Chapter 25: Contouring the Fuselage Sides


Inspections and Repairs

No repairs were needed. 


Surface Prep

The outside of the fuselage was peel-plied.  So I just prep-sanded the surfaces by hand.  I would have preferred to sandblast it, but it was 32 degrees and the wind was howling that day.  So I just stayed in the hangar and hand-sanded it.  I don't do any sandblasting indoors.


Forward Fuselage Sides

After finally getting around to installing a pitot tube, I permanently glassed the nose cone onto the airplane.  I big filled it and contoured it.  While I was at it, I went ahead and contoured the forward half of the fuselage sides.  Here's what it looked like at that stage.  The plane is getting more and more white and less and less brown!  The black rectangle under the nose cone is the black electric tape that is masking the lens for the landing light.



Aft Fuselage Sides 

The low spots are along the lower, rounded corners, especially if you didn't use a rounded shaping tool when carving the fuselage in Chapter 7.  Other low spots are at the F22 bulkhead where the nose is joined externally to the fuselage, and at the aft end of the fuselage where all the engine mount reinforcements are.  I applied more micro than normal along the lower cowling flanges so I could smoothly blend the sides and the lower cowl during the contouring.  I removed the Brock step and filled in that cavity.  I have a feeling I might ditch the Brock step and install a retractable step.  Either way, the cavity is filled.  If I change my mind and re-install the Brock step, it's a simple task to remove the micro from the cavity.


The big filling went easy and fast since the fuselage sides are nice flat surfaces, and especially since I had filled and contoured the upper areas already.


The contouring is very straight forward ( straight forward -- get it?  Ha Ha?).  The only problem was trying to get my body into a comfortable position under the strakes.  I hate vertical sanding and this is a big, all-vertical job.  So I ended up tilting the plane up on its arse.  THAT always draws looks from the airport crowd, but it gets the job done.  At this point, I'm not too concerned with getting the edges along the lower longerons nice and rounded.  I'll fine contour them later when the plane's upside down and when I'm contouring the bottom.


Since the surfaces are nice and flat, you should really strive to take off as much micro as you can.  You can't really tell from this picture, but there are large areas where the micro is really thin and transparent.  There are large areas of brown showing through.  One of the high spots is going to be at the F22 bulkhead junction.  I also found it interesting that I had high spots along the transitions between the fuselage blue foam and the white clark foam as carved and shaped in Chapter 7.  (Remember?)  I didn't know about the trick of using the fuselage contouring tool.  I ended having a discontinuous edge between the blue exterior foam and the white clark foam spacers, then again at the lower longerons.  It doesn't really matter because it's the same amount of work to spread the micro and contour it.  But you do use less micro to fill the corners if you use the contouring tool.  I wish I had known about it!


When I got near the aft end of the fuselage, I installed the lower cowl to shape the transition from the sides onto the cowl.  Wonders of wonders, I got it right the very first time!  I credit this to prefilling that area first.



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