Parachute Skin

Time 2.5 hrs

Today I drilled the holes to mount the parachute skin. This will be riveted later after the plane is painted and is riveted with a small removable spacer so that the panel can be more easily removed as the rocket flies through it and deploys the chute. Like everything on the plane I figured this would be fairly quick, but even after being careful to hold down the skin as the holes were drilled I still ended up with a few spots (in front) where the skin doesn’t sit down tight enough to the other fuselage skin. I figured that putting an edge on the skin might help, but this only helped a little. I ended up unriveting the galvanized plate inside and bending it to fit the shape of the fuselage I also notched the plate to fit better into the channel where the rocket will sit so that the skin would sit more flush. This helped the most and the skin fits much better now. However after looking at a factory photo from Craig M’s site I notice that TAF added a few more rivets in the problem spot so I guess I’ll  do the same to get a bit better fit.

Lots of tape to make sure the skin was sitting flat on the fuselage. It took some time to make sure it was positioned correctly. I mainly used the forward edge as a guide to make sure it was straight with the canopy to fuselage seem.

All the holes drilled and the skin checked down. At this point I thought I was done, until I saw this….

Ahhh WTF the skin doesn’t sit flush on the fuselage and since it’s the leading edge it would be good if if sat nice and flat. I know that the rivets will be a bit more relaxed then how the clecos are holding it down now, but since I don’t think that’s going to easy the gap that much. Also I don’t know if any kind of sealant is used when the skin is installed, even if the the fit was pretty tight I would image water would still get in. I guess I’ll have to find out.

To get a better fit I decided to use the edging tool to put a bevel on the edge. This actually didn’t help as much as I hoped. Next I removing the galvanized reinforcing plate so that I could do some work to it. It’s a pretty stiff piece of metal so making that fit better should help the fitment of the skin.

I added in a slight bend to the plate and also notched the edge so it fit down into the rocket channel better.

Well that’s quite a bit better. There’s one spot on the front that still isn’t great and also on the back near the antenna. I saw from the factory photo though that TAF added in a few extra rivets. So I will probably do the same.

Here’s the factory photo taken from Craig M’s site that I was referring to. You can see about 2 extra rivets added to the front and a rivet in the back near the antenna. Also it looks like they beveled the skin as well so I guess I was on to something there 🙂