Compression members in (lower left wing)

Over the past few days, I have gotten the rest of the ribs glued to the rear spar. I’ve left them unattached to the top of the main spar, as I’m planning to just run the geodetic braces between the rib cap and spar rather than use a separate shim between the cap and spar.

Today I got all four of the compression member assembles cut, fitted, and glued in place, and glued plywood gussets on some of the joints. I ran out of time before I could get the remainder of the gussets cut and glued in.

The State of the Wing address

The main and rear spars are in place, and half the ribs are glued to them. It’s tedious and intense work, so I’ll finish them up tomorrow.

I dug the CW42 and CW43 plywood pieces for the wing walk out of the crate and tried test fitting them. As with many of the kit pieces, they simply don’t fit. At all. The nose reinforcing pieces will be usable, with some trimming. The rear pieces… not so much. Once the ribs are fully secured I’ll see if they can be used at all, or if I’ll need to order some new plywood and cut new ones. At the very least, the notches for the cross braces are rounded at the bottom from being cut out with a router with a fairly large bit. I can clean those up with a band saw, but the ends are also not right by a long shot. It will take some work to figure out how or if I can use these.

All in all I’m just happy I didn’t pay full price for this “kit”. I’ve found an awful lot of pieces that, quite frankly, I’d have probably been better off making myself. But at least now I know what to expect.

Wing work through 2/26

Mostly small things over the past week. I cut and installed some more corner blocking that I didn’t get done before, tested a couple new iterations of the bearing block/spacer, and fine tuned the aileron to the opening. Along the way I’ve noted a few new lessons learned…

  • Never trust the plans, or the supplemental sheets included with them. They’re often inaccurate. Like the AL bracket diagrams that call out 3/16″ holes when they will get 1/4″ AN4 bolts… and on and on.
  • Get the torque tubes in place, holes moved or enlarged where needed, and bearing blocks in place and holes drilled before cutting the ailerons from the wing. Otherwise it’s just a bitch getting everything aligned after the fact to locate the bearing blocks. This of course goes along with correcting all of the many problems with the holes that are pre-drilled in those plywood parts.
  • Make sure all of the corner blocking is installed around the aileron bay as early as possible, and certainly before installing the CW40 plywood stiffeners, aileron leading edge skin, and so on.
  • Go over the plan sheet more often and in greater detail to make sure I don’t miss anything that will be a pain to install later on… like corner blocking that would be much easier to plane or sand to shape than to try to cut to match odd angles.
  • Install the compression struts before the geodetics! That cost a couple hours of added time working through tight openings.

Not necessarily a “lesson learned”, but something I’d like to explore. All of the ribs ended up needing a 1/8 shim between the top rib cap and the main spar. Rather than shim them with separate pieces, I want to see if I can maybe cut and install the geodetics at the same time the ribs are glued, or something. Or possibly just use temporary shims, and glue the top cap to the spar as the geodetics are installed. It could lead to neater and better construction.

Wing work 2/10/24

This covers a couple days’ work. Yesterday we ripped the CW37 aileron bay TE stock down to 1/4” and I got that installed. Today I’ll glue in the triangular support pieces. And yes, I realized after cutting and gluing it all up that the CW37 piece is supposed to be notched for the rib caps. I’ll remember that for the next time.

I continue to be astonished at how light and strong this wing is. I can easily lift it off the bench and move it around; it can’t weigh more than 20-25# without the aileron installed.

The last thing that was really bugging me about the aileron was that the lower edge of the leading edge plywood still wasn’t glued down. I’ve got to find a better way on the next aileron, but this one had to be done so we can radius the lower edge.

Stew’s idea was to make a grooved board for the trailing edge and use that to clamp a board across the leading edge while the glue sets. He used a length of scrap cedar with a groove cut to match the angle of the TE, and we used four bar clamps to apply pressure. In hindsight – I honestly don’t know if just putting a radius on the front corner and wrapping plywood around it would be better or not. We’ll see how this works out.

In other news, Stew has his 4’ CNC machine in and working, and I’m going to put him to work cutting my torque tube bearing blocks out of some UHMWPE stock I have. Better than plywood, I think.

Aileron progress

Building this aileron has definitely been a learning experience. Some things that I didn’t think would make a big difference early on in the process have come back to haunt me… and of course I’ve learned how the whole thing goes together, which isn’t always 100% clear when comparing the plans to the parts received in the kit. The end result will be fine, but the next three will be a lot less hassle to build.

Lessons learned: All of the plywood bits need to align perfectly with each other and with the wing ribs. That means CW36 needs to be shortened and the hole moved, and CW35 needs the hole moved. I will also pay more attention to getting the aileron spars perfectly flush with the rib caps — otherwise there’s planing and sanding to be done. Ditto for the stringer on the leading edge; I’ll want to make sure the notches I cut for that are exactly the correct depth.

As my CW35 pieces were about 3/16″ high on each end, I glued a couple strips of the 1/8 lamination stock along the bottom edge to fill the gap. Once that was dry I planed and sanded to match the profile of the ribs. I had to sand the top down to match the ribs and CW34 contour, and finish getting the bottom of the spar flush with the ribs. There wasn’t much hanging down, but it was still fussy work. With that done I was able to glue the bottom layer of plywood to the aileron. Once that’s dry I can go to work on the rest of the plywood — of course the angle cut in the spruce piece at the bottom of the aileron doesn’t match the angle of the CW34/35 plywood pieces, so I’ll just have to sand a good profile for a smooth transition. Then I’ll be able to figure out the rest of the aileron bay.

