Chapter 7 – Final Fuselage Glassing

Chapter 7 Step 2 – Glassing the Fuselage Exterior

15 June 2012 – And so begins the final chapter in the saga of glassing the fuselage … or should I say the final step . . . of the chapter!

I pulled an all-nighter to glass the fuselage.  The first the few hours were of course all about prepping EVERYTHING to get ready to actually start glassing.  Below is a pic of the final filled-in foam strip at the rear of the fuselage.

Chapter 7 - Prepping fuselage for skinning

I also reset the Left-side fuselage thread insert and filled the hole from the outside with a foam plug.  Here’s the view of the insert installation from the outside, with the plug foam still sticking above the surface at one point.

I cut two sets of 3″ UNI strips at 50″, 52″ & 50″ and set them up “pre-preg”.

I cut 2 pieces UNI for the third ply on fuselage & wrapped/rolled in brown paper.

Chapter 7 - Glass for skinning fuselage

I cut a UNI roll at 30° on the end and took it out the garage.

By the time I actually got started glassing, it was about 1930 in the evening.  I glassed straight through until about 1430 the next day, after peel-plying critical areas and seams and trimming glass so it would cure nicely at the edges.  In that whole time I may have take about four 5-7 min bathroom/snack/water breaks.  Being by myself (minus the 10-minutes my buddy Kevin stopped by and took some pics with my camera), it was definitely a marathon glassing session.  In retrospect, if I glass another fuselage by myself, I’ll most likely either stop half-way through, or pre-cut all my glass so it’s ready to go!!

Chapter 7 - Skinning the fuselage

Chapter 7 - Skinning the fuselage

Chapter 7 - Skinning the fuselage

Chapter 7 - Skinning the fuselage

Chapter 7 - Skinning the fuselage

Chapter 7 - Glassing the fuselage

Chap 7 - Glassing the Fuselage

Chapter 7 - Skinning the fuselage

•••

16 June 2012

The glassing continued on well into the evening . . .

Chap 7 - Glassing fuselage left side

Chap 7 - Glassing the fuselage

Chap 7 - Glassing the fuselage

 

 

 

 

 

 

The outside of the seatbelt brackets, under glass, came out very nicely.  I’m very happy with my decision to install them first and glass afterwards, and keep from drilling holes through my freshly glassed fuselage skin!

After I crashed for about 5 hours, I got up and checked the fuselage layup.  Thank God I was using the ever-forgiving MGS 285 system!  There were times where the bottom 30° UNI ply was getting fairly tacky by the time I laid up the opposite 30° UNI ply, but still took the next ply without balking.  After a number of hours it all looked PDG!  Definitely not perfect, and not an award-winning performance for certain, but the layups looked good, with enough epoxy that they don’t look starved at all, but not too much either… I think it’s a nice, strong fuselage!

Chap 7 - Glassing the fuselage

Chap 7 - Glassing the fuselage

Chap 7 - Glassing the fuselageChap 7 - Glassing the fuselage

16june

Late Saturday evening I pulled the peel ply, cleaned up some of the threads, and knifed trimmed a few more areas I had missed.

I poured myself a Jack & diet, fired up a cigar . . . and then sat back and enjoyed the site of my freshly glassed fuselage!

•••

17 June 2012 – Today I started a massive multi-hour campaign to clean up “peel-ply snot” from the areas left from pulling up peel ply.  Peel ply is great, but the raw carnage it leaves behind is something I think we plastic airplane builders forget over time.  Anyway, with a fairly string-free fuselage I proceeded to prep for laying up the two sets of 3-ply 3″ UNI “tapes” (cut UNI cloth) along the top of each of the upper longerons.

Before I could layup the UNI tape sets, I had to take care of few air bubbles that insidiously crept into my fuselage glassing layup, mainly over the upper conduit areas.  I used a hand drill to make a couple of holes in the glass and syringed in some epoxy.  They weren’t that large, maybe .2″ to .4″ at the most (oblong, not round) here and there, but since they were right under my UNI reinforcement tapes, I wanted as much strength as possible.

Chap 7 - Injecting epoxy to clear out some air bubblesAfter removing the offending air pockets with injected epoxy, I started prepping for my 3″ UNI reinforcement tapes layup.  I set-up my portable table and got a length of scrap particle board to use as a base for my squeegeeing activities.  I then grabbed my 3″ UNI tape prep-preg set-ups and went to town.

