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Maciej's L45-013 Project and Updates!

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(Original thread started on 03-22-15 by Maciej Muranowski)

Finally, after few months of cleaning and moving stuff, shop is ready. Since I bought this house year and a half ago, basement was from day one cluttered with totes and other "treasures".

Basement 1


Basement 2


Then I had to fix few things, add some essential tools and on March 21st 2015 L45-013 Shell was born:

Shell 1

First few inches on many miles long trip.... done


(Posted by Ron Rollo on 03-23-15)

Hi Maciej, great looking start to your project and sim space! And for those that do not know, Maciej built L45-013 from paper plans. So a very nice looking start to the project indeed! Keep us posted and if you have any questions about the next steps in the shell progress, just ask.


(Posted by Maciej M. on 03-23-15)

As for permanent space, plan is to park SIM just like on the picture below. Wall in the background has been finished along with designated feed with 4 outlets on 20A breaker. There are 2 posts with distance between close to 8 feet and that's not enough for visual system using projectors and curved screen. Plan is to work with 3 to 5 ~60'' LED TV. Haven't figure out how to hook up 5 of them together... 2 graphics cards with 2 TripleHead2Go or 2 separate computers each with 1 graphic card and 1 TripleHead2Go? Found video on youtube with 737NG SIM with visual system I'm gonna be working on. Not sure yet how far I would need to back SIM away from the wall to get desired angle. If I have to strip TVs off or/and modify bezels, let it be. I may actually use structure posts to mount displays:

Shell 2


Workable space of the shop is 18 feet by 15 feet. Even with SIM parked like above, there is still plenty of space to do all sort of work. I know that on pictures looks a little squishy but in reality there is plenty room to have SIM and shop at once.


Bolting, notching and lateral strips on the shell next, along with floor system, "furniture" and MIP. I already secured 3 required monitors so have plenty to work on. In the meantime read, read and read once again. Today I finished assembling few pieces. I got Throttle Quadrant Pedestal, Center Pedestal and MIP Support Tower:

Furniture 1


Furniture 2


It fits the shell:



I also started working on Raiser Floor System. Plywood is in place. Ramped floor is not finished yet but it fits perfectly on both sides of Throttle Quadrant Pedestal and Central Pedestal. Will work on ramped floor fit between raised area under the seat and rudder pedal area. I need to figure out how to support it but will probably wait till I get Lower Column Set installed. MIP Backer Support next.

Today I made some progress on MIP Backer Support. Despite getting recommended monitors, JIGs didn't work for me. For some reason both side monitors cut out sections were flipped covering up power cable port:


After 2 failed attempts I decided to do it from the scratch. It doesn't have its final shape yet but I managed to fit 2 out of 3 monitors.


Question: Where did you guys place center monitor control switches? I found Ron's pictures for the other two:



Both Lenovo monitors have "wings" (2 on each side) used to attach it to monitor case. My understanding is that they need to be removed. Is there a preferred method of mounting MIP Backer to MIP Tower


(Posted by Ron Rollo on 04-06-15)

Hi Maciej, looking good! The monitors are a funny thing. The same model has at least three different inside parts that we know of. It could be that you found a forth. Or is it possible that the backer needs to be flipped? I have made at least four sets for the members here and when I have to do it, I just have the monitors shipped to me or I will find them myself because it is almost certain that they will not fit. So by you going on your own is the right path, at least you have a good template and you know what it should look like.


Yes, those metal tabs need to come off. I snipped mine off and used a dremel tool to finish them off.


I mounted the monitor switches on the back side of the monitor with tape I think. You will only need to adjust it once, and that adjustment will more than likely be the brightness. Everything else was fine. You can turn your center monitor to portrait in the windows software.


Your gonna need your MIP sooner than later to insure that all these pieces mesh properly. By the way, I used six wood screws to mount the MIP backer to the MIP tower. That is one of those areas I would wait until you do have the aluminum parts to insure you get it right. In the meantime, you could use clamps to hold the backer to the tower, without the monitors of course.


(Posted by Maciej M. on 04-06-15)

Ron, I tried all possible configurations with MIP Backer. The only way how all monitors would fit is with middle one facing... opposite site. . I should have gut these monitors out before I started cutting out MIP Backer just like you guys recommended.


