Thursday, December 29, 2011

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year...

Well, I'm not as far along on the Cozy as I had hoped to be by now...18 mths after starting...but Sunday is a new year and a good time for a fresh start.  I can hear the fuselage in the garage calling out to me in an eerie voice...come back to work.  Most of my down time during the Christmas holiday has been spent catching up on old household honey-do's, the post Christmas clean-up, and researching what to do with my apparently failed septic drain field, and oh yea...I have a fence to fix before it falls down...what fun!

Even Santa Has to Refuel for the Long Hauls
I am however energized for the new year, ready to get in better shape, make solid progress on my Cozy dream, and figure out what I'm going to do after I retire from the USAF sometime in the next 18 mths...scary but exciting.

Take each day as it comes, focus only on the minute at hand, find the good in it all, and leave the the past.

Merry Christmas & Happy 2012!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ch 7: Back at it...taping

Well I'm back at work on the Cozy after a few months off due to medical issues, recovery, back to work, etc...  Man, getting my Cozy momentum back has been tough.

I left off just before we left for Oshkosh 11...oh what fun that was!  I was in the middle of securing the seams of the bulkheads to the fuselage sides using 2" Bidirectional (BID) fiberglass tapes.  These reinforce the intersections where the bulkheads mate to the fuselage sides and make the transition look nice.  I started out making this much harder than it had to be...but soon found tips from others that worked great.

TIP:  I find the best way to BID tape is to use the aluminum foil method mentioned on a number of other builder sites.

- First put down aluminum foil
- mark 2" wide lines with a sharpie and ruler
- wet out both plys of cloth on top of the foil and stipple the air out
- use your electric scissors to cut to shape
- put a little flox in the corners to help the glass round the corner smooth
- brush on a little resin to the joint
- apply the glass and smooth it down with your fingers
- peel ply

The hardest part is trying to get the little spaces and turns around the longerons.  It's also a little hard on your back, at least mine, since your leaning over the longerons quite a bit.  You want to take your time though as nice workmanship here will help your overall interior look nice and professional.

The fuselage is turned right side up for a bit now.  The past couple of weeks I've finished up the BID taping, drilled the alignment holes for the landing gear installation, and installed the last of the 3 landing gear support bulkheads.

In the pic you can see the new LG bulkhead installed and a still curing 3 ply reinforcement of glass down the front connecting the top and bottom bulkheads.  A similar 6 ply of glass will go on the aft side along with 2 ply BID tapes along the horizontal seam front and back.

I also installed the F28 bulkhead.  F28 is forward of the instrument panel and will become the bulkhead where the canard attaches.  Since I'm planning a forward hinged canopy, F28 will also be where the hinges for the canopy are attached.  You can see the peel ply sticking up on the aft side where the BID tape is still curing.

I can feel the momentum picking back up...Onward,


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ever Dreamed of Living With Your Airplane?


While at Oshkosh, we walked around and talked with Residential Airpark vendors to see what it would take to be able to live some day in a community of pilots & planes with their own runway.  There weren't too many represented but wow, the ones that were there were great.

Heaven"s Landing is the one we liked the most.  Probably not by accident...also likely the more expensive...what can I say, we have good taste.  What better place to live than "Heaven" ?

The lots are nestled in the foothills of Northern Georgia, about 3 miles from the town of Clayton.  Surrounded by a big lake, huge National Forest, Tallulah Gorge (biggest gorge in the East), and only 90 mins from Atlanta if you need some big city life.
There are lots up on the hillside, in which case you get a hanger in the ramp area, and there are lots along the taxiway, which of course means you get your hanger right with your house.  The clubhouse is beautiful, the hangers all have full baths and are big enough to have living areas in them, plus they look like regular buildings and not hangars.  The picture is a row of hangars.  It's double decked with a taxiway going up the backside, and the front opening at the bottom below the top balconies.  Way cool!

Maybe some day.


The Cozy Get's a Registration Number...

The FAA allows you to reserve your registration number for an aircraft prior to having the aircraft flying.  All you have to do is ask for one, or create a unique number on your own (that follows certain rules) and pay $10/yr to have it held for you until you need it.  In the picture you can see two of John Travolta's planes.  He has more but these he parks at his house outside of Ocala, Fl....tough life.  If you look close (or click to enlarge), the small jet is registered as N218JT and the 707 is registered as N707JT.
N218JT, 2007 Eclipse Aviation Corp EA500 C/N 000047, Two of John Travolta's planes airborne together
2 of John Travolta's Aircraft with Personalized Registration #s 

After much thought and research of available numbers, I've reserved my FAA registration number for the Cozy.  We can now refer to her not just as "The Cozy", but as "N791CG".

