In my previous post, I spoke of the standard 4 foot long L's that I have to make. There are apparently a lot of them, some sources claim up to 64 required for the plane, some as little as 35. They are simple to make and I'll need some quantity of them anyway, so today I worked in my downstairs shop to see if I could come up with a way to start producing these as I have some spare time.
I rolled my workbench out from the wall to give myself some room to work at the ends of the bench and locked the casters in place.
The cutting tool I made previously is perfect for this task (more information here).
The workbench already has some bolts I use for the drill press mount, but here I decided to use them as a front edge spacer. The first cut was measured and marked out on the aluminum sheet. Once I had the sheet in place, I was able to position the straight edge angle in the correct position so that the aluminum is cut to 36mm, the correct width for the "L" before bending.
Using the cutting tool, score the aluminum from one end to the other. Important note - if you are planning on using this method be sure you do not put any side loads on the blade - pull across the surface and let the tool do the work. Side loading the blade may cause it to snap. (Photo credits showing me doing the work goes to my supportive daughter Natalie!)
I found it took about 10 passes to create a good score line on the 0.025 aluminum. It creates quite a bit of "swarf" - the small pieces of metal removed from a workpiece by a cutting tool.
Once scored enough, I un-clamped the sheet and shuffled it forward - being sure to remove the front dog bolts - and placed the score line directly over edge of the bench and re-clamped it down.
To prevent the sheet from buckling upwards as I bent it at the scored line, I clamped down the edges and also held a piece of 1/3 on top
It took about 30 minutes or so to complete the first one and more like 10 minutes for the second one as everything was already set up.
I continued to produce these for a couple of hours and managed to make 12 in total. They still need to be bent and deburred, but I think this is good use of time and certainly cheaper than having the cut and bent in a machine shop. For now, I'll make up to 30 of them until I can confirm with Zenair the total count that would come in an ordered kit.
Here is a pic of the collected swarf (including some dust bunnies from the shop floor)..... more to come!
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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.