt have much about installation. I've read that Van Aircraft makes a special wheel nut that has a 1/4 thread welded to it for bolting the pants to. Seems like an excellent idea - much better than trying to drill my axels, so I ordered two VA-106 at $14 each from Vans. The pants will have to sit again until these arrive and I have the plans for installation.

Finally, in August '02, I had some spare time so I thought "What better way to spend a 98F summer's day in Florida than on the patio with a dremel". With the wings and engine off it was fairly easy to lift the weight of the main wheels and put supports under the strakes. I leveled the longerons and, using the plum bob, drew a center line on the concrete under the plane. Following Herb's handwritten plans I made the barbeque spit jig and cut out holes for the tire and the strut. These plans were written for a Long-EZ, so the holes were a bit small and the jig was too short. A 2 * 4 under the jig lifted it just the right amount. At first I thought that the pants were never going to fit so I posted a message on the Canard forum saying my pants are too tight. I got a few cute responses. Gradually I cut away the hole for the strut and the tire until the pant seemed to fit with about 3/8 to 1/2 clearance all around. Part of the trick here was to get the pant leaning inwards to match the angle of the wheel. I made the aluminum supports out of 0.080 al, a little larger than the plans and cut an indent for the rearward caliper bolt. It didnt make sense to me to miss out one of the bolts, so I included all four. Also, I didnt want to use the four axle bolts to secure the pant. The bolts would turn when removing the pant, and to get at the bolt heads would require removing the wheel, which would require removing the wheel pant. Catch 22. I made a small al plate with a nutplate secured by two of the axle bolts and holding the pant away from them a 1/4 inch. I noriced that the axel nuts that came with the Matco wheels have a lip which engages the large washer holding the bearing in place. The Vans special wheen nuts dont have this lip, so I decided to use the original wheel nutes, cut about 1/2 inch off the vans nuts and use the outer half on the end of the axel, after the original wheel nut.

Next came the heat shields to protect the strut. These are recommended by many builders and seem like a very good idea. I cut two quadrant shaped pieces of 0.063 aluminum which would fit over the axel behind the caliper support bracket. I put a half inch joggle in this to keep it away from the disks, but leave a little space between the shield and the strut. (Note - the joggle is supposed to go the other way - bringing the bracket outboard so it will touch the pant where the first screw goes). The axles had to come off to install the heat shields. I dremeled the foot of the axle and the flox pad clean and refloxed everything in place. Locktight on the axle nuts and a little gold paint for the aluminum pieces finished off the job.... or so I thought.

After fiddling, shimming around the tire with 3/8 foam and fiddling some more I finally got the pants in position, parallel to the fore aft line and angled 1 1/2 degrees downward (1 inch lower at the front). At this point I rushed out to the local toy store and bought a small box of modelling clay. It says on the box "Ages 3 and up" so I guess I can use it. I used the clay per ez pant plans to make a small fillet between the gear leg and the pant. The clay worked nicely as a base for the two ply BID layup and came off fairly easily after cure. WHile reinforcing the inside of the fillet join with two ply BID I also glassed in small AL squares at the attach points and added a reinforcing layer around the tire opening.

I duct taped the strut, rechecked the position, then glassed the fairings. Toward the end of the second fairing my epoxy pump took a dump. It pumped resin nicely, but made a farting sound and pumped 50% air from the hardener tube. After three of four pumps of wasted resin it seemed to be ok. I later found that the ratio on that batch had been wrong and the epoxy only hardened to a rubber consistencey. One of my fairings had to be dremelled off and redone. Eventually the fairings were cured, I'd cleaned out and reinforced the insides, reinforced all along the edges of the wheel opening and reassembled the pants on the plane. They didnt fit! I must have spent 10 hours under the plane nudging, measuring, redrilling mount holes, fiddling and cursing. These pants are just too damn small. Nothing I did would allow the pants to be in the right position fore/aft and at the right angle without the tire touching the front outboard edge. They fit before I made the fairings. How come they don't fit now? Truth is they probably didnt fit properly before I made the fairings. They were too close to the tires then as well.

I thought that the problem was my small bracket between the inboard axel bolts, so I removed it and cut holes so the pants could go over the bolts. Better, but Still no good. I dremelled and sanded the reinforcements to make sure they weren't interfering. A little better, but still too close to the tire. The last thing I need is two wheel pants going through the prop on touchdown. Finally I decided to use a little logic instead of random attacks at the problem. The pants are just too small. Period. I checked the prices of new pants from Aerocad. $220, and I'll still have to fit and reinforce them. Also, smaller pants are probably a good thing with respect to drag provided they dont touch and come off. Hmmm. I went back out to the patio and thought about the problem some more. The front outboard side is touching on both pants. Its the same on both, so it's not my measurements or setup. If the pants were a little wider at the front they'd be fine. Hmmm. I got the dremel out again and slit the front of each pant from the wheel hole to the tip of the nose. After all the work making these babies it felt like I was slitting their throats. After all the hours crawling around under the plane this felt GOOD. I pulled the two halves apart about 3/4 inch and stuck a piece of foam in there to hold it in place. Now the tire was at least 3/8 away all the way around. Perfect.

