VT-16 Orlik: wings ready for the paint shop!

The Orlik wings now perfectly fit the fuselage and are ready for the paintshop.

Fitting the wings to the fuselage is alway a bit of a torturous process, with lots of trying and correcting. Andi and I spent a whole afternoon for each of our planes, before glueing in the 6mm aluminium pins and letting the epoxy cure overnight – and hoping that the wings release again (we liberally applied wax to the fuselage to avoid this) and the fit is correct. Fortunately all went well.

Next step was to make the perfect fit between the wings and the fuselage. I used epoxy thickened with microballoons in a syringe, pressed in the space between the wings and the fuselage (after waxing the fuselage to avoid the epoxy sticking to the fuselage rather than to the wings). Then I spent hours sanding down the abachi on the wings, to get a nice and even surface, leading edge and trailing edge.

After making some corrections to the leading edge (there were some minor holes that needed filling with epoxy and micro balloons) the wings were covered in 49gr. glass, one side at a time. The glass was applied diagonally (for extra torsional stiffness of the wings). It was fixed with whitened epoxy, thinned down significantly with alcohol to allow the epoxy to be applied with a foam paint roller. The wings were left to cure hanging with the trailing edge down to avoid deformations.

Once cured, the wings were lightly sanded (220 grain). We then applied two coats of primer. The first coat with a spatula, pushing it into the glass structure (to avoid visible pinholes after spray painting), the second coat using a foam roller. Once the primer hardened out we spent some awful hours sanding it down again, almost onto the glass. For sanding we first used a machine with 220 grain paper, then finished the sanding by hand, using wet 400 grain paper.

A few minor flaws were corrected with spray primer, the wings are now ready to go off to the paintshop.