So far my worst nightmare on this project. Also mentioned earlier, including the use of old blue Astro-turf.
This cradle has been fighting me with tooth and nail! The tear down wasn't bad, but it was the fiberglass cradle that was driving me crazy.
The problem with the cradle was the fact that it was too narrow and compressing the fuselage at the cockpit, flatting the sides and preventing the canopy frame to close without pushing the sides of the frame in to get it closed.
To correct the problems, the cradle frame supports needed to be spread wider, and the cradle needed to be spread about an inch to two inches so the fuselage will sit comfortably.
The first hurtle to overcome was widening the cradle. I was told that if I heated the cradle to over 180 degrees, the resin will soften enough to spread the fiberglass shell.
I cut a piece of board to fit the inside width of the shell and pressed it into place. I set up two halogen shop lights to heat up the resin.
I placed a thermometer inside the shell to monitor the temperature to 180 degrees.
While the shell was cooking, I turn my attention to correcting the dolly frame.
I sand blasted the rust and old paint
I was able to spread the uprights to the desired width without breaking the welds.
I then primed and painted the frame. But, this will change later after I find out that the shell cannot be corrected.
After days of fighting the cradle shell re-shape. (actually it was weeks!), I put the heat test to the max. The shell would not bend at 180, or 200 degrees, so I bumped it up to 300 degrees, and all it did was cook the resin, it would not bend!
So, I was left with the task of remaking the shell.
I started with the original shell, but mounted to a board with the correct spread. To prevent the polyester resin sticking to the old shape, I laid a layer of plastic on the surface.
Next a layer of peel ply nylon
Followed by a mixed layers of glass roving ...
and chopped glass mat, which soaks up a lot of resin!
After a dozen layers or so, the thickness of the finished cradle matched the old one. I spent a couple of hours sanding and finishing the shell so it would be ready for painting and re-covering.
Now let's get back to the dolly frame.... As it turned out, the new cradle and something special modified to the dolly rail, required the dolly to be modified.
The side uprights for the rocker arms needed to be moved out to the sides for the new width of the shell, and gone are the bottom tube supports and now are angle iron. I had my good friends at Sandia Trailer do the modifications.
And of course, it all had to be repainted!
Over the summer I was looking for a replacement material for that lousy Astro-turf crap. I bought carpet, but later was told that the pile was a little too thick and it would trap soil. It wasn't until I came across the solution at a boat repair shop here in Albuquerque of all places..... Interior boat carpet The material was soft, short pile, easy to clean, and it will not trap soil like regular carpet!
It was easy to cement to the fiberglass with Dapp contact cement, since the carpet was designed for that application.
I started at the edge, And carefully rolled the carpet into place, while applying pressure to ensure an even application.
Next I measured a lip of the carpet to be rolled over the edges for extra padding and protection
I used cloths pins to hold the carpet in place while the cement cured.
Here are the results of weeks of racking ones brain and fighting psychics. .. there was a lot of cursing too!
I hope making the mold for the replacement Horizontal stabilizer skin isn't this arduous!