Upper Gear Leg Fairings

Time: 10 Hours

So the fuel tanks have no leaks after having both the left and right tanks full of 100LL for several weeks. I drained the fuel out back into the 5 Gal fuel containers using the fuel sump drain. While the wings are on I’m gonna finish up the upper gear leg fairings. I couldn’t do these before when I had the wings on since I didn’t have the gear leg covers done. Now that they are I can get this last gear fiberglass task done. The upper fairings I bought from Cleaveland Tools and matched the lower fairings. These are not a perfect fit so you have to some work. I started by finding the two lower holes and drilled them. These holes are part of the gear leg inspection cover holes and I just needed to match drill them to the fairings. After that I worked slowly trimming the remaining edges to get the best fit possible. I found that the upper edge needed a lot of work so I decided to cut most of it off and add a layup to the inside and make the fit perfect. Before I did the layup I needed to secure the fairing on the top so that I returned it to the same position each time. I took an idea from my buddy Glenn and used a nutplate but reversed, meaning I put it on top of the side skin on the fuselage rather on the inside. Trying to put this nutplate on the inside of the gear tower would’ve been a nightmare. So I ground off one ear of a #6 nutplate then I drilled a hole large enough for the center of the nutplate to fit in. I then drilled for the wing of the nutplate for a blind rivet. I countersunk for the dimpled nutplate wing so it would sit as flush as possible.

After that setup I added some epoxy/flox to fill in the gaps and smooth out the transition. I also added some SuperFill to get the fit against the fuselage better.

The left side is done for the most part and just needs some finish sanding. I started the right side and had the same issue with the transition so I cut it up as well to add a three layers of fiberglass to make the transition work.

The inboard section of the right side had a gap of around 1/4” so I needed to cut off a good section in order to get it to lay up flat to the gear leg. After a couple of layers of fill I had the fairing pretty close. I then added a little Super Fill to the leading edge so I could get a real nice fit around the fuselage.

I real happy with the fit and will call them done, minus a little surface work but that can be done off the airplane. So now the wings can be removed again until final assembly!

Wheel Pants Finishing

Time: 4 Hours

Now that I had the intersection fairing pretty close to perfect I removed them for a light sanding and priming. 

I then removed the wheel pants from the gear and put them back together off the plane. This allowed me to sand all the edges where the two halves meet as they sit on the workbench. I worked the seam with a small file to get a small gap between the two parts that will allow for the paint. After cleaning up the mess I made with all the sanding I put on two coats of smooth prime with sanding in between to fill pin holes. 

Smooth prime works pretty good and is easy to clean up since it’s water based. I cleaned up the pants after the final sanding and applied several coats of filler primer to help reveal any remaining pin holes. 
In between the right and left wheel pants I shot several coats of primer on the canopy skirt after all the work to cover up the rivets. When I was happy with the finish I removed the tape and paper and cleaned off the canopy itself. While I was at it I removed a bunch of the blue protective film from the aft part of the fuselage. 

To help keep any new dust off the RV I put the custom cover on as well as a couple bed sheets I bought from target to cover the tail. 

The right side wheel pant was much worse than the left side with respect to pin holes and surface condition. There are a lot more pits and voids that need to be filled. I did two coats of smooth prime and that took care of most of the pin holes but there are still several deeper pits so I sprayed them with filler primer to better help see those and I filled them with Super Fill. 
After that cures I sanded them and reprimed to call the outsides good, I’ll let the painter fine tune so they come out perfect after paint. I still need to fine tune the wheel opening to have a nice even gap at the front and back of the tire. I also will put several coats of just epoxy to help smooth out the inside surface so dirt doesn’t stick as well. 

I will call these done for now and I’m pretty happy with how they turned out. 

Wheel Pant Intersection Fairings

Time: 4 Hours

I worked the fairings a little more trying to get the aft edge to sit nice. With these cut as they are scribed from RVBits.com the aft edge sticks out around 3/8″ aft of the gear leg fairing. I didn’t like this look and wanted the aft edge of the two fairings to meet so that it looked like one vertical line from top down to the curve. This causes the aft edge of the intersection fairing to open which I was ok with but I wanted the rest to be tight. You have a couple options from the instructions, one being to use a zip tie through a hole drilled through both sides and zip it tightly closed. The second is a small screw and nut to close it up. I didn’t like the zip tie idea so pondered the screw. What I came up with was to use a nutplate on the inside of the fairing with the threaded part portuding through a drilled hole. This eliminates a need for a nut that looked like an eyesore to me. 

