Category Archives: Fuselage


Today, I felt a bit scatterbrained. I just really couldn’t get any traction on any one task. I started by releasing the layup we did yesterday on the gear actuator cover. I then trimmed the part and sanded off all the fiberglass prickers I could find. Pity, you never find them all. The part is certainly functional, but lacks a symmetric or pleasing shape. We will need to do a few repairs to it as I caused a pretty big delimitation when I was releasing it. Right now, I see no reason to re-do the part since it is only a cover after all. Though it probably will be on a list of potential small projects to work on after the airplane is flying and we have a week of bad weather. (Or winter in MN)

IMG_2647Then I switched gears to wiring. I was going to work on the permanent power cable to the VPX system, when I realized I didn’t have the proper ring terminals. So I did one side of the wire, routed it, labeled it, and added the proper ring terminal to my shopping list. While I was working with “electron transmission devices,” (sounds more technical than wire, huh) I decided I would start to route the wiring for the seat heater. I got so far as to plug a wire int the VPX to supply power to the seat heater harness, and it was time for lunch.

IMG_2634After lunch, I decided to leave the wiring alone and try to get some epoxy curing on the oil cooler exit duct. I had to be done working by dinner time tonight. I figured I could get a layup done, and if it took longer than expected, I would simply get less time wiring. HA. It took me the rest of the day to simply make the form for the duct.

I started by figuring out the shape of the hole in the baffle that will allow the oil cooler exit air to dump overboard. This was determined by having a minimum flange width all around the duct to allow the duct and baffle to mount together as well as to allow a place to mount the baffle seal material.


Then I used that to make a couple blocks of blue foam fit between the oil cooler and this exit.


These blocks gave me a starting shape and location, at the oil cooler, and an end, at the baffle. Then I just had to make a smooth aerodynamic duct between the two… Simple right? Should be. But I made it more difficult than it had to be. Because I didn’t have a precise plan before I started cutting foam blocks, I ended up cutting away foam that should have been cut away. So I had to cobble pieces of foam back onto the form.

The problem is these pieces get to be pretty thin in certain spots as you sand them to the irregular shape that this duct requires. So these pieces are hard to hold in place. You can hold them with nails for a little while. Until you can’t sand past the nail and you can’t push them in any further because the foam is so thin. You can hold them with tape until the foam dust destroys the stick of the adhesive. You can hot glue them in place, but that doesn’t work well because it melts the foam and causes a low spot, and eventually breaks free. You can 5 minute epoxy them in place, but that takes, well, 10 minutes. You get the picture.

Suffice to say, it took a while, and was a mixture of shaping, then putting tape around the exterior to hold things in place. I even resorted to filling some of the low spots with Play-Dough to try to smooth out the duct. It is directing airflow after all. I keep kids play-dough on hand just for little things like that. It is cheap and actually works pretty well. Best thing is you can toss it when your layup is cured.

Anyways, it is now ready for a layup with just a bit more tape to protect the oil cooler and a flange on the baffle side. Maybe I can get it laid up before I go off to Phoenix.

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Paper Mâché

It was another full house in the Garaggio today. Greg, Jon, and Eric were all here working on the airplane today.

Greg got a lot done on the oil cooler and fuel distribution mount. In fact, they are pretty much done with exception of having the right hardware.

Next will be making the duct that exhausts the oil cooler air our the back baffle. It’s a pretty simple piece to make, and maybe I’ll get to it tomorrow.

Jon started his day by making a mount for the autopilot roll servo. It took us quite a bit of time talking through the options to decide exactly how to mount it. Finally we decided on the bottom of the spar, which requires a mounting standoff.

Jon and my day kinda took some turns. I had planned on doing some wiring. But when Jon and I started talking about mounting the back up battery for the EFIS screen, we decided it was best to mount it to a cover over the nose gear. The cover is necessary to prevent drafty air from entering the cockpit. It also makes a nice place to mount the back up battery.

