Wing work – 2/16, and a better idea

Yesterday (2/16) I cut and glued in some corner blocking I had missed on each end of the aileron and the ends of the aileron bay. Lesson learned: that would have been a lot easier had I done it before the geodetic bits and plywood stiffeners had been installed.

I’m getting to the point where I kind of need the torque tube bearing blocks installed. Then there are the 3/8” spacers, which the plans call out as pieces of PVC pipe. I figure, since I’m going to CNC machine the bearing blocks anyway, why not just make those and the spacers one piece? I pulled up the design in OpenSCAD and added the spacer. I gave it a slightly larger ID than the bearing block so it doesn’t add drag to the aileron control. I 3D printed a couple samples to use for fit & function testing. If that goes as expected I’ll get a chunk of 1” UHMW and pass the design file to Stew for machining. I’d planned to use some 1/2” UHMW I have for the bearing blocks, but I’ll keep that for now and use it for something else.

3D printed test part. It’s difficult to see but there’s a step in the bore for the torque tube.

Spar webs

The plans and BOM call for plywood spar webs, cross-cut, 60″ long. The webs are butt-spliced mid-wing, with what seem to me to be fairly narrow blocks of spruce on either side.

Problem is, you can’t buy 60″ wide sheets of aircraft plywood in the US. Aircraft Spruce has ONE size, and not a size I need. Everything else I’ve found is in 48″ wide sheets. And since the web needs to be crosscut, it’s not as simple as just buying a 4′ x 8′ sheet. I’ve contacted Fisher Flying Products as well as another supplier in Canada. Fisher’s tab will be roughly $340, the other place was pretty reasonable for the plywood but wanted over $500 for crating and shipping. To put that in perspective, ACS will sell me the plywood I need for about $100, delivered.

The question is, can I make 48″ long spar webs work in a way that is at least as good, or preferably stonger and better, than the original design? I am no engineer. Especially a mechanical engineer. I’m certainly not qualified to make such a call. Fortunately, I have someone local who is an engineer, and is qualified to help make that decision and recommend another way to do it — if there is one. I’ll be taking the wing plans to the February EAA chapter meeting to go over them with him and see what we can figure out.

If that doesn’t work out, Spruce does sell 5/32 ply in 61″ x 61″ sheets. The spar webs are specified as 1/8″ for the main spar, and 1/16″ for the rear spar. I could just make both webs 5/32 with a slight weight penalty. The plywood would weigh 3 to 5 pounds more, but I’d probably also need to trim 1/32 to 3/32 from the spruce stiffeners, so that might make up for some of it. Again, I’ll need to consult with a real engineer to see if that wold work or not. Ending up with a plane that’s a couple pounds heavier but significantly stronger is OK. Ending up with a plane that is in any way less strong or less safe is absolutely not. And if the ribs need to be modified a little to clear a beefier spar — I’m OK with that.