Chapter 7 - Fuselage Exterior                                       
Start: 12/05/05
Finish: 01/15/06
Total Time: 43 Hours

Now that we have an upside down boat, albeit a rather leaky boat at this point, it's time to start contouring the exterior of the fuselage and preparing it for glassing.

The first step in this process is to build the naca scoop on the bottom to feed air to the engine compartment. This is built from using both urethane and PVC foam, as well as plywood braces. After it's all floxed and microed together, it's contoured by sanding. The final step is to glass the inside of it.

After the naca scoop is complete we move on to contouring the sides. This is done by first blending the side foam into the contours at the firewall. Next we contour the bottom corner comprised of the side, the lower longeron, and the bottom.

This is where we had our first planning failure. After contouring the bottom the next step is to install the built in NAV/COM antennas. We had forgotten to order these until about 3 days before we needed them. So we decided to skip glassing the bottom just yet and started working on contouring the top edges. With that now complete we have little choice but to wait for the antennas to arrive so we may glass the bottom, then the sides.

When the antenna kit arrived we spent some time figuring out exactly what would go where. There are a couple of ideas on antenna placement. The Cozy plans suggest putting the NAV antenna on the bottom of the fuselage. The documentation from RST suggests putting the marker beacon antenna on bottom. Being the marker beacon antenna is the largest, we chose to put it on the bottom, per the documentation from RST.

After the antenna was embedded into the foam, it was time to glass the bottom. Having learned that working with smaller pieces of cloth was easier (from our chapter 5 and 6 experiences), we glassed the bottom using 'strips' of fiberglass that were approximately 24" wide.  We also learned that on these big layups it was good to use much more slow hardener than fast, as it would keep the first layers gooey and pliable throughout the entire layup.

The final step was to glass the sides. The plans has you put the fuselage on a couple of A-Frames for the glassing of the exterior, but we found during the glassing of the bottom that we were needing to stand on a step stool a lot to reach. So for the glassing of the sides, we put carpet on the floor where the fuselage was, and set the fuselage directly on the floor. This allowed us to reach much easier when glassing the sides. Of course we had to wait until the one side was fully cured before we could flip it over and glass the other side though.

When all was through, we took what would be one of John's favorite pictures so far...A picture of him sitting the pilot seat.  It was a very exciting moment for us, climbing into the front seat, as this was the time we had promised to make a very important decision.

When we chose the Cozy, one of our reasons was that it was a plans built design.  We could determine, without mortgaging our house, if we had the skills, the knowledge, and most importantly, the determination to build an airplane. Looking at the plans and the price lists, we determined that for around $2k we could build the fuselage, and that we would be able to determine from that point if we could build the whole thing.

What did we find? Well, we didn't have the knowledge, but we are learning.  We didn't have the skills, but we are acquiring them. The biggest thing of all though was the determination.  We've found that even during times when we felt completely clueless, all we had to do was step back a minute.  Rereading the plans, searching the FAQ site, searching the mailing list archives, or simply asking the list, have always resulted in the answers we needed. Are we going to continue on with building the rest? Absolutely.  We have reserved it's FAA registration number.  We chose N204TF, in honor of John's sister Tiffany, who taught us that life was too short not to reach for the sky.  We intend to do just that.