The wings are as good a place as any to start with. Actually,
better, since I first started this project while owning a
small home without a basement and only a small one-car garage.
I also have quite a bit of working knowledge with wood. No
craftsman, mind you, but I've built quite a few things using
the project back in 1993 I began building the ribs up for
the bottom wing since it was a two-piece affair. The upper
wing, at that time, was one LARGE piece, 24 feet to be exact.
Since that time, and due to the fact that I'm taking forever
to just complete the wings, the upper wing now is a three
piece structure. As of today, Oct. 16, 2006, there are still
some bugs to work through on the blueprints, but that's why
I'm a member of EAA. LOTS of knowledge to be had there.
I've been a member of EAA since 1988. Many of the club members
have built 2 or 3 planes.
of today, I only have the rib information listed below. As
soon as I move on to the entire wing I'll get that posted.
No sense in getting ahead of myself on the site before I
am at that stage in the actual building process.
Order of build for the wings (Wing ribs are just about finished. I have begun fabricating aileron ribs and the center section for 3-pc Upper Wing.)
1. Jigs for upper and lower wings, and ailerons.
2. Nose rib templates for upper and lower nose
3. Cut all capstrips and gussets before building.
4. I'll be purchasing most of the metal fittings so I'll need to purchase these over
a period of time instead of being hit with the cost all at once. Change on this. See Mar 13 comment below.
5. Fabricate center section for 3-pc Upper Wing.
6. Cut spars for both Upper and Lower Wings.
7. Fabricate Bows
March 13, 2007: Since I'm building the new 3-pc Upper Wing.
I'll need to become pretty handy at cutting fittings. As of right today, Steen Aero doesn't make/sell the fittings for this new 3-pc center section.
1. 1/4" x 24" x 48" Birch Plywood
2. 1/4" x 1/4" x 48" Spruce capstrips
3. System Three T-88 glue (gap-filling glue)
4. System Three Clear Coat for sealing in all wood
5. Gorilla glue (for bows)
6. 3/4" Plywood for building jigs
7. Material for Upper Wing center section
7. Material for Bows, spars and blocks
1. Jigsaw to cutout ALL those capstrips and gussets.
2. Measuring cups for mixing T-88
3. Plenty of sticks for mixing glue.
4. Large level table for building ribs.
5. Dremel tool for cleaning up edges of the capstrip where
either excess glue or gussets overhang.
6. Weights for pressure on top of each of the gussets.
7. File/Rasp for cleaning up top and bottom gussets on ribs.
1. Buy a scroll saw or band saw for cutting all
those little pieces.
2. Measure 3 or 4 times and cut once.
3. Measure the blueprints to make sure that they
are the right size. Due to the weather,
etc, they may have shrunk.
4. Make sure that your table is dead on level.
You'll be making extra work for yourself
5. Make both jigs for the upper and lower wings.
You'll be able to complete both an
upper and lower wing rib each day you work on
6. On each joint that you glue, make sure that
you have squeeze out. Otherwise it
may be a glue starved joint; aka weak joint.
7. For each batch of glue you make... make sample
glue joints marking date and what
piece(s) you used the glue on. The inspector
will probably want to see them when doing the final inspection
on your Skybolt.
8. Look ahead on the plans. What will you need next ? Get started on that too.
9. Start fabricating your fittings when working with the wood parts.
10. Are you going to weld up your fuselage ? If you don't know how... start learning now. Click here to read
about how I got started. If I can do it... just about anyone can.
1 - Bending Strength: Fir is 23% stronger than
2 - Elasticity: Fir is stiffer than Spruce (no
3 - Compression Strength:
a. Parallel to grain Fir is 39% stronger
b. Perpendicular to grain Fir is 55%
c. Not only is a Fir spar stronger,
but the bearing strengths of bolts
in Fir are higher by the same percentage
4 - Fir is 23% stronger than Spruce but weighs
about 26% more
5. When Choosing Fir look for VERTICAL grain that
is from 8 to 14 grains/inch
This article had a lot of interest to me because the 3-piece
wing spars called out by Steen Aero for the Radial-engined
version of the Skybolt are to be fashioned out of Douglas
Fir. Now try and find a piece of Douglas Fir from Aircraft
Spruce or one of the other suppliers to the scratch-built
biplane builder and you'll be hard pressed to find one. Or,
at least I am.
Awhile ago I asked Gus if he knew of a place that sold Douglas
Fir spars. He told me of a company up in New York State by
the name of Maurice Condon Co, Inc, out of White Plains. I
remembered, from my "boat building" days that they supplied
the boat industry with quality wood. I sent for information
and received a pamphlet without any pricing and just general
My next step is to call for a quote. If it sounds good I'll
take a drive up there to look at the wood and choose the four
spars myself. If I can, I'll find someone who is good a picking
"aircraft quality" wood and have them take a ride up there
If interested, here is their information:
Maurice L Condon Co
250 Ferris Ave
White Plains, NY 10603
A Source for Douglas Fir Spar Material
I never ended up going to Maurice L Condon. I found another supplier, up in BC Canada that's been finding aircraft quality wood for airplane builders for years.... I have added another page
to the wings section. Click here to read more.