Prototype Build – Volume 1 Part 5: Wood build completed

This week saw the completion of the wood components build, other than the covering which will be done when the internals are complete. There also remain a few bits and pieces related to the canopy but these will have to await the fabrication of the metal parts prior to gluing up.

Completed seat pan with fibreglass covered back

The seat pan was redesigned as I was not happy with the 6mm plywood seat back. It just looked too flimsy for what will need to be a very robust construction, so now the whole pan has been redone in 12mm plywood. I also incorporated a few tabs in the sides, bottom and front that now provide accurate assembly guidance points and additional strength.

Keyed construction assists simple assembly

The rear of the seat requires careful filing and sanding to incorporate the correct angle offsets. Here a 12″ sanding disk is a heaven sent. The rear supports provide the correct angles when gluing it up.

The seat back was then covered with fibreglass to provide additional strength and durability.

The balance of the work consisted of the gluing up of Frame 9 and then finishing the related intercostals. The antenna mount which doubles as the seat belt harness anchor point was also installed.

That concludes the building for the time being. We need to finish off the numbering and application of metadata for the metal and 3D printed nylon parts before we can generate their cutting, bending and printing files and drawings. There are still 800 to go out of the 2000 or so, so all shoulders to the wheel to try finish that in the coming week! It is soooo much more fun to build 🙂

Prototype Build – Volume 1 Part 4: We have a fuselage!

It’s been a week of hard work but I am amazed at how well everything has come together. I set out to design something that could give the pleasure of building a life size model of the Spitfire Mk.IX, as one would a small scale model plane out of a kit. I am happy to say that that was exactly the experience!

A lot of the time spent was simply waiting for the epoxy glue to harden, which could take anywhere between 12 and 18 hours. If I had unlimited workspace I could have done a lot more things in parallel and things would have gone even faster still. However I want the prototype to be built in a home workshop in order to experience the same potential problems customers may have.

The parts fit together beautifully. It was a delight to be able to simply drop the screws in place for the instrument panel in order to set the distances correctly for the panel supports. The translation from the 3D Cad model to the cutting patterns has gone extremely well. I am preparing assembly drawings as I proceed, picking up on pertinent points to be noted in the Build Manual. So hopefully that will be nearly ready for publication when the prototype build has been completed.

We have captured the weeks build on a time lapse camera and has resulted 1,5 minutes of video 🙂 You can check it out here:

Week 1 of the build caught on camera

The intercostals remain to be placed which I will do over the weekend, except for Frame 9 which will only be placed once the rudder pedals are positioned. Other than the seat, the door frame and the canopy supports that just about concludes the wood part of the build. Now we will focus on getting the rest of the numbering and checking done (900 to go out of a total of 2000 odd components!).

And then we start preparing the platework cutting and bending patterns. In the meantime we can make aeroplane noises while sitting in the cockpit!

Prototype Build – Volume 1 Part 3: Start of Cradle Assembly

CNC Lab have done a stunning job of the routing and we were able to collect all of it yesterday.

Who thought you couldn’t fit a Spitfire Cockpit in a Landrover?!!

Fortunately all fitted very well into the Landy. The routing was all done with a 3mm bit, even the 21mm plywood. This has resulted in an excellent finish and very accurate drill hole sizes. It is wonderful what CNC Routing, laserjet cutting and 3D printing have done for the engineering industry and hobbyists particularly. It allows absolute accuracy of your bespoke components at reasonable cost. All it requires is accurate 3D modeling. And that is hopefully where we at Heritage Flight Simulation earn our keep!

Beautifully made main and flying instrument panel backings (will have an aluminium cover)

The parts are so accurate it is a doddle to do a quick dry fit of our first task, the cradle. Here my able assistant Caroline can be seen holding up Frame 11 (which originates from a previous test of waterjet cutting plywood) on the dry fit cradle bits.

The CNC routing is so accurate I cannot but be amazed at how beautifully everything lines up.

Anyway, that was yesterdays fun 🙂 Today we set up a time lapse video camera which hopefully will capture the build from start to finish at 5 minutes per frame. That should have us complete the build in about 10 minutes. Of video…heheh!

We have also started gluing up the box sides and wing spars of the cradle.