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Last Update:

May 12, 2011



I used the tried and true vacuum method to form the skins. Here is a skin marked up prior to bending.


To keep the forming tube square to the bend line, I marked a line on the tube and on the skin for alignment. Tape the tube to the skin plenty strong to keep the bend where you want it.


The whole pre-bend taped and wrapped skin ready so a good vacuum can be pulled. This part is a PITA - 20 minutes of taping for 5 seconds of forming.


The final forming results.


The first skin strapped to the skeleton. Other skins hanging on the skeleton waiting their turn.

The first skin drilled.

The first skin removed and the second skin drilling is underway. Next the first skin will go back on to complete the overlap joint drilling.

After I got all of the skins drilled to the skeleton I wanted to install the tank bay skin stiffeners next but I didn’t have anyone at hand to support the skin while drilling through the stiffeners in the bay. Here’s what I did to do this job with no help:

Drill the stiffener to the main spar flange. Be sure you keep the stiffener straight while drilling. I blocked the aft end of the stiffener in the false spar with blocks and wedges to keep it tight against the skin.

Use straps to keep the skin pulled up tight toward the stiffeners.

Drill from the main spar down and cleco as you go to keep the skin and stiffener tight to each other.

To help keep the skin and stiffener tight together I used a board under the straps to apply pressure right below where I was drilling. After drilling both stiffeners along a given line, I would slide the board down another 1.5 inches and drill the next set of rivet holes. Repeat this process until you reach the false spar.

This worked well and resulted in smooth skins in the tank bay area.

I began on the left wing first, so this one will have the pitot tube. I’m using the Raven tube with both the pressure and static lines. I decided to mount the tube at the end of the wing just inboard of the tip rib. A support mount was made and co-riveted with the nose section stiffener. An Adel clamp with a nylon spacer was used to support the forward section of the tube just before exiting the skin. A rubber grommet will finish the transition through the skin.

The completed mount for the pitot tube.


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