Construction


Shop Update

As my two readers of this blog will know by now, I have been on a bit of a hiatus from building due to lots of other aviation activities, and due to multiple projects at our new (now 2+ years) home. The major project has been the construction of a new barn that has a 3 car garage / workshop. This workshop is the new home of my RV project. I had a company build the shell, but I have done the majority of the interior work from heating to plumbing and electricity myself. As a result Рits taken me awhile, and distracted me from airplane building.

Luckily, the shop project is nearing its final stages. I have begun setting it up for airplane building again, and hope to be back at it again very soon!

I’m not going to go through everything I’ve done in this building. But I will point out that my buddy Chad and I installed a boiler and radiant heat in the concrete slab. The winter shop hours are going to be awesome!!

I modified my EAA benches so that I could sit behind them with my Dad’s old bar stools.

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I need a lot of storage for airplane parts and regular farm / garage items. I built two large sets of shelves to add to my one existing shelf. I now have two 6′ high shelves with each shelf measuring 2 feet deep and 4 feet wide. I have one set of shelves that is 7′ tall, 2′ deep, and 5′ wide.

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I also built a small workbench / shelf that is built into the wall on the end of the shop.

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Here is the completed build in. Notice the ethernet plug (I have wifi piped from the house via a ubiquiti – just like my hangar) and I have the ceiling wired for 4 built in speakers.

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After all of the construction, I have scrap wood everywhere. I’ve been trying to use up as much of it as I can in building various shelves etc. I had some small pieces left, and being vertically challenged, I quickly threw together a stool to stand on.

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Here she is – moved into her new working position. You can really see that the shop is getting close to being usable here!

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This is the larger set of shelves I built for the back of the workshop.

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I added another shelf higher up for more storage.

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Not related to the RV, but I had to do something with my ladders. Scrap wood to the rescue again!

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As you can see I’ve made several trips to the hangar for airplane pats and tools. I don’t have everything moved back, but its getting really close. I’m starting to get excited about the project again!

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Fastback 62

More work today on the fillets that attach to the instrument panel cover and prevent airflow into the cockpit.

Basically just sanding and shaping.


Fastback 61

Its been awhile since I posted – but I have been busy in the shop. Our new barn / garage construction began at home, and I’ve had a ton of work travel that has interrupted my log updates. Regardless here is what I have accomplished over the past several weeks.

After bonding the canopy it was time to clean up the exterior and then fiberglass the transitions. First I put an epoxy/micro mix to fill the voids and gaps.

Then it was time to add fiberglass to the transitions between the skirt and the canopy. I used two layers of fiberglass. First a 2 inch layer, and then a 3inch later to make for gentle transitions.

I used the same technique as before however this time at the advice of Mike I put a skim coat of epoxy on the skirt/ canopy before laying the glass. This should help ensure proper adhesion.

Here are a few photos of the results of the applied glass.

I used 4 separate strips. One across the back. One on each side, and one on the front. The front required a few cuts to go around the strong curve.

After the fiberglass cured, it was time to turn my attention to making everything flush and smooth. The exterior is very important as the eventual base clear coat will show any flaws. The interior of the canopy will have a semi-gloss / flattened or even flat paint that is more forgiving to flaws.

I started by doing a skim coat of micro with a hotel key card to fill voids along the edges of the fiberglass and at the transition points.

Of course this was followed by lots of sanding.

At this point I decided to try a new technique. Brushing on the epoxy had worked very well previously, so I figured why not try brushing on micro? Yes its thicker, but if you mix it right you can get the right amount of flow. I brushed the micro on everywhere to get a very even coat.

Here you can see it the next day. A few runs here and there, but pretty good.

As I sanded it I found that I am a huge fan of the brushing on micro technique. Here’s why. By using a mix with a little more flow, and brushing it everywhere it does some degree of self leveling. Perhaps more importantly since the micro is covering everything, when you sand, you are sanding something of the same density. Its easy to run into problems when you have something hard, say flox, on something softer, say micro. In this example, micro will sand way easier and its difficult to get a flat smooth transition as the micro sands away so much easier and quicker than the flox. By brushing on the micro everywhere you get great coverage, some self-leveling / hole filling. The results on the first run were fantastic.

I repeated the process of applying micro with a brush a couple more times. Each time I used less micro in the mixture (less viscous – more runny) to fine tune the transitions.

 

On the last application I applied micro by brush to the entire exterior of the skirt from top to bottom and then sanded. The results are spectacular. I’m extremely happy with the exterior of the canopy.

This of course brings me to the interior of the canopy which was a bit of a nightmare. I made two mistakes here that compounded one another and added a non-trivial amount of work. I place the tape too close to the skirt – basically exactly in line with it, and I did a poor job of cleaning the adhesive fillets on the inside. As a result the tape was very very difficult to remove in some places. I spent hours picking, pulling, sanding, and finagling the interior fillet to get in clean. I highly recommend you leave about 1/8″ between the skirt and your canopy tape. I would also use three layers. Two layers of electrical tape for sanding, and one layer of painters tape. Remove the painters tape immediately upon application of the adhesive to make cleaner lines.

After cleaning up the tape and interior, I repaired the fillet with a two step process. One I put a flox fillet all the way around. I followed this up with sanding, and an application of micro for the small flaws.

The pictures don’t do it much justice.

While these things were curing I worked on the instrument panel cover. I filleted the inside of the canopy transition arms (for lack of a better term).

I set everything in place after the fillets were dry and began marking for final drilling of the arms as well as creating a new transition filler on the right side. I found the hinge was a bit longer than I needed so I shortened that appropriately. The right arm holds the hinge pin in place.

Here you can see there is a slight gap between the arms and the canopy rails. I could fill this with flox, but I think I will likely use weather stripping. I don’t plan to prime or paint this part until after the plane is flying, so I can make adjustments to airflow and water sealing with better experience and actual testing.

I also trimmed the length (ironic since I previously added length) of the right arm. I had little choice due to the position of the aft screw.

I then taped everything up to add more flox to the fill the large gap that is present on the forward side of the canopy skirt area (by virtue of the hinge and geometry this gap is unavoidable)

At the same time I added more micro to the skirt interior.

Here is the right gap filled with flox.

Here it is after the flox cured and I removed the canopy.

I did a lot of sanding and clean up to this, but failed to take a final photo.