Rebuilding a Fiberglass Fuselage

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It's a sad day when your new pattern ship bites the dust due to no fault of your own. With less than 25 flights on a new Storm EX my transmitter failed on takeoff, the plane did a wingover and was one dead ship. It could have been much worse. The wings and stab were only slightly damaged but the engine had separated from the fuse at the firewall and there was a lot of crushed fiberglass in the nose section. I recovered all the parts and they seemed to fit together somewhat. It looked like it could be rebuilt.    These photos don't do justice to the amount of damage that was done.


Storm EX before crash (13K bytes)


Storm's Right Nose with bracing (11K bytes)

Storm's Left Nose with Bracing (12K bytes)
I do some scratch building so I had a Gator fuselage jig. I put the damaged fuse in the jig, lined everything up and started to work. The first thing was to align and stabalize the nose section. With the canopy and chin cowl in place and fitted as well as possible, hardwood 1/4" square strips were laid on the top of the fiberglass and tacked into place with CA.  This would hold the nose section in perfect alignment. Canopy view with carbon fibre (11K bytes)
Nose view after sanding (7K bytes) Nose section with filler (7K bytes)

After the fuse was aligned, I took it out of the jig and put a liner of carbon fiber mat inside the nose area. This gave plenty of strength. The hardwood strips were removed and the top was sanded with 80 grit sandpaper as close as possible to final shape. Some areas sanded through to the carbon mat and there were a lot of low areas.

Now all that was left to do was to fill and shape the front. I used micro balloons and epoxy for this job. There are probably other products that would work equally well. Sand this to shape, redo, sand again, redo, sand; finally I had a shape that approached the original.

Storm after repair (7K bytes)


Good enough! Now paint and that was it. The original airplane weighed 9#14 oz. After the repaired it comes in at 10#5oz. You might notice that I changed the color of the the canopy.  The white canopy always made me think there was a wing up while trying to draw a horizontal line and I did a lot of unnecessary correcting. The dark is much better for me.

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