Now I can use a screw that is cut to the perfect length and only have a small bit sticking out and barely noticeable if you really look. Once I was happy with that fit I countersunk all the holes for the tinnerman washers. The epoxy had cured from the holes I filled in the last post so I sanded those down and and drilled for the nutplates that will hold the intersection fairings on. Using the pneumatic squeezed I made quick work of riveting them on. 

While I was already riveting I did the two air valve doors as well but I used blind rivets as they helped my get them to lay flat as I squeezed them as the spring action tried to lift them up. 

I put all the parts in place and attached the intersection fairings and did some final sanding. These things are so nice and thin that I decided to just put a slight bevel along the edge to give a nice clean look. 

So I haven’t decided what if anything I will do with top of the fairing where it splits. I may just leave it and be happy with it. So now I just need to work all the surface of the wheel pants so I can fill pin holes and prime them as well as the fairings. 

Wheel Pant Fairings

Time: 6 Hours

I sanded the seams of both wheel pants to start the day. I will say that sanding the flox is tough work and it’s is surprising how strong cotton fibers in epoxy gets! My arms and hands are pretty sore, must be cause I’m old! After I had them sanded I put the gear leg fairings back on followed by the wheel pants. Now I started on the intersection fairing that ties the gear leg to the wheel pant. You can make these from scratch or use pre made ones. I opted for the later and bought some from RVBits sold by Cleaveland Tools. These are really nice and have a great shape. You still need to trim them and shape the aft edge based on your needs. My first task was to create a template and mark both side for the shape I wanted. 

Once I had a shape I was happy with I did a rough cut with the band saw. 

Then I slipped them in place and and marked for drill holes. I’m going to do four screws, two forward and two aft. I clamped them in place to check the fit. 

After I was happy and had them marked I drilled through them and the wheel pant and clecko’d them in place. 

I then made the mark for the top aft edge so it meets the gear leg and drew a curve to the very aft tip. With the Dremel I sanded them down and finished with my hands. 

I’m really happy with the shape and fit except the aft seam. It’s going to take a little work to get it to fit nice without clamping them. Overall I’m happy with the look. I will drill and install the four nutplates needed to attach these and screw them down before working on the aft end seam so they will be secure. 

More Wheel Pant Work

Time: 6 Hours

I repeated the syringe process for the the forward bracket on both sides with the same great results. After those had cured I marked the bottom of the pant for an even edge distance from the tire so that I could trim them. Vans gives you a minimum of 5/8″ space between the tire and the edge of the fiberglass but I have read that you need more like 3/4″ to an inch to allow side loads on the tire which would hit the fiberglass if the gap is too small. 

After getting both trimmed I moved on to the valve stem doors. Normally in order to check the tire pressure or inflate them you would have to remove the forward half of the wheel pants. I decided that I wanted to put in a 1″ doing loaded door so that I could do these tasks with removing a single screw. I ordered mine from Wicks Aircraft Supply but they are available from various shops. I rolled the fuselage around slightly to get the valve stem on the aft side of the tire and at a equal distance from the ground, about 6 1/8″ for mine. I then chocked the tires to hold that position and used my cross hair laser to mark the center of the stem. I then put the pants back on and drilled a hole on the cross hair. After I had the initial hole drilled I removed the pants and opened the hole up to 1″. I tried several different locations on how I wanted the door to swing, as seen with the different drill holes. Not sure why I decided on the top ones but it just looked better to me. 

I used some Super Fill to smooth out the edges of the areas that I built up for the brackets and sanded those after they cured. I also sanded the inside edge where the nutplates would go and riveted them in place.   I also riveted the outboard bracket in place. 

 Now that the nutplates were in place I could put the pants on and have them perfectly in their final place versus with just cleckos which have a little play. 

Now I could work on the seam and the transition between the forward half and the aft half.  After I sanded the edges I added some white electrical tape to the edge of the forward half of the pants so that epoxy/flox won’t stick to that edge. 

I then covered the white tape with clear packing tape. The electrical tape should leave a nice even gap after removed for a nice seam. It will need to be opened up a little down the road by the painter for the paint thickness. I mixed up some epoxy/flox and filled the seam as well as low spots on the aft section of the pants. After curing I will sand the edges down flush to make a nice transition between the two halves. 

In between work on the pants I had added a light layer of epoxy/fairing filler to smooth the transition from the side skirts and the glass I put over the rivets. After that was sanded I put three coats of UV Smooth Prime to fill any pin holes.