Once again, I find myself disappointed that I haven't been keeping my blog up to date. Almost a month has gone by - if you've been following along, thanks for staying with me.
The last couple of weeks have been busy in the shop, I can honestly say I think we are coming to the end of the 701 wing repair/extension. It's been a very VERY long road, but worth every minute learning how to read Zenith blueprints, bend metal, plan ahead and correct mistakes (both my own and those of the original builder).
In my last blog post, I mentioned we were going to try using the router to cut the 040 thick aluminum sheet. I have to cut 3 strips that will be bent to make up the corner supports of the horizontal tail frame box, and using the bandsaw or scoring method would be difficult at best because of the size.
I laid out the 040 sheet on the table. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of the set up, but essentially I planned to use the same method as I used for cutting the nose skin slots - a long straight edge to guide the router along.
What I didn't expect was the router bit to snap immediately on contact with the aluminum. Frustrating as I was very careful in set up, feed speed, etc. In the pics below you can see it snapped up close to the shank, not down by the tip where it contacted the aluminum. I'm guessing it can't handle the stiffness/thickness of the 040 despite cutting the 016 very easily:
I decided to put this testing away for now - I'm going to have to obtain a replacement bit anyhow. I'll do some more reading/research to see what I can do to improve my chances. I'll have to get back at it soon, I need these pieces for my tail, the first thing going on the bench when we're done this 701 wing.
Back to the wing.
Using the same method as the inboard nose skin, straps and wooden strips are used to bring the skin down tight to the spar and nose ribs. It actually wrapped a lot easier than I thought it would, but careful even tightening of the straps was key.
With the skin in position, I used the hole duplicator and matched the nose skin holes to the spar. Surprisingly, the rivet hole spacing is correct - at least the original builder got that part right.
With the bottom of the nose skin secured, we flipped the wing over to get at the top side. Same process here, straps, blocks and careful tightening.
If you look at the picture above, it's clear I need to trim the wingtip nose skin. It's a complicated curve, even more so than the upper and lower wing tip ends because it also curves from top to bottom to form the shape of the nose.
Adding to the challenge is that the original fiberglass wingtip can't be installed yet as we are using it as a template negative mold to make more.
So, how to cut the skin to match the wingtip nose, without actually installing the wingtip nose? There are a couple of things I can look at for reference.
First, the other wing for this 701 is in much better shape and the wingtip is still intact:
Unfortunately, I'm not going to take the nose skin off the good wing, just to make a template for the wing repair. We also can't assume it's correct - remember, it came from the same builder!
Second reference, the plans! Only problem here though is the plans reference measurements from the last wing rib to various points on the nose skin curve, where X is the distance from the spar line, and Ynose is the distance from the last rib to the point on the curve:
Seems simple enough, but we've added an extension and added two more ribs. So where to measure from, hmmmm.
With the skin in place, I marked the skin where it overlapped the upper spar cap - essentially this marks the end of the upper spar cap and is the X=0 point in the table above.
The nose skin was removed again - clecos from both sides, straps, blocks, and all (the skin had to be deburred anyhow). Now that I had a good X=0 point, I measured back from there 505mm, simulating where the outermost wing rib rib would have been. I made a scribe line from top to bottom at the 505mm mark, then marked out each of the X points. From these I could now mark each of the matching Ynose points on the curve.
To make the line a smooth curve, I connected the points with a french curve drawing ruler. Once i was satisfied I had the measurements correct and the curve was a smooth as possible, I used hand snips to carefully cut away the excess skin. I left it a bit long as it's always easier to trim it back once the fibreglass nose is in place.
Before putting the nose skin back on, I ran a pair of wires from the root to the tip, leaving enough to work with at both ends and correctly labelled. The wires are secured firmly (but not tightly) to the nose ribs by a dual wire tie standoffs.
The other thing we wanted to do before fastening the nose skin permanently, was to rivet in a backer plate behind the wrong slot I had cut. This backer will give us a surface to place body fill putty in the slot.. When it dries, the holding rivets will be ground flush and the nose skin sanded smooth.
The wing skins go back on, the straps are tightened again and the skin lines up perfectly. Clecos are added, and the final riveting is completed on the lower side of the nose skin. The wing finally looks substantially complete!
The next step to finish was to replace the damaged lift strut pickup support bracket. I made a new one out of 032 (the original builder used 025), drilled and clecoed for fit
So, what's left to do? Finish installing the fuel bay cover and rivet the upper side of the nose skin. The upper wing root skin will be done once the wings are installed and wing incidence/dihaedral is set (more on that later).
Very happy to see this wing going away for storage by the end of this week.
Next up, my horizontal tail. Here are the frames for two other 701's Ron is working on. I'm getting my parts gathered and will be building my tail alongside these ones:
A productive couple of weeks. Hopefully my followers here will finally get a chance to see me working on my airplane. I wouldn't be able to even begin without the skills I've learned here on the wing repair/extension. I'm very thankful for the opportunity to learn - that's what it's all been about :)
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.