Nose Oil Box

Chapter 13 — Nose Quart Oil Bottle Stowage Box

7 May 2018 — Today I 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.


8 May 2018 — 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.


9 May 2018 — 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.

10 hours later here is 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.


14 May 2018 — 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, so I let it sit for a week to really cure while I was down on my trip to North Carolina.


24 May 2018 — I spent a few hours today on the Oil “Tower” Box, so there are a number of pics of it.

I started out by giving the primed Oil “Tower” Box a very thorough sanding down.

I then hit it with another few coats of primer before heading out to run some errands.

When I returned I again sanded the primer, only this time I wet sanded it.

With a solid base of primer in place I then set about to rid myself of the numerous divots I had in the surface of the Oil “Tower” box.  I would be using EverCoat’s Metal Glaze for the aforementioned ridding of divots.

I then slathered up the oil “tower” box with Metal Glaze and let it cure.

I then took the box outside and knocked down all the high points of the cured Metal Glaze with a hard sanding block.  I then brought it back inside and wet sanded it to get the final feathered finish between filler and pre-existing box surface.

I then shot it with a couple coats of primer one last time.

I then very lightly wet sanded the Oil “Tower” box before taking it outside and hitting it with 3 coats of yellow paint.  Tomorrow, this paint will get sanded and then I’ll cut the top of the box off, at which point the separate pieces will then get another 1-2 coats of yellow paint.


25 May 2018 — I kicked off the day spending a little over an hour on the yellow Oil “Tower” Box in its continuing evolution.  I started by wet sanding the yellow paint to make the surface even more uniform than it had been before.  Although I’m not naturally a patient dude, that’s exactly what is called for when finishing parts that don’t start out nice and uniform in shape to begin with.

After a good wet sanding I then marked the cut line that will separate the box into the lower quart oil bottle (and shop rag) storage part and the lid top, which will have a hinge mounted on one narrow side with a twist-lockable clasp on the opposite narrow side.

I then used my Fein saw to carefully cut the lid top off.

Here’s the lid off the top with just the tip top of the oil bottle peeking out and another shot showing the foam plug that I used to create the rounded edges & corners of the lid top.

I then removed the lid top’s foam plug and tape and quickly rough-sanded the inside to knock down some “gotchas” ready to devour unprotected flesh.

I then spent a good 20+ minutes extracting the empty quart oil bottle and associated cardboard and tape that served to make up the plug for the oil “tower” box.

Here’s the inside view of the oil “tower” box.

I had to cut 3 sides of the top part of the oil bottle to get it and the tape removed from the inside of the box, so I taped the bottle back together for a quick test fit… which I was very pleased with since the oil bottle fit is like a hand in a glove.  Ever so slightly snug just to keep the oil bottle from any inadvertent movement.

Then, just a quick double check on upper clearance –and for my own satisfaction– I placed the lid back in place on top.

I then prepped some BID, whipped up some epoxy and laid up some internal corner plies of glass in the long side corners of the Oil “Tower” Box.  I then peel plied the layups.


27 May 2018 — I wanted a label for my oil box that, quite conveniently, would identify the box as “OIL.”  I had thought about it a number of times while building the box and just decided to do it in a quick and EZ manner.  I painted the lid top black and then –using PowerPoint– made up a good sized block lettered version of the “OIL” label.  I then taped my “OIL” stencil pattern to a wide piece of painter’s tape and carefully traced the letters with a razor knife.

I then simply affixed the painter’s tape block letters over the black painted lid top.

Again, not absolutely perfect, but I’m not building an oil box, I’m building an airplane so I want to get this thing off the plate of things to do.

I then shot the oil box and lid with a few coats of yellow paint.  I added an extra coat for extra measure so that when I wet sand it, the carcasses of all the tiny little divebombing gnats that apparently love yellow so much they’ll literally die for it . . . would not show up in the final paint.  I guess painting this during the day is like being a big boxed food manufacturer, lots of bugs for added protein!

I let the yellow paint cure for about a half hour then brought the parts inside.  By the time I grabbed my keys, wallet and phone to head out to Harbor Freight for some consumables and check out some tools, the rain started.


28 May 2018 — Today I got around to some wet sanding and painting on the oil “tower” box lid, and then some wet sanding and clear coating on the box portion itself…. both endeavors were rife with annoying issues and the outcome of each one is yet to be determined.  I suspect that there is a fair more work to get the surfaces dialed in to an acceptable (not perfect!) level.


7 September 2020 — Today I quickly sanded the nose oil box that’s been sitting on my shop desktop for a good month now. I then hit it with 3 coats of clear total, at differently intervals as I was cutting the rubber strips to mount under the mill base.

Here’s the clear coated nose oil box lid.  The box is no beauty queen, but it’s bright and eye-catching and will do the job.

Here’s the actual box here.  Also with 3 coats of clear.  The coats aren’t as thick on the vertical base just because I didn’t want to risk runs.  I’ll wet sand this and buff it out a bit.

Here it is all together.  This oil box will hold a 1-quart bottle of oil nice and tightly with a little room at the top for a couple paper funnels and a rag or two.  I plan on mounting it about midway between the Napster bulkhead and the right rudder pedal.


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Project Update

Hey Guys,

I wanted to touch on something that while I was in the military was attributed to Gen. Petraeus, who stated, “Perfect is the enemy of good enough.”  I know a lot of people in the homebuilding world would groan at that statement, but the simple fact is that focusing on perfection, or the perfect solution, on every task is simply a huge time bust.  Burt definitely did not ascribe to this methodology, because choices simply have to be made for efficiency…. especially if we are to finish these airplanes in a decent, timely fashion.

To be clear, I’m not talking about being unsafe, or a lack quality, I’m talking about doing all the myriad of little extra tasks just for the sake of making the plane “better.”  Having run large organizations in the military, I can tell you often the amount of time and energy getting from, say, 93% to 98% can be way too big of a chunk of the overall effort.  If we’re honest, that 93% mark would be more than sufficient in meeting the mission, yet our drive for excellence and recognition pushes us to spend way too much time on the added 5%. In the end it gains us nothing but Kudos and Brownie points, but very little true value added. 

My point in all this is I’m attempting to make decisions based heavily in efficiency, more so than on perfection or “quality”, which is almost always in the realm of cosmetic areas vs. actual operational, functional or safety-related areas. 

Ok… I’m about 2 months back on the build.  I’m close to finishing up the major canopy tasks that will then free me up to really start focusing more just on the nose, which I have been dabbling with somewhat regarding the nose hatch hinges.

As far as shop tooling capabilities, over the past few weeks I’ve been using both my 3D printer and plasma cutting table regularly, both seeming to be working fine now. And yes, I am still slowly reassembling the milling machine to convert it to CNC.

As I get towards the end of really finalizing the nose tasks, I’ll start transitioning to the strake build (Chapter 21).   Again, the final big airframe assembly will be the winglet/rudder install (Chapter 20).  


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