Door mods

I epoxied the magnets inside the door latch pins (and later carefully cleaned up the threads):

Door latch pins with magnets epoxied inside

I had to try a few different sensor positions to get the right sensitivity - in the end, attaching to the top screw worked well:

Attempted reed sensor position that didn't work

Reed sensor position that worked properly


Testing the door sensor

I then started the work to close up the hinge pockets, so that the McMaster seal can seal that part of the door. I made 4-layer fiber "plaques", trimmed them to fit just slightly inside the hinge pockets, then attached them with two more layers underneath (grabbing the sides of the pockets), and two layers on top (to make a smooth transition, and also to follow the cranial cavity curve):

Laying up a flat plaque for closing the door hinge pockets

Sanded hinge pockets for attaching the covers

Hinge pocket cover plaques marked up for trimming

Hinge pocket cover plaque held in place

Hinge pocket cover plaque held in place

I used some 2x4s (on top of peel ply) to keep the layup on the same plane as the original door surface:

2x4 block "press" to keep hinge pocket covers flat with door surface

Hinge pocket cover fiber layup inside the pockets

Hinge cover layup in place

After a lot of sanding and filling to make it smooth again, I applied a coat of primer, and this is now ready to fit back:

Hinge pocket covers after sanding

Filling holes in the hinge pocket covers

Hinge pocket covers with primer applied

With this done, I can finish fitting the McMaster seal, position the gas strut bracket and drill the door to attach it.

Time lapse:


Total cabin door rivets: 72
Total cabin door time: 147.9h

Rudder fairings done

We finished filling and sanding the rudder fairings and their gaps:

Bottom rudder fairing with a huge gap to the rudder

Bottom rudder fairing after a lot of filling and sanding

Top rudder fairing after filling and sanding

and finally covered them with primer (which I have to say ended up being less smooth than the sanded surface :) but it's only temporary until paint anyway):

Top rudder fairing with primer applied

Bottom rudder fairing with primer applied

The only empennage fairing left now is the top VS fairing, which has a huge gap to be filled in the forward portion.

Time lapse:


Total empennage fairing rivets: 175
Total empennage fairing time: 98.9h

Bottom wing skins complete!

Section 20, Bottom wing skins, is finally complete! It mostly went smoothly, and I even managed to do a lot of it solo this time, partly by riveting all but the last bay top-to-bottom rather than leaving the last 3 bays for later. The last bay is pretty easy to reach (compared to the others) through the rib holes.

Completed right wing

While technically part of this section, I'm not actually attaching the pitot tube now - I'll leave that out until after the wing is attached to the fuselage to make it easier to handle.

Time lapse:


Total bottom wing skin rivets: 1536
Total bottom wing skin time: 107.9h

Left bottom wing skin done

I'm done riveting...the first wing :) The lower (forward) half was significantly easier and could be mostly done solo and in some cases even using the squeezer, but it's still significantly slower than "regular" riveting where you can see the shop head without taking pictures or using a mirror. I also saw no reason why the two outboard bays are riveted differently, so on the other wing I may just do it all the same way:

Left wing bottom skin fully riveted

Rivets inside the left wing


I also attached the backing plate for the Gretz Pitot mount to the skin, spar and rib:

Gretz pitot mount base plate riveted to the skin and rib through an angle

Now on to the other wing.

Time lapse:


Total bottom wing skin rivets: 991
Total bottom wing skin time: 90.5h

Wing bottom skin riveting started

Lots of blind riveting! And by blind I'm not referring to pop rivets, unfortunately, but riveting without seeing your bucking bar. Phone cameras were infinitely helpful to see what the heck we had done:

Rivets inside the wing

Most of them were ok, but there were more than a few that had to be replaced, too:

Bad rivets that needed replacing

Some also required a bit of contortionism to buck:

Wife performing contortionism to bucket a rivet behind and above her without seeing it

Still a ton of riveting left...

Time lapse:


Total bottom wing skin rivets: 548
Total bottom wing skin time: 77h

Horizontal stabilizer and elevator fairing finishing done

After a LOT of sanding and filling, I got OK results (i.e. good enough that the paint shop can fix the rest :) ) on the horizontal stabilizer and elevator fairings, and primed them:

Sanding the elevator fairing gap

Horizontal stabilizer and elevator fairings with primer applied

Horizontal stabilizer and elevator fairings with primer applied

I also riveted the bottom rudder fairing on, and now the sanding and filling for the rudder fairings will start.

Time lapse:


Total empennage fairing rivets: 175
Total empennage fairing time: 85.6h

Rudder cable covers

I didn't quite like the metal cover that most people use for the rudder cables - mainly, because they're too small and tight around the cable sleeve, and they're too short to stop water from getting inside the tailcone, so we used those as a rough model to make our own from fiberglass:

Molds for layup, made from the smaller metal cable covers

Molds, fiberglass and peel ply ready for layup

Laying fiber for the cable covers

Applying peel ply while keeping the layup shape

After cutting, the general shape was good, but the cable was still a bit too close to the aft portion in its extreme position:

Cable covers after initial layup and cutting

Cable coming out of the cable cover

Cable sitting pretty close to the cover in its extreme position

so in order to be able to sand the inside of that aft portion, we added another couple layers of fiber to the outside:

Laying up additional fiber layers on the outside of the cable covers

Added few holes, countersunk them, adjusted the angle so the cable goes right down its center, and it sits perfectly:

Cable covers with countersunk holes for attachment

Left cable cover clecoed to the tailcone, with cable running down its center

Right cable cover clecoed to the tailcone, with cable running down its center

After that was the usual finishing work - fill, sand, fill, sand:

Cable covers with a resin layer for filling holes

Cable covers after fine sanding

Once it was smooth enough, I finally primed it (and the portion of the tailcone where it sits) and riveted it in place:

Cable covers with primer applied

Tailcone primed for the cable cover

Rudder cable cover riveted in place


Time lapse:


Total rudder pedal and brake rivets: 8
Total rudder pedal and brake time: 20.1h

Empennage fairing finishing started

For the VS top fairing, I decided to use nutplates for screws instead of riveting them permanently, so I installed those nutplates:

Vertical stabilizer fairing backing strips with nutplates attached

Vertical stabilizer fairing (partially) screwed in place

I worked on finishing the laid-up surface of the smaller fairings (applying resin and sanding, then priming):

Filling the horizontal stabilizer fairing surfaces

Horizontal stabilizer and rudder fairings after primer

I then riveted those and the rudder top fairing in place:

Horizontal stabilizer fairing riveted in place

Rudder top fairing riveted in place

and then started the same finishing process for those to conceal the fiberglass/aluminum joint (not complete yet):

Rudder top fairing with its gap filled with resin

Elevator and horizontal stabilizer fairings with their gaps filled with resin

Elevator and horizontal stabilizer fairings sanded smooth

Elevator and horizontal stabilizer fairings sanded smooth

I also did some finishing work on the bottom rudder fairing, which even after sanding is still not as smooth as I'd like (so more to be done there):

Rudder bottom fairing trailing edge with resin applied

With the HS and elevators off of the tailcone, I could finally drill, countersink and tap the fairing gap covers:

Fairing gap covers

Tailcone holes for the fairing gap covers

Next is, of course, more filling and sanding to finish the HS, elevator, and rudder fairings, and then some deeper surgery to make the VS top fairing sit flush with the metal skin. Have I mentioned I hate fiberglass work?

Time lapse:


Total empennage fairing rivets: 
155
Total empennage fairing time: 78h