Well, now that the shop is neat and organized it is time to get to work. The first thing you need to do is build some sort of cradle or stands because you have to take the main gear off the plane in order to do many more lay-ups on the gear and in the gear/center spar/firewall area of the fuselage.

My quick build fuselage came with the keel beam already installed. This would probably be fine for most people except for one thing. The speed brake package goes underneath the keel beam and the actuator is inside the keel beam. Additionally, I had found no speed brake stuff when we inventoried everything.

Now, one of the things that have always appealed to me about the Velocity's was the electric speed brake. Flip a switch in the cockpit and a board extends from the belly of the plane and helps to slow you down. I love it! This is in the sales Video. It's in all the sales literature. It's in all the magazine reviews. I even ran the video in slow motion to get a better look at the speed brake. In short, I really liked the speed brake!

I was a little confused so I made my very first post sales phone call to Velocity and spoke to Jeff. At this point I had my first and (so far) only negative experience with Velocity. Jeff told me "On the retract version, the gear being down creates a lot of drag so you don't need the speed brake and we don't include it with the retract versions".

Now this comment probably should not have but it really rubbed me the wrong way. Jeff may have a good point. While he's at it though, I really don't need  gull wing doors but I spent $3000 dollars extra for them. For that matter, I really don't need the retractable gear option either but I paid $4000 dollars extra for it. When you get right down to it, I don't need the #$%@ kit, period but I still spent a chunk of change on it! What the heck does what I NEED have to do with anything in the personal aviation business anyway?

The Swings (the owners of Velocity Aircraft) were not there at the time. I called back Monday and spoke with Scott Swing. When I told him I would like the speed brake kit he just said that he would send it out right away and he did. He made no mention of what I needed or did not need. That was more like it! (Also, when I spoke with Scott Swing, he said that future QB fuse kits would have the keel screwed in not glued in so you should not have this problem)

Anyway, between the time I talked to Jeff and the time I spoke with Scott Swing, I had a tough decision ahead of me. Do I just live without the speed brake or do I go through all the extra work of peeling that keel beam up off the floor, installing the speed brake and then putting it back down? Plus, the speed brake adds complexity. I think the real reason the speed brake is not included in the retract versions is that the retract hydraulics are in the keel beam too and it just gets too crowded in there!

I spent three days thinking about it. I would swing one way then the other. Then the thought hit me, I said to myself "Rob, building your own airplane is a dream you have had for 20 years now. It took you 13 years to talk your wife into it. You have been saving up for it for 2 1/2 years now. You ordered it in May and waited six months for the kit to get here. Are you going to do a half-assed job of it or are you going to get what you want?" Put that way, there was only one answer. Pull the bloody beam!

Humans, being rationalizing animals, (as opposed to rational ones) I still felt the need to tell myself how much easier it was going to be installing the flight controls, the retract hydraulics and the nose gear with the keel out. But I was dead wrong on those points!

Anyway, "On with the show". Before I pulled the keel I built three sawhorses to support the fuselage. One for each end and one in the middle. It looked to me as though the keel is a significant part of the strength of the fuselage and I wanted to support the fuse before I pulled the keel. However, since the bottom of the fuselage is curved (it is football shaped) I could not get the fuse to rest evenly on three sawhorses and gave up and just used two.

Here is a picture of the interior before I started any work In fact I didn't even have all the parts put up yet when these shots were taken.

To get the beam up I first removed the nose gear. That was pretty straight forward. I was surprised by how heavy it is. I'll bet it's real strong! (good!) (Note the "mono-shock" suspension! Kewl!)

Next, I drilled out the 30 or so pop rivets that were used to hold the beam in place while it cured. Then I simply started pushing a putty knife up under the flanges of the beam. Where the beam attached to the floor came up very easy. It did not take long at all. I was starting to think this was going to be real easy! However, where the keel lapped on to the canard bulkhead up front was a real bear! I spent much longer on that small part alone that on all the many feet of flange against the floor. I ended up having to use a rubber mallet to drive a wide putty knife under this flange! It was a bear!

Here is is the keel broken loose. Note all the gray adhesive on the floor. This turned out to be the real tough part. So far I had spent a few hours getting the keel up. It would take another 10 hours to sand this gray stuff off with out damaging the floor. Man that stuff was STUCK to the floor big time!

You can see where the forward flange did not come up as friendly as the floor flange!

Here is the keel and floor after some sanding.

Here is where I got fooled! Having the keel UP is not going to be nearly as helpful with things other than the speed brake as I had thought because while it is UP it will not come OUT. It is too long to "turn the corner" and come out the door. Shalzbutt! (Careful, I'm dating myself there! )

Oh, well. Having a Velocity without a speed brake would be like having a Lexus without power windows. "It just aint right!"

Now I can start with the Regular construction manual.

(POST NOTE: I have spent a lot of time since I pulled the keel and will spend much more time way in the back of the fuse working on the center spar and main gear area. Having the keel out of the way during the approximately 22,427 times I have crawled in and out so far has been valuable. I just wish I could get it OUT of the plane completely!)

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