Chapter 13 – Home stretch!

. . . before flipping and glassing this sucker!

Since the base of the NB seemed a little wonky, I essentially mounted it in place then weighed it down with a bunch of sandbags to have it form to the floor of the fuselage where it will get mounted with flox.

Sandbagged NB

Then, this morning I started by unloading the sandbags, vacuuming out the nose area and then using the Dremel tool with a mini-sanding drum to sand down the NB.  Here’s a couple pics of the interior edges where I added the 3/8″ Ooops glass spacers.

NB surface prepped

NB surface prepped

And here are a couple shots of the NB ready to be installed.

NB ready to install

NB ready to install

I prepped the install area by sanding down the edges and then mounting popsicle sticks as edge guides to ensure the NB follows the outline of the hole as close as possible.

Alignment tabs

I then mixed up some flox using fast hardener and applied it to the edge of the wheel well hole.

Flox in place

I then mounted the NB in place, secured it with 6 drywall screws (3 on each side) and then weighed down the edges in between the screws.

NB edges weighed down

I then placed the heat lamp below it to help with the curing time.

Actually . . .  unlike my fellow Long-EZ building brothers, I decided to order the “Star Trek Warp Propulsion Drive” that will allow me to travel at various speeds of light.  I forgot who makes it, but it cost millions and was definitely worth it!  Ha!

Star Trek propulsion option!

And this is the optional Translinked Photon Array Mod, which costs more than the Warp Propulsion Drive at a cool $2.1 Billion … but again, totally worth it!  Haha!

Translinked photon array mode!

Ok, I’ll get serious now.  I do like those heat lamp shots though.  Adds some color to an otherwise dull & lifeless blog (don’t agree!).

Ok, now I’m going into really serious mode with a not so fun story… at least not for me. When I came back from a store run & grabbed a bite to eat, I went back down to the shop to check on the NB attachment.  As I was descending down the stairs into the shop the main issue on my mind was to get a shot of the 6 screws that I had drilled into the NB base to both align it and secure it during cure, since I haven’t been so great in taking all the pics I’ve wanted to lately.  But it’s a actually these 6 screws that’s the crux of this story.

The flox on the NB base was well, well into the green stage.  Ever so slightly gummy, but definitely about 80-90% cured.  See those lines aft top center of the NB & panel center strut in the pic way down there?  Well, when the NB was screwed down securely to the fuselage floor, I could somewhat easily push the top of the NB over so that those marks aligned.  HOWEVER, once I removed all the assorted items I was using to weigh down the edge of the NB base, there was about ZERO movement on that top piece.  I had naively extrapolated that if the top could move with the base secured flat by 3 screws on each side, then it would surely move once the base had cured flox securing it to the fuselage floor.  Um, NO SIR!

And get THIS!  Ironically, I DIDN’T have my phone with me to even take the pics of the screws!  Set & match folks!

[I think this build would go a lot smoother and faster if I didn’t often have to follow a moron around and clean up all his mistakes!  ME!  haha!]

Unfortunately for conveying stories on this blog, I’m notoriously horrendous about stopping and taking pics of my major blunders.  I really am not trying to downplay them, because I believe that mistakes & redoes are an inevitable part of every build, and they are simply going to happen.  I just go into hyper-mental overdrive on how to fix the issue at hand and start strategizing how to get the build back to zero state as quickly as possible.

What I assessed was this:  For those of you that have not built a Long-EZ, or have never seen the prefab NB from Feather Light, it is not a symmetrical part.  No insult intended to the folks at Feather Light because it meets the requirement fine, but it’s definitely an irregular shaped piece.  Thus, when I simply floxed it in place, besides just needing to be able to push the top over, upon closer inspection the wheel well hole should have been widened and I should have taken steps to widen the entire NB before installing it, not unlike what my buddy Ary did when he installed his.  (Dammit, why didn’t I listen to Ary, he’s an engineer and knows this stuff!!!!  Come on!!).  So it wasn’t just that the top was immobilized from moving to the left when the NB base was floxed in place, but the left side (only!) of the base needed to move & get installed left about a 1/4″.

