14.2.1 Top side finish

This entry is part 13 of 36 in the series 14 - Final Assembly / FInishing

Since we’re now working on the tops of the wings (where they will be easy to view (as opposed to the underside)) it’s important that they are as close to perfect as we can get them. We already did some extensive sanding and removed a bunch of unnecessary filler, but there are still some low spots. And Malcolm (ever the perfectionist) wasn’t happy with my strake-wing joints.

So first we located (again) the low spots and marked them. Then we put in the aluminum “dams” that Malcolm uses to retain and improve the joint.

Here’s a picture of the pilot side strake/wing with the aluminum in place

Same side from the back.

CoPilot side.

The gap along the back was really high so we knew there’d be no filler going on there.

Right wing with low spots marked.

Then it’s time to add the Resin Research resin and microballoon.

Right wing with a layer of filler.

At the wing/strake joint

Right wing aft of the strake.

While I thought the doors were fine (especially compared to how they were), they still weren’t “good enough”. So some fill had to be added around the upper/aft edge of the co-pilot door.

Here’s the pilot side wing-strake joint.

And then the filler has to be sanded down. :-(

But now the tops of the wings and strakes are as good as they can be made until we get some primer on it. Once the surface is is close to being smooth but in full “spotted dog” mode, the variations in texture make it difficult to determine if you’re feeling a low spot or a change in surface texture. So once the entire surface is primed, we’ll block it out and see if there are anymore low or high spots. Until then, there not much more to do with the wings.

14.2.1 Window transistion

This entry is part 11 of 36 in the series 14 - Final Assembly / FInishing

The transition between windows and fuselage needed a lot of work. The windows are noticeably lower than the adjacent fuselage. So it was time to sand (again). Fortunately, there are only three windows.

Here’s the “before” pilot side rear window.

Here’s the after picture of the same window. Notice that much of the white filler close to the window has been removed.

After of the right side of the windshield.

Co-pilot side rear window.

5.2.2 Door openings

This entry is part 14 of 16 in the series 05 - Doors / Windows

After re-aligning the doors, there were some areas that didn’t have enough clearance. So those edges of the door opening got sanded down and in some places we went through the glass into foam. So those had to be filled and glassed.

Once that was done, then we had to make the space between the door and the fuselage a uniform width (and straight). This can be tricky and tedious. Since the doors are opening and closes all the time, a wider gap has to be created (unlike the wing-to-strake joint). And it’s not a straight line; it curves. So Malcolm obtained some conveyor belt material that was flexible and just the right thickness. We cut templates out of cardboard and then transferred those to the “spacer” material.

Here are some of the pieces ready to go.

The areas of the fuselage that are low have to be marked so we know where to add filler.

The following are pictures of the door with the spacer material inserted and the doors and fuselage marked.

Release wax is applied to the spacer material prior to being inserted into the gap between the door and fuselage. Then a thick cabo and Resin Research mixture is forced between the fuselage and spacer material. Since this will be an exposed edge, using just micro balloon would be too fragile. The cabo will provide a very hard edge that won’t crack when hit getting in and out of the plane.

Then regular micro balloon filler is used away from the edge to take care of the low spots on the fuselage.

And then it was sand, sand, sand.

Since the conveyer belt material was only smooth on one side, it was only possible to do one side at a time. So the procedure was repeated for the door side of the gap.

And then it’s sand, sand, sand.

I wish there was some way to illustrate the finished product. The lines are just awesome. When you run your hand over the surface from fuselage to door to fuselage, it feels perfectly smooth. But there’s no way to get a picture of that. So once we shoot it in white, shiny primer, you’ll see.

12.1 Engine arrival

This entry is part 1 of 48 in the series 12 - Engine / Propeller

The engine showed up on February 25th.

A Continental IO550-N. 2,000 hours total time and 0 SMOH (Since Major Over Haul) just out of the shop. Balanced, blueprinted, ported, polished with overhauled cylinders and a fresh coat of paint.

Ain’t it purty?

