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Long EZ N28EZ...Construction of the Fuselage

The Bulkheads, Sides, Landing Gear and their assembly.

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In the following pages, there is a reference to, and photos of, a "Bob". Bob Connolly was the main reason that I started this project. He was my boss at Pennwalt, and approached me asking if I wanted to join him in building a Quickie. Instead, I talked him into a Long EZ. Since I was then living alone, and he still had his family living with him, we started it at my house. When he left Pennwalt for greener pastures, I inherited the entire project, and it has been mine ever since. Any references to Bob are before 1987. That is when he accepted a director's position at an out of state pharmaceutical company.

Following the plans, chapter by chapter,we started with the bulkheads. Here, Bob is squeeging off the excess epoxy after applying it to the fiberglass placed over the plywood core of the forward bulkhead, F-22.
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Bob is stippling and squeeging out the epoxy to be sure it is saturating completely, but not too wet. I was working on the instrument panel on the left when I stopped to take this picture.
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Instrument panel on the left, and the foward bulkhead, F-22, curing before turning them over, trimming the excess glass and applying epoxy and glass to the other side. This is the typical construction method for all the bulkheads in the plane.
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Here, Bob is taking a break from the fuselage and applying the glass tape and epoxy to the "tunnel" on the trailing edge of the main landing gear strut that covers and protects the brake lines.
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With all the bulkheads ready, it's time to start the rest of the fuselage. These are the foam sheets for one of the sides being layed out, rough cut and formed, prior to glassing the inside only. The outside won't be covered with glass and epoxy and carved to the final fuselage shape until after it has been joined to the other side, the floor, the bulkheads and the longerons. The gears are being used as weights to hold the pieces in alignment until the joining epoxy has set. Note the rolls of fiberglass cloth against the back wall, all ready to be pulled out over the side like unrolling very expensive toilet paper!
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Here is the right side, all the bulkheads, and the floor being set up and aligned to check the measurements and preliminary fit. One upper longeron (the light colored wood strip from front to back) can be seen at the top of the side panel. The two sloping bulkheads (there is a smaller one in the shadows near the back and the firewall) are the seat backs for the pilot and the passenger.
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Front view of the upside down fuselage, without the floor, being held together using tape and flat boards while the epoxy/flox mix used to join the parts together cures.
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View from aft, looking forward, along the bottom (of the upside down fuselage) clearly showing the aluminum main landing gear mounts and the lower longerons that run full length of the fuselage, They provide mounting points for the wing centersection spar and the engine mounting angle pieces. The bulkhead with the big, round hole in it is the rear passenger seat back. The hole provides access to the landing gear area when the floor is completed. This is the last time that the infamous "hell hole" is easily accessible!
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After the outside is shaped, and wrapped in fiberglass and epoxy, about the easiest way to work on the inside is to just climb in. Here, I am working on the landing brake which is assembled through the floor in the aft passenger seat area. That triangular shaped piece in front of me is the pilot's head rest and the support for the rod that is used to hold the canopy open. Later builders have replaced that rod with a more secure and easier to use gas strut, using the same mounting point.
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Darren took this picture of Bob and I enjoying our very first flight (in our imaginations, of course) in the fuselage that was finally standing on it's own legs. It may look small, but as any Cessna 150 pilot can tell you, they wish that they had that much shoulder room in their planes! The notch in the front is where the canard will eventually be mounted and the square hole by Bob's arm is where the centersection spar will mount to hold the main wings.
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Now we jump to several years later...August 2010...I finished all the other components, and saved the painting of the fuselage until last. This is a shot to demonstrate how I filled, sanded and washed it before the final painting. I did the sanding and washing out in the front yard. I learned quickly that cleaning the garage after sanding was more of a job than building the plane! This picture was of it rolled over so I could sand the underside. Rolling it over was easy for one person, having the strake supported on that large block of soft, upholstered chair foam (that I picked up alongside the road on trash pickup day) and a saw horse under the nose and another under the other strake. I draped soft cotton cloths over the saw horses.
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Almost ready for the final sanding and prep for the final coats of paint. I used Poly Fiber's UV Smooth Prime here just as I did on the other components.
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Another shot after it was primed, and before the final sanding prior to the finish paint. This was how I was able to paint both the top and bottom of the fuselage at the same time so I could avoid drips, sags, runs and lap marks. I cut a hole in the garage ceiling so I could tip the nose up far enough that the fuselage balanced itself without any bracing.
I would then paint everything I could reach from the floor, and do the underside of the nose while I was standing on an aluminum painting platform, then, while the rest of the paint was still wet, paint the top of the nose after lowering the nose wheel back to the floor. I duct taped a piece of soft foam along the cut plywood edges in the ceiling so it would not damage the plane's finish.
And, no, I didn't paint it with the RX8 sitting there! I'm demonstrating here that I still had room to garage the car when the plane was sitting in this position (with it's wheels chocked, of course, so it wouldn't roll). It looks like the landing brake flap was resting against the rear window of the car, but I assure you, there was a good foot of clearance between the car and any part of the plane.
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And finally, late September 2010. After a lot more priming, sanding, refilling and resanding, the finished product. The finish paint I used here is also the same rolled on, single part urethane I used for everything else. Pettit Paints EasyPoxy (or West Marine's Sea Gloss...same paint). Easy to do, no spraying and a fantastic finish! And, yes... no typo, it was ROLLED on!

Next job is routing the fuel lines, mounting the left arm rests and thigh support, painting the interior and installing the hardware! I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel! And that light is reflecting off of a Long EZ!
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The interior pieces are installed and finished. The interior is painted and the instrument panel is designed, cut and painted to match the latest design I decided on (see the instrument section of this site). I designed some stripes for the plane with my CAD program (see also the Wings section) and had them printed by a local sign shop as vinyl graphics. Saturday, August 20th, 2011, my son helped me apply them...we placed the canopy back on it just for looks and boy, does it look good!

Next step...I've started hanging the parts on the firewall getting it ready to mount the engine which has been waiting patiently down in the hangar.


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Comments are welcome, please contact me at: Ageless Wings, Harley Dixon

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© Copyright Harley M. Dixon 1981-2017.
Readers must seek permission to re-publish whether in written, printed, electronic or any other form.