Removable Belly Panels

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The plans called for a fabric encased belly which means that once the fabric is attached, I would have to cut it open to get inside the belly or tear out the complete interior and remove the floorboards to get at what I need to, which is an equally bad idea . . . and there’s no way I’m going to use inspection rings in the fabric because I’ll never place them exactly where they should be and they are just too small to ever get any work done.

Because it’s the belly, it’s an area that is likely to get a lot of abuse including water, dirt, stones, rocks and worse. I decided to divide the belly up into four removable panels with fixed sections between them. At each fuse tube crossover point I welded a pair of channels approximetely 10 inches apart.  These channels would be used to rivet fixed aluminum skins to.  In-between these fixed sections I would fabricate removable panels shaped with the same belly contour as the fixed sections. Using the rotisserie, I welded the channels and pre fitted the fixed skins.  The channels were actually “Z” channels that had an edge that would provide the removable belly panels a lip to fit up against.  The next question was, what material should I use to make the belly panels from. They have to be sturdy, light weight, follow the contour shape of the belly and be easily fastened.  On my next post I’ll describe what I used.

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