14.2.1 The ugly nose

This entry is part 10 of 36 in the series 14 - Final Assembly / FInishing

“That’s an ugly nose”. I don’t have a picture of it, but the nose of the plane isn’t the best looking thing. Malcolm says it looks like it has an overbite (the top sticks out a little further than the bottom). The fix is kind of weird. A thick mixture of micro and cabo is plopped on to the nose.

Once it hardens, it’s sanded to a point. This is one of those “artistic” things that I’m not very good at but Malcolm excels at.

The artist reviewing his work. :-)

Then the point is knocked down and rounded over to make a “proper” nose.

14.2.1 Photo op

This entry is part 9 of 36 in the series 14 - Final Assembly / FInishing

During all of this I realized that I’ve never had the wings and canard on at the same time.

Time for a picture!

Unfortunately, the lighting and the flash don’t make for a great picture but you get the idea.

6.2.3 Front Seats

This entry is part 6 of 42 in the series 06 - Fuselage

I received the foam cushions from Oregon Aero for the front seats. You’ll remember last year that we had to modify the pilot seat to accommodate my larger-than-average build (height, not weight, mind you). Once I put the foam on the seat bottom and seat back I discovered 3 problems.

  1. I didn’t think about the height of the seat back. In this picture from last year notice where the top of the seat back is in relation to my neck. Can you say “neck injury”? I didn’t notice this before because I didn’t have any foam in the seat back at the time.
  2. When I had them build the cushions I specified to keep the bottom foam as thin as possible (so I would have adequate headroom). It didn’t occur to me that the seat back cushion thickness would be a problem so I had them use the normal thickness. But because the seat bottom is angled so much, every inch of seat back cushion thickness moves me forward (and up). So I don’t have enough headroom again.
  3. Because of the thicker seat back cushion moving me forward on the seat bottom, my thighs are not supported very well.

Fixing 2 and 3 are easy. I just tell the folks at Oregon Aero to make my seat back cushion like my seat bottom cushion… as thin as possible. That’ll give me headroom and thigh support. But fixing 1 isn’t going to be easy. I thought about an adjustable headrest (like are found in most cars). But then I discovered that the seat back has a “curve” to it. Around the shoulders, it curves to the front so that the back of your head is supported. But with me, the curve started around mid-back.

So I made the decision to modify the seat back to accommodate me. (I should have done the seat bottom too. But I can do that later).

Here’s the stock seatback.

And after the “cut”.

Wood sticks are glued in place to hold the two pieces the correct distance apart and keep them aligned.

A section of 1/4″ foam is placed between the two pieces and tooling wax is attached to the sides.

Then the foam is covered with a micro-slurry and the inside (front) of the seat back is covered with 3 layers of BID and 1 layer of Triax. Once dry, the seat back is flipped over and the same is done to the outside (back). I then mounted the seat in the plane with the seat bottom cushion and a piece of 1/2″ scrap foam in the back.

Here’s the result.

I sent the modified seat back to Oregon Aero so they could build up a taller and thinner cushion.

11.2.2 Counterweight Fairings

This entry is part 10 of 17 in the series 11 - Fairings

The elevators have a counterweight at the outboard end to balance them. A pocket is cut into the canard to allow the elevator through it full movement. The weight on the outboard end isn’t enough to completely balance the elevators so additional weight is added to the center pivot. But to get the elevator perfectly balanced requires a LOT of weight at that center position. There were some reports of flutter developing with this setup so the factory has recommended adding the additional weight at the outboard position. This will require making the existing pocket larger. I thought about adding the weight outboard of the existing weight but that would have been a pain as my canard tips are hollow. So I decided to add the weight inboard of the existing weights. I checked with Scott at the factory and he said that would be fine.

Here’s the left side pocket with tape marking the cut.

After the cut is made and glassed in, I’ll have to make the fairing (the “bump” above the pocket) larger. Rather than make a new foam block and cover it with BID, Malcolm said that since it’s such a small amount that it would be good to just mold a addition out of thick micro. This is almost like sculpting. Which is one of the art things that I’m not good at.