I think I have enough slack on middle monitor controls to put it on the bottom edge of MIP Backer just like the other 2 Lenovo.


Now, I am wondering what is the thickness of the carpet you guys use on the floor? I don't want to go too thick but at this same time too thin is no good.


For MIP Backer mounting I am thinking about some rivet nuts. Am I gonna be able to run all 3 monitors on 1 PC? I read somewhere that most likely 2 graphics card would be needed to accommodate 3 inputs.


(Posted by Eric Tomlin on 04-07-15)

Maciej, no one will tell you that it's impossible to run all three displays on one PC, but several of us will tell you that you will get far better performance by splitting the MIP up with two PCs. It's recommended in the JET45 manual and performance issues result from using only one.


(Posted by Maciej M. on 04-10-15)

MIP Backer (almost) complete:



I managed to feed monitor control switches cables in between 0.5" layers of MDF giving me smooth surface all around for felt or some other padding that goes between Backer and aluminum MIP:


Monitors have been tested and all three are up and running. I hope that there is nothing going on under right monitor to conflict with access to these switches. I can still disconnect and remove everything if there would be a need.

At some point of project I discovered that the entrance to SIM is shorter than design calls for (22-1/4") by 1/8" which gives 1/16" on each side. I could redo panels and fit them exactly or just leave it as it is. Wonder if that 1/8" at some point could fire back:


Today I finished notching and installing lateral MDF strips. I still have overhead section to do.  Next step is taking the shell apart and giving it final shape by shaving:




Ron, thank you for poly strips!!!  Having these installed I should be able to start painting!  Few months ago, since I don't have big enough compressor to handle spray gun, I bought this: painting should be a breeze.


Did you guys sand all flat surface of MDF? I did a paint test on a small piece of MDF and adhesion is superior. I can't scratch it off.


I may need to grab a quart or two of KILZ Primer and run edges with roll to get even results when spray gun comes to play. Some folks suggest watered down wood glue, not sure about it.



I bought a can of tinted paint a while ago for the sole purpose of testing it on shell. Below is a result of ONE layer using paint brush:


I run a few strokes of 400 grid sanding paper just to smooth what paint raised and I think I am gonna stick with it. Paint dries in no time and leaves pretty smooth surface. Some painting done. Starboard almost completed:


Paint gun I used, did the great job, a bit of overkill but results are very satisfying. Priming and sanding the edges took most of the time, almost 4 weeks - one piece at the time. Due to unforeseen weather I decided to paint inside. Outside too hot (>95F) and random thunderstorms.


(Posted by Eric Tomlin on 06-16-15)

Started from paper plans, WOW! Great to see the progress made. This is a textbook example of how to build the shell from paper plans!


(Posted by Maciej M. on 06-27-15)

Decided to paint the base before putting shell together. It will be covered while I am working on the foam and fiberglass finish. It is gonna be much easier for me to have it painted now other then doing it when shell is back in one piece:



Shell being put together for the very last time:



And here it is:


Since I have my foil contraption up and running, I am planning on finishing up the way it should be done (foam, fiberglass, Bondo, primer, paint) and then move inside.


Aluminum sheets next and have a quick question. Piece between F8 and F9, due to complex curvature and length needs to split in half (as per shell manual). Is the half somewhere on the lower windshield level (which would be on 4th horizontal MDF strip counting from the bottom)?


(Posted by Ron Rollo on 07-01-15)

Hey Maciej, I split mine at the strip just under the lower windscreen. That way it is about the same length as the next one over between F7 and F8. Like it says in the SAM, these are the easy ones. Start here and work your way forward so you can get ahead of the learning curve.


(Posted by Maciej M. on 12-03-15)

Almost ready for caulking.


I really dislike the way how caulking goes on, it looks messy. At first, I was worried, then found Ron's Shell Manual pictures and realized that's the way it goes. It will get covered by foam anyway. Wasn't sure which caulk to pick, beside obvious "paintable and permanently flexible". I used the one that dries in 30 minutes.