My fix action was to heat up the flox, free the left side of the NB from its unnatural bonds, and provide it freedom to seek the right path . . . approximately a 1/4″ to the left!

And that’s what I did.  Wow!  Talk about a workout!  It was about 45 minutes of literally blood (a little), sweat (a lot!) and almost tears (almost tears of simply being pissed off! …. but no actual tears.  Come on! This ain’t the EZ Shop!! hahaha!)

After prying off the left side, then running the Fein along the edge to knock out the leftover chunks of flox, I then sanded the underside edge of the NB mounting flange and the mounting surface of the fuselage floor.

With the right side floxed securely the NB still wasn’t going to budge much, so I had to heat it up with the heat gun, and then on each side force it/pull it over so that it came to understand my reality.  I then Dremeled all the external crap away from around the entire base flange, and then re-drilled 4 new holes along the left side that would keep the NB aligned to where it needed to be.

Ok, this below is after I repaired the transgression.  Note that I Dremel sanded the base flange area.

Right side NB

This is how it ended up aligned.  Again, with the NB screwed in place I was able to move the top over to the mark on the center strut.  At this point, the pic below shows a decent alignment if you looked from underneath.

NB & Instrument Panel

And here are the screws on the left side.  I added one more for a total of 5 after I re-floxed the left-side NB to the fuselage floor.

Left side NB after resetting & refloxing

Because I literally burned epoxy out from some of the glass in a very few spots (some of the white you see in the glass below is actual glass turned white again from the heat … something I’ve never seen before), I figured overall the glass was not in the most healthy state on the left side.  Thus, although the plans say to simply flox the NB into place and then glass from “the inside,” I added a ply a BID on the left side over the heat-deminished glass.

Left side 1-ply BID

With about 8″ of BID that I had left over, I went ahead and glassed the aft half of the right side.

Right side 1-ply BID

Now, you may recall me stating that my fuselage is more oval or cigar shaped than stock Long-EZs.  This creates more stresses and pressures on the bulkheads, leading to my instrument panel to bow slightly aft due to the pressures of the sidewalls on it.  I should have added another ply or two of BID knowing what I know now…. fix actions are planned.

One of these fix actions that will help, is to bond the center panel strut with the NB securely.  Originally, I wasn’t so sure about this being a point of strength, but more of just closing up any gaps that would lead to drafts between the panel and NB.  However, when trying to pry off the left after the flox was almost completely cured, you can bet your sweet patooty that I was going to use the NB as a means to help secure the panel into a straight position.

First, I added a flox fillet around the outer aft edge of the NB.

Flox fillet between NB & panel strutFlox fillet between NB & panel strut

I then added BID corner tapes in 3 segments: the top down to about mid-point on each side, and at the bottom corners, respectively.  The top is about 8″ of 1-ply BID that goes down to the mid-point on each side.  Then, on the top area, I added another small 2-ply patch to really help secure it as high as possible on the center panel strut.  In each of the bottom corners, I laid up a 2-ply BID tape that measured 4″ high x 1.5″ wide.

NB to panel strut glassed with BID

NB to panel strut glassed with BID

So, although a good portion of the afternoon was nothing but a huge PITA, as you can see in the pic below how the internal NB aligned with the center panel strut, by the end of the evening it was all worth it.  I’ll glass the internal corners and bottom edges of the NB when I glass the bottom of the nose.

Interior NB to panel strut alignment…yes!

Tomorrow will be all about prepping for laying up the bottom nose glass.  I still have to shape the nose on the top side, clean out the fuselage and prep it, then flip the fuselage, finish shaping the bottom of the nose, install the strut cover & glass the channel between the NB and strut cover, cut the glass for the nose, and then glass it!



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