Chapter 24 – Covers and fairings
Just a start to this chapter. I fabricated the gear/fuselage fairings on the main gear. For this I used some pretty “hi-tech” modeling clay called “Play-doh”. Believe it or not, there still is something in life that is down right cheap. I bought a combination box of 4 colors for $1.47 I thought the packaging would have cost the manufacturer more than that.
The multicolors worked great because as you see in this picture I was able to model in the high and low pressure areas that would affect the fairing. Orange for high pressure, and blue for low pressure…………..no not really, sounded good though. It’s purely how it came out of the can.
As you can see all I did was apply a release agent on the fuselage (duct tape) and shaped the clay to the desired shape. I then layed up 3 ply of bid over the clay. Once it cured, I removed the gear and dug the clay out with a screw driver. After the clay was removed, I just squirted some pour foam (foam in a can) into the open cavity to add some reinforcement to the lay up. Pretty simple.
I have been busy putting together the interior pieces before I mount the main spar and fabricate the strakes. I figured it would be much easier to get around and in the fuselage now, rather than later.
It was nice working along and not having to worry for once that every piece I made wasn’t “mission critical” to the safe flight of the plane. These steps included making front and rear seat pans, supports, front and rear outer armrests, and the center armrest for the rear. The center front armrest is part of the throttle quadrant assembly and is covered in chapter 17.
I first started shaping some foam for the side map pockets. The foam is then covered with some duct tape so the map pockets can be “pulled” off of the foam male plug as seen below. The picture on the left shows the molds. The picture on the right shows the map pocket installed on the side of the fuselage. Clecos are used to hold it in place while the flox cures.
Next, I used poster board to come up with the shape of the armrest. The plans give dimensions, but these are truly all “one off” custom planes and the measurements are always off a little. I was able to use the paper templates for both left and right sides of the fuselage so my plane is at least symmetrical.
Here is a shot of the pilot side armrest in place. The picture on the left shows the foam before shaping and glassing. The photo on the right shows the completed arm rest.
I wanted to have access to the control stick bearing for future maintenance so I made an access cover in front of the stick. It will be held in place with patches of Velcro as shown below.
The rear armrests went the same as the fronts. Here you can see the armrests and additional access panels.
Next, I moved on to the seat pans. All four are done the same. First I cut out support ribs that are placed under the seat pans. I cut all four out simultaneously on the bandsaw so they would be uniform in height as shown below. The black dots are just nails used to keep the foam layers together while cutting.
Next, a flat piece of foam is cut out for the seat pan and glassed on the bottom side only. Once the layup is cured, knife cuts are done on the top every inch. This allows the foam to be contoured to the supports. Once this is done, the top of the pans are glassed. I duct taped the area on top of the support so the seat pans can be removed and there is a small amount of storage space under the seat pans. This operation is shown below. The picture on the right shows the pilot’s seat after glassing. You can see the copilot supports not yet installed on the right side of the picture.
Lastly, I built the rear center arm rest. It was done the same as the heater duct back in chapter 8. Basically cut out the shapes, glass the inside first, assemble and glass the outside. The pictures below show the armrest and all of the interior pieces layed out.
The canard cover will wait until I do the nose assembly in chapter 13.
You know you’re in trouble when the instructions say “plan on 25-30 hours” for installation of something as simple as installing the main gear wheel pants!!!! One designer of a retractable canard design said “yeah, we decided to go with retractable gear since it took less time and was easier to install than wheel pants”……I think he was only half joking!!!
I have just started this step so just a summary…….You start out by building a jig to hold the pants in place. The only problem is, the pants come without any wheel cut out. Again, another highly visible place to show off your workmanship, or lack there of. So this means, the usual cut, install, mark, remove, cut, install, mark, remove, etc. dance goes on a seeming endless time. I have about 10 hours into this and both pants are properly fitted.
Next, comes all the gyrations of getting them properly aligned in the horizontal access so as to cause the least amount of wind resistance, as well as the proper yaw axis. Think toe-in/out on your car’s tire alignment.
One last thing I had to do with the wheel pants was to cut vents in the top of them for brake cooling. Since the main gear is fiberglass, great lengths need to be taken to protect it from heat. I added the aluminum heat shields between the axle and the gear hoop already. These vents will be another step in stopping too much heat building up. Here is a shot of the vents in the process of cutting them out. The second one in has only been drilled out and now I have to remove the pant to finish…..
The next thing I did was to install the vortilons. These are shown in the M-Drawings, but I don’t remember what chapter they were discussed in. So I will just add them in here. They are attached to the leading edge of each wing at prescribed stations per plans. They aid in stopping span wise flow of air along the wing during high angles of attack. They keep the air flowing over the wing instead of along it, avoiding a main wing stall. Here they are installed on the right wing below…..
Lastly, I figured it was time to get my N-numbers on the plane. Who knew something as simple as this would take hours to accomplish. Many builders use a simple 3” black block letter and call it good. This is fine and perfectly up to the FAA requirements. I am so happy with how the paint scheme came out; it seemed a pity to just slap some numbers on the plane. I started to look for different fonts that would go with the paint job. Who knew there could be so many! This website alone http://www.abstractfonts.com/ offers 11,492 free downloadable fonts! I spent a few hours pouring through this sight. The neat thing you can do is put in what ever words, names, number, etc. you are looking for, select the font, and it displays your example in the selected font. Pretty cool! Once I got what I wanted, I had to find a way to get it produced. Aerographics http://www.aerographics.com/ did a fantastic job. Jennifer was so helpful in laying it out, adjusting size, height, length, color etc. I ordered them on Friday and had them in my hands the next Wednesday. Two custom font, 4 inch N-Numbers, for $7 or $8 bucks a piece! I highly recommend them! Well, enough of the suspense……Here they are.
The metallic silver vinyl matches the silver trim color perfectly! It’s a great color too because if you are not looking at the number head on, it tends to blend into the white. Very unobtrusive and matches the rest of the plane very well.
A little background into the N-number itself is in order. Many builders tend to use their initials of their first and last names. I opted to go another route and in my own way thank my wife for putting up with this crazy journey I have taken over the last 6.5 years. She is a bit of a numerologist and her favorite number is 3. Well, three 3’s sounded perfect to me and the VM are the initials of her first and middle names, or Vaunda Michelle.
All that is left is chapter 26, the interior!