Chapter 8 - Headrests & Seatbelts                                       
Start: 01/18/06
Finish: 02/04/06
Total Time: 27 Hours

With a mostly complete fuselage, the next step is to install the headrests, and a lot of reinforcing for the seatbelts. We don't like the look of the plans headrests, and can't imagine they are very comfortable. We'll keep our eyes open for the perfect automotive headrests to use, but for now we start by making the shoulder support and reinforcing inserts for the seatbelt attaching hardware.

We changed the way a couple of things are done in this chapter. First, the plans have you install the canopy hinge at this point, before installing the shoulder support, as you'll need access to the underside of the longeron in that location for one of the hinge mounting bolts. John Slade advised us that he had to replace his hinge as it got gummed up with dust and epoxy over the course of building, so it might be better to install a nutplate instead. This made sense, so we floxed a nutplate in the location needed for the canopy hinge bolt, and let it cure so we could test it before installing the shoulder rest. This worked well, and allowed us to not install the hinge now and keep it free from dust and epoxy. The second change we made had to do with the nutplates for the shoulder restraints. The plans have you rivet the nutplates to strips of aluminum, then cut slots in the shoulder support in order to slide the nutplate and aluminum tab in. You hold the nutplate with the aluminum tab as you install the bolts, then cut the aluminum tab flush after the bolt is tight. The problem we see with this is that if you ever need to remove the bolt, the nutplate and aluminum tab will likely fall down, requiring yet another cut into the shoulder support. We chose to simply use wood screws to screw the nutplates to the bottom of the attaching points after they were glassed. This allows us to remove the bolts later, should we ever need to replace the shoulder belts.

The last part of this chapter has you build the rear heat duct, which also has some seatbelt attach points on it. Once this is built it is floxed into the fuselage. At present we have to decide how we want to heat the cabin. The plans use muffler heat blown through the heat duct. Many find that this is a bit lacking for northern climates. Many people have switched to nose mounted oil coolers to provide heat, which requires oil lines running to the nose of the plane. If we install lines for an oil cooler in the nose, we will reduce the area in the heat duct for moving air, should we have to fall back to the muffler heat concept. Engine selection also plays a part of this decision, and as of yet, we have not selected the engine. We were hoping to delay that decision for some time yet, but we suspect we may have to make that decision sooner than intended.

We finalized the headrest selection. Our decision was to utilize the front headrests out of the Mitsubishi 3000GT/Dodge Stealth. They are heavier than we would like, but offer a nice ratcheting adjustment for fore/aft positioning that is built into the headrest. They utilize a simple 2 post mounting system, so we simply glassed to 3/8" PVC tubes to the forward face of the shoulder support. For the rear headrests we simply carved two small blocks of blue foam to form a support we will later cover with seat foam and leather.