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Preparing to Cover the Tail Feathers and Fuselage


3 June 2012: After cleaning the fuselage, I moved the rudder pedal assembly out of the way and secured it with zip ties. I also sanded the rough edges  on the horizontal stabilizer.



My plan is to first build fixtures that will allow me to, with the help of my brother, rotate the fuselage to facilitate covering. I intend to cover the tail feathers first and then the fuselage.




5 June 2012: Legs!! With this somewhat awkward structure I'll be able to rotate the fuselage and rest it on either of its four sides.





7 June 2012: Right side up then right side down. I spent the previous day making stands to support the inverted tail.





They worked just as I had planned.








 17 June 2012: After a break where Linda and I flew the Old Cessna to Key West for a few days of indulgence, I'm back to work. The horizontal stabilizer is ready to cover.









Covering the Horizontal Stabilizer


18 June 2012: Frustration! Two attempts to apply fabric to the bottom of the horizontal stabilizer end in failure. I'm learning from my mistakes. I'll have to wait two days before trying again.




20 June 2012: Third time's the charm. I was able to successfully heat form the fabric around the tip. You can see that I have a bit of heat smoothing to do.





Before and after heat shrinking. This is to 250 degrees. Final shrinking to 350 degrees will be after both sides are covered.







 21 June 2012: The top is covered. Both side are heat shrunk to 350 degrees.








22 June 2012: The bottom of the other side is covered. Please excuse the bad focus of the second photo.








 23 June 2012: Poly Brush! All sides are covered and coated with brushed-on Poly Brush. I closed the garage door to get better lighting and detail in the photo.








24 June 2012: Only a little bit of work today. Chord-wise finishing tapes on the bottom. The first photo shows the locations of the tapes marked and coated with additional Poly Brush. The second photo shows the tapes in place.







27 June 2012: The chord-wise tapes are complete. Today I applied the span-wise leading edge tapes. I first glue only the edges, wait for the glue to dry, and then heat shrink the part that goes over the edge.





28 June 2012: Bias tape! I made may own from a roll of ultralight fabric I have on hand. That was a mistake. It creates too much waste. It's pricey but, I'm buying a roll of 4" bias tape.





 2 July 2012: Trailing edge tape. Over the last couple of days Linda and I flew the Cessna, painted the shutters on the house, and I applied trailing edge tape to the horizontal stabilizer.








The horizontal stabilizer is covered! It took me two weeks. Covering tail feathers is harder than I thought.







Covering the Elevator


On to the elevator! A discussion on TeamKitfox suggested that some of the ribs need stiffeners. In the second photo you can see that I'm attempting this with dowels. Wish me luck. (The pink tape marks a place where a glue joint let go.)







5 July 2012: The bottom of the portside elevator. Heat shrunk to 250 degrees.








Both sides covered and heat shrunk to 350 degrees. Today I had to end early. It was so hot that the glue was drying too quickly.







 6 July 2012: I covered the bottom of the starboard elevator. I thinned the glue with RR8500 reducer making it more workable in hot weather. The heat still caused me to end early. the other side will have to wait.







 13 July 2012: After a week of rehearsals and concerts, I snatch a day to work on the kitfox. After today it will be another week before I can resume a steady building schedule. In this photo I've glued the straight sections of the overlapping top fabric. I left an excess of fabric on the corners to allow me to heat form around the curve.







The curve is tight. In addition to heat forming, I made some relief cuts.








Before and after heat shrinking!








 22 July 2012: Back to work! I've applied the brushed coat of Poly-Brush to both sides of the elevator. It was great spending a week teaching and performing music at the Stetson University Brass Camp. But now, it's good to be back building the Kitfox.







 23 July 2012: Chordwise finishing tape. Applied to both sides of the elevator. By looking at the brush marks you can discover my technique. First I glue the center of each tape. Then I trim the ends and glue them in place, both fore and aft. You can also see the drips. I carefully wipe them flat with a rag soaked with MEK. They don't disappear but the bumps are gone.







29 July 2012: I'm multitasking! Along with taking time to go flying, ($100 omelet at Sebring, Linda flew out, I flew back) I'm doing the annual on the Cessna and desperately trying to master bias tape on the Kitfox. While doing the annual I discovered the buttered toast principle also applies to aviation spark plugs. When dropped buttered toast will always land butter side down and aviation spark plugs will always land on the electrodes.

Meanwhile the bias tape is kicking my butt! Inspired by perfection I attempted to apply bias tape to the entire trailing edge. After multiple failures I opted for plan B.


I applied straight tape to the back edge and bias tape around the corners. I still failed... In desperation I viewed the video. I was under the impression that I had to stretch the tape to the point where all the loose sections had been eliminated. While carefully watching the video I noticed that this was not necessary.







The curly bits were easily tamped down with the Poly-Brush. There were some ridges. But they were eliminated with the iron.








With all that I learned I could now successfully apply bias tape in one piece to the entire trailing edge . But I'm not going back. When someone says to me, "The taping on the elevator looks weird." I'll point my nose skyward and say, "Obviously your not an artist such as myself... They're not weird, they're whimsical."







 2 August 2012: A remark about my photo editing... I'm not very good at it. It's a very difficult shooting situation. The foreground is in the sun and the background is buried in the dimly lit garage. I try to edit the photo to show as much detail as possible and other aspects of the photo suffer because of that. The blotchy appearance of the fabric surface is not there in real life. Anyway!! The elevator is covered. You can see the drain grommets. (The holes are yet to be cut.)






Covering the Rudder


4 August 2012: Super-Fil! The time has come to do the final fairing of the rudder tip. In this photo you can see that I've made dams out of masking tape to help me build up a considerable thickness of Super-fil. It gets pretty runny it the Summer heat.





 5 August 2012: It took me about a half hour to apply Super-Fil to the other side of the rudder. Since I now have to to wait for it to cure I busied myself with getting the bottom of the fuselage ready for covering. In this photo I've installed the flange around the header tank quick drain. (The drain is covered with blue masking tape.)






 6 August 2012: Sanding! I made a long sanding block with scrap wood and stick-on sandpaper. With this I squared the Super-Fil.





I continue covering the rudder on Page 11!





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