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Old 09-13-2012, 09:28 AM
CarlosF@grtavionics CarlosF@grtavionics is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: MI
Posts: 91
Default The Answer(s) to your questions

Moldless Composite Sandwich Aircraft Construction by Burt Rutan

Easy read and everything you need to know to make parts like this assembly.

Bigger picture

Carlos Fernandez

Avionics guy with interest in composites.
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Old 10-22-2012, 09:05 AM
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DanH DanH is offline
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: 08A
Posts: 9,019

Returning to the cowl outlet panel molded a few posts back. This is variable area cooling exit door. I'll detail the cooling results in other threads after test flight, so please, save those questions. This is about details of fiberglass fabrication.

The door needs a flange for sealing, actually two opposing flanges. Before cutting the door from the panel, the inside of the panel was sprayed with PVA and a four ply layup was done to net a glass section suitable for flange fabrication, as well as general reinforcement around the soon-to-be-cut hole. The section was popped loose, trimmed to overall size, and set aside.

The door was cut in the panel with a fine blade jigsaw. After the edges were sanded clean and straight the hinge line was determined and the previously made glass section was cut so as to form a flange on the big panel and another flange on the forward half of door itself. The cut flange/reinforcement parts were then bonded into the cowl panel and onto the door. Clecos are the easy way to locate and apply moderate bond pressure. The holes are easily filled during the finishing steps later.

The hinge points are phenolic rod drilled for -3 bolts. Phenolic bonds into glass assemblies very well. It's not suitable for hinges if there is a lot of movement, but will do fine here. The phenolic is imbedded in flox, then a few plies of glass is applied over the flox while wet. In the photo below, the phenolic hinges are not yet installed in the door itself.

The vertical ribs on the door started as a two-ply layup flat on the bench, merely to form a flat piece of glass which could be trimmed to shape, much as you might trim a piece of aluminum. Peel ply on both sides made the subsequent surface bond-ready without much fooling around. The ribs were cut from the cured glass, then jigged in place with a few tiny dabs of five-minute epoxy. When cured so they would stand in place, a generous flox fillet was wiped into the inboard corners, then a 6-ply layup was placed across the inside of the door and up the inboard side of the ribs.

Internal cowl pressure will apply a significant load to the full-time exit slot at the aft end of the panel, which now extends 4" aft of the firewall plane. To help with the point loads at the attach screws, 1' x 3" tabs of phosphate coated steel sheet were imbedded at the rearmost attach points. As it happens, steel and epoxy/glass are close on the coefficient of thermal expansion scale.

After everything is bonded in place, the usual filling and finishing methods make it slick.

BTW, none of this is West epoxy. There is a lot of radiant heat near the exhaust header, and exit air temperature can exceed 200F. The epoxy used here is HTR-212, chosen for its high heat distortion temperature. The door could not be expected to last if it turned into a limp noodle when hot.

The inside will get a fiberfrax layer in a selected locations, under a layer of reflective aluminum foil.

POSTSCRIPT Late December:

Test flight showed that the above didn't provide enough support for the hinge points; internal pressure bowed the panel outward and the door could not fully close.

The cure was the addition of a rib along each side of the door opening to support the hinge points. Wood is an excellent core material. These ribs are 1/4 thick red oak, but almost any straight grain non-oily hardwood would be fine here. For serious design efforts refer to ANC-18 and ANC-19.

The ribs were floxed into place. After cure the flox was sanded to a neat concave fillet and two plies of 8.9 oz 8 harness were added. After finish sanding a coat of neat epoxy sealed the surface, and later the ribs were covered in reflective self-stick aluminum as a heat shield.

Dan Horton
Barrett IO-390

Last edited by DanH : 07-15-2018 at 10:54 AM.
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Old 06-29-2014, 02:00 PM
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mculver mculver is offline
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Redmond, WA
Posts: 269

This is an epic thread; however some of the embedded photos at the top of the thread seem to have been removed from the server that hosted them. Any chance of re[posting/fixing the thread with fresh links?

