SWITCHBLADE UPDATE: MAY 17, 2014

SWITCHBLADE UPDATE:   MAY 17, 2014


We have begun assembling the carbon fiber parts. It all begins with mixing glue.  The glue used in aircraft construction is very strong, and in this case is a two-part mix that has to be carefully weighed for proper strength.  Brent Burch is shown here mixing the first batch of Hysol glue that is to bond the aileron end caps to the bottom skin of the aileron.  We kept the bottom skin in the mold to make sure that the aileron was in proper shape before gluing the end caps in.  It should be able to retain its shape once glued so that when we bond the top skins on tomorrow we will have perfect pieces. The aileron is the part of the wing that is movable and when moved, banks the airplane left or right to turn.

The glue is then used to coat the surfaces (which have already been prepped by sanding lightly), and then Ron Burch and Brent Burch are shown above working to ensure that the end caps are properly aligned using small jigs. A jig is something you use to keep a piece in place while you work on it or while it is welded, glued or bonded in place. Ron worked out how to align the caps, and this was such a tedious task that we will probably change the final molds to allow the end caps to be molded along with the lower skin (as one piece) so they are already aligned and pre-drilled for the bolts that go in the sides to mount to the aileron hinges.

Brent is carefully cleaning up the remaining glue while soft, as when it hardens, it is like steel. If you have worked with bondo on a car, you know what I mean. Sanding when soft is easy. Sanding when hard is something else!

Above, Ron is cleaning up the other end of the aileron. This can take up to an hour to do correctly, though we will be working to trim all of this down to minutes for the builder assist program.

Nearly done, our builders are putting the final touches on the glued parts to ensure they are ready for hardening overnight.

This is a closer shot of the final product once cleaned up and ready for hardening. The glue will harden in less than an hour, and cure fully overnight. We will be ready to put the top skins on Monday, and then we will have full assemblies of both right and left ailerons. Next up are the flaps, which are the other movable main wing surfaces that act to slow the aircraft down for landing. The flaps are much larger and have a central rib to stiffen them.

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