Page 1 of 23 12311 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 223

Thread: Building a Nieuport 11...

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    888

    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

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    888
    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

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    888
    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

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    888
    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

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    888
    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

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    888
    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

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    888
    Well, being the HOP, watching and lending a hand wouldn't last long! I filed down the channels so the axel moved freely in its slot.



    Learned how to wire and tighten bungees (and tightened them too much)







    In case you're wondering, these parts are called "Wheels."





    That ended the day. Whew! Man, was I dirty and stinky!
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    888
    Day three was really a half day for building - we had to mount and level the horizontal stabilizer, as though we had done a lot of squaring, we wound up a little low on the left side (less than a quarter of an inch). This is actually expected; it's rare to get it right on the money and is why the horizontal stabilizer is mounted to the fuselage on little plastic spacers.

    Lens had condensation from taking it out of the AC cool truck and into the 87 degree shop (at 0800):



    "Is it centered?"
    "I don't think it's centered."
    "Let's check it again...."
    "Okay, looks good, let's put in those last two tubes and lock them down!"



    Spacers and level - note they now get labeled, which is overkill. The right and rear are the standard length (and are interchangeable) and only the left is trimmed a bit.



    "Is it level enough?"
    "Looks level enough to me."
    "It don't get much more level than that, young man," Jim says.





    "Uh, Jim, that left gusset for the stabilizer is further back than the right."
    "How the hell did we do that?"
    "I dunno, how do we fix it?"
    "Drill it out, move it forward, put rivets in the hole."
    "Both of them?"
    "Measure to the one in the center in the gusset and don't miss it."
    Amazingly, I didn't!

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

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    888
    Meanwhile, Robert was putting together the tailwheel assembly and painting it...

    Jim and I put in the support gussets and tube to hold the tailwheel and shock absorbing bungie...



    Bolt on and bungie...



    Tada! One steerable tailwheel installed!



    This carried us to around 1500 hours - fuselage structure done, on gear and tailwheel with tailfeathers finished. Robert said we were ahead of schedule and had some good ideas on how to make things really, really easier and time saved later on.

    Time to bend some wing ribs!

    They have this torture machine that consists of a couple pieces of wood shaped to the airfoil of the various models of planes. One person has to bend the ribs, and should do them all at the same time. The reason is that even though it's one solid shape, the aluminum will bend and shape based on how force is applied as much as anything else, and consistency is far more important than the precise shape of the curve. Here's me bending a top rib:



    A reference line is made with the sharpie (held in my mouth), and the rib is walked down the jig.



    One holds it for five seconds on the bottom so it will "remember" the bend.



    Jim took pictures because I asked him to for the FAA man and my builder's log and because he both thought it was funny to watch me strain (the tubing is stiff) and felt like he wasn't helping.

    Now take those three pictures and repeat 61 more times.

    Day four doesn't have pictures, as it was spent "coping" the ribs, which means cutting them to fit to the main spar of the wings - one uses the reference lines to ensure they're all cut at the same spot to ensure the airfoil is even along the wing.

    Robert has an adjustable jig and the technique down and it still took us all the way to lunch to get them all cut. I sure did come away with a great feeling knowing my ribs are now going to all match and fit to the wings (top and bottom). Robert got called away on some business, so Jim had a great idea on the last thing to do.

    "Young man, go get your engine mount."
    "Okay."
    "It's got to be drilled at an angle on the top to fit and be square to the firewall, and you only get one shot to get it right."
    "Oh."
    "I think we should do that right now, since I have done a bunch of them."

    Dang right we should! Jim really shined on how he looked, measured, looked, eyeballed, and then drilled that sucker dead on. He's right, the angle one has to cut on the top of the engine mount is one of finesse. It slopes back to front on the top and has to match up with the bottom bolts which are straight through the mount.

    We did some paperwork (bill of sale and this humongerous waiver of liability) and I nearly hugged Jim as we said goodbye.
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    888
    7 August 2011:

    Here's a pic of the plane in carry home configuration:



    I took the picture at Liberty Landing, where the KC Dawn Patrol guys really put out the red carpet for me! Loads of answers and a chance to chase one of the Nieuports around in a Champ!

    I took the rudder off before heading down the highway for eleven hours. Fuel tank, cowl, sheet metal, etc., were in the back of the truck. The elevator was in the bed of the truck.

    How hot was it? Well, the Airdrome Aeroplanes cat was walking around with his tongue hanging out:



    I felt much more confident driving from near St. Louis back to Birmingham about the prospects of building an airplane - it had been a crash course that covered everything needed for the structure, with only covering, mechanics, and electrical to learn.

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

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •