|Project by MalcolmLaurel||posted 11-22-2014 10:50 PM||4225 views||4 times favorited||34 comments|
It’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted here, or even done any woodworking in the classic sense, because I’ve been so busy with my latest project. I am not the original builder of this airplane, but I’ve spent the past six months working to restore it to flying condition, and it is made of wood, so I thought it might be of interest…
I purchased the plane last Spring from a friend who owned it for about two years, but never flew it. It appeared in good condition (and was, for the most part), but like any vehicle that hasn’t been used in 10 years, it needed some attention, and as it turned out, quite a bit more than I expected. Such is life. Some of it was the usual stuff, new fuel lines, new tires, replacing nuts and bolts, general cleaning, etc., but it also needed some woodwork.
The two pictures showing it uncovered were taken by the original builder (it was built in 1991 from a kit). The entire structure is wood, mostly Sitka Spruce and aircraft plywood, glued together with T-88 (in the original construction) or West System (for my repairs) epoxy, in most cases reinforced with microfiber filler (flox). Quite the intricate geodetic structure! Very light but quite strong. The engine is a 40HP two cylinder Mosler, which is essentially half of a VW Beetle engine.
The picture of it assembled (minus the engine cowling and upper wing center section cover) is from a few months ago when I first assembled it in my front yard.
Initially, I had to do some minor wood repairs, mostly “hangar rash” from when it was in storage, and this combined with the other small repairs took most of 5 months of evening work (weekends I’m at my cabin). But then when it was almost ready to fly, we found some more serious issues in the lower wing trailing edge, which I later learned is a relatively common problem with this and similar designs. The last last photo shows reinforcements being glued into the wing to reinforce it. Also, mice had gotten inside the wings and chewed through the rib lacing cord, which secures the covering fabric to the wing ribs. I had to redo all the rib lacing on the lower wing, then glue fabric patches over all the new stitches, and paint to match. Fortunately I got cans of the original paint with the plane, which miraculously was still good after 23 years, but this all took another month.
I finished the final painting two days ago, mounted the wings back on the plane this morning with the help of a friend, and the inspector pronounced it fit to fly today. Too cold and windy to fly today, though, but tomorrow’s forecast looks good!
-- Malcolm Laurel - http://MalcolmLaurel.com