Tips, Tricks, and Modifications
Here is a summary of various things I learned during the course of constructing
Chapter 4 |
Chapter 5 |
Chapter 6 |
Chapter 7 |
Chapter 8 |
Chapter 9 |
Chapter 10 |
Chapter 11 |
Chapter 13 |
Chapter 16 |
Chapter 18 |
Chapter 20 |
- Tip - Jig Table
- Build a 12' table. 10' is too short. IT takes more room but it is worth
- Tip - Applying slurry to foam
- Go slow and be neat. This way I avoid the problems of getting slurry
all over the back of the part I am working on. If I do get some slop
I simply wipe it off and keep the plastic under the part clean as
- Tip - Tracking Progress
- As I progress through the construction of my plane I use a highlighter
to mark what I have done. I use this as a sanity check too. When doing a
specific task I read the plans a couple of times. After doing that task
I take the highlighter and highlight the text of the task I just did.
This allows me to confirm what I just did - before the epoxy dries, and
it allows me to quickly see where I am in the plans.
- Trick - Flox Fillets
- I got this from John Slade. This really came in handy while doing all
the taping at the end of chapter 6. Apply the flox to the corner to make
a fillet. Don't try too hard to make it neat. Once all the flox is in place
you can use a brush and some plain epoxy to smooth the flox into a nice
- Tip - Bulkhead cutouts
- When cutting foam for the bulkheads you may wish to put off cutting
the corners until chapter 6. In most cases you will need to trim the
Instrument Panel, Seatback, and F-28 when you get to chapter 6. If you cut
the bulkhead corners in chapter 4 you could find gaps later in chapter 6.
Given all this it is easier to just put off all this until chapter 6 and
make your corner cutouts to match your fuselage sides.
- Trick - Instrument Panel Electrical Channels
I've read how some builders had a lot of trouble getting the two layers
of BID to form the channel. Some built elaborate jigs to hold the glass
in place. I found a simple solution. Lay the IP face down and add the 2 BID
layup on the uderside of the two channels. Let it sit for an hour or two.
Work on something else. Every now and again take a brush and coerce the
glass around the corner. Eventually it begins to sit at an angle. Now lay
some plastic over both channels and then put a board over the plastic.
Make sure both are big enough to cover the full lenght of both channels.
With the board in place the glass is held in position. When cure you just
need to sand it a bit to get the correct height on the lip. Simple. In fact
you could probably do this without waiting for it to stiffen up a bit.
- Tip - F-22 doubler placement
- When you put the F-22 doubler in place make sure each side is 3/8"
from the side of F-22. This will be important during assembly in chapter 6.
- Tip - Temporary Firewall
- Don't worry about making the temporary firewall perfect. There are
only a few important aspect of it. Mark the centerline. Mark the location
of the longeron holes, and the hole for LWY. The rest can be rough cut.
- Tip - Longeron cutouts in Firewall
- Don't make any cutouts in the firewall except for the engine mount
hardpoints. During chapter 6 you will make these cutouts in the temporary
firewall first. Once everything fits properly you can transfer the location
to the real firewall.
- Tip - Cutting Foam sides
- When cutting the 3/8" foam for the sides, make the bottom edge a 1/4"
too long from all the given dimensions. Later in the plans, when putting
on the lower longeron, you will be asked to double check the dimensions
and place the lower longeron in the proper place. Odds are if you cut the
foam to the exact size the longeron will end up overhanging a bit. This
will cause grief in chapter 7. Once the longeron is in place you can simply
trim the foam flush with the longeron.
See my chaper 7, step 2
pictures to see what happens if you don't follow
this suggestions - isn't hind sight great!
- Tip - Gluing foam spacers in place
See the picture for the better way to put the foam in place on the fuselage
jigs. I did mine the bad way and found my sides were a speck short
when trimming at the end of chapter 5.
- Tip - Glue foam sides first
- Make the masonite jigs and cut the 3/8" foam to size and shape before
attaching the jigs to the table. If you don't you won't have room to do
- Tip - Attaching masonite to jigs
- When you nail the masonite to the jigs don't go crazy with the hammer.
When done you should be able to run a straight edge down the lenght,
perpendicular to the top edge and there should be no gap. Think of all
those bulkheads being put in place later. Remember that they have straight
- Trick - Clamping the lower longeron
Clamping the lower longeron can be tough. I made some small blocks with
triangle cutouts. Worked great.
- Tip - Electrical Channel Covers
- Make the form 0.7" thick instead of 0.75". Otherwise you will have a
bump when you sand the foam to match LWX, LWY, and the lower longeron
(which are all 0.7" thick).
