Baggage door question

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Eugene

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Merrill, Wisconsin, USA
I have a small inspection opening on my airplane. I have seen similar panels on different airplanes. Wondering if same principle can be used to install much larger baggage compartment door? Is there any rules or recommendations about this? How large we can get on panel like this? This one on my picture is only 5 inches in diameter
IMG_5832.jpegIMG_5831.jpegIMG_5830.jpeg
 

wsimpso1

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For a luggage door, 0.050 aluminum will be fragile and feel flimsy. Just cutting out a fiberglass skin and using that, even for an access door will usually twist over time and look nasty.

Rules of thumb:
  • Door or cover needs to be stiffer and stronger than the skin you cut out;
  • If composite, it should have a thickened edge and usually should be a cored part, all to keep it from curling and/or twisting;
  • As much material was in the opening should be put back into the edge of the port to maintain strength and stiffness of skin.
If the panel is curved and composite, before you cut anything, put on three temporary locator buttons - dots of beeswax works well - then mark the edge of the door opening with electricians tape, and wax it three times. Maybe mist it with PVA mold release too. Then take a splash mold off the original space extending 6" or more away from the door opening. The locator buttons and outline will now be in the mold. Build the door on that splash, then trim and sand the door and opening. Locate the door back to the same spot using the splash and locator buttons for applying the doubler/flange layup, hinges, and latches. This will make a door that fits the contour perfectly with a lot less fuss than trying to make it all perfect after the fact.

Billski
 

rv7charlie

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And it should be said that if the original skin is structural (looks like yours probably isn't), the equation changes quite a bit. For instance, Van's has told people to not substitute clear plastic for the tiny inspection panels screwed on each side of the tail under the elevators with about 6 screws each. If you make a door with hinges & latches in a structural panel, it'll take a lot to reinforce the area back to original strength (if possible at all). The door won't participate.
 

Eugene

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Merrill, Wisconsin, USA
  • If composite, it should have a thickened edge and usually should be a cored part, all to keep it from curling and/or twisting;

Billski
Got it. Sort of like they building doors for our cars. Out of two pieces of metal one is outside and another inside with space in between. In composites this will be two layers of glass or carbon and foam in between.
 

Tiger Tim

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Looks like you have a non-structural composite shell on your fuselage. Take a look at Mike Arnold’s videos, in one of them he does access doors and stuff using methods probably applicable to what you want to do.
 
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