I chose the lower left wing to start with since it is the simplest of the four. The lower right will get the wing walk, and the upper wings get a diagonal cut on the inboard bay.
This morning I pulled the first two wingtip bows from the forms; they look pretty good. I mixed up about 40cc of glue and started gluing up all of the strips for the second pair of bows. Had to mix another 10cc, so if I ever do this again I know it takes 50cc per pair of layups. I got them clamped into the forms and slid the table as far out of the way as possible.
The plans say to nail or screw a block of wood to the top of the bench, square with the trailing edge to set up the wing. Since we’re not building it resting on the bench, Stu and I squared up the first rib with the TE (which is clamped to a steel rail) and marked & clamped it to the other rail. After some debate, we decided to pull the main spar out temporarily. I needed to pull the TE of the rib from the notched TE stock to glue it, and with both spars in place it was nearly impossible to do so. The rear spar is a pretty snug fit in the ribs, btu the main has about 1/8″ of clearance so it’s relatively easy to slide out and back in.
Rather than a continuous piece of trailing edge material long enough to do a complete wing, this kit had four 8′ long pieces and four pieces roughly 4-1/2′ long, I cut the longer piece just inboard of the first aileron rib, and started one of the shorter pieces at that point. We got them aligned and clamped well enough that you can’t tell where the joint is if you sight down the trailing edge.
Stu cut a rectangular block about 6″ tall by 11-1/2″ wide, since that’s the distance in between each pair of ribs. With the first rib glued in and squared to the TE, it was then just a matter of using that gauge block to seat each rib exactly where it needed to be on the rear spar. Each rib was glued to the TE and rear spar, and a couple of 1″ micro pins shot through the rib cap to hold it in place while the glue cures. Working that way we got the entire set of ribs in place. We’ll let the glue cure and slide the main spar back in place tomorrow, glue the ribs to it, and attach the false ribs
I did some other work today, including trimming the false ribs so they’re ready to install.
I just pulled the last two false ribs in the jigs. It’s been a long haul — six and a half years since I built the first rib, but now they’re done AND I’ve got the materials and the place needed to continue the build.
Last night I was over at Stu’s place. One of the main spars has been partially assembled; the spar caps have been glued to the web. I got all of the rest of the parts for the aft face of the spar fitted and ready to glue up. I decided to designate this one the upper right wing. I’ll head over tonight and glue it.
I briefly thought about tearing down the rib jigs now that all of the ribs are finished. I decided not to do that quite yet. For one thing, there’s a chance I may need or want to make more of them for one reason or another. I don’t need two jigs, though. I’ll probably leave the first one I made as is, and pull the blocks and plastic from the second copy. It’s not a high priority, since it will only yield a 4′ x 1′ chunk of MDF.
Yesterday (9/16/23) we drove to St. Charles, MO. Normally I wouldn’t do such a thing, but a guy had advertised a Celebrity wing kit and plans on Barnstormers. Apparently the original owner of the kit never had a chance to start building before age took its toll, so I was able to pick up all of the wing parts for less than it would have cost me to buy just the spruce for the spar caps. I’ve really been kind of stalled up until now because I just couldn’t get past the cost of buying the wood from ACS, then paying truck freight go get some oversized but very lightweight pieces of wood shipped here. The total cost of our trip was less than the shipping cost for just the longer spar pieces, and I’ve got all of the pre-cut plywood parts as well. Rib nose pieces, trailing edge stock, aileron ends, spar reinforcements, all of it. I’ve also got a second complete set of plans and documents that I can put up for sale, since they have never been used and I don’t need two.
The other thing that has kept me at a standstill has been the lack of a suitable place to work. My garage has, unfortunately, been occupied for the past few years with a “project” car that I probably never should have bought. My own fault, but is it better to have one project stalled, or two? I had plans at one time to put a sheet of MDF on top of the island in our basement to build the tail surfaces, but that is now part of a very busy sewing room. Zero complaints about that, of course! It just means I can’t work in there.
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I was talking about the airplane with my friend Stu. He’s been building cabinets for the past couple of decades and has a large woodworking shop next to his house. Not only is it well equipped, but it’s also climate controlled and well lit. Quite frankly, it would be the envy of most people who would want to build stuff – certainly myself included.