Chap 7 - 3 x 3" UNI longeron reinforcements

Chap 7 - 3 x 3" UNI longeron reinforcement tapes

 

 

Remember, since I’m removing a little bit more fuselage side material for a longer strake opening on each side, I added 2″ to each end (4″ total) of the 3 UNI tapes for final lengths of 54″, 52″ and 50″.   I wet out one set of the UNI pre-preg and laid it up on the Right longeron.  Once I had the Right-side longeron layup good & peel-plied, I moved on to the Left longeron.

Chap 7 - 3 x 3" UNI longeron reinforcement tapes

Chap 7 - Glassing 3" UNI longeron reinforcement tapes

Chap 7 - Glassing 3" UNI longeron tapes

Chap 7 - Glassing 3" UNI longeron tapes

And so ends a very long step in the completion of this airplane … and I’m just happy to be able to state:

Chapter 7 – Fuselage Exterior is complete!!!

•••

18 June 2012 – I finished up Chapter 7 (technically Chapter 6… but who’s counting??) by cutting out the nose gear well.  I started by cutting a non-symmetrical shape from the inside, since I could see the actual shape outline and then grabbed the original fiberglass nose gear hole cutout from when I Dremelled it out earlier (that was after I mounted the fuselage bottom to the sides).  After I cut the weird-shaped nose gear hole through the bottom of the fuselage, I set the cutout fiberglass piece back into place and taped it.  Once it was securely in place and back in its original spot, I traced the shape of the newly cut hole.

Chap 7 - Cutting out nose gear wellChap 7 - Cutting out front gear holeChap 7 - Cutting out nose gear holeOnce I had traced the outline of the hole, I removed the fiberglass cutout piece and moved it to the outside of fuselage to transfer the shape of the landing gear hole.  Once I transferred the nose gear hole outline, I simply grabbed the jig saw and cut out the front nose gear hole.

Chap 7 - Nose gear hole cut outChap 7 - Cutting out nose gear hole

If the nose gear hole looks a little non-symmetrical and uneven, it’s because it is.  Since the plans have you cut it to shape based off the nose gear cover (NB), which is a purchased part, there’s not much you can do since it comes that way!  However, once the nose gear cover was set into place the lopsidedness of the hole was fairly obscured.  And once gear wheel doors are built and set in place, the irregular hole will be virtually invisible.

Chap 7 - Testing nose gear well coverChap 7 - Testing nose gear cover (NB)

Chap 7 - Test fitting nose gear cover (NB)Chap 7 - Test fitting nose gear cover

 

 

Recent Posts

Project Update

Hi Folks,

Well, Rough River 2017 is in the history books.  A great Rough River all the way around!  Marco’s new GRT Mini & GNRS480 avionics install went off without a hitch, providing an awesome proof of concept for my upcoming panel.  In addition, the myriad of builder tips that I got from Buly, Rick Hall, James Redmon, Terry Schubert, Mike Beasley, Bruce Sinclair, Bill James and countless others were gold in the bank for so many upcoming component decisions and configurations I need to make.

As I mentioned before, I’ve had to adjust my schedule a bit over the past 6 weeks, which of course impacts my goals.  Yes, I will continue to fight in my hope that this will be the final push to get the main assembly of the aircraft completed.   I do plan on having the main structure of the aircraft finished by year’s end.  An aggressive timeline to be sure, but I think it’s very doable.

I’m still working out the finer details of making everything fit inside the cockpit.  Since the vast majority of what I’m doing are all mods, these usually require a lot of in-house R&D, and then trial & error when finally at the install phase.  However, the curve is exponential in that as each component is designed and installed, it accelerates the build because besides just being in the “done” column, it is one less thing to design and build.  Moreover, it’s a variable that has been changed into a constant.

All this is just to say that even though things seem to be going slowly, there really is a momentum building for this project.  These pesky mini-tasks burn time, but as they are finished and systems are integrated, then when the final airframe components builds are finished, this plane will seriously be close to being done. Again, these mini-tasks are definitely time-consuming and a lot more slow going then planned.  But finishing them now allows me to work all this stuff while I can stand right next to the fuselage without having to deal with strakes, or nose, being in the way!  

I have to say that it’s much easier and more fun to build the big stuff that makes this project look like a plane, and I often feel my discipline waining to go build something “cool”.  So, although obviously not as sexy as seeing major aircraft components (i.e. nose, strakes, canopy) being completed, these mini-tasks are oh so necessary for quality of flying later on!  Moreover, these immediate tasks, in turn, will allow me to finalize the configuration of the nose components. At which point I will focus on the building the nose and the canopy.  . . while concurrently finalizing the wheel pants install (nope, haven’t forgot about those!).

Cheers!

 

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