Project Update

Hey Guys,

Happy New Year!

I spent a fair portion of time during my Christmas mini-vacay pouring over the Feather Light leading edge & strake kit instructions to ensure I knew what the specific tasks were for the strake build.  I also went over the plans to fill in or add to any gaps there might be in the strake building plan.  Moreover, I rolled all that into a Chapter 21 To-Do task list.

To ensure I incorporated as many optimized methods as possible for building the strakes, I reviewed fellow builders’ sites on the topic, including Dave Berenholtz, Ary Glantz, Mike Beasley and Nate Mullins…. thanks guys! 

Again, the nose and aft nose/avionics cover install is fairly close to being finished, and I have now started in earnest my transition to the strake build (Chapter 21).  I will concurrently finish up the nose using the glass cure cycles of each to work on the other.

After the strakes the final big airframe assembly will be the winglet/rudder install (Chapter 20).  


Chapter 21/22 – Electrons & Fuel

I started out today by installing the strake R45 ribs onto the CS spar front face.  I used 2 plies of BID on the inboard corner and a ply of BID on the outboard corner.

Here’s the left R45 rib floxed and glassed in place.

And here’s the right one.  I did peel ply the inboard layups since I’ll be glassing quite a bit over those corners.

I then took a break from the strakes to let the R45 layups cure.  I cracked open the manual for the Electroair electronic ignition and determined I simply needed to add a significant length of 18 AWG wire from the Battery Bus (on back side of Napster bulkhead) to the D-Deck…. at least that’s what it ended up being.

I also printed a bunch of labels and applied those.  With this wire installed, that only leaves on my list the Trio Autopilot roll servo cable needing to be installed.  Again, that will get installed when the panel electronics get installed.

Quite a few hours later, after the R45 rib layups were cured to the touch, I trimmed the glass and then added another piece to the puzzle…. you can see them just behind both the left and right R45 ribs below . . .

The square pieces I glassed along with the BAB baffle extension pieces.  These pieces extend outboard from the R45 rib perpendicular to it.

Here’s another shot.  I know it would have been easier, and even given more fuel, if I had angled these extended fuel cell back wall’s outboard edge aft.  But I wanted to keep the fuel forward of the line close to the plane’s CG.  Granted, having this piece straight across may make it a bit trickier to bevel and shape to fit into the strake wing-like shape.

Here we a view of the aft side of the new fuel cell’s back wall.

And a couple of shots of the same extended fuel cell aft wall on the left side strake.

My next task on the strake is to trim the modified OD ribs so that they’ll fit parallel to the R45 ribs, glassed to both the CS spar and the new extended fuel cell aft wall.  On the left side the outboard face of the OD rib is where both GRT magnetometers will get mounted.

I’ll be out of town for the next few days, so no building over that time.  I’m hoping when I return that I’ll have no more trips to deal with for a while.

Chapter 21/22 – Pre-strake Wire Runs

I started off today with a simple 1-ply BID tape (“wet”) layup on the inboard seam of the left strake BL23 rib.  I didn’t grab a pic of my initial layup, but here it is way later in the evening after I pulled the peel ply and cleaned it up.

I also determined my “mouse hole” locations on the R45 ribs as well, so I marked and cut those out.  I then cut out the foam in the mouse holes and applied wet micro.

The dashed line on the aft side of the lower R45 rib is where I’ll mount the small square foam pieces that I laid up with the BAB baffle extension pieces, perpendicular to the R45 rib on the outboard side.  This piece will make up the aft wall of the outer fuel cell, with the modified OD rib making up the outer (forward 2/3rds) fuel tank wall.

I then spent the next approximately 12 hours running all the long wire runs inside the fuselage from nose to tail, again, about 30 total.  In short, any wire or cable that would be problematic to install was what I was aiming to get installed pre-strake build.

This effort included a myriad of double-checking and referencing the wiring diagrams to ensure everything was correct, and also a ton of wire labeling.  In fact, I used up an entire cartridge of heat shrink labels on this one job.

