This photo is of the prototype during the
earlier phases of construction.
May 8 2015 2.0hrs - 2333.5 total. Trimmed overlapped skin back flush with BHs
and longerons. Traced area of scarf onto fuselage skin. Rough cut a piece of 1.5mm
ply to skin fit this area. Must have measured something incorrectly because it doesn't
look like its big enough. Will need to try again with a larger piece.
May 9 2015 5.0hrs - 2338.5 total. Realized this area is supposed to be covered with
2mm skin. Got out a new sheet of 2mm ply, laid out and rough cut skin piece.
Scarfed all the edges of the skin on the fuselage with belt sander first, then cleaned
up with detail sander, then trial fit skin piece. Marked for final size. Trimmed and
sanded skin piece to final shape.
|Skin trimmed back, scarf outline drawn.
Rough cut skin piece laying on the bench.
New 2mm skin piece trial fit on fuselage.
May 11 2015 2.5hrs - 2341.0 total. Picked up a sheet of aluminum to use for hatch covers, etc. Sanded scarf into all four edges of
skin piece. Trial fit again. Removed and steamed a pretty significant bend into it, to make it easier to glue it in place on the fuselage.
May 30 2015 2.0hrs - 2343.0 total. Eeek! Has it been almost three weeks! Sanded all contact areas in prep for gluing on skin piece.
Marked and cut hole in skin piece for tail wheel oleo strut attach bolt. Removed rags and tape that were blocking sanding dust and
vacuumed out inside of fuselage as far as I could reach. Once this skin is on here, its going to be pretty difficult to reach anything in
this area. Did another trial fit of skin piece. Traced location on BHs and longerons on inside. Also transferred and mark them on outside
of skin piece. Decided clamping strips will be too stiff so made up some more flexible nail strips, covered with duct tape. Removed
paper I had taped over the SB aft hatch and it looks like I might be able to reach inside to some of the glue joints for this skin piece.
June 6 2015 2.5hrs - 2345.5 total. Finally glued that piece of skin in place. Put two thick coats of sealer on inner surfaces before
gluing it on. Put mold release on bolt for tail wheel oleo strut bracket and put in place to keep that pre-drilled and sealed hole usable.
June 7 2015 5.5hrs - 2351.0 total. Removed clamps and staples from yesterday's glue job. Started working on backing plates for tail
wheel strut cover. Took quite a while to grind and sand away extra glue on inside of skin and facing BH surfaces where backing plates
need to go. Made paper templates as backing plates are pretty complex curves due to taper of skin in this area.
June 8 2015 2.0hrs - 2353.0 total. Finished making pieces for backing plates for tail wheel strut cover. Trial clamped and final located
and marked pieces. Measured and marked locations for nut plates.
June 12 2015 2.0hrs - 2355.0 total. Final marked and drilled screw and rivet holes for nut plates. Counter sunk rivet holes and cleaned
up burs, edges, etc. Experimented with how to use nut plates on tight inside bends. Tried bending up ears on nut plates. Looks like it
June 13 2015 1.5hrs - 2356.5 total. Thought I might hold the bent backing plates in a curve shape with a piece of wire while applying
a coat of epoxy. Was thinking the sealer might make the pieces stiffer and harder to bend after it dried. Wired a curve into both
pieces. Was getting ready to mix up the epoxy, heard a small snap and one of the backing plates had snapped in two! Went ahead and
put a coat of sealer on all four pieces. Hoping it will be enough to glue the broken piece back together. This is a non-structural piece
so doesn't really matter if its a single piece or not. Had quite a bit of sealer left over so painted a small section on the outside surfaces
of the new belly skins.
