Fuselage Side Progress

Been getting a lot done on the fuselage sides the last few days.  In the evenings over the last week or so I managed to get the contour pieces cut out, and Heather helped me micro them in place.

Here you can see a closeup of the outline for the control stick depression in the right fuselage side.

I wound up not using that sanding sponge much, as it would have taken forever to sand through the micro that had seeped out onto the blue foam.  Instead I used a plunge router set to the correct depth, and THEN sanded it smooth.  Heather helped me gouge out the area for the Vance Atkinson fuel gauges, and then we were ready to glass!

I had everything vacuumed up and ready to glass on Saturday.  On a whim, I asked a fellow engineer from the power plant if he had a few hours to spare to give me a hand.  Eric Helmrich pretty much saved my Saturday.  Had I attempted to do this myself, I woulda been at it all freakin’ day, and I’m pretty sure the epoxy would have set up long before I was finished.  Eric snapped a picture of me working on wetting out one of the sides:

Man, that was time consuming.  Eric and I spent a solid 4 hours on this massive layup.  I read on other builders sites and in the mailing list archives that this is one of the big three layups, along with the spar and the wings.  Boy, am I glad this one is out of the way!

The plans call for you to flox the upper longerons in place as soon as you are done with this layup.  As we had affixed the sides to the masonite using double sided tape, the tape had started to release in the most curved parts of the sides.  To remedy this, I planned to add weight to hold everything in the right shape while the layup cured.   I needed to put the weight right where the longerons need to go, so I didn’t install them immediately.  As a plus, this gave us the opportunity to peel-ply the entire layup.  After applying peel-ply, we put a sheet of plastic over it, and put some weight in the trouble spots.  I am very proud of how the layup came out!  Thanks again Eric!

The next morning, I got the longerons ready to go, and floxed them in place (After removing the peel-ply, of course).  There was a little gap right in the middle on both longerons, so I made judicious use of clamps:

I decided to let that cure, and went off to see what else was going on around the airport.  As luck would have it, I wandered in just in time to help Jeff Test bolt the wings on his Long-EZ for the very first time.  Man he looks happy.

Back to our project!  Today I set about laying up 4 plies of UNI along the upper longerons.  What a pain! The layup is dead center in the middle of the table, so it takes moving back and forth between both sides of the table, and you have to lean waaay over to get it done.  It took about 3 hours, so my back is feeling a bit stiff.

Anyway, the first thing I did was to clean any excess flox off of the longerons, and round the corners, so that the glass would lay down around the corner.  You can see about how much rounding I did below:

Here are the longerons prior to glassing:

And here are the strips of fiberglass, cut and ready to go:

And here’s what it looked like after 3 hours of work, and knife trimming a couple hours later:

The last thing I did this evening was to cut some jig blocks to help clamp the lower (triangular) longerons in place.  I cut 10 of these puppies, and hopefully in the next couple of days I’ll be able to show them being put to good use:

Now I’m off to try to find some way to watch the Va Tech vs Boise State game.  It’s being played less than an hour away, yet I’m not at the game.  I must be getting old.  Later!

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One Response to Fuselage Side Progress

  1. Dad says:

    Thanks for the update! It’s been a while coming. Looks like a LOT of work. Congratulations on making it over this first big hurdle.

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