Glassing over the elevator counterweights

OK, back at it again. Hopefully we’re at the point where it’s not gonna get too cold for fiberglass any more this year. One thing I see from looking back is that I never wrote up a short build session from about a week ago, when I added micro to the closeouts on the h-stab tips that I’d previously closed in.

Tonight, though, it was time for the real fun – that is, adding glass to the forward edge of the elevator tips to enclose the counterweights. For this work, I’m basically just doing the work in place, using the counterweights themselves as my “mold.” So the first step is to cover everything in the area with clear packing tape to act as a mold release:

Then, it’s just a matter of adding plies of glass cloth. Before doing anything, I wanted to evaluate whether I could use single pieces of glass for each layer, or if I’d have to get creative with shapes to conform to the curvature here. The glass cloth I have is really good at conforming, but I decided to try test-fitting a piece of dry cloth beforehand just to get an idea. Not only did this show me that it would conform, but it also gave me a good idea of what I’d need to do with the wet cloth to get the conformation to happen – much better than figuring that out with wet plies.

For this task, I used the helpful tip of putting the cloth between two pieces of plastic, and working the epoxy around with a squeegee to get everything saturated. This is especially helpful with this cloth, since it’ll deform really easily. This way, the cloth retains its shape while being wetted out, and I can cut out each piece, plastic and all, and only peel the plastic off when I’m ready to apply. This also makes it really easy to cut out nice regular size/shape plies.

There’s not really a lot more to say, but here’s that same elevator tip after adding three plies and then topping it all off with peel ply. Tomorrow’s the really big day, when I get to find out if I did a good enough job with my packing tape…hopefully these tips don’t end up bonded to the aluminum….

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