Friday, June 23, 2006

Time to put on my pants?

I've finally gathered together a quorum of pieces-parts, using my usual inefficient method of ordering stuff as I think of it rather then batching the entire order up and placing it all at once. To date I have received the Vans wheel pants, the F1 Rocket leg fairings and intersection fairings, and the 6' length of aluminum hinge and pin from Vans.

The project will start with the pants, then proceed to the leg and intersection fairings. In this picture, you can see the difference between the older style pants that were on the airplane when I bought it and the new style pants I will be installing.

Looking at how much larger the new pants are than the old, you'd think that they would make the plane slower, but the exact opposite is true. I took a few aerodynamic engineering courses in college, but didn't retain nearly enough to be able to explain why it is that the larger pants will provide an increase of 3 to 4 mph over the old ones.

The pants are split in fore and aft sides, unlike the old pants which were one piece. The joint where the front and back sides meet needs to be sanded to give a better fit than they have right off of the factory mold. You can see the gap in the first pair:

I marked the edges that were meeting with a Sharpie marker, pulled the halves apart, and used my $8.99 electric orbital sander from Harbor Freight to sand away the marked areas. I repeated that step six or seven times until the fit looked acceptable. I don;'t think it's possible to get such a tight fit that the butt joint between the halves is effectively invisible, but I want to get them as nice and flush as I can.

The first pant is pretty close, the second I'll work on tomorrow.

Once the pants are done, I will move on to the new leg fairings. In this picture you can see the new fairing along side the old. The fairing that was on the plane when I bought it is the old two-piece aluminum style. The new F1 fairing is fiberglass. In comparing the new to the old, you get a feeling for just how much customization is required when fitting parts to hand made airplanes!

You get directions and drawings, but they take a bit of reading and studying to fully comprehend before making the next step.

Part of the job of installing the new leg fairings will be to install new upper intersection fairings too. I've always thought the intersection fairings that came on the plane were a little unsightly, so I bought a pre-molded set from F1 Rocket at the same time I bought the leg fairings.

It looks like it will take a few days to get the wheel pants put together, but the rest of the work will involve jacking up the plane and removing the wheels and brakes. I'm not sure when I'm going to want to do that since I hate having the plane grounded at all this time of year.

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