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Thread: Preforming Rib Capstrip by Steaming

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    41

    Preforming Rib Capstrip by Steaming

    I just viewed another build site where the builder spent a lot of time building a steamer to preform the capstrips for the ribs. It seems to be a common theme for rib building.

    When I fit the top capstrip into my Clark Y airfoil rib jig I found that it bent quite nicely along the curve without steaming and preforming. After gluing on the gussets, the rib kept it's shape. Go figure! I'm hoping the glue will hold and the ribs won't spring apart before I get the fabric stitched on

    When I did some research I found that wood bends quite easily to a point without steaming. In addition, steaming weakens the wood. The wing bow, leading edge plywood and stringers are all good examples of bending wood without steaming.

    To steam or not to steam? That is the question.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Marietta, GA
    Posts
    937
    Quote Originally Posted by mmarien View Post
    I just viewed another build site where the builder spent a lot of time building a steamer to preform the capstrips for the ribs. It seems to be a common theme for rib building.

    When I fit the top capstrip into my Clark Y airfoil rib jig I found that it bent quite nicely along the curve without steaming and preforming. After gluing on the gussets, the rib kept it's shape. Go figure! I'm hoping the glue will hold and the ribs won't spring apart before I get the fabric stitched on

    When I did some research I found that wood bends quite easily to a point without steaming. In addition, steaming weakens the wood. The wing bow, leading edge plywood and stringers are all good examples of bending wood without steaming.

    To steam or not to steam? That is the question.
    I've built a fair number of wood ribs and just dunk the capstrips in water for an hour or three prior to bending them. I use a bending tool to squish the capstrips into shape and let them dry before gluing them. The bending tool was just a 4x4 split into an airfoil profile with the strips clamped between them.

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