- Tip - Foam Divots
- When you remove the sides from the jigs you will most likely have a
few divots. Remember how the sides get contoured in chapter 7. Don't worry
about small divots in those areas.
- Mod - Vance Atkinson Fuel Guages
- I have ordered the guages and made the depression to fit them. I made
the depression flat since the cant isn't necessary with these guages.
- Trick - Threaded Rod to squeeze sides
- Threaded rod, a pair of matching nuts, and some big washers make it
real easy to hold the boards against the fuselage sides when gluing in
all the bulkheads.
- Trick - 5" spacer for aft gear bulkhead
Instead of gluing a block in place on the fuselage side as a guide for
the aft landing gear bulkhead, I glued a square of masonite to the
temporary firewall. This square was 5" wide. This makes it easier to get
the bulkhead straight and vertical.
- Trick - 8" spacer for forward gear bulkhead
The plans say to glue 8" squares to the forward bulkhead. I chose to avoid
this by making a standalone jig I could clamp to the bulkhead. The total
lenght of the spacers and the base are still 8".
- Tip - Putting the Bottom on
- Follow the FAQ and put the bottom on in three steps. First - apply the
BID to the bottom as directed. Follow this will peel ply where ever a tape
will be applied. Allow this to cure. Second - flox the bottom into place.
Wipe away excess flox so all is neat. Allow to cure. Third - Add all the
tapes. Take as long as is needed. I found laying the fuselage on the side
was the best for applying the tapes.
All the while ensure the fuselage is straight, level, and twist free
overnight during each cure.
- Tip - Protect the NACA scoop
- After sanding the NACA scoop foam to shape you should
lay a piece of scrap foam or a board over the foam to protect it. Otherwise
you may damage it while working on the joggle or making the holes for the
- Mod - Antenna Placement
- I am going to follow Jim Weir's antenna
placement recommendations as outlined in the antenna builder's kit from
RST. I put a marker beacon antenna along the bottom on the passenger side.
I will not be putting a Loran ground plane in. I will put the VOR antenna
in the wing (most likely).
- Trick - Glass Around Landing Brake
- After laying all the glass on the fuselage bottom I was having trouble
getting the glass to lay down well in the recess around the landing brake.
I decided to cut the glass, while it was wet, around the brake. This is
normally cut in step 6 of chapter 9. This turned to work great.
- Tip - Landing Gear Bulkhead Joggles
- One word - avoid them like the plague! Find a way to build without
them. Wayne Hicks found a way. Take a look at his.
- Mod - Shoulder Support
- Like other builders, I will put a nutplate under the shoulder support
for the canopy hinge. I will wait until chapter 18 to install the hinge
which means I will wait until then to install the shoulder support.
I am also going to flox the aluminum nutplates under the shoulder support
before installing the shoulder support instead of cutting a slot in the
front and using a longer piece of aluminum that needs to be cut.
Because of waiting to install the hinge I am going to skip steps 2 - 5
until chapter 18.
- Mod - Shoulder Harness Spacing
My attach points are 11.5" center to center instead of 8.6". The original
dimension was 11.5". Back in 1995 Nat made a mod down to 8.6" based on a
report by Uli Wolter - the European Cozy designer. The concern
was the possibility of the shoulder harnesses spreading enough to allow the
person to slip through during some form of rapid decelaration (crash). Since
I am using the recommened harness with an H-strap, there is no way for
this to happen. Given all this I decided to go with the original 11.5"
spacing. This has two advantages - 1) Better comfort - the closer spacing
meant the straps rubbed on my neck, 2) No need to notch the headrests.
- Tip - Plywood Seatbelt Reinforcement
- Make sure the plywood seatbelt reinforcement in the forward left
position lines up with the reinforcement for the outside step.
- Trick - Transition Piece
- After carving the transition piece from foam, cover it with electrical
tape instead of box sealing tape. The electrical tape conforms perfectly
to the shape. Simply spiral the tape around from one end to the other.
After the layup cures, remove the foam anyway you want and then simply pull
out the tape.
- Trick - Spot Facing Tool Replacement
Clark Canedy mentioned this on the mail list and I will whole
heartedly agree. Don't buy the useless and expensive special spot facing
tools used to make the 5/8" and 3/4" holes in the landing gear bulkheads.
Instead go to your local hardware store (I got mine at True Value) and
buy the Master Mechanic Bi-metal hole saws. The hole saws slide onto a
1/4" drill bit and lock into place with a set screw. For this chapter you
will be using the 12" long drill bit so you can position the hole saw where
needed. I also used a 7/8" hole saw to make the torque tube holes in the
ears of the landing gear bulkheads.