The Caulkpit... at least half of it, ready for painting. Tent is up again:



Cosmetic problem with foaming.  I got correct product (Great Stuff - Gaps and Cracks).


This picture shows how INSIDE of the shell looks like now which is around 24 hours after application. Aluminum sheets has bulged to the inside due to pressure caused by curing foam:


I know that Shell Manual says not to OVER APPLY foam, which can greatly contribute to what I experienced. How much is too much? I believe picture below shows just right amount after first 24 hours of expansion. Top part of the shell had be be shaved a bit to release some pressure that foam was causing to swell on the inside. I put way too much of the foam at first causing some bad deformations on the inside including tearing off some silicon joints that was holding aluminum sheets:

Foam seem to cure from outside to inside. Since outside hardens faster than inside, at some point it creates stiff and hard shell that prevents further expansion. Since foam can't go 'up' anymore, it goes against aluminum sheets causing it to bulge. I am planning on waiting another 48 hours to see if it shrinks back to where it should be.


To prevent it from happening on another half I decided to split foaming process and fill outside of each square first with 3 rounds and leave window on the inside giving the foam some extra space to expand:

I wonder if anybody else had similar problem?


(Posted by Ron Rollo on 12-27-15)

This is one of the more frustrating parts of the whole shell building process. Everything that you are experiencing I have seen first hand. When you start to trim the foam, leave lots and lots extra because you will see that it will retract some and you may need to go back and add some more. Great Stuff, is also Unpredictable Stuff. It has a mind of it's own.


If we had more time to dedicate to the shell we could develop a way to better secure the aluminum sheeting to the ribs. But as we all know, the interior will be covered and it will not be seen. But I think you are a lot like me, you want it to look good at all stages of the project! For the record, I can not see any bulging aluminum in your first photo. It looks perfect!


(Posted by Maciej M. on 01-04-16)

While perfecting the foaming part of the project and trying to stay a little ahead but not too much with materials, I wonder which fiberglass mat would be appropriate to use? Being more specific, fiberglass mat is offered in various weights per square foot. The one with thicker and shorter fibers is usually used as a first layer followed by thinner one. Question is then: which one did you guys use? Plan is to use 2 layers plus Bondo.


Also question about resin. James Town Distributors recommends polyester type of resin for their fiberglass. Will it be safe on foam? Is there another type of resin that is easier to work with?


(Posted by Ron Rollo on 01-05-16)

Your approach on the mat fiberglass sounds great. As for the resin, I simply used what Wal Mart sells. I have to buy some today as a matter of fact because I am doing some work on the interior panels. They only sell one kind so whatever it is will be right. And it does not eat the foam.


(Posted by Shane Barnes on 01-05-16)

Make sure you are getting fiberglass "mat" as Ron and Justin mentioned. Here is a description from JD distributors, " Fiberglass Mat, also known as Chopped Strand Mat or CSM for short, is a NON WOVEN material typically used for laminate build-up and repair work. It consists of glass fibers laid randomly across each other and held together by a styrene binder". This is important as the "woven" type can/will show a print or pattern through your final paint job no matter how smooth your finish work is. The last Corvette I restored had been repaired with woven. fiberglass. What you end up with is a checkered pattern showing thru the paint making it looking terrible. I had to remove the woven area and repair with mat.


Also, on your foam, you will be better off if your foam is a little low between the ribs versus sticking up above the ribs . . better to fill low spots with Bondo than it is to have your fiberglass thinned down to a point you sand thru it because it is sticking up. This occurred on a couple spots of my shell, usually toward the center of the foam squares due to continued foam growth after sanding the foam down. You never know if the foam is going to sink or rise. Have fun with the fiberglass, the end result is worth it!


(Posted by Maciej M. on 01-05-16)

Shane, great advice on 'better lower than too high' with foam! While doing research I found one of your post with link which fiberglass mat you purchased and it seems like it is 1.5oz per square foot which my original question was about. My understanding is that you put both layers of same fiberglass mat of same weight per sq.ft.  The link to Jamestown Distributors to the product is found HERE.


(Posted by Steve Cooke on 01-08-16)

I had similar issues with the foam as well. Some minor bulging but nothing that was noticed by anyone else looking at the shell accept to me.


As for fiber glass, I ended up doing 3 layers of matting and 1 layer fabric fiberglass as the top layer. It was easier for me on sanding and filling in any valleys and smoothing out. I picked up the glass from Jamestown Distributors and resin from Wally World or Lowes. Same with Bondo and spotting putty. I think I went through almost 6 gal of resin.


(Posted by Maciej M. on 01-10-16)

Yesterday, while foam was doing its time, I got my temporary windscreens cut out out of Masonite. I had trouble finding proper thickness of material. Since Lexan I found, was exactly 1/8", it was important to find material for temporary windscreens with identical thickness for proper final fitment.


While I am gathering all necessary ingredients for covering shell with fiberglass I have a question. My understanding is that I remove lumps and bumps down using rotary sander after all 3 layers of fiberglass are on the shell (or should I do it after each layer?)


(Posted by Justin Fletcher on 01-11-16)

I sanded after each layer with 80 grit sandpaper to knock down the burrs and bumps from the fiberglass mat and resin. Once all three layers were applied, I spent a good amount of time going over the fiberglass smoothing the high spots. I'm glad I went with 3 layers over the shell because I ended up sanding through a fiberglass layer during the sanding process.


It's my understanding, you should sand after each layer of fiberglass to "rough" the surface so the new layer of mat and resin can bond.


(Posted by Maciej M. on 01-23-16)

I got both temporary windscreens installed (still need to remove it and blue-tape it before fiberglass) and project is ready next stage:


I could not help myself to put it "together" just to enjoy the view for a moment:


Just a quick "check in" with info what and were. This is what I'm dealing with right now:


Friend of mine is rebuilding Chevy Camaro. Lots of body work - by saying this, I have an access to his knowledge, experience and discounts to quality body fillers, which I am taking advantage of. I was told that thickest I can go with body filler is 1/8" (maybe 3/16") which made me to recheck all low spots making sure I will not have too much to fill.


I put down 3 solid layers - no cheating! Around temporary windscreen I did 4th one to ensure smooth transition.


These are the products I will be using next:


Little more progress done today in Appalachia. I managed to put 2 coats of body filler to the top part and sand them down after each coat:


Dark spots are high spots which is fiberglass (all body filler sanded down), darker shade of body filler - low spots. That is where I need to put more to build up. When you start seeing dark fiberglass spots during sanding its time to ease off and move on otherwise you remove too much of the body filler that goes off much easier than fiberglass. I was told to start with 40 grit but I found it removes too much too fast. 80 grit sand paper was just right:


I'm slowly working through body filler part and I wonder at what point of work I should take temporary windshield off. I haven't removed it yet at all but it doesn't seems like there is going to be a problem.


There are few options I consider:

First would be to take it off after ALL sanding is done which means after high build primer, sealer and final sanding with 400 or 600 grit.


Second option would be to take it down after sanding with 180 grit and BEFORE applying high build primer potentially avoiding primer sealing and gluing temporary windshield to the structure (despite edges and back of it has been blue taped).


Third option would be not to take it at all until all painting is done but by doing it I think I am risking some damage to the edge of windshield trying to removing it at the end.


I'm aiming towards first option which should let me go pretty far with body work and still leave a margin to fix anything that potentially could go wrong during removal of temporary windshield.


(Posted by Ron Rollo on 04-30-16)

I took my windscreen templates out after body fill and sanding to make sure I did not have any surprises. Surprises like fiberglass bonding the templates to the shell, or edges of the shell being a little rough and needing more work. Then I reinstalled the windscreen templates back onto the shell before painting. You can do that or use masking tape and paper to keep the paint out of the shell. I think either way would work but I do recommend taking them out before painting just to double check things.


(Posted by Maciej M. on 05-14-16)

Little more progress done in Appalachia. Last couple days I worked on final layer of body filler, sanding with 80 then with 180 grit and getting ready for primer. On the picture below, almost two coats of high build primer on the port side (first coat sanded with 320 grit). Run out of high build primer to finish overhead section. Now, since port side is almost ready, it is time for starboard to get body filler treatment. When this part is done, I bring both sides together to see what needs to be done to make it look like one piece:


For anybody who doesn't have big compressor and quality paint gun, you need 2 (16oz) cans of high build primer per coat per side which brings total to 12 cans for entire shell.


