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34. Compilation


It took the best part of two days to drill those holes – five holes per spar; forty in total, and I was particularly glad on Wednesday to start actually doing a final assembly of the top starboard wing. Once again, it’s THAT spar joint which dominates the process, since you have to start with the rib at that point. Actually, first of all you have to insert the horizontal bolt for the internal bracing wires, since it’s in line with the rib and can’t be extracted once the rib’s in place. Then you slide the rib into place, followed by the little packing pieces mad of ply top and bottom – four for each spar; the ones for the top surface have to be sanded to the curvature of the wing. Then you insert the five bolts for the joint, to find that the ash has expanded a bit and needs very careful re-drilling or the bolts won’t fit – and then, and only then, do you get the pleasurable moment of threading all the other ribs on in order, together with the spliced cable (inboard) and piano wire (outboard) internal bracing wires. By this time we’d had a delivery of bolts the correct length, together with a tube of Duralac.

Duralac has been around for a very long time, and is used whenever you put steel bolts through anything other than steel, to stop them rusting. Like the etch primer, it’s a sort of bilious yellow colour, and comes in a tube. It’s sufficiently runny to drip out of the tube if you have the temerity to put it down without the lid on, and very, very tenacious, so that once it’s dripped on anything – clothes, hands, tool handles – it’s very difficult to remove. It’s informally known as gorilla s*** in the business, because of its capacity to get everywhere, and since the bolts through the spar were being installed permanently, they had to be painted in Duralac.

This part of wing building is very satisfactory, since you get a visible result very quickly, and by the time I’d added the newly-painted leading and trailing edge tubes, and made up the beautifully curved wingtip tubes, with their soldered-on clips, there was a definite sense of achievement.

Meanwhile Theo had set to work on the centre section fittings again; we’d struggled with this for ages, since you have to try and fit three nuts in a very tight corner. In the end we decided that the only way was to use modern American fittings, with American bolts. You can’t tell the difference by eye, but they are UNF thread, as opposed to the original BS – and there’s a possibility that the bolts might get muddled if you’re maintaining it in the future. But it’s basically a small price to pay if the thing actually goes together!

In the evening, Rick and his partner Marian flew down in his Kitfox, and they screwed loads of tiny brass screws into the ends of the ribs where they met the leading and trailing edges.

Marian enjoyed being involved in the building, and we nicknamed her Rosie the Riveter, after a WWII publicity campaign.

We all felt we deserved an evening off by this time, and went down to the pub for a well-earned celebratory meal.


From → Building

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