29 September, 2013

J-5 Luggage Compartment

This was my little contribution to sewing last weekend and this weekend.
I need tiny projects right now.

This is the luggage compartment behind the second seat in the J-5 airplane.
It measures 11" wide x 25" long x 12" deep.

The Stearman holds more!

This is where it sits at the back of the cockpit. See that canvas at center left in the photo?

The stearman fuselage is right behind the orange-painted J-5 frame.

That stick in center right is for the back seat pilot.
The stick is connected to control rods which run underneath the luggage compartment which control different flying surfaces at the tail area.

Last Sunday, I installed snaps and grommets to hold the compartment in it's place.
Semi-permanent installation.

Hubby didn't think it was secure enough. Today, I added a few more grommets.
This is heavy canvas so I did not need to add re-enforcing tape under the grommet.
If it was lighter weight fabric, I would.

Underneath the snaps, I did add reinforcement as the pulling exerts stress on any fabric. The grommets are for tie-straps which take on the stress.

Once you cut your tiny hole, insert the grommet and then place the 'washer' part over the center portion. The grommet tool has a recess part at the end that fits the rounded washer part. Place over the grommet and pound away with your hammer. I did it on a metal vise on the work bench. You can also place a scrap of wood underneath so as not to mar the brassy finish.

Here, you can see the saggy bottom. 
Easy fix: Cut a piece of foam core and cover with airplane fabric.

Hubby picked a brown-background and laughed.
We all know this is where the extra oil can and rags go.

Only he and I will know this fabric is there.
See that yellow biplane in the center? That's similar to  our Stearman biplane.

There you have it. A special place to hold airplane stuff.

When hubby was re-storing the Stearman, he ordered a luggage compartment from Dusters & Sprayers which is where you order Stearman parts.
Theirs was a  heavy canvas cut into a square with a zipper running diagonally down it. He paid a buttload of money for this square piece of canvas too.  Authentic Stearman Luggage compartment - haha. (I think it was over $140)
That one was designed so that by the time you tie-stripped it to the fuselage, you created a 'basket' where anything you put into the luggage compartment rolled to the bottom center.

I took one look at the price and told hubby I would make one so we could at least get a travel suitcase in it. Our baggage weight for the Stearman is 60#, i.e. about 20 pounds per person plus space for several quarts of oil, rags, plus other plane stuff. I wanted to maximize the space.

I created a rectangular 'box' out of cordova canvas that ended up with multiple pockets around the side - map compartment, 7-up 2-liter bottle (Mixer), oil bottles secured with room for two travel suitcases in the rectangular part.
For the bottom, I used foam-core and covered it with the same navy blue cordova. When you lift the foam-core out, you can un-zip (diagonally!) and inspect the control rods and various other wires & cables.

{{The luggage compartment I made is similar to one now being sold on ebay for $380.  I utilized RCT fabrics in Portland and paid $120 for the Stearman cockpit cover materials (around $450 to buy that custom-made) and used some of the  same fabrics for the luggage compartment - less than $50.}}

So, sometimes, it is cheaper to sew your own!

For our little J-5, the canvas bag came with the project. Much easier to play with.
So cute with the airplane fabric bottom.


  1. I had to smile when you said the luggage bin will hold airplane stuff such as rags and an oil can. I think you must be able to sew anything, Kathy.


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