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Building in a living space?


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Hello, everybody. By way of introductions, my (yes, real) name is Eagle, and I've been obsessing about building an airplane for way too long now. I got my private pilot license about 5 years ago, and now have 110 total hours, plus a few in gliders (fun!). I'm a grad student, finishing up my PhD in computer science at UCLA.


After my second straight week of staying up until 2-3 am reading these forums and every homebuilt canard page I could find, I think it's time to actually consider doing this. I see the people who say, "the only thing to do is start building sooner, no matter what", and I -do- have some really good excuses: I am a poor grad student. I live in the middle of LA, in a studio apartment.


I then read of Bulent, who started building in his apartment. I then look around my apartment and say, "Hmm... If I don't watch TV anymore, then that's more time for building... And I won't need that couch any more." So I could maybe clear out my living space. This space is 11'x9'. There's a half-wall between that space and my bedroom area. This wall is exactly 35" high. If I built the workbench a couple feet into the bedroom area, I could actually have an 11-12' bench and still be able to get around it on the other end.



1, and super-important: Is is a really bad idea to sleep in the same room as your curing epoxy? I can't find the MSDS for MGS anywhere on the web, but I can't imagine it would be good for you. On the other hand, it seems like most people are around the project when the fumes are there, and when there aren't fumes and dust, it's because they're not there and not creating said fumes and dust... So I shouldn't have too much more exposure than anybody else, right? The main thing I'm worried about is overnight cures and such. I'm not willing to risk my health for this.


2: Is this a sane space with which to work? I don't plan to be here for too long, maybe another year tops until I finish my PhD. Maybe I can get the fuselage done in that time. If planning on only starting the first part of the project, and not getting to the wings, how would you minimize the tools, table size, etc required?


3: Who's got a project, and/or flying plane anywhere near me? I've seen a canard flying in and out of Santa Monica a few times, not sure what variety. I'd love to sit in a cozy and try the fit - I'm 6'5". And if we could go up, of course, I'd buy gas, and lunch, and try to keep my hands off the stick. :D


Thanks in advance for those who might answer; and thanks to the entire community for the inspiration.



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Hello, everybody.

Welcome! Sounds like you have a great background and a computer scientist to boot! Not bad.


I see the people who say, "the only thing to do is start building sooner, no matter what", and I -do- have some really good excuses: I am a poor grad student. I live in the middle of LA, in a studio apartment.

I'm a professional procrastinator (or perfectionist?), so take my words w/a grain of salt. I started without a well-setup shop, and then had to stop because "an act of god" encroached on my space. It was hard to get going again, and looking back, I should have done more housekeeping before pulling the trigger.


I wouldn't worry about building a full-size table just yet -- you get the first 4 chapters of a Cozy IV done on a 4'x4' table (or possibly smaller). Do that before you throw away the couch, etc.


Pace yourself. These things take hours, days, weeks, months, and years to complete. It's a hobby and comes second after your necessities. If you start too fast and too much, you may find yourself like me -- needing to pause and backup a step or two.


Finally, yes, you can build in small areas if you're willing to sacrifice. As far as curing epoxy in living areas, I would worry about some venting so that you don't have to wear a respirator when sleeping. Then again, I've brought parts into a room in my house to cure without worrying too much about killing off my family (thinking parts per million went way down).


If you want to go for it, and build a real area inside your studio, just throw up some PVC pipe and put 6mil plastic all over it. Put a small exhaust fan/vent in to create a gentle flow of air outside. But don't go too crazy. How long do you think you'll be living there?


Building soon is good -- you can do a LOT that doesn't even require a shop:

  • Make full-size templates (or buy them)
  • project plan -- what is your critical path?
  • order materials
  • read plans BEFORE instead of during work sessions
  • read plans again... and again...
You can look here for builders in LA, or join the CSA to get a memberlist of canard flyers/builders, join the Yahoo Canard Aviators group, and join the COZY mailing list at www.cozybuilders.org


Have fun!

Jon Matcho :busy:
Builder & Canard Zone Admin
Now:  Rebuilding Quickie Tri-Q200 N479E
Next:  Resume building a Cozy Mark IV

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From someone who started in a small workspace, the answer is yes, but you'll need to plan carefully.


The key is to build all the small parts first, and then assemble them once you have a larger space to build. This isn't quite as satisfying as seeing the fuselage come together in 3D, but you can probably build 40% of this way. (It's not essential to follow the order of the chapters in the plans, but you'll need to read all of them if you skip steps, since it's helpful to understand how the different pieces fit together before you build them.)


Here's my list, in order:


Small Parts:


  • Bulkheads (Chapt 4): Start with these, they are thin and easily stored, no part measures more than 26"x42". All you need is desk to build them on. Take around 50-60 hrs to build. (Don't start with the seatback bulkhead as called for in the plans, as this is the hardest part to make. Start first with one of the small bulkheads, like F-28).

  • Hot air duct / center keel (Chapt 6?): Also long and narrow. Easy to assemble and store.

  • Strake fuel baffles (forget the chapter): These are the verticle bulkheads that are inside the strakes. Go to the Cozygirrrl's website (www.cozygirrrl.com) to see how to lay them up on a single sheet of foam.

  • Main Spar (Chapt 14?): This is a fairly complex part, but great to build if you have a long, narrow workspace. It's about 12' long, but only 6-8" wide. It'll take you about a 100 hrs.

  • Canard, elevators (Chapt 10-11): Another long, thin part. About 12' long, 7" or so wide. About as complex as the main spar.

[*]Larger Components (Still doable, if you don't assemble the separate pieces, and have somewhere to keep them):

  • Fuselage sides (Chapt 5): Each one is about 8.5' long, 23" wide. Build them separately (instead of both at once, like in the plans), and you should be fine. If you don't assemble them together with the bulkheads, you can store them (they are mostly flat) easily.

  • Nose gear bulkhead supports (forget the chapter). This is the bulkheads that the nose gear attaches too. You can build it first, without attaching it to the fuselage (better that way, actually, as you can ensure it is 90 degrees to the centerline). Only a few inches wide, about 2' long.

  • Winglets (Chapt 20): These are quite doable in a small space, and will give you a great taste for the wings.

  • Wings (Chapt 19): If you do them one at a time, it MAY be possible to build one wing at a time, but I would wait until you've done all the other parts first, since it'll be harder to store the wings than any of the other things.

All of the above are major components that will probably take you about 400 (750 hrs if you build the wings & winglets too) hrs to build, in total. By the time you're finished with those, it'll be 6-12 months from now, and your living situation may have changed, or you might find a better place to build. But you'll have finished a LOT of the project.


Your main challenge will be avioding making a huge mess from sanding the foam. Get a shop vac, and set up a system where you can seal off your work area. (recommend setting up hanging plastic sheeting from the ceiling. Roll it up and down to seal off the work area. This should prevent epoxy fumes as well.)

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