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118. Covering – Thursday

03/07/2014

We applied dope to the elevators this morning, and rang Skysport Engineering to ask about the colour in the dope, and Steve, who has been hugely helpful throughout the process, said that the aircraft would originally have been painted in a top coat of varnish, so the slight discolouration is entirely realistic – and once it’s flown a few times it will all get covered in castor oil anyway!

So, feeling much more optimistic, we applied more tautening dope to the elevators and managed another leading edge wing seam – something that takes two of us to manage the large quantity of fabric.

A machine seam requires the following steps;

Mark off the fabric at the point where you want the centre of the seam.

Cut it exactly 15mm from the marks.

Pin the edges together facing the same way, 10mm apart. Sew a tacking seam 5mm from the inner edge.

Fold the lower protruding edge over the upper by exactly 10mm and iron in place.

Fold the top fabric over the seam, creasing, ironing and pinning it exactly 10mm from the other fold.

Machine a seam 1.5mm from the visible folded edge.

Turn it over and do the same for the other folded edge.

This is relatively straightforward (if time-consuming) for the first seam of a wing. If you plan to machine sew both leading and trailing edges, there are a couple of other complications; first, the positioning of the seam is critical to get the tensioning correct; second, you’ll need to be very careful that your tacked seam ends up on the inside, and third, access will be made difficult as you’re making the fabric into a tube which can’t all fit over the sewing machine, so you may have to sew from each end of the tube.

We decided not to do any more tubes until after the wings had been signed off by our inspector on Saturday morning, so I spent time going through the wings making absolutely sure everything was completely finished inside, since we’d not be able to get access again without disturbing the covering. This included a final check on bolts, screws, wire locking, leather wear pads and cable splice whipping, and then applying some Waxoyl to the ends of the piano wire to try and eliminate corrosion.

Theo started sewing the trailing edge of the tailplane. If you thought machine sewing was time-consuming, just try hand sewing! I suppose the 2.1m of seam to be sewn here must have taken about 4 or 5 man hours in total.

This seam at the back of the tailplane probably took about 4-5 manhours.  that's about half a metre per hour. No wonder they get prisoners sewing mailsacks!

This seam at the back of the tailplane probably took about 4-5 manhours. that’s about half a metre per hour. No wonder they get prisoners sewing mailsacks!

And I applied the edge tape to the rudder. It was something else I’d asked Steve at Skysport about, because Iwasn’t sure how the tape would fit round the corners, but Steve said to use plenty of muscle to stretch it round, and he was absolutely right! The end result is that the rudder is now ready to go flying, apart from the tail stripes to identify it as an RNAS machine, and we’re pretty proud of it!

2014-07-03 Rudder covering complete

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