For those not familiar with phonetic aviation speak, it is pronounced...(N)ovember (7)Seven (9)Niner (1)One (C)harlie (G)olf.  English is the international language of aviation and so the word "Niner" may be strange but it is used in place of simply "Nine".  We do this because the verbal "Nine" in German means "No" which would not be good to say to a german air traffic controller.  Saying "niner" eliminates possible confusion.

So why N791CG ??  Anybody...Anybody...Beuller...Beuller?
N - Required...This is the official designation of all U.S. registered aircraft.  Every country is different.
7 - Represents the month of July
91 - Represents the year 1991
C - Chad
G - Gina

For those paying will recognize that July 1991 is the month/year Chad and Gina officially became Chad and Gina.  OK...Collective AAAAHHHHHH.  Of course I'll have to change it if I can't get through building the airplane without causing her to decide to leave me.  After 20 years...I hope I'm safe.  :-)

Now N791CG needs a name...similar to how you name a boat.  Will have to work on that one for a while.


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Our 1st Visit to Oshkosh Comes to an End... :-(

Back from Airventure 2011 and what a great time we had.  To my surprise, Gina has even gotten all excited about finishing our Cozy.  I think she loved the great people that share this interest and saw how much fun they have when they get flying.

We saw lots of aircraft, took part in the tribute to Burt Rutan, communed and dined with fellow canardians to talk building and flying Cozys, and attended a few seminars.  The weather was good most of the time and there was no shortage of things to do or see.  We didn't come close to doing everything we could have done or even saw all the different aircraft that flew in for the event.  In fact we didn't end up staying for the nightime airshow Sat night because we were tired and wanted a nice relaxed night before we departed the next morn.

I had some problems with my camera while there but managed to get a few pics in the slide show below.  click it open and you can go to the site where the pics are and flip through them at your own pace.  Can't wait to go back another year.  This will definitely become a habit.   Until then, we'll keep building with more energy and motivation to get this thing done sooner rather than later.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

From Many Parts...Come One...A Fuselage!

Fuselage...upside down, nose in front, firewall at the rear
Big day yesterday!  The core of the fuselage started to take shape with the assembly of the fuselage sides and the 3 main bulkheads...the seatback, the instrument panel, and F22.  It is really neat to now have something in the garage, I mean aircraft factory, that looks kinda like something you might get in.  One day it may actually look like an airplane.

I did not follow the plans method of jigging the fuselage.  Instead I used Wayne Hicks method of jigging it upside down on the work table.  I believe this was much easier than the plans version.  The only difference for me from Wayne was that I had to cut a hole in the table to allow for the top of the IP to stick through.  Wayne had used two doors and just slid them apart.  My particleboard table top didn't come together in the right place so I just cut the hole.  You can also simply add 2x4s on top and assemble on top of them but I thought it easier and more accurate just to cut the hole and replace the top when done.

This step only took about 2 hrs to accomplish but I spent at least 15 hrs preparing for it.  You want to make sure everything is correct before the epoxy goes in because it will be heck to cut apart and fix after cure.  I fit each bulkhead carefully making sure each one was true, square, and in the correct place.   I had a little adjusting to do to each bulkhead but I was generally amazed how it all went together as planned.

Tip:  I ran into the same problem many have in that the IP was about 1/4" too short in height).  I thought this may have been an issue with the distorted M-drawings which is why I used the additional full size M-drawings but I guess the template is just off.  It's an easy fix to add a little foam to the bottom (you did save those foam scraps didn't you?).

After initial fitting, I went back to each bulkhead and filled any gaps with foam for a nice tight fit.  Then I went through and figured out how I was going to secure each bulkhead in place while it cured.

Jigged and secured for curing
Finally, (Tip) I disassembled the entire fuselage and rehearsed each step of how I would put it together when I actually put in the epoxy.  I even wrote it down so I wouldn't miss anything.  I wanted to make sure I knew exactly how I was going to do it so I didn't find myself in the middle, with epoxy on my hands, and run into a problem of some kind.  After rehearsal, I took it all apart and did it for real.  It all went very smooth.  All the bulkheads are true and measurements are pretty much right on except the bottom (top in the picture) of the seatback.  For some reason it's about .25" short horizontally.  The seat itself measures properly per the template but when installed and aligned from the top longeron to the bottom longeron, it doesn't quite make it to the forward mark.  Best I can tell, this shouldn't be an issue.  Above is what it looked like while curing.