(Posted by Shane Barnes on 05-14-16)

You are on the right track by bringing both pieces together. Once I bolted both of my sections together I had to do some light sanding to make both pieces look like they belonged together. You might find that the fiberglass on one side is slightly higher than the other side but a little sanding across both pieces will make them look like the fiberglass was laid up together then cut down the middle. Your closing in on the finish line! Soon you will be adding your final paint color! I have to say I am getting excited to see your finished shell.


(Posted by Maciej M. on 05-15-16)

I wonder if I copy paste link to wrong picture. Anyway, I "fixed" picture link hoping this time works. Here is another one:


I decided to get couple of 4' X 8' red oak veneer sheets at $42 each, so plenty to practice on before I make a final move. I have both halves sprayed with 2 coats of high build primer and need to address back wall next before applying base coat of paint. By doing back wall before painting I give myself a chance to properly address all outside edges. Plan is to flush it with outside shape making it look clean. The only way to achieve it is by using veneer trimmer with proper flush bit that has wheel bearing at the end that rests on the edge being flush against, guiding the bit. There should be very little to none cleaning (sanding) left after. Various sources say that veneer is so delicate that if edge sanding is required, 180 to 220 grit is recommended.


Red oak veneer is on and I am ready for final coat of high build primer. The reason why I put veneer on before painting is to get clean painted edge between outside of shell and veneer:


Here is a close shot at the edge. Don't pay attention to black streak at the bottom. It's just a trace that wheel bearing from trimmer bit left during cut:


Also, I removed temporary windscreen and I am ready to address some minor cleaning here and there. Very happy with the edge:




I ran into a minor setback. During fiberglass and body filler phase, there was A LOT of sanding and temporary windscreen templates took a hit and lost some of the thickness. I checked the depth of the edge and found that its not where it should be so I had to trim down some of the MDF parts of the shell to let windscreen sink deep enough. It happened on both sides:


To fix it, I used Dremel with sanding drum and removed some of the excess then sanded it flat to around 0.125" deep:


(Posted by Shane Barnes on 06-15-16)

Welcome to the club! You are now an official member of the Improvise, adapt and overcome club! each one of us has been down that road. At least you didn't break the front rib on the nose like I did. That cost me two nights of work to repair the broken rib! Little details like this is what will make your build look amazing. Ron and I were talking about your shell today and how you are building an awesome example of what the shell can be!


(Posted by Maciej M. on 06-26-16)

This weekend I finished painting starboard. I got base coat and stripes painted. I must say.. I like it:


Also back wall got stain treatment. I think it went a little too dark. Not much I can do about it now:

Next step... clear coat.


Back wall of Starboard side is finished. I tried couple product before I made final move on finish. First one was one of the Miniwax polyurethane clear gloss in spray can. I opted for spray cans hoping to achieve even coat and applying it on vertical wall I didn't want to gravity decide that "bottom" needs more than top. Product did NOT deliver. Despite "fast drying" note on can, it took forever to dry to work on it and considering 5 to 6 applications it would take eternity to finish it. There was substantial "bubble effect" on the surface, which was expected and can be easy removed with steel wool.


Then I tried SEM 1K HS 40903 in spray can. This stuff dries in 10 minutes to touch (full hour to work on it)


Each coat was cleaned with "00" steel wool to remove little bubbles. It is an acrylic product so will not be as durable as polyurethane but more flexible and resistant to time and light triggered discoloration. I will use same product as clear coat for shell, which hopefully will be applied tonight.



March 7th 2015:


July 15th 2016:


(Posted by Ron Rollo on 07-16-16)

Man, I just took a look at you gallery photos. Your work is second to none! The biggest and dirtiest part of the project is behind you now and from here on out, it is going to feel like you have a vessel or vehicle that you are working on. A device that will take you places so to speak. Still a lot of work a head of you but the shell to the level of perfection that you have taken it to is a BIG DEAL! Congrats!

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