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122. Pause to reflect

13/07/2014

Our two weeks covering the flying surfaces is over. It’s been the most emotionally draining of the entire project, and the most physically tiring.

Unlike the rest of the structure, it’s permanently on show; above all, it’s what it will be judged on, and yet it’s technically the most difficult bit, since (as we’ve seen) it’s regarded as a black art. Despite the fact that it was how the vast majority of aircraft were made from 1911 to the 1940s, there’s no standard procedure and many of the experts give contradictory advice.

We could have chosen to use modern heat-shrink fabrics. These are much easier to apply; we’ve done it many times before and the result would have probably been more acceptable to the untrained eye. But we set out to create an aircraft that was as historically accurate as possible, and that meant using the original covering.

We could have chosen to have the covering done by the experts who have been so generous with their advice, but it would have pushed the cost of the project way outside our comfort zone, and we have tried all along to do as much of this ourselves as possible. It’s cheaper, for sure, but we have learned so very much more along the way.

So it had to be this way.

And although we haven’t finished, we have completed the sewing, fitting and initial coats of dope on all the flying surfaces, and completed the ribstitching and taping on a couple of small surfaces and one wing. It’s a good point to stop; there are a number of wrinkly areas, and while they may be acceptable, we’d like to get expert advice to see if anything can be done about the before carrying on with the final coats of dope. We have been incredibly lucky with the weather; it’s become clear that humidity (or, more precisely the lack of it) is crucial in the whole business and we’ve had virtually no rain the entire fortnight. Now both Theo and I need to have a week of normal life before the next stage of getting ready for the LAA Rally over the August Bank Holiday at Sywell, which will be its first public outing. Most of August will be dedicated to getting ready for that.

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One Comment
  1. Enjoy reading the “problems”. Having some of the same with my Bulldog. 5 “warp” fray is a real mess! Please drop me an email.
    Ed Storo

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