This chapter deals with the nose section of the airplane. I purchased the nose sections from Aerocad. The nose is obviously one of those “high profile” parts of the plane where everyone can see any little mistake you may make. I figured since these are molded pieces, they will give me a better start on contouring the nose to the sides, top, and bottom of the fuselage. Much work will follow such as fabricating the rudder pedals and mounts, brake cylinders, retractable front landing gear, etc. During the cold weather though, I try to keep the project moving even though it is difficult to do any large layups. Keeping this in mind, I decided to go ahead and fabricate the front hatch door. This door is normally held in place with screws/nutcerts at the 4 corners of the hatch. I wanted something a little cleaner looking so I fabricated some hinges, mounts and latch mechanism that will be operated by cable from inside. This will look neater and add a little more security to the plane.
First, I marked and cut out the access door. Next, at drip rail needs to be fabricated. I put 12 layers of duct tape on around the inside edge of the door. This will simulate the 1/16” gap needed for the weather stripping that will go on top of the drip rail. I then placed the door back in place on the nose section using stir sticks to hold it flush to the top of the nose. I then glassed the drip rail from the backside of the nose.
The picture below shows the drip rail layup after cure but before it was trimmed. You can see the duct tape on the access door.
Next, I fabricated ¼” aluminum hardpoints for the latch and hinge mounts. This was followed up with drilling and tapping each hardpoint for the attach screws. The picture below shows the inside of the nose with the hinges and latches all assembled.
And here is the completed access door.
As you can see, it is a much cleaner install. It’s steps like these that are taking me longer to complete the plane than what other builders are doing. To put 4 screws and nutcerts in would have taken an hour or two. This took me a total of 15 hours, but since I am only building one of these, I will take the extra time and make it look a little nicer.
Now we get in to the meat of this chapter. I have been holding off on this chapter primarily because if made the fuselage too long and would not fit well in the garage. Now that I have moved to the hanger, there are no more excuses. Plus this chapter will make the fuselage definitely look more like the finished product.
We start out by fabricating the NG-30 pieces. These are the main structural pieces that hold the nose gear and retract pieces. Simple to make, cut the foam and follow the glassing schedule.
Next, I had to make the hardpoints for the mounting of the electric nose lift. I opted for Jack Wilhelmson’s piece. It is beautifully made and is very compact. It also comes with an automatic extension option that automatically lowers the gear in case I go brain dead while on final approach. The plans call for routing out the NG30’s and glassing in 15 layers of bid. This sounded rather time consuming to me to cut all these little pieces of glass and wet them out one at a time…….for six holes. I followed other builder’s advice and did what the plans called out for when we made the hardpoints for the main landing gear bulkheads. I just laid up 15 layers of glass in a 3x5 piece. I then cut out the hardpoints and floxed them in to the NG30’s as seen below…..
Next I temporarily glued the NG30’s together and drilled out the hardpoints on the drill press. This guarantees the holes will line up correctly when the pieces are put on to the fuselage.
The F-0 Bulkhead is used to locate the whole forward section onto the rest of the fuselage. I opted to attach the NG-30s to F-0 before installing them on to the fuselage as called out in the plans. It was much easier to guarantee a square and true fit without the weight of the NG30’s working against you. Here is a shot of the NG30’s getting glassed to F-0……..
Once this was accomplished I took a fair amount of time to make sure the fuselage was square with the mounting of the NG30’s. I dropped a plumb bob off the center of the firewall at the back, and then another off F22 at the front. Now I knew the fuselage was square. Next, I jigged the NG30’s in place and made sure they were square horizontally and dropped a plumb line off of F-0 to finally make sure the NG30’s were in line with the fuselage. I used a couple of aluminum angle pieces off of F-0 to support the NG30’s while the layups cured…..the pictures below show this operation.
I purchased the prefab nose pieces from Aerocad and will be putting those on next. I figured it will give me a much smoother looking nose and will allow me to contour to it much easier.