I started with the 2 big yellow power wires that serves as both the starting circuit, and a ground path from the firewall back to the battery.  In Bob Nuckolls’ original Z-13/8 electrical system architecture, he has the positive cable also serve as the alternator’s B lead supplying recharge current back to the battery.  You may recall that this setup pretty much requires the starter contactor be located on the firewall.  I chose to put the starter contactor in the nose, eliminating weight and complexity off the firewall, and run a separate dedicated 8 AWG alternator B lead (white cable below).

On the firewall end you can see the positive big yellow cable transiting through the firewall to eventually get connected straight to the starter solenoid.  On the hell hole side of the firewall the other big yellow cable, the ground lead, is connected to the other side of the bolt you see securing the braided cable.  There is also a “forrest of tabs” for ground points on the hell hole side connected to this bolt.

The hole just to the left of the big yellow cable is where I’ll attach a red Blue-Sea bulkhead pass-thru with a threaded stud each side.  It’s a bit hefty, but it cleans up the install and it gives me a good termination point on the hell hole side to help secure the Hall-effect sensor that the B lead cable runs through with one wrap.

I needed to terminate the alternator B lead with a ring terminal, so I broke out my hydraulic crimper for big wire sizes.  Here I’m just ready to start mashing down the ring terminal onto the wire.

Here’s the result . . .  I don’t think it’s going anywhere!

Since I’m out of medium-sized wire labels, I had meant to write neatly on the protective heat shrink before slipping it into place, but I got sidetracked and forgot so I chicken scratched it on just prior to applying heat.  Not pretty, but it communicates what this thing is so I can figure it out years from now!

This is jumping ahead a bit, since this was at the end of the evening after all the wires were run.  You can see the main wire bundle on the aft side of the GIB seat bulkhead secured by 2 adel clamps (middle left).  At lower right you can see the big yellow cables coming from under the gear bow, as well as the alternator B lead terminated and attached to the red colored, threaded Blue-Sea bulkhead pass-thru.

Note just forward of the Blue-Sea pass-thru is the green Hall-effect sensor donut.  It has both the 8 AWG primary alternator B lead wrapped through it and also the 14 AWG SD-8 backup alternator power feed running through it, so that no matter which alternator is live I’ll be able to see the amp level.

What you see in this pic is about all the wiring that will be in the hell hole, with just a small number of wires that will be added…. well over 95% of all the wiring is installed in this area.

To run a number of the long wires down the fuselage I needed to install both the Electroair electronic ignition and the GRT EIS wiring harnesses in the D-deck/GIB headrest housing.

I’ll start from the aft end of the fuselage and move forward with my pics of the installed wiring.  As per Bob Nuckolls, as he spells out in The AeroElectric Connection, I grouped my wires into 2 wire bundles: big power wires (including higher current smaller wires) and smaller low power & data wires.  Moreover, I separated these bundles as much as possible in the limited confines I have available in the fuselage.

It’s a bit difficult to tell since I don’t have the cables and wires secured yet (but will prior to strake install), but there is a bottom/lower bundle of big wires and above that is a run of all the smaller wires.

The GIB area just aft of the pilot’s seat.  Again, the wires are (will be) separated into 2 bundles.

Fuselage wire runs at the front seat right sidewall.

For those that are curious, here’s an inventory of all the wires & cables I installed:

1. Big yellow power cables  (2 cables)
2. 8 AWG B&C alternator B feed
3. #1 6-wire cable
4. #2 6-wire cable
5. Oil heat pump (2 wires)
6. GIB seat warmers (4 wires)
7. Fuel vapor sniffer (3 wire bundle)
8. Trio AP roll servo 
9. AEX laser alt (3 wire bundle)
10. SD-8 b/u alternator power feed
11. E-Bus/SD-8 b/u alternator switch
12. IBBS cutoff lead
13. Spare wire runs (if able)
14. GRT EIS power lead
15. P-Mag switch
16. P-Mag power
17. Trio AP fuel sensor (2 wires)
18. Electroair power
19. Electroair switch
20. Electroair tach select
21. GRT EIS tach select
22. B&C alternator “F” lead
22. Wing taxi/landing lights (2-conductor shielded cable)
23. Wing nav/strobe lights (2-conductor shielded cable)

I was able to get all the wires installed except for the Trio autopilot’s roll servo since it’s a shielded multi-conductor cable that is soldered into the AP’s D-Sub connector.  Since there are a myriad of other connections to the TriParagon, etc. I couldn’t pull the harness so I just left it in the panel mockup.  I did however simply cut the 2 (twisted-pair) wires from the Trio AP harness for the Fuel Flow data feed and will re-splice when I install the panel.

