Project Update

Hey Guys,

Let’s review a bit of the past few months’ build shall we?  The majority of the electrical system and the instrument panel design and construction is completed. The engine was built and hung on recently-installed engine mount extrusions, firewall and engine mount. The wheel pants are DONE! The hell hole and firewall are pretty much a done deal, while the engine electronics and hosing is near finalized.  

And now –with data in hand– the engine is back off the fuselage, onto an engine stand, and pickled with preservation and aircraft oil.

Starting this week I will focus on completing the centerline airframe tasks of the nose and canopy, while still dabbling with my in-cabin install configurations to work out the finer details of make everything fit inside the cockpit.  Once the nose and canopy are finished, I will then set my sights on building the strakes.



Chapter 3/13 – Tooling up…again?!

Knowing that my lathe was getting delivered today and that I needed to sign for it, I started by opening up the shop and got busy wet sanding the very front NG30 mini-bulkhead that I clear coated last night.

After wet sanding it I buffed it out with rubbing compound and then hit it with a couple coats of polish.  It’s not perfect by any means but I think it will look great as a part of the white center NG30 “console”.

Then the UPS guy showed up with my lathe.  Which came in 2 separate boxes. [I’ll warn you now that the rest of this blog post pertains to the lathe, so if you’re not interested you can shut this down now…. cheers!]

Yep!  It’s a lathe!

Two big benefits of getting this specific lathe was that A) it was actually in stock, and B) the reports on it NOT being delivered in a mangled, unrecognizable container were non-existent.  In fact, the feedback was that it was packed VERY well for shipping (Two boxes vs just one greatly verified that fact).

Box #1 contained the main body: the headstock and the bed (aka rails).  It also contained the chip pan.

I then pulled the rather heavy headstock and bed assembly out of box #1, still mounted to its wood shipping mount plate.

I then opened up Box #2.  Words can’t express how pleased I was with the packing quality of these components.  The foam here was not cheap styrofoam, and the overpacking was just off the charts.

Box #1 of Box #2 was the gear cover that mounts to the left end of the lathe to cover all the gearing on that end.  Now, the motor is a direct belt drive configuration, but the ancillary lead screw drive and threading is gear driven.

Here’s the outside of the left end gear cover.

Box #2 of Box #2 was the electronics box.

The outside of the electronics box is the front of the lathe and the top is the control panel.

Then there was the odd components: the rubber mounting feet brackets and bag of accessories.

A closeup of all the threading gears in the bag of accessories.  This bag also included all the hardware and handles.

The rear back splash was honestly the only “free’ floating component packed in Box #2.

With all that stuff that came out, and there was still 2 boxes left to go in Box #2.

And again, the overpacking and protection was spot on!

One of the boxes contained the Compound slide with the old style tool holder attached (this will get swapped out for a quick change tool holder).

The top view of the Compound assembly.

Here’s the cross-slide assembly underside.

And the top side of the cross-slide assembly.

And let’s not forget the 3″ chuck (that I’ll most likely never use).

Here we have the headstock, the bed, the tailstock, the compound and cross slide.  I should note that as all these metal parts were unboxed I cleaned them with solvent.

I then flipped the headstock and bed upside down to remove the wood shipping mount plate.

And then mounted the chip bed and feet assemblies.

I then set the lathe assembly in place on the work bench.

And started wiring up the electronics box.

A closer shot of the electrical wiring getting connected out of the electronics box.

As I was checking the operations manual I ran across a template with the dimensions spelled out to hard mount the lathe to the bench.  I liked this idea much better so I removed the rubber feet and spent well over an hour (my issues, not the machine’s) getting it mounted to the bench.  In the end, I like this configuration MUCH better… a lot more stable.

To see the lathe in action and overview of my latest tooling up, I created a fairly short video:

This will be the last post I make for almost a week as I pack up another load to head down to North Carolina.  For any curious types out there, I should be down in NC by the end of the summer.  After settling in I plan to stop offering up these silly excuses as to why my plane is not finished yet!



Chapter 3/13 – Trimming up Dolly

I actually started this project a couple of days ago and finished it today.  Instead of stringing you along like I normally do, I just decided to show you what I was up to all in one whack!

I noted yesterday that my TIG welder was the “Elephant” in the middle of the shop, when in fact a truer statement would be that the fuselage dolly, having served its purpose well, is now the true elephant in the shop.  Not only do I need to trim it down for space, but I need to repurpose it as a portable tool work bench for my upcoming focus on making some bric-a-brac for the plane.

