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Old Jan 08, 2009, 05:00 AM
Certified Balsa Breaker
56S's Avatar
Joined Nov 2006
1,468 Posts
Tips on installing the top wing on a biplane with only two hands?

I've run up against this one too many times before and thought I'd ask TWOTG to see if there is a better way to get (in this case on a Herr Stearman) six struts and a wing to all play together happily. I've never felt comfortable glueing the struts to the bottom wing/fuselage for fear of a small error in alignment somewhere so what I always end up with is a pile of cards so to speak. Any hints?
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Old Jan 08, 2009, 08:41 AM
Neophyte hacker
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Albuquerque, NM USA
Joined Sep 2003
16,278 Posts

I get the foam core posterboard. Cut four pieces to hold the wings near the root and near the tips. Put another piece(s) in between to hold them in alignment. Can also get fancy and put in some dowels to hold rubber bands across the wing panels. May also need a couple to hold the fuse in the right alignment. When making the jigs cut them so you have the proper dihedral for top and bottom and any washout you might want.

Carefully align everything and make sure struts and cabanes fit properly. Then start gluing. I like 30 min epoxy, or PVA type glue. They bond very well and take a while to set, giving some time to make sure everything is aligned.

If I plan to add rigging I will do it while the jigs are still setup.

After everything is set I remove the jigs. Sometimes I have to cut the foam board apart to get it off the plane.


PS for Rake designs this is not necessary. For his you simply mount the upper wing using the proper length struts. The bottom is 'suspended' from it, geometry determined by the root 'pins' and the struts.
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Old Jan 08, 2009, 09:16 AM
Coy, peruser of worlds
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Augusta, KS USA
Joined Dec 2007
5,140 Posts
N2856S -

I used a method very similar to that of portablevcb's post but my Stearman was a scratchbuild from foam. I used foamboard to jig the wings at their proper relationship at the interplane struts and glued them together off the plane. I glued the cabanes into place on the fuselage in their proper orientation. After all was set up, I slipped the wing assbly. into place and glued at the wing saddle and cabanes with some sort of aliphatic resin glue and made sure to have just a little pressure on the joints for a snug fit.

I realize you're building a kit with a rigid wood structure and would have to alter the method to suit your construction but the foamboard is really handy to work with and accurate to fabricate. My finished model flew with no vices and trimmed out easily.
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Old Jan 09, 2009, 04:55 AM
Certified Balsa Breaker
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Joined Nov 2006
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Thanks guys, I think I can picture that and will start carving some foam blocks. I hope to have it ready to cover in the next day or two and will let you know how the final construction goes.
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Old Jan 09, 2009, 06:14 AM
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Blackpool, Great Britain (UK)
Joined Dec 2003
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A couple of photos of wing alignment jigs.
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Old Jan 09, 2009, 10:56 AM
Light and floaty does it
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Cambridge, Great Britain (UK)
Joined Sep 2004
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Another good material for this sort of activity is the depron bases from some supermarket pizzas. Eat the pizza and one is sufficiently fortified to assemble the aeroplane.
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Old Jan 09, 2009, 11:46 AM
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P_J_Glor's Avatar
Valencia, CA
Joined Oct 2002
3,847 Posts
Where the center section is flat, some builders use a small board of balsa or foam to set up the cabane lengths and alignment to the fuselage rather than fighting the whole upper wing. If you do this, make sure you use the same method of strut attachment to the jig board as that for the wing.

Pete G.
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