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Thread: PA-11 Wing Refurbishment

  1. #1

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    PA-11 Wing Refurbishment

    Hi, I'm new to this forum... or any forum at that. I am looking for a recommendation on someone who has the capabilities to refurbish PA-11 wings. Any suggestions is much appreciated. Thank you!

  2. #2
    Bill Rusk's Avatar
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    Welcome to the best forum on aviation (not that I am biased or anything).

    There are a lot of good folks out there. It would be helpful to know a general location. If you live in California, a rebuilder in Florida might be a little too much trouble.

    Best regards

    Bill
    Very Blessed.

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    Thank you for the response, Bill! I am in North Idaho.

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    What do you mean by refurbishment? If you want them recovered, I have a friend in Polson who does excellent work. If that is what you want, I will send you his information via PM.

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    This is expensive stuff. I just did one PA11 wing - new spars and leading/trailing edges, five new ribs. A hundred hours! Granted, some of that was the pain in the butt landing light, but there you have it. Counting wing rotator, roughly two grand in materials. Mind you, that was one wing. Shop rates are $115/hr. I am not a shop, but working with one.

    Add all that up, and you are only three grand shy of a new Dakota wing through white Poly Tone. We would have bought the Dakota wing, but I finished a month ahead of their proposed schedule, and saved two grand in shipping.

    Moral of my story - learn how to do this yourself, and consider your time as a hobby. If you can't do that, it is cheaper to sell your dog eared 11 for 25, and buy a recently restored one for fifty or more.

    Um, opinion.

  6. #6
    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    Refurbishment can be many things. Been there - once. I suggest getting an estimate based on their current condition including ailerons from someone that has done it before several times. Then decide on a cost effective solution given your love for that PA-11 and the plane's value before and after the job.

    Gary
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  7. #7
    Bill Rusk's Avatar
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    PM sent.

    Hope it helps

    Bill
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    gbflyer's Avatar
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    Didn’t see once where the OP asked what it costs.

    If I were in that county I’d take a trip to Oregon to the Steve’s Aircraft guys. Top shelf work, and if it’s of great concern the rates are very fair.

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    If an owner has an unlimited budget, just call Legend Cub. They will come get it, and ferry it back. It will be like new.
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    Great info! I wish there was a forum like this for my recently-acquired Corben Baby Ace.

    It's not a Super Cub, I know. So moderator - feel free to boot me out if you want, but I'm interested in refurbishment/repair of a Baby Ace wing, which may or may not have a compression crack in the spar. Any wood and fabric experts in the Tucson area who can inspect the spar, and repair the wing if necessary?

    Thanking anyone in advance!
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    Last edited by Hambone; 12-30-2019 at 06:21 PM.

  11. #11

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    Looks more like a broken rib from here. I assume it is not flying? If not, cut the fabric around that area and have a look. A compression crack in the spar is hard to see, deadly, and in this case requires a complete wing rebuild unless it is where you can splice. Take a photo after removing a 1'x1' piece of fabric, and look at that spar with a lot of light.

    If it is just the rib, we can tell you how to fix it right on this thread.
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    algonquin's Avatar
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    Hi Jenni, welcome to the forum. May as well jump right in here, can you put some pic’s on of the wing and what you want the final out come to be. Serviceable- show quality, also do you want to do some of the work or all or nothing. Just so you know there are tons of books and videos on the subject to help also lots of help right here.
    Hambone, I wouldn’t be flying that wing, as Bob said, wood wings are fun to work on. Make a plan, are you going to try and do the repair and recover the entire wing or just the damaged area. Take the wing off go to town.
    Ps. I used to do partial recovers. Found that it took about as long to cover half a wing as a whole wing and it looks better. Food for thought.
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  13. #13
    cubdriver2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob turner View Post
    Looks more like a broken rib from here. I assume it is not flying? If not, cut the fabric around that area and have a look. A compression crack in the spar is hard to see, deadly, and in this case requires a complete wing rebuild unless it is where you can splice. Take a photo after removing a 1'x1' piece of fabric, and look at that spar with a lot of light.

    If it is just the rib, we can tell you how to fix it right on this thread.
    Start eating twin stick popcyiles, the beech sticks are the best wooden rib repair material.
    I have some A65 Baby Ace time, fun cheap flying machine.