Our process was somewhat crude, but quick and functional. We fastened blocks of foam on the gear motor to create and offset and clearance around the motor. Then we “paper mâché-Ed” aluminum tape around the motor to the bulkheads and LG30s.

Then we again used a paper mâché like method and laid pre-wet out fiberglass on our form. Overlapping plies. Splicing in pieces where need be. It’s not structural except where the back up battery will mount, so there is a plywood reinforcement there. But the rest is pretty flimsy. But in reality it is an environmental cover.


By the time we did all that it was quitting time for Jon and Greg, but Eric had just arrived. So Eric and I got on to some wiring. A remaining takes from last time with Eric was to add a resistor in the landing gear indicating circuit. So he did that while I crimped some ends on power cables.

Then Eric put a circular plastic connector (CPC) on the front stick. We would have done the rear stick as well, however I screwed up when I was ordering pins. I didn’t order enough. So we need to order more.


Lastly, we permanently mounted the ground bus on the avionics shelf. We also made up a ground cable from there to the battery to complete the circuit.


That was it for today, a lot actually. We will see what tomorrow brings. But I’m looking forward to more wiring and maybe getting the switch functions working.

Greg and I

I had a very welcome appearance from Greg today. He has been busy with trips and such that has kept him from the Garaggio when I have been around, and I have been working when he has been around. It was nice to have someone in the shop today, not only for the increased productivity, but also to socialize.

I was working on sanding the fuselage and strakes when he got here. The good news is the fuselage and strakes are nearly done. There is about 10 square feet of places that need some touch up to cover up some places where underlying structure is printing through the primer. This will just be spot primed and sanded. One or two more sessions of that, and the fuselage will be considered done.

While I was working on that, Greg started by masking off the canopy and sanding the first coat of primer. There are some areas that will need some spot putty and then we can put the next coat of primer on.

Greg also got the doors/hatches from the nose of the airplane sanded out. They are sanded out well, and are done. They don’t require any further primer.


I also got some sanding done on the top cowl. It is looking pretty good, though I may need to do one more complete coat. I haven’t decided yet. There is about 30-40% of the area I could leave alone, and probably will. It depends on how the rest of the cowl sands.

Towards the end of the day, we wanted to get a few things done other than sanding. So we riveted the hinges to the rudders. We still need to add nut plates to the other leaf of the hinge, so they are just clecoed in place. I am somewhat disappointed in the fit of the rudders to the winglets. One of them looks good, but the other, the seams are not even, and are larger than I thought they would be. Don’t get me wrong, they are certainly airworthy and can be re-worked to make them look even better. It was just disappointing to see that after I spent a lot of effort to try to make them better than this. Good news is they swing really nice, and after some minor sanding don’t bind anywhere.IMG_2072.JPG



Lastly, we worked on getting the nut plates on the forward lip of the top cowl. This involved mounting nut plates and countersinking the top of the mating surfaces. We only got half of the nut plates mounted because I ran out of time for the day. But we certainly made lots of progress today. Thanks Greg for all the help, it was motivating!IMG_2068.JPG

Are we there yet?

When I flew Beech 1900D’s for Skyway Airlines out of Milwaukee, we had a captain that was board by the time we had the gear in the wells. Probably because he had about 10,000 hours flying the ‘Beech Airliner’ around Wisconsin and da U. P. of Michigan. He had literally been there and done that and had the coffee stains on his pilot shirt to prove it. Anyways, we wouldn’t be 30 seconds into the flight before he asked, “Are we there yet?” He did this every leg. The first leg of the trip, it was funny… not so much every leg there after. Today, all I could think about was, “Are we there yet?”

It was more sanding most of the day. First filled some of the deeper imperfections on the cowl and canopy with spot putty and then sanded it. Rinsed everything and primed. So we got 4 coats of primer on the canopy, top cowl, nose hatch doors, oil check door, and rudders.




