So yeah, tonight I worked on trimming this skin for the tailwheel mount. First I came up with a slightly better way to draw out the initial cut line: I measured and made a few guide marks on each side, then used those to position a template and draw each side of the cut line individually. This ended up with a much more symmetrical pattern than I had last time:
I made the initial rough cuts using the bandsaw, then went to work with a Dremel and cutting bit to get everything looking good:
This is where the real fun began; at this point, it became a highly obnoxious trial-and-error procedure. I’d go sit on the floor under the tail, try to fit the skin in place, mark where it was interfering with the mount, go back to the bench and remove some more material with the Dremel, go sit on the floor again, so forth and so on. All the care I took to make a nice symmetrical pattern for the initial cut was pointless, because the symmetry goes away once the fitting and trimming show starts. That nice smooth sweeping curve from the plans is pretty much impossible, because the weld joint at the aft end of the mount interferes with the skin. I was trying to maintain a somewhat smooth curve as I removed material, but by the time I got the skin to a point where I could cleco it in place, there was a pretty big gap everywhere *but* where the weld was.
Here’s the skin clecoed in place:
Clearance between the skin and mount is still pretty uneven; there’s plenty of clearance on the aft end, but further forward I can’t even slip a little piece of aluminum in the gap. So I need to trim this some more, but I’d had enough of dealing with this for one night. I think I’ll do better tomorrow, when I’ve made peace with the fact that this cut isn’t going to be beautiful, just adequate. You’d need a mirror to even see this with the plane on the ground anyway.