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142. Fuselage covering

29/10/2014

Having established the lengths of the cables for the aileron circuit, we took the wings off again and started on the final large bit of fabric – the fuselage cover.

The RFC machines had laced seams all the way down the fuselage top longerons, enabling one to gain access to anything inside that needed repair or adjustment. The drawing indicates that the RNAS asked for sewn seams at this point, which would mean that if any work needed doing on the fuselage after covering, the fabric would have to be cut off and replaced. We weren’t happy about this, and study of photographs seems to indicate  that there was a laced seam all the way down the underside of the fuselage, and that’s what we’ve decided to do.

Scout C serial 1263 or 1264, showing the lack of a laced seam aft of the cockpit

Scout C serial 1263 or 1264, showing the lack of a laced seam aft of the cockpit…

... but serial number 1262 shows what appears to be a laced seam all the way up the underside of the fuselage.

… but serial number 1262 shows what appears to be a laced seam all the way up the underside of the fuselage.

So we cut two pieces of fabric reaching from the centreline of the fuselage bottom to the top longeron, and from the tailpost right forward to the aluminium side shields, and made up the joining edges by doubling the fabric back by 30mm and then doubling a piece of 30mm cotton tape over that, so that the lacing hooks will go through four layers of fabric. Then, in order to make it easier to handle while we , we butted the two edges together and used a zigzag stitch to fasten the together temporarily.

These were then fixed in place with masking tape and pulled taut and adjusted to give a nice straight seam underneath so that the line of the top longerons could be marked off with pencil (PLEASE, no biro, or the colour will run when you apply dope!).

Positioning the fuselage fabric before marking off the seams at the top longerons.

Positioning the fuselage fabric before marking off the seams at the top longerons.

Then we draped the top fabric over the frame and did the same, and it was back to the sewing machine to make the balloon seams.

Top fabric draped over for marking

Top fabric draped over for marking

Making up the balloon seams required quite a bit of practice, but Theo’s got it off to quite an art form now and they come out really very accurate. It’s possible to get a sewing machine that does the whole thing in on go, apparently, but we’ve managed fine with a normal sewing machine.

Then we fitted the bag again in order to mark out and sew the fabric lacing edges all round the remainder.2014-10-25 Bristol Scout Fuselage covering 003

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