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The Pietenpol Project 2009

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-two links for more information about the Pietenpol-

 

 

Sept '09

The basic structure is nearly complete after 4 and 1/2 years of part-time work by members of Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 1279.  This photo was taken on Saturday, September 12 during a trial fit of the left wing.  The right wing is complete and varnished as is the fuselage.  The woodwork on the left wing is nearly complete, but unvarnished (notice the color difference as compared to the fuselage and right wing).  Originally designed to be powered by a liquid-cooled four-cylinder 1929 Ford Model A engine, we chose the air-cooled six-cylinder 1965 Corvair engine to power our airplane.  It will run smoother and provide twice the horsepower.

July '09

It has been some time since my last report on the Pietenpol project and many of you are wondering what's happening.  Do not be alarmed.  We are making steady progress on the project.  I just have found precious little free time for communicating these days.  Eventually, that situation will change.  But for now I simply offer my apologies.
 
In January I reported to you that our right wing was complete enough to hoist it into place to test fit it to the center section (and to take some inspiring photos).  At that time we were still working on the aileron structure.  Once the bracing was in place, the hinge locations were marked and the aileron was cut away.  What fun it was to attach the hinges and move the aileron!  The wing was done and ready for varnish. 
 
At this point I would like to share a few thoughts on what we have learned about varnishing using the Poly Fiber two-part epoxy varnish.  Two things are ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL to obtaining the best results.  The first is following the mixing instructions explicitly.  The second is making sure that the environmental conditions are right for proper curing.
 
Southern California has the reputation for having great weather almost year round.  When the sun is out and the temperature is delightful, it is easy to ignore the humidity in the air.  We found ourselves having to do things over because we decided that "we were ready to varnish."  Be honest when evaluating the conditions.  The instructions give temperature guidelines and say allow additional induction time for high humidity conditions.  I say, unless you're on a production schedule, wait for a better day, if conditions are not right.  "Right" means warm and dry.  There are always other things you can work on. 
 
When mixing, DO NOT fudge on the induction time.  Mix Part A and Part B, then find something else to do for AT LEAST 30 minutes (45 minutes to an hour is even better).  Then, and only then, add in the proper amount of Reducer.  Again, do not fudge on the amount of reducer.  The Reducer is a key element in the proper curing of the varnish.  By the way, better use a coffee can or glass container for mixing.  The varnish will eat right through a Styrofoam or paper cup.
 
The instructions also say to apply two coats - a third coat is optional.  We achieved the best finish by applying a first coat, allowing a couple of days curing time, then sanding with 150 grit sandpaper before applying a second coat.  The bare wood will soak up a lot of the first coat.  The sanding is necessary, because the first coat raises the grain in the wood.
 
You can consider the second coat your finish coat, if you are the type that figures "it's all going to be covered anyway."  If that is your mindset, then adding a third coat would only add weight.  Forget it. 
 
However, if you are a craftsman and you want a silky smooth, glossy finish, then sand that second coat almost completely off.  Get a nice smooth surface to the touch.  Then carefully mix the final coat according to the instructions, but add in a little extra reducer.  The varnish will seem thin and runny, but it will cure up hard and glossy.  That's the ticket.  You will love the results.
 
So, now we have our right wing in a rack and working on our left wing at this time.  All of the components are there.  It's just a matter of assembly.  In the meantime, Dave McPhee is working in the cockpit, locating the brake master cylinders and getting that system finished and working.
 
I will let you know when we have reached another milestone.  Thank you for your continued interest.
 
Steve Williamson, Pres.

Jan. '09

A lot of saw dust was created shaping the leading edge, trailing edge, and tip bow.  The results are rewarding.  The contour looks great.  The wing is straight and square.  All of the fittings for the lift struts and jury struts are in place.  With a little finish sanding the wing will be ready for varnish.
 
    We will be fabricating and attaching the aileron hinges this week.  Once the hinges are located, the aileron can be cut away from the wing.  The control horn is finished and attached.  We need to fabricate one more fitting - for the control wire pulleys.
 
    On Saturday, January 17, the wing was finished enough to test fit it to the fuselage center section.  It was an exciting moment for all of us who were present.