Upper cowl drilling, plus some black comedy

So, once again, it’s been a while. I’ve been less able to use the heat as an excuse recently, especially over the past couple days…but I’ve still been putting off this whole cowl rework. Just always seemed like it was going to be a big deal, with ample opportunity to mess the cowl up and so forth.

The thing that finally got me moving on this was that after this week, I’m taking a week off work, with the intent of getting in some good build time. I’ve got a bunch of vacation to burn before the year is out, so a staycation is in order. What I didn’t want, though, was to spend that first day of vacation doing an hour of fiberglass mold prep, and then…having to wait a day for stuff to cure. I really wanted to get working on the mold.

The first practical action for this is pretty simple: I wanted to start drilling the upper cowl to the hinge along the split line, and my intent was basically to work my way forward until I couldn’t easily pull the cowl halves into alignment. I figured this would identify the spot where I’d make the cut in the upper cowl, and that’s where I’d start working on the mold and redoing the layup.

So I started on that today, and…well, I made it pretty close to the inlets, with things pulling into alignment nicely. I started to wonder if I could go all the way forward and skip the layup, so I spent some time messing around. While it’s not really possible to pull the upper cowl in in this area, the lower cowl can actually be pulled out and into alignment without a lot of difficulty.

My last test before committing to drilling the rest of the holes was to try removing and reinstalling the hinge pins. My thinking here was that if there was excessive tension caused by the misalignment – the kind of tension that could lead to the hinges breaking in the long term – then it’d manifest in making the pin really difficult to insert. That wasn’t the case at all, though – I got the pins out and back in with no drama at all.

So I finished drilling. The halves don’t pull perfectly into alignment, as shown in the following photo, but it’s close enough that I think I can make this work with just some shimming, filling, and sanding, which is far less of a daunting proposition than completely redoing things here.

And that’s where the black comedy comes in. I have spent literal months agonizing over how best to redo these layups, how to make the molds, how to avoid making things worse, and just generally finding an excuse not to work on this…and it sort of just came together without a whole lot of effort.


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