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  1. #1

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    Building a Nieuport 11...

    I figured I'd mirror the build thread for my 7/8th scale WWI replica Nieuport 11 over here, as it's good to have a lot of eyes on what I'm doing to point out my errors.

    Backing up to 2 August 2011, when I went up to Airdrome Aeroplanes' headquarters in Holden, MO for three and a half days of builder's assist...
    For those wondering about the House of Pain's builder's assist, here's my experience. In some places, it can be a soft way of doing a lot of work for a customer and stage some photos for the FAA man. Not so at the Airdrome; in fact, it is referred to as the House of Pain by those who have signed up for it.

    They truly just assist, and the amount of work done on the aircraft is really dependant on how hard the dude that showed up is willing to get on it. It's more a School of Aircraft Design and Construction, hands on and get dirty.

    The plane is aluminum tube and gusset; it's very light and very strong with almost no welded parts. It'll be fabric covered. The kit has all the gussets pre-cut (but not pre-drilled) and the tubes are all slightly oversized and have to be trimmed and shaped.

    So this is what one starts with:



    This is Jim, the full time employee of AA. He's 74 years old and knows EVERYTHING construction and mechanics. He also works like a maniac and does NOT stop to pose for pictures. He's sorting thru some of the fuselage parts here. In the back is Robert Baslee, designer, builder, owner and operator...



    Typical Frank drawing of the template. Note little "GOOD" notations where I finally got it right. The plans are on the little sheet and are drawn up full size.



    Once the longerons are bent and put down (the bottom of the Nieuport has that curve), it's a matter of cutting a semicircle on the ends of the spar join-y bits, putting them in place, drilling holes in the gussets, and popping rivets in. One starts from the front of the aircraft:



    Here's a closeup of gussets. Note the lack of fancy tools. Those blue things are air powered rivet guns. The rest is battery drills, a drill press in the other room, a bending brake, and a belt sander to deburr tubes. Holes are typically not de-burred as it's not necessary and just slows things down. Every tube and gusset plane in the WWI community has built in turn and bank rattle gauges installed. They also prevent corrosion inside the tubes ( )



    Lower down little circles are used:

    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  2. #2

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    These are used to hold down the side supports and gussets lock down the end:



    Note my "smiley face" lines in riveting. Three days later I actually riveted a straight line that was evenly spaced on a gusset. We were all shocked.



    When one side is done it's flipped over and zip ties are brought out.



    The big thing isn't exact dimensions - it's a homebuilt, not a production aircraft - but they've got to fit each other as mirrors and be identical so the fuselage will be square in all axis:



    Then one gets to start making it a box! Some clamps hold it together, and wire is strung at the very front and a quarter of the way down and tightened to where it comes up square.

    Then it's tacked down:



    This ended day one. It was 110 degrees without the heat index crap figured in.

    Day two - 3 August - started with checking square and putting in top and bottom supports.

    Note the delicate tool to gently adjust sides, namely the ball peen hammer laying there (the handle was used as a lever).

    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  3. #3

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    For most of the day we fussed and fixed, working our way down and being careful before locking things down. Fuselage structure done.



    Checking true was done by putting a level up on the front of the fuselage, putting a tube as an extension on the tail, and seeing if they lined up.



    The guy on the phone back there is Robert Baslee, showing how he can handle questions from other builders, orders for supplies, inquiries, etc., and still manages to keep one engaged and involved. I never felt like he was ignoring me or the plane's progress.

    There is no way I would have gotten the fuselage true! What isn't shown is a lot of adjustment of tubes, often by taking them out and shortening and lengthening them. Also I didn't show all the cross tubes and gussets, since they all start to look the same after awhile.
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  4. #4

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    With the first half of day two devoted to squaring that fuselage, we turned to the tail feathers!