Screws through boards hold bulkheads in place to cure
Like Wayne, I used dry wall screws and predrilled the holes through the fuselage sides.  If your bulkheads fit well, this works great.  I also put the screws through a 1x6 board on each side to aid in spreading the pressure across the entire area.  The first two boards to the left in the pic (right) are holding the seatback and IP bulkheads.  The front board is just holding the foam ends nice and straight with the F22 bulkhead.
Giant rubber bands holding F22 against the end

You can also see the big rubber bands I used to help hold F22 nice and tight against the end.  The top and bottom were screwed in to provide a solid hold but I wanted something to provide even pressure along the entire height of the bulkhead to make sure it stayed straight.

Location block for the IP

Tip:  I also added a location block to help position the IP. (right pic)  .  I did this because every time I put a screw in from the side to hold the IP in place, it would move on me.  I didn't predrill the holes into the side of the bulkhead as I thought this might not allow the foam to hold the screw as tight.  If I had, maybe the IP wouldn't have moved.  Instead, I installed a location block on each side that I could move out of the way and then quickly position once the IP was installed.  It starts from the forward position of the seatback and extends to where the front of the IP is supposed to be and has a screw at each end.  I can easily remove the screw closest to the IP and swing the block out of the way to get the IP in place.  With the top (bottom in the pic...remember it's upside down) up against this block, I knew it was in the correct place.  I then squared it to 90 degrees, pinned the top with a small nail and then I could install the screws without it wandering on me.  It worked great.

Time to go reinforce the joints and install the landing gear bulkheads.  Onward.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Only 27 days to Oshkosh 2011...

I'm making my first trip to aviation paradise this year...Oshkosh 2011...and I can't wait.  For me and 650,000 of my closest friends, this is a special year as they will be celebrating Burt Rutan's retirement, the man responsible for canard homebuilt aircraft and so many other unique designs including what is about to become the first commercial space vehicle, Spaceship One and the White Knight Mothership.  The legendary Bob Hoover and Gen Chuck Yeager will be there, many different workshops and lectures to attend, I can scope out my future avionics systems, and of course I'll have 100+ other canards to look at and take pictures of design features I want to incorporate into my Cozy.  Did I say I was excited...Check out the video below for a sneek peak at the Greatest Aviation Celebration in the World.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Ch 6 Begins: Time to Start Making a Fuselage...

Well it's been a couple of weeks since I finished the fuselage sides and although things have been quiet here, I have been working...just not as fast since I'm back at work now.  Unfortunately, I'm just now starting to have something to show for it.  Over the last two weeks I've...

- Performed some clean up of the fuse sides:  I had some areas I needed to smooth out with micro so it will look better when painted and I had some dry spots left over from some glassing I needed to repair.

Lowered table w/firewall mounted upside down ala Wayne Hicks style
- Spent a really annoying afternoon trying to level the blasted work table:  After lowering it to prepare for fuselage assembly, I shimmed it level, came back to check to see if it had settled any, leveled it again, etc.  I went through this a few times and then noticed that my level that had just told me the table was high on one end, now told me it was low on that same end...and I hadn't changed anything.  After doing some checking, I finally realized my level was bowed!  Not much...but enough to affect the SMART Tool digital frustrating!  I ordered a new one which came four days later.  PS: The SMART Tool digital level is a great tool...but be prepared.  If you're as anal as I am, you'll spend whatever time it takes to see 0.0 degrees level on the scale.  It doesn't have to be that precise to build the Cozy...but I should have a very straight airplane to for my trouble.

Stir sticks used to secure the final longeron positions
- Finished the Ch 4 temporary firewall by cutting the holes for the longerons:  I started by establishing the 23" Water Line and a centerline and then cut the main longeron holes per the paper template.  I left some side-to-side wiggle room to make adjustments on assembly.  Then I cut the other holes leaving both vertical and horizontal wiggle room. During the dry fit of the fuselage and after the positions were established, checked, rechecked, adjusted, and checked three more times, I glued some epoxy stir sticks on the back of the firewall around the final position of the longerons.  The thought is that this will provide an accurate template for mapping the holes to the real firewall and minimize any accidental oversizing.  We'll see how well this works out.

- And of course I did start the dry fit of the fuselage.  Onward.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Chapter 5 Fuselage Sides...check!

Wooo Hoooo!  Here I am...the proud papa of two new fuselage sides.