    Glenn
    "Optimism is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you!"
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    Thanks to all for the comments! By the way, I did my tailwheel endorsement in a Super Cub before embarking on my Baby Ace journey!

    I'm going to get some more borescope photos of the area in question tomorrow before I start cutting fabric. The vertical anomaly at the bottom left of this photo of the back of the front spar is what I'm thinking may be a compression failure. I didn't see any indication of rib failure, but I'll take a better look tomorrow.

    Some have said that the issue is simply the nails holding the curved aluminum leading edge shape coming out, and that the visible line may just be varnish bubbles. You can see the gap between the spar cap and the aluminum leading edge.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Hambone; 12-31-2019 at 04:19 PM.

  15. #15

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    PA-11 Wing Refurbishment

    Not a great picture, but looks like it may be a compression fracture. Did the airplane have a ground loop that caused the wing tip to hit the ground? Is this just outboard of the strut attach fitting?


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  16. #16
    Gordon Misch's Avatar
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    I'm pretty sure I see some misalignment of the wood grain between the left and right sides of that vertical anomaly. I don't know how to confirm a compression fracture, but that sure looks suspicious to me.
    Gordon

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  17. #17

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    I'll get some better photos tomorrow. No groundloop by me, but I did have a rather firm landing in Sweetwater, TX in some strong gusty and variable crosswinds. I suppose that could set up a wing "whiplash" that could overflex the spar.

    Anyway, I'm still interested in finding a local expert in the Tucson/Phoenix area to evaluate and possibly repair it.
    Last edited by Hambone; 12-31-2019 at 04:57 PM.

  18. #18
    Gordon Misch's Avatar
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    Anyway, I'm still interested in finding a local expert in the Tucson/Phoenix area to evaluate and possibly repair it.
    Maybe call some local shops for referrals to wood experts??
    Gordon

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  19. #19

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    A landing hard enough to give you a compression fracture would be a memorable experience. I don't see the discontinuities that Gordon sees, but do not fly it until you sand that area and look at it with light and magnification. A compression fracture can be fatal. Spar longitudinal cracks not so much.
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  20. #20
    Gordon Misch's Avatar
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    A landing hard enough to give you a compression fracture would be a memorable experience.
    Bob, you sure have a way with words at times!
    Gordon

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  21. #21
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Can you get a picture or tell us what the cap (top) of this rib looks like inside the wing? There is a protrusion just behind the leading edge which sticks up more than the other ribs. It also has the appearance that the rib cap has been broken downward. Perhaps someone's elbow leaning on it? The trailing edge of the leading edge skin appears straight with no puckers or distortions.

    The second picture is more of a mystery. I have seen factory spars which were made of spliced sections without​ any external reinforcement looking like this. Did the builder splice sections to make the spars, it's possible?
    N1PA
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  22. #22

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    I don't think compression cracks cause varnish to bubble, but on the other hand I have only seen photos. If you can get in, the Citabria Decathlon type club has photos of such cracks.
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  23. #23
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    The line in that second picture with the varnish bubbles is too straight to be a fracture across the grain.
    N1PA
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  24. #24
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    I don't see a crack. I have seen compression cracks in Champs spars adjacent of the plywood plates at the strut attach fittings from ground contact. Have also seen longitudinal cracks that follow the grain and scratches from installing ribs that were mistaken as cracks. One owner told someone to straighten me out when I reported to the insurance adjuster that the 4 spars on his Great Lakes were not cracked but scratches. It helps to apply light at an angle and look at the shadow to help magnify the crack. In this case I would sand the bubbles varnish, clean the wood and look very closely.
    Steve Pierce

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  25. #25

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    Thanks to everyone for the comments! I'm now in a position to try to get airborne again.

    To that end, I sanded the varnish away from what I thought was the crack (see attached photo). To me, it just looks like an anomaly in the wood grain. My plan is to cut an X in the fabric above each nail that has backed out, re-secure the nails, then patch over the fabric. I have a local A&P who is not willing to do the work, but is willing to oversee me doing the work. It doesn't feel like there is a broken rib, but I'll try to look closer.

