So there I was... ready to start tracing the fuselage floor... when I placed the foam on top of my fuselage and realized there was a hiccup! My F22 bulkhead was at an angle (left side was 1 inch farther aft than the right).
How could this have happened?! When dealing with a hiccup (and if you are involved with a project of this scale, trust me... you WILL have hiccups), I take the following approach:
1. Identify the problem
2. Find the root cause of the problem. I do this by calling it a night, removing myself from the situation and coming up with different scenarios as to what may have caused it. I then come back the next day and test my hypothesis - you need a way to verify that what you think is causing the problem is in fact the REAL root cause of the problem.
3. After identifying the root cause, come up with a plan (or many). Mentally go over the pros and cons of each and choose the path you think is most likely to succeed.
4. Take action! Apply the plan - don't be lazy here. If it costs a little more (time or money), remember that this will show in the end result - so do it right! Take the time to implement your plan wisely.
That being said - here is how I approached this particular hiccup:
After a lot of head scratching, I realized in order to find the root cause of the angled F22 bulkhead, I needed a way to physically measure it. To do this, I drew a straight line down my level workbench - representing the fuselage center line. I then drew perpendicular lines representing all bulkhead fuselage stations. By placing the fuselage on top of my workbench, I could now physically see (and measure) what was off. It was clear that the left fuselage sidewall was 1 inch ahead of the right fuselage side wall - the root cause was now identified.
The plan - so now I had to come up with a plan that would fix this issue. I decided that the best plan of action was to turn my workbench into a temporary jig. I did this by constructing positioning bars (made out of 2x4s) and screwing them onto my workbench (making sure they aligned with the F22 line I had previously drawn onto my table). On the aft side, I constructed an adjustable positioning bar (again, made out of 2x4s and two bolts) that would allow me to slowly sandwich the fuselage and hence force it onto the forward stops - straightening everything out.
Here is the overall picture - notice the fuselage is upside down on my workbench (never mind the fuselage floor against the back wall). Notice the stoppers (made out of 2x4s) on the left (the forward fuselage) and the adjustable positioning bar on the right (the aft fuselage).
A close up showing the forward 'L' shaped stoppers. They were screwed onto my workbench for a firm hold.
Notice how the left side of the F22 is 1 inch aft of where it should be, while the right side is up against the stop. (This picture was taken prior to 'sandwiching' the fuselage into place).
A close up of the aft adjustable positioning bar (again, BEFORE tightening it down). Notice how the left side of the firewall is up against the positioning bar - proving that the left fuselage side was 1 inch aft with respect to the right side fuselage wall.
Another close up showing the aft adjustable positioning bar setup.
Taaaaaaaaaa-daaaaaaaaaaaaa! Magic! The left side fuselage wall now perfectly square with the right!
Instrument panel squared... check! (I purposely made the lines on my workbench a bit away from the actual bulkhead so that I had room to check for squareness.)
Front seat bulkhead squared... check!
Lower longerons still level... check!
Done right? NOPE!! Not yet!! But Ary, what is it NOW?! Well looking down along the longerons, I could tell I missed one thing... I didn't bother to CENTER the bulkheads. This meant that the left longeron curve was not a perfect mirror image of the right longeron curve. No worries... this was a 'simple' fix.
I then made this contraption out of 2x4s to force the bulkheads into their proper center line position.
Fine tuning took a bit of work... but in the end, ALL bulkheads were aligned with the center line!
Instrument panel tick mark aligned... check!
Front seat tick mark aligned... check!
Rear seat tick mark aligned... check!
Hard to see in this picture, but the line was tied such that it was with the firewall center line tick mark.
Firewall center line aligned with the fuselage center line along my workbench... check!
Again, fine tuning and tweaking these clamps to get the left longeron
curvature to match the right longeron curve for a perfect mirror image.