So here’s Malcolm creating a new fairing addition.

And this is the final pocket and fairing.

99 Sun-n-Fun 2011

This entry is part 4 of 9 in the series 99 - Non-Build Topic

We had a great time at Sun-n-Fun on Wednesday. The weather was perfect. Saw Tom Lawson of Firewall Forward who supplied the engine. I picked up some supplies and talked to a few vendors. Wednesday night we had dinner with Richard and Sheri. On Thursday we had some plans to hang out in Tampa. Turns out that was perfect timing. Lakeland, FL got hit by a tornado that destroyed numerous aircraft. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries (to people).

Now here’s a little backstory. About 20 years ago, I used to have an occasional business lunch with a customer. One of the restaurants (Sea Sea Riders) we would go to had this dessert called a “Kitchen Sink”. One day after lunch I decided to order dessert. When it was brought out, my customer asked if she could have a bite. I said sure and she asked for an extra spoon. After that, whenever we had lunch at this restaurant, we would always order a “Kitchen Sink with two spoons”. Well, I ended up marrying that customer.

Now last year after Sun-n-Fun, we went by the restaurant. It had changed little but they had stopped serving the Kitchen Sink years earlier. But there was a storm going on they had lost power. The chef was walking in and out of the kitchen dealing with some storm induced crisis and at one point we started talking to him. Turns out he had just started at the restaurant a couple weeks earlier but he used to work there about 20 years ago. And the “Kitchen Sink” was his creation.

So a couple months before this year’s trip I contacted the restaurant and asked if they could bring back the dessert for me… Just this once. The owner of the restaurant couldn’t have been more accomodating.

So the plan was put into motion. On Thursday, we went to the old lunch restaurant (BTW, Jimmy Buffett wrote a song about our lunches). After lunch, they brought out dessert.

And we had to include the chef that started all this in motion.

While I was playing in Florida, Malcolm was plugging away with surfacing stuff. Getting the windows just right, fixing the damage from the unexpected nose gear retraction. Other stuff like that. Malcolm doesn’t like the way that the factory does the window installation so he spent a lot of time trying to make them “good enough”.

2.7.6 Aileron Hinge Installation

This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series 02 - Wing / Winglets

Now it’s time to mount the remaining control surfaces (rudders and ailerons).  The ailerons come first. They’re six feet long. I start by squaring the cutouts on the wings and the ailerons and making sure the spacing is equal on the ends and that the trailing edge of the aileron matches the wing.

To hold the aileron in place during all this, a 7-foot long aluminum angle stock is clamped to the bottom of the wing.

Here’s the right aileron in place.

Then the location of the three hinges (per aileron) are marked and the barrel area was cut out. While I was doing that, Malcolm was cutting the hinges.

This is the cut out for the inboard hinge on the left aileron.

I decided that it was important that the hinges be perfectly aligned. So I took the angle stock and clamped the hinges to it and clamped the angle stock to the wing.

Inboard hinge on the right aileron.

Then the (unclamped) part of the hinge is held in place and holes are drilled into the wing.

The next step is to cleco the hinges in position to the wing and verify that the fit is still correct.

Next foam is placed in front of the hinges to push them against the aileron (when it’s put it position). 5 minute epoxy is mixed and applied to the aileron-side of the hinge.

Here’s Malcolm putting the epoxy on the hinge.

Once the epoxy sets, the cleco’s are removed and then we drill into the aileron. After a hole is drilled, a cleco is used to hold the hinge in position just in case the hinge comes loose.

Here, after the first couple of holes are drilled into the middle hinge of the left aileron.

After all the holes are drilled, the hinge is popped off the aileron.

Then the hinge is disassembled. Structural adhesive is applied to the hinge. The hinge is put in position and rivets are used to permanently attach the hinge to the aileron.

Finished product:

After the structural adhesive cured, we put both ailerons on and sanded around the opening to insure that they moved without any binds.