The final stage of cutting each side to the proper length was nerve racking to say the least.  If you built the sides exactly to plans, it doesn't leave you with much room to trim.  I only had a 1/4" of margin so I was worried that any mistake was going to leave me with a short side I would have to figure out how to fix.  I thought about it and played with different methods for making the cuts for 2 days before doing it.  In the end I believe I have two sides that are the prescribed 101.75" long...and I miraculously seem to still have the 5.5" width in the aft section for the spar cutout.  I ended up using the Fien tool with the multipurpose cutter to do the trimming.  I love it when a plan comes together.

The sides are a little on the heavy side.  I believe them to be about 12.3 lbs each...almost 1 lb heavier than the average (11.5) posted on the Unofficial Cozy Website.  I thought it was more like two lbs at first after measuring on my son's fish scale, but after some checking, I found out the scale was off about a lb at the 10 lb mark.  I don't have another scale that is capable of fractions of a lb up to about 12-15lbs so right now the 12.3 is my best estimate.  The extra weight should be mostly the repair I had to make to the aft section for air specks which added a top layer of BID per repair instructions and some extra UND glass.

Now it starts to get exciting.  I get to take all these smaller parts I've been working on and put them together into on bigger one that actually starts to look like something...maybe not an airplane...but definitely something other than just parts.   Onward & upward.


Monday, June 6, 2011

LWX & LWY Stringers...

Step 5 of Ch 5 started with the lower longerons (previous post) and then went on to installing the so-called LWX and LWY wooden stringers in the aft section.  These stringers form an important structural section that carries loads from both the center wing spar and the main landing gear.

The biggest issue I had here was that when the two stringers were lined up according to the proper measurements, the angles that were cut to fit the intersection of the two stringers (middle of pic) and the intersection of LWX and the lower longeron (bottom right in pic) didn't fit nice and flush.  I'm not blaming the plans here...I'll take the full blame on behalf of my cheapo miter guage.

The important thing was to make sure the 3 key measurements were correct: 5.5" from the aft edge to the vertical support, 8.7" down and parallel to the bottom of the top longeron, and 16.3" from the aft edge to the intersection at the lower longeron.  After those were solid, I adjusted the intersecting angles as best I could to get a better fit and let flox fill any minor gaps.   The pic shows the wooden stringers in place as well as the beginning work of step 6...which includes securing the electrical conduit cover and filling the voids with foam.  Next is securing the foam in place with micro, filling the gaps, sanding the section level, and glassing over this area to make it one solid enclosed structure.

It's not an illusion that my electrical conduit covers are slightly curved.  When doing some double checking, I realized that I failed to cut the conduit channel at the "recommended" 14.7" down from the longeron and instead cut them according to the plans 14.5".  The problem is that at the plans measurement, the conduit opening at the firewall will likely interfere with the rudder pulley mounted on the firewall.   The easy solution was to shape the aft part of the conduit cover with an ever so slight bend in order to exit the firewall below the pulley assembly.

OK.  I'm in the last step of Ch 5.  I'll have some fuselage sides done very soon.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Nice Curves...The Lower Longerons that Is...

Curvy Fuselage Bottom
Clamping tool used by many builders
The lower longerons go in pretty easy per plans.  The key is to make the necessary relief cuts for each curve of the lower fuselage side so the longerons fit well.  You will want plenty of clamps to hold the longerons down in the curves while it cures well.  Be sure to use the nails per plans to hold it in the proper location and then the clamps to hold it against the side while curing.  These two things working together made this easy.  It would be also helpful to make some small wooden tools (here we go again :-)  )  for the clamps to mate well to the top of the longeron stock vice trying to clamp the points of the triangular longeron.  In the pics, you can see the wooden clamp tools made from a spare 2x4.  As always, click the pics to enlarge.  My first one came out great.  I don't have enough clamps to do both at once so I'm waiting for the right side to dry now.
Clamping the Lower Longeron
TIP: I do want to mention something that the plans does not discuss and may cause you a pause.  Assuming you have done everything to plan, you may find that the lower longerons will overhang anywhere from .1" to .3" at the aft half of each fuselage side when placed in the appropriate location.  (see graphic below)   When I encountered this, I wasn't sure whether to go ahead and place them per the measurements from the upper longeron or line them up with the edge of the foam and just make sure they were the same on each side.  The plans clearly says to place the longeron at the specific measurements, but you know you start to second guess the meaning.
Click to Enlarge

Well, I found in the archives someone mentioning the same issue.  The answer was basically, don't worry about it.  Place the lower longerons at the proper measurements and let them overhang.  In a future chapter, when you shape the bottom of the fuselage, some of the bottom longeron will get sanded away anyway.  If there are any gaps left in the foam at that point, just fill it with pour foam, shape, and move on.  Below is a drawing I made to describe the problem to the Cozy Email Group before I found it in the archives.



Sunday, May 29, 2011

Glassing the Longerons...

After spending some time cleaning up the sides after glassing, it was time to glass the longerons.  To prep, I first had to fill some surface imperfections left from bubbles in the peel ply from when I glassed the sides.  I also rounded the corners of the longerons to help the glass contour better.  Another builder recommended this also because your shoulder will be bumping into the top longeron and that square corner will remind you that you didn't round it every time it happens.

TIP: I used a process recommended by a fellow builder, Buly Aliev, to glass the longerons.  I started by laying out a plastic sheet, marked it with a sharpie the size I needed for the 4 ply glass to go on the longerons.  Then I built up the layup from the top layer to the bottom layer starting with a layer of peel ply.  Buly didn't necessarily recommend the peel ply but I like it because of the sanding work it saves.  After wetting out the peel ply and the 4 layers of glass, I cut the entire stack to the dimensions marked by the sharpie leaving a neat ready to apply glass layup.  Next I brushed some raw epoxy on the longerons and transfered the application over onto the longerons glass side down of course, massaged it into place, squeeged out the air, and voila.  A helper makes this Dad was in town and came in really handy.  It wasn't as easy as it is to write about it...I had some dry spots (oversqueeged) to deal with and some difficulty in gettting the glass to stick in some of the tight corners ...but the process Buly recommended worked well. 

Just remember, most of the inside layups of the fuselage sides and the inside longerons are visible when comlete and you want them to look good when painted.  To look good then, they need to look good now so it would be a good time to fix any inperfections, like peel ply bubbles, now when it's much easier then waiting until time to paint the interior when space inside to sand and work is more cramped.

No pictures this time...wouldn't really show you much.  Onward to the lower longerons.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Post Glass inspection....Oops, repair needed.

After pulling the peel ply off the sides, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised.  The sides looked pretty good and I didn't even have any air bubbles in the control stick depressions that I fully expected.

That's not to say there weren't problems.  I did a terrible peel ply job.  I should have split the peel ply into two pieces and dealt with one side at a time...too many peel ply wrinkles and bubbles....fortunately those are easy fixes and primarily cosmetic.  I also found a couple of air bubbles on the aft edge that were easily fixed with hot epoxy and a syringe.  The real issue was the aft area about 2-6 inches forward of the firewall location on both sides....those darn air specks showed up again. :-(    Hmmm, how did this happen.

After reviewing my process that day, I think I figured out what happened.  I laid out all the raw glass for the second ply before I began to wet it any of it out.  The last area I got to with the epoxy was the aft end of both sides.  I think that the raw glass may have pulled too much of the epoxy from the underlying first ply which created specks of air.  By the time I got to the aft end with epoxy, these specks of air were too dried into the first ply to get out.

I stared at the area for 15 min's or so and then decided the area may not meet the inspection criteria.  Since this area is deemed a critical area (per plans "all fuselage areas within 10" of the firewall"), I decided I had to do something about it.  So I sanded down the worse areas to the foam on each side and re-glassed with 2-ply of 30 degree UND and the plans called for 1-ply of BID as a repair topper.  The repair looks good...onward!


Saturday, May 21, 2011

1st Annual Milton Fly-In and Chilli Cookoff

Went to check out the 1st Milton Fly-In today.  It was a small fly-in but a good chance to get out and see some flying airplanes.  As luck would have it, of the approximately 20 airplanes that came, 2 of them were Rutan Canards.  One Long EZ and one Defiant which happens to be owned by a couple in my local EAA chapter.

There are only about 70 Rutan Defiants worldwide and the owner of this one actually has two but I understand the other is not in flying condition right now.  It was a pretty nice looking airplane.

Hopefully this will continue.  It would be nice to have a few fly-ins every year almost right in my backyard.


Friday, May 20, 2011

7 Hrs Later...The Inside of the Fuselage Sides Are Glassed...

Well today was the big glassing day.  Wow!  As expected, this was a large, somewhat hard to deal with layup.  The plans say this is a 3-4 hr job (with a helper)...It took me every bit of 7 hrs working mostly by myself.  Below you can see the completed layup with weights along the longerons to make sure they are seated well onto the sides.

I completely understand why the plans have you glass both sides at once but it sure makes adjusting the cloth difficult if you don't lay it down close to right the first time.
That's one place where the plan's recommended helper comes in...highly recommended.  Another place a helper would be great is mixing epoxy so you can keep moving.  My wife helped me stretch out the long pieces of glass cloth to get them laid correctly and my son helped me lay the longerons just right so I wouldn't have to adjust them much once in place.  I might still be there without their help.

