The Dragonfly




Last Update-03/13/2010 01:40 AM



Tonight I fashioned the bending blocks out of oak required to make the nose rib and rear ribs for the wing. 

Some people use masonite or plywood for this, but since I think these should go with the plane if you sell it incase of a mishap, I made them from something that would last.


                                                                                                                                                        Here is the nose rib bend block complete with .025 6061 rib blank inserted.  Two 1/4" bolts go through the holes.  You then beat the hell out of the flanges until they lay down.  Since there is excess metal around the edges, we need to flute them to get the flanges to lie down the rest of the way.



Here is what is needed.  A pair of pliers that can flute the flanges, taking up all that excess metal around the edge.




Not wanting to pay about 22 bucks for a pair of fluting pliers and being impatient as hell, I decided to build a set.  Many people build their own and I adapted this Idea from several pairs I've seen on the internet.  While at Zenair, the fella building ribs showed me his pliers.  He made them from a set of cleco pliers, so don't waste your money on a store bought pair.

 I paid 2 bucks for these pliers at my beloved Harbor Freight, cut up a few spare 1/4" bolts and welded them strategically to the working end using scrapes of .025 aluminum as a spacer to ensure they would close while fluting the metal.

Here is what it  this magnificently crafted tool looks like while it's working!   Works like a charm!    Need a pair?  I only charge 22 bucks plus $10 shipping and handling!   (just kidding.  Make your own.  You're building an airplane right?)                                           



Another shot looking into the mouth of the beast !





Here, I'm cutting the rib blanks out.  This will become the master pattern.  Then I'll trace 12 of these out on some .025 and start cutting.  I was going to create a masonite template based on this master, stack all 11 blanks together and use a router bit with the bearing at the  bottom to create all 11 extra blanks but after thinking about it, id spend more time doing that than just cutting the things out.  Heck, you only need 12.


The nose rib blank.  Smaller and only 12 needed as well.




After a few minutes of beating the flanges down, then some work with the fluting pliers, here is the finished rib.  Now I have to cut three lightening holes in them and they will be ready to go.



Notice the large hole cut into the nose rib.  This is done with a circle cutter in the mill.  Better have some gloves while   performing that task.




Here I am holding the second rib.  From start to finish it took only about 15 minutes or so to create this including the lighten holes.  Once you have the process down, its a snap!  I think its better to turn time into money on your part if you're working with limited funds.  Every dollar you spend on some tool that isn't needed or developing a process that is suppose to save you time (when you have all the time you need) is a dollar that cant be spent on the plane.  Work on the plane one hour a night during the week and you'll find you get more done than trying to hit it hard all the time.


Tonight I knocked out five more nose ribs completing the six needed for the left wing.  I find that doing a few pieces a night  gets allot done during the week when I'm tired from my real job.




Both left and right wing ribs ready for flanging





Check these out.  I picked these up at Cummins Tools today.  $6.99 for four miniature vice grip style clamps.  Each pack has needle nose, standard and two open clamps like these.  Should come in handy for clamping and drilling for rivets.



The jaws open about 1 1/2" total and are about 5 1/2" long.





Now that I have the 115 MM flanging punch and die complete, I can start pressing out the flanges.




Here is the flanger in the homemade press.  Man , this thing works like a champ.




Another shot of the press and nose rib in the punch and die.





This thing works better than expected. A couple quick pulls on the jack handle and its all over!  WOW!





This is cool !