Chapter 6 - Fuselage Assembly
Seatback & Panel
They went in easy. Seemed to fit perfectly. Something must have moved because, after cure my instument panel was 1/8 high. Close enough for flox to fill the gap. No one will ever know. Real problems came with the seat brace and heat duct assembly. I'd made these on a bad day during Chap 4 and they needed quite a bit of adjustment to get a good fit.
Eventually everything fitted together nicely. Ropes held it together ok, but I clamped some clamps onto wood to help hold the sides in.
The rear bulkhead was such a perfect fit I didnt even need to support it with nails. That should have been a clue. When I came to install the lower front bulkhead I found that it was 1/2 inch too short. Not a small gap. I measured the width. Wow! I'd gained enough for my sides to be almost as wide as Jeff's AeroCanard. Hmmm. A friend (A&P who worked on Starships - starpigs as he calls them) happened by. Its real simple, he said. You're aft LG bulk is forcing the sides out. Cut it out and install it again! After a visit to Home Depot for a dremel cutoff bit I sadly cut out the rear LG bulkhead. The 1/16 cut of the flox was enough. I put it back and everything fell into place. I learned from that. A real tight fit is not a good thing. It means something is wrong. Eventually I got everything to fit together.
I started to do the contour foam cutting just like for the sides, band saw to 45 degrees then sand to 30. Then I stopped, looked at the band saw and thought "why can't I cut 30 degrees?". Because the angle is 60 degrees from the horizontal and the band saw only goes to 45. OK. Lets go with the vertical.
I cut all the 2 inch pieces square, set the band saw at 0 degrees with a block of wood 1/16 from the blade, reset the angle to 60 degrees and then fed all the pieces through vertically. Instant correct shape. Only finishing sand needed. The same technique even worked for the larger pieces down the center and the landing brake cover. I think this saved me a lot of time and got me a more accurate result. Microed the foam in place. I had to piece the foam in a few sections because my 2 * 4 sheet of foam was almost gone. The bottom fits perfectly. No adjustments needed.
Glassing the Bottom
Started at 10:30 a.m. Charmaine helped out and the layup was done in 3 hours. Somehow the pieces that fit with plenty of overlap the night before had "shrunk". Had to add extra cloth at the front. I wonder why this happens. I'd swear there was no way to pull, push or stretch the cloth which had a 2 inch overlap when I cut it. Ah well. C'est la vie.
After a four hour break we lifted the bottom onto the floxed up fuselage. There were a few gaps which hadn't been there on the test fit. I Just happened to have a bunch of ornamental bricks in my truck which came in handy as weights. I found a new technique (to me) for getting a smooth tape join quickly. I floxed liberally in the corners without bothering to clean up much. Then I brushed some pure epoxy on the join. I noticed that the flox spread out rather well when I hit it with the brush. Hmmm. I brushed some more and found I was able to smooth out the flox nicely and remove any excess with the brush. The wet out tape went on with no trouble. No bubbles and nice & smooth. Finished taping in 4 hours. There are a lot of joints to tape.
Last thing to do after taping is a final check with the level. How could it be wrong? The saw horses are bondo'd to the floor and the fuselage is bondo'd to the saw horses. Nothing can move. Right? Wrong. I get 0.5 degrees out at one end, 0.4 out the other way in the middle and 0.5 back the first way at the other end. This thing is seriously twisted! Level fore and aft is a joke as well. Wait a minute. this can't be. It was zero everywhere. But the spirit level looks roughly centered. Ahha! I recalibrate the smart level and it beeps happilly where ever I put it. Phew! Gotta watch that in future.
Removed all the bricks, lifted the bondo with a butcher knife (not too much damage) and flipped it over. I can see why I'll need those A frames. "Flip" isnt the right word anymore. This thing is starting to look like an airplane.
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