Assembling the Forward and Mid Fuselage
From December 2021 through March 2022, the Fuselage really starts to take shape. It starts with Section 28, when the “Forward Fuselage Lower Structure” is built. Which translates into attaching the footwells and the forward bulkhead (where the wings will attach) to the firewall. Overall a straightforward section, though I had to make factory defined modifications to the muffler shroud because I’ll be installing an engine option Van’s offered after the original designs were completed. (The Lycoming IO-390-EXP119 engine rated at 215HP). Even though not required, I added doublers to the footwells for the comm antennas for extra support.
The work then continued with Section 29, where the mid fuselage is attached to the forward section and the side skins are also added. The fuselage is stood up on it’s side to do all the riveting of the bottom skins, which is a bit discerning when worrying about accidentally damaging the structure. All seams are sealed with a specialized, high temperature 3M sealant, to keep out any potential carbon monoxide exhaust from the engine.
The side skins were interesting to rivet, as it involved contorting one’s body to reach over and properly rivet. I also had to mask an area where the outside air vent assembly will attach. Overall, I am very happy with the results. I did get help from the family in attaching the two halves of the forward fuse together, and also when standing them on their sides.
This also marks the first time sitting inside the plane.
In addition, I installed an upgraded canopy latch from JD Air that adds a beefier look and feel to opening.
With a nifty video showing the latch in action:
I compiled the time lapse with much shorter clips, so it moves along much quicker and clocks in at 1m16s for 161 hours of work!