Tailcone – Part 7

Into the fray we go.  Time to start final assembly and riveting the tailcone together.  I know there are all kinds of opinions on the “right” way to rivet, but I elected to backrivet the tailcone where I could.  This was pretty easy honestly and just required me to cut a slot in my carpet to allow me to mount my back-rivet plate on my benchtop.  Only hazard is making sure you don’t try to backrivet off the end of the plate!  With that in mind I did take things slowly.

Read more

Tailcone – Part 6 – Dimpling

So not a lot I can say about dimpling other than there is a lot of it on the tailcone.  Doing this solo was slightly challenging as I tried a few different ways to get access to all of the holes.

In the grand scheme of things, this was pretty straightforward. (I did use the substructure dimples on the bulkheads and ribs but not where the sinks overlapped.)  Take your time and don’t make an oops like I did.  Seems that only once did my attention wander and I ended up making a new hole in my skin.   Somewhat crushing, but not the end of the world.  I was able to drill the holes out to fit a 5- Rivet and ordered some assorted 426 flush head rivets.  My Rivet gun should be able to set it just fine, and I’m having a technical counselor come over to take a look at all my potential mistakes.  I’ll share the completed image of my “fix” in a future update. Read more

EAA Sportair Composite class – Debrief

This past weekend was the EAA SportAir Composite class in Manassas VA.  I had posted that I was planning on attending and was excited to become more familiar with the techniques of how to work with Fiberglass (and other composites).  My instructor had a ton of experience was as truly a veteran builder.  Granted he was not really the biggest fan of the Vans line of aircraft, however we all are entitled to our own opinions.  With that said, he presented a lot of information about composites, general construction techniques, and a breakdown of the generally accepted building materials.

After this intro, we got into the hands on portion of the class and started our first few projects.  Starting with the basics, we made a sandwich layup of fiberglass and last-a-foam board that was then vacuum bagged.  This was pretty straightforward, you just need the right materials / tools (vacuum pump, fittings, breather fabric, etc).  Then it was onto some hot-wire to make an airfoil.

While all pretty cool, these were not very “RV Specific” projects.  Yes, there is an RV Composite specific class, but I did not have the ability or time to fly out to Oshkosh to take it.  Maybe in a year or so?

The discussion of humidity and temperature control in your build space when working with composites is very valuable.  As was the discussion on the different epoxy systems.  I know that everyone is a huge fan of “West systems” and we even used it in the class.  Based on the properties, mixing methods, and recommendation of the instructor, I think I’ll be using Aeropoxy for my project.  Also why you use Flox, Micro balloons, or a structural epoxy vs laminating epoxy was priceless.

I think the best project for me was making a fairing for the wheel leg.  This involved using clay to create a contour for the fiberglass.  While not specifically what I was expecting, this was very close to how I was planning to make my modification to the VS fairing.  We’ll see how successful I am.

Anyway, as a primer to fiberglass and techniques on how to work with it, I think this was an excellent class.  I’m absolutely planning on taking the RV composites class as well as the avionics class in the future.

Tailcone – Part 5

Now it’s time to take everything apart and start to get ready for primer and final assembly.  Oh how fun.  Honestly it’s amazing how long it takes to put everything together and how quickly you can pull it apart.   Anyway, I pull the top skins off and get the rear shoulder harness anchors cleaned up and drilled into the longerons.  I do a little bit of cleanup in the garage, then start disassembling all the parts by the aft deck (marking parts as I go).  I keep the plans open so I can make sure I write the correct part number on everything.  On a few parts, I make some orientation marks to ensure I put it back the way it was initially assembled.   Read more

Tailcone – Part 4

Starting off on page 10-10 and installing the Aft deck on the tailcone.  Initially I was having some issues trying to get the skins to line up correctly with the aft deck, and realized this was a self-inflicted issue.  I initially cut F-1010B a bit long due to my previous issues with the J-stiffeners being too short.  Even so it appeared that with the F-1010B being long it wasn’t an issue (see photo below)

Read more