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Thread: Cracked fuselage

  1. #1

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    Cracked fuselage

    We walked into the hangar this morning with the intention of doing a 100-hour on the PA-12 on EDO-2000 (has increased GW STC, PA-18 gear STC). It's been performing remarkably well for the two years I have owned it. Walking up, I noticed a wrinkle in the fabric just forward of the lower door. Pushing on the tube forward of the wing strut attach fitting, I discovered that it moved... a lot! Walked to the other side and pushed that tube. Same thing. Razor blade came out and we found two cracks all the way through the tube on the right side, and one on the left. This has been an area that we have looked at during preflight and postflight and it seems that the airplane just "had enough" sitting in the hangar for the week. There is evidence (existing corrosion) that one of the right side cracks has been there a while. There is evidence of corrosion on other tubes, and I expect to find other issues as the fabric comes off.

    I suspect that a combination of things are at fault: 22 years since last covering, two-time flight school airplane, at least one wheel ground loop, and XXX landings). Is this a normal area for failure?

    Anyone have a fuselage for sale?

    Thanks,
    JeremyClick image for larger version. 

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    daedgerton's Avatar
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    Jeremy,
    Will be interested to hear what the experts say here... Being that I have a 12 that is torn down from a ground loop incident. Do you think this is from the floats beating on the attachments? Like I said in my email, you wings and my fuselage we could have a Franken-12!
    Andrew

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    cubdriver2's Avatar
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    Isn't there a section of tubing that needs to be added to that same fuse area to a 12 that is going on floats?

    Glenn
    "Optimism is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you!"
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    Grant's Avatar
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    i've seen more than one PA-18 break that tube when on floats.

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    www.SkupTech.com mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    Cracked fuselage

    Hmmm. Never seen that.... but Iím mostly around wheel planes...

    But that doesnít make sense on floats since that fitting is not even attached to the floats....

    Only thing I can think of is it was sunk and thatís where the water collected and did internal corrosion


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    algonquin's Avatar
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    Hey Glen , I just looked at my 12 frame and there isn’t and tube’s. Could you send a ruff drawing of where to add them. Glad I saw this before I Got any further.

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    www.SkupTech.com mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cubdriver2 View Post
    Isn't there a section of tubing that needs to be added to that same fuse area to a 12 that is going on floats?

    Glenn
    no...

    the added tube goes from the FRONT LEFT gear fitting up to the front left wing attach fitting... this shows REAR fitting by cracks

  8. #8
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    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	50846 I think this has the tube
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  9. #9

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    I would not be surprised to find a break most anywhere in a factory 12 fuselage. I have seen a hard working 18 with a break between the gear fittings. Also happen to have a ski at that side with a big hunk of plastic missing! The plane is talking to you, time to listen!!! Suck it up, go to bare frame and sandblast. Replace tubes or fuselage as needed. Budget 30 grand and take a lot of tylenol because MOREBETTERFEVER will hit. OH YA how old is that gear???
    DENNY
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    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    My -12 would like to collect water when tailed up on the shore. I forget if it had seaplane drain holes near the gear and struts or fuselage stringers. Even so they tend to plug up with gunk from boots and dogs. Sometimes when turned around and pulled up nose in to fuel water would run out the open area near the spring mounts. Zinc chromate primer over steel as I recall.

    Gary
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    supercrow's Avatar
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    Bet it's time for at least lower longerons on that old girl. And maybe a fuselage according to what the rest of it looks like.
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    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by algonquin View Post
    Hey Glen , I just looked at my 12 frame and there isnít and tubeís. Could you send a ruff drawing of where to add them. Glad I saw this before I Got any further.
    I'm not good at searching here. I seem to recall a discussion with drawings here a year or so ago. There were a couple of different versions of this extra tube installation.

    Is there much fresh water in Maryland for seaplanes or has this -12 been used in salt? Salt water and seaplanes is not a good combination.
    N1PA

  13. #13
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    I will have to look at the PA12 drawing but I know on the othe Cub fuselages there is a liner tube in the longeron right there. Could be corrosion, bad repair etc. Time to investigate and look the rest of it over real good. Fix what you got if economical or buy a new fuselage from Univair.
    Steve Pierce

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    cubdriver2's Avatar
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    "Optimism is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you!"

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    We were already planning a fuselage recover this winter. This just accelerated the timeline. The fuselage was modded in 1998 with PA18 gear, GW increase, Skylight X brace and for floats. It has had a hard life. Based on corrosion found at one of the cracks, it had been there a while. We will be adding more drains and access panels for cleaning and lubrication.

