Monday, January 01, 2007

It's no trouble to double

Cold, blustery weather (at last!!) drove me back to project status by removing any temptation whatsoever to fly today. Today I wanted to tackle the issue of the potentially problematic leg fairing tabs. I've seen complaints on various message boards about these tabs cracking, presumably even with the suggested application of several layers of glass cloth in the weak area. I had a ('too', as it turns out) small scrap of .020 aluminum left over from the dregs I had hoovered up last spring when I was in the sheet metal class, so I decided to fabricate some tab doublers. The idea was to put an aluminum tab between the glass tab and the gear leag, and rivet it in place off to the sides, where the shop heads of the rivets wouldn't be in contact with the gear leg.

It was very easy to get a rough cut piece cut out with tin snips:

It needed some curvature so it would snug up against the fairing:

Two notches form the tab:

The snips leave rough edges, so it had to be filed clean:

The cleco clamps did a pretty good job, but I did encounter a little bending of the aluminum away from the drill bit when trying to drill the rivet holes:

The bigger (#4) rivet came about because of very severe bit slippage, as mentioned above. Also note the Picassoesque psuedo-random positioning of the rivets which is the most recent manifestation of my artistically abstract period:

I almost immediately started running low on my very limited supply of aluminum, so the next two doublers were a bit less extravagant. As you can also see, I made an artistic statement by being even more abstract with my rivet placement in order to draw attention to my nascent transition into my rebellious phase. This stuff is art, says I, and needs to be treated as such.

Even with the simplified design I only had enough metal to make three doublers, so the inside left leg hasn't got one yet. Here are both leg fairings held in place with the hose clamps and tabs:

Now I need to get the final alignment of the leg fairings done, and start on the intersection fairings. The plane has to be jacked to take the weight off of the gear legs to do the alignment, and I only have one jack. I'm afraid jacking one leg at a time would not give me perfect alignment, so I'm going to either have to scare up another jack, or find another way to get both gear unloaded. The tail needs to come up as well, which is another kettle of fish entirely.

After that, I have a lot of trimming, sanding, filling, sanding, filling, sanding and filling to do. Then, at long last, painting. I have no idea how I'm going to do that.

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