I will volunteer to host the photos or a rewrite/consolidation as an article) if that helps.
-- Mike Culver;
RV-9 project sold but details of the build at
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Old 05-12-2015, 10:33 AM
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Jaypratt Jaypratt is offline
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Location: Hicks Airfield, Fort Worth,Texas
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Default aluminum paint

Dan, Have you considered Aluninum for the cowl ?
Jay Pratt VAF #2
RV Central - Builder Assistance
Paul Revere, Borrowed Horse, & Shooter
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Old 05-15-2015, 10:18 AM
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flyingriki flyingriki is offline
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: California
Posts: 697

Fairing Basics:
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Old 09-10-2016, 10:35 AM
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KatieB KatieB is offline
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Stilwell, KS
Posts: 1,083

Originally Posted by DanH View Post

First step is to develop a shape. You can use whatever works. Clay is popular. I used pour-in-place foam this time, and a few cut back chunks of an old Van's fairing. Tape off the aluminum to protect it and shape your medium as required.
Hey Dan or anyone else who's used pourable foam-- I have some Fibre Glast pourable foam, and before pouring it into my empennage fairing cavity, I did a test with some plastic containers. This stuff really sticks to the plastic! How did you get it cleaned off the tail cavity after you laid up the fairing? Did you have to spray some mold release in there? Right now I just have packing tape protecting the metal and filling the holes.

[IMG]pourablefoam by jabiruchick, on Flickr[/IMG]
Katie Bosman
CFII (retired) & A&P
Sold my RV-3B project... But she's out there flying somewhere!
RV-8 planned when life allows.
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Old 09-10-2016, 05:29 PM
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KatieB KatieB is offline
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Stilwell, KS
Posts: 1,083

So I answered my own question... I sat there a few minutes staring at it, then grabbed some 1" bead foam and made some divider inserts for the cavity under the VS. This way, the foam won't be a solid chunk wedged in there and I should be able to cut/lift it out of there easier. After working with the foam on the airplane, I realized that it does release very easily from the packing tape.

[IMG]2016-09-10_05-05-00 by jabiruchick, on Flickr[/IMG]

I've found that the pourable foam looks a lot like Great Stuff foam in a can, but its air pockets are much smaller and it carves much easier. I can almost feather it down to a wedge. It only took a couple of hours to whittle it down to a workable plug.

[IMG]2016-09-10_05-06-12 by jabiruchick, on Flickr[/IMG]

[IMG]2016-09-10_05-20-12 by jabiruchick, on Flickr[/IMG]
Katie Bosman
CFII (retired) & A&P
Sold my RV-3B project... But she's out there flying somewhere!
RV-8 planned when life allows.
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Old 09-11-2016, 11:51 AM
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jdearborn jdearborn is offline
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Location: Kennesaw GA
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Default Nice

Looking good Katie!
Restored and Flying '58 C-180A
Retired Vietnam Marine
2017 dues paid
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Old 09-11-2016, 07:24 PM
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Bob Martin Bob Martin is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Posts: 1,186

Nice Work Katie.
I did the same thing on my -6.
and wrapped the front edge around the leading edge of the HS.
This way I only needed 2 screws in the rear each side to hold it on.
Very clean looking. Your foam work is much cleaner than mine was, it was a real mess!
Bob Martin
RV-6, 0-360 Hartzell C/S, Tip up, 1200+TT
James extended cowl/plenum, induction, -8VS and Rudder. TSFlightline hoses. Oregon Aero leather seats.
D100-KMD150-660-TT ADI2- AS air/oil seperator. Vetterman exhaust with turndown tips.
Louisa, Virginia KLKU N94TB
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Old 09-12-2016, 10:40 AM
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KatieB KatieB is offline
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Stilwell, KS
Posts: 1,083

Thanks guys!
Katie Bosman
CFII (retired) & A&P
Sold my RV-3B project... But she's out there flying somewhere!
RV-8 planned when life allows.
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