    Once I re-attach the wings, I'll flex them up and down while somebody looks through an inspection hole at the area in question.
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  26. #26
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Hambone, Does the irregularity appear on the other side of the spar? Is it smooth to your finger or can you feel a bump? It looks to me to be something that appeared during the original milling of the spar. Perhaps there was a knot in the wood which was cut off when the spar was milled and the grain had become distorted when it grew?
    N1PA
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  27. #27
    Gordon Misch's Avatar
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    How about the top and bottom surfaces of the spar? If they are flat, i.e. don't show that grain distortion, I'd think it's probably just the way the wood is? Just a non-expert opinion - - -
    Gordon

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  28. #28
    RVBottomly's Avatar
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    No expert here, either, but I'd look at AC 43.13-1B for more info.

    Table 1-1 and its notes discuss wavy grain.

    https://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/...-1B_w-chg1.pdf
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  29. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by skywagon8a View Post
    Hambone, Does the irregularity appear on the other side of the spar? Is it smooth to your finger or can you feel a bump? It looks to me to be something that appeared during the original milling of the spar. Perhaps there was a knot in the wood which was cut off when the spar was milled and the grain had become distorted when it grew?
    I can't see the other side of the spar without removing some of the covering. After sanding, it is completely smooth. Others have suggested that it still has the characteristic appearance of a compression fracture, and that I should inspect it with a magnifying glass.

  30. #30

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    Doesn’t look like a compression fracture. No evidence of the “chain link” failure, and the grain irregularity gets wider towards the bottom rather than being widest at the top. As others have suggested, it looks like a knot was adjacent and the irregularity is the result of that.


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  31. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by dgapilot View Post
    Doesn’t look like a compression fracture. No evidence of the “chain link” failure, and the grain irregularity gets wider towards the bottom rather than being widest at the top. As others have suggested, it looks like a knot was adjacent and the irregularity is the result of that.
    I like that answer!

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    Here's a photo showing the raised area above the spar, with a nail inside the red circle. You can see the gap between what I think is the spar cap and the spar. The plans call for a nail every 2" along the spar, but there appears to only be one above each rib.

    Looking closer, I'm hoping that the black area underneath the nail isn't damp or rot!

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  33. #33
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    The nails are only there to hold the parts until the glue drys.



    This is a mystery to me. Something has to have changed since the wing was covered, otherwise that pucker would not be there. The fabric would be tight without the ripple. Can you reach in and attempt to move that rib next to the spar?
    N1PA

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    Here's a video I made inside the wing. The potential crack is at 1:00, and I'm pushing the aluminum against the spar at 1:04. You can see the area I sanded, and the wavy grain pattern underneath. I'm hoping that's not a crack that is leading up to the jury strut attach bracket above it. (Note: the wing is upside down!)

    https://youtu.be/vKZAJNF-12I

  35. #35
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    0:55 To the left of your potential crack at the edge of the area which you sanded there is another section which has the same distortion in the grain. It looks to me that both were the way the grain grew in the tree. Not a crack. Nothing to be concerned with.

    1:39 Notice the same vertical ripples near the brace cross wire. Looks like it was caused during the milling of the spar stock. A big nothing burger.

    1:15 The second rib cap is separated from the fabric, as you can see light between it and the fabric. That rib cap also appears to be straight rather than curved, why? Was the rib stitching too tight pulling the cap? Did someone push against it at some point in time breaking it? Can you reach in there and wiggle it? Is it cracked or broken away at either joint on each end of that piece? I still do not see what has moved to have caused that ripple in the finished fabric. That would not occur during the installation process of the fabric as the fabric would have shrunk flat without the ripple.

    I see nothing in your video which would require a major opening up of the wing. Perhaps cutting some fabric near that second rib and possibly the third rib to check the condition of those rib caps?

    Where you are pushing the leading edge aluminum against the spar, I see nothing broken. Just poor workmanship in building it in the first place. Since the fabric is not cracked along the edge of that aluminum leading edge, that flexibility isn't creating an issue. Not the best, but not enough to ground the plane.
    N1PA
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  36. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by skywagon8a View Post
    0:55 To the left of your potential crack at the edge of the area which you sanded there is another section which has the same distortion in the grain. It looks to me that both were the way the grain grew in the tree. Not a crack. Nothing to be concerned with.

    1:39 Notice the same vertical ripples near the brace cross wire. Looks like it was caused during the milling of the spar stock. A big nothing burger.

    1:15 The second rib cap is separated from the fabric, as you can see light between it and the fabric. That rib cap also appears to be straight rather than curved, why? Was the rib stitching too tight pulling the cap? Did someone push against it at some point in time breaking it? Can you reach in there and wiggle it? Is it cracked or broken away at either joint on each end of that piece? I still do not see what has moved to have caused that ripple in the finished fabric. That would not occur during the installation process of the fabric as the fabric would have shrunk flat without the ripple.

    I see nothing in your video which would require a major opening up of the wing. Perhaps cutting some fabric near that second rib and possibly the third rib to check the condition of those rib caps?

    Where you are pushing the leading edge aluminum against the spar, I see nothing broken. Just poor workmanship in building it in the first place. Since the fabric is not cracked along the edge of that aluminum leading edge, that flexibility isn't creating an issue. Not the best, but not enough to ground the plane.

    Thanks so much for the info!

    Another issue is the loose drag/anti-drag wires I found when I was snooping around inside the wing. I think I have some more investigating to do!

    https://youtu.be/XjzAKCrPu9k
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  37. #37

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    The continuing saga of the Baby Ace wing...

    I wiggled, poked, and prodded all ribs in the wing. Every rib except one was tight, no lateral or up/down movement. One rib, however, I can push up and down a little, and left/right a little. I can't feel or see any apparent rib damage, so tomorrow I'm taking the camera and borescope out to have a look. This is the area of the wing where the fabric is slightly rippled, and where the drag/anti-drag rods are loose. So I'm thinking there may be a damaged rib there.

    I'm really trying to not uncover the entire wing. Can I just remove a panel of fabric around the rib in question if the rib is indeed damaged, repair the rib, and patch the fabric? I really wish there was someone in Tucson who could do this type of work, as I have the practical handyman skills of a toddler!

  38. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by bob turner View Post
    Looks more like a broken rib from here. I assume it is not flying? If not, cut the fabric around that area and have a look. A compression crack in the spar is hard to see, deadly, and in this case requires a complete wing rebuild unless it is where you can splice. Take a photo after removing a 1'x1' piece of fabric, and look at that spar with a lot of light.

    If it is just the rib, we can tell you how to fix it right on this thread.
    Just re-read the thread, and found this!
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  39. #39
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hambone View Post
    I'm really trying to not uncover the entire wing. Can I just remove a panel of fabric around the rib in question if the rib is indeed damaged, repair the rib, and patch the fabric?
    Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hambone View Post
    I really wish there was someone in Tucson who could do this type of work, as I have the practical handyman skills of a toddler!
    Since this is an amateur built airplane and you are not the original builder you will need an A&P mechanic to do your annual condition inspections. You should get together with this person for some hands on advice on how to do this and where to find reference materials. That person should be able to give some advice even if not proficient in doing this type of work. If this person isn't convenient, just keep asking questions and posting pictures here. One or more of us will be able to help.

    That loose brace wire needs an explanation. Did it just loosen over time or has there been a failure of some sort? I've never seen one that loose, that is unless it was never tightened in the first place.

    Look here at AC-43.13-1B https://www.faa.gov/regulations_poli...cumentID/99861 This is the mechanic's how to bible. It will help you in understanding the approved methods of making repairs.
    N1PA
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  40. #40
    algonquin's Avatar
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    I hope not to sound super negative or nasty, so this is only my opinion nothing more and could be way off. I started flying in 1966 and flew for a living for many years, the one danger I’ve seen resurface is trying to cut corners/ shortcuts. It seems to me you don’t want to open up the wing because it’s new ground for you and looks like a lot of work. I would recommend open it up or find a fabric guy and have him do the job. There is way to many issues to be half-assed. this is the point where you learn about building airplanes and wings to be exact, the right way or get out of the work all together. Google airplane wing failures if you need to be convinced. We will help you thru this the right way but don’t look for short cuts from us here , I don’t think anybody wants to see you hurt and leave aviation in frustration. Good luck, it’s doable
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