EAA Chapter 25

A Community of Aviation Enthusiasts in the Twin Cities

Kitfox Update

Filed under: Member Projects — admin at 4:55 am on Monday, July 11, 2005

by Craig Nelson

from On Final July 2005Well, it’s past time for what is turning out to be my yearly update on my Kitfox Series 6/7 project. I continue to fit building time into a busy family (4 kids now) and work life. Progress has been slow but steady. As the weather warmed up in the spring of ’04 I got back into fabric related activities. Up went the spray booth in the garage and there it stayed through the summer and fall. The first task at hand was to finish spraying the wings. They had been storedfor the winter with two coats of silver on them. After sanding, I sprayed what should have been the final coat of silver prior to applying the color coats, but alas, I found my spraying skills were a bit rusty. I applied the silver coat too heavy which resulted in an orange peel texture. Sooo…sand and spray again. This time I got it right. After one coat of white, the yellow top coats (2) followed with a blue accent wrap on the leading edge which finished the job. Next came the tail feathers. These components had been covered but they still needed to have the tapes applied. This went well but I found applying the leading edge tape on the horizontal stabilizer to be quite a challenge. Getting the tape to stay down in the scalloped “valleys” between the ribs took quite a bit of trial and error as well as patience. But I got it and before long they were being sprayed with silver and the needed color coats. The fuselage then went back into the booth. It had been covered and sprayed through the base color coats the previous fall. Now it was time to add the blue accent striping down the side. After a lot of masking the stripes went on with great results. I enjoyed doing this accent work and seeing the results. At this point the only fabric work that remained was covering and painting the butt ribs. This required that some end plates be made out of aluminum sheet first. The builder’s instructions were not very clear for making these or how to cover the butt ribs in general. This posed a bit of a road block for awhile until I finally realized that I just had to get started and I would figure it out as I went. I have experienced this several times during the project. I like to be able to visualize how a particular process is going to go but sometimes it just isn’t meant to be that way. So, I have learned that I need to dive in and it will come together as I go. Anyway, with some careful work the butt ribs were done and again I’m happy with the results. The fuselage was then moved into the basement. By now it’s running into late fall and I still needed to paint some non-fabric items including the flaperons (aluminum skinned), their mounting brackets, and the spring landing gear. I wanted these to be painted with Polytone to match the fabric. Polytone does not adhere well to metal and fiberglass unless you spray it into a semi-wet coat of epoxy primer. This process dragged out because of the curing time (4 days) needed between coats when using epoxy primer. I stuck with it and got these items painted. In December I finally took the booth down for the winter. Sally and I were happy to be able to park in the garage again. In the colder weather months of winter I have been popping around working on different areas. I have installed the instrument panel and it’s associated instruments and avionics. Wiring of these components is nearly complete. I have fit the firewall and cowl bonnet to the fuselage. This spring I did some fiberglass lay-ups so that I could add NACA vents to the bonnet. These will be connected to eyeball vents in the instrument panel for a fresh air source in the cockpit. I’ve also modified the fiberglass wing tips to create a mounting pad for the nav/strobe lights. Earlier in the spring I finally received my Rotax 912S (100 HP) engine after about a 7 month wait. I started the engine installation process and found that my engine mount interfered with the back of the starter. It turns out between the time I got the engine mount and the engine, Rotax switched to a more powerful starter which made it longerÅ hence the interference. I sent the mount back to Skystar. They modified it to fit the new starter and had it re-powdercoated. Over Memorial Day weekend my son and I did a preliminary engine mounting to check fit. It sure is fun to see it hanging off the front of the fuselage. It’s starting to look like an airplane! This summer I will continue with the firewall forward installation, the final wiring details, and the mounting of the windscreen. Late in the summer I expect to be back in the paint booth painting the cowlings and doors. Well, that’s about it for this update. I have kind of given up forecasting a completion date but it’s very possible that my next update a year from now will find me with a finished aircraft. Now that’s a n exciting thought!

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