Busy couple of weeks since the last blog update, but lots to share.
I continue to assemble the wing spars and gather the remaining materials and make parts for the wings.
With the spar webs cut, it's time to layout the lightening hole locations along the web, and cut the spar cap angles. These form the top and bottom of the spar. It starts with a centre line along the length:
Measuring outboard from the root edge, I made a hatch mark for each of the lightening hole locations:
With the locations laid out, I stacked one spar web on top of the other, secured them with clamps and drilled pilot holes through both - this means all lightening holes in each spar are in exactly the same location.
Next up was cutting the bottom and top spar cap angles using the chop saw. I left them a couple of mm long to allow for filing and sanding the ends smooth as the chop saw cuts fairly rough..
Here are the first pair, roughly laid out on the right spar web. You can see in this picture I've marked up each of the webs with a Sharpie so that I keep everything straight as to which way is up/down/fore/aft and a rough idea of the lightening holes. This is important as I want to use the factory edge on each of the spar webs on the bottom edge of the spar and as my reference for measuring the height of each assembly.
With the lower spar cap lined up with the factory edge and clamped in place, I laid out the rivet lines on the spar cap angles. These holes will eventually be filled by A5 solid rivets. I measured and double/triple checked the layout to ensure everything matches the plans. It's easy to be off a couple of millimetres at the beginning that translates to being off several millimetres at the other. The rivet pitches also vary a bit near the middle of the spar too where the spar web doubler and strut pick-ups are located so those have to be carefully considered too.
Drilling all the A3 pilot holes in the spar caps left a LOT of swarf!
At the bottom of the spar at the root I only drilled one pilot hole to begin the process of lining up the spar cap angle. There are several holes and bolts needed here in the spar cap angle, but I have more components to add including the spar root doubler and the spar root pickup. It will be easier to back drill from the opposite side - pilot holes for spar root pickup will be laid out and drilled on the drill press for accuracy and ease.
To start the process of matching up the lower spar cap to the web, I used a straight steel block. The web sits on a board to back up the drill bit, tight against the block and under the spar cap angle. The spar cap angle is exactly even with the end of the web, forming a perfect corner. Drill through the pilot hole to A3 size - this hole will eventually drilled out and filled with an AN bolt.
I secured the inboard end of the lower spar cap with a cleco, then used the same steel block to line up the web and lower spar cap again moving outboard. A clamp kept everything straight as I drilled the next holes:
Every tenth pilot hole was drilled though the cap and web. A long piece of HSS square tube confirms everything is remaining straight as I go:
With the spar cab and web confirmed as straight and true, I finished drilling the rest of the holes between, checking for straightness each time:
I left the section un-drilled between each end of the spar web doubler location (shown as red angled lines). I'll wait to confirm fit of the doubler and the front strut pick up angle once they are made and fitted. I may back drill these like the spar root depending on how the fit up goes.
With the lower cap in place, i started to layout where the top spar cap will be on the web and the associated rivet lines. yes those are my red Crocs.... don't judge.
The upper spar cap is initially cut long enough to overhang the web where it tapers. This will be trimmed off later to match the doubler which gets added here at the root (more on that later). The rivet layout at this corner is non standard, so for my first hole, I chose the first standard rivet spaced on along the cap. I used a ruler underneath everything to make the spar height exactly 209mm as per the plans and secured it:
Pro Tip: Be careful your pilot hole isn't over top the ruler when you drill through the web! Better that than a finger I suppose!
With the spacing between spar caps confirmed and triple checked, I used a carefully cut wooden spacer to make each of the subsequent holes along the upper spar cap exactly parallel to the bottom one. I started with a wooden block close to the length needed to fit between the caps, squared the ends on the band saw, then slowly sanded each end until it fit snug but perfectly between the two.
I copied the process all the way along, doing every tenth rivet and double checking the spar height each time. The caps are perfectly parallel and the spar height is bang on 209 mm. I finished of the rest of the holes to A3, skipping over the section where the spar web doubler will be. All the holes, top and bottom are A3, eventually will be up sized to A5 for solid rivets. The whole spar assembly as it sits now is already very strong.
Flipping the whole assembly over, I checked the rivet lines and confirmed the spar height as correct. I also started to formulate a plan for the spar root assemblies, spar web doublers and how to trim the upper cap angle taper effectively.
Next up is the spar tips. Made from 025, I bent these a while back when I was working on some 025 sheet work. They too have lightening holes, which I laid out and completed with the fly-cutter on the drill press.
Both tips with lightening holes cut and ready to be flanged. These holes are exactly the same diameter as the ones that will be in the spar web, so I marked the cutter with a flag note stating it was already set. Once I get the spar lightening holes cut, I'll flange them at the same time as these.
To ensure the spar tips are perfectly square and parallel to the spar, I flipped the spar back over and clamped a spare piece of angle to the bottom spar cap angle, measured exactly where the tip should overlap the spar end and marked it for pilot holes.
The red line on the left is the rivet line for the spar tip where it attaches to the spar web. The red line on the right is the rivet line station for the outer wing and nose ribs. It has a different rivet spacing, so I'm leaving that alone until the ribs are ready for installation. This will allow a small adjustment to compensate for any variance on the pickups in the slats, which will be installed on the wings later.
Four A3 holes evenly spaced between the spar caps. These will eventually be A5 pulled rivet holes.
Flip the spar back over. Layout the rivet holes in the ends of the spar caps as per the plans. Clamp it all together. I found it helpful to extend the whole thing over the end of the bench for this.
Back drill through the spar caps through the spar tip and secure with clecos:
Extremely happy with everything so far. The spar is dead straight, dead on 209mm tall throughout it's length and distance from root to tip is exactly as in the plans. Straight and rigid enough to stand on it's own! I'm waiting to pick up some aluminum sheet and flat stock later this coming week to make the spar pick-ups, the spar web doublers and front upper strut fittings..
I had a couple of hours for the shop one morning, so I decided to start modifying my wing rib templates. I've had these made for many months and now that I'm ready to start forming wing ribs I wanted to re-visit their layout. I'd experienced some issues forming the slat ribs and thought I could address this on the Wing ribs. I marked the location of flute relief on both the left and right side templates. This will eventually make forming the curves on the bottom and top of the ribs easier.
I started cutting the flutes using a small drum sander on the Dremel tool. It worked really well (more on these later).
Back in the shop the next evening, I started to form up the 032 spar root doubler. It was relatively easy to make as I had experience from installing a missing one on the 701 wing repair (click here for that part of my story).
It starts with bending a flange on the outboard end, then trimming the doubler to match the taper of the spar web, leaving enough width to bend a second flange to match the taper.
With the doubler bent correctly, I laid out the rivet lines for the upper perimeter and back drilled through the web out to A3, using the bottom spar cap angle as a guide to keep everything straight. (it's hard to see it here as it is underneath the inboard spar web):
Flip the spar over and lay out two rows of rivet lines, 5 rivets between spaced between the spar caps:
With the spar doubler drilled, clecoed and and confirmed as correctly positioned as in the plans, I removed it again in order to better see where I need to trim the upper spar cap angle. I marked a line on the angle using the web as my guide.
The next part was quite challenging - using the chop saw to make the accurate angle cut on such a long and un-wieldly piece of angle. I managed to get it close enough, but boy the chop saw makes ugly work of the cut:
The black line represents everything actually left to trim back for a perfect match to the spar taper. I used an angle grinder to gently remove more material using the spar doubler as a guide until it was perfect:
As I got close, I switched to a hand file, taking it down until it was perfectly level. Some final sanding to round off the sharp edges and it is complete:
Putting it all back together, I began laying out the rest of the root doubler rivets and drilling them out to A3. The plans here are kind of lacking about the spacing, but I believe I got it close to what is intended. These will be A5 rivets and the spacing I've left between them it well withing tolerances. I've written what I've used for measurements on my plans so it will be the same on the left spar.
I upsized these to A4 with the exception of the 3 at the tip. I'll leave these as A3 until I can align the inboard root rib and nose rib. This assembly will only get stronger with the addition of the root attachment plate.
