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Bits and Pieces

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The good news is the wing kit leaves the US on the 8th of August. Until it arrives however, there is a number of things that I am trying to get finished off so I can focus on the wings when it gets here.

The horizontal stabiliser and elevator are out for media blasting and finish welding. They needed work as they are just starting to get surface rust just sitting in the garage bare and I want to get some primer on them. Thats what you get with humidity I guess.

I am now riveting the upper wing fuel tank. Should have that finished quite quickly but will wait to have it welded because I need to check the clearances in the wing and particularly underneath the tank to make sure the clearance of the drain/fuel line flanges are acceptable. I will build a drilling template also to locate the holes in the lower surface of the wing.

I am also still completing the second and last butt rib for the upper wing, which is different than a butt rib from the standard wing. This rib is a 1/2″ think rather than the standard 1/4″ and has the compression wood within it.

Finally I have been playing with the cabane struts, having been fortunate to scrounge some streamline tubing from a fellow builder in Canberra. Thanks Lou!!



Upper Wing Fuel Tank Part 1

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Whilst I have not posted for a while and I am still waiting on my wing kit, I decided to have a  go at some aluminium. In a previous post you saw the outside tank ends, but now onto something a little more substantial – the ribs and tank skin.

The plan is to make the ribs, fold the skin, bead the tank skin, drill and then match drill the ribs. Once I can cleco it together, I will then get the drains, fuel outlet and tank filler welded, before riveting and final welding. The welding and riveting will be in a separate post.

Step 1: The first thing I did was build the rib template to plans and fold the two outside tank ribs. See previous post.

Step 2: Make the four internal ribs. I used the same rib template to ensure the correct size. Then used a large hole cutter to make the holes.

One thing I learnt is make sure the hole cutter is locked and can’t move. I ended up putting a mark on the lock nut to ensure that it wouldn’t unwind and incorrectly enlarge the hole diameter. I learnt this fortunately on some scrap when figuring out how to work it. It un-did and I didn’t get a circle!!


Also note!!!!!!! In this picture above you can see both left facing and right facing ribs. This is not shown on the plans, but I have done that so that I can reach from each side when riveting the ribs to the skin when closing it.

Step 3: Fold the skin around, match drill and cleco close. Test fit drains and filler.




And now….we wait for welding. Will be back for part 2 later.




Progress so far

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I have had a go at working with aluminium for the first time. Working out quite well.. Right now I have three ribs mostly completed. Two inner ribs with a relief in the corners and one without the relief which will be on the of the ends for the tank. The relief is not cut in the ends as the corners will get welded.

Last thing to do is final sand the edges and then drill/cut the lightening holes with a  flanging to finish. Then it will be onto the tank skin.




Time for something new

Aside Posted on

Ok given my wing kit despatch is now 3 months late, I am running out of things to do. So in order to keep making some progress I have decided to have a  go at something new, the top wing centre section fuel tank.

I have ordered the aluminium sheet locally and ordered parts from Aircraft Spruce. I found a bead roller and sheet metal brake online so am fully equipped to do this.

This week I started with making the template/jig for the ribs for the tank. In the picture below the 5/8″ thick template will be used to bend the flange edges over the template. You can see the template sitting on the template for the inside dimensions of the actual spacing between the spars. The tank will be about 40″ wide. If you are building this tank, note that the Steen plans have the incorrect width of this tank on the plans. Re-measure to be sure. I also want to put a capacitive probe in it…these have about 3/4″ on the outside of the tank so you need to make allowance for that spacing. Remember the tank needs to be centred to be balanced too so whatever space you leave on one side, you will need on the other.


I haven’t stopped building…

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…but building has slowed as I am waiting for my Steen Aero Wing Kit. It was ordered in July and still waiting. Was hoping to get it before Christmas, but still hasn’t been completed. I am told its the laminated spars that are holding things up. It may be because they are building the delta spar mod and my guess is this may be the first time they have done it.

In the mean time I am trying to find little things to do. I have ordered the components for the upper wing fuel tank and will start on that if it doesnt arrive soon.

Stay tuned.

Fitting Hand Rail

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From the last post I was making up the rear handrail that runs along the rear of the top wing centre section. In this post you will see the fitting of the rail to the rear section. It required trimming the hand rail itself and sanding the profile into the trailing ribs from the rear spar. I can see that the gap here particularly in the outboard bays will, once some supporting blocking is added will need to be filled with foam and glassed to get a smooth solid surface for the fabric to stick to. Of course that will be later as I won’t be doing any more to this section now until it is trial fitted to the fuselage.


In the photos above you will also notice that I have trimmed and prepared the bottom section of plywood. This will provide structure for the “box” that is the centre section. In addition it will contain the large (relative to the standard Skybolt) upper fuel tank.

The piece of timber laying on top (though the centre section is on the bench upside down) is the first of three laminated stringers that run front to back and screw into the spar. This will provide further strength to the front leading edge, centre section bottom ply and add rigidity to the complete centre section.

You can never have too many clamps

Aside Posted on

I remember reading on some build posts about the need for a large number of clamps. I have found myself drawing the same conclusion. I find every time I walk into a hardware store I pick up a couple of clamps of differing kinds as the use of them changes.

I can confirm, if you are building a wooden plane – they are your best friend. I must also say you get very adept at putting them on even with one hand.

Below is some pictures of the laminating process for the hand hold that sits at the rear of the top wing centre section. Most of this will be covered eventually except the middle which will assist the passenger in the front pit extracting themselves on the way out.