January 21, 2012 -- We have been working on the Eaglet a little over a month and I thought I would give you an update on what has been done. We have had excellent turn-outs with between four to six people each session, all digging in where needed.
First session: We removed all the fabric from the wings and control surfaces, took measurements of where cables came out, looked at different areas on how it was attached and carefully removed the old cotton fabric so we would be able to go back to the sections for reference if needed. We made an assessment of the work scope, including rib repairs, sand blasting, priming of fittings and control surfaces, and decided to start on one wing with the controls as fill in.
Second session: We started to clean the wings and remove the plywood leading edge that was loose and not original. We also started building a couple of rib jigs and capstrip bending jigs for the false ribs. In talking to Mr. Gene Morris who has rebuild a couple of these, and has one flying, we learned that originally there was no plywood on the leading edge and that there was supposed to be two false ribs between the full ribs and not one as we had. The logs show these wings were completely rebuild in the 60's with all new wood spars and ribs, and were probably modified at that time. We want to return it to original so, we removed the single false ribs and are making 48 new false ribs.
Third and fourth sessions: We learned how to bend capstrip by soaking in water for an hour and letting them dry in a jig for a week, then placing them in the rib jib and gluing on the gussets. Since we have 48 false ribs to build we have three sets of capstrip jigs and rib jigs so we can produce three ribs a week. We also received a full rib jig to use from Gene Morris, as we need some major rib parts for rib repairs. We removed and glass bead blasted the steel fittings, and inspected them. Interestingly, we found that they were made in a vise and hammered on to bend into shape, and you can see this very clearly after bead blasting. I primed them with Stits epoxy primer for installation the next week. A couple of people worked on cleaning the wings some more, as where was a lot of masking tape that needed removal. We put a coat of Stits epoxy varnish under where the fittings go.
Fifth and sixth sessions: We made ribs, installed some of the newly primed fittings with new hardware and worked at repairing some damaged ribs. Also some of the controls were sandblasted and primed to get ready for fabric covering that some are very interested in starting. I was surprises at how nice the control surfaces were, straight, no damage and very light surface corrosion where the fabric attached. I wish the wings were that nice, but we will learn a lot of wood repair and inspection.
Just a recap of the work we’ve done; pre work inspection, cover removal, component inspection (take down notes) cleaning woodwork, steel fittings and inspecting, forming capstrips and building ribs. We reviewed the processes we are using from FAA AC 43-13 for repair to T-88 gluing which I have a field approval to use to the Stits process we will use thru the whole rebuild.
It has been fun a very rewarding to see all the people show up and there enthusiasm for the project
Gary Van Farowe