As per the plans, I added two standard L angles on the back of the spar at the required location. These add more torsional rigidity to the spar assembly as a whole.
First I marked the centre line of where the angle attaches at each location on the spar:
I cut and deburred two pieces of L to 209 mm long, then used the rivet holes in the spar tip as a guide as they are the same layout (4 rivets between the spar caps):
It doesn't show here, but I drilled pilot holes in each of the L pieces, then used the layout line on the web to align the L in each of the spots and drilled it out to A3. They too will become A5 eventually.
Ron had a look at the flutes I cut in my rib forms and suggested I widen and soften the edges a bit. To do this I used a hand file.
The file was very effective but left the flutes a bit rough.
A little hand sanding of each and they cleaned up nicely.
Both the wing and the root rib bottoms taper slightly up from the front bottom corner. In order to lay out the lightening hole and tooling hole locations correctly, I set up one of the forms on the bench and used a scrap of angle and a carpenters square as a straight edge for measuring against. As this is my first go at using these forms, I decided to do the two root ribs first in case I discover procedural issues. Better to change plans now if needed, but I think this will work.
The four vertical lines measured laterally from the square end. The tooling hole locations measured vertically up from the straight edge provided by the angle. I drilled the four holes out to 15/64ths diameter, same as the bolts I will use to clamp the forms together when bending the blanks into ribs. Left to right, the first 3 holes are also the centre of the lightening holes, the fourth is a tooling (bolt only) hole:
Flip the stack over, clamp the forms together straight and use the new holes to back drill though the other half of the forms, ensuring both left and right rib consistency.
With the forms and templates ready, I start to stack them and a blank together. From top to bottom in the picture below - right side form, left side form and wing root rib blanks. The blanks don't have holes yet and the stack is now pointing in the opposite direction (left to right - tooling hole, and 3 lightening hole centres).
Line up the root rib blank on one side of the form......
.... followed by the other form, lined up directly over top the other. Normally this alignment is accomplished via the bolts and holes. My blanks don't have tooling holes as I wanted the holes to first match on both forms otherwise what's the point?
With everything lined up exactly where it should be, I clamped the sandwich to the table and using the form holes drilled pilot holes through the blank:
This results in perfectly located holes - all four will initially be bolt holes for forming the rib.
With both root rib blanks having their tooling holes complete, I can bolt it all together and put it in the vise for forming:
Gentle and firm blows with the dead blow hammer, bends the flange over the sides of the form. A piece of hardwood dowel rod helps direct the forming blows, massaging the aluminum into the flutes, taking up the extra aluminum from the curve of the form and creating the desired shape across the top and bottom of the rib:
The flutes really help make the rib nice and straight, but it also make is tougher to remove the form. Not bad enough to avoid the flute work! Once out of the form, fluting pliers can be sued for final adjustment. Once flat and out of the form, the 3 forward bolt holes become pilot holes for the fly cutter.
Knowing the procedure works as I intended with the root rib, I repeated the hole alignment procedure for the wing ribs and it turned out perfectly. I'll get to pilot holing the rib banks soon in preparation to form the ribs..
The nose ribs of the 701 and 750 are close enough that I can use Ron's forms. I remembered this while looking for my nose rib forms - that's why I didn't make them for myself! Ron and two other builders were making their nose ribs at the same time, so they bolstered their form with a metal plate close to the nose. This absorbs and backs the small tinsmith hammer blows required to get the thin nose flange rolled over much better than the wood alone.
Ron's forms are already drilled for tooling and lightening hole centre, so the process changes only slightly. This time, I laid a nose rib blank on the drill backing board and centred the form on the blank.
With it clamped in place, I drilled out the holes, using the form as a guide. Then I repeated this step 11 more times for a total of 6 left and 6 right rib blanks.
Ron's forms do not have flutes cut in them, but Ron says they had no issues forming their ribs without flutes. I will need to know where the flutes need to be crimped using fluting pliers, so I marked out 6 left and 6 right for future forming:
A couple of parts I've yet to make are the front upper strut fitting and the spar root fitting (2 of each, one set for each wing). These are substantially thick pieces of aluminum, each a 1/4 inch thick.