    Here's the horizontal stabilizer and elevator in the foreground and the rudder in the background (some assembly required)



    I had put together a rudder at home using a very convoluted, overdone jig - and wasn't satisfied with the result. Note the electrical tape outline, the couple of blocks, and one of the two circles used to bend around used by Robert and I to whip a completely awesome one in about two hours:



    Onto the horizontal stabilizer and elevator! First I muck up the drawing by "helping" Jim with the math and measurements, but then we sort it out and get to it.

    HUGE lessons on building with this! I would have totally stressed the bends on the inside and outside of the elevator (in the foreground), spending a lot of time figuring out the perfect radius for each.

    "C'mon, Frank, here's the tangent line here and here. Find something that makes the circle that fits and looks good and just bend around it," Robert says.

    So I used that little circle for the rudder bend on the outside and a wire spool for the big one inside.



    Next lesson was on annealing aluminum. Jim showed me this great technique of putting a sharpie pen mark where the temper has to be taken out and heating it until the mark disappeared (but no more). Then it's soft enough to pound flat and bend without cracking the metal!
    Note the erroneous center line drawing and the rounded edges on metal. They're both my work! Snips and belt sander made it nice and roundish on the ends. The tube actually fuzed on the end in the pounding process (ball peen hammer).



    The outline of the horizontal stabilizer is laid out and really nice "fish mouth" joints put on the end - Jim once again played school master and showed me how to make them look professional and un-ugly when they get covered.



    Time to put in those braces! Some work required, as they're the flat pieces of metal laying there.

    [/
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  5. #5

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    Jim and I started a kind of race on making them after we drilled the holes that would marry up to the tubes on the bending brakes. It was 108 degrees on the thermometer (goodness knows what it was with humidity) but the swamp cooler fan thing really helped out - otherwise that old man would have smoked me like a cheap cigar.



    He grabbed the camera and asked if I was wilting.



    Me, hot?



    Naw, I'm making plane!



    Meanwhile, Robert had gotten a jump on the gear:

    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  6. #6

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    Jim was fussing over my poor rivet job (and fixing a few pulled ones), so I shifted over to stand at the shoulder of another master:





    To be honest I did more watching and holding!







    This is where Jim said "It's late, I'm hot, and I'm going home." I don't blame him, it was 1700.

    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  7. #7
    Jim Hann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Giger View Post
    On another note, is anyone reading this, or is it just a vanity thread? If it is, I'll just stop adding to it.
    I am also reading it when on the forums, was off for a bit.
    Jim Hann
    EAA 276294 Lifetime
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    1957 Piper PA-22/20 "Super Pacer"
    Chapter 32 member www.eaa32.org
    www.mykitlog.com/LinerDrivr
    Fly Baby/Hevle Classic Tandem


  8. #8
    Chick's Avatar
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    I am enjoying it! I'm living my builders fantasy through you. Keep us posted and thanks.

  9. #9
    I am building a Graeme Lee designed Nieuport 11 and have been following your build with much interest. Keep it up as I have gleened much from your posts.
    Cheers..............Pete from Australia

  10. #10

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    Thanks for your kind words!

    Naturally, I was mucking around the wing after checking for damage due to the recent storms (a once tiny hole in my front tarp is now a huge one) and came up with option three.

    I took that long gusset strip and turned it around to where the long part lay on the ribs, following the airfoil, and checked to see if the short end would hang down enough to meet the spar.....dangled if it didn't! So no goofy splicing required - I can go straight to the rib and get what I need for aerodynamics, strength and covering.

    I guess once again it shows that when one is in doubt to just stop and think it through. Tough for a guy like me that never learned patience (there was a line to sign up for the class).

    Pete, you'll note there are some differences between the Lee G plans and the Airdrome ones; Robert and Lee got along famously but each has a different approach to things. At any rate, I hope that by showing my mistakes you can avoid making them yourself. I'd also highly recommend emailing the Kansas City Dawn Patrol guys (easy google for their site; can't remember it offhand); they are tremendously willing to help out and can talk dummy if need be. Lord knows they know to speak slowly and use small words when I ask stuff of them.
    Last edited by Frank Giger; 02-02-2013 at 11:30 PM.
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

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