So I thought that my next work session would be glassing in the forward part of the bottom, and maybe laying out the attach holes, but it turned out that I needed to do some more fitting work. I’d marked the edges of the joint strip on the rudder and put the bottom in place, intending to mark the holes, but I could see there were a couple issues to take care of. First, the “sides” of the bottom weren’t parallel/straight – they sort of flare out a bit, preventing them from sitting flush against the rudder joint strip. Second, the edge of the bottom also wasn’t straight, resulting in a wavy gap between the fiberglass and aluminum.
To fix the first problem, I took advantage of the ability to massage these gelcoat pieces a bit. There’s a wooden wedge piece I cut to fit inside the bottom, with angle pieces clamped to the edges. All those cleco clamps provide a nice setup for lacing the thing together with paracord; once the cord is pulled tight, this bows the edges inward. After getting this all set up, I gave the whole area some attention with the heat gun to help things move around a bit.
Next up was working on straightening up those edges. This isn’t particularly challenging, just requiring some work with a long flat sanding block, but it was more tedious than you might think. Getting the edges straight could be done on the work table, using the table as a “straight” reference, but once I got the edges acceptably straight and put the bottom in place…well, removing that material meant there was now interference up at the control horn. So I had to do some work in that area as well to get clearance back.
In the end, I still don’t have all the fitting done – I’m fairly happy with the mating edges, but I still need to fine-tune the clearance around the control horn, and then rework the adjacent cutout area back to a flat profile, which will be needed to match up with the bulkhead I’ll be adding later on. Maybe then I can get to the stuff I originally thought I’d be working on today…