    I have operated on floats for 2 summers on brackish water. We rinse and salt-away after every flight. I know it will only slow the corrosion, but this is too much fun. If it means I recover the airplane more often, so be it. They were never meant to last this long.
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  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by DENNY View Post
    I would not be surprised to find a break most anywhere in a factory 12 fuselage. I have seen a hard working 18 with a break between the gear fittings. Also happen to have a ski at that side with a big hunk of plastic missing! The plane is talking to you, time to listen!!! Suck it up, go to bare frame and sandblast. Replace tubes or fuselage as needed. Budget 30 grand and take a lot of tylenol because MOREBETTERFEVER will hit. OH YA how old is that gear???
    DENNY
    30 grand? I assume that would be with a new fuselage and paying someone else to do the work. We took the wings and engine off yesterday and I'll have the fuselage apart in a few days.

    The PA-18 extended gear is probably 20 years old. The extended gear were added some time after the main restoration in 1998.
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  17. #17
    Cub junkie's Avatar
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    Hope your corrosion is isolated. Seems like when you cut out all the bad on a 70+ year old fuselage there is about 60% airplane left. The last PA 12 I repaired had all the floor X bracing and most of the wing strut carry through full of rust. It all amounts to time versus money. New fuselage 15K or so. Pile of 4130 tubing to fix it, two to three hundred bucks.

    Edit: I need to get out more. Sounds like I missed the cost of a replacement fuselage by about 10K by the time it gets to your door.
    Last edited by Cub junkie; 08-30-2020 at 05:35 PM.
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  18. #18
    Crash, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Two of the most precious resources: money and time. You can change one for the other depending on what you have more of.

    My dad spent 6 years rebuilding his PA-14, replacing every tube that had rust in it. He had about 20% of the original tubing left. By the time he finished that plane, the kids he planned to fill the two extra seats with were out of the house or busy with other things. I know he would have preferred to be flying it rather than welding on it.

    Univair makes a new fuselage for the PA-12. It's $20k but it'll also save you a lot of time. https://www.univair.com/piper/piper-...s-piper-pa-12/

  19. #19
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    I just looked at the PA12 fuselage drawing 24056 and the liner tube is in the longeron at the front gear fitting not the rear.
    Steve Pierce

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  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by jadebons View Post
    30 grand? I assume that would be with a new fuselage and paying someone else to do the work. We took the wings and engine off yesterday and I'll have the fuselage apart in a few days.

    The PA-18 extended gear is probably 20 years old. The extended gear were added some time after the main restoration in 1998.
    If you're hiring it out? I'd say you need to have at least $50K available. Seriously.
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  21. #21
    RaisedByWolves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crash, Jr. View Post
    Two of the most precious resources: money and time. You can change one for the other depending on what you have more of.

    My dad spent 6 years rebuilding his PA-14, replacing every tube that had rust in it. He had about 20% of the original tubing left. By the time he finished that plane, the kids he planned to fill the two extra seats with were out of the house or busy with other things. I know he would have preferred to be flying it rather than welding on it.

    Univair makes a new fuselage for the PA-12. It's $20k but it'll also save you a lot of time. https://www.univair.com/piper/piper-...s-piper-pa-12/
    FYI after the mods and shipping and crating youíll be in the 24-26k range. But you have a brand new 4130 fuselage. We went that route with the restoration Iím working on now. When your paying someone to replace tubes it adds up quick, plus sand blast and prime, and you still have a 70+ year old fuselage.


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    G44's Avatar
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    There is NO way I would repair that fuse. New is the only way to go in my opinion.
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    www.SkupTech.com mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    Cracked fuselage

    I gladly repair fuselages like that. I get paid by the hour. Some people are lazy and afraid to get their hands dirty.... itís just some tubes. New fuselages werenít an option for a long time. I have done some that at least half the tubes got replaced in front of the door and EVERYTHING behind the door.


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  24. #24

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    I trust in the predictability of what progressively happens with corrosion a lot more than I trust in the predictability of repair welds on a seriously corroded airframe. Just sayin'.

    You were flying this plane recently. Think about that last flight or two! Get a new airframe.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tennessee View Post
    I trust in the predictability of what progressively happens with corrosion a lot more than I trust in the predictability of repair welds on a seriously corroded airframe. Just sayin'.

    You were flying this plane recently. Think about that last flight or two! Get a new airframe.

