Starting fiberglass hell [115.0 hours]

In the context of the Fuselage build plans, I’m up to section 36 – brake lines. That’s followed by fuel lines, rudder pedals and brake system, control system, flap system, upper forward fuse installation, rear seats and then the cabin cover, doors and windows. I’ve decided to change things around a bit and work on sections based on the weather. I don’t want to be working on the cabin cover and doors over winter when it’s cold and miserable working outside, and fiberglass doesn’t set enough overnight to be sanded the following day. So, I’ve started on the cabin cover. I’m going to work on other sections during the times when either the weather’s a problem, or I just can’t stomach doing fiberglass work.

I also need to paint the interior. This made me think about eventually painting the exterior. I decided to buy some topcoat, in a dark grey tint, and use the interior as a means to learn how to shoot it. The first test pieces were a disaster. On a hot summer day, there was so much moisture in the compressor air, it totally overwhelmed the water trap in my filters. To fix this I built a heavy duty water trap, consisting of 18 metres of 1/2″ copper tubing, immersed in cold water. I built it in a wheelie bin, with incoming (hot) compressor air tapped in near the bottom of the helical tube. A drain valve at the very bottom of the tube can be manually opened to release accumulated water. The cold immersion water comes from my bore pump, 75 metres underground, so the water is always cold. I turn the water feed on whenever I spray, and the outflow just drains into open ground in a paddock. As the hot compressor air cools, water condenses and runs to the bottom of the helical copper pipe. The outlet at the top of the pipe feeds into the regular three stage air filters (which I replaced). I also installed a final water trap on the belt regulator. This resolved the water problems and greatly improved the spray job. I still had a bit of silicone contamination, from my priming habit of using syringes (which are lubricated with silicone oil) for de-greasing solvent. I’ve ordered some materials to do a better job of cleaning, so we’ll see how that goes.

I built the back seats, they were easy and are in the spray booth ready to prime.

I built and installed the flap system. The drop saw with the blade I use for aluminium cutting worked well for trimming the UHMW bushings. I was a bit concerned about drilling the safety wire hole in the flap motor, but that turned out to be a non event. I forgot to final ream the 1/4″ holes in the flap crank, and had to use an angle drill to get down into the tunnel and clean the holes out after the components were assembled. I could have disassembled everything but that would have taken longer.

To trim the cabin cover, I used several different tools. My ancient jigsaw with a perma-grit blade worked a treat on the open sections. For trimming the door openings, I used the van’s supplied cutting blades in a die grinder for some parts, and a perma-grit circular cutter in a dremel tool for others. Plus a belt sander with 80 grit paper, and several different perma-grit hand files. The Van’s scribe lines weren’t much use. I used a series of measurements, triple checked it all, and cut to the measurements. I was able to get the cabin cover to fit in place on the second attempt. It came off and went on a few more times to adjust the sides and rear deck, which turned out to be a bit long and had to be trimmed.

I decided to drill everything #40 to start with. This way, I didn’t have to open up as I went to remove shavings from between the canopy and the skins. It also makes it very easy to drill the rivet backup strips. I match drilled #40 from the cabin cover to the rear backup strip. For the side rivet backup strips, I simply placed them on top of the longerons and match drilled from the side skins – easy. Then I re-installed the cabin cover, and cleco’d everything up including the rivet backup strips with #40 clecos. With everything installed and cleco’d, I then went around and final drilled #30, again not needing to clear out shavings.

I’ve got a long way to go with the cabin cover and doors.

  • f23a
    Dryer for compressor air
  • f23b
    Dryer for compressor air
  • f23c
    Building rear seats
  • f23d
    Starting to trim the cabin top
  • f23e
    Starting to trim the cabin top
  • f23f
    Making a template for the rear angle
  • f23g
    Cutting flap UHMW bushings
  • f23h
    Flap UHMW bushings
  • f23r
    Flap system being assembled
  • f23s
    Right flap horn
  • f23u
    Flap motor safety wire hole drilled without incident
  • f23v
    Flap motor installed
  • f23i
    Cabin cover offcuts
  • f23j
    Final adjustments before drilling cover
  • f23k
    Rear skin overlaps a bit too much
  • f23l
    Pushing cabin cover up against skins prior to drilling
  • f23n
    Ready to start drilling cabin
  • f23t
    Cabin cover drilled and cleco'd
  • f23p
    Initial drilling done
  • f23q
    Initial drilling done
  • f23w
    Preparing to drill rivet strip
  • f23x
    Drilling rivet strip
  • f23za
    Match drilling #30 skin, cabin top and rivet backing strip
  • f23zb
    Match drilling #30 skin, cabin top and rivet backing strip
  • f23zc
    Setting the correct position for the Aerosport overhead duct/console
  • f23zd
    All skin, cabin top and rivet backing strip holes now drilled #30
  • f23ze
    Work for the future - Aerosport 310 panel