Wheel Pants

Time: 6 Hours

I sanded a few spots on the windshield fairing that I put Super-Fill on yesterday. After that I decided to jump right in with the wheel pants. First up was to square up the edges at the two halves meet up and attempt to get the seem tight. It wasn’t an exact science and I took a little off at a time and got both pretty close. They will need some filling later after the pants get all set into their positions. After I was fairly happy with the fit I measured and marked per the plans to drill the 7 holes for the screws that hold the two halves together. 

Now that the sets were matched up marked I drilled them. 

The outboard side of the pants get a bracket riveted to them that gets bolted to the axel nut.  To get the location of the rivets you start with the bracket bolted to the axel and square to the floor with the fuselage level. 

Before you can put the aft section of the pants in place you need to tape a 1″ spacer to the top of the tires to give the correct spacing between the top of the tire and the inside of the pants. 

The aft portion of the wheel pants needs a notch cut out to allow the gear leg to protrude through. I started with a small notch and worked my way up as needed to get the right fit.  Now the tricky part getting the pants to be aligned with each other, the center line of the fuselage and all the prescribe measurements per the plans. To start I dropped plum bobs at the forward and aft center lines of the fuselage. I then snapped a chalk line on the floor between the two plum bobs. Now I had a reference mark on the floor. I have two laser devices and decided that I would utilize them in this process. First I shot one from the front and one from the back of the tire dead center, using the new tires lip on the center,  at the top of my small wheel chocks. This gave me a uniform point at the front and the back from which to measure a distance from the center line chalk mark. 35 5/8″ at both of them. With that number I slid my laser to the aft end of the fuselage and aligned the beam on the floor and tire to hit the 35 5/8″ mark and the center of the tire. Now the tires are cambered in at the bottom and out at the top a little. My laser came with a leveling pad that has three set screws to get it level. I used it in reverse and used it to match the vertical line with the center of the tire tread from top to bottom. This allowed me to match the wheel pant angle to the tire angle. 

My second laser I used facing the side of the pant to get the aft end height requirement of 8 5/8″ and matched it with a center mark I did on the aft end of the pants. 

The view from aft looking forward shows the angle matched by the laser. 

Now that I had this established I matched drilled from inside out the outboard bracket and clecko’ed it in place and added the forward half of the pant. I had to play around and remove material as it was interfering around the tire and gear leg. 

Once I had a good fit and the aft alignment was matched I removed the parts to establish my inboard drill marks. I used my laser to match the hole with the pants off. 

With that hole aligned I returned all the parts in place and verified the alignments. Once I was happy I used the cross to identify my drill spot. 

I repeated this step for all four inboard holes. This was a time consuming process as I put the parts on marked and return the parts to drill.  

I repeated this entire process on the other gear like with the exact same results. I did a few measurements from the center chalk line to the aft and of the wheel pants to confirm the measurements were identical.

This was a big step today getting the wheel pants in proper orientation and installed! There is still much work to do on these to get them to a perfect condition but just having them on really gives the airplane an awesome look!

Gear Leg Fairings

Time: 4 Hours

After working a little on the windscreen fairing I decided to start the next project which will be the gear leg fairings and wheel pants. You start with the fairings which just cover the gear legs to give them aerodynamic shape. I made the initial cut at the 25 15/16″ length that Vans calls for but realized these where going to be way to long. They were hitting the brake lines both at the top and bottom. So I grabbed the intersection fairings, these transition the leg fairings to either the fuselage or the wheel pants to see how high the come up or down on the gear leg. After looking at these I was able to trim the gear leg fairing by two inches and still have a lot of length to go under the transition fairings. So I made the trim and put them in place to see the fit. 

I clamped the edge in several places to get a good fit and made some marks so that I could return the fairing to the same place when I remove them. The fairings get held on by a piano hinge which gets installed so that as the hinge pin is installed it pulls the two parts together squeezing the aft edge so it’s a nice tight seam. I drew a line down the length of both sides of the hinge and marks for the holes spaced out. The fairing is transparent enough so you can see the drill marks. 

I started at the top of the outside at the top and worked my way down the leg by drilling through the fairing then the hinge flange. I cleco’ed each hole as I went. After I finished the outside I moved to the inside and did the same process. I removed the clamps and found that I had a nice tight seam at the aft end. I will square up the aft end with a large block sander after I rivet the hinge in place for it final position. 

I repeated the entire process on the other gear leg and have two nice looking fairing. Next up the wheel pants. 

Wind Screen Fairing #8

Time: 1 Hour

I started sanding the inside surface of the fairing as it overhangs the roll bar. This area is visible and was in decent shape but needed some work. I filled in some depressions and sanded the surface good. I decide to clean up the transition from the edge of the windscreen to the surface of the fairing using some Super-Fill. I just used my finger like you would with caulking. 

After this cured I sanded all the edges smooth and filled in a couple areas and will sand them tomorrow. Next up will be pin hole filling on the inside and exterior surfaces. I plan to paint the inside black so that it doesn’t stand out. 

Side Panel Covers

Time: 1 Hour

Along each side of the pilots legs is a side panel of sorts. There is a solid cover that goes on these areas. On the left the fuel selector valve is housed and on the right is just solid. I decided to add a cup holder in the right that I found on amazon for a few dollars. It’s black anodized aluminum and I added a layer of neoprene to the inside to help pad a drink. The holder was epoxied in place and then both panels screwed down. 

I added the cover and valve handle to my Andair valve and it looks awesome. 

Rear View Mirror

Time: 2 Hours

In combat aircraft there are usually 2 or more rear view mirrors that are curved to the shape of the windscreen for “checking your six”. Many builders have adapted various commercial car mirrors to fill this need. Some builder have been lucky enough to find vintage mirrors from places like eBay. I decide to try my hand at making some and started with a prototype. First up was how to mount it to the rollbar. I decided to use some aluminum angle and bend it to the shape of the rollbar. I needed to cut some notches in one side of the angle so I could bend the other side. 

I then primed and painted the angle to see how it looked. I decided to try some small magnets, usually you wouldn’t want these close to the panel as they could affect the instruments but my ADAHRS are in the back of the tail cone. I used some 5 minute epoxy to attach four magnets. 

Then I added some low profile Velcro tabs to the three wings on one side of the angle. 

I had bought a 12″ x 12″ sheet of 1/8″ thick acrylic mirror and used the bandsaw to cut out a shape based on some measurements I took from the rollbar. I then sanded the edges round and attached the mirror to the angle with the other side of the Velcro. 

I then tried it out while sitting in the seat to see how it worked and was very happy. There will be some tweaking needed on the next model but otherwise it will be pretty close to this one. 

The nice thing is that this can be moved to any location on the rollbar as needed and rotated to get the best view. They are also nice to be able to see the status of your back seater.