BD-4C Doors and Ventral Fin

In and around helping Act Two Theatre with our production of Chicago, I have been continuing to work on the doors of my Bede BD-4C airplane. I tack welded the pilot side door together and it came out “OK.” At first, it did not fit as well as I wanted but I was able to cut one weld apart, remove about ¼ inch of metal, and put it back together.

It is hard to believe but I started working on the dorsal and ventral fins last August (see Sheet Metal Bending Brake for Dorsal and Ventral Fins). I did not use my handmade brake for the ventral fin. Instead, I made a wedge and used it to drive the ventral fin into a slot. It worked better than the brake that I used for the dorsal fin. Here is a picture (and you can click on it to see a larger version).

Bending the ventral fin
Bending the ventral fin

Continue reading BD-4C Doors and Ventral Fin

Starting on the BD-4C Doors

I have spent the last week making the steel frames for the doors for my BD-4C airplane. OK, let me be more precise. I spent the last week making the first frame. Having done the copilot’s door, and figured out all the hard stuff, I made the pilot’s door in few hours today. The only task remaining is to tack-weld the pieces together but, since it is now 7:00pm, I think I will write this blog post and then go watch some Netflix with my beautiful bride of 16 years and a day (yesterday was our anniversary <3 ). Continue reading Starting on the BD-4C Doors

Garage Heaters and Airplane Progress

I only have a little bit to say about my airplane this week so today’s post starts in a different direction. My friend, Don, and I got to talking last night. He is building a wooden sailboat in his garage. How cool is that?! As it turns out, it’s a bit too cool for Don to work on it this time of year. Continue reading Garage Heaters and Airplane Progress

Tailcone is Done!

It’s hard to believe but I have actually finished the tailcone of my Bede BD-4C airplane. Lots of nutplates, screws, and rivets. I think the hardware to hold it together may well weigh more than the aluminum in the tailcone itself. Here it is assembled to the back of the fuselage. (Click any photo to see it larger.)

Left side of Bede BD-4C tailcone.
Left side of Bede BD-4C tailcone. Note rivets along the bottom and back. Screws hold it to the fuselage at the front and screws hold the top on.

Continue reading Tailcone is Done!

Return of the Bede BD-4C Tailcone

In December 2011, when I first started building my Bede BD-4C airplane, I made the tailcone according to the drawings. I documented that process in two blog posts, Top of the Tail Cone and Bede BD-4C Tail Cone. In the intervening three years, I ended up rebuilding the tail of the fuselage to fit the weldment which holds the horizontal part of the tail. (The weldment is the black piece visible in the photo below.) As a side effect of this rebuild, the original tailcone was too wide. I had to build a new one.

This time around, I used the old parts as templates but measured the fuselage and fabricated all of the parts to fit the airplane. I started with the two sides. (Click any photo to see a larger version.)

Left side of Bede BD-4C tailcone
Left side of Bede BD-4C tailcone

Continue reading Return of the Bede BD-4C Tailcone

Finished the Bede BD-4C Rear Seat Frame

The first brace for the rear seat frame of my Bede BD-4C airplane took so long that I thought the remaining three would take quite awhile. I was wrong. With help from my friend, Dave, I got them all done on Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving. Here are photos of the complete set of braces and Dave test fitting the two braces on the right side of the fuselage.

Rear seat braces.
Braces for the Bede BD-4C airplane rear seat frame.

Continue reading Finished the Bede BD-4C Rear Seat Frame

Fabricating Steel Parts

Now that I am a “master welder” (hah! :-P ) I am moving forward with fabricating steel parts for my Bede BD-4C airplane. My first attempt was the tail skid. I had to have the tube bent for me, since I do not have a torch, but then I cut the tube to length and sanded the ends to the angles necessary to mate up cleanly with the end plates. I made the end plates out of flat steel and then tack welded them to the tube. S.S. Welding took over from there and did the real welding for me. Here is what the skid looks like on the bottom of the back end of the fuselage.

Tail skid clecoed to Bede BD-4C fuselage.
Tail skid clecoed to Bede BD-4C fuselage.

With the tail skid done, I can now fabricate the ventral fin. Before I do the fin, though, I am going to finish up the frame for the rear seat. Continue reading Fabricating Steel Parts

Rear Seat Frame Progress

I made some progress on the rear seat frame for my Bede BD-4C airplane today. The rear seat is a surprisingly comfortable sling. I cut the tube which is the cross bar. I clamped some wood onto the fuselage to hold the tube in position. Then I continued fabricating the angles which will be riveted to the fuselage.

Here is what I have so far. Click any photo to see it larger. Continue reading Rear Seat Frame Progress


For years, I have joked that, I don’t weld. Well, now I do. There are a few steel components on my Bede BD-4C airplane that need to be fabricated to fit my plane. The main ones in front of me now are the door frames, the rear seat frame, the brackets for the front seat, and the tail skid. I talked to several people I trust and all advised me to just hire the welding done; that for the small amount of welding required it would not be cost-effective for me to acquire good equipment and learn to use it properly. Fortunately, I have found an excellent local welder so taking this advice is easy. (Hat tip to S. S. Radiator & Welding Service in Saint Peters, MO.)

But I was stymied because all of these components are made up of several bits of metal and, for most, I need to have the first few pieces fabricated and stuck together before I can fabricate the next few pieces. The solution, I decided, was to learn to do a tiny bit of welding, just the “tack welding” to temporarily hold stuff together while I fabricate. Then I can take the tack welded components over to S. S. Radiator & Welding for final welding.

So I acquired the bare minimum equipment and set to practicing and… ta da!… here are my first two pieces of steel, tack welded together:

First successful tack weld
First successful tack weld

So what do you think? Do I need a little more practice? :-)

Bede BD-4C Rudder Controls Access Panel

The Bede BD-4C airplane has a whole bunch of hardware inside the back end of the fuselage. The two rudder cables (one from each rudder pedal) are attached to a steel bellcrank. The bellcrank operates the front end of a push-pull rod (the back end of which is attached to a control horn on the bottom of the rudder). There are also four set-screws in this part of the plane, two for the rudder and two for the horizontal stabilator. And if that isn’t enough, there are bolts which hold the tail end of the stabilator push-pull rod and a whole bracket for holding the back end of the trim cable. It is a lot of stuff. Continue reading Bede BD-4C Rudder Controls Access Panel