Mounting the Wings

My son and I mounted the wings on Saturday. It took us about an hour to get the left wing mounted because I wasn’t aware of how much dihedral there is on this plane, but as soon as we figured out that we had to lift the wing tip UP, they slid in reasonably easily and I was able to get the 7/16″ bolts mounted without trouble. The right wing mounted in about 10 minutes. My recommendation to anyone beginning this process (aside from following Van’s instructions carefully) is to use some sort of lubricant on the main spar bars to ease the insertion. I had some Boelube, so that’s what I used and it made the process easier.

Before we mounted the wings, however, it turns out that Vans left out some holes on the bottom inboard wing skins. My kit is a vintage 1999 kit and these holes were not pre-punched. This led to much scratching of the head, a query to my buds on VAF, and then a call to Ken Scott at Vans. Basically, all I needed to do is drill some pilot holes between the rivets on that inboard rib. I used my handy-dandy rivet fan to lay out the holes and drilled them onto both wings.

After mounting the wings, I took the obligatory photo. Looks more and more like an airplane! Too bad they have to come off before they are mounted for good.

After mounting the wings, it’s time to drill the rear spars. Vans is extremely explicit in the instructions that you get one chance and one chance only to drill the rear spars. If you screw this up, you’re screwed! First thing to do is make sure that you level the fuselage front to back.

And side to side

You then make sure that there’s no wing sweep, fore or aft, at all. I hung plumb bobs from the wing tips and used a chalk line to draw a straight line on the floor of my garage. I then relocated the plumb bobs to the wing roots and verified that they were on the line. I was lucky because the wings needed very little adjustment to fall in line. After that, you adjust the wing incidence by using a block that is 2-51/64″ high mounted on the rear spar. You take your carpenter’s level and place the front end on the main spar web and lay the back end on the wood block on the rear spar. It should show level, and wonder of wonders, it did!  I took measurements at the wing tip as well. All were good!

After double checking all measurements, I then moved on to drilling the rear spar and this turned out to be a trivial process. Basically, you have to make SURE that you have at least 5/8″ of edge distance from the center of the 5/16″ hole you drill to pin the rear spars together. Ken Scott told me that this was THE most important part of this process. I marked these distances with my Sharpie, double checked everything again, and drilled progressively larger holes until I finished with the 5/16″ bit. Really, not a big deal. I’ve seen builder pages where it takes hours to get this done. It took me about 45 minutes. I wonder what I did wrong…it was too easy.

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