As it turned out, I think everything looks pretty good.  I won't at all be surprised to find a bubble or two, especially in the control stick depressions.  Those are hard to get the cloth to lay down well.  So I'll probably have a few fixes to do but it all looked pretty good when I covered it with peel ply.  I tried to make sure to use plenty of epoxy to make sure everything wet out well and I used a heat gun to help it along.  We'll see how it comes out tomorrow afternoon.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Day for Foam Cutting...

Last steps before glassing the sides.  I had to dish out extra room for the stick and the fuel gauges.  I already had them marked, now to figure out how to dish out the necessary foam neatly and accurately.  So I thought...I don't have a router, but I do have a Dremel tool.  I just need to make a tool to control the depth of the cut.  So I used a small piece of wood with a hole in it large enough for the cutter but small enough the hold the Dremel tool up.

We'll I managed to screw that up.  Let's just say my impromptu tool wasn't as good as the concept.  It was very uneven and I even went all the way through the foam in two places...a very bad job.  I ended up cutting a complete new circle of foam from my scrap and replacing it with 5 min epoxy for a fresh start.  Now what?  Then it occurred to me that they must make a similar tool (that works) designed specifically for rotory tools...sure enough...Lowes, $15, a Dremel cutting set with a depth gauge and 3 cutting bits.  It even fit my 25 year old Dremel tool.

This tool (above) plus a wider radius cutting bit than the ones that came with it made quick work of removing the foam to the proper depth.  I just sanded down the edges to allow the glass to lay down and I was done.

I used the same thing on the areas for the fuel sight gauges.  The Vance Atkinson Gauges are an addition to the plans version which is just a simple glassed window.  I went ahead and followed the basic plans approach but made the area flat instead of beveled since the Atkinson gauges can be seen from 180 degrees.  I made the cutout .5" longer than the gauge to allow for adjustment when installed.  You want to put the bottom hole of the gauge as close to the bottom of the tank as possible which according to the plans should wind up at 8.7" down from the bottom of the longeron.  We'll see in a few Ch. 21 this area will be opened back up from the inside, the foam removed up to the outer skin, and the gauges installed per Vance's instructions.

The picture above also shows the channels for the electrical conduits back to the firewall that I also cut today.  After reviewing the Cozy FAQs from Marc Z's page, I put them 14.7" down from the top of the fuselage side vice the 14.5 in the plans to avoid running into the pulley assembly in the firewall.

Now then, ready to glass the interior of the fuselage sides after one more thing...checking the fit of the longerons.  I laid them into the appropriate place, lined them up appropriately, and viola, they seemed to fit nicely...just a little weight in the center when epoxied in place will help ensure they mold perfectly to the sides.  The only thing that worried me was how to make sure the alignment was good and each fuselage side was identical.  The foam and spacers had enough tolerance build up along the edges that the gap between the two sides had some variation in it.  If I lined up the longerons assuming they needed to be lined up with the edge of the foam, they may not come out flat or level with the fuselage side  What to do....I know...another tool!

Tip:  The plans actually call for you to use a 7/8" wood spacer.  Withe the glue that's oozed out under the foam and the minor variations in the foam as it was built up, a board that goes all the way down to the work table wasn't going to work correctly.  My version of this tool not only allowed the gap to be accurately maintained but was also self supporting...resting on the longerons themselves...and didn't extend beyond the bottom of the longerons which allowed me to place them accurately regardless of the foam situation underneath.  See the picture but basically it is just a piece of 2x4 cut with a 7/8" T section, and cut into 4 pieces so I can spread them along the longeron.  I already test drove these and they work great.  I can ensure the gap is correct and by taking measurements from the longeron to the bottom of each side, I can make sure both sides match perfectly.

Now it's time to glass.


Aircraft Spruce adds Cozy builder support team | General Aviation News

Aircraft Spruce adds Cozy builder support team | General Aviation News
Click the link for the article.

This is great for the Cozy community. The Cozy Group email list on Google is already a fantastic source for support and questions but this makes it official and in my mind says the Cozy is here to stay a while.

Congrats Marc and Burrall.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Things to Do in My Cozy...Bahamas!

Once in a while you need to remember why your taking on this challenge.  I'm sure frustrating times are ahead, especially when I get to the engine and electrical....not my specialty.

Just the opportunity to fly something you actually built will be great satisfaction but it's the places you can go, the things you can see, the fun you can have, and the people you do it with that is the real reward for the effort.

So, every once in a while I'll add some motivation that I can review during those times when the building gets slow and it seems like I'll never get there.

