RCU Review: Wing Repair Article

More On This Product

  • Research Airplanes
  • Research Boats
  • Research Cars
  • Research Helicopters
  • Research Engines & Motors
  • Research Radio Equipment
    Contributed by: Scott Stoecker | Published: September 2007 | Views: 39152 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    RCUniverse.com How-To: Wing Repair

    How-To Article by: Scott Stoecker (hogflyer) Email Me

    Since there are a lot of beginners who get ARF or RTF trainers and don't know what is on the inside of the wing, I've decided to show how I did a wing repair with both minor and major damage.

    I recently acquired a new, un-built Hangar 9 Alpha 60 RTF that is damaged. Supposedly it had crushed ribs in both wings, a hole in the sheeting on the top of the left wing, and a crack in the fuselage at the landing gear. For about ½ of what it would cost at a hobby shop I couldn't pass it up (it'll be used for an AMA intro plane and giving flight instruction).

    When I opened the box I saw a lot of wrinkles in the covering near the landing gear block. I checked the fuselage on the inside and couldn't find any damage. Feeling around on the outside it appeared to be solid as well. I tightened up the covering and installed the landing gear. After pulling and pushing any way I can I sure can't find any damage to the fuselage. So I installed the prop and empennage and set it aside.

    There are a lot of wrinkles in the covering on both wings. I started with the left wing tightening the covering on the top. I could feel all the ribs were broken at the center support, and decided to open it up from the bottom since its all red vs. the white with trim on the upper side. It'll also be easier to recover being flat. The pictures show what the left wing center section looked like out of the box.

    The covering was removed from the center section showing the extent of the damage. The root rib is plywood, which I'll call Rib #1 as is the 4th rib out? Rib #4. The forward half of Ribs #2 & #3 are crushed. The sheeting is crushed and split between ribs R1 and R4.

    I made a cardboard template from a cereal box to make replacement ribs for Ribs #2 & #3, and provide a guide to make braces for the middle of the remaining ribs. I removed only as much of the damaged sheeting as necessary. I cleaned up where the sheeting was, but left as much of the ribs as possible so I can sister a replacement rib to them? it'll be a lot easier than trying to splice a repair section of rib to them. The glue they use constructing these is a real pain to remove completely? it's somewhat soft and took quite a bit of sanding.

    Cereal boxes are great for making templates. The cardboard is easy to cut with a knife or scissors, yet stiff enough to make multiple tracings. Since I haven't opened up the right wing half yet and don't know what surprises await there, I want a template that will last through both halves.

    I cut the new ribs out of 3/32 sheet balsa and glued them to remains of Ribs #2 & #3. I used yellow glue to attach them making sure I had plenty of squeeze-out between the old and new ribs. After I took the pictures I did clean up the excess glue.

    After the ribs had dried a couple of hours I added some 3/16 X ¼ balsa to the spar and 3/32 sheet under the remaining factory sheet to support the new sheeting. The factory sheeting is most likely metric since 1/16 sheet was thinner and the 3/32 sheeting was thicker. I opted to go thicker and sand the sheeting down to smooth it in. After sheeting and sanding it down I didn't want to take a chance on sanding too much into the factory sheeting, so I used lightweight spackling to fill in any unevenness and finish the blending. That was sanded smooth after it dried and completed the repair to the center section damage.

    Next up was to fix the rest of the ribs and wing tip. For the wingtip I cut a small piece of 1/16 sheet to double over the damaged area and attached it using thick CA with a little accelerator. Since the tip rib was missing a good size chunk I cut a rib to replace it.

    I used the cardboard template to cut some vertical supports to fix the remainder of the ribs. With the grain of the ribs runs fore/aft providing good longitudinal support I decided to add the supports running vertical to aid in compression strength. I measured back from the spar for the correct location of the braces and then drew their location on each side of each rib. Thick CA and clamps where used until they cured.

    The right wing had similar damage to the ribs, but no center section or tip damage other than the tip rib its self.

    The clamps are shown on the right wing, and the left wing is shown finished and ready to be recovered. I'm estimating the total working time for the repair, assembling the fuselage and recovering the wing will be just over 2 hours. Between 2 rolls of Ultracote and the wood and glue I spent less than $30.00 and will have most of the rolls left over for future projects.

    Here's the finished, covered plane fully assembled ready for its first flight. From a few feet away you can't tell it has suffered from crushed wings with a hole in one wing. I refigured the total working time and I spent about 4 hours to both repair and assemble the plane.

