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The Pietenpol Project 2008

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-two links for more information about the Pietenpol-


Dec. '08

The past three or four months have been devoted to construction of the right wing  for our chapter Pietenpol project. As usual, each workshop participant took charge of a different element of the assembly.  Dave Winsett built the jig used in the construction of the box spar and took charge of the spar assembly process.  Dave Winsett and Steve Williamson got together once a week for about eight weeks to complete the gluing of the four spars needed to complete the two wings (see photos below). 
Dave Winsett and Dave McPhee spent a Saturday morning mating the spars to the wing center section, marking and drilling the attachment holes for the fittings which had been machined by Ken Smith.  Next, the spars were laid out on saw horses and the ribs slid into place.  Steve Williamson fabricated the fittings for the drag/anti-drag wires.  The group spent a morning swaging the wires and cutting the compression struts.  Art Froehlich showed up the next weekend with a trammel bar which he made up during the week.  The wing was squared up and everything glued in place.
Ken Smith volunteered to cut the butt ribs.  He wanted to see how his computer-controlled machining equipment would work cutting wood.  Ken has been a machinist his whole life and wanted to get some experience working with wood.  He scanned the profile of a wing rib into the computer, input the appropriate dimensions, and pushed the "go" button.  He says his machine is the best employee he has ever had.  It always does what he tells it to do, and never takes a coffee break.
Ken delivered the finished butt ribs and Dave McPhee and Steve Williamson glued them into place.  Then a two-inch strip of reinforcing plywood was glued into place along the top and bottom of the butt rib.
Dave Winsett scarfed and planed some long pieces of poplar to form the nose piece and trailing edge.  Once those were in place, we were ready to glue on the plywood leading edge.  A couple of different methods of clamping were tried with varying degrees of success.  Eventually, we got a pretty good contour.  The two Dave's went to work filing and shaping the leading edge, while Steve Williamson formed and attached the tip bow.
As progress continued on the shaping of the leading edge, Steve Williamson began work on the construction of the aileron.  This was accomplished in a series of baby steps with appropriate time between steps for the epoxy glue to set.  Dave Winsett spent some time milling the "false" spar, the aileron spar. the brace piece, and the trailing edge.  First, the false spar was glued into place.  Then, the aileron spar was fitted and glued into place paying particular attention to the proper spacing and angle.  Next, the half-inch spruce inboard end piece was glued into place leaving an eighth-inch gap for aileron clearance.  The brace was cut to length and glued into place.  Finally, the trailing edge and tip end were glued at the same time.  The last step was to add a couple of quarter by half-inch pieces of capstrip material for diagonal bracing.  That's it.  Simple, but time consuming.
All that remains to be done is some finish sanding and varnishing.  The left wing should go together a little quicker because we made the parts for the left wing at the same time as the right wing parts.  Plus we're a little farther along on the learning curve.
Thank you to all who have been following the progress on our project and supporting our efforts.  I will recap the progress that we have made during this year shortly.  We welcome guests and participants in our Saturday morning builders workshops.  Visit our website at: www.eaa1279.org for more information.



Jig for wing spar

Construction of box spar


Gluing plywood webs into place

Internal blocks


Lots of clamps needed

Load testing the spar to three G's

Mating the spar to center section Installing wing ribs

Attaching trailing edge Fabricating tip bow

Clamping leading edge ply Aileron false spar in place


Tip end

Final step in aileron construction



Right wing nearing completion  

Sept '08

We are making tremendous progress on our chapter Pietenpol project so far this year.  Work on the fuselage was completed enough for varnishing.  We removed the tail, center section, and landing gear and applied three coats of Poly Fiber epoxy varnish to the exterior of the fuselage, sanding between coats.  The result was spectacular.  Art Froehlich took a look at the wood finish and exclaimed, "I thought we were building a Pietenpol.  It looks more like a Steinway!"
Last year we purchased the entire "firewall forward" that came off of a Pietenpol that was built by Dave Cleveland.  Dave's Piet was powered by a stock Corvair engine with a Stromberg carburetor turning a Culver wood prop.  The purchase offered the opportunity to save us a tremendous amount of work, but some work was necessary before the engine could be installed.
First, the engine mount had to be modified slightly to fit our fuselage.  That involved some cutting and rewelding of the support structure.  Next, we disassembled the engine in order to rebuild it following recommendations in William Wynn's Corvair Conversion Manual.  Fortunately, Ken Smith had just completed and was flying his Corvair powered Zenith Zodiac and offered to help with the overhaul of our engine.  He began accumulating necessary parts and having machine work done on the crankshaft.  Knowing that there were others who would like to observe the engine assembly in person, we picked a date and invited anyone with an interest to come watch.  Pat Panzera, publisher of Contact! Magazine, was there to cover the assembly.  He later posted the event on the You Tube website.
With the engine installed and the overhead fuel tank in place Dave McPhee began running fuel lines.  He installed a fuel selector valve under the instrument panel so that the pilot could switch from the overhead tank to the auxiliary tank located just behind the firewall.  Fuel will be gravity fed from both tanks to the selector valve, then through the firewall to the gascolator.
Dave Winsett and Dave McPhee have begun work on the wing assembly.  Work on the ribs and spars had already been done.  First step in the assembly was to match drill the spars and spar fittings to the center section spars.  The wing will be straight with no dihedral.  Next, the ribs were slid into place and the plywood doublers attached.  Drag/anti-drag fittings have been fabricated.  Ken Smith is doing the work forming the butt ribs and Dave Winsett is working on the trailing edges.  Ailerons still need to be cut and fit as well as the leading edge and tip bows.
Space in our hangar workshop is fast becoming a problem.  Fortunately, we are able to roll the fuselage out in order to work on the wings.  And Art Froehlich has drawn plans for a wing rack to store each wing as it is completed.
As the photos below show the airplane is really taking shape and we are all beginning to feel like we are nearing the "home stretch."  Any member with an interest in participating in the construction is welcome to join us any Saturday morning in Building 95, Hangar 15 at the French Valley Airport.
See you there.
Steve Williamson, Pres.
EAA Chapter 1279
French Valley, CA
Completed Corvair engine mount.
Varnished fuselage.
Corvair engine disassembly.
Assembly begins with a clean crankcase.
With crank and cam installed, Ken Smith assembles the case halves.
Installing cylinder assemblies.
Torquing the heads.
Installing the oil pan.
Installing the prop hub.
Engine assembly completed in 4 hours.
The airplane is taking shape.
Beginning wing assembly.