I consider myself so fortunate to have a workshop space to build my plane. This is solely due to the kindness and generosity of Ron and Donna.
When I first talked with Ron about building my plane, he only asked that I share in some of the labour around the shop, such as cleaning and organizing, helping with other planes on the go etc. One of the big ones every season is cutting, splitting and stacking firewood.
Over the past coupe of weeks, I've been over to the property where the shop is and worked with Ron and Donna to split up five backhoe buckets of hardwood and stacked it in the woodshed in preparation for this coming winter. Although it's physically tiring and my shoulders are sore the next day, I'm glad to help out, and there is nothing better than working in a warm shop in the winter months!
Work had me on the road quite a bit the last couple of weeks getting some more project sites up to the latest standard, and I've got two more road trips scheduled in the coming weeks before I return to the communications centre.
While passing through Kapuskasing one morning, I passed their airport. I noticed a Zenair 701 parked/tied down on the apron and made a mental note to stop on the way back through later in the day to have a look.
One the way back, I had enough daylight to stop to look. You may recall, Dad and I traveled to St. Hubert Quebec back in June (see this post). I spend a lot of time driving for my job, and I got to thinking about that trip and how one of the Buffalo Airways mechanics Ronny McBryan (Uncle Ronny) had traveled from Red Deer to St. Hubert and passed through Kapuskasing on the same route I was on.
With this thought in my head and just as I came over the rise in the road west of the airport, what do my tired eyes see? Is that an orange tail!?!? Holy crap! It's a Buffalo Airways C46 Curtis Commando C-GTPO!
Unfortunately, there wasn't anyone around that could get me closer for a look, but I was dumbfounded what could have led me to be thinking about Buffalo Airways just before spotting one of their iconic war bird era cargo planes - so cool!
Second unfortunate thing, I couldn't get anywhere close to the Zenair 701 either. Oh well, maybe next time.
Here is a brief look at what I've got done when I've been able to get to the shop.
I needed to way to fold the trailing edge flatter without creasing the skin. To accomplish this I taped two small diameter rods together end for end and secured it to the table. I added a strip of wood near the middle to ensure the rod stayed in place securely for the bend:
The rod is slightly bigger than the radius required, but can be folded flat more once the skin is in place:
Like the horizontal stab, I prepped the table with blocks, lined up in parallel. These will be my guide to ensure the skins are equal at the trailing edge:
Skins are placed on the skeleton and roughly lined up. Wide mouth ViseGrip pliers hold the skin square to the spar for match hole drilling to the factory drilled spar:
With everything double checked for square, the first of the spar rivet holes are drilled using the hole duplicator:
Happy with where everything lined up, the skins came back off again for mark-up. It takes a bit of figuring as the plans aren't very clear on the rivet spacing and there are some offsets to consider closer the trailing edge, but it's doable with a little thought:
With the layout complete and double checked against the plans and skeleton, the holes are pre-drilled out to A3 size and the skin is clecoed back to the skeleton. I centre-lined the ribs with red sharpie, making it easier to align the ribs beneath the skin for drilling.
I want to draw the skin down from the spar back to the trailing edge equally on both upper and lower sides. This will ensure the skins are flat to the ribs and will continue to flatten the trailing edge. The first 3 or 4 rivets back from the spar on this side - I'll flip it over soon and do the same on the other side.
With the skin secure with the ribs rivets, I went back and finished duplicating the spar holes out the A3.
I then added the reinforcing plate that Ron and I discussed over the centre spar box joint and duplicated the holes at the spar and added the new holes on the rear channel. This really tightens everything up, and the entire centre section will eventually be riveted to A5 size. The same reinforcement plate will be added on the other side as well:
One of the complaints early builder/flyers of the Zenair STOL aircraft was the lack of elevator effectiveness and authority at slow speeds - i.e. landing flare.
To help alleviate this, sever builders have added aerodynamic "fences" at the tips of the horizontal stabilizers. These help keep airflow on the horizontal tail and over the elevator, preventing the air from flowing off the tips.
Following the examples shared by other builders on the Zenith forums, I set out to create my own based on their designs.
First was laying out the 063 aluminum sheet. I placed the horizontal stab tip form on the sheet, along with the original outer elevator bracket. I want 1.5 inch fences all around, so I measure this on the flat (upper) side of the tip rib:
The bottom edge was easy, how to do the top? Make a tool of course!
A simple stick of wood, drilled out to accept a sharpie. Trace around and voila!
Important to have exactly sized fences for each side, so I rough cut out the first one, fastened it to another rectangle blank and final cut them together as a sandwich on the bandsaw. I rounded out the trailing edges a bit as well:
With the final cutting done, a quick pass of the sandwich on the disc sander and some final hand sanding to clean everything up, they turned out very nice! These will take the place of the elevator hinge brackets as well.... so if anyone wants to buy a pair of original outer hinge brackets, shoot me an offer.... hahaha!
More to come on the elevator skins, support plates and hinge assemblies soon.
Thanks for reading!
Time until takeoff
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.