Opening 2024 with an aileron

Today I hit a pretty cool milestone – I cut the first aileron free from the first wing! Pretty jazzed about that. I trimmed up the rib cap ends as much as I needed to, and glued on the lower aileron spar and the upper stringer. Lessons learned here:

  • The CW36 pieces (aileron bay end plates that hold the torque tube bearings) did indeed have the holes drilled about 1/8 or 3/16 forward of where they needed to be. Not a big deal, since those will get UHMW bearings attached to them. I did a little cutting and some sanding with a 3/4″ spindle sander drum (hand held) to get them where they needed to be.
  • The CW35 pieces (aileron end plates) have the holes drilled about 3/16″ below where they needed to be. I didn’t realize at the time exactly how the whole assembly goes together, but now I do. What this means is that CW35 on each end is too high to match the profile of the ribs. The top will need to be very carefully marked and cut or sanded to match the rib caps, and the bottom will need to be filled with some spruce or pine scrap. Lesson learned; for the other three wings I’ll re-cut those holes to match the holes in the CW34 pieces. I’ll do that by gluing up the CW34/CW35 stack with the profiles aligned; once dry I’ll use the spindle sander with a 3/4″ spindle to make the hole in CW35 match those in CW34.

The next issue to deal with will be the thickness of the CW37 pieces. The plans clearly show it as 1/4″ thick, but the supplied stock is 1/2″ thick. It’s used on the top and bottom of the aileron bay. Once I have the aileron completed – CW35 bits corrected and plywood attached – I’ll need to install the aileron with the torque tube in place and figure out exactly how to finish out the aileron bay.

More left wing work

I’ve been over working on the wing a couple of times since the last post. Stu and I worked out what seems to be the best way to fit the wingtip bow. Yesterday we glued, stapled, and clamped the leading edge plywood to the top of the ribs and the top false spar, but left it at that stage. Wrapping the ply around the leading edge results in the upper edge pulling loose, so we decided to leave it as is and do the rest later on. I was planning on today, but may hold off on that until the wingtip bow is installed — I want to get the corner blocking glued in behind the LE ply, and that may be difficult with the plywood fully wrapped. Don’t know, I’ll need to look at that today.

We spent an hour or two yesterday trying to work out the aileron bits and pieces. The factory cut and drilled plywood bits (CW32, CW34, CW35, etc.) have been both a blessing and a curse. Most of the confusion seems to come from the fact that the CW36 pieces, which attach to the ribs just inboard and just outboard of the aileron bay, are apparently drilled WAY off. The pieces are too long for the wing to begin with — they seem to be sized for a rear spar built with the original 1/2″ thickness. non the current 3/4″. Then there’s a hole marked “more or less” on center, but the actual hole is drilled about 1/8″ or so low, or high, depending on how the piece is flipped. There is no orientation we could find that matches up with the holes drilled in the CW35 pieces that are used to attach the aileron to the torque tube. Fortunately, it really doesn’t matter. I’ll be cutting 1/2″ UHMW end bearings that will attach to those plywood pieces, so we can enlarge those holes as much as needed as long as there’s enough room left to attach the bearing pieces.

What we did get done was to cut and glue in the aileron spar web, and some of the 1/4″ stiffeners before the glue left over from the leading edge ply got too thick to work with. I glued up a test piece with that; the epoxy is a bit thicker than I would normally use, but I may have just been too conservative on that. I can’t think of any reason it wouldn’t give a full strength joint; the test piece will tell me for sure.

For the most part, I’m waiting for my aluminum for the torque tubes to arrive at Millard Metals, and sheets of 1/16 and 1/8 ply to arrive from Spruce. I need the ply to cut gussets for the compression struts, and we don’t want to get much farther into the ailerons without full length torque tubes to keep everything perfectly aligned.

Lower left wing, Day 5

After a couple days’ hiatus for Thanksgiving, I went over yesterday to resume work on the wing. We cut the notches in the nose ribs and got them glued in place, and I cut and glued the corner blocking for the four compression struts. I still need to cut and glue in the gussets for those. We took a look at some of the aileron pieces to figure out how all of that goes together. I’m waiting on a response from Millard Metals on my aileron torque tube stock; I don’t think we can do much until I have that. I think the next step will be to get the wingtip bow figured out, and wrap the leading edge with plywood. Then I could also start cutting and installing the bushings for all of the attachment bolts.

Lower left wing, Day 4

Last night I got the compression struts and the bottom geodetic bracing glued in. Next up will be gluing the various plywood pieces surrounding and supporting the ailerons. I got those out last night to see how they fit, and everything looks good so far. Waiting to hear back from the metal supplier on the 1″ diameter tubing I need for the ailerons.

Lower left wing, Day 3

Last night I attached the two false spars to the nose of the ribs, and got the vertical blocks for the compression struts glued to the front and rear spars. The next step will be to flip the wing over and finish off the compression struts. Lots of pieces to those; it’s really the first place where I’ll need to install corner blocking and gussets. I know, most wood airplane builders would have been doing that all along!