RCU Review: Minnflyer's Wing Repair: Fixing a Leading Edge

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    Contributed by: Mike Buzzeo | Published: April 2008 | Views: 37301 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
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    Unfortunately, it's not all that uncommon - You were coming in for a landing and clipped a tree, or a pole, or some other obstacle and now your wing has a nasty gash in the leading edge complete with a few broken rib-fronts. Now you're wondering what to do.

    Don't panic! This is a much easier repair than most people think. This tutorial will walk you through the major pints of the process to help you get your baby flying again.

    The first thing you'll need to do is to remove as much covering as you need to so that you can see all of the damage. The diagrams show no covering at all just for the sake of clarity. You don't need to remove it all, but make sure to remove enough to give yourself room to work.

    Now, inspect the damaged area thoroughly. Pay particular attention to the spars and make sure there are no breaks or cracks. If there are, you will need to glue them, or even apply some plywood doublers depending on how severe the damage is. Fortunately, in most of the repairs of this type that I have seen, the spars survive untouched, or with only a few minor dings or scratches which can be easily ignored. If they look damaged and you're unsure as to the severity, have a more experienced modeler check it out for you.

    Once you're ready to begin, the next thing you'll want to do is to clean up the broken ends of the leading edge by cutting and sanding them to a clean end. You don't need to do the ribs, with the exception of removing any splinters that might interfere.

    Get a piece of balsa that is the same thickness of the ribs (on 40 - 60 size planes this is usually 3/32"). Cut it with the grain horizontal so it fits between the spars and a good section of the leading edge.

    Lay the balsa against a good rib-front and use a pen to trace the shape of the rib to the balsa.

    Make a copy of this new rib-front for each one that needs replacing. The easy way to do this is to glue them all together with only a tiny drop of glue and shape them all at the same time. Then you can break them apart when you are finished. Glue one copy along side each broken rib.

    Next, cut a block of balsa to fit between the ends of the leading edge. It would be a good idea to add some small scraps of plywood or hard balsa behind the seams for strength.

    All that's left to do now is to sand the leading edge block to the same shape as the rest of the leading edge. This can easily be done with a long sanding bar by working side-to-side, following the original contour.

    You're ready to re-cover and go flying!

    So you see, it's not as difficult as you may think. If your wing has a sheeted leading edge, you can repair the sheeting following the "How to Repair Sheeting".

    Good luck!

    Comments on RCU Review: Minnflyer's Wing Repair: Fixing a Leading Edge

    Posted by: MetallicaJunkie on 04/28/2008
    Great job
    Posted by: Jake Ruddy on 04/28/2008
    Great little article!
    Posted by: bkdavy on 04/28/2008
    You might want to add to the repair tips that if you use masking tape on the good portions of the leading edge when you sand the new block, you're less likely to damage the good section during sanding. Remove the masking tape for final sanding.
    Posted by: rcaholic on 04/29/2008
    Great article - good ideas. With that advice, I'd take on a LE repair in a heartbeat. Thanks.
    Posted by: alanc on 05/04/2008
    great to a point, but you have now given the wing 4 areas of shear, to be safe, the leading edge fill in peice should have a shallow angle on both sides, the existing leading edge being sanded to suit, if you do it the way shown, the ply re-inforcment at the rear of the leading edge should be tapered both sides of middle, to dissipate the stresses at this point, hope you dont mind my observations,
    Posted by: MinnFlyer on 05/04/2008
    I certainly don't mind, but I think you've severely entered the range of overkill. The glue alone is stronger than the wood, I just suggested adding the plywood for extra reinforcement. We're putting a band-aid on a bruise, and you're saying that the band-aid isn't properly designed.
    Posted by: AussieBrett on 05/05/2008
    I recently smashed a wing (my buddy was flying) and i read the above "how to fix" and saw the "how to fix pics",identical to my initial common sense thoughts and i thank u for giving me the confidence to save $100 on a Hobbico-Nexstar Select wing...Minnflyer is correct,this is a fix up with basic guidelines with commonsense in mind,not an encyclopedia of technical headspinning mini points,great job Minnflyer cause you have kept it to the KISS METHOD (KEEP IT SIMPLE)...GODD WORK AND THANKS FOR YOUR POST,regards aussiebrett from australia.
    Posted by: alanc on 05/05/2008
    you are missing the point, the glue wont go, nor will the ply re-inforcer, the point of shear is at the end of the patch, at the very least, taper it down, this will dissipate the shear force, but the angled repair to the leading edge is the best way, and not difficult to do,
    Posted by: MinnFlyer on 05/05/2008
    No, with all due respect, YOU are missing the point. There is very little stress, shear or otherwise, on the leading edge. That load is absorbed by the main spars. The repaired leading edge is MUCH stronger than the original leading edge. So why should forces that weren't strong enough to break the original do damage to the stronger one?
    Posted by: AussieBrett on 05/06/2008
    As long as it looks similar to the original wing, and sufficient glue and reinforcing is added, all should be fine...if it is a high load wing on a fast plane, replacement may be a option,... but to be honest,if u pull the covering of most factory kits, the glue is minimal, the wood is thin, and as we all know, most manufacturers do the minimum to keep the cost of the kits down,it is scary when u really look closely at most kits....BUT they all mostly fly extremely well...ALANC's post i guess is trying to say be careful and dont just do a quickie, cause it may bight ya in the bum,and take that little extra effort,fair enough,EVERYONE IS RIGHT HERE, NOW HAVE A BEER BOYS AND KICK BACK, THEN FLY A PLANE !!! but not too many beers or ya might have to fix a bloody wing, cheers, AUSSIEBRETT
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