I started by clearing off the top of the fuselage dolly and then giving it a good cleaning.

I then removed all the hardware and wood brackets off the top.

Here’s the last official pic of the fuselage dolly before it got a massive makeover (key some dramatic music from some crazy reality TV show!).

I determined yesterday that I need the top to be 38″ long, while the width will remain a hair over 30″.  After determining the top area that would remain, I started on each end, cut and then removed the top shelf pieces and the underlying support frames.

I then removed the 4 corner slide posts that would get reattached, and then trimmed the remaining overhanging wood support rails from the table top.

About 2 hours later I ended up with a much shorter version of the fuselage dolly that again, will now be used as a portable work bench that power tools will get mounted to.

I mounted 2 recent acquisitions –the red 9″ Skil band saw and the Harbor Freight bench top combo sanding belt and disc machine– along with my ever faithful bench top grinder that has never really had a home.  Yes, I know that these tools don’t get high marks for being the best in their respective classes, and I’m sure they got beat up a lot in tool high school, but by all accounts they work well enough to do what I’ll need them to and moreover, they were cheap (like me!).

You may have noted there is a spot on the opposite side of the table, which is for a mystery tool that for now we’ll call: Tool X.  It is vitally important that the information as to the type and purpose of this tool not be made public at this time…. especially to Marco! haha!

My initial plan for the day was to wet sand and then clear coat the front NG30 mini-bulkhead so that I could have then wet sanded and buffed that out either later this evening or tomorrow, but alas I broke through the topcoat when I was wet sanding and had to repaint those areas with another couple coats of white paint.

Finally, much later in the evening I was able to successfully wet sand the white top coat and then clear coat it with a tack coat and then 2 full coats of clear.  Yes, I understand that these pics probably look exactly the same as the gloss white top coats…. but trust me, THAT’S clear coat on there!

I was remiss in getting a pic of the Oil “tower” box with its surface sanded down, before primer… after nearly an hour’s worth of sanding on the stubborn surface.

I toyed with the idea of using a bit of metal glaze body filler first but then decided I would not only use the primer as a bit of a guide coat per se, but also let it sit for a week to really cure while I’m down on my next trip to North Carolina.  For certain it will need some help in the hole-filling department, especially that crater on the north face, but I determined that it would probably be easier to do after the primer was on, cured and wet sanded.

My build tasks will be minimal tomorrow since I have to get into packing mode (which I was supposed to do today!) to prep my next load out of household goods to haul down to NC.


Chapter 13/22/23 – Painting Goalpost

I started off today making a run down to Harbor Freight for some equipment and tools.  I then headed over to my neighbor’s house for a while since he wanted some male company during their Mother’s Day cookout.

After some great food and beer, and a nice break with my buddy next door, I then spent some time assessing, evaluating and designing the conversion of my fuselage dolly into a bench top tool table on wheels.  I’ll report more on that tomorrow with pics.

I then had to contend with what had become an elephant in my shop, sitting there in the middle of everything and just getting in the way: my TIG welder. With new TIG torch consumables in hand, I needed to finish up my patch job on the oil heat engine sump fitting’s weld to the standpipe.

However, when I started clearing off my welding table I ran across my stainless steel upper left firewall pass-thru. I needed to trim it up and instead of setting it aside to do later and forgetting about it –like I did last time– I just spent the 20 minutes [and 3 Dremel disk changes…. that stainless steel is TOUGH!] to get it done.

Here’s a shot of what it looked like before, in case you didn’t remember.

I then mocked it up on the firewall for a quick test fit…. looks good and I think it will work fine.

I then welded up the remaining tiny gaps in the oil heat standpipe patch that I had to weld in place when I blew out a centimeter sized hole in the tube sidewall.  After an initial test to ensure there was no leaks –and there was NONE– I then ground down the weld repair to minimize it’s robustness a bit.  [One thing I didn’t show here was that there was a decent blob of solid metal inside the tube as well that I drilled with a large diameter drill bit to remove].

I then did one last test on the oil heat engine sump standpipe to ensure there was no leaking out or from around my welded repair patch.   And there was none…. SUCCESS!

So a few days ago my buddy and fellow Long-EZ builder Dave Berenholtz asked me if I was building a show plane, to which I answered something along the line with, “of course not!”  Well, after my escapades this evening I can understand why he might ask me that. ha! I do definitely have some design ideas for the interior of my aircraft…. not really the cabin area mind you, but more the nose area.  Nothing major, but I am essentially making a white accent stripe down the middle of the NG30 to lighten things up in the somewhat confined and dark spaces of the nose.

