Its time to begin the installation of the forward fuselage upper skin. The first step is to install the reinforcement that will be used to mount the fiberglass panel cover. This requires a double flush rivet.
After I completed this it was time to prepare the instrument panel. I know there is some custom work that will be required here, so I wanted to set it in the fuselage to examine my options.
I will post a few photos of the Showplanes project’s panel here tomorrow. One of the things he did was to expand the center cover by creating a panel face that covers the entire structure. This allows you to create an extremely clean front, cover up a few of the non-used holes, and expand the removable area of the panel. Below you can see in blue the areas I have marked for removal. I will need to fabricate a new panel from 0.050 or 0.063.
The Showplanes project also has what appears to be a non-prepunched backing to the instrument panel. As mine is pre-punched, I have some additional considerations in the placement of the nut plates that will be used to attached the instrument panel cover.
The instructions state to start at the center line and mark 19 points (9 each side plus the center point) for the nut plates. However, as you can see below this will result in holes drilled over, or next to existing holes. The result will be swiss cheese.
After a little thought, the exact same number of nut plates can be installed using the middle point of every other hole.
However, this still isn’t optimum. There are multiple places that will have edge distance issues. Further, drilling this in concert with the undrilled fiberglass is likely to be problematic. I examined a few options for the placement of the nut plate. I’ve taken the photos with the nut plate on top for clarity.
Option 1 is to simply put the nut plate in the exact center. This makes the distances less than ideal in several places.
The second option is to offset the nut plate at an angle. Still not a perfect solution.
Perhaps the best solution is to use one existing hole for one side of the nut plate. This will require drilling outwards instead of inwards, and will certainly be a challenge.
Regardless of the option used, I decided to add a support strip behind. This is almost certainly overkill, as I don’t see this being a structurally important, or high stress area, but with the weight of the avionics, and only fiberglass at the top instead of aluminum like the stock plane, I’ll feel better with a little reinforcement.
Soon I will need to trim and fit the fiberglass. Before I can do that, I plan to completely rivet the front deck and panel frame. I also plan to make the panel modification and prime appropriately. In the meantime I will be working on the empennage tips to practice my fiberglass skills before diving into the canopy construction.
I also began work on the empennage tips but forgot to take any photos. As I worked on the left side this evening, I will take photos of the right side for the next post.