Damon Brantley's Blog (47)

Leading Edge Skin for Left Wing Drilled

I finally managed to get the leadig edge skin drilled for my Zenith 650. I would say this is the most difficult challenge I have faced in this project so far.

I think the biggest feature of what was done was to figure out a way to hold the ribs steady so I can take measurements to transfer from the ribs to skin and also make sure the ribs do not move when trying to fit the skin and for drilling as well.  Some of this can be seen in the thumbnail for the video below.  The jig will…


Added by Damon Brantley on May 25, 2022 at 11:20pm — No Comments

Setup and Drilling of Bottom Wing Skin to Wing Ribs

I finished drilling the pilot holes to attach the bottom wingskin to the the left wing.

The video documents the setup that I used so when I am ready to do the right wing, I can

duplicate the same setup.

Added by Damon Brantley on June 1, 2021 at 7:30pm — No Comments

Tool for checking rib flange straightness

While preparing to drill the bottom wing skin to the ribs, I wanted to be sure that the center line of the ribs were straight.

When doing top wing skin I had used a metal strip with holes drilled in a straightline to be able to verify straightness.

The improved version uses a 1/8" acrylic strip about 2 inches wide with a line drawn to verify the center line of the rib flange  is straight.

In addtion, two red lines were added that would give me a warning if a drilled hole…


Added by Damon Brantley on May 30, 2021 at 11:49am — No Comments

Folding nose skin for 650B

Video documenting my process for folding the nose skin for my Zenith 650.

Added by Damon Brantley on January 26, 2021 at 9:56pm — No Comments

Flipping Over Wing Solo

After a lot of prep work on my lifting sling, I finally was able to flip my wing upside down.

Overall I am happy with the results. I had complete control of the wing at all times.

After I get a chance to use it few times and fine tune my process, I plan to make video showing it in action.…


Added by Damon Brantley on January 18, 2020 at 5:43pm — 2 Comments

Part 4 Flap Bending

In part 4 of making the flaps and ailerons, I finally bend the flap skins.

Also an additional video doing a detailed measurement and plot in CAD of

a bend radius

Added by Damon Brantley on November 25, 2019 at 11:30am — 2 Comments

Flap/Aileron Construction- Parts 2 and 3

Parts 2 and 3 of making flap construction.

Part 2 is devoted to figuring out some problems with the test sections.

Part 3 covers making the rib forms.

Coming soon will be part 4 which will be bending the full size flaps.…


Added by Damon Brantley on November 9, 2019 at 2:00pm — No Comments

Demonstration of Bosch GSC 12V-13 Cordless Sheet Metal Shear

I recently purchased a Bosch GSC 12V-13 Cordless Sheet Metal Shear. After having a chance to use it a little bit, I decided to post a demonstration of its use online.

My short assessment is that the shear will have its uses, but because of the stretching caused by the shearing action it would not be suitable for cutting parts that need to remain as flat as possible.…


Added by Damon Brantley on September 22, 2019 at 11:46am — No Comments

Flap/Aileron Construction- Part 1 Test Sections

Scratch construction of the ailerons and flaps has been started. I decided to try to document as much of the construction of these as possible as this should be my last major set of parts to bend. There will be two or three parts to this. In the first part, I document the construction of test sections to verify my CAD drawings are correct.…


Added by Damon Brantley on September 9, 2019 at 7:18am — No Comments

Complete Left Wing Skin Drilling

Drilling of the left wing skin is completed. Video shows final holes being drilled and