Chapter 4 - Step 3

This covers the building of the instrument Panel. This is made from 0.2" ??? foam. The IP is built from five pieces of foam cut from two sheets. All the instrument and avionics holes are cut later when the specifics are determined.

Cutting Foam December 30, 1999. In the process of cutting the foam for the IP. The pattern is pinned to the foam. I used an X-acto knife to cut the foam. The holes are cut with diagonal corners. I then sand the corners round with sand paper wrapper around a dowel.

Foam Pieces December 31, 1999. All the pieces of the IP have been cut. I made sure that the resulting part was square and the top and bottom would be parallel.

Gluing Pieces December 31, 1999. Using 5-minute epoxy the five pieces are glued together. I placed Duct tape under the joints to prevent the glue from oozing everywhere.

Assembled Pieces December 31, 1999. The assembled IP. The lighting makes it appear that there is fiberglass on this piece but there isn't yet.

First Layup December 31, 1999. The aft face after having the three layers of glass and peel ply added. There is 4 mil plastic under each of the weights and under the IP. I discovered this is a bad approach. The next morning I discovered that the two bottles left small impressions in the dried epoxy. I guess I will make this the front face now since you wont be able to see it.

Knife Trim December 31, 1999. The aft face after knife trimming the cutouts. I didn't knife trim the outer edge because I figured I could trim it with the band saw. This worked fine but the top edge was tough due to the complex curve. When I do the front face I will knife trim the top as well as the cutouts.

Close-up Dry Spots January 1, 2000. After removing the peel ply I was horrified at what I saw. There were lots of dry specks and small air bubbles all over the upper portion of the IP. The lower portion seemed fine. I'm not sure but it appears the layer of UNI sucked up epoxy from the BID layer.

Concerned by this I got an EAA technical advisor to take a look at it. He felt it wouldn't be a problem since the IP isn't load bearing. I'm still upset by this and plan on being more careful with the front face.

Second Layup January 1, 2000. Here is the front face after knife trimming all the cutouts and the top edge. I ran into more problems while doing the layup. It took me a long time to get the two layers of BID to wet out without any dry spots or air bubbles. After seeing the results of the aft side I was being extra careful. The real problem occurred while trying to wet out the layer of UNI. The epoxy was getting thick and I had a lot of trouble wetting out the UNI, even with fresh epoxy. I had my wife run in and grab the hair drier (she happened to come in to see how I was doing just as this issue started). This was my first use of a hair drier on a layup. It helped me move the thicker epoxy around but I was having trouble getting the UNI fully wet.

When I finally got the UNI as wet as I could at this point I applied the layer of peel ply over the whole face. I added plenty of epoxy so I didn't starve the glass below. All was fine until I tried to squeegee the excess epoxy. Right away I could see dry spots where the UNI was. I had little trouble on the lower half where the BID is. I stippled until my arm hurt and I couldn't get rid of the dry spots. I can't figure this out.

Stiffeners January 2, 2000. Here is the foam for the horizontal stiffeners glued in place on the front face of the IP. I decided to do this in four steps. Step 1 is to apply the single layer of BID on each of the horizontal stiffeners. Step 2 will be to add the double layer of BID that forms the channel. Step 3 and 4 are the same as 1 and 2 except for the vertical stiffeners.

First Stiffener Layup January 2, 2000. Step 1 complete. You can see the fillet at the base of each stiffener. This was created with dry micro.

Forming Stiffener Channel January 3, 2000. Forming step 2 - the channel.

Forming Stiffener Channel January 3, 2000. View from above of the jigs forming the channel.

Completed IP January 9, 2000. The completed instrument panel showing all the stiffeners.