Patrick's Sling TSi

Weeks 75-85: Fuselage

Since the last update I have made a lot of progress on the fuselage. I added the side skins to the center fuselage, and while the front was still open installed the rudder pedals (I went with the branded pedals option instead of the t-bars) and the NACA ducts. The NACA ducts installed with flush rivets, but I found that the required countersinking of the fiberglass parts removed too much material. To make sure the rivets held properly I cut up an extra aluminum strip for the rivets to engage into.

When getting the firewall ready I did run into another parts issue. I had two of the left upper engine mount brackets instead of a left and a right. Sling in Torrance sent me an older version that they had on hand in hopes it would still work, but the fit was different so they requested the correct one from South Africa.

While waiting on that I decided to mount the main GPS antenna on the rear fuselage. I placed the parachute cover in place, then marked its location with a sharpie. I wanted to keep the antenna as close to the center as possible, so I used that line as a reference to locate it. I had some .063" thick aluminum that I used to make a backing plate. I marked all the mounting holes in that, then drilled them and match drilled the top skin. I dimpled the skin and the plate and installed it with flush rivets.

While waiting on the replacement bracket I installed as much of the firewall as possible, then added the bracket when it arrived. I also started making templates for the firewall insulation, but found I don't have all the parts that need to have the insulation cut out around. These will be in the firewall forward kit that I should get in the next couple of weeks along with a replacement engine.

The kit's firewall insulation was a foam material. I tested its flammability, and was not happy with it so I decided to look for an alternate. I decided on this material, which seemed to be recommended on other kit forums and as the 2000 radiant protection that is recommended.

I managed to get the canopy put on top of the fuselage by myself (which I would not recommend), and then was able to shift it back and forth to get the back trimmed to fit. When I was happy with the fit I match drilled all the holes, clecoing as I went per the instructions.

To keep from having to fully remove and replace the canopy I decided to cut several 2x4's and use them to lift it above the fuselage skins so that they could be cleaned and then have the SikaFlex applied. That process worked very well, and I would recommend it even if you do have an extra set of hands.

One thing I did wrong when initially fitting the canopy was I let the sides sit directly on the fuselage angle. I didn't test fit the canopy strip that gets riveted on the inside, so when I was trying to rivet it (after applying the SikaFlex) I found the holes were too high for the strip to fit. I lifted the front of the canopy about 1/4" with some scrap wood I had, then re-drilled the front holes. This got it to where the canopy strip fit without too much trouble.

I did find that the standard 8mm rivets were just slightly too short to fit through the outer skin, the fiberglass canopy and the inner strip so I used some 12mm rivets I had leftover from the wing kit. I didn't have enough to finish, so I just riveted every third hole to keep it in place then requested for from Sling-Torrance.

The next milestones will be getting the firewall insulation completed and the engine mount permanently installed. Then I can attach the landing gear and move the fuselage off the table and onto its own wheels. That will make it a lot easier to work on the details that need to be finished inside the fuselage.

This post is from Patrick's Sling TSi