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N264JP - The Fuselage

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Tail Feathers


fuse1.jpg (109833 bytes) In the winter of '92, the workshop was moved to a corner of a hanger at the Mojave airport. Some of these pictures look somewhat dark because they were taken at night after work. Ready to start cutting the fuselage parts. This was a 14 foot table with a blue-chalk line snapped down the middle.
fuse2.jpg (119229 bytes) Here's the first fuselage side frame going together. 
fuse3.jpg (123015 bytes) Phil Miller works the front fuselage side plywood.
fuse6.jpg (165225 bytes) I used these cross members to clamp the fuselage gussets in place. There are virtually no nails in the fuselage. 
fuse7.jpg (135545 bytes) More detail on the gusset clamps. 
fuse4.jpg (141471 bytes) The idea was to create a vacuum bag  for the gluing of the front fuselage plywood.  I didn't want nails working themselves out at a later date, so in all possible cased, I have avoided brass nails. 
fuse5.jpg (127892 bytes) Here we have just about sucked all the air out of the bag and have achieved a good seal. By sandwiching the two ply sides in the middle, even pressure is applied resulting in a nice even glue line. 
fuse8.jpg (155626 bytes) It was getting to be winter in Mojave and it gets somewhat cold there. I made up a tent that worked great for keeping the glue warm during curing. 
fuse9.jpg (136766 bytes) Once the sides were complete, I had to figure out how to build the fuselage while level. This arrangement worked out fine and allowed a very straight fuselage. 
fuse10.jpg (151081 bytes) Here's the fuselage loaded in the fixture and level. 
fuse11.jpg (152701 bytes) To lock in the squareness of the fuselage, the seatback bulkhead goes in first. This is really the only place nails were used as there really wasn't a way to apple clamping pressure to the seatback ply.
fuse12.jpg (143580 bytes) This are the laminates under the instrument panel deck.  Forms were made, then wood soaked, dried, then laminated. 
fuse13.jpg (111284 bytes) The instrument deck goes in. 
fuse14.jpg (134049 bytes) In this picture, I'm aligning the fore and aft lower wing attach fittings. As far as I can tell, this worked. 
fuse15.jpg (175629 bytes) Some of the wood framing goes into the bottom of the fuselage prior to fitting the floor. Here's the forward seat bottom frame and associated cross members.
fuse16.jpg (149417 bytes) First serious metal work. These fittings are the stick assembly prior to welding.
fuse17.jpg (130301 bytes) Here's the stick fitted to the fuselage. With a stick, and the seat, seen placed in the fuselage, airplane noises cna officially be made. 
fuse18.jpg (139205 bytes) This is the rear fuselage with cross members being installed. It was important to keep the fuselage centered over the centerline while pulling the fuselage sides together. 
fuse19.jpg (217220 bytes) The vertical fixture at the tail helps ensure that the tail has been drawn together correctly and is square to the forward part of the fuselage. 
fuse20.jpg (183811 bytes) Here's another shot of the tail after gluing the tail together. Also note that the digital level is right on 0.0, ensuring that the fuselage is going together square.
fuse21.jpg (217447 bytes) Couldn't resist putting the tail on after the installation of the tailpost.
fuse22.jpg (219321 bytes) Here's the final installation of the multiple gussets in the tail. As I mentioned before, you can never have too many clamps of various sizes and shapes. 
fuse23.jpg (212471 bytes) After the tail is pulled together, the turtle deck goes on. Here I'm figuring out where the stringers are going to go.
fuse25.jpg (203412 bytes) Note the difference in the stringer formers aft of the seatback bulkhead. I didn't like the way the plans said to make those formers so I improvised with .25 birch ply. Ended up working well.
fuse24.jpg (206366 bytes) Here's the turtledeck stringers going in. These were .25 square spruce strips laminated in place. The curvature is a difficult to work with here. 
fuse26.jpg (194315 bytes) Rear shot of the stringer lamination. 
fuse27.jpg (157076 bytes) Newly installed turtle deck stringers. The gusset for the vertical stab forward mount is clamped here.
fuse29.jpg (151137 bytes) Also, I'm clamping the horizontal stab attach pads.
fuse30.jpg (124588 bytes) The ply fairing for the forward turtle deck is going on. 
fuse31.jpg (149169 bytes) Rear view for the same operation. 
fuse32.jpg (138012 bytes) Completed fairing for the forward turtle deck. The only thing I regret is not beefing up this area a little more. While getting in and out of the airplane, you tend use this area to sit before sliding into the cockpit.
