MKII Viper fuselage assembly and skinning.

*This page will be updated with works in progress as it happens.

Putting the modules together.

Now that modules 1, 2 and 3 (cockpit) now have a supporting frame inside them and the formers are all fixed to their frames, I have started to align and level them on each other and start the process of skinning.

Skinning.

Each gap between the former is being filled with thick polystyrene foam to be hot-wired, sliced, diced, sanded and smoothed. The polystyrene will form the shape of the ship and provide support for the fibreglass shell when the time comes to apply it. There are resins out there now that are compatible with polystyrene, so I don’t have to worry about solvent based dissolving of my hard work.

OOOoohhh that sleek, sexy shape! A couple of hours of sanding has produced spectacular results.
14 May 2018 Tonight I welded support rails under the chassis frame and raised the fuselage to correct height. Now I can work out the landing gear attachment points. I’ve been putting this off for a while but it has got to the point now that I have to do it because the build is progressing way faster than I thought it would. Having the fuselage higher will also make it easier to finish skinning the underside.
20 May 2018 OWEEE!! Saturday was a day I had set aside and planned for about three weeks. I had barely got started when BAM! The Viper frame of module two slipped off it’s alignment lugs and dropped with full force onto my finger on the saw-horse underneath it. The force mashed the meat of my finger so that it popped out the side and fractured the bone. Five hours of waiting in the Emergency Department of my local hospital and the daylight was gone.
Since then, I’ve rested a little but started to test what I can do with the remaining fingers while trying to keep the bandaged one out of harm’s way.
I’ve tinkered a little, adjusting an undersized former in module and screwed in a couple of electrical busses to hook all my 12V instruments into for easy connection and fault diagnosis, I’ve also welded in the guides for the lifting poles for a two-person carry of a module.
Tonight I managed to get module two into position at full height with some creative rope-work and careful chocking. Made a sturdy frame under it that bolts to the saw-horse so it shouldn’t drop on my finger again.
3 – 4 December 2018
Tonight’s program, pre-cutting the polystyrene and fitting it into the underside, ready for a day of glue-up tomorrow. I’d like to get that all finished tomorrow so I can start on sanding the whole ship down.
Finished up about 1am.
Viper’s-eye view of Baz, skinning underneath it.
4 December 2018
Engines off, correcting the height and angle of the starboard engine. Noticed a height difference in a front on photo and measured it to confirm. A difference of 10mm at the mounting point translates to 40mm down at the front. I can’t live with that so let’s roll the sleeves up and get it fixed!
Did I mention that the Viper is now entirely freestanding? No saw-horses. My friend Alex came over today and helped me jack the engine block up high enough to remove the last one. In taking the engines off to correct the alignment, I also took the opportunity to finish cutting and pre-fitting the last of the skin around the main engine block. Productive day!
6 January 2019
I’ve had a solid week to work on the Viper, hence I have spent nearly the entire time finishing off the skinning and sanding.
It’s been a mammoth week. I think I’ll have a break now.

 

 

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