Kitfox IV
Speedster
N4JU
 

 

 

Building the Fuselage

 
Robin taking possessionOn 20. July 1994, together with my son, Robin, we "picked up" the freight  from the shipper and hauled it to my garage - eager to check everything that awaited me inside. Besides the considerable weight, I faced some space restrictions which required careful maneuvering. By the way, yes, I had purchased a large flat bed trailer so that I could haul the plane around now and then later when it was finished. How would I ever know that the trailer would later come in handy  for hauling around all sorts of items like huge rocks and a Bobcat tractor for a garden project!

Jack in the BoxRemoving the large wooden boards was not too easy but after applying the crowbar at a few critical spots and pulling some nails, voil!  It did not look like much but after all, I had to live by the 50% rule - build at least 50% of the plane myself. There were several boxes with small things tagged  in bags waiting to be put together -  the right way.

 
The initial momentum however, came to a temporary halt. I was beginning to feel like I had been biting off too big a junk in too short a time. I started looking for someone to help me and  bring along the experience to do a professional job so in that in the end I could finally trust my plane - giving me the  confidence that my life would be safe while flying. Other more important events caused me to pause until the summer of 1998 when Joan and I, under the guidance of an experienced builder, Bill Ray, picked up where we had left off.

 

First building steps on the fuselageThe Header tank with low fuel sensorfirst steps were like warm up exercises - learning the names of the tools, becoming familiar with working the glue properly, and tightening the nuts and bolts  just  the right amount.

As an engineer, the hardest part for me to learn was that I did not have to apply so much precision when drilling and fitting pieces together, as the design tolerances were rather forgiving.

Conduits, wires and hosesMost Details of wiring and hosesof the small parts, wires and hoses were not   laid out nor shown in the building instructions. This is where the guidance of my mentor was of value. In his large garage there were many boxes filled with parts I could use for special projects. Soon I realized that my ambitions were rather high when it came to selecting the equipment that would make the aircraft tick.

I could hardly wait to start with covering the tube frame but first had to decide which Avionics I was going to put in. Only then could I start to lay out the wires and create the antenna mounts.

Ribs and wires in the tail Rudder

Where the forward part of the fuselage was rather spacious,  things became rather narrow in the back. As the engine with the warp drive was going to pull the center of gravity forward, the heavy stuff had to be mounted in the back. Had I  known that later on I would also want to add an oil cooler, I would have put additional weight in the back. Fortunately the ELT was rather heavy and I decided to install a sturdy tail spring and wheel.

ELT antenna and VOR antenna
Fabric on the fuselageThen the day came when Joan and I learned to put on the fabric. It was a messy job -  all that glue called Polybrush which stuck on various points. We had to work fast, as it was summer and Colorado east of the Rockies is rather dry -  the glue dried quickly and sometimes on the wrong surfaces, like the gloves on your fingers. It was a real test of endurance when it stuck to our skin............

Where the tubing was going to touch the fabric, reinforcement strips had to be added. The sides had to be properly secured and then heat tightened with the iron. After all of that, a diluted solution of Polybrush was sprayed on to tighten the fabric and remove all the wrinkles. 

Fabric on the fuselage bottomTail part with fabricWith the front mounted on a pivot - the whole fuselage  could be turned around like a skewer. Slowly the fuselage assumed the look of an aircraft.

The next part were the wings and the horizontal stabilizers.

 
 

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This page was last maintained 2.9.2008