Given that, my last piece of the white center stripe –which I’ll paint first before the tad bit of color (same as nose wheel cover) that I’ll be putting on the sidewalls and NG30 sides– is what I call the goal posts… actually the goal posts existed before I put the plate in on top of it. FYI – the “Goalpost mini bulkhead” is what the original plans called out as F6.

Anyway, this mini-NG30 bulkhead will get painted white, overlapping a bit on the sides. The fancy part is that I taped in a curve at the bottom side to somewhat match the curve on the front edge of the forward NG30 cover (For those of you in the US or know the Progressive “Box” Dude…. it kind of looks like that too me).

I will add that I prepped it with a thin skim coat of micro last night, and then after I sanded that down I hit with a thin skim coat of epoxy before heading to Harbor Frieght.  To reduce the cure time so it would be ready to work on when I returned, I set a heat lamp on it.

Upon returning I lightly sanded the surface and prepped it for primer and paint.

Here’s the “goalpost” bulkhead after a couple of light coats of primer and then 2 standard coats of paint.

Tomorrow, after the top coat cures, I’ll sand it just enough to dull it and then hit it with a couple of coats of clear.

I plan on getting a bunch of internal nose prep work done tomorrow, as well as my fuselage dolly metamorphosis, but I will also be transitioning into move mode since Thursday I’ll be heading back down to North Carolina to deliver a load of household goods.


Chapter 13 – NG30 Cover Complete

Today I had a fairly lengthy discussion on Long-EZ building and flying in general with my buddy Marco.  We discussed an issue with his transponder and we spoke about my new Trig TT22 Mode-S Transponder.  He was curious about the size of the Trig transponder so I snapped this pic… to be certain, it is a fairly petite device.

A bit later I got to work on the NG30 aft cover.  I wanted to get this thing knocked off my to-do list and it’s been long overdue.  I really screwed up the paint pretty good with all those runs on the surface, although I thought I took care of them.  But as I was buffing it out with some rubbing compound I could see some blemishes that needed more TLC with some very fine wet sanding.

My point in listing my self-inflicted woes on this thing is to highlight that I spent well over 3 hours finishing it up.  But it’s done! (Note the reflection in the front face of the NG30 cover).

And a view of the left side of the finished NG30 cover.

I noted a strong reflection on the left side, so I grabbed a _________________ (can you tell?!) and held it in place.

Here’s another reflection shot on the NG30 cover’s top that shows a distinct reflection of one of the shop lights.

Today really was a day of phone calls, errands, research and a bit of shop time, but tomorrow I do plan on getting a good amount of stuff done.


Chapter 13/22 – Window Dressing

I started off today doing the final sanding on the Oil “Tower” Storage Box.  My micro job was a little rougher than what was required for this box that had its fair share of imperfections (don’t we all!), so there’s a shallow crater on one side.  Good practice and generated some neural connections for when I finish the actual aircraft skin for paint.

Since this blog is comprehensive (read: big) I’m jumping ahead here over 10 hours for topic flow and showing the completed epoxy wipes ala the Cory Bird method.  I went as per Cory Bird’s instructions with the full complement of 5 coats of West Epoxy, all squeegeed as to get as much excess epoxy off the surface at the initial and subsequent 2-hour intervals.

Again, as per instructions, this will then cure for 48 hours before I sand it down for any additional filling required (i.e. the Grand Canyon sized divot on the one side) and then primer, paint and clear coating.

On the heating foot vent duct for the left side, I trimmed the glass on the edges then sanded it smooth.

I then pulled the right side heating foot vent duct off the right fuselage sidewall, with tape and foam plug in tow.  I pulled the tape off and did a little digging to get the foam plug out. Here it is with the wild and crazy glass edges in raw form.

I then cleaned up the edges and sanded them.  As you can see, although I tried rooting around on the underside edge with a very wet brush while laying up the glass, I still missed a spot or 2 in my epoxy application.

I then checked my fit by mocking it back up in place on the right side wall.

What I don’t have pics of is my repairing the dry spots on the foot vent ducts and also adding in some micro and glass on the outboard (sidewall) sides of the foot vent duct and SCAT attaching tube intersections.  This was for both the left and right foot vent ducts. (Also note the white micro repair job that I failed to report on… it replaces a foam ramp that I originally glassed/micro’d in for the big yellow cables… which I have obviously since routed higher).