Click the link to the right to visit one of the places the Baker-Cozy can take us...Bahamas


Monday, May 16, 2011

Time for some fuselage sides...

The 2nd step in Ch 5 is to re-align the jigs to build the sides.  This time the jigs will be turned vertically in two rows per side to allow for the proper compound curvature of the sides.  Below you can see the setup.

TIP:  I used a chalkline to mark the centerline of my workbench and then used two 2.5" blocks marked with a centerline to get the center jigs lined up and 14.5" blocks for the outer two jigs.  14.5" is derived from the distance between the outer sides of the inner and outer jig (16") as called out in the plans, minus the thickness of the two jigs (1.5" total).  You can see both blocks, the 2.5" in the center and the 14.5" in the back to the left, in the picture to the right.

I followed the plans method of using Bondo to secure the jigs to the table.  This was my first time using Bondo and it was very easy.  If you haven't used it, mix up fairly small amounts at a time as it starts to set up to a rubbery state pretty quickly...similarly to 5 min epoxy.

TIP:  Change the order of the process in this step and wait to secure the jig to your table until you have shaped the masonite and foam for the sides first...that is unless you have more work space than most of us.  Once I had the jig up and Bondo'd to the table, I had no good place but the garage floor to layout those large pieces, get the foam glued together, and then cut out.  Had I done this first, I could have used the work table and then put the jig up.  Instead I had to revert to the garage floor.  Some builders have secured the jig together in a frame so it could be moved but I didn't plan on moving it until I was finished so i didn't go to that trouble.

Here are the two jigs set up complete with masonite to help make the curve and the matching foam to start the the fuselage sides.

After getting to this point, you now start the process of cutting and carving foam spacers to provide a more convex shape interior to the fuselage.  This last picture below shows how it looks as the micro on the last spacer is drying.  The many clamps are there to hold the foam in it's shape as it curves around the bottom curve of the fuselage side..

Near the front, you can see sharpie markings in a circle.  This will be carved out and nicely sanded to provide additional movement room for the control stick.  Ultimately I probably wont need it because the Cozy Girrrl Strakes modification I intend to take advantage of will have this area mostly cut out providing complete freedom of movement for the stick.

The sharpie marks in the rear (you can just barely see) are marking where the Vance Atkinson Fuel Sight Gauges will go.  This area will be carved out as well but the gauges will not be installed until Ch 21.  I intend to have electronic fuel probes as primary fuel level gauges but the sight gauges will serve as a nice backup.  Almost ready to glass these puppies.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Hey, You Can Now Get Email Updates...

The Google Blogger has a new gadget that allows you to submit your email and receive notification when I've made an new entry to MyCozyAdventure.  I'm testing it now but you can see it at the left side of the page.

Just type in your email, put in the text verification to prove your not a computer, then go to your email and click on the verification email you get sent.  It's that easy.

Just below it, you can also subscribe via one of the RSS feeds if that's more your speed.


Chapter 5 Begins...

Chapter 5 is where the fuselage sides are built.  First, the jig for the sides have to be built from 1x8s.  There are 12 pieces of the jig all together...5 different parts, 2 each of 4 of them and 4 of the last one.

3 of the pieces are used on their sides to shape the longerons...the top wooden hardpoints that run the length and define the top of the fuselage up to the bottom of the canopy.  Nothing really different from the plans here but be sure to read and understand the Cozy FAQs for Ch 5 on the Unofficial Cozy Builders Web Site.  You should do this for every chapter before beginning.  There is some key info there about the overhang for the longerons that will help make things all come together well in Ch 6.

Here are pictures of the jig ready to shape the longerons (left) and of the longerons after epoxying them into shape (held in place with nailed blocks), floxing (epoxy with flocked cotton added for structure) in the doublers in three places, and curing (right).

Below are the finished products ready to be glassed into the fuselage sides.  The boys hopped in to demonstrate size.

Ready to jig up to make the fuselage sides now.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

9 Months After Starting, Finally....Bulkheads

I've finally gotten the bulkheads done.  It took me longer than average 60hrs...not just because I'm slower than the average bear...but I rebuilt F-28 and the IP from scratch.  I made F-28 using the low profile but realized I would need the higher profile for extra support mounting the hinges for the forward hinged canopy.  The original IP, well I just wasn't happy with due to large amounts of small air bubbles in the layup.  I'm much happier with second one.

It also took me about 7 months longer than it should have.  Many of which was missing the past 3 mths due to preparing to deploy, another 2.5 mths in a class in Ohio.  Since I'm no longer deploying, I'll be able to make up that lost time and not loose the other 6 mths I would have lost being in Afghanistan.

