Building Season is Here

In the homebuilt airplane world, there are two seasons of the year, flying season and building season. I suppose that stems from the fact that there are more nice flying-weather days in summer than winter. Plus it really isn’t that much fun pulling your airplane out of the hanger onto an ice covered ramp in 10 degree weather. In the Garaggio, “Building Season,” officially starts with the first day it isn’t nice enough to open the overhead doors for a work session. It is early September in Minnesota, and the high was 55 degrees today. We are lucky we don’t have snow yet. But I digress.

The first day of building season went off with a bang for the Garaggio, lots done. The morning started with going to Top Stitch Upholstery to look at fabric samples for the seats, arm rests, stick boots, head rests, and seat belt boots. There are LOTS of choices. Leather, suede, vinyl, cloth, patterns, textures, and every color under the sun imaginable for each. Thread colors for stitching, embroidery, sculpting, seam locations, color locations. The list goes on. Luckily, I had Ryan with me and he helped me narrow down some of the choices. Sean, the owner of Top Stitch, is an artist and true craftsman in cloth and he guided us quite well interjecting his own thoughts on what we should do. 

I have a photo of the colors and patterns that are currently the front runners. My description to Sean was that I wanted something worthy of a high end luxury car, that is classy with a bit of sports car. I think he has some great ideas along that line, and I will do a few sketches to give him some more ideas of what I am looking for.

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Admittedly, these colors are dark, and will heat in the sun. Probably even get hot to the touch when parked on the flight line at Oshkosh. But I plan on putting sun shades in the canopy when parked outside for any length of time since the fuselage will get hot under the canopy anyway. Not only that, but the canopy will keep prying eyes off my avionics. The dark colors will be helpful since you step on the seat to get in and out, and it will not look quite as dirty. By the way, this was all before 9:30 this morning. We made a lot of headway.

When I got home, Greg came over to help. Greg started by tidying up a few loose ends on the fuselage contouring. The radius between the longerons and strakes needed a little attention as well as the mating surfaces to the top cowl. When he was working on that, I sanded the bottom of the elevators and the newly primed side of the rudders. They sanded out well, and hopefully the next coat will be the last. 

I also was able to repair the left side canard hinge pin access. Basically it is a hole that goes through the canard tip fairing to allow installation and removal of the elevator hinge pins. To close out the hole and exposed foam, you bond a straw into the hole. The one on the left side had ripped out previously. Since the Garaggio Ez is a green project, we bonded in a recycled McDonald’s Straw. 

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By lunchtime, Greg was done prepping the fuselage, so we taped off the existing primer on the strakes and fuselage. It was time to epoxy wipe. We got 4 coats of epoxy wipe on the strakes, longerons, turtleback, and nose. It took surprisingly little epoxy to do this, and we were able to scrape a lot of epoxy off. All in all I am happy with the surface, and after it is sanded it will be ready for primer! Hold on to your shorts, my plus sized EZ is about to get another piece of her dashing wardrobe!

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It took until about 7 PM to get all four coats of the epoxy wipe done. Remember if you use any paper (masking) tape to mask off areas for epoxy wipe, you have to pull the masking tape off before the epoxy cures. If you don’t, it will be a bear to get the masking tape out from under the epoxy, and you will have to sand down to micro to get rid of it.

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Prior to breaking for dinner, I washed and rinsed the elevators and rudders. I also taped off the canard elevator hinge points, and washed the bottom of the canard. I didn’t have a chance to sand the top of the canard, but since I was going to get primer out, I figured I may as well get started priming the bottom of the canard.

After dinner, I got 3 coats of primer on all those surfaces. The bottom of the canard still will need at least another two rounds of primer, but its visual progress to have it white!

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Big day in the Garaggio for the first day of building season. Hopefully the momentum will be able to continue, and we will have a big rest of the building season! Goodnight. 

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