I also need to figure out the Electroair power wire since it’s not on the main Electroair harness but rather hangs off a sub-connector cable which currently is way too long and needs to be trimmed before install.  A mini-job which I plan to tackle over the next day or so.


Chapter 21/22 – Strake tidbits

Today was yet another fairly light build day, although I do have a few pics to share.

I started off by cleaning up the right strake outboard rib layup and then grabbed a shot of it. As you can see, the fit is pretty good inside the strake LE.

I had my little buddy over for a good portion of the day, so most of my time was spent not building.  During a computer-game-playing session I was able to do an inventory of all the long wire/cable runs that will run along the length of the fuselage… around 30 total.

My inventory identified that I was missing 2 wires for the P-Mag Electronic Ignition that I had not made up yet, so I cut and labeled those: an 18 AWG (middle purple) and a 20 AWG (bottom white) wire.

In addition, I labeled the B&C alternator “F” lead wire that was included with the alternator (top), as well as the 8 AWG “B” lead cable (right). Finally, I labeled the #2 6-wire cable (left). I didn’t haven’t large heat shrink labels for these latter 2 cables, so I simply used the ‘ol skool method of attaching a label-maker label and then covering with clear tape.

These wires and cables above are the last ones required to complete all the long electrical connections that I’ll run along the lower right corner of the fuselage prior to doing the final install of the strakes.

Speaking of the strakes, I spent about 45 minutes RE-dialing in the left strake LE install with the outboard edge reconstructed.  I did trim down the outboard again, and got it much closer to the final position.  But it was later in the evening and I wanted to get a layup in, so I left the final tweaking until tomorrow.

Here’s the outboard edge of the left strake and its intersection with the wing.  Again, you can see it needs to be dialed in just a bit more, which I’ll do soon.

I then did the final alignment of the BL23/R23 rib (front and aft) pieces.  I had to trim the aft edge that mates with CS spar at a slight vertical angle, with just a bit off the bottom aft edge to angle the entire rib nose down about 0.1″ at about the midpoint.

Here’s another view of the BL23/R23 rib.

I then set the newly extended BAB baffle in place to test out my extension and see how it all fit.

Here we have a view of what the strake baggage area will look like: size and configuration.

I need to trim a hair off the height of the new BAB baffle piece to get it to slide all the way into the fuselage strake opening, but so far it all looks good.

And a shot of the newly extended BAB baffle from inside of the fuselage looking out.

I then glassed the left side aft BL23 baffle to the forward R23 rib.  I used 2 plies of BID, and to cover a decent-sized dry patch on the front edge of the BL23 baffle I went with a 3″ wide BID tape.

I’ll point out here that on any fuel tank perimeter intersection or seam I’ll be using 2-plies of BID vs. the plans requirement of only one.  For junctions and seams internal to the fuel tank I’ll still only be using a single ply of BID, as per plans.

I peel plied the layup, keeping it nice and wet.  To note, as per Gary Hunter I am only peel plying layups that will get subsequent glass and secondary bonds later.

Since the front 3/4 of the R45 ribs are no longer the outboard fuel tank wall in my modified configuration (again, to add a bit of fuel outboard to account for fuel lost on the inboard “elbow room” mod), with the OD rib being the new outboard fuel tank wall, I needed to make some mouse holes in the R45 rib.

Here are the front mouse holes on the right strake R45 rib.  I used the remainder of the micro from the above layup to fill in the foam edge of the lower mouse hole.

I then called it a night and left my epoxy stuff to dry overnight.


Chapter 21 – New BABs

Today was a rather light work day, but I did get some significant stuff done.

First off, I glassed the strake baggage compartment side junctions of the newly extended BAB baffles with a 1-ply BID tape.  I then peel plied the layups.

I then added the last piece (with micro) in my reconstruction of the outboard end of the left strake leading edge structure to allow me to recut and fit it at the appropriate length.