June 14 2015 5.0hrs - 2361.5 total. Broken piece did not hold together with one coat of epoxy sealer, but tried it in place in the
fuselage and its fine the way it its. Gluing it in there will be plenty to hold it to the correct shape. Flush riveted all the nut plates onto
the backing pieces. Dry fit all the pieces several times and practiced how to clamp them an all place. Used pliers to bend the nut plate
ears a little while they are already riveted to the backing plates. Spent some time prepping and sanding all the areas to be glued. Still a
lot of extra left over from when the skin was glued on in this area that needed cleaned up. Covered one of the strut mounting brackets
with mold release and temp bolted in place to keep glue out of that preformed bed. Glued backing plates in place.
June 15 2015 2.5hrs - 2364.0 total. Removed clamps from yesterdays glue job. Taped over lightening holes in tail strut hatch again to
keep sawdust out. Cleaned up and sanded extra glue. Made paper template of hatch cover shape. Traced onto some .040 aluminum
sheet. Cut out with snips and sanded to shape with belt and disc sander. Started rough bending with a vice and a couple of "knee
June 18, 19, 20 2015 3.0hrs - 2367.0 total. Took piece out to local shop and borrowed a roller bender for about a 1/2 hr and put
slightly too tight of a curl into it. Brought back home. Realized that I could flatten out small sections by clamping it in a c-clamp. To
add curve back into it, I made a small block with a couple of pieces of plywood and found a piece of pipe that I can press into the
block with another c-clamp. Pretty crude setup, but it allows me to tweak the piece over and over and keep trying it in place. Have it
pretty close to the needed shape now, but I made it slightly over sized on purpose, so it doesn't fit into the recess where it goes. Need
to trim it down to final shape before I can get the final bend into it. Its been pretty hot here (for Fairbanks, that is) in the 80s which
makes it pretty uncomfortable to work out in the shop for very long.
|New skin piece just steamed. Letting
it cool and dry while held to shape
with ratchet straps.
|All surfaces scarfed, prepped and
ready for skin piece to be glued on.
|Skin piece glued in place.
|Starting on backing plates for
tail wheel strut cover.
|Laying out tail wheel strut cover
backing plates for nut plates.
|Nut plate holes drilled and
rivet holes counter sunk.
|Nut plate backing strips being
glued into tail wheel strut hatch.
|Overview of project. The shiny
area is where I put some extra
sealer on the exterior.
|Backing plates installed.
Starting on hatch cover.
|Use the c-clamp to squeeze the pipe down
into the piece. Can get pretty specific
control over bend placement and depth.
|Poor man's metal working tools.
C-clamp on the left flattens, pipe and
block on the right puts in bends.
|Almost have it. Need to trim to
final size and finish shaping.
June 22 2015 1.5hrs - 2368.5 total. Worked on grinding piece down to shape. Not done yet.
June 28 2015 5.0hrs - 2373.5 total. Continued to size and shape hatch cover. Working sheet metal without the correct tools is hugely
time consuming and difficult! If I was to do this part again, I'd make it out of fiberglass. Got it close enough to final shape and cut it in
half to match same pieces on original Spitfire. Spent another 2 hours getting the SB half better aligned and shaped, then marked and
drilled holes and trial fit in place. Still need to fit and drill port side.
Went on vacation for a couple weeks, visited Steve (owner of Tally-Ho) and saw the progress on his two aircraft, then went to
Oshkosh. Bought nav lights and found several engine suppliers including one who said he could help me get the right prop, build the
engine mount, make the correct exhaust, and a couple other items. Got lots of other great info and parts sources.
July 30 2015 2.0hrs - 2375.5 total. Marked and sanded down the port half of the tail wheel strut cover. Marked and drilled screw
holes. Discovered I could use clecos for quicker trial fitting. Temp mounted strut in place to mark range of motion. Marked both halves
of cover for area to be removed. I'd like to roll the edges of this cutout, but I don't have the tools, and the material is so thick I don't
think I really need to.