All my bulkheads were looked at by the closest thing I have to a tech advisor...a fellow builder and Cozy mentor who''s 80% complete...Ron M.  He will have a beautiful Cozy when completed.  Thanks for all the advice and support Ron!

Here are all the bulkheads, laid out in the order they will be assembled,  ready to fit between two fuselage sides to be built in Ch 5.  I still need to build the firewall which goes at the far end just behind the aft landing gear bulkhead.

The picture above gives you an idea of the relative position of the bulkheads in the aircraft.  If you channel Barney and use your imaaaaagination, you can almost see a Cozy taking shape below.

On to cut out the fake and real firewall parts to close out Ch 4.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Back In Action...

Well....after a week in the hospital, I am now NOT deploying and will be able to refocus on my Cozy Project.

I've been put on 8 weeks of convalecent leave while the Dr's monitor my blood count, so I plan to get a lot done on the Cozy before I go back to work.  I hope to get some good momentum going so stay tuned for updates.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Operational Pause...

Well, nothing has been happening since mid Jan when I found out I'm heading to Afghanistan for 5 months.  I don't leave until early May but the list of things to do to prepare combined with the mental distraction of leaving for 5mths hasn't left me with much motivation to work on the Cozy.

Rest assured I'll be raring to go when I get back in Nov.  I'm taking a copy of Bob K's AeroElectric book with me to try and learn something while I'm gone.  With any luck, I might just get Ch 4 finished before I leave...but I won't hold my breath.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Landing Gear Bulkheads

A major step in preparing the landing gear bulkheads is the creation of 4 hardpoints (LG-1, LG-2) that get attached to the foam bulkheads before they get glassed.  You do this by laying up enough fiberglass to create a 1/4 inch plate of fiberglass in an 8x12 rectangle.  The plate is 1/4 inch thick to match the thickness of the foam where they will be attached.  Below is the cured 1/4 inch plate after trimming off the excess glass cloth.

The task took me 23 layers of glass and 4 hrs just to get it all layed up and wet out.  Once it's layed up, you weight it down with about 60lbs to form a nice 1/4 inch plate when cured.  The thicker black lines you see in the picture are just sharpie marks I had on some of the glass cloth.  The thinner lines are the outlines for the parts I'm making.

Once cured, you trace the shapes of the parts and cut them out with a table saw, sabre saw, etc.  Above are the finished parts ready to be epoxied to the foam part of the bulkhead to form the full bulkhead.

Below, cutouts are made in the foam bulkheads and the hardpoints attached.  Finally, each bulkhead will be fiberglassed front and back and installed when the fuselage is built up.


Fun With Tail Draggers

Saturday was the first EAA Chapter meeting of the year and I was invited to spend the afternoon with my neighbor an his friend at his private airfield.  This was a 2000 ft grass field once used a as a cropduster strip.  He has two hangars that house several of his own aircraft as well as some of his friends.

The best part was the great man cave attached to the hangar.  The gentlemen is a retired BGen from the USAF and had a 3 story control tower-like hangout full of memorabilia, a kitchen for snacks, drinks, etc.  It was great.  I tagged along in a Bakeng Duece, a homebuilt open cockpit monoplane, owned by a former fighter pilot and his neighbor.  What a blast I had!  It was cold...but worth every minute of air time I got.  I've informed the spouse that this is my new favorite hangout.  See the slide show below.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

If at first you don't succeed...

Well, after inspecting my instrument panel (IP) I decided there were too many air bubbles in the layup and I wasn't happy with it.  I thought of taking to a friend to look at in the hope he would say it was ok, but after more thought...I knew I just wouldn't be satisfied.  I knew I could and must do better getting the air out of the layups so I decided to redo the IP.  You can see the worst of it in the pics below.

So while watching the Saturday Wildcard Football games, I traced and cut out a new IP which will be glassed in the coming week...but only after reviewing all the plans info and Rutan video on glassing technique.

As I think about my technique and review the lessons, I believe I have a couple of problems.
  1.  I'm too slow.  I need to get the epoxy on and spread much quicker while its still warm and able to wet out quicker.
  2.  I realized I haven't been using a brush to stipple the layup and help bring air to the top.  I've been relying on the squeege for all the air removal and perhaps it just can't get it all.
  3.  I'm not using enough epoxy up front to wet out the layup.  I need to pay attention to use more than I need up front until it's all wet out and know that I can remove what I don't need.
  4.  I have to work harder to find the air bubbles during the layup...perhaps a work light that I can use at different angles to help find them all.

We'll see what happens...