Efficient Glass Work

Filling in some minor gaps on the nosecone of the Subsonex.

Here's a short little tip for making your composite work a little more efficient.

How many times have you started a work session by mixing up some resin, adding flox or micro, and then slathering it on your project to fill depressions, holes, or other blemishes? The next step, of course, was to stand around waiting for it to cure. Sure, you could have gone on to do other things, but like most of us, you probably left the fiberglass work until the very end of your airplane build (I am excusing those who are building all-glass airplanes - they already know all these tricks, and are proud not to have to deal with all of that aluminum dust...) - so you don't have a lot else to work on while waiting for the goop to harden. Continue reading "Efficient Glass Work"

Easy Hole Spacing

rivet spacing drawing

One of the curses of modern CAD technology is that designers can draw something up, then have the computer dimension it for them on the drawing - very, very precisely. In the case of the drawings I am using on my current project, the drawings tend to dimension to the nearest 1/64th of an inch if you find a line of rivets that has essentially been evenly spaced between two end points, you'll find it a bit tedious to measure each hole's location in 64ths of an inch from an end point. Continue reading "Easy Hole Spacing"

Light it Up!

LED strip light

How many times have you been working in the depths of your aircraft's fuselage, a flashlight in your mouth, and a work light burning a hole in your trousers (and not providing any light while it was doing it) and wished for better lighting? I have been a cave explorer on and off throughout my life, and I'll tel you what - it was just a good preparation for working in a light airplane's fuselage! Continue reading "Light it Up!"

Old Dog, New Trick

I've been working on airplanes for a long time, and some things I do a certain way because I have always done them a certain way. Deburring for instance - I can't begin to think of how many tens of thousands of holes I have deburred (both sides!) on countless airplanes. Drill, debur, repeat... the mantra of the metal airplane builder. I have almost always used a hand-crank deburring tool with two or three flutes for the job, and I can do it while watching TV or (probably) in my sleep. One and a half turns, then on to the next hole, endlessly. Continue reading "Old Dog, New Trick"

Drill Straight!


We've finished up the left spar for our Xenos motor glider, and that means starting what seems like a whole new airplane project to get to work on the right one. While they have almost all of their component parts in common, there is a lot of asymmetry in the design because they overlap inside the fuselage. That means that not only do parts get laid out in mirror images from tip to root, but the stack-up of web sections is reversed fore and aft. So while we learned a lot on the left side, we have to make sure that we don't blindly assume that we know how this one goes together. Continue reading "Drill Straight!"