Chapter 9 - Step 2

This step involves preparing the main strut. It is sanded, cut to length, layups applied, and a brake line channel is built into the trailing edge.

Raw Main Strut July 29, 2000. Here is the main strut I received from FeatherLite. All I've done so far is remove all the packaging. FeatherLite is removing the flash that you are asked to remove at the start of this step. The next thing I did was sand all the shine off the strut. The S-glass dulls 36 grit paper fairly quickly. I needed two full sheets to do the whole strut.

Marking 8 degree line July 29, 2000. I grabbed some tape and layed out a piece long enough to measure the strut. I applied this to the strut centerline on the underside and cut the tape flush at the ends. I then removed the tape and layed it out on my workbench. It was 96". Easy enough, I need to cut off 0.5" from each end. I then set an adjustable triangle to 8°. With the strut on the table, leading edge down, I drew the cut line at the proper angle and at the proper distance from the end. Much simpler than the method described in the plans.

Preparing to Cut End July 29, 2000. My plan was to cut off the ends with a jig saw. I clamped a board to the strut that would guide the saw at the correct angle.

Cutting Strut End July 29, 2000. Here is a close-up of the board. You can see the cut line and the beginning of the cut itself on the bottom. The jig saw would barely cut the strut and the strut got so hot I couldn't touch it for more than two seconds. Not good. I then took out a hacksaw and managed to cut off one end with a lot of effort. During the second end, I bent the blade real bad. I only had a fine tooth blade but I had no choice. I was amazed how quickly I cut through. I think the main difference was that this was a new blade. The now bent blade wasn't. Of course the plans say to use a new blade. Nat really means it. Use a new blade. In fact, use a new blade per leg, it's worth it.

Support Strut July 30, 2000. Here is the strut suspended off the workbench. I used 5 minute epoxy to glue the blocks to the workbench and then put in the long screws. I then put a dab of 5-minute epoxy with flox and layed the strut in place. The extra height gave me more room to work.

First Reinforcement Layup July 30, 2000. Here is the strut after applying the four layers of UNI and peel plying the whole thing. You can see the fiberglass carnage. I only needed eight strips of UNI and could've done it with six or seven if I used the ends I cut off each strip. I don't know why the plans call for 13. I only cut 10 so I didn't waste too much.

The first layer was a pain. I thought I was going to be here forever. But after the second layer I had it down pretty good. The leading edge is a bit of a mess but I can sand that. It will all get covered by four more layers later so it should be fine in the end.

Rough Trailing Edge July 31, 2000. Here is a close-up of the end of the strut. You can see peel ply debris and the rough edges of the glass at the trailing edge. All this was sanded nice and smooth.

Sanded Strut July 31, 2000. Here is the strut after all the sanding has been completed. The leading edge is nice and smooth and ready to be covered by the next 4 layers of UNI. You can see the pile of straws I grabbed from Wendy's at lunch today.

Trailing Edge Straws July 31, 2000. Here are the straws being glued into place with 5-minute epoxy. I read in the archives how some people had trouble getting the straws to stick so I sanded the shine off one side of the straws. Worked just fine. I'm sure I could pull the straws off but it just needs to stay put until the glass is added.

I used three straws on each side for a length of 24". I applied the epoxy and then layed the straws in place. Some quick use of Scotch tape held the straws in place, centered over the trailing edge, until the 5-minute epoxy set.

Trailing Edge Jig - Outside August 2, 2000. This seemed like it should be easy but I struggled with exactly how the trailing edge would be shaped. Next I struggled with the best way to make the jig for the 2 BID layup. I didn't like the plans method of using aluminum tape. It was impossible to get a "clean" trailing edge shape. Too many compound curves.

After toying with a few ideas I decided to make a foam jig. I grabbed a scrap piece of 3/4" PVC from the seatback and layed it on top of the straw. I took a marker and traced the curved shape of the straw. I then cut the foam on the bandsaw along the traced line. I could now lay this foam with the cut edge centered over the top of the straw. I now had a perfectly vertical and smooth curve that the glass could cure against. I covered the edge with box sealing tape then used some wood blocks to hold the foam in place.

This picture shows the foam in place with all the blocks holding it down. The trick was being gentle while applying the micro and the BID so I didn't shift the foam.

Trailing Edge Jig - Inside August 2, 2000. Here is the foam as seen from the other side. It looked pretty silly but it was simple and very effective once I finally decided on this solution. For someone else to take this idea and implement it would only be about 20 minutes. Well worth it. Probably not much longer than trying to get the aluminum tape in place and to shape.

Trailing Edge Layup Complete August 2, 2000. The next step was to apply a line of micro along the straw to form a smooth transition from the strut, over the straw, to the foam jig. After that I wet out two plies of BID on some 4 mil plastic and applied the strip in place. Some careful brush work got everything smooth and I then added peel ply over the whole piece of BID.

Trailing Edge Support August 5, 2000. Here is a closeup of the 2 BID trailing edge.

Strut Ready for Layup August 5, 2000. The strut is all sanded and ready for the final 4 layers of UNI to be applied. The striped appearance is from sanding all the peel ply seams.