I got done with the priming a bit early, so I spent about 45 minutes cleaning up some things in the shop before Sean, the upholsterer, arrived. Both the front and rear seats needed some minor tweaking. Since the rear seat will be Kevin’s most the time, Sean and Kevin worked together to make it right. It was originally fitted to me, and wasn’t comfortable for Kevin. For anyone needing to make a rear seat, make sure it fits the one who will be sitting back there so they don’t want to land every hour. 🙂 Sean has taken the cushions back to his shop and should be getting started on the sewing this week. I will post in-progress photos as he sends them to me. IMG_2066.JPG

After dinner, I spent another hour shading on the right strake and longeron. I am not quite done with it, and have a lot more sanding to do on the rest of the fuselage and other side strake. I just ran out of steam, and was starting to loose any finesse. I think we may be able to settle for some spot priming after this round of sanding on the fuselage. After all, its only “temporarily” flying in this primer, and I am ready to be there!

I’m Over Finishing Work

VERY. OVER. IT! Putting stuff on parts only to sand most of it back off, rinse and repeat is getting old. Luckily I’m feeling like there is a light at the end of the tunnel. As of today, there are only 2 major components that haven’t seen any primer yet. The canopy and the main gear legs. The main gear legs will be easy. The canopy, not as much. But they are coming up soon.

Today started with deciding that I needed to spot putty some places on the cowl. There were actually a lot that became apparent after washing it last night. I probably will find a few spots as time progresses.

Then I switched gears and sanded the fuselage primer. It is coming along very well. In fact, I debated only spot priming, but decided that there were enough areas that needed tweaking, that I would do another full round of primer. I think this one will be it though, with the possible spot priming.

Then, since they hadn’t been primed at all, I sanded the epoxy wipe on the front hatch, the instrument compartment hatch, and the cowl oil access door.

All were washed, rinsed, and then I put 3 light coats of primer on all surfaces. The cowl looks a lot better being all one color!

It’s back to work for me, have to do a simulator ride tomorrow. In about 5 days, guess what I’ll be doing. I’ll give you 3 guesses and the first two, “sanding” don’t count!




Daylight in the Swamp

That is grandpa’s line for waking up sleeping kids, grand kids, etc. especially when there was work to be done. When the iPhone alarm went off at 0545 this morning, it was obnoxious. I thought to myself, I’d rather hear “Daylight in the swamp,” come ringing down the hallway. Either way, it did the trick… Up and at ’em early enough to get a half day in the shop before leaving for work.

Not much exciting to report, just some more of the same. I finished sanding the few areas on the fuselage primer that still needed sanding. Then applied spot putty to a few of the lower areas. And sanded again.

Once that was done, it was wash, rinse, and squeegee dry. Three more coats of UV Smooth Prime rolled on. It’s too bad rolling leaves such harsh texture, it really looks good from 5 feet… Four hours went quickly, I finished up with just enough time to put laundry away, clean up and run out the door to catch my flight.


Wipe your

Canopy! Finished doing the contouring of the micro on the canopy interior today. It took quite a bit longer than I anticipated due to sanding around all of the latch and hinge areas. Oh and taping everything off.

In addition I had a visit from Jon and his mother, Peggy. He hadn’t seen the airplane since it got primed, so it was time for him to come check it out. His mom has heard a lot about the project, but has never seen it. So we did a little tour of the Garaggio Ez for her. Too bad the shop wasn’t more cleaned up.

Well, after all the touring, I got both the interior and exterior of the canopy epoxy wiped with three coats on each side. In between coats, I wanted to let the epoxy tack up a bit. While I was waiting, I did some sanding on the fuselage primer. There are a few more areas that need to be contoured and about 5 spots that need spot putty. Then we will be ready for the next coat. I have to go back to work tomorrow, so if I can get out of bed early enough, I will get another coat of primer on the fuselage tomorrow before I leave.