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129. Wing Covering – the Outcome

13/08/2014

And did the wing recovering work better than before?

Well, here’s the tale in pictures.

We’d decided to put more tension on the bag than we had before. We used a combination of clamps and staples and tried to make sure the spanwise tension in particular was as great as possible, so that the fabric wouldn’t be pulled onto the spars in between the ribs.

The fabric bag has been pulled over the frame. The outboard tip has been sewn up away from the camera and we've pulled the fabric back towards the wing root nearest the camera and fixed it with clamps.

The fabric bag has been pulled over the frame. The outboard tip has been sewn up away from the camera and we’ve pulled the fabric back towards the wing root nearest the camera and fixed it with clamps.

We glued the inboard end of the wing first and then the aileron cutout.

The fabric before water shrinking; generally taut but with some visible creases.

The fabric before water shrinking; generally taut but with some visible creases.

After spraying with water. the flawless surface looks  stunning. The creases have disappeared, and the linen is sitting perfectly over the ribs.

After spraying with water. the flawless surface looks stunning. The creases have disappeared, and the linen is sitting perfectly over the ribs.

The following morning, we steeled ourselves and took up our paint brushes, applying a 70:30 mix (70% dope, 30% thinners) to the fabric, trying to put it on as lightly as possible to avoid the unsightly drips which had disfigured a couple of the other wings.

At this stage, the fabric was drying at the far end where we’d started and was still wet at the near end, and it was clear that the damp bit was still nicely taut and even across the tops of the ribs, with little or no dipping in between, but the dry end was starting to form the dreaded wrinkles again, and by the time it was fully dry, it had formed the familiar pattern across the whole wing.

At one end of the wing the dope is still wet and the fabric is still smooth and taut...

At one end of the wing the dope is still wet and the fabric is still smooth and taut…

... while at the other end the wrinkles are starting to form as the dope dries.

… while at the other end the wrinkles are starting to form as the dope dries.

And when it's completely dry, the familiar pattern of wrinkles. The optimists thought that least all four wings looked pretty much the same. The pessimists thought that all four wings looked pretty much the same.

And when it’s completely dry, the familiar pattern of wrinkles. The optimists thought that least all four wings looked pretty much the same. The pessimists thought that all four wings looked pretty much the same.

The second coat of dope softens the first and the fabric relaxes straight again, before returning to the same condition as before.

The second coat of dope softens the first and the fabric relaxes straight again, before returning to the same condition as before.

But the die was cast; we are now committed to this covering, and if it’s not considered acceptable for flight, we will presumably have an extremely expensive static display, and the story that it is representative of how it might have looked after a year’s service in the eastern Mediterranean!

We’ve carried on and completed the ribstitching on all four wings ready for the LAA Rally, and will not apply the final coats of non-tautening dope until we’ve discussed the situation as thoroughly as possible.

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