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Project Log
Aircraft Construction - Pitts 14 Prototype

Aluminum Turtledeck
Pitts 14 Prototype
Created: 04/05/2005
Updated: 11/18/2005
Link(s): N/A
Article by Mike Whaley
In the first part of June, we evaluated several options for the turtledeck and ultimately decided on an all aluminum structure which is held together with a combination of rivets and epoxy adhesives. Despite the size of the assembly (it's a very tall turtledeck compared to many biplanes) it is actually quite lightweight, very strong, and offers a respectable amount of room for storage (of course, the amount that you can store in it will also depend on weight and balance considerations.)

We had to work out a few difficult curves near the fin, and even covered the section around the base of the fin and the rear edge of the turtledeck with fabric a few times to work out both what shape to make the turtledeck and how the fuselage-fin-turtledeck junction would look. It turned out that we just added a simple, sanded wooden filler strip on each side of the base rib of the vertical stabilizer to provide a smooth transition for the fabric between the fuselage, turtledeck, and fin.

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We initially put some fabric on to get an idea of the shape that we would need to make the turtledeck.  
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As you can see, there are still some serious cosmetic issues to sort out at this point!  
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The test pieces don't need to be pretty, just functional.  
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The turtledeck assembly is all aluminum. It's fairly large, but lightweight.  
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There's a good amount of room for sleeping bags, first aid kit, overnight bag, etc.  
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The rear of the turtledeck assembly. The wooden filler strips are visible at the top of the photo.  
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This is the simple solution to getting the fabric to make a nice curve on the tail.  
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Another view of the filler strips.  

Other entries in this series:
     Construction Begins    May 2003
     Fuselage Basic Structure    June 2003
     Fuselage Basic Structure Completed, Engine Arrives, Steve Culp Helps Out    July 2003
     Pitts Model 14 Introduced at Oshkosh    4th week of July 2003
     Curtis Visits to Continue the Design, Wing Construction Begins    August 2003
     Wing Construction Underway    September 2003
     Lower Wing Basic Construction    October 2003
     Lower Wing Details and First Fuselage Formers    November 2003
     Fuselage Formers, Skin and Wing Details    December 2003
     Fuselage Side Panels and Upper Wing Construction    January 2004
     Wing-Root Fairings, Fuselage Skin Panels, and Upper Wing    February 2004
     Fuselage Side Panels, Wing Rigging, Engine Arrives    March 2004
     Sun N 'Fun 2004    April 2004
     Summer 2004 Status Update    May 2004
      » Aluminum Turtledeck    1st week of June 2004
     Sheet Metal Work, AirVenture    4th week of June 2004
     Adjustable Seats, Part 1    August 2004
     Adjustable Seats, Part 2    December 2004
     Wings    December 2004
     Throttle Quadrant    December 2004
     Spring 2005    March 2005

If you have any additions or corrections to this item, please let us know.

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