Monday, March 25, 2013

Section 13 -- Left Wing Rear Spar

21.5 Hours Added

Work continued on the left wing's rear spar this past week.  Things seemed to move along nicely until I started counter-sinking the holes on the rear spar doubler.

Left Wing Rear Spar Doubler

I don't know if I was pushing too hard or the bit was defective, but the end result was the same--a broken countersink bit.

There are few things that are more frustrating when building than a broken tool.  The good news is that the good people at Cleaveland Aircraft Tools had a new bit in the mail to me the next day.  In the meantime, I was able to continue working on the rear spar.

Inboard Aileron Bracket
When the instructions make statements such as, "This is a critical hole and must be reamed using a drill press and a proper size reamer," it's time to acquire more tools.  In this case, not only did I need to order the proper size reamer, but it was finally time to find a drill press.  Luckily, Craig's List offered a few options and I found this beauty:

This happens to be true vintage machinery.  According to the former owner, this drill press was new when Truman was President and it spent its first years in the 4J school system as a shop class implement--now it's helping me build an airplane.

While waiting on the reamer bit to arrive, I worked to get the right wing caught up to the left wing.  The nice thing about doing everything twice is that it goes MUCH faster the second time.

Wing Rib Bolts Torque-Sealed and Ready for Rivets
Right Wing Flap Hinge Assembly

After I ream the critical hole in each spar and attach the rear spars to their respective wing, it will be time for Section 14 where the top wing skins are fitted.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sections 12 & 13 -- 3/11/2013 to 3/17/2013

23 Hours Added

In my last post I had completed the first section of the wing build (Section 11) for both the left and right wing main spars.  As of yesterday (3/17), I have moved into Section 13, which deals with the rear wing spars.  I have decided to move further ahead with the left wing first and once I finish with Section 13, I anticipate that I will start back at Section 12 with the right wing.  It's probably obvious when I say that the right wing is always much easier and takes less time to build having already done the same thing for the left wing.

I am completely amazed at how long everything takes.  For instance, for each of the fourteen rear left wing ribs it is necessary to bend the flanges to 90 degrees, flute the flanges to straighten the ribs, final drill each attach hole, deburr each hole (both sides usually), dimple each hole for flush riveting, deburr the rib edges, and finally prime the pieces.  It ultimately means that each component is touched four or more times before it is finally riveted together.

Initial Fitting of Left Wing Ribs
Temporarily Fitted Ribs
Left Spar Upside Down

Once I had all of the ribs primed, they were ready for the final installation.

Wing Ribs are Cleco-ed in along with Plastic Snap-in Bushings
Wing Rib with Flap Bracket Installed
All Ribs are Cleco-ed and Ready for Riveting

The first part of Section 13 involves the fabrication of the aileron brackets.  In this case, I fabricated both the right and left side brackets at the same time.

Left Wing Aileron Brackets

Outboard Flap Bracket

With the aileron brackets completed, I moved onto the rear spar and the rear spar doublers.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Section 11--Completed 3/9 to 3/10/2013

This past weekend was my first opportunity to dedicate serious time to the wings.  While I only completed Section 11 (with the exception of spot priming the countersink holes), which is the first section of actual construction, it felt great to move forward with the build.  The left spar took considerably more time than the right spar given that I started with the left spar.  I found myself reading, re-reading, and re-re-reading instructions only to befuddle myself when I went to perform the actual work.  So, despite my general lack of efficient production, I feel good with my work-product so far.  Thankfully, with the left spar complete, the right spar was far easier.

Nut plates abound
More nut plates

Countersink Wing Rib Attach Points
More countersinking
The spars are all ready for Section 12 where they will receive the rib treatment.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Commence Building -- Section 11

As you might guess from the picture below, the workshop has been electrified and the excuses that have delayed the building phase are now over.

I spent the better part of a day laboring through the meticulous inventory of the wing kit, which is comprised of two wooden crates.  Since most things these days arrive in a cardboard box, a wooden crate conjures up the feeling that whatever is contained in it must be expensive important.  Even though the contents of each crate is the true purpose of this project, I couldn't help but think that the containers were worthy of pause.

So by Sunday evening, I had finished inventorying the pieces only to come up short two items.  Thankfully, they were seemingly minor components and the good folks at Van's had no trouble shipping replacements without any hesitation.

The next few evenings, I paged through the instruction book in the hopes of learning the new foreign language of building an airplane.  Thankfully, I had a basic understanding of the tools and how they are used from taking Synergy Air's Fundamentals of Building class.  Even so, I must admit that I quickly became overwhelmed once I hit the meat of the material.

So, the other evening, I jumped right in and set up the first materials.  I don't know if this was intentional on Van's part, but the first steps of building seem too involve the most expensive components of the wing kit--the spars.

I can't describe to you exactly how it feels to lay out everything and line up for drilling that first hole other than to say that I think I checked the instruction manual more times than I can recall.  Thankfully, everything seemed to move ahead smoothly.

While it might seem like drilling about two hundred holes in some J-channel is no big deal (and it probably isn't), it's the first step of many to come.