Fuselage Skin Rack

As I started inventorying the fuselage skins, I realized that I didn’t have a good place to put them. I found some unused space above my garage door and improvised a shelf out of reclaimed wood from the shipping containers for the wing and empennage.

Simple rack made from the 1.5″ squares that made up the frame of the wing shipping container. The skins are pretty light, so I wasn’t too worried about making the rack super strong
Plenty of room for all the big skins, and they’re in a place where they’ll be safe from getting bumped into
The smaller skins and all other fuselage parts are neatly stored away on wire shelves

I’m now complete with the inventory, and I only have a small number of discrepancies to resolve – they mostly seem related to a design change in the parachute box. My fuselage kit pieces didn’t match what’s shown in the Sling 4 construction manual, but I looked at the Sling TSi manual and found my parts match the pictures and part numbers – so it appears to be a running change in the design that is common to both models, but the manual hasn’t caught up yet.

With inventory out of the way, I am resuming work on the right wing. I have the fuel tank partially assembled, but I first needed to address a problem with the rear spar that I forgot about. While in shipment, something punched a small hole into the angled edge that forms the upper cap. I smoothed out the damage, and made a small doubler plate to restore strength.

Damage to right wing rear spar, near where the step ribs attach
View of the same defect from the inside, after I gently flatted the area back down, then sanded and filed the hole smooth
I made a small doubler plate to restore strength to this spar cap

Wing Rack, and Step Skin Solution

I put together a wing rack this week following plans from an EAA article. I had most of the material already, so it didn’t cost much – the straight sections are 2×4, 2×6, or 4×4 pieces of lumber I had laying around, while the gussets were made out of pieces of the wing & empennage shipping containers. I had to buy casters, which I got from Amazon for not much money, and some screws. I’ll move the left wing over to this rack shortly, and then begin assembling the right wing.

On my wing step skin issue, I got feedback from TAF on what to do – their suggestion is to put in additional rivets in new holes to be drilled between the existing holes. Simple enough solution, though I don’t think I need to put in quite as many new rivets as per the picture below. I’m happy to get this resolved and move on, since it’s the last wing task I need to do, minus the composite wing tips.

Work tables 99% done

I spent a few hours today finishing up the work tables, they look good! I added some retractable casters to make them easier to move around.

The last 1% is a attaching some vinyl fabric over the MDF tops – I’ll get that done during the week. Really hoping the empennage and wing kits will start making their way East this week, I’m eager to get started!

Meanwhile, I need to make some choices on a VOR antenna and a tail beacon light. For lighting, I was going to go with Aveo Engineering lighting, but some reports are telling me to look elsewhere. I want to be legal for night flight, but I’m discovering that not all lights made for experimental planes are legal for night flight (makes me wonder, what’s the point of making a light that’s not legal for night?). Whelen and AeroLEDs seem to be the other major players. I want the lights to be synchronized when they flash/blink, so that seems to eliminate Whelen. These things are also freakin expensive! Maybe I’ll just make my own?

Work tables progressing

Tonight I chopped up a bunch of 2×4’s needed for the pair of work benches. I deviated slightly from the plans – mine will be 6′ long (instead of 5′), 3″ taller (since I’m tall!), and the tops will be 3/4″ MDF rather than plywood. I’m also covering the tops with some vinyl fabric I bought from Amazon, primarily to protect parts from scratches but also to make the tables a little more aesthetically pleasing 😁

Should be ready to assemble tomorrow!

Getting set up

I picked up materials this weekend to make my workbenches, following plans from EAA Chapter 1000. Still some work to do to transform my garage / wood shop into a metal shop, but I’ve still got a week or two before the fun starts.

Also received a few more tools and supplies, including this nifty rivnut tool from Astro Pneumatic – it attaches to a drill to smoothly pull the rivnut.