More Fuselage Skin

The rear part of the fuselage of the Bede BD-4C airplane that I am building is about 11 feet long. There are eight pieces of skin which cover it. The aft-most pieces are 0.016 inches thick and about 7.5 feet long. The four pieces farther forward are 0.020 inches thick about 3.5 feet long. I initially cut these to shape with a pneumatic sheet metal shear, which is basically a pair of electric scissors on steroids, and powered by compressed air instead of electricity. That gives me a rough shape like this.

Rough shape of bottom fuselage skin
Rough shape of bottom fuselage skin

I then draw a line for the exact size and (very carefully) cut the metal to size with a hand tool. Can you guess which of these is the real tool?

Cutting sheet metal with nail clippers
A) Cutting fuselage skin
Cutting sheet metal with a cut-off wheel in a Dremel
B) Cutting fuselage skin

The Dremel cut-off wheel leaves a straight but rough edge. I smooth it out a bit with a file and then debur it and the skin is ready to go on the airplane.

Two of the skins had to have cut-outs for the horizontal stabilator weldment but most of the skins are simple shapes with long straight lines.

Rough cut-out in fuselage skin
Rough cut-out for horizontal stabilator weldment.

Over the last several days, I did all four of the long BD-4C fuselage skins and the remaining bottom skin. Here is a shot of the two bottom skins, clecoed in place for a test fitting.

Bottom skins
Bottom fuselage skins for the BD-4C airplane

Next up: Bonding these skins onto the fuselage. Stay tuned.

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