Chapter 4 - The Bulkheads


Diving in with the seat back. The angles are a little tough. I found later in Chap 6 that I was a little out with the angle where it meets the bottom of the fuselage sides. Not much and easy to fix later. I learned to read ahead. Read the archives, read the newsletters, read, read, read. All the information you need is there somewhere. Mostly in the plans themselves or the drawings. Finding the info you need can take a while to start with. Getting used to the conventions used in the plans took a few days. Nat's writing style is fine, once you get used to the way he explains things. Reread Chap 3. Once he's told you to flox corners and tape joints he doesnít always bother to tell you again. He assumes you've learned. There just isn't room to say everything, every time.


The archives contain pages of ideas on how to mirror and trace the drawings. I decided that I was only building one plane. I'd cut pieces out of the drawings so I could mark the lines. Later I taped the pieces back. Next I learned to use a sharp point to poke through the lines and onto the foam. Then I just joined the dots. This was fast and it worked for me. OK, so my drawings now have a few tiny holes in them. No big deal. I can still read them.

The landing gear bulkheads

I worked my way through the other bulkheads one by one. The 22 ply for the landing gear was interesting. I'd read in the archives about some ready made stuff that was better. I chased around trying to find some and was quoted $87 plus overnight shipping for 1 sq foot. I'd have it Tuesday. I decided to follow the plan method. I had nice solid hard points that cost me a few bucks worth of materials in less time than I'd wasted chasing around. I learned from that. It's much easier and faster to just do what the plans says than it is to try to figure out a better way. I want this done in a couple of years, not 10 years. It took a few more tries at being stupid before I realized that the best way is just follow the words and cage that innovator, at least for now. I went through a couple of jig saw blades and one band saw blade cutting the 22 ply hard points. When they say 5 minute epoxy they mean it. They donít call it 5 min 10 seconds epoxy for a reason! My 5 min epoxy bottles were getting pretty messy. Later I spotted some syrup containers in Dennyís and persuaded the waitress to sell me some for $1 each. They have metal sliders to cut off the flow when you release the trigger. No more sticky containers for me.

Here came my first big mistake. I cut the first landing gear bulkhead out of the wrong 1/4 inch foam. Realized the error before glassing and used the right stuff. Now - what was that other foam for? The heat duct and seat brace in Chap 6. I decided to reassemble the sheet with 5 min epoxy and build the heat duct now. Worked fine. No one will ever know. I must have been having a bad day. I forgot that the sides were opposites and glassed the wrong side of half the heat duct and seat brace parts. Fixed this later in Chap 6.

The firewall

The plywood came from Finland and it is HARD. I read lots of ideas about the blind screws. I'm learning to stick with the plans. No music wire or welding for me - but I made a point of floxing those screw heads GOOD, since some people have had trouble with the screws turning later. Mine will never turn ever. No way. (Later note: They turned and gave me a couple of days of annoyance! Wayne Hicks called me a "sorry sack of doggy poop!" for ignoring him. Since our Golden Retriever had just had eleven puppies we had a good supply. I offered to send him a couple of sacks) - maybe welding music wire on them was a good plan after all. See Chapter 15 for how I fixed the loose screws and a suggestion of how this might be done a better way.

Instrument panel

The stiffeners were fun. It's tough to keep glass straight without some foam to form it on. Wood cut to size covered in saran wrap and clamped in place did the trick.

Inspection time

I joined the EAA and called their "technical consultant" hotline. Turns out there's a guy in my town. Ken Walz (for other EAA builders in the West Palm area Ken can be reached at 561-642-8906). He is more of a wood & metal man, but he knows a local guy (Tim Ragonese) who's built a Long EZ and a Velocity. They offer to come and visit. The picture shows Ken, myself and Tim from left to right. Ken & Tim are very helpful. Interesting people who volunteer to do this. I proudly display all my bulkheads and get the comment "you're doing good work. Keep it up." Thatís what I needed to hear. If I'm doing it wrong I want to know early. I got a report card. It says I will do well. I seem to remember that it said that on my school reports when I was 12 yrs old.

I bought a kitchen scale and weighed all my parts. Posted the weights to Marc (but they never appeared in his list) and compared my weights to the average. I'm 11% lower than the average. Probably because I'm in FL, being careful and using MGS epoxy.

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