    Half the fleet is flying with repair welds and replaced tubing of some sort or another. Proper welding and tube replacement and its good as new. If you don't trust repair welds you must be dealing with a seriously inept mechanic

  26. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by jadebons View Post
    30 grand? I assume that would be with a new fuselage and paying someone else to do the work. We took the wings and engine off yesterday and I'll have the fuselage apart in a few days.

    The PA-18 extended gear is probably 20 years old. The extended gear were added some time after the main restoration in 1998.

    Yup takes a day or two to take it apart that’s the easy part.
    I just went thru this, unless your a welder and have a lot of time, you’ll be ahead with a new fuselage. Mine was delivered a few weeks ago and I have no regrets. And the cost estimates of $30k for a cover job are accurate easily 300 hrs plus supplies. If you don't value your time at all, then it will be less....but that’s the starting point before you get to the might as well’s.... now I’ve got alum struts, pstol flaps, up gross, the list will go on. Ooh yah I’m an a&p, but one who knows his skill set. I chose to have one of the best Cub guys build mine. Good luck! It’s just money after all!
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    www.SkupTech.com mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    I'm still scratching my head at how/why those tubes broke in that area in front of strut (rear gear fittings) on floats....

  28. #28

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    Rough water ops loading the wing strut attach? Nothing is harder on an airframe than floats. No suspension.
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  29. #29
    Crash, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akavidflyer View Post
    Half the fleet is flying with repair welds and replaced tubing of some sort or another. Proper welding and tube replacement and its good as new. If you don't trust repair welds you must be dealing with a seriously inept mechanic
    Trusting repair welds is one thing but it'll never be "good as new" if you've got half a dozen liner tubes, clamshell splices, and gobs of weld all over. Also, and this may come as a shock, there are far more inept mechanics than good ones out there in my experience. It's a testament to the basic design that some of the planes repaired by certain licensed A&P/IA mechanics are still flying.

    It's a coin toss. With through and through cracks on the longerons like that, especially on a seaplane, there is a pretty solid chance of extensive corrosion. Your best bet is to strip the fuselage down, have it sand blasted, and look for pinholes. If it's going to be more than replacing a couple gear fittings and lower longerons then it's probably best to pull the trigger on a new fuselage to save yourself the headaches of doing repairs yourself or hiring someone and also to help with resale down the line.
    Last edited by Crash, Jr.; 08-30-2020 at 11:38 PM.
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  30. #30
    Rob's Avatar
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    Some of us remember when Crash sr. did his 12.... I do, and when I needed similar work, I had one of the best cub frame welders do the jig work and welding on my cub. Man, when he pinned it in the jig, he was putting tape dots on tubes he'd replace or repair, and it was conservatively half of the fuse.... It IS a decent flyer now (never was before that), thanks Wayne, and Dave!

    Fast forward 10 or so years, and a seriously wind damaged cub fell in my lap, and I remembered how Crash Sr.'s 12 went again.... I also remembered how his 18 - 180 went... (bought a new airframes fuse and sold the old junk....)

    Sooo...This one got a new AF inc. fuse with help from Crash Jr, and I never looked back, and have no regrets.... You can make the old junk fly like a new one, but as Crash Jr. said, it still won't be the equivalent of a new fuse...

    Some of us like tinkering.... some of us would rather be burning gas ... There's no right or wrong in either, I have some of the skills, and ability to tinker, and most of the equipment, but would much prefer to hit the switch and fly.

    YMMV...

    Take care, Rob
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  31. #31
    supercrow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike mcs repair View Post
    I'm still scratching my head at how/why those tubes broke in that area in front of strut (rear gear fittings) on floats....
    Good morning Mike. Can't answer your question directly, but for what it's worth. I have seen a couple float planes that landed hard on the water and was surprised at the results. I watched one at the Greenville fly-in 20 yrs. ago that stalled and dropped about 10 or 12 feet into smooth water. The lower longeron bowed up something over an inch between the main gear fittings. I don't know if it broke or not but it surprised me at the time that it bent at the location. It was a 180hp A model with no electrics. A great performer. I competed against it several times when Dan Dufault was flying it for the owner. Dan did not bend it, the owner did. Just found it interesting.
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  32. #32
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Everybody has an opinion. Some have experience and some just an opinion based on pocketbook. I have been involved in more fuselage repairs than I can count. I would inspect what you have. Someone could have drilled a hole close to that tube and let water in it. I have repaired plenty of tubes like that on a covered airplane. Look everything over and determine it is not the tip of the ice berg. If you feel there are other issues with the frame I would recommend stripping it down, inspecting and most likely sand blasting prior to making a decision. The other issue is do you have someone that can repair properly. Some do not and it makes their decision to buy new easier.
    Steve Pierce

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  33. #33
    Rob's Avatar
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    Virtually every tube on that airframe is replaceable. In fact several people on this site have built entire fuselages from a pile of tubes, so at face value it would seem as though there should be no difference in replacing vs. repairing. It also would appear, at face value that only a person who has repaired multiples would have the right answer, but at the end of the day the right answer is yours.