One challenge scratch builders have is a good reference of materials needed for a build. Kits come with everything already cut and mostly bent. To make scratch building affordable, one needs to purchase materials in complete sheets then cut them down to size. Buying in bulk saves major bucks.
Thankfully, I received a really good spreadsheet from another scratch builder early on in my build process, which has been invaluable in giving me some idea of the materials needed.
I've been following along pretty closely to the spread sheet of material, but it sometimes has a bit discrepancy compared to the plans. But as we all know, the plans are king.
My spreadsheet states the spar root fitting is 38mm wide by 240mm long - this coincides nicely with the spreadsheet and can be made from 1-1/2 inch x 12 thick aluminum bar stock perfectly (38mm is 1.49606 inches, close enough for me!)
My spreadsheet also states the front upper strut fitting is 40mm wide by 203mm long. This means I'd need bar stock just over 1-1/2 inches wide (1.5748 inches). This sucks because the next width in bar stock is 2 inches, meaning a bunch of wasted material if I have to cut it to width.
I spent too many hours thinking about this and trying to figure out if maybe I'd be better to order some 1/4 inch plate and cut them all out from that, which means more work and chance for error. It was then I looked again at the plans and realized the spreadsheet is wrong. Both are 38 mm wide, meaning I can make all four from a single strip of 1-1/12 wide bar stock. Cool! (I've adjusted my spreadsheet!)
So the 1-1/2 inch bar stock has been ordered along with some 063 to make the spar web doubler and some 0.188 plate for the wing attach brackets on the cabin/fuselage. It pays to shop around, these materials are about a quarter of the total cost ordering it from Aircraft Spruce and 8 hours closer too! I'll pick it up this week from the supplier. I'll probably get them to quote some 020 that I still need for the wings and fuselage skins.
One material that is cheaper to get at ACS are aircraft grade hard rivets. What you see below is way more than I need, but it's good to have extras. $68 something including tax and the time to go get them. I was going that way anyhow to pick up something for Ron, so it saved us both a little on shipping too. The picture below is what I got for the money. The writing on the label is the weight in pounds, not the cost per rivet.
Another consideration I've been pondering is fuel capacity and what that means for my build. Will the standard size fuel tanks be adequate for my expected fuel burn and range? I need to think about this as it affects how and where the fuel tanks get installed in the wing.
I reached out to William Wynne, the Corvair guy and he advises I can expect to flight plan for an average of 6 gallons per hour fuel burn at normal cruise speeds. Looking at the specs from the Zenith website, standard dual wing tanks are 24 US Gallons (2 x 12 gal.) - meaning not including unusable fuel in the lines and any reserve I can expect about a 4 hour range on average.
The extended tank option from Zenith (plans sold separately?!) increases this to a total of 30 US Gallons (2 x 15 gal.) - an increase of about an hour of endurance. The tanks are essentially a little bigger but still fir in the same wing bay.
Some have added a second standard tank in each wing, meaning a total fuel capacity of 48 Gallons!
That sounds great, but there are some serious pros/cons to consider. Extra range and fuel is always a good thing. But how long do I want to a leg to be - i.e. will I need to stretch/pee/eat before 4 hours? It also costs more to make larger or dual tanks, and it complicates the plumbing of the fuel quite substantially. There is also the consideration it may decrease the usefull load (how much can I take in baggage and gear - fuel weighs a lot) and that it costs fuel to haul fuel.
I'm all for the extra range - it never hurts to have more fuel than I need. I'm just not sure it meets my mission and if I eventually plan to put the plane on floats, then what? That has impacts on gross/empty weight on it's own, without considering the extra weight of fuel.
I don't have to decide yet, but will have to soon. Maybe I'll reach out to Jeff Moores in NewFoundland - he has a 705 Cruzer on floats and see what his experiences are. I'm leaning towards the middle option for a slight increase in range without complicating the plumbing.
So.... long blog today. I hope you are enjoying following along. More to come soon including some decisions on fuel tank size.
Husband, father and 911 dispatcher. Long time pilot with a licence that burns a hole in my pocket where my student loan money used to be. First time aircraft builder. Looking to fly my own airplane.