Stu offered to let me use his shop and help with the build. I doubt he’ll ever want to fly in the finished airplane, but he thinks the idea of building an entire airplane out of wood is pretty cool. I can understand that; I think so too. When we got back from the road trip yesterday we unloaded the crate at Stu’s shop. It was late, so all we did was pop the top off and have a quick look, and grab the Fisher assembly video DVDs that were in there.
I’m pretty pumped, to be honest. This means I’ve now got everything I need to complete all four wings and the horizontal stabilizer & elevator, and a place to do it. I’m hoping to get the last few of the false ribs knocked out this week and lay out the pieces to assemble the main and rear spars.
Sitting in the rib jigs right now are the last aileron rib (#16 of 16), and the sixth false rib. After the glue cures on these, I’ll modify the second jig to fit as many false ribs as possible. I think I can fit three on it for sure, possibly four – but that’s doubtful. I’d like to start cranking out four false ribs at a time.
So I guess it’s time to go start shopping for the best plank or two of white pine I can find to get started on the laminations for the tail surfaces. Pretty sure Menard’s will be my source for those; the stuff I find at the other big box stores is more suited for a dog house or the pulp mill than anything else.
Yesterday I glued up the last full rib (#26) and the first aileron rib. I’m going to call this a milestone. 🙂 I now have 15 more aileron ribs to go, then 34 false ribs. I suppose I should pull out the plans sheet for the spars and see exactly what I need to order for them. I have the BOM, but it doesn’t really tell me what I need to know without looking at the plans too.
I had to look at the plans a few times. It looked like the plan sheet was calling out just one geodetic brace to omit for the aileron ribs, but the locations to mark for eventual cutting didn’t make sense. I finally realized that the text read, “Omit this X-brace for aileron ribs”… as in, BOTH braces, not just the one. Great! That’s two less pieces to cut and glue.
This morning I pulled the first rib out of the jig to check it out. I was a little apprehensive about it, to be honest. I had tried to use a little digital scale to weigh out the epoxy, and that didn’t work well. The scale didn’t see tiny increases in weight as “activity” and would power itself off every few seconds. I ended up “eyeballing” the mix by volume, and hoped I got it right. With a little less than 15cc of glue I was hoping it was right, and last night it was still feeling a little “tacky”. Well, this morning that epoxy is perfect, nice and hard, glossy surface and zero tack. My test piece with a couple of scraps of geodetic brace glued with no clamping broke apart in pieces, with no failure at the glue joint. The wood failed and the glue didn’t. Success all around.
The only deficiency I can see is, there’s maybe a little more glue than needed. Glue had run down under several of the joint areas and I have some cleanup to do on the “bottom” side of the rib, the side that was against the jig surface. I’ll need to figure out how to get the right amount of glue in there when I pre-glue the groove. Other than that, it looks really good and I’m thrilled with it. It looks like about 10cc is what is needed to glue up a complete rib. That means when I get the second jig built, I can mix up 20cc and glue two ribs at a time. The more glue gets mixed at one time, the easier it is to get the mix ratio perfect so that will be good.
And, I’ll have to put this rib somewhere in the middle of a wing where it can’t be seen by the Oshkosh judges. That way it won’t screw up my chance at that gold Lindy. 🙂
After a couple hours of cutting and sanding geodetic pieces, I finally mixed up a little T-88 epoxy and glued up the first rib. Kind of a milestone — the first full size wooden rib I’ve ever built. Can’t wait for tomorrow when the glue is hard enough to pop it out of the jig. Then we’ll see whether this one gets used on the airplane, or used for destructive testing.
Cutting those geodetic pieces is a lot of tedium. Even more so since I didn’t aend the strips before cutting, so I then had to sand each piece individually. next time I’ll clean up the capstrip prior to cutting. I was cutting two pieces at a time, with the capstrip stock taped together. I may go for 4 or 6 pieces at a time as I get better at it. And, I need a better solution for holding the pieces. I knocked three of those cups off the bench at various times while assembling it. Things will be a lot easier if and when Pete’s R/C Cub gets off my workbench.