That’s all for now…..
When we last left our intrepid airplane builder he had attached the NG-30 front gear subsection to the front of the fuselage.
Next, I mounted the prefab nose pieces from Aerocad. These fit pretty well but I did have to make three 5” slices in the inside forward corners of each nose piece so they would fit the contour of the forward bulkhead (F0). The pictures below show both sides being installed….
Once the bottom nose pieces where in place, there is plenty of work to do before closing out the nose with the top section. I installed the rudder pedals next. The first step is to install the outside mounts to the sides of the fuselage. Like all the other construction, it is simply glue the proper foam in place, shape, and cover with the required layers of glass. I used Dennis Oelmann’s pedals. They are beautiful pieces with great welds and powder coated. The plans don’t call for any bearing surfaces in the NG-30’s but I opted to put some in. I figured they will block another source of cold air entering the cabin during the winter.
Below you can see one of the mounts on the left. The picture on the right shows the pedals and the brass center bearings installed.
Next, came the install of the brake master cylinders. I used the laydown version since they were less expensive and a much cleaner install than the plans version. One end of the cylinder mounts directly to the pedals, and the other end needs to attach to the floor of the fuselage. I just made some brackets out aluminum and floxed, riveted, and glassed over them for the install per plans. The pictures below show the bracket on the left, and the pedal and master cylinder assemblies on the right.
I mounted the reservoirs on the forward portion of the NG-30’s………….you can also see the bulkheads I added just in front of the master cylinders. They will provide space for additional nose weight and I won’t have to worry about the weight sliding around and getting wedged under a pedal.
The next step was to flip the fuselage over, install the nose strut, and cut out the hole for the gear in the bottom of the fuselage. This was a tedious step in that you lower the gear, mark the fuselage, make a small cut, check for interference, and start the process all over again….you want a nice aerodynamic fit here….
Once this is accomplished the wheel well cover is installed. I opted for the prefab featherlite unit. It required a little trimming, but is of good quality. I also installed the sight windows per plans as shown below…..
I wanted a finished look to the interior of the plane when the forward hatch was opened. I figured it would be easier to paint now with the top off instead of trying to spray through the hatch later. Here is a shot of the paint work….
I then set to work on the forward ballast compartment. Just like everything else I just shaped some foam, covered with electrical tape for mold release, and glassed over it to make the ballast box. I then installed the pitot tube and installed the nose cone.
The picture on the left shows the ballast box and pitot tube….the right shows the nose cone installed…..
A rubber bumper is installed into the bottom of the nose so the paint won’t get scratched while the plane is in the parked position. As always with this design, an inexpensive, neat, functional solution is used. The plans call for an official NHL hockey puck to be used. Simply shape to an aerodynamic shape, and bolt to the bottom of the nose cone as shown below…..
The top is the last thing to go on to close out the nose section. I had to do the same slight mod of slitting the inside nose section to fit the nosecone, but you can see the nice fit I got using the prefab nose. Very little fill was required…it also provides a nice line to contour down the side of the fuselage….The pictures below show me glassing the nose in place and the small amount of micro required for fill….
Once the top of the nose was in place, the canard cover is cut out. Many builders wait to carve the canopy deck, canard cover, and nose as one piece. I couldn’t do that in the confines of my one car garage. Using the prefab nose, I can say I didn’t have any issues with the canopy deck lining up with the canard cover…..I didn’t require large amounts of micro fill for these areas.
The picture below shows me cutting out the canard cover….
The picture below shows the canard cover attached to the canard and the small amount of fill required…this is before sanding and after I was done, the lowest areas required 1/16” or less.
The plans don’t call for fairings on the bottom of the canard where it goes into the fuselage. This another source for cold air entering the fuselage though. I opted to make some fairings in this area as many other builders do. Again, glue the foam in place, shape, and glass…..
Chapter 13 complete! 209 Hours.