As the repairs/additions to the foot vent ducts cured, I then finished prepping the NG30 for its final finish. I will state up front that with standard rattle can (Rustoleum) primer, paint and clear coat, it’s a bit tricky to maintain a sharp edge like the ones I have here.  I do have some minor break throughs in the paint along the top right edge (looking at the pics below, actually on the left side) and one spot a hair under a centimeter on the lower edge also on the right side.

So, I’m invoking 2 sayings.  The first is: “Perfect is the enemy of good enough” (I think Gen Petraeus said that) and the opposing viewpoint: “One ‘ah-shit!’ can ruin a thousand attaboys!” ….. so, my NG30 covers all ends of the spectrum!  In short, since this is round 2 on paint and clear coating, it will have to do.  I can’t spend another countless number of days dialing this into perfection or using a different paint system that lends itself to maintaining structural integrity on a hard 90° edge (like epoxy primer on a 2-part system).

The end result for the evening was that I got the right side (again, per pics…although pic below is pre-buffout) and the top buffed out, but still needing polish.

With so many surface scratches I put on these things getting rid of my just silly number of runs, I would actually buff for a bit, then heretically wet sand with very fine paper on whatever scratches were still visible. Then back to buffing out.  So far the results have been fairly good.  I’ll state for the record that if this were a part in constant view I might rethink doing it to a bit higher standard (also for the record, it still looks pretty darn good!), but not when it spends over 90% under cover in the nose.

After working on the NG30 cover for almost 2 hours, my shoulder needed a break.  I checked the repairs/additions on the pair of foot vent ducts and all looked good.  And moreover, cured.

I pressed forward on determining the length of the 1-1/4″ SCAT tubing that will connect the right foot heating vent duct to the pilot thigh support integrated duct, that has the port on the right side.  Once I got the required length in hand, I cut the SCAT tubing and attached it to the piece of 6061 thin-walled transition tube on the aft side of the right foot vent duct.  To attach it I used my new toy: the ClampTite tool, which with 0.032″ stainless steel wire it worked a treat!  In addition, in the pics below you can’t see the actual SCAT tubing on the forward side because I taped it up for painting the avionics bay.

Then using Silicone RTV and a couple well placed dabs of 5-min glue, I attached the right foot heating vent duct to the lower right fuselage sidewall between the instrument panel and F22.

In case you’re curious, here’s the other end of the 1-1/4″ SCAT tubing for the right foot heating vent duct.  The SCAT tube attach port is visible on the thigh support integral duct (see the cardboard in place over the right leg hole? …. ah, a clue as to what is coming up!)

For the left side foot heat vent duct, I then measured & determined lengths on the 1-1/4″ horizontal SCAT tubing that heads straight aft to the heat duct plenum —looks like a kidney bean on the left side of the fuselage under the left pilot armrest— and the 1-1/2″ vertical SCAT tubing that feeds the panel-mounted eyeball vent.  After cutting the SCAT tubing to length I attached both of them to the “T” junction ports with 0.032″ stainless steel wire using my ClampTite tool.  I do have to say with the wire used to mount the SCAT tubing it doesn’t look like anything is holding the SCAT tubing in place!

I then taped up the exposed parts of the SCAT tubing and “T” junction to protect against paint (note the cardboard and taped up items …. hmmm, looks like some painting is about to go down!).

I then spent a good 45 minutes prepping the avionics bay between the panel and F22 bulkhead for paint.

As you can see, I eventually just created a large box by sealing off the leg and other smaller holes on each side.

After everything was taped up, I shot the nose wheel cover and surrounding avionics bay area with some self etching primer.

After the primer cured, I then shot the nose wheel cover and surrounding avionics bay with Duple-Color trunk paint (yes, folks, TRUNK paint . . . ha!).

I tried to lay the paint down in 2 lighter coats, but there were a number of odd angles where I had to get the can in closer then I wanted…. and it laid a much heavier, sloppier, wet coat in those areas.  Luckily this paint proved itself as the forgiving sort and self leveled as it dried.

It may be odd, but having grown up the son of a cabinet maker and carpenter, and doing a fair amount of wood working myself, I just couldn’t bring myself to cover up what I think is a really cool build aspect of these planes: the triangular Spruce stringers in the lower fuselage corners.  With the clear MGS that I use it looks like a bare wood strip down there and the hash cuts we make at intervals to install them is just a fun design feature in my book.  So… I covered each side’s stringer with tape to protect it from paint…. call me crazy! (I prefer “eccentric” . . . ha!).

