Fuselage #1

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The fuselage frame including the fuel tank

Big part of the project

Well here I go.

This is going to be exciting, a big part of the project. I am expecting this to take a good few months.
Organized all the tubes now, put a new piece of paper on the workbench, and started making markings on the paper.
Almost ready to start !!!!


Extended workbench

Temporarily extended my workbench today, preparing myself for the fuselage. The longeron, see below right is created from 2 tubes, one 1″ with the kink in it, and one 7/8″.

Without riveting the two together, I am going to build the 2 side panels.

Then I separate the front from the back, and plan to finish the whole front fuselage first. I am doing this because the whole fuselage is something like 7m long, too long to fit in the garage. This way I can stay working in the garage as long as possible. Later on I have to move into our shed, big enough to finish the Bleriot XI.


Above you see the beginning of the side frame. The bits of tube there are the vertical tubes to go in between the longeron’s. Because the longeron has a kink, I decided to start this way. Once laid out and marked , I determined where the kink was going to be.

Right you see a curved bit of ply (used for elevator) screwed into place to bend the longeron. I did bend all 4 longeron’s so next I can start building !!!!! Yeah.


Timber blocks

Not a lot happening this week, lots of Olympics on TV, Great! Watched my step-daughter grooming the horse she owns, for the NZ eventing team – he won the team bronze medalGREAT!!

But today, I worked on the last preparations before I can start with the fuselage. Made a whole lot of timber blocks, to screw into the bench, to keep the longeron’s in place. And because the fuselage of the Bleriot is symmetrical, I can take out the first side and put it back upside down using the same blocks, before building the other side on top of the first side. The timber blocks are high enough to hold both sides. Also made ten 2″ sleeves that go over the longeron in various places, so all ready for the big job now 🙂

New gusset plate

Today I made a new gusset plate to go at the top of the front of the fuselage. Roberts design has the top horizontal tube of the landing gear on top of the two top longerons, but I have decided to put it underneath these longerons. Reason is that this was done in the original Bleriot, and it makes more sense to have the weight of the plane push against the bottom of the two top longerons. Also it means that the (don’t know what its called) cover that goes over the fuel tank, doesn’t have cutouts for this top horizontal tube of the landing gear. Hope it all makes sense, and if not, you will see when its built.


Left gusset is the new one.  Right gusset is the original one.


Here is the first vertical tube (the front one) of the side “panel” of the fuselage in place.

You also see the bolt poking out on the far right. It is going to hold the engine mount, a frame of 1″ square steel.

At the left you see how I hold the aluminium tube in place while fixing the vertical tubes………

More tomorrow

2 Gusset plates

Installed the first 2 Gusset plates for the fuselage. All went really well, and I am really happy how it went. No problems, just a few more and its all done !!!

Below is the new gusset plate I made yesterday. So that is at the front of the fuselage at the top. Here you can see how the top horizontal tube of the landing gear goes underneath the longeron, instead of on top.



Tonight I cut two more “vertical” tubes in the drill press with a 1″ hole saw. I am getting better at this now. Also drilled the holes for the bottom two gusset plates, so next is the top gusset plate.

Will show you about that one later as that is another special Gert one as well…….

Carry through gusset

Yesterday I fixed the front carry through in place. Made this gusset plate myself. Didn’t like to have the whole wing just bolted in the double 7/8″ tubes, so Basically made a bigger gusset plate that strengthens the whole thing. Also the carry through, fits perfectly so all forces are nicely distributed.





And the third “station”, at least I think that’s how Robert calls it went in today, see below

And who needs Cleco’s. I find with the right drill bit size, putting the rivet in, makes it sit perfectly in place. So after every hole I just put the rivet in and it won’t move anymore.

Oh yes, I drill all holes in the gusset plate first, before I position it on the tubing.


Today I finished the back carry through gusset plate. Same story here as the front carry through, didn’t like the 5/16″ bolt going through the two 7/8″ tubes. Will install this plate tomorrow !!! Can’t wait 🙂

Finished front section fuselage

Two sizes of tube are used for the longeron, 1″ at the front and 7/8″ at the back. Today I finished the front of the fuselage. Showing it of in the garden, with Ben the Labrador. Tomorrow planning to finish the back of the fuselage using my extended workbench, 4.8m + 2.4m = 7.2m.


Second station

With my son’s birthday this weekend, didn’t do a lot. Finished the front station and I am about to rivet the second station with the front carry through in it. But I have all evening tomorrow tonight, so should be able to do quite a bit, hopefully 2 more stations.

Hope that’s the right word (station) looks strange to me.

Left side almost done

Ooops, forgot to update you on my progress. Yes by the way we had a nice weekend last week, away from home.

The left side of the fuselage is almost done now. Well I mean the front side using the the 1″ longeron. Currently doing a little half circle tube that is on the left side for stepping into the Bleriot. Will show you with a photo in one of the next few days, when that is finished.

Foot step

Here is the foot step. Walked into a local engineering workshop. They had a tube bender so I could bend this bit nicely !! As you can see there is some room between the foot step and the vertical tube for the tube that will go diagonally from there.

Front of the left side is finished now (apart from the diagonals).



Diagonal tubes

Have started making diagonal tubes for the side walls of the fuselage, done 2 so far.

Also bought some 1″ square tube steel and started cutting it, to make the base of the engine mount. I will be using this when I start joining the two fuselage halves. I figured that it is a lot easier to do it this way than trying to fit the engine mount later on. Also everything will be nicely “square”, if that’s the right word to use, but you know what I mean 🙂

Base of engine mount

The base of the engine mount, cut, ready to be welded. But before I have that done, I need to get some brackets ready, for bracing the landing gear, and a couple for the cabine.
The steel tubes look a bit bent but that’s just an illusion, they are straight, really 🙂


Steel brackets

Today and yesterday, I finished coping 4 of the 5 diagonals for the left side of the fuselage.

