Sunday, May 27, 2012

Still building

They say the completion of an RV airplane brings with it a certain "builder's withdrawal," and why not? You've spent 11 years in a routine of dividing time between an airplane and a family and suddenly it's done!

So, yesterday, I cleaned up the garage (oh, that's where that part went to!), and fixed a vacuum cleaner and chainsaw. But Carolie was working last night and there I was with nothing to fiddle with. So I went to the hangar and determined that the gap between the top skin and the canopy frame (I originally wrote about it here) should be fixed before first flight. Once it departs KSGS for its 40-hour flight test period, I won't be able to do anything about it and, frankly, I'm slightly concerned the size of the gap will influence flight characteristics.

So I went to the hobby store and picked up some balsa wood (a thin piece of plastic foam turned out to be lousy for sanding and I wasn't sure fiberglass would bond to it) and cut it into 3" pieces to close the gap.

Then I mixed up a small batch of epoxy and glued them in place, using a combination of bucking bars (why do I need those, anyway?), popsicle sticks, and duct tape to keep enough pressure on them to bond them into place.

I'll add another layer (a couple of pieces in the middle where the gap is most pronounced) and then sand them into a nice (I hope) fairing, and then add one or two layers of very thin fiberglass and then sand it to a nice transition.

Although I like the workability of the aluminum on the plane, I've really enjoyed messing around with fiberglass. I'm not expert in the art -- not by a long shot -- but it's fun to experiment with the things you can do with it and it's light, relatively inexpensive and the closest you'll ever get to being a plastic surgeon.


  1. Not sure balsa was the best filler to use. If it is not sealed along the edge next to the canopy, or if cracks open later along this edge, water will be absorbed and the balsa will swell.
    "One or two layers of thin fiberglass" won't stop the fill from bulging up.

    6, finishing.

  2. All the edges are being sealed.

  3. "...No parts left - time to fly..." Just 15 days to go!