    Most repair vs replace choices are easy. One or even a few tubes, are far easier and far cheaper to replace that an entire fuselage. Sometimes it is indeed a money vs time balance. At some point the two meet, and a repair is going to cost you more in both money and time, but again, some people actually enjoy that.

    BTW, remember even if you elect to buy new, your old fuse will still have value to a builder somewhere and could possibly help offset a purchase.

    FWIW, the fuselage on the wind blown cub I spoke of now belongs to one of the guys that pinned my old cub in the jig. It needed everything from the door posts back reworked, and a new top deck. He enjoys doing that kind of thing, and in my mind will make it fly better than new, and it will likely fly sooner than most could build an entire cub from a pile of new parts. So our answers to the exact same situation were quite different. No right.... no wrong, and all the opinions in the world didn't really matter.

    Take care, Rob

  34. #34
    Cub junkie's Avatar
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    Having a new fuselage delivered sitting in the crate ready to use is the tip of the iceberg too. Once you go down that rabbit hole you have a lot of work to do. Even if the wings and tail group are in good shape and stored waiting to be mounted switching over all the controls, cables , wiring etc. will take time. Then cover and final finish. Then there will be that other snowball, the "as long as we're this deep into it we might as well do this too". As far as integrity of the original tubing, Piper used a lot of .028 wall in various places on that era fuselage. Having those beefy 5/8 barrel strut forks pulling on potential rust is not comforting. All opinion.
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  35. #35
    www.SkupTech.com mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Pierce View Post
    Everybody has an opinion. Some have experience and some just an opinion based on pocketbook.
    and some here are salesman for the new fuselage manufacture....

    Like I said, I get paid by the hour, so get paid to REPAIR a fuselage, I make no money if you just buy a new one.....

    generally I never spice tubes, I cut them completely out and replace whole tubes to the clusters...

    and by the time I put all my mods on, it IS BETTER than the original....

  36. #36

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    I view airplanes as assets. At the end of the rebuild which represents a better investment? There isn't one correct answer. Every owner should consider the question for themselves.

  37. #37

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    As far as how they broke, the geometry indicates that it failed under a longitudinal load. During landing, the CG is continuing forward while you keep the nose up. Combine with a hard landing, the pitch-down bending moment is quite strong. With the weight transferring between wing-borne and float-borne, there is a vertical component acting on the wing strut fitting, too. Most of that should be transferred across to the other strut fitting. I will find out if I have any damage to that tube later this week.

    Perhaps, with this cycle repeated over 22 years, with corrosion allowed to start, it was only a matter of time. I am curious about one of the two cracks on the right side. The forward one has been there a while, evident by the amount of corrosion inside. The aft one looks newer.

    Does anyone put inspection panels near these fittings to allow for cleaning, greasing or inspection? Seems like it wouldn't hurt.

    I got to learn how to do fabric after I pushed the wingtip into the hangar door and refined when we recovered the tail feathers last winter. The fuselage fabric will be easy. Aside from the welding, the rest is just nuts and bolts. And time. Lots of time! But winters here aren't much fun for float flying.
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  38. #38

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    An update for everyone: fuselage wasnt just cracked in one spot. We have now had several instances of "this is worse than we thought." First, all lower longerons are bad. Several compression members on the sides are bad. Lots of tubes with paper-thin walls.

    Now we are faced with the time-money problem of either repairing or replacing with new. Fun times!
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  39. #39

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    A local Taylorcraft had a hard landing - estimate by the welder $3500. A definite "go." Only tubes that were bent were replaced; job did not grow. Bill was $15,000. Owner talked welder down to $10,000.

    Wish we had trucked it to Mike or Steve. Makes the new fuselage option really attractive.
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  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadebons View Post
    An update for everyone: fuselage wasnt just cracked in one spot. We have now had several instances of "this is worse than we thought." First, all lower longerons are bad. Several compression members on the sides are bad. Lots of tubes with paper-thin walls.

    Now we are faced with the time-money problem of either repairing or replacing with new. Fun times!
    Seems like a no brainer to me. Go new.

    Kurt
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