I carefully pulled out all the cardboard blocks and removed the protective tape from all the wires, cables and components.  Yes, I’ll admit the majority of this painting endeavor is for simple cosmetic reasons.  There was some junky looking spots I had going on here, and for the most part I try to avoid adding weight with paint.  Also, as you can see by my stopping point on the sidewalls, it really is for the view that we see when peering into either leg hole.

Here I covered up some unsightly areas on the aft side of F22.

And here we have the left side foot heating vent duct with attached SCAT tubing.  I have to say, I’m really digging this paint color!

My decision in painting the sidewalls and some of the floor was a bit of scope creep in my initial task of painting the nose wheel cover (BTW, I couldn’t bring myself to remove the duct tape for the eventual anti-skid inserts off the floor just yet… it looked too good and I didn’t want to spoil it!).  Clearly (IMO anyway) I couldn’t NOT paint the insulated NB cover. Although an unpainted NB cover would have been an interesting discussion generator, it badly needed a good color of paint on it (again … IMO).

You can also see that my personal preference is to leave components their natural color if I can.  I see a lot of canards where once all the wiring and hardware is in, then it all gets blanketed with a coat of paint.  I think that style looks good as well, and serves to clean up & declutter the fuselage visually… I just prefer to preserve components sans paint if I can.

With the USB charger bracket and surrounding area finished to paint, I decided to go ahead and quickly install the USB charger port in its bracket and connect the wires.

I know my 3-DAY BLITZ Round 2 has busted it’s mandated timeframe and is going on nearly a week, but I think these preparations of finishing off prerequisite internal nose area items is well worth it.  Tomorrow a main goal will be to finish buffing out and polishing the NG30 cover.  In addition, I’ll most likely mount the canard and start focusing more on the F22 and F28 areas in prep for the nose build.


Chapter 13/22 – Forward Foot Vents

Today I started out by pulling the peel ply off the Oil “tower” box and then cleaning up the surface of the box.

I then took the box out back and gave it a work over first with the hard sanding block to knock down the high spots, then with a piece of 32 grit sandpaper over the entire surface. I then washed off the dust and set it out in the sun to dry.

After a visit from my neighbor and my ensuing build update, I then “frosted” the oil ‘tower’ box with micro icing.

A couple of hours later, after I had assessed and prepped for the foot vent ducts, the micro had cured to just past the green state so I hit it with a hand grate and then the 32 grit hard block to “cheese grate” the surface…. essentially knocking down all the ridges while the micro is still slightly pliable vs rock hard.  I then left it to cure and will do the final sanding tomorrow.

I then finished determining the configuration & spacing of the front left duct that makes up the left foot vent.  At the aft end is an inverted “T” junction that allows heating air to pass upwards to the instrument panel eyeball vent.  I’ll test the system out when I get the plane flying and if required I’ll add a butterfly valve to the “T” junction to control the airflow.  Also, I may end up tweaking the very forward tip of the duct, which currently just opens up to make up the foot vent.

After narrowing the strip of urethane foam –that I’m using as the duct plug– from 2″ wide down to 1.5″ (still 3/4″ thick), I then taped up the lower sidewall in the avionics bay area.  I then radiused the corner edges of the foam plug and taped it up to the wall over the existing protective tape.  I of course had to do some foam machinations for the “T” junction to duct transition, and got it after a bit of finagling.

I then used a lot of small pieces out of my scrap glass pile to glass the first layer on left foot vent duct, with final bigger pieces of UNI to tie the smaller pieces together.  I used fast hardener on this side and after laying up the glass I then peel plied the layup.

I then prepped the right foot vent duct in much the same manner as the left side.  I originally had the aft duct connect tube pointed more inboard at a 45° angle, but then wanted a lower sidewall profile. The angle of the aft duct connect tube actually allows me to run scat tubing through either of the lower panel openings, providing more routing options if I should need them later on.

Then, just as the left side, I dug into my scrap pile and used a lot of the smaller pieces for the first ply, then covered those pieces with larger UNI pieces to make up the second and final ply on top.  I used slow hardener on this layup since I knew it was going to cure overnight anyway.  I then peel plied the layup,

After laying up the right side foot vent duct I then pulled the left side foot vent duct off the sidewall, tape, plug and all. Then, after removing the foam plug and tape from the actual duct, I then set it back in place for the pic below.  I will need to add a small amount of glass around the aluminum tubes that are embedded into the ducts on each side to finalize sealing up the ducts, but after that a trim of the glass down the sides then these foot ducts will be ready for install.

