Chapter 6 - Fuselage Assembly

The Plan

In this chapter we will assemble the fuselage sides, install all of the bulkheads, taping all joints, build and install the center keel, and install the fuselage bottom.

Walker's First Flight

This is where the real airplane fun begins. I built a jig( 2 x 10 and 2 x 4s) to form the assembly platform for the airplane sides. The firewall is mounted on the rear and squared and leveled. The sides are fitted in to insure there won't be any problems during installation. The bulkheads are fitted to the sides to insure a tight fit. Everything is leveled and squared. You take it appart and put it back together several times, adjusting as you go. When you are sure you have achieved profection, you put it together with flox( epoxy and cotton fibers) for a structural bond. Once the flox is hardened the sides and bulkheads are secured.

One of Walkers first words was awpain ( airplane in english). He has flown in an AirTran jet and received his "Wings". He can pick out an airplane in the sky and from all the magazines at the house. So when he came out to see what we were working on, in he went. Once he realized what it was, we couldn't get him out.

Installing the Bulkheads

These are the front bulkheads installed. They are floxed into place then a layup of 2 ply of bid join them to the sides. The f22 gets additional layups to strengthen it to the fuselage. That is pretty important since it will hold the front wing (canard) on the plane. The instrument panel is the third bulkhead.

Additional Layups Here

Talk about important, These are the landing Gear bulkheads. From this point on until the gear are installed, just about every step adds another layup to this area. These can handle quite a bit of load on landings. the additional layups go on the outsides and insides of these bulkheads.


Rick, my helper, is standing at the front of the plane. The sheet of plywood is the temperary firewall on the aft of the plane. Its only use is to align the sides when you are putting the fuseloge together. The progress at this point looks good because the plane is coming together. But with all the small layups from now on it feels like you aren't making much progress. This chapter takes a lot longer than the others to this point.

Starting the Bottom

I have just created the bottom foam pieces and 5 minute epoxied them together. Then so they keep their shape a jig is layed up on top and epoxied them to the foam. This will allow you to move the foam around, without it loosing the contoured shape of the bottom of the airplane.

Center Keel

This is a complex little piece that hold your map pocket, fuel selector valve, heat duct, seat belt hardpoints, landing brake actuator handle, and is also a support for the front seat. So it is pretty important. But the experienced builder will note that I made a small change to this part. There will be two fuel selector valves. One to select which tank you get your fuel. And since my engine is fuel injected, the second will select to which tank the return fuel will return. It is amazing how such a little change as this can take up so much time to complete. I added at least 40 hours to my build time doing this change.

Shaping the Bottom

With the bottom shaped in it jig, spacers are added to give a little more interior room. They also allow for more contouring of the exterior. These have to be shaped and fitted to match up with the bulkheads.


We were about to do the layup on the interior portion of the bottom. and going thru our steps to see if everything was complete when Rick noticed I left out the wheel well spacers. This spacer is where the front (retractable) wheel come into the plane. Most of it will be cut out in a later chapter, but it would have been harder to install it later. PPHHUUUUU!!!! Thanks Rick. So it does pay to measure twice and cut once, and double check everything.

Finishing Up

With everything leveled again, you can finally install the bottom. This is a little tricky, cause you layup the glass onto the bottom, let it partially dry, and flip it over onto the sides. If you don't let the glass get hard enough, it will peel of while upside down. If you wait to long then you don't get as good of a bond. While it is bonding you climb inside and do the layups of 2 BID at all the joints, adding or removing additional flox to the joints. In the center, behind the weights, you can see the landing brake cutout

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