Monday, March 21, 2016

Straightening tubes and bending tubes

There was quite a kink in one of the vertical tubes right behind the cockpit. Before I cut the old tube out and replace it with a new one, I wanted to straighten it.

To straighten, a piece of angle iron is clamped to the bent tube with a spacer at the top and the bottom.

Here you can see the extent of the bend.

A clamp is placed in the middle and the tube is pulled back into place.  Of course, you have to bend past where you want it because of the tube will spring back after you release the pressure.

Now it is ready for the splice.

Since we straightened a tube, we bent another.  With the application of heat, the last lower longeron was formed.

The fuselage tapers - meaning the top is wider than the bottom.  The upper longerons are straight (except the last bay) so the fuselage will be built upside down.  Here you can see where the upper longerons will be spliced into the fuselage.

Once the spider plate is done, we can lay out the dimensions and start cutting splices.

More later this week.  Enjoy


Friday, March 18, 2016


A long package arrived from Wicks Aircraft yesterday.  Inside was 60 ft of 7/8in square tubing of .035in wall thickness.

Looking at the drawings, the dimensions were plotted on the jig table.  The top longerons are basically straight, but the last 32 inches gently curves down 2 inches.

The lower longerons curve a whole lot more.

Here is how we did it.  First, a length of tubing was clamped in a vice.

Heat was applied on the top and the bottom while pulling a steady pressure on the end of the tube.

If you keep working this slowly, heating six or seven inches at a time, the tube takes a nice gradual bend.  I pushed the tube with my left hand while heating with my right one.

After a few heat / check. heat/ check  cycles, the top longeron was done.


The lower longeron has a lot more curve.

Tube in the vice, the process was repeated.

Getting close.  More heat.More pulling.

This is as far as we got today - the kids were on their way home from school and I had to stop.  The top two longerons are bent and one lower longeron is half way there.

More soon.  Enjoy


Monday, March 14, 2016

Saving the good parts

Over the last few days, we spent a lot of time extracting the usable parts from the bent portion of the airframe.

The firewall was removed.  It will be good for a pattern when we make a new one.

The control stick was salvageable but the rudder bar pedestal was bent, so all we could save was the rudder bar.

We removed the cabane struts.  The front ones were OK, but the rear ones had a lot of internal corrosion.  I suspect we will make new ones.

Front landing gear fittings.

Lastly, the rear fuselage was sprayed with a de-greaser and pressure washed. It cleaned off the old caster oil and fabric glue residue.

The 7/8 in. .035 tubing has been ordered and the spider plate should be done this week.  More soon.



Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Latest update

We finally got the jig table moved into the shop. Other airplanes have been built on this table, notable a Hatz biplane, but it was a strong, straight table and I didn't have to build a new one from scratch.

Now it was time to get to work.

First, the fabric was removed.  I wanted to save the side pieces for reference.  They clearly show the location of the control cable outlets, size of the markings, etc. This will come in handy when we apply new fabric.


Since the fuselage was uncovered, the damaged front section was cut off from the good, usable aft section.

I know it looks awful, but there are a lot of good parts in the front section.  Later this week, we will tackle its disassembly.

That's it for now.  Another update soon.



PS - Ay many of you know, I have been wanting to build a Nieuport 11 since....well....forever.  I found a group of guys in Switzerland who are doing so!  Check it out.  Their workmanship is phenomenal.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Nieuport arrives

After a long 14 hour drive, Jerry Wells and the Nieuport arrived in Georgia unscathed.

Work has begun on the jig table but in the mean time, no restoration can be started without pouring over drawings.  Luckily, I was able to obtain a bunch of them from World War I Aero and a rather rare set of drawings from Mark Zilinski in Chicago.

The front of the fuselage structure was crushed so a new spider plate has to be made. This is the drawing we used for a reference.

Let me introduce my neighbor, Alex Hansen.  He is one of those "computer types" who mentioned he would gladly convert that drawing into an AutoCad file. I wasted no time utilizing his talents.

Here is the piece we will be making, the picture taken from a Nieuport parts catalog.

Alex finished the AutoCad drawing and I ordered a piece of 3ft x 4 ft piece of 4130 steel in .125 in thickness.  Once it arrives, I will take it to the local water jet cutter.

On a side note, the airplane is finished in the colors of one of the founders of the famed Lafayette Escadrille. Victor Chapman was an interesting character from a wealthy family in New York who died in combat.

His father published a book about his life which I have started reading.

You can actually read it for free here:

More soon.  Enjoy.