Finishing Kit

July 4, 2012

The Canopy Fairing - continued - 3.0 hrs.

Well, can you believe it? It's the Fourth of July! And here I am, working on my airplane before the family picnic and festivities begin later this afternoon. My next step will be to apply a thin layer of resin mixed with West Systems number 410 Microlight Fairing Filler. This stuff is so lightweight, that a full can feels like it's empty when you pick it up. But it's easy to sand and makes an excellent filler for all those pits, scratches, small low spots, and non-structural problem areas. You can sand this stuff with fine grits like 400 or 600 and taper it down to nothing where it meets the skin. It sands to a very smooth surface, ready to prime or paint.

But first, it's time to switch from the wide black PVC tape that has been on all during this process, to a single layer of my red electrical tape. Why? Well, if you'll recall, the PVC tape is 20 mils thick. It's tough and durable, and stood up well to the rough sandpapers and hard sanding. This red tape is 7 mils thick. When I'm finished with all this work, and the canopy is primed and eventually painted, this tape is pulled, and the fairing tapers down to the clear plexiglass canopy. The thickness of the tape you use is what the final thickness of the fairing will be right at the plexi. I don't want a 20 mil edge left on the fairing. I'd much rather have it only 7 mils thick. So I pulled the PVC tape. It will only be fine sanding from this point on, so this will be suitable if I'm careful. The 20 mil thick edge is definitely something you feel with your hand. It's too thick. You want it reduced. Here's the replacement red tape, with some standard blue masking tape to cover the plexi that was exposed when I pulled the PVC tape.

Here's a closeup, showing how I very carefully placed the tape down right to the edge of the fiberglass fairing.

Now it's time to very carefully sand the edge of the fairing down to the 7 mil thickness of the red tape. Remember, you're removing roughly 13 mils of material here. That's not much. I used small pieces of 150 grit sandpaper as seen here, wrapped around my finger or thumb. Hold it in place with your other hand and very carefully work along the edge of the fairing to bring it down. This is actually very effective. Don't expect to go too fast. I took it an inch at a time, but before long, I had brought the whole edge line down to the tape.

NOW it's time to mix up the resin with the number 410 and apply it. Here it is a while later, smoothed out and left to cure.

If I'm lucky, this will be the last batch of resin I have to mix up, and the final sanding will soon take place.

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