Pietenpol Air Camper #3: Wings

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by K5YAC posted 09-09-2010 08:36 PM 5885 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Shop Prep Part 3 of Pietenpol Air Camper series Part 4: Center Section »

This phase of construction took me a little over one year. I’ll not go through all the fine details here, but I will simply point out some of the process as well as the finished product.

For starters, I needed to start building wing ribs… 32 of them to be exact. I’ve done similar construction on scaled flying models (R/C), but for this I will need to shape, fit an cut thousands of parts in order to complete the necessary assemblies.

Shaping the top capstrips required soaking for several minutes in hot water.

Then shaping to a form and allowed to dry overnight.

Once they were shaped I could place them into the wing rib jig that I constructed according to the plans.

When all of the parts were perfectly shaped and fitted for the first rib, I removed everything from the jig in order to mass produce exact replicas of each part. This would give me a consistent airfoil from tip to root on both wing halves. I had eight bins filled with parts.

Once everything was lined up properly, I could mix a batch of T-88 epoxy and start gluing and nailing the birch gussets to the spruce sticks. This is my first completed rib.

I used AC nails to secure the gussets so that I could immediately remove the rib from the jig and proceed to work on the other side. Some choose to clamp the gussets, and while it makes for a lighter assembly, it also requires an overnight curing time in order to hold things together while working on the other side. 1/4” AC nails don’t weight much… so I chose this method.

I also organized stacks of gussets ready for the assembly line.

Once I finished building the ribs it was time to give them a good sanding to make them equal and symetrical from the leading to trailing edges. In order to support and align the wing spars, I constructed a jig and used a water level to square it up.

Then I was able to slide on the necessary ribs for the wing panel (I built two… left and right).

Starting to look like a wing.

There were lots of other steps to complete a full wing panel… ~1600 gussetts, over 3000 1/4” nails (about 1/3 of a pound worth), aileron hinges, drag/anti-drag cables, lift strut attach points, wing tip bows, leading edge, trailing edge… you get the idea. Anyhow, many months later I ended up with a completed wing panel. A couple of months after that, I had the other one completed.

-- Mark - Working on a 1930s wood and fabric airplane.

4 comments so far

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 2963 days

#1 posted 09-09-2010 09:49 PM

Mark, I love engineering in timber. Wish i could come and help you! Best of luck with the build. I will be following with an eagle eye…

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View K5YAC's profile


22 posts in 2902 days

#2 posted 09-09-2010 10:32 PM

No… only a 2 degree angle of incidence at the lift strut.

-- Mark - Working on a 1930s wood and fabric airplane.

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 2911 days

#3 posted 09-10-2010 01:39 AM

No flaps? Too bad, this design looks like it would give STOL performance if you had them.

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View K5YAC's profile


22 posts in 2902 days

#4 posted 09-10-2010 02:18 AM

I don’t think they were thinking of STOL in the 20s.

-- Mark - Working on a 1930s wood and fabric airplane.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics