Builder #5: Frank Deeth - email for more information

Location: Melbourne, Australia

Start date: Officially April 2007 but unofficially about 1995.

First flight goal date: Too far away to contemplate at this stage.

The Project: On a Wing and a Prayer


I have finished all of the wood components for the tail plane including all spars....what to do next? I figure if I start on the wing ribs (on my rib bench) and the wing spars (on my spar bench) I should hopefully get these large items done at very nearly the same time as the ribs. The reason for this process is mostly work shop space. Once I start the fuselage on the long bench I may not have the bench space available to do the wing spars for a long time so if I get them done now I might find myself in a position where I could progress the fuselage (on the bench) and the wings (in a jig) side by side. 'Hope that makes sense. I am sure with more progress and pictures it will all become clear. So far I have all laminations done on the port side lower boom and half the starboard side lower boom. I have also done three pairs of wing ribs working from the tips inboard (pictures of ribs will be posted soon). Once the lower booms are done I will start on the heavier upper booms. Enjoy!

This first picture below is the rough cut wing spar laminations taking shape. I cut out one lower boom and one upper boom to correct dimensions then used them as templates to mark out the remainder and cut them out well oversize. In the back ground, is the storage egg for the spare jet engine for my L-29 and behind that is the Allison engine under the sheet.

These next two pictures are of the "skeleton" and spar attach plates after water jet cutting.


Below various pictures of the laminations of the lower spar booms coming together. I made up just one jig on the bench top and laminated the first three laminations of each boom in the same jig. After that each boom is pretty much stiff enough to maintain it's shape without the jig. Because each boom is "handed" the jig would only allow one side - in this case the left side - to be fully glued up in the jig so I finished the left side then broke the jig down and used the same area of bench to finish laminating the right side. Just clamped it right to the bench top! Just have one more lamination to do on the right boom and that will be that for the lower booms for now. Warning, these little guys are heavy and the upper booms will be worse so plan your moves carefully to avoid too much man handling. I used a router with a large diameter laminate cutter to cut each lamination flush with the last. This took a little planning and experimentation to work out the best technique, suffice to say, run the router pretty fast, take small runs/bites until you only have a couple of millimeters to trim flush and be aware of what direction the grain is running at! The 1 inch laminations helped a lot in this respect because I don't think I could have found a laminate trimmer with much more than a 1 inch cut.

11/23/2010 - The following pictures show the profile work carried out on the two main spar lower booms. This was done to a rough finish with about 1/8"-1/16" still to be removed. Final removal of material will be done with both booms in place to match the profile as close as possible. The right hand main spar upper boom is also shown with the final lamination glued and clamped in place. The port upper boom can been seen on the table with the final three laminations rough cut out only waiting their turn as well.

August 9, 2012
Well after what seems like a life time I now have both main wing spars very close to being ready for the forward and aft plywood faces.

In the picture you can see the two spars aligned back to back. I am very happy with the result with the tips aligning almost exactly over an 18 foot length, just under 3/32" difference!

There are four 1/8" birch ply sheets each face with one sheet full length and the remainder tapering progressively shorter as you get closer to the root end of the spars.

The next job is the rear spars which are each made up of two sections spliced together about mid-span.

I have included a picture of the major components on the bench top waiting to get the treatment. They are now a fair way along with each root section all together and one outboard section together, the other one is waiting in the jig to be glued up as well.

So, not far now and they will also be ready for the plywood treatment! Once they are progressed to a point, I'll move them off the bench as well and start splicing the plywood sheets to length for all of the spars.

This is getting very exciting as I am edging closer and closer to finally freeing up the bench space for the start of fuselage construction.



February 25, 2013 - With work progressing on the flaps I have tried to keep up the varnishing of the wing spar internal areas. It is a messy job! Probably best suited to doing it before gluing on any of the plywood faces! Anyway, picture shows the port side internal area varnished with the right side waiting for the treatment! With the work progressing on the flaps as well I feel like things are on the move some more. Enjoy!