- Tip - UNI Strips for Strut
- The plans call for 13 strips of 12" wide UNI cut at 30° angle to
do the layups on the strut. The first set of 4 layers can be done with
8 strips. The second set of 4 layers done after building up the trailing
edge can be done with 8 strips as well but they should be a little wider
to cover the extended trailing edge.
- Mod - Electric Landing Brake
- I am using Wayne Lanza's electric landing brake actuator instead of
the plans manual brake lever system. Keep in mind that Wayne changed the
mounting braket in August or September of 2000. Most things in the
mailing list archive talk about the old one. Measure carefully. Even
the specs and instructions that come with the actuator are partially
incorrect (At least when I bought mine in September 2000). Read my
landing brake info in chapter 9 for more info.
- Tip - Spar Cap Tape
- Order extra UNI tape. To be safe I would order an extra 12 yards. If
you don't use it all it can be saved for the main spar and/or the wings.
- Tip - Spar Cap Masking
- As soon as you add the last layer of UNI tape, remove the masking tape
and newspaper then add the peel ply. If you wait until the spar cap cures
you may find the masking tape is hard to get off.
- Tip - Torque Tubes
- Don't forget to make a left and a right torque tube when putting the
NC-2s into place. They should be mirrors of each other.
- Mod - Electric Nose Lift
I have chosen to install Jack Wilhelmson's electric nose lift instead of
the manual nose lift from Brock. When finished I will describe all the plans
changes required to do this. There is actually very little changed other
than different hardware.
- Mod - Nose gear doors
Like a few other builders I have decided to make true nose gear doors. Mine
will be very similar to Wayne Hick's but the details are being worked out
on my own. More to come as this is completed.
- Mod - Finish top of nose later
I am holding off the top of the nose until after the canopy has been installed so I can shape the whole top
of the fuselage at once, including the canard cover.
- Tip - Marking parts
Mark everything! In
the middle of each part I wrote (with a Sharpie) the name of the part (i.e. CS-105) plus the side it belonged to
(L or R). At the end of each part I wrote the number of the part that that end went next to. In this picture the left
most tube is CS-105. You can see 116 written on the end because this end of CS-105 was next to CS-116. The right most
tube in the picture is CS-116. I wrote 105 on the end that mated with CS-105 (not counting the universal in between).
You can even see (in the glare) 105 R written on the left end of the universal indicating that that end of the
universal mated with CS-105 and belonged to the right set of controls. This all becomes most important when you start
drilling holes because if you pick up the wrong end of a tube, the holes wont line up and you now have four combinations
to try out. The last thing I did that is not in this picture is to mark mating ends with a line. Even if you have the
two correct ends you still have two choices to line up the holes (rotate 180°). The mark lets you know the
alignment. I just made all these notations after drilling each hole. This makes reassembly much easier later.
- Mod - Raising turtleback
I have raised the front of the turtleback about 1.75". The firewall end is per plans and the width is the same.
This required a little CAD work to create new drawings for all jigs except the one at the firewall. I also created
a new template for TB-1 since it must be taller too.
- Tip - Reorder step 3
I added the drip rail prior to floxing the TB-1 bulkhead into place. Afterward I realized this probably made adding
the drip rail much easier. If the bulkhead was in place I would have had a harder time marking and making the
- Trick - Making the Drip Rail
Gluing the drip rail foam into place takes some trickery. The foam needs to be forced into a compound curve. I
found it worked best to cut the foam into 10" - 12" lengths and glue in each one at a time. I mixed the 5-minute
epoxy, added it to the premarked foam (so I knew where to add the epoxy), waited a couple of minutes, and put the
foam in place at about the 4 minute mark. I then only had to hold the foam for a minute to be sure the epoxy set.
Using lengths of 10" - 12" allowed me to hold the whole piece in place with all my fingers. Any longer and it
would have been very difficult to hold properly.
- Tip - Compare Cores
After you cut out all four core pieces, compare them side by side. Individually they may look fine but paired
up you may find they aren't the same. I found this with my two lower winglets. I had mounted one end of one
template off by 1". Looked fine by itself but when place next to the other, it was obvious one wasn't correct.
- Mod - Rear Seats
I made the rear seats different by attaching bulkheads similar to the front seats but attaching them to the
seats instead of the fuselage. This way if I want to make room by removing the seats, the bulkheads won't be
in the way.
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