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Monday
We began with a short introduction to working with composites from Mark Mahnke and then off to the workshop to see the wings, tail, fuselage and meet Kerry Dowling, who would be our lead, teacher and helping hand for the entire week. I would later realize just how fortunate we were to be teamed with him. Kerry's the best! Thanks Mark! First thing was the grand tour and where to get tools, masks, jeffco epoxy and sand paper, but mostly sand paper.

I brought my crazy brother-in-law Bill who was incredibly helpful and kept us laughing all week, but by Friday the other builders were pretty happy to see him go. Aside from his jokes and insights, he had everyone convinced he was a proctologist and was very much at home with the latex gloves.

Bill and I got started by sanding all areas that are to be bonded in the center section, corresponding interior bracing and fuselage. We prepared the bonding areas in the horizontal, horizontal top skin, elevator and elevator skins by sanding with #40 paper. Monday was an all-sand day, but I got to get up in their IVP that afternoon for a TrueTrack auto-pilot demo. Sold!




Tuesday
With most of the components sanded, we began the morning with a final inspection to make sure everything was roughed up enough, then started cleaning the surfaces with Acetone in preparation for bonding. Bill assembled and installed the landing gear. I made cutouts for the elevator weight pockets and trimmed the skins and counter weights. Before the horizontal was closed, hinge movement and clearance was checked and addition trimming was made. Once everything fit and alignment was secure, holes were drilled for the clecos that would assure alignment and clamping. To close, we mixed up some jeffco epoxy and "wet-out" the bonding areas with a paintbrush prior to applying the jeffco epoxy mixed with flox. The horizontal top skin is set in position, clecoed, weighted down and allowed to cure overnight.

Next up was to bond the fuselage to the center section. Both components were set into the jigs and aligned using plumb bobs hanging from preset holes to corresponding marks on the floor. The parts were weighted down with shot bags, alignment rechecked and holes drilled for clecos. With the clecos removed the fuselage is lifted, cleaned, wet-out and jeffco epoxy mixed with flox applied. Lastly, the fuselage is lowered, clecos installed and interior bracing bonded. Bill finished prepping the tail for closure while I cleaned up the excess flox. Whew, what a day!




Wednesday
This was to become another productive day as we finished the horizontal by removing the clecos from Tuesday's closure. We then closed the elevators with the same bonding process from the day before. Afterwards, we began prepping the wings by sanding and cleaning the ribs, spars and top skins. Next up, Kerry installed foam strips to establish the trailing edge thickness and we then wet-out the ribs and spars with a generous amount of Hysol, a thick gooey miserable structural epoxy. Yuck! Once applied to all bonding areas, we placed the wing skin on and I walked it for the purpose of making a print to indicate where to wet-out the top. After wetting-out the top skin with a brush, we skimmed off the excess before applying a generous amount of Hysol mixed with flox to the ribs and spar for closure. The wing skin is placed back on, weighted down, clecoed, leading edge taped, and finally allowed to cure overnight. We repeated the process for the other and had both closed in about four hours. The day ended by a final sanding and prep of the vertical for Thursday's closure and making the elevator stops by bolting them in and measuring the angle of travel with a smart level. Making progress and having a lot of laughs. The other builders are now afraid of Bill and just avoid him!




Thursday
First thing was to do a two-bid lay-up on the horizontal leading edge. We placed heat on it to speed the cure. The vertical skin was set into position with the internal bracing, drilled and clecoed when aligned. We then took the skin off, cleaned, wet-out and applied jeffco epoxy mixed with flox. The vertical skin was placed back on, clecoed in and the vertical closure was complete. Next was to insert the horizontal in the vertical and jig, set alignment, check distance from side to side and the entire tail closure was complete; all before lunch.

After getting back, two-bid lay-ups were applied to the leading edge of the elevators and clecos were removed from the fuselage and wings. We then prepped the leading edges of the wings for the two-bid lay-ups and finished supplemental six-bid lay-ups on the firewall. What a week! Bill and I caught our breath and realized we had enough done to head home. Four days and a lot of work accomplished thanks in large part to Kerry's sequence, guidence and putting some extra effort in on his part.




Friday
Carsten was nice enough to offer me a ride in his Legacy and we went up before 8:00 a.m. What a ride! Aside from having the most incredible control harmony, it is really fast. Screaming fast. Carsten demonstrated the effectiveness of the newly re-designed speed brakes from the earlier overly-effective ones. Deploy the brakes and nose over for a 4000FPM decent without red-lining.

Upon returning, my plane was bolted to it's rottisary, made by Don Dunbar, and loaded on the trailer. I can't imagine building the Legacy without it. It's a must-have and allowed us to trailer the plane home while being the legal eight feet wide. Plane and parts loaded, we said goodbye and began our eleven-hour trip back to San Jose. Having a plane following behind you will get you a whole lot of attention. We did.


Hindsight comments,
Don't bring anything except a helper and a good night's sleep. We followed the advice of our lead and everything went smooth. The one regret I had is that I didn't get my three-bid lay-ups in the leading edge wing root prior to bonding in the internal bracing. I was told not to forget that, but I did. It's not hard to do it later, but easier if it's done prior. The week goes by fast and so much happens that it's hard to remember every little thing. I had a great helper, thanks again Bill, but more than one helper and I would have been a manager and would have missed out from the hands-on of all assemblies. Meet with Vern by Wednesday to go over options and tools you'll need to assure piece of mind come Friday, and it allows you some time to re-think your list, if needed. I still forgot a couple of things like sheet foam. Lastly, don't bother assembling and installing the gear. Put the effort into the layups as you'll have to take the gear out and store it when you get home, or work around it which can be a bit annoying.

For the life of me I can't imagine doing this on my own. If you're going to build this plane you must sign up for this workshop. The workshop is not just a great value, but essential if you intend to actually complete this kit. I'm enjoying the build, but the love of flying is what got me here.

Happy building,
Don







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