May 21, 2013 - I can't believe it has been the better part of three years since I started these wing spars. To be fair, in that time I have completed quite a few other items for the project. Anyway, in the pictures below you can see the last of the plywood sheets being glued on the port main spar! Yahoo!

The second picture shows the starboard main spar also in view, I finished it about twelve hours earlier! I have already started prepping the rear spars for their eventual joining at the mid span point. That is the next job, followed by fuselage setup.

I noticed in my first posting that it was my intention to finish the wing ribs at the same time as the wing spars, well it hasn't quite worked out the way I would have liked as I have only done about five pairs out of the twenty that must be done. Never mind, it's just a rough target, I am sure with the fuselage coming up I will have plenty of time to fabricate the wing ribs on my rib bench! Things are really starting to move so make sure you check in regularly.




May 28, 2013 - Just set up the starboard rear spar splice join the last couple of days. I have been concerned about how I was going to do this for quite a while. In the end I used a circular saw to cut off the bulk of the excess timber close to the line, then carefully cleaned up the excess with the bench mounted disc sander. I clamped the two halves together then used a digital inclinometer to check the angle (9 deg) and a laser thingy to align the centre lines of each half of the rear spar. So far so good and a recheck of the two halves after gluing has everything still aligned. To make sure I was able to put everything back in the right spot I drilled and pinned the two halves together using nails so it could only go back together in the same place. This has always been a very successful process for keeping things aligned during gluing etc. One more of these and I'll be starting on the fuselage!



June 9, 2013 - Having completed the main spars work has progressed at pace on the rear spars and the forward fuselage bulkheads. Check my "fuselage fun" section for the latest update there! The rear spars don't need bench space to work on them so I have been splicing and joining them on the saw horses whilst working on the fuselage bulkheads on the main bench. I did some cleanup work on the rear spars today and fabricated and glued the last rib diaphragm station in each rear spar. These are not put in until after the splices as the station straddles the splice joints etc. This week, I will be ready to start gluing the rear spar plywood webs and that will see the end of all of the wing spars. Pictures with this update show the splice join of the starboard rear spar after the clean up today and before gluing in the final rib station bulkhead/diaphragm. After these spars are done the plan is to get back into the wing ribs on the large bench. Looking forward to that day so we will see some really good progress quite rapidly I am sure. Enjoy!



June 27, 2016 - It's been a very long time since my last blog. I guess to a certain extent, I needed to take a breather from the project. So over the last twelve months, as well as sporadic progress on the Spitfire, I've been indulging in a bit more historic aviation! All part of the rich journey towards the final product, making sure I'm working on my flying skills as well as finishing the aircraft. 

With the idea of achieving certain goals in mind, around last summer I resolved to complete the last couple of sticky jobs i.e, finishing the mounting of the tailwheel leg on the fuselage and also drilling the firewall and main spars so they will be ready to mount on the fuselage when it is eventually removed from the bench top. The reason for both these job is because of limited or no access once the fuselage is off the bench and oriented upright.

The end goal for this year then, is to get the fuselage off the bench top. Get the firewall mounted on the fuselage and be finishing the aft fuselage frames installation and skinning of the turtle deck. This also includes working on fuselage fit out with seats and controls etc. As you may well see from the pictures, I've finished drilling the firewall and I am in the process of working out how to set up the main spars and start drilling them too. The tricky bit is to make sure the spars are both set at 6 degrees dihedral and, of course, also making sure the firewall is absolutely vertical! I can see that at some point we will need to "rig" the two main spars on the firewall at the same time before drilling. With winter fast approaching I'm wondering where that can best be achieved and may have to move that part of the project to another part of the house where I can obtain the full reach of the 36'10" wing span in the comfort of dry conditions! 

The other job holding me back somewhat is the mounting of the Tailwheel leg and shock strut. That too has progressed, if only marginally, beyond the ideas stage and I now have a vague plan of attack on how to proceed. Always two steps forwards, one step backwards at the moment! Now I have all the components for my spar drilling jig, hopefully we'll see some rapid progress in that area, so (and I know I say this all of the time!) check back soon for some really good visual progress!


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