Fiberglass Work Days

Time: 10 Hours

Since I’m at the stage to remove the wings from the fuselage I decided to tackle all of the fiberglass work that I can.  The rest of the aluminum work on the wings has to be finished after the wings are off and it’s easier to work on the fiberglass finish work now. To add some strength to the bottom of the wing tips I put just one foam rod in and fiberglassed it in like I did the tops. 

I’m really impressed with just how much rigidity these add and still leave plenty of room to work in if needed. I then moved on to the rudder fiberglass tips. There is one at the top and one at the bottom. I started with the bottom as it is the more difficult one as it requires a notch to go around the tailspring attach horns. 

I used my Dremel tool to cut out the notch and trial fit it. 

Onice I had the notch cut and trimmed so that the cap was even with the skin I marked a line 5/16″ from the edge to represent the river line. I used that line to drill a forward and aft hole to hold the cap in place. 

Now that I had the cap I place I put the rudder back on the vertical stabilizer to check the fitment. 

I was real happy with the alignment and fit. So I drilled the remaining holes on both sides. I then cleaned up the very aft end where the taillight will eventually be. I had bought an adapter ring from Cleaveland Tool’s a year ago or so. This allows you easily screw a taillight in with its threaded holes and not need a nut on the back of the screw as this is a very tight space to work. I needed the aft end to be flat and square so that the ring sat flat. 

The ring has six holes for blind rivets and two threaded holes for the taillight. The wiring for the taillight will run inside the cap and need to exit close to where it enters the VS. Since the rudder will be moving left and right I decided to make a racetrack shaped hole in the forward portion of the cap to allow the rudder to move left and right with the least amount of cable movement. 

I used a thin grommet to line the edge so it won’t chaff after I cut the hole. 

I stopped there with the bottom cap since I want to get my taillight and the connectors I will be using before I permanent rivet it in place. I then moved to the top cap which is much easier. 

I cleaned up the cap after drilling all the holes with sand paper. I also countersunk the skin for the blind rivets as well. 

I used the T-88 adhesive to help bond the cap and riveted it in place. I decided to fiberglass the seam on these as well so I mixed up some epoxy and micro-fill and applied a good layer on both sides. 

After that cured overnight I sanded it down to a nice smooth transition and put the rudder back on the VS. There is a forward portion cap that tops the VS and needs to be trimmed to match the rudder. 

Here you can see how much needed to be trimmed. 

So I made some marks that parallel the rudder cap and cut off the extra portion. 

It’s not required but I makes for a lot cleaner look to close up the open end of the cap. The easiest way is to cut a peice of balsa wood sheet to the shape and epoxy it in leaving it a 1/16″ short of flush. Then you can fill the rest with epoxy and micro to sand smooth. 

I did a couple of fiberglass lay ups in the inside of the cap to secure the balsa to the cap. I also filled in the forward side of the balsa with epoxy and micro as a rough start.  After that cured overnight I worked the forward edge until I got a nice clean gap between it and the forward side of the rudder. Once that was good I riveted it in place using more of the T-88 adhesive. 

I will come back to this cap after it cures to fill the seam and work the center section a little to better match the rudder cap with its alignment. While had the epoxy and micro mixed up I also added some to the leading edge of the wing tips where they didn’t quite line up with the aluminum. It was cured as well so I sanded those to a good shape. 

Now that the wingtips are getting closer to being done I riveted the tip ribs in place using more of the T-88 adhesive. 

So I will need to fill in the VS cap to make a clean look and work the horizontal stabilizer caps, they need trimming like the VS, to match up with the elevators. Other than being really dusty I don’t mind the fiberglass work. Maybe it just cause it’s a new skill, or lack there of, that makes it ok. Progress that’s all that maters to me, I’m getting close to being able to remove the wings!

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