Workshop & Tools
A two car garage should provide plenty of room for
most operations I'm told. I will probably move to a hangar when I'm
adding the strakes because at that point the fuselage will grow from
being 4ft wide to almost 12ft wide and will take up most of the
width of the available two car section of my garage and I think my
wife will object to leaving her car outside for several years.
To begin with it is more than adequate, I move
my wife's car out when I'm working on the plane and when I'm not the plane just takes the
space of a single car.
My 3-car garage had adequate lighting - for a garage,
a couple of pairs of 4ft fluorescent lights in the ceiling. I found I needed more light than
this and was always working with an inspection lamp so I added another 4 pairs
of 4ft fluorescent tubes in the ceiling.
For the epoxy to cure you have to maintain a
temperature of at least 70F. Where I live in, California, the garage maintains
this temperature from April through October. Outside of that I use a 1500watt
electric fan heater pointed at whatever bit is curing. That has worked fine on
smaller areas, when I come to work on larger areas I may find I'll need to add some sort of a tent of
plastic sheeting draped over whatever is curing to maintain the temperature.
Others have used propane heaters very effectively - especially in colder
climates. Views are mixed on the use of kerosene heaters, the common view seems
to be that the fumes and smoke can cause delamination to occur.
A word of warning, my garage had a single 15A
supply for the lights and power outlets which was inadequate to run the heater
and lights, not to mention running the other
tools at the same time, so I ran a separate 15A line from the breaker box to a dedicated
outlet in the garage and plugged the electric heater in there. Thanks to my
friend and colleague Dennis Goren for his "consulting" advice on how
to install a new breaker.
Building a Velocity requires few specialized tools. Most of
the the tools I bought from Home Depot, Orchard Supply or Sears. They are
useful for other jobs around the house and so I could easily justify the cost.
There were just a couple of unusual things I had to buy or
- Air Compressor - not strictly necessary but very handy for
driving various drills, saws, grinders and sanders that are more powerful
than the more common electrical equivalents. You need about a 5HP, 30 cu.
ft. model to have enough power to drive everything. The only thing to be
careful of is that you get an oil-less or oil-free type, oil expelled from
the tools can cause delamination of the fibreglass. Air compressors are
often on sale, and I picked mine up from Sears for about $300. It is a
vertical standing model with wheels to move it around.
- Air tools - saw, die grinder etc can be expensive, general
opinion seems to be that the cheaper tools last just as long as the more
expensive ones. Picked mine up when they were on sale at Harbor Freight.
- Epoxy pump - again not strictly necessary as you could
weigh out the epoxy and hardener every time you mix a batch but it makes
life a whole lot easier. Having the correct ratio of epoxy to hardener is
critical to a strong layup. Bought mine (a Michael's dispenser) from Velocity for about $225.
You will need a
heated box for the epoxy pump or containers if you live in a cold climate -
again the epoxy and hardener should be kept above 70F when they are being
used, I usually keep mine at 85F, the epoxy and hardener seem to mix more
easily and are definitely easier to work with at higher temperatures. On
cold days (60F) I have about 20 minutes before it cools down and becomes too
viscous to work with. When not being used the epoxy can be stored at
I wired up a
60Watt bulb and thermostat (line voltage type) to do the heating inside the
heated box. When testing I found that the epoxy container nearest the bulb
became significantly hotter than the hardener container which was a few
inches further away (probably because of radiant heat from the bulb). To
minimize this problem I added a foil barrier to the epoxy container
(actually the base of a pie container bought from a local store - ate the
pie then used the container) and then added aluminum foil wrap around all of
the inside surfaces of the box so that heat would be reflected from all
around inside the box. This seems to work fine and both the epoxy and
hardener are maintained at about the same temperature.
The box itself was made from 5/8
inch plywood. It's big enough to hold the epoxy pump with a few inches to
spare all around - about 18in wide, 15in deep and 27in high with a hinged
door at the front. In colder climates you might want to add foam insulation
around the outside, I didn't need to.
(heated box, click for larger
I bought the fast build kit and so
needed somewhere to store the wings while I was working on the fuselage. The
garage has finished walls and so she who must be obeyed had a strong
preference for not drilling unnecessary holes in the walls or ceiling. A
fellow builder, David Doshay, had shown me his wing rack which consisted of
a couple of letter W's made of 2x4 and stored on the ground. The wooden
frames were placed at either end of the wings and the wings stored with
their leading edge down, one side of each W had a strap to support the
leading edge, the other side had a horizontal 2x4 to support the spar, see
the picture below. I modified this idea a little by attaching pulleys to the
Ws and then building a frame of 2x4 with pulleys at the top so that I could
raise the wings off the ground, they'd be less likely to be damaged and also
take up virtually no room. Once the wings were raised I added some
additional 2x4 to strengthen the frame and take the load off the pulleys.