    In summary, this is a very basic, straight forward repair. While some people may seem intimidated by cutting open a wing, especially on a new, unassembled plane, it's not difficult. Just think through the process and follow some basic steps:

    1. Look at the damage, and don't be afraid of the 4 P's - push, pull, poke and prod. You will be surprised at the damage that can be found with your fingers.
    2. After you have determined the extent of the damage, remove the covering as required, and start assessing the damage to determine how you need to remove the damaged areas. This is where you want to give the structure a very good visual inspection.
    3. Don't be afraid to cut into the structure. There isn't a part on a plane that a modeler can't fabricate and use to replace a factory made part. Make sure you take your time cutting away the damaged pieces that need to be removed. Some can be left in place and fixed with a doubler attached to them.
    4. Decide what parts need to be replaced, make templates and fabricate new parts. Test fit the parts as you go along making adjustments as required. If a part doesn't look or fit right, then cut another one. Balsa is cheaper than a complete flying plane.
    5. Take your time replacing the parts making sure you have good glue joints and everything fits correctly. Pay attention to the surrounding structure so you put everything back straight. After it's all back together, reapply the covering, and check the balance to make sure nothing has changed.
    6. Take it out and fly! When you get to the field, give the plane a thorough inspection. If you have any doubts, have another club member check it over. Then double check everything to make sure you didn't forget to hook anything up or hooked something up backwards. For the first flight, depending on the type and location of the repair, treat it as the first flight the plane has made.

    The most important thing to remember is to take your time and seek help or ask questions if there is something you don't understand how to do.

    Good luck!

    Comments on RCU Review: Wing Repair Article

    Posted by: bucksnortly on 04/24/2008
    Very well done -
    Page: 1

    Phoenix ModelsCessna 182 GP/EP ARFNew from Phoenix Models is their 182 Skylane. A 65.5" wingspan places it squarely in the .46-.55 size range, making it easy t...08/31/2015
    Flight ModelMini ExcellenceThe Flight Model Mini Excellence is a 1M sized precision aircraft that I can only assume is targeted towards pilots that are ...07/19/2015
    FlyzoneL-39The real L39 is an east European sub-sonic jet aircraft, and although it has been lightly armed, its main purpose is for trai...07/13/2015
    ST ModelsDG-1000The ST Models DG-1000 is a very nice looking scale replica of the full scale DG Flugzeugbau DG-1000 and it actually features ...07/13/2015
    The World Models30% PT-17 Stearman ARF (U.S. ARMY)Some may call me lucky. I would agree! One of the reasons that the PT-17 is so close to my heart is that I have a personal co...07/04/2015
    LatraxAlias Quad-Rotor HelicopterSince 1974 LaTrax has been producing high-performance, high-quality, ready to run R/C Cars at an affordable price. LaTrax is ...06/22/2015
    RCGF 15cc Gasoline EngineRCGF, a Chinese manufacturer of gasoline engines, designs and manufactures engines specifically for the RC aircraft market. T...06/07/2015
    FlyzoneSensei FSBack in 2011, I had the pleasure of reviewing the original Flyzone Sensei. At the time, I was looking for an airplane to let ...05/30/2015
    MCMKestrel 19 semi-scale RTF gliderMCM, an RC aircraft manufacturer based in France, reproduced the Kestrel 19 as a motorized semi-scale glider. The plane has a...05/22/2015
    Estes Proto-X SLT Nano QuadcopterThe next generation and subject of this review, the Proto-X SLT. It builds from the success of the Proto-X and adds a couple ...05/03/2015
    FlyzoneA6M2 Mitsubishi ZeroThe A6M2 Zero is a very good looking parkflyer, packed with well-designed features. Flyzone did a very good job at keeping th...04/27/2015
    Hobbico's DromidaOminus FPV QuadDromida has now doubled its line of Ominus quads. They have re-vamped the original, installing upgraded propellers, and added...04/27/2015
    The 61st Annual Weak SignalsToledo Expo 2015Hello, and welcome to the new format for RCUniverse's coverage of the Weak Signal's Toledo Expo. It seems as though our cover...04/20/2015
    Weak Signals Toledo Show 2015 - Precision AerobaticPrecision Aerobatics is one of the booths we visit every year - Cheryl Widner took the time to talk about PA's latest additio...04/19/2015
    Weak Signals Toledo Show 2015 -JR AmericasWe stopped by the JR Americas booth to see what was new, and Len Sabato gave us the latest and greatest. They were debuting a...04/19/2015

      Return to Magazine Homepage

    RCUniverse is a service of Internet Brands, Inc. Copyright © 2001-2015.
    Terms of Service | Privacy Policy

    Search | Marketplace | Event Central | Local Clubs | Magazine | Product Ratings | New Products | Discussion Forums

    Photo Gallery | Instructor Search | Field|Track|Marina Search | RCU Youtube Channel | | RCU Twitter!

    Member Locator | Advertisers | Hobby Vendor Resources | Rate Manufacturers | Sign In/Sign Up

    Products Videos WattFlyer.com RC Classifieds

    RCU4 | | 0 | 1 | 02:23:30 PM EST | NC