Rudder bottom bulkhead

OK, time to take care of this bulkhead. I pulled the rudder bottom off (yet again) and did some more fine-tuning of the forward end, making sure the profile was almost perfectly flat before adding the bulkhead. Next, I took my glass layup from a week or so ago, sanded one edge straight, and traced the outline of the existing fairing. I rough-cut it on the bandsaw and got down to the fun business of carefully sanding it to fit inside the fairing. It took a good half-hour of refinement, but eventually I got it fitting nicely inside the bottom:

This fit would give me a nice generous closeout area, but after looking at it I was concerned about how well I could get inside that forward area to get things epoxied together. So I decided to trim the piece some more; by fitting the bottom on the rudder again, I marked the forward edge of the control horn, then moved the marks back about 1/8” of an inch to give a bit of overlap. That gave me a new trim line, which I again rough cut on the band saw and sanded straight. It’ll be much easier to work inside of this:

Finally, it was time to bond it in place. The plan was to apply a good bit of flox inside the fairing, add the bulkhead, smooth the flox into a corner using my finger reaching up inside, and finally topping the joint with glass plies in a few spots. I actually sort of rehearsed how I’d do this beforehand; not only did I want to have everything I needed laid out ahead of time, but I didn’t want to get the bulkhead in place and then find out I’d missed a step or whatever.

In the end, it took about half an hour to get all the work done as described above. A couple of strategically-placed clamps will make sure everything is nice and snug while this cures overnight:

Tomorrow I should be able to slap some micro on top of this, and once that’s all sanded and nice, it’ll be time to add a hole for the wire passthrough, and a conduit run to the tail end of the bottom to make it easier to feed the wire through. Then I might finally be ready to finish this piece and get it riveted in place.

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