I am not doing one of them yet, because the control horn for the aileron will be close to that 5th one. So I will wait til I know exactly where the aileron control horn is going to be.

I also finished making the steel brackets that will be welded onto the engine mount. 4 Brackets will be bolted into the 4 gusset plates at the front of the fuselage (left side gusset plates on the left in photo below). And also some of the brackets that hold the steel wire for bracing the landing gear.

Riveted 3 of the 4 diagonals

Riveted 3 of the 4 diagonals in position. I will do the 4th one after the two carry through for the wing have been put in position as I need some room for drilling holes. You can just see that in the photo here, where the second diagonal is just held in position with sticky tape. I will be drilling from the right side into the carry through.

This is not far away!!

In about a week I will fix the two sides of the fuselage to the base of the engine mount. At the same time I will position the fire wall and the two carry through’s for the wing, so all very exciting.


Engine mount

Yes the engine mount is here. It’s the base of the frame. I will do the remainder when I have an engine.

The frame also has 4 brackets welded to it that get bolted to the 4 front gusset plates, and 4 brackets for the bracing wires of the landing gear.



PS note the cat un-aware of my exciting new frame.


Bent the side panels of fuselage

Sounds a bit boring but today I bent the side panels of the fuselage. I did that about 1′ behind the rear carry through. So from that point, the two side panels start moving closer together. Also re-adjusted the engine mount a bit with the neighbour who did the welding, and now it fits perfectly !!!!!

  • Next few jobs on the list are;
  • Cutting the 2 sheets of ply-wood that get fitted on the outside of the fuselage now the 2 sides are not permanently joined.
  • Preparing the firewall. It will be easier to “insert” in between the two sides at this stage.

And cutting and installing the two carry through’s. They fit very snug in the 4 holes, so will insert them as the last thing before I start with the tubes that connect the two sides of the fuselage !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

Firewall fits

Yes the firewall fits!!

In case you don’t know, the fire wall sits in between the engine and the pilot.

I even made a 1/2 inch up-stand that sticks out just outside the fuselage, “pointing” backwards. You can just see it (if you know what you are looking for) on the right here just to the right of the diagonal tube. The idea is that the 5mm ply wood sheet, nicely slots into it.


All the cross tubes

In the last few days I have done all the cross tubes except for the last one at the back. Will do that one when I attach the back of the fuselage.

(fuselage is shown upside down here)

And yes in case you picked it up, I haven’t done the 4 cross tubes that carry the seat and the foot rests. Have something else for those in mind.


Tomorrow some diagonals at the bottom and the top.Starting to look impressive now, won’t be long and I will start on the controls and the seat !!!!!!!!


How am I going to do the seat

Turned the fuselage around again, the right way up and started on the diagonals.

Also started thinking how I am going to do the seat, or more precisely what framing to create to mount it on. So in the near future I might be doing some work with ply to create a nice authentic looking seat 🙂

But before that I need to put the fuel tank in, as I can’t finish the cross tubes and diagonals because they would be in the way.

Control stick

In the last few days I have finished all the diagonals that I could do, and now before I can continue with the seat I have made the control stick, or at least the start of it. This way I can find out how far it needs to be positioned forward so I can start with the tubes carrying the seat 🙂


Yes summer is really slowing me down. So many other little projects and big gardens to maintain.

Every day when we come home from work, we spend at least half an hour in the garden, looking for weeds, planting plants, mowing lawns etc etc.

And then half an hour or more working on the plane, before we start preparing tea. That way there is more time in the weekend.



But before Xmas I am finishing a path with pavers, so that will take a few days, and them before you know it, its the end of the year.

But really enjoying building the Bleriot !!!!!

Fitting the fuel tank

Back on the job!!! Had a little holiday between Christmas and new year. Yesterday and today worked on fitting the fuel tank. Used EVA foam, so the tank snugly fits “inside” the fuselage. Also made some brackets that need some welding done. These brackets are going to “carry” the fuel tank.



Cutting ply

Waiting for some welding to be done on the fuel tank and the first stage of my seat.

So today I cut the ply that goes on the side of the fuselage. It fits perfectly. Looks a bit strange right now, a bit naked.


Also today, I started with the the cabane struts. In wire-braced monoplanes, e.g. the Blériot XI, the cabane struts (generally referred to as the cabane) form the structure above the wings to which the wing’s bracing wires are attached.


Fuel tank brackets mounted

OK sorry it has been a bit quiet here. Lots of other things happening, but more progress is about to happen.

The welding on the fuel tank and the brackets supporting the tank were done a couple of weeks ago. Tonight I managed to put the tank in position and bolt the brackets in place. Will make a few photo’s tomorrow 🙂

Bolts through carry through

Tightened up the 4 AN5 bolts that go through the 2″ carry through, to lock them into the fuselage frame. You can just see one of them in the big photo above, on the left side of the front carry through.

You might remember that the 2 vertical tubes on each side of the carry through have a second tube inside, to make it all nice and strong !!!

The same 4 bolts also hold the four 1 and 7/8″ inserts in place that now stick out on each side of the fuselage (again see big photo above for the front right insert). The 2″ wing spars will slide over these when attached to the fuselage.

Also started with the cross tubes (connecting the left and right side) where the two floor boards go. These cross tubes don’t “hang” underneath the bottom 2 longerons, but I am placing them on top. Will show you on Saturday what that is going to look like.