fuse34.jpg (144918 bytes) Rudder pedal fixture for welding. Very simple.
fuse38.jpg (150180 bytes) Cloths line works great to determine the cable runs for the elevator and rudder controls. 
fuse37.jpg (137170 bytes) I finally get to try this on for size.
fuse39.jpg (123449 bytes) This is the second of three formers for the seatback, instrument panel, and firewall. 
fuse47.jpg (159206 bytes) I made the interior cockpit trim strips out of a block of black walnut and poplar sandwiched. Then used a band saw to slice thin strips which were glued to the interior longerons and instrument panel cross member.
fuse48.jpg (125985 bytes) Here's the cockpit with the trim installed and the combing temporary installed. I was also trying out different instrument arrangements. The stick is also a black walnut/ poplar laminate but I decided to go with an all steel stick per plans. 
fuse49.jpg (152727 bytes) I used the two 2x4s here, clamped to the firewall bracing to make legs for the fuselage. Worked great for supporting the fuselage during work on the belly. Here you can see the forward landing gear fittings and tension strap. 
fuse50.jpg (152882 bytes) A heat tent was necessary as the fuselage coating was done during the winter of '93 at Mojave Airport. It does get cold there!  There's only a couple of pictures of this process because they all look alike. The process entailed a lot of sanding to about 400 grit, coating with Chem-Tech L-26 Sheathing Epoxy (now owned by Three Systems), then sanding, and more epoxy. The L-26 is very close to the West System laminating resin, but is designed as a top coat. I put on three coats of L-26, with sanding in between coats, then coated applicable areas with a coat of spar varnish. Don't coat anything that has a fabric attachment with spar varnish unless it's epoxy!
fuse52.jpg (158807 bytes) More fuselage coating. I used an engine stand for the front fuselage to allow easy rotation of the fuselage. 
fuse51.jpg (125735 bytes) The interior received a couple coats of spar varnish, sanded in between, to achieve the finish I wanted. I was overall pleased with the process, although the entire fuselage coating took about three months and countless hours. The spar varnish can be rubbed out after it cures.
fuse54.jpg (159607 bytes) Here's the cockpit floor after coating. Nice shine, eh?
fuse53.jpg (151500 bytes) Fuselage fittings ready for installation. I thought there were a lot here. Little did I know that the wings had in store! All steel parts were powder-coated by Pyramid Porder Coating in Burbank, CA. This was reasonably priced and the coating is pretty much indestructable.
Ext_fuse_front_left.jpg (210725 bytes) Sitting outside the garage/ workshop in Chino Hills, CA sometime in the summer of '93. I started work for Northrop and moved the whole thing to the LA basin. Notice  that the main gear has been temp installed and the tailwheel has yot to be installed. 
Ext_fuse_rear_left.jpg (236393 bytes) Another view at the same time. 
Internal_fuse_rear.jpg (222547 bytes) Rear view in the summer of '93.
Ext_fuse_left1.jpg (226940 bytes) Spring of '94 in Rolling Hills, CA . After six months in Chino Hills, I moved in with some friends in the more climate-friendly area of town overlooking Catalina Island. Yea, it was a rough life. At the time, I was working second shift, so I had most of the day to work the BF. 
hookers1.jpg (226962 bytes) The harness is in. The harness was made by Hooker and turned out very nice I thought. 
inst_pnl1.jpg (225597 bytes) Instrument panel almost ready for installation. The only thing missing is the mag compass.
cabane1.jpg (173147 bytes) Step one for the cabane fixture. The box-like base is the same size as the interior of the upper forward fuselage. 
cabane2.jpg (221696 bytes) The 4130 tubes start the fitting process.
cabane3.jpg (188965 bytes) The welded cabane strut during fitting to fuselage.
N264JP_Tank1.jpg (56179 bytes)  The tank is set in place for fitting. It will eventually get painted white. The fuel level indicator is a spiral float-type that was originally to be used in a guy's Glassair header tank. It is an easy installation and seems to work well. Also note the angles screwed to the top longeron. I didn't like the wood blocks per plans so I used this with nut plates.
N264JP_Tank2.jpg (60642 bytes)  Another tank view with cabane strut fitted. Forward of the indicator is the scupper and fill neck. I ran a 1/4 AL tube over the side of the tank and then through the fuselage bottom to provide a drain to spilled fuel. This feature really does work!