Monthly Archives: November 2015

Top wing skins done (finally)

I’ve written in the past about “death pages” where you get stuck seemingly forever.  Well, page 16-03 was one of those pages!

I’ve been doing a lot of the work on my own, and only occasionally need a bucking partner.  The wings, however, really need one (Yes, some people did it all on their own, but they are long armed, ambidextrous, over achievers).  So, I was really beholden to having someone help me through this part.  Plus, I’ve been doing work around the house (and sometimes, stuck in Chicago for the week ends)… Oh, and a few days I went flying 🙂    In any case,  progress has been slow.

On Halloween, my son had to work, but an enthusiastic friend said he would stop by and help.  Alas, he’s a dentist and got called to the office, so the morning was a bust as far as riveting was concerned, so I decided to get a head start on section 17.  The first thing you do in this section is to cut out some leading edge cradle parts (they were sketched on the plywood lid of the shipping crate).

I went to put on my trusty, 20 year old ear protectors and they snapped in half, whacking the top of my skull in the process.  Luckily, I have some backup pairs in the shop for helpers and guests.

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I found that the sketch line wasn’t very accurate.  When I test fit a nose rib, the fit was horrible.  I trimmed it up for a better fit.  Used Gorilla Tape as a liner.  It really smooths the edge and should make it easy to get the leading edge in and out.

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Two of the W-1009’s get modified for each leading edge.  These parts have to be notched to fit of the spar reinforcement.  I used a marking gauge (and double checked with a ruler afterwards).  A couple of quick runs on the band saw and I was set.  I put the nose ribs on a small chunk of 2×4 before cutting.  The wood helps keep the saw blade clear of chips and it makes it easier to move the piece around.  The cuts came out great.  A little file work to clean them up (and to make a round inner corner instead of a square).

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With a little more time kill, I used sandpaper and a ScotchBrite wheel in my drill press to smooth the lightening holes.

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My friend the dentist showed up, but it was too late to do any riveting since I had a plane reserved for he afternoon.  Nice day for flying!  I ran some nice landings at KPOU working on stabilized approaches and airspeed control.  Then  it was over to 44N for some cheap gas.  There was a Stearman filling up at the same time!


OK, flash forward another two weeks.  I missed a build weekend as I stayed in Chicago for my company party.  I work for a big finance firm and we had a blow out 25th anniversary party.  It was a bit surreal with amazing food, flying violinists playing “Radioactive”, trapeze work overhead, and Katy Perry in concert.

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So, finally, last Saturday, I get back to work.  My son is able to come out in the morning and we banged out a couple hundred rivets.

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I also managed to “fix” the broken ear protector by overlapping the broken head band and clecoing the thing together.  My friend the dentist was stopping by for a second shot at riveting and I didn’t want him to go deaf.  The fix really amused my son!

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So my #1 bucking partner showed the dentist the ropes and pretty soon we were banging out rivets.  He’s very precise and checked every single rivet with the gauge.  We got some really beautiful ones.

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With the ribs and J-stiffener done, we just had a few rivets to put in on the wing root.  We squeezed all but a couple (it’s kind of tight for the squeezer on the last trailing rivet because of interference with the spar double and there’s one just in front of the j-stiffener that’s hard to get to).  I’ve never seen someone so happy to be squeezing rivets.

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The last page of secion 16 has you match drill and rivet in the aileron brackets.  With the wings on the stand, it was a lot easier to climb up the step ladder and drill down.

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I was able to squeeze 5 of the 9 rivets on each bracket and just bucked the innermost 4.  Tada!  Wings!

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So… On to section 17 — The Leading edge.

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I went back and started the fluting and flange straightening.  The dentist took a while to grasp the whole idea of fluting.  When we ran across a flute on one of the wing ribs, he asked if we should straighten out the “dent” in the wing.  I explained how we had to “shrink” the turned up flange or it would not lay flat.  Lot’s of hands waving and pieces of paper bent before he got it.  I got to work straightening while the dentist dressed the flange edges.  I also buffed the leading edge flanges to reduce faceting on the wing skin.

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It was getting late, but we still had time to drill out the #30 and #40 holes on the nose ribs.

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I won’t be back in the shop for almost 3 weeks!  Heading out to visit my Dad and his lovely wife (and new puppy!) for Thanksgiving.  When I do get back, I’ll start with fabbing the j-stiffener and prepping the splice strip.  Hopefully, I can get at least one of the leading edges mocked up in the cradle.