Chapter 13 - Step 8

This step involves the installation of the nose strut and wheel into the fuselage.

Nose Wheel in Fuselage September 25, 2002. Here is the nose wheel in place in the fuselage. You can see that I have cut out a square hole for the nose wheel. I plan to build gear doors similar to Wayne Hicks' setup.

Nose Wheel September 25, 2002. Here is a shot from the inside of the fuselage. I must admit I took a deep breath before taking the jig saw to the bottom of the fuselage. It is always tough to cut into a part you worked so hard on.

Nose Strut Cover Mold September 27, 2002. I decided to make my own nose strut cover. I glued a piece of 1" and 2" foam together since the NG-30's are 3" apart. I put the foam where the strut will go and secured it from below. I then sanded the curvature using the NG-30's as a guide. I then marked the strut on the foam and sanded out the foam to the correct depth and side. I made a wider, and much deeper area where NG-3 is.

Nose Strut Cover Mold September 27, 2002. Another shot of the mold. I tried adding box tape and electrical tape to the inside for release but it was too tedious and wasn't working too well due to all the compound curves. I just decided I will glass directly on the foam and destroy the mold when finished.

In case you are wondering what all the pins are for, I added another half inch of foam to both sides so the glass has more surface to lay on so it dries to the correct shape. This is the part that will actually be glued to the bottom of the NG-30's.

Nose Wheel Cover Mold December 16, 2002. More Urethane foam dust. Here is my nose wheel cover mold. It is made from 3 pieces of 2" thick Urethane foam. The dimensions are custom and do not match the plans too much. The reason for this is the fact that I am doing my own nose gear doors and the cutout in the fuselage is 6" x 15.5" so the cover needs to be a bit bigger around its base.

You can see the strut cover mold in the background. That is a female mold. I hope I can get the glass to stay down in the mold OK.

Nose Wheel Cover Mold December 16, 2002. Another view of the nose wheel cover mold.

Nose Wheel Cover December 18, 2002. Here is the nose wheel cover after scraping out all the foam and cutting the lips to size. I still need to add the plexiglass windows.

Nose Wheel Cover Inside December 18, 2002. Another view of the nose wheel cover from the inside.

Plaster Filled Strut Cover Mold December 18, 2002. I tried laying the glass in the female mold for the strut cover and after one ply I gave up. I had a feeling it was going to be trouble glassing inside the mold and I was right. So tonight I began coverting the female mold into a male mold. I built a small frame from more Urethane foam and them filled the mold with plaster. Once this dries I will have a male mold that will allow me to glass around the outside - much easier than the inside.

Strut Cover Layup December 22, 2002. Here is the strut cover after adding three layers of BID to the mold. It doesn't look it, but there are some interesting curves in this thing and it took a little bit to get the first layer to lay down properly. The other two went a bit better.

Trimmed Strut Cover December 22, 2002. It was a major pain in the you know what to get the cover off of the mold. I didn't use any sort of release agent and the mold itself didn't ever really harden. It was basically like clay and it took a while to scrape it all out. Of course the glass held onto the mold real well so it took a lot of scraping and sanding and there is still a good bit of this stuff stuck to the glass. After a while I gave up, for now, and trimmed the cover to fit in the fuselage. It fit quite well and I was pleased until I discovered that the cover inteferes with one of the rudder pedals. You can see where I had to sand away an area on the top to allow the rudder pedal to fit. I will add a small piece of BID from the inside to cover this hole. No big deal but I hate these little things. At least I found it before I glued the cover into place - that would have been interesting.

Complete Nose Wheel Cover December 22, 2002. Here is the final nose wheel cover with the lexan windows floxed and taped into place. Time will tell how well I will be able to see the nose wheel while sitting in the pilot's seat. To install the window I did the following: I used a Dremel to cut the hole in the cover so it was 1/4" smaller around each edge then the lexan I cut out. I then added a very thin layer of 5-minute epoxy around the hole and then pressed the window into place. I was very careful so glue would not squeeze or ooze onto the visible portion of the window. After that dried I made some stiff flox to make fillets around the edges of the windows. The lexan is 1/8" thick (should've use 1/16") so a fillet is a must. I then made up some 2 layer, 3/4" wide BID tapes and applied these around the window carefully. The tape covers the window by about 1/4" which makes the edge of the tapes about even with the cutout in the cover. I then added peel ply over all the tapes. In the end the edges of the tape on the window are a tiny bit rough and I can see a pant leg getting snagged possibly. Sanding the edge is too likely to result in scratching the lexan.

Completed Strut Cover January 12, 2003. Here is the strut cover after making a hole for the nose gear retract arm.

Nose Gear Doors January 13, 2003. Here are the two nose gear doors with the hinges attached and the plywood mounts that will be glued to the fuselage sides. One door is showing the inside and the other the outside. I used 3/8" foam with 2 plied BID on each side. The strange shape of the foam is to make clearances for the wheel and its hardware.

Gear Door Mount January 13, 2003. Here you can see the foam has been removed to allow for the plywood mounts to be floxed into place.

Gear Door Mount January 23, 2003. Here is the plywood mount floxed into place for the nose gear doors. There are five holes in each mount. Each hole is backed with a piece of 1/8" aluminum and tapped for a AN3 bolt.

Mounted Nose Gear Cover January 31, 2003. Here is the nose gear cover floxed into place on the fuselage bottom.