Before glassing the V repair I decided to lower the nose and see how much clearance I had when parked. I looked at some pictures of Cozy's and the pants looked a little lower than mine. I saw some where you could see the wheel rim, and others where there only seemed to be a couple of inches of ground clearance. Once the glass was cured and the pants were back on, I didnt like the shape and decided they needed to cover more of the wheel. I knew I wouldnt be happy buzzing around with "short pants". At this point I almost gave up and bought a pair of pre-molded Cozy pants, but that would be the easy way....I had 3/8 clearance at the top, so the only way was to extend the pants. I used sheetrock putty when I made (and then modified)the cowling and it had worked pretty well, so off I went down to Home Depot and bought a bag of quick dry 20 minute sheetrock putty. I put foam around the calipers and slapped on a bunch of putty to get a rough shape. Once the stuff set I used a hacksaw blade sideways to scrape the putty, then a rough foam pad to sand it into the shape I wanted. I ended up with a symetrical shape and about 2 inches clearance at the axle centerline. As with the cowl, I glassed over the sheetrock putty. When it cured I dremelled out the overlap inside and added a 2 BID reinforcement. The next day the pants got a final fitting adjustment and I moved a couple of the attachment holes. I floxed in 1 inch square aluminum supports for the main supports, then added 2 BID glass over the aluminum (pronounced alyouminium, by the way).

The finished product I thought I was done with finishing, but here we go again... I mixed some very dry micro and trowelled it on with a putty knife and hair dryer. Once this cured, 30 minutes with a Black & Deacker sander at 50 grit got me a fairly even surface. Next day I touched up any gaps with more micro and sanded with 180 grit. Almost ready for primer. A few more touch-ups and they were ready for finish paint and trim.


Plastic taped to the wing One more little item for this chapter - the vortilons. I figured I'd make these before painting the wings. I seemed to recal that they're stuck on with RTV, not glassed on, but I couldnt find anything in the plans about them. Eventually I asked Nat and he pointed me to drawing M18. But M18 doesnt say how many ply BID they're made of. I asked Nat again. He said 3 ply, plus 2 ply for the attachment bit that wraps over the wing, and one or 2 ply tape to stick the vortilons to the attachment. OK. I taped plastic to the wings in the proper locations and laid up 2 inch, 2 ply strips with fore-aft orientation (not at right angles to the wing) for the attachments. I peel plyed these. We have glass night table covers. I borrowed these, covered one with plastic, laid up 3 ply BID, covered the layup with plastic and put the second glass sheet on top with a car battery for weight. Next day the vortilon layup was perfectly flat. The glass cleaned up easily and was back in the bedroom before Char even missed it.

Using metal duct tape to hold the vortilon in place Once the attachment pieces were cured I trimmed them to one inch wide and the same length as the curved part of the vortilons. Nat said to use 5 minute epoxy to stick the vortilons in place, but I didnt have any left, and anyway, I didnt see how this could be done easily. How do you keep the vortilons exactly at 67 degrees to the leading edge, and 90 degrees to the horizontal while the 5 min cures? After a little experimenting I found a solution. Duct tape. Not the grey stuff - the metal foil duct tape used on air conditioning systems. Its very sticky and it holds whatever shape you bend it to. I taped the vortilons to the attachment pieces on one side only, and used a small piece of tape on the other side to hold the attachment to the wing. I was out of flox too, so I mixed up a little cabosil. I broke a mixing stick in half vertically and rounded the end. Using the stick I added a very small radius of cabosil down the untaped side. The nice thing about cabosil compared with flox is that you can easily make a smooth radius. I went around with my trusty 67 degree angle checker cut out of plastic and a set square moving the vortilons until they were set just right. In the hot tub that night, Char pointed at the center vortilon on HER wing and said it was a bit off. I checked, and sure enough it was off a couple of degrees. The cabosil hadnt set yet, so I adjusted it. Next day, when the vortilons were fixed in position, I added a radius of cabosil down the other side and one ply BID tape along the join.

Once cured, I removed the vortilons and stored them until the wings were painted and polished. When it came time to paint and install the vortilons I'd just finished the trim paint using Mirage purple & gold paint that changes color depending on which way you look at it. I've never seen a Cozy with the vortilons painted a different color. I decided to paint the vertical part of the vorilons with the mirage paint, the same color as the stripe. Six little finished vortilons ready to install Making the cowling was a big enough task that it warrented its own page. As far as I can tell, that's it for covers and fairings unless you count the nose gear doors and strut cover described in Chaper 13. Wow. I can sign off on another chapter!

Once the plane was down at the hangar and fully assembled I stuck them on with clear RTV. I also made two 4 inch vortilons for the belly per Eric Westland.

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