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October 2003
This month marked a major shift in my building. All summer I felt that I wasn't really making a whole lot of progress and now I'm really getting things done and getting things off the to-do list. In short, I'm recharged! I put the finishing touches on the inside of my canopy by polishing all the hardware and reassembling it. The elevators got a thin layer of fiberglass bonded on the leading edges to protect the filler from ever cracking, and incidentally, I have been making this part of the finish in most areas.

I fabricated a taillight cap out of a piece left over from my center console and sprayed a thick coat of white primer on the rudder and elevators for a final blocking. I'm happy with the finish and after sanding down and again blocking with 320 grit, I sprayed one last coat. I am now using a white primer for a top coat because it reveals more subtle imperfections and the overall straightness.

I'm committed to the wings! Whatever builder's blues I may have had last summer are now gone. I made out a list and an order of tasks to do and I am diving in. My goal is to have these wings finished before the end of the year. All releases will be done, wings will be primed, blocked straight and ready for paint. The ailerons will be fitted and balanced as well. Lots to do, but after bringing them home, I can put in 1-2 hours a day.

The first task is to get the leading edges straight. Believe it or not, they are quite...not straight. I built up micro and slowly blocked it down, always checking with a straight edge. When it was finally straight, I bonded on one thin layer of fiberglass to protect against cracking.

Next up was prepping the wings for primer. I began by sanding out the "shiny" surface. While doing so, I noticed what could be described as a weave pattern overall. The sanding gave it a smooth, uniform appearance and will be a good surface for primer to adhere to.

I made the speed brake release from a template Scott Alair had fabricated. It's a very helpful tool and kept me from having to use the real brakes. He has generously offered this tool to other builders if you contact him off the builder's list. Way to go Scott! One tip when doing a release is to sand that micro down past the release tape so the tape is shredding. If that is done you have a better chance of not having the release edges crack as you remove the plate, cover or panel.

One more task was to backfill the trailing edges with flox. Nicholas helped a bit, but he's still working on his technique.

Before beginning the elevators I installed and rotated them to their speced travel limits both up and down. I then marked those limits with tape. This will help me determine fit issues in regards to what needs correcting and what needs to be left alone. In doing so, I discovered the wing contour does not match that of the aileron. Eeeek! It's low enough that I decide to bond in a hunk of high-density foam with runny micro and sculpt it correct. I will bond over with two-bids of lightweight glass to protect later.

OK, back to the tip light mod. I got my lenses from Ron Jones and wanted to create a different shape that was a bit smaller. It also needed to fit the rounding out of my wing tips. Due to changing the shape of the lens I will need to fabricate my own bulkheads. So after several glasses of wine and staring at the tip, I had a solution...I thought. I bonded-in foam with runny micro, and while clamped into position, I used a heat gun to speed the curing. From there I began sculpting out a mold that would be glassed over. The problem was that the glass would not get into the corners, so I nixed that idea. The solution that did work was to bond in a five-bid lay-up from behind and create a shelf from there. I chiseled out the foam from the top and will later back-fill it with flox in the edges and recesses, then build up a "shelf" from micro for the lens to rest on. Nutplates will be installed and a bulkhead fabricated from faom and fiberglass. More to come in November!

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