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108. It’s a Wrap

26/05/2014

It’s been a quietly satisfactory day today. I went to the airfield with three jobs to do. All were done satisfactorily and in sufficient time to go for a ten minute bimble in my other aircraft, and that too was absolutely fine.

The first thing was to try and sort out the exact dimensions for the petrol tank, so that we can start with confidence on the laminated ash hoop that fits behind it. We have made a template for the tank and when that’s fitted onto the fuselage there doesn’t seem to be enough room to fit the ash hoop between it and the front cabane struts. But when I looked at it today, I suddenly realised the template, for various reasons, is somewhat longer than the tank will be, and actually, good old Frank Barnwell had it right all along! This means we can make a start on carefully sanding the hoop down to its required size.

This is a big help, because we want to start on the last major bit of woodwork – the ply cover that fits between the petrol tank and the cockpit. It’s quite a complex bit of woodwork, and is undoubtedly a job for Rick!

Next on the list was the plywood panel behind the seat. I’d had a go at varnishing it, and, as is my wont, ladled far too much varnish on. It had attracted negative comments from the rest of the team, and so I was very keen to get to it with an orbital sander and have another go. This time, I did a good deal better, and I think it may pass inspection…

And then I started on the undercarriage legs. They are wrapped in fabric to protect them from accidental damage and to stop the grain from opening up as it dried out. The technique is to use frayed-edge tape wound round in a spiral. You might have thought it would look a bit smoother doing it in one piece wrapped round, but it’s clear from the photograph on the parts list they used this spiral bandage technique, and once you’ve tried it, you understand why. Using this method, you fix one end with dope, and then wind it round and round, trying to get a constant overlap all the way down. The fancy bulged shape of the legs makes it harder to get the fabric to lie perfectly flat, but the spiral technique means you can adjust the tension and the lie of the tape all the way up, and if you get it wrong, you can undo a bit and try again. When you get to the end, you keep it in place with a piece of masking tape, and dollop dope all over it.

I thinned the dope about 50:50, and this seemed to soak in to the wood satisfactorily and I finished off trying to smooth the frayed edges down. I managed to get a couple of coats applied, admired my handiwork and left before I did something stupid!

At this stage I've wrapped and doped the front leg but not the back.

At this stage I’ve wrapped and doped the front leg but not the back.

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