July 31 2015 3.5hrs - 2379.0 total. After thinking about it overnight I realized I hadn't verified exact position of where strut would pass
through slot in covers. Rechecked, found it not exactly centered on joint between pieces. Re-marked slot and cut it out with dremmel
cut wheel and ground to shape with grinder cylinder. Realized I hadn't added extra margin on forward and rear end of slot, also needed
to allow for tail wheel lock cable that runs down back of strut. Cleco'd everything back in place and marked additional margins.
Removed, cut and ground to final shape. Used new counter-sync tool to counter-sync all the screw holes. Sanded all surfaces with
emery cloth. Mounted cover pieces in place with screws to see how it would look. Still should probably sand edges down a little more.
They fit pretty tight and a couple coats of paint would be enough to make them not fit.
August 1 2015 5.0hrs - 2384.0 total. Made up a couple of small strips of aluminum to use as joiner plates for the strut cover. Marked
drilled and counter sunk the strips and the appropriate locations on the strut covers. Primed all the contact areas then riveted them in
place. Riveted nut plates onto strips, then primed all surfaces inside and out. Once they dried, assembled the halves together then
mounted in place on fuselage. Spent some time cleaning up all the tools and mess from all the aluminum shaping. Started laying out for
next piece of belly skin.
August 2 2015 2.5hrs - 2386.5 total. Bought a light to install just behind the antenna mast at Oshkosh. Verified I'll be able to wire it
after more fuselage skin is installed. Turns out it will be above the cargo compartment and entire wire run will be easy to do from the
top via the back widow opening. Continued working on new skin piece template. Used some artist charcoal to transfer the underlying
structure outline onto the paper template. Taped template to 2mm plywood sheet. Traced pattern onto sheet. Also marked location of
longeron, etc. on outside of skin piece to help with locating staples. Cut piece to rough shape. Temp strapped in place on fuselage to
check size and alignment.
August 5 2015 2.0hrs - 2388.5 total. Final located and pinned new skin piece. Marked inside of skin with longeron and BH locations.
Trimmed back skin on last skin piece flush with BH. Cleaned up, squared up, and sanded raw edges of skin piece. Traced outer edge
location onto existing skin on fuselage.
August 6 2015 1.0hrs - 2389.5 total. Clamped skin piece to bench. Got out hand held belt sander. Started scarfing edges of skin piece.
August 7 2015 3.0hrs - 2392.5 total. Finished scarfing edges on skin piece. Scarfed contact areas on fuselage skins. Sanded all ares
to be glued on fuselage. Trial fit skin piece with scarf joints in place. One of the SB BHs is about 1/8 to large. Need to either sand it
down or add material on intermediate BH.
August 8 2015 5.5hrs - 2398.0 total. Removed trial fit skin piece and sanded down scarfs on fuselage and skin a bit more. Found I
didn't need to reshape the BH as skin piece flexed enough to conform. Glued skin piece in place. Was able to reach inside to dress and
smooth all glue joints.
August 9 2015 2.0hrs - 2400.0 total. Removed straps from yesterdays glue job. Sealed up fuselage with plastic and tape to protect
from sawdust again. Trimmed and sanded back overlap of new skin to be flush with BH. Taped paper in place and traced new
template. The last skin piece was 2 mm ply. This next one, and continuing on forward is 3mm. Much more difficult to work with.
Fuselage transitions from forward "cylinder" shape to aft "cone" shape at this point so slight curve to belly here. All next three
remaining BH spans will have to be done separately. When these are done, that will be the belly skin finished!
|Piece split. SB side fit and drilled.
Port side temp clamped in place.
|Both sides of cover drilled and
pretty close to final shape.
|Strut temp mounted.
Cover marked for cutout.
|Slot finished, holes counter sunk,
surfaces sanded for primer.
|Strut cover complete, primed and
in place, including joiner plates.
|Starting to layout for
next belly skin piece.
|Laying out template on plywood stock.
|Skin piece cut out and temp
clamped in place.
|Previous skin piece done, making
template for next one.