Tomorrow I’ll finish sanding the oil “tower” box and then epoxy skim coat it in prep for paint. I’ll also finish the foot ducts as well. Then I’ll mount the canard to allow me to glass in an elevator up (nose down) hard stop on the fuselage sidewall.  This will fulfill the safety requirement outlined by Trio Avionics for the installation of their autopilot servos (i.e. don’t use the autopilot as a hardtop of the control surfaces . . . could damage the pitch servo).

In addition, I will finish buffing out the NG30 cover and install it, then finalize the installation of the Radenna SkyRadar ADS-B on top of the NG30 cover.  Also, I’ll re-install the pitch trim servo to assess interior nose clearances.  Finally, I plan on mounting the 4130 tubes and nutplates in/on my modified longeron doublers near F28 in order to use long AN3 bolts to attach/secure the canard lift tabs to the fuselage.



Chapter 13/22 – Gear Cover Insulated

I started out today prepping for glassing up the last third of nose wheel cover on the aft side when my package arrived from Aircraft Spruce.  This was one of those special deliveries since it included the last of the major panel components that I’ll need to actually operate the aircraft through my 40-hour fly-off: the Trig TT22 Mode-S Transponder.  Now, I will be picking up a remote-mounted HXr-controlled backup radio as my COM2 and also a ACK E-04 ELT well before first flight, but clearly my to-buy list for avionics/instruments is down to just a couple items.

Opening the transponder box I could tell immediately that it was a high quality item with nice ring-bound manuals and a high-end accessory kit.  It amazes that besides TSO’d equipment, as homebuilders we often get high-end, high cost components that are packaged and equipped as if we had bought them second-hand off of Ebay!

I grabbed the Trig TT22’s awaiting 2-digit electronics code label and affixed it to the top of the box, then placed the unit in it’s allotted location at the right side of the Triparagon’s top shelf, immediately adjacent to the HXr’s GADAHRS unit.  As a point of note, since I purchased this unit from ACS vs GRT it came with the panel mounted control head which I will NOT be using.  Moreover, I’ll need to incorporate a serial adapter from GRT that allows the HXr to control the transponder remotely and thus negates the need (and actually it can’t work with both) for the panel mounted control head.

Here’s a shot of the two cohorts in crime atop the Triparagon’s cross shelf.  Note that neither one is actually mounted to the cross shelf yet.

After checking out the transponder and inventorying the rest of my ACS order, I then got back to the task at hand: finishing up insulating the nose wheel cover (NB).

I started by dialing in the shape and cutting out the top aft “saddle piece” — that just happens to be a bit “New Jersey” shaped in my book– that will make up the first of the last 2 pieces of insulation that needs to go onto NB to finish up the actual insulation part.

I then RTV’d the top “saddle” piece of insulation into place on the aft side of NB.

On the left side of the top “saddle” insulation piece it mates up with the front 2/3rds insulation and ends just above the cigarette lighter mounting bracket.  I then added 2 more pieces of insulation below that to fill in the triangular area on the left lower aft side of NB.

Since clearance is tight in the areas of both chargers, I left the very lower aft corners of NB bare.

On the right the top “saddle” piece of insulation covers the last aft 1/3 of NB down to the fuselage floor.  It of course also mates up with the front 2/3rds NB insulation.

I then micro’d the edges of the new NB insulation pieces on right side . . .

and the left side.

I then glassed up the last of the uncovered insulation on NB using 2 separate pieces of BID to create a 1-ply covering that overlaps right around the mounting tab for the parking brake on the left side (close to where the intersection of the “saddle” piece of insulation meets the bottom aft piece).

I then peel plied all the intersections, overlaps and edges of the layup.

While the final NB insulation glass cured, I then spent a couple hours glassing the “Oil Tower” that I created by using a Phillips 66 aviation oil bottle wrapped in cardboard and taped up to create what will be a tall narrow oil box with a clamshell-type lid held securely in place with a hinge on the forward side and a Dsuz latch on the aft side.  Again, this puts the weight of a full quart bottle of spare oil (~1.7 lbs) as far forward as possible, and provides me a consistent out-of-the-way place to store my oil (read: no headrest or CS spar oil storage!).

Believe it or not, I actually used slow hardener on this layup since I knew it would be curing overnight and I had no need to use any of my precious fast hardener on this guy.

