Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Seats (Part 1)

After two solid months of doing little nothing projects here and there and generally not accomplishing very much, the weather finally got nice enough to start doing some fiberglassing. So I decided to build my seats next, because 1. it's a smaller fiberglass project to get me back in the swing of it before I tackle the wings, and 2. once I have the seats in place I can set my rudder pedals, my control sticks height, canopy and therefore aft deck height, and also sit on it and make airplane noises. I'm using carbon fiber for its strength to weight ratio, and because the seat giving way in flight would cause the airplane to be uncontrollable, so I want it as strong as possible. At this point I intend to build as much of the plane with vinylester resin as possible, because it cures very fast compared to just about every viable epoxy I've tried. However, there's some solid research that suggests vinylester doesn't bond well with carbon fiber, so I'm using West Systems epoxy instead. West Systems is fantastic stuff, but it takes about 6 hours to cure at 70* F, and that time goes up dramatically as temperature goes down. This week is all warm days, so I'm gonna try to knock this out before the end of the week.

I started with ½" foam, sliced into 2" strips. I epoxied 3/32" plywood in between each strip, so the strips of wood and foam are oriented length-wise in relation to the aircraft.

Once that had cured, I cut the panel into two pieces, one to match the seat back, and one to make up the flat bottom of the seat. I also built about the crummiest looking jig you could imagine to get the angle of the two pieces right, but it worked out just fine for my purposes.

I didn't get a good picture of it, but I cut slots right next to each of the wooden stringers in both panels, then used that same 3/32 plywood to make biscuits to fit in them to really strengthen the joint. Once I had them all prepped and trial-fitted, I mixed up my epoxy and went to work. Obviously no pictures of the process, but it was messy and the epoxy gets hot in the cup pretty quick when it's 80 degree weather. No misadventures, however, and with a carefully calibrated weight on top, and carefully calibrated heat lamps in place, the curing process could begin. Tomorrow I hope to begin laying my carbon fiber and start making this look more like a fancy seat for a composite aircraft (and less like I have no idea what I'm doing.)
Continued in Seats (Part 2)

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