Composite Structures Tech Page   byBob "Groucho" Marks
Strange Truths, Savage Lies, and Obvious Propaganda About the Itchy and Sticky Stuff

The above photos show the Proteus high-altitude aircraft under construction and in its natural element. This is just one of the dozens of composite primary structure aerospace projects I have been intimately involved in. In fact, many of the structural panels on the MachPit are scraps from the Proteus.

I have been doing this stuff in one way or another for a long time now,  about 16 years. Actually longer than that if you count the surfboard ding repairs and Hobie Cat patches done in my misspent youth. After being in the thick of it for so long, sometimes it's easy to forget that when you sling around terms like "layup schedules" and "cure cycles" most people will have no idea what the hell you are talking about, or where to get the stuff to try it themselves.

That's why I have started this page. Well, that and threats of physical violence from my buddies in the SimPit community.

Fabrication Information: Sources and Stuff

OK- I admit it. I have a job where I can get my clammy hands on normally very expensive materials far cheaper than the average Sim builder on the street (as a volume user we buy direct from weavers and manufacturers) or even free (by scabbing chunks of scrap and generally circling like a vulture around projects).  The MachPit is an amalgam of such cast-offs and debris from legitimate aircraft and spacecraft programs. 

But you've gotta go solo. Don't freak- thousands have done it before. A good pair of introductory books to composite construction techniques are MOLDLESS COMPOSITE SANDWICH HOMEBUILT AIRCRAFT CONSTRUCTION (Burt Rutan- long before he became my boss) and UNDERSTANDING AIRCRAFT COMPOSITE CONSTRUCTION (Zeke Smith), both avaliable through Aircraft Spruce (below). Spruce has many other reference publications as well.

 This site is not going to be a full-blown course on the theory and execution of taking on your own composite Simulator Cockpit, or anything else for that matter. I'll probably confuse most people, piss the others off, and just plain get lots of stuff wrong. I know just enough engineering to be dangerous. Besides, I don't feel like it. But here are some excellent sources of information on building techniques and materials:

Aircraft Spruce and Specialty - An excellent source for composite materials- carbon fibers, fiberglass, epoxy resins, and core materials, as well as the books referenced above. Prices are not too bad. Lots of metal stock, milspec hardware, and other aircraft stuff for your cockpit, too! They have branches on all continents, and online ordering is avaliable.

Gougeon Brothers- These guys are a great source of information on epoxy composite fabrication techniques and materials. Their Technical Manual (part of their FREE Literature Package) is a "Must Have"- a great introduction to the wonderful (and toxic) world of composite fabrication.Their Pro-Set 125/229 Laminating Epoxy is used extensively throughout the MachPit and, indeed, on the Proteus aircraft above. They are really big in the marine industry, and as such are known worldwide. Their web site has links to distributors all over the globe.

Composite Structures Technology - Good Source of materials, supplies, and general info on things composite.  Not the cheapest source- but a fairly complete one. Low min orders as they are geared towards modelers. We're modelers, after a fact, no?