Although you can’t see it, the bottom of the Oil Tower is actually a piece of 3/8″ thick PVC foam, glassed on the top (interior) side that I reclaimed from the piece that I cut out of the left vertical armrest notch for the lower seatbelt bracket access.

I micro’d the edges of the foam base piece –which matches the outline of the sidewalls– and then extended the sidewall glass to overlap onto the foam base piece.  Once I open it up I’ll glass a ply or 2 internally to overlap from the sidewall onto the foam base (interior floor) for added strength.

Lastly, I left the bottom of the foam base bare so that I could more easily cut out and embed mounting hard points into the base before covering the very bottom with glass.

I then peel plied and left the “Oil Tower” to cure.

After taking a short break, when I returned to the shop my final NB insulation layup was pretty much completely cured.   I pulled all the peel ply and then did a rough clean up of the layup by clearing/cutting out all the holes I had covered up with the layup.  In fact, 2 mounting tabs: the right side USB charger mount and the parking brake handle mount both got an extra ply of glass added to them for strength (and ease of laying up the insulation covering BID).

Here’s the final shot of my NOW insulated Nose Wheel Cover (NB)… which I of course quickly marked that off my to-do task list!

I will repeat and alas, reiterate, that completing these prerequisite tasks personally does not get me jazzed like seeing the big “real” pieces of the airframe go together, but in my attempt to stay disciplined by front loading these tasks and doing them while I still have true access to these areas that would be so much more difficult to reach in the future, I truly believe I’m optimizing my build sequence as best possible…. although it may not seem fun or sexy right now! (for any of us!)

Tomorrow I’ll continue with my “3 DAY BLITZ” to get more of this hard to reach install and configuration stuff out of the way before starting in on the actual nose and canopy build.



Chapter 13/22 – Keepin’ NB warm!

Or rather my legs actually…. !

Shortly after I got back from NC I tweaked my back a little, so yesterday, still a bit tired from the haul down to NC, I was taking it a little EZ and unintentionally ended up making the whole day a research day … I did some personal stuff and spent a lot of time on the computer researching build stuff, including a nascent plan for how I’m going to knock out the significant number of metal projects I have coming up for various parts of the build . . . throttle handle lever, starter contactor mount, canopy lever are the big ones off the top of my head.

Today I got busy on one of my tasks that I am charged to do under the auspices of the 3 DAY BLITZ, Round 2: insulating the Nose Wheel Cover (NB).  After thinking about it a bit I decided to insulate NB in 2 phases, the front 2/3rds section and then the remaining 1/3 aft section.  By doing it this way, it allows for more glass-to-glass contact and secures the insulating material better in place… IMHO.

I also split the 2 sides so to create a narrow trough down the center which would be a low-point depression in the insulation to ensure clearance for the bottom edge of the Triparagon when it’s mounted in place.  Again, it would also provide a glass-to-glass securing point down the centerline of the insulation.

After giving the NB and surrounding fuselage floor a thorough sanding, I started by cutting to shape and then using Silicone RTV to secure the insulation to the right front 2/3rds of NB.  Remember, I’m cheap . . . and if you want to be read in on a little secret: this insulation is the flooring material underlayment I bought in Germany to use as a hot-tent for post curing the fuselage back in 2012!  Ha!

You can see that although this insulation is somewhat thin, it still has an edge on it.

I then cut to shape and RTV’d the left front 2/3rds insulation in place on NB.  You can see I used the attached nylaflow –that runs partway up NB at an angle for the parking brake cable– as the demarc point for ending the first round of insulation, with the underside getting insulted in phase 2.

Here’s another shot of NB’s front 2/3rds area insulated and ready for a 1-ply BID glass covering.

I then whipped up some epoxy (with fast hardener) and micro’d the edges of the insulation and the intersecting corners of NB and the fuselage floor, where the respective pair of charger wires run along each side.

I then laid up one solid ply of BID across the entire front 2/3rds area of NB covering the insulating material I had just RTV’d in place a bit earlier.  To keep the glass in the narrow center trough between the 2 pieces of insulation in contact with NB for a good glass-to-glass bond, and as deep as possible for clearance with the Triparagon, I took a length of plastic tubing (that was used for the gear leg conduits) and pressed it down over the peel plied center trough.  To keep the plastic tubing in place I of course had to come up with some clamping contortions to do so.

I also peel plied the glass-to-glass bonded patch where the 3 holes are for the OAT probes. I then filled an ACS baggy with sand, taped it up and set in place on the glass-to-glass bonded patch to compress the glass down and ensure the best possible bonding.  I leaned the 90° drill on it to keep the mini sandbag in place and add as much reasonable weight as possible.

I then spent a number of hours on the phone with fellow Long-EZ builder Brian Ashton from Alaska, and after sharing our war stories and build progress, I then went downstairs to the shop and pulled the peel ply and cleaned up the layup.

I didn’t see any issues whatsoever with the layup and am extremely pleased with how the first phase of my NB insulating came out.  As for the respective set of charging wires, I’m typically NOT a fan of burying wires under glass or micro, but here the runs are so short that if I did have a problem I could use the Fein saw to dig them out.  I oversized the wires simply to avoid any potential problems and to handle any added heat (negligible IMO) by being encased for about a foot in a ply of glass and some micro, so I really don’t foresee any issues.

Tomorrow I plan on finishing up insulating the NB cover and then press on with other internal nose & avionics bay tasks that need completing before the top of the nose gets constructed.


Chapter 22 – USB charger Dude!

Today was a bit heavy on research and planning… which I grabbed breakfast down the street and did a fair bit of that there.

At the risk of sounding like I’m obsessively repeating myself, my attempt over the next few days is to knock out some of the smaller tasks that are just that: smaller tasks now, much more difficult tasks later.  It may seem like I’m nibbling around the edges of the pie vs just jumping in and scarfing down the good stuff in the center (it does quite often to me!!) but I think –again– knocking out the small, easy stuff while it’s small, easy and ACCESSIBLE is a much better way to go in the long run.

Case in point is the USB charger bracket that is the twin of the left side nose wheel cover cigarette lighter charger.  My front seat USB charger will be located at the intersection of the nose wheel cover (NB) and the lower instrument panel’s center strut, on the right side… about as close the gear viewing window as you can get.  As I see it, this is otherwise dead space so a good corner spot to stuff something into.  And back to my original point, I can’t imagine trying to construct this somewhat innocuous little bracket in place with the top nose panels constructed.

I spent well over 2 hours on this USB bracket today, starting off with a good 45 minutes of trial and error measuring, test fits, mockups and tweaking to get the final USB charger’s bracket –which is a tad bit bigger than the cigarette lighter charger’s bracket– cut and drilled to the right shape and dimensions.  As you can see, the USB charger bracket was cut out of my 1/16″ phenolic stock.

I then sanded down the 1/16″ USB charger bracket to prep its surfaces for glass.

I then 5 min glued it in its place at the aft corner intersection of NB and the lower instrument panel cross piece.

I then prepregged and laid up 2-plies of glass top (I used scrap glass, so 1 ply BID over 1 ply UNI) and 1 ply of BID on the bottom side.  I used small flocro fillets for the corners, heavier on the flox.  I then peel plied the top side layup.

I then went out to dinner with my buddy Rob for a couple of hours while the glass cured. When I returned I pulled the peel ply, knife trimmed the layup and then sanded the rough edges to clean it up.

Here’s a shot of the lower layup… this is the first I’ve had eyes on this bottom layup since I did it all by feel the when I laid it up initially.  I intentionally drove the fillet away from the spot where the mounting hole is closest to the NB side to allow room for the large plastic mounting nut that secures the USB charger in place.  Of course viewing this pic did identify one more spot that I needed to knife trim.

And Voila!  Here’s a test fit of the USB charger . . . fits like a champ!

I don’t have any pics this time around of the next 2 items, but I spent well over an hour taping up one of the plastic aviation oil bottles I saved to create an oil storage box that will secure a quart of oil in the nose.  With oil being a bit heavy I figure why store it in the spar or headrest when I can eek out a spot for it towards the very front of the plane.  Plus, with a storage box with a securing lid just big enough to slide a quart bottle of oil into, I can also stuff a rag in there for use as well.  This may be round 1 since it might not come out as nice as I had hoped…. we’ll see (literally since I’ll make sure I grab some pics tomorrow).

I also spent a good hour doing the initial clean up with a straight razor blade on the myriad of runs I had when I clear coated the NG30 cover.  I swear it looked like the first time I had spray painted ANYTHING and had zero understanding of the whole concept of spray painting something!! IIRC it was outside at night so my pushing to get it done then just caused a bit more work for me now!

So with the USB charger bracket mounted in place, I can now press forward with my plan to insulate the nose wheel cover and secure it in place with a ply of BID.  I’ll also continue with my 3-DAY BLITZ to work all things internal to the nose and avionics bay before closing up the nose.