Associated with my corrective action above on the left strake leading edge, I also cut, trimmed and shaped the left strake outboard rib and micro/glassed it into place.

Later in the evening I pulled the peel ply off the extended BAB baffles, razor trimmed the glass and cleaned up the layups.

These new BABs are now ready for install.

Tomorrow I’ll continue with some more glassing as I prepare to finish my strake trial fit and assembly, to then start assembling the strake for real.

Chapter 21 – Just another oops!

I started out today pulling the peel ply from the 3/8″ thick foam pieces I laid up a ply of BID on yesterday, both sides.

The rectangular piece at the top is actually the 2 extension plates that will be added to the BAB baffles that came with the Feather Light strake kit.  Again, since I did the “elbow room” mod and extended the GIB seat area fuselage/strake opening much further aft, I need to extend the interior fuel tank wall from the BL23 rib to the interior edge of the current fuselage sidewall.

The lower glassed pieces are for outboard fuel walls that I’m adding since I’ll be losing a bit fuel with the above mod, I’m adding a bit of that lost fuel capacity back on the outboard side of the fuel cell.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, I used MGS epoxy for the layups on the non-fuel side of these foam pieces.

I then cut and sanded the rectangular foam plate into 2 pieces.

All my work being under the watchful eye of a shop observer… he was hanging around quite a bit yesterday as well!

I then prepped the BAB baffles and the freshly glassed foam extension pieces for micro-joining and glassing.

I used EZ-Poxy to whip up some micro to join the respective extension pieces to the existing BAB baffles, and then laid up a 2-ply BID tape to the seam.  Since this joint will be exposed to fuel I laid it up fairly wet.

I then peel plied the layup.

My big oops was I thought I had both ends of the left-side strake leading edge fairly dialed in.  First, trimming the outboard edge, as slowly as carefully as I tried to do it, is like installing crown molding.  You keep shaving a 32nd of inch at a time and that last cut leaves you with a stupefying 1/4″ gap!

So I had a small gap at the outboard end after the initial trim.  However, my angle and position of the BL 23 kink was off enough that when I trimmed a bit more off the inboard edge of the prefab strake leading edge, it created a significant gap on the outboard end.

To be clear, the gap isn’t shown below, I moved the strake leading to allow me to micro the pieces I cut back into place…. yep, I love RE-DOING stuff! (ugh).

Above was round 1, below is round 2 of adding in another slice of LE back onto it.  I need to do one more piece and I’ll have the outboard edge back to a workable state without a significant gap.

This pic is a bit blurry, but you get the idea . . .

To avoid the outboard fitting issues that I had on the left side, on the right side I decided to mount my outboard rib FIRST before fitting the leading edge into place.

I wanted a slight inset on the outboard rib, somewhat like the wings have, just not as deep: so I used some 5/16″-ish thick OSB strips as spacers for that.  I then trimmed and shaped the outboard rib, recutting out the middle area as well.

I then clamped my foam skin spacer in place on the bottom, set the outboard rib in place with micro and a couple of dabs of 5-minute glue.  I then used micro for the fillet and laid up a 1-ply corner BID tape.

A few hours later I pulled the spacers out and trimmed the corner glass.

A bit later I pulled the peel ply on the new extended BAB baffle layups, then razor trimmed and cleaned them up a bit.

I cleaned up the opposite side and prepped the seams for a 1-ply BID layup that I’ll do tomorrow.

I was able to get a signifiant initial trim of the inboard edge of the right side strake LE… here is the initial fitting of the right leading edge.

And with that, I closed up shop and prepped to ring in the New Year!

Chapter 21 – Strake Prep Complete

This blog post actual covers today and yesterday.

Yesterday was all about prep work for the individual strake components.  I sanded the foam edges adjacent to the top & bottom flanges on the strake LE structures.

I also broke out the laser level and marked the 17.4 WL on the fuselage and CS spar, as well as on the ribs, baffles, etc.  I also did a final trim and cleanup on all the component pieces.

Today I got to work on setting up a wood cross bar and then marked the centerline on the wood using my laser level.

I then marked the BL23 and BL45 locations on each of the CS spar front faces.

I then cleaned up and added another long straight board and measured and marked the CL, BL23 and BL45 on that as well.  I then trial fitted the aft part of the BL23 rib and the BL45 rib, using hot glue & clamps to keep them in place.  First the left side . . .

then the right . . .

With the aft sections of the BL23 ribs in place, I could then determine how much of an extension was required for the BAB, or Baggage Area Baffle, which is the aft internal wall for the fuel tank.  Since I cut the GIB strake opening much farther aft –nearer to the CS spar– for GIB comfort, I need to add an extension to the BAB baffle to reach from the midpoint of the BL23/R23 rib to the aft end of the GIB strake opening.

I laid up both side extensions on one piece of 3/8″ foam for now (the top), using EZ-Poxy for the internal layup (shown).  In addition, I laid up a ply of BID each on 2 small foam plates that will be added aft fuel walls on the outboard side of the strake between the R45 and OD ribs.  With the OD rib the new outboard fuel wall, I’ll place a fuel tank wall about 2/3rds aft from the LE towards the spar to keep the fuel towards the front and minimize negative aft CG effects.  It should become clear what these are for within the next few days.

With the layups complete and curing, I then got to work cleaning the PVA off the interior pre-fab strake LE structures.  I used a heated concoction of white vinegar and Dawn dish soap and it worked a treat, albeit with a bit of elbow grease scrubbing with an abrasive 3M pad.  You can see the strake LE on the left has no more PVA residue, while the one on the right still has an extensive amount on the interior surface.

This is the PVA-laden strake LE above after a few minutes of soaking with the vinegar & Dawn soap solution.  I then scrubbed it thoroughly afterwards.

I also sanded the interior glass surfaces of the strake LEs with 100 grit sandpaper.

With the interior glass surfaces cleaned and sanded, I then did an initial test fit of the left strake.  As you can see, it definitely needs some trimming… especially noteworthy is how far out the BL23 kink is on the strake LE piece.

A closeup of the left strake LE BL23 kink before trim.

I then spent about an hour slowly trimming down the outboard and inboard edges of the left strake prefab LE.

I eventually got fairly close, but still need a last final trim or two to dial it in.  Still, I’m happy to have a visible LE at this point of the strake build… definitely not something I’d have if I was doing the plans method!

Here’s a look at the inside edge of the left strake LE.  By simply being taped into place it’s of course off just a bit, but definitely close at this point.

And a shot from the other side of the fuselage.

Since I glassed the strake fuel foam panels earlier in the day, my last task for the evening was to layup a ply of BID on the other side to allow them to cure overnight.  Since the opposite sides of all these panels won’t be touching fuel, I went ahead and used MGS epoxy for both ease of layups and a quicker cure time.

I also peel plied these layups as well.

Tomorrow will be a half work day since I have plans for New Years Eve.  But I will make every effort to bring in the New Year with both strake leading edges trimmed to fit and ready for mounting!


Chapter 19/21 – More Strake Prep

I got back home from Greensboro at nearly 7pm tonight, and spent a bit unloading the vehicle and getting situated.

I wanted to get a good 2-3 hours in on the build tonight, and started with pulling the peel ply on the left wing tip leading edge repair layups.  I did a quick razor trim and also cleaned up the peel ply edges a bit.  It looks good and I’m happy with the repair… task complete.

I then got busy on the strake outboard ribs.  I pulled the peel ply from the 1-ply BID layups and razor trimmed the edges.

I then added some micro to the foam seams and laid up another ply of BID on the other sides of the strake outboard ribs.

I then spent nearly an hour and a half pulling the peel ply from the aft flange –both top and bottom– of the right strake prefab leading edge assembly.

As on the left prefab strake leading edge assembly, the peel ply ended up being under the foam by about 1/4″ and needed extracting.  This doesn’t leave the foam edge in an overly attractive state, but since the hard epoxy edge needed to come off anyway, it’s not that much more destructive to remove the peel ply from underneath it as well.

I then spent about 30 minutes cleaning up some more bondo off both the left and right wings.

Tomorrow I plan on focusing primarily on the strake components prep to allow me to then trial assemble all the parts and check fit and configuration.


Chapter 19/21 – Wing & strake tidbits

As I mentioned in last night’s blog post, I had every intention of working on the prefab strake leading edge, ribs and baffles to prep them for the upcoming strake build. However, when I walked out of my house to head towards the shop I noted how warm of a day it was, at least compared to the weather lately.

The shop was a tad warmer than it has been recently, with the basic wall thermometer showing in the mid-70s.  I made a decision to do some layups first while the shop was nice and toasty, and possibly work on the strake parts afterwards (yeah… right!).

The first task was a repair on the left wing’s leading edge tip that has literally been on my to-do list since right after I built the wings in 2012.  I don’t remember the particulars, but somehow I overlapped the top wing skin onto the peel ply that I had applied to the ply of BID on the outboard bottom wing… the BID being a foundation for the ensuing plies of UNI for the winglet attach.

Again, for whatever reason or oversight, I ended up with about the outboard 9″ of the wing LE having top wing skin glass overlapping onto a ply of peel ply.  I had since removed the covering glass and the offending peel ply, but had yet to repair my mistake.

So today I started off by sanding the angled top skin glass overlapping onto the bottom of the wing, from the center of the LE down underneath, to smooth out the transition.  Using the Fein saw back when I removed the top skin overlap, I had inadvertantly cut into the skin at two spots on the front underside of the wing just aft of the LE, each less than an inch long. In addition, all along the outboard 9″ of the LE centerline was a cut line varying from about 0.02″ to 0.05″ deep (I tried to get an initial pic but the lights washed out the details).

I whipped up some flox and filled the two slits and the cut line depression, and then laid up 1 ply of BID to cover the angled portion on the bottom side of the wing coming up, over and outboard to the top of the LE.  I then laid up another ply of BID along the LE edge to cover all the offending errant Fein saw cuts and depressions, and to ensure the top skin was joined adequately to the bottom along the outboard LE (blue tape was a note to myself on tasks required).

I then of course peel plied (properly, this time around!) the layups.

Since I was in glassing mode today, my next task was to remedy yet another sin of the past.  This time a much more recent one . . . apparently the outboard strake rib (added in the Feather Light kit: not per plans) is cut significantly longer than required to allow for trimming down as needed.

I didn’t realize this until the wings were actually on and I was checking the strake outboard rib fit with the wing . . . whoa!  As you can see: way too long for what I need.

Yep, leaning forward to be ahead of the game can often come back to bite ya! As you can see I had already cut the center out of the outboard ribs to allow me access into the strake (for GRT magnetometers on the left side, and possibly S-Mode Transponder & antenna on the right side).  Clearly the 1″ strip I left at the aft end of these ribs would not be enough if I need to trim these things down to fit, starting at the aft end of course.

I needed to add in some more mass on the back side of these ribs to allow for trimming during install.  Since I still had the center cutout pieces I would simply put them back in place and recut, leaving a much more robust aft end to trim.

Instead of messing with micro alone to reset the previously cutout rib center back in place, I turned to my new found friend: pour foam [Note the new interior lines I quickly drew up on the cutout center pieces].

After about half an hour I cleaned up both outboard strake ribs and then covered the bare foam in each seam with micro.

I then laid up a ply of BID on each rib and peel plied the layup.  When I return from my Christmas break I’ll lay up a ply of BID on the opposite side of each rib.

Although I was technically out of my allotted time for working in the shop for the day, I had a decent little bit of micro and epoxy left over… not a ton, but certainly enough to knock out one more quick task.  I had mentally noted another item on my wing to-do list was installing the water/moisture drain from the top wing bolt trough, through the wing, down to the bottom bolt trough.  This is a mod spelled out in a CP (which I don’t have the info on currently).

This is my initial drilling with a long 1/8″ bit which I left embedded for the pic (Note the removal of the left wing incident level board).

I then widened out the install hole to just under 0.3″ for the straw to fit, although I would have preferred a narrower diameter straw.  I believe the globs of raw epoxy in the bolt trough are from epoxy oozing out from the spar cap during those layups (best guess… it’s been so long!), and is also on my to-do list: to clean out.

Since I was in a hurry (as per usual!) I simply pulled the straw down and then set the top of the straw even to the top of the hole in the upper bolt trough.  I did back fill and smooth out the area around the straw where there were very small gaps between the straw and surrounding hole.  I left the straw to cure and then also filled some minor gaps on the straw vent on the right wing, which was installed around 2012-13 timeframe.

And yes, still a bit of bondo cleanup to do on the bottom of the wing at the spar junction.  I’ll wait until the wing is back off the plane before I tackle that… minimized upside-down sanding to spare the shoulder for this old dog.

With that, I locked up the shop, packed, loaded up and headed out to Greensboro for my Christmas break.

By the way, Merry Christmas everybody!


Chapter 13/21 – Strake LE prep

I started out today reviewing the initial strake build steps both in the plans and my self-edited instructions that I modified from John York’s excellent CSA newsletter writeup on his install of the Feather Light Strake Leading Edge Kit. Part of that overview was also reviewing 15 separate strake build-related topics in the CPs…. about an hour total.

I then went out to the shop to check on my threaded adel clamp stud that I floxed in place into the right hinge bracket for the aft nose/avionics cover.  Last night I wrapped a bunch of thick duct tape around my initial thread-protecting piece of electrical tape to serve as a a depth stop of sorts.

I took the tape off within a few seconds and was met with this… not bad at all! I’ll take it.

I then tested out the fit and configuration of both the adel clamp and the nose hatch latch cable… both look great.

Next, I then spent well over an hour finalizing the sanding and shaping of the fuselage strake cutouts.  Probably a few very minor tweaks that I’ll find here or there as a slight divot or bump catches my eye, but overall I’m very pleased with the shape and cleanliness of the cutouts.

An interesting note that I read in one of the CPs —that was NOT in my instructions anywhere— was that the glass edge next to the foam on the top and bottom of the Feather Light prefab strake LE was peel plied.  Who knew??  Well, I investigated that and found that there was indeed peel ply.

So I set about to remove it on the left strake LE (peel ply above blue dashed, and none below it).

I then noted this green residue on the interior glass of the prefab strake LE, which I assume is PVA from all the research that I’ve done.

After I got one strip of the peel ply off, and my curiosity satisfied. I pulled out the plans and started measuring all the strake ribs and baffles to compare them to the plans configuration. I kept noting that on most of the pieces they were about 0.1″ greater in dimension than what the plans called for.

Not wanting to mess anything up, I decided to check with the source before doing something like trimming all the pieces down to plans dimensions just to learn that they were supposed to be that size for this strake LE kit.  So I called “Feather Light,” which is now Aero Composites.  I spoke for a good half hour with the new owner, Gregory, who was very much up to speed on the Strake LE kit, although Feather Light had stopped selling them years before he bought the company.

I confirmed the green residue was in fact PVA, and that I should hold off on trimming any parts until after I had mocked them all up.  Good stuff.

I then went out to buy some more Christmas gifts and went over to some friends house for a few hours.  Tomorrow I’ll be heading up to Greensboro for a few days over Christmas, so no building for a few more days (although I will get few hours in tomorrow morning).  I will however be fine tuning my strake build task list.

When I returned home from my friends’ house, I then got to work pulling the peel ply from the top side of the left prefab strake LE.  I will say that when they laid in the peel ply on the leading edge-to-top skin flange, they positioned it a bit too far under the LE foam, by about a 1/4″.

This meant I had to remove a good bit of the edge of the foam to get the peel ply out and removed. It’s really not that big of deal since the foam has a hard epoxy-soaked edge that needed to come off anyway.  There’s no hard measurements for the top skin foam so I can simply “add” a 1/4″ to the front of the top skin foam piece and all should be fine (blue arrow is demarcation between no peel ply [bottom] and peel ply)

Realizing that the hard epoxy-soaked edge needed to come off, I then flipped the left pre-fab strake LE over and did the same on the side I had previously removed the peel ply from.

My main goal tomorrow will be to work prepping both the strake leading edges and the ribs and baffles to be as in an install-ready condition as possible so I can hit the ground running when I return from my Christmas break.

I then spent the last 45 minutes of my evening in the shop removing old dead bondo off the left wing.