Fun with Fiberglass

Last updated - 12/09/07.

I am at the stage in the build where I am still collecting parts for my engine build, and I don't have the next kit, so I am still futzing around on the fuselage. Looking at the cockpit, the idea of the center console always seems to come up. I know I want an arm rest, but I'm not sure if I want or need a center console. So, I started to look into this.

I was thinking how I could build the arm rest from .025, and there's always that problem with the sharp corners. Obviously, I can cover the arm rest with the headliner foam material that I plan on using for the interior. That covers the normal day-to-day flying, but in case of a hard landing or something worse, I don't like the idea of a sharp corner of the arm rest poking through my ribs. Plus, I was looking at the cost of aluminum sheet on Van's website, and it looks like this stuff has gone through the roof.

Then, I saw that someone made a center console out of fiberglass. Seems obvious now, but at the time this was a real "ah ha". Fiberglass solves all of the problems with the arm rest, and even the center console. You can form fiberglass in any shape that you want, or at least any shape that you can carve out of foam. It is relatively light, and once you have the materials, it's pretty cheap to build new parts.

Up to this point, all I had done on the airplane was to cover the ends of the elevator counterbalances, which I did using 5-minute Hobby Epoxy for models, and whatever fiberglass I had laying around. I figured if I was going to fabricate some new parts, I should try to do it right. So, it was back to the internet to look at what I would need to do real fiberglass work.

First stop was Jim Andrew's fiberglass tutorial. Jim lists everything that you need to get started. I've seen a few other lists, and they are similar. So, I placed an order with Aircraft Spruce, and for $200, I was on my way. The following links describe my adventures in fiberglass: