(this page's background is from EAA's Youth Activities at http://www.youngeagles.org)

-Chapter 1279 Home-

The Pietenpol Project (2005-06)

-click here for 2007  2008  2009

Whatsa Pietenpol? See these websites:


or     http://www.pressenter.com/~apietenp/

July, '06--

...We had a nice turnout for our Saturday workshop.  Our main focus at the moment is getting our undercarriage finished.  With the fuselage upside down and level, Dave Winsett set to work building a 2 X 4 frame to accurately establish the location of the axle (see photo below).  With our gear leg fittings welded and attached to the fuselage and the axle in place in the jig, we can get an accurate measurement of the length the legs will have to be.  Then it's a simple matter of cutting and fitting (again and again) until we have a pair of usable legs.

    Original builder, Ken Hannan, showed up to take a look at our progress.  Like the rest of us, he can see that it won't be long before we will have the fuselage up on the gear and able to roll it around. 

    Wendy Hinman dropped by with a set of plans for a project that he's considering.  He's been studying the plans and thinks it would be more accurate to call them "suggestions on how to build this airplane."  Apparently, there's a lot left to the imagination of the builder.

    Later, Charlie Rowlett arrived with some tools to mount our tires for us.  He explained that he was a little late getting to the workshop because he'd been out the night before on a dirt bike outing with some friends.  They rode their off-road motorcycles at night up Mt. San Jacinto to Idyllwild and back - entirely in the dirt!  They got home at 3 o'clock in the morning.  Art commented that it made sense to do a ride like that at night.  "At night you can't see where your going, so you don't get scared!"

    After some careful examination of our rims and spokes, he recommended deburring a few of the spokes before mounting the tires and installing the tubes.  He had some nice things to say about the quality of the wheels in general.  The spokes, he said, were plenty heavy enough for aircraft use and the extra wide hubs would take the worry out of any potential side loads.  He discussed the value inherent in the simple straight axle and bushing style of landing gear.  He opined that the reputation for squirrelly ground handling characteristics of some taildraggers with independent axles might be traced to toe-in alignment being thrown out of adjustment by hard landings.  Something to think about.  See photo below of Charlie mounting one of our tires.  Progress continues. 

    Come see the project as it takes shape.  Visitors are always welcome.  If you want to join in the fun as a workshop participant, be there on any Saturday morning at 8 AM.  You can find us at the south end of the field in Bldg. 95, Hangar 15.  See you then.

Steve Williamson, Pres.

2X4 landing gear jig

Dave Winsett explains his plan of action to Ken Hannan


Checking the wheel base measurement


Charlie Rowlett mounts a tire


March, '06--

...At year's end the wood work on the tail surfaces was done as were the hinges and attachment hardware.  All that remained was the rigging and mounting of a tailwheel.  Of course, Bernie's original plans showed either a leaf spring tail skid or a hinged skid with a coil spring at the tailpost.  We all agreed that a steerable tailwheel was a definite advantage on today's hard surface runways.  Some builders have chosen to mount a wheel to Bernie's hinged coil spring fitting.  We decided that it would be much easier to simply go with a wheel at the end of a leaf spring, even if it meant a deviation from Bernie's plans.  Since Aircraft Spruce offered a bolt-on steerable tailwheel, we decided that represented a good excuse to fly to AJO and pick one up. 
    Bernie's leaf spring attachment design may have been adequate for a skid on grass, but we took the advise of Michael Cuy in his construction video and beefed up the area where the spruce longerons come together at the tailpost to create a solid attachment surface for the spring (See photo below).
    All that remained to finish the tail was the guy wires.  We needed wire, thimbles, sleeves, shackles, and clevis pins.  Another excuse to fly to AJO!!!  We swaged our first guy wire that afternoon.  I spent the next day swaging the other seven wires and rigging the tail.  Except for varnishing and covering, the tail is finished (see photos below). 
    Now I can turn my attention to the control system.  Guess I'll need more material.  Oh well, we'll just have to make another trip to AJO!!  I'll have another update for you when we get back.  See ya!!
A spruce wedge between the longerons
with plywood on the top and bottom
make a solid attachment point for the
leaf spring.
Close up of guy wire fitting.


Upper fitting was slightly modified
to allow us to use shackles
for wire attachment.
Finished tail!!!


Here's a view of Art's mock up
of our gear legs in pine.
(Details in the next update)

October-- from Steve W.

 We had a nice turnout for our Saturday morning workshop.  Project Director Art Froehlich spent the morning calculating compound angles for the wooden gear legs.  He used the compound miter saw to cut some one inch pieces of pine to check the angles for fit so that we don't waste any of our valuable spruce.  See photo below.
    Dave McPhee used a wood rasp to form the leading edge piece for our wing center section.  See photo below.  This was very time consuming and it made us wonder about better ways we might utilize to form the wing leading edges.  The center section is only two and a half feet wide.  But the wings are 28 feet long plus a 5 foot wing tip.  Suggestions?
    After mounting the vertical and horizontal stabilizers (photo below), I began chiseling the insets in the control surfaces for the hinge pieces (see photo).  I was able to complete the insets for the rudder and mount it.  After making some minor alignment adjustments, the rudder swung back and forth effortlessly.  The insets were cut in the elevators, but the insets in the horizontal will have to wait until next week.
    We had visits from Dave Winsett, who has secured a donated Corvair engine (see photo), and Webmaster Dave Smith, who took lots of photos for our website.
    All in all a very productive morning.  Stop in and see the progress.  Visitors are always welcome.  And of course anyone who wants to learn or hone their skills at aircraft construction techniques can join us on any Saturday morning from 8 AM to noon in Bldg. 95, Hangar 15.  See you next week.
Art checking gear leg angles.
Dave forming leading edge.
Chiseling hinge insets.
Detail of 1/16th in. inset cut into elevator.
Tail is coming together.
Hinge close up.
Center section.
Donated Corvair engine.



 To give you an update on our progress, our wing ribs have all been completed and they turned out just beautifully.  (Come by and take a look!!)  We are postponing the remaining wing construction for reasons of storage.  We can always use a few spare ribs.  So if you want to learn something about rib construction, come on out and try your hand at one of aviation's most basic art forms.  We have a jig and some remaining material.  Come on out and give it a try.
    Charlie Rowlett took our tail fittings home to his workshop in Fallbrook to give them a thorough sandblasting and a coat of zinc chromate.  Once we are satisfied with the fit and function of each and every fitting, we will give them a final coat of two-part epoxy enamel (probably in black, though the color is yet to be decided).  Plans call for the tail fittings to be recessed and riveted in place using 3/16" rivets.  Notwithstanding the design wisdom of Bernie Pietenpol,  literally everyone seems to cringe at the prospect of putting rivets into wood.  And then there is the inability to inspect or tighten the fittings once the surface is covered with fabric.  There seems to be a unanimous consensus that we would be better off covering the tail surfaces FIRST, and attaching the fittings over the fabric using AN3 bolts instead of rivets.  Feedback, anyone?
    Our wing center section is beginning to take shape thanks to some focused effort by Dave McPhee.  We have a contact (right on the field) for a welded aluminum fuel tank custom built to fit into our wing center section.  I'll keep you posted.
    Dave Winsett has been beating the bushes (not the Bush's, just the bushes) to find a Corvair engine core.  And his persistence has paid off.  He received a call from a fellow in Lake Elsinore willing to donate a Corvair engine to the project.  It is an early model engine, but the price was right.  We should be able to use some of the parts and use others as bargaining chips with Corvair part suppliers.  It's missing some of the bolt on parts, but we were able to turn the crank so internal rust is probably minimal.  Anyway, it's a start.  Thanks, Dave, for all of your efforts.
    So there you have it.  That is the latest.  We have a goal to have the tail mounted, the fuselage up on the gear with the center section attached by the end of the year.  It is a reasonable goal and quite attainable. 


September-- from our President

Dear Members,
    We continue to make progress on our chapter project at our Saturday morning workshops thanks to the guidance of Art Froehlich and the commitment and dedication of a few key members.  The welding has been completed on the tail fittings including the control horns and control surface hinges.  This gave us an opportunity to clamp the tail surfaces in place and check the fit and alignment (see photo below).  Everything looks good.  A little woodwork remains to be done on the horizontal, but the fittings are finished and ready for priming.  Very little work remains before we will be able to attach the vertical and horizontal stab as well as the control surfaces.  The hinges were a challenge because of the shear number of tiny pieces that had to be cut, ground, drilled, countersunk, bent, and welded into the final pieces you see pictured below.
    In the meantime, Art Froehlich has been working hard on the landing gear set up.  In an effort to create a nostalgic look to the Piet, we decided that it would be nice to stick with wooden gear legs.  The only drawings we had for the wood gear were found in the 1932 Flying and Gliding Manual.  The problem was that the drawings were in small, almost unreadable print.  Art devoted a tremendous amount of free time at home trying to create some usable drawings from measurements taken from the existing fuselage.  The metal fittings used to attach the legs to the fuselage have been our greatest challenge.  These are critical load bearing parts that perform multiple functions.  There are four fittings, each with compound bends in different directions.  Every bend changed the dimensions of the piece sending us back to the drawing board.  Eventually, we had a workable fitting (see photo below).  The others should be easy to duplicate now.  This is one hurdle I know that Art is happy to have behind us.
    Dave McPhee has chosen to focus his attention on our wing center section.  He has given new member, Ken Smith, the task of fabricating some of the metal fittings in his machine shop, while he works on the butt ribs.  The butt ribs are made of 1/2" spruce which is available in a maximum of 4" width without getting into custom cut pieces.  Dave decided it would be more economical to laminate two pieces together to give him the height he needed for the rib profile.  He has spent the last couple of Saturday mornings shaping and sanding the three sections of each rib along with cutting out the lightening holes.  He has ordered spar material for the center section and will be starting work on those this weekend.
    Dave Winsett continues to gather information on sources for a rebuildable Corvair engine as well as rebuild parts and kits.  He has purchased and donated a William Wynn conversion manual for our project.  There will be a Corvair conversion seminar at Chapter One's open house on September 24 at Flabob Airport.  And a west coast "Corvair College" conducted by William Wynn himself is tentatively planned for early next year at Flabob.  We will need to find a source of funds for our engine if we are going to be in any position to take advantage of these opportunities.
    Come on out and join us on Saturday mornings from 8AM to noon in Hangar 15, Bldg. 95 at the south end of the field at French Valley.  See you then.
Steve Williamson, Pres.
EAA Chapter 1279
Dozens of tiny pieces had to be fabricated to make up the 9 hinges required.
One finished hinge ready for priming.
Finished empennage fittings ready for zinc chromate.
Jig for welding hinge pieces.
Checking the fit.
Sanding and shaping center section butt rib.
Checking dimensions on a gear leg fitting. 
Success!!  Upper part attaches to fuselage.  Lower part to leg.  The nut is where wing lift strut attaches.  "X" guy wire attaches to the other end.


elevator control horn



 finished ribs

April '05-- delivery


Our Pietenpol was begun in April, when it was acquired from member Ron Hull who was going to be starting on his RV-7A soon. It had already had some quality work in the fuselage and ribs. Since then, workshops have been held every Saturday, 8-12p in Steve W.'s hangar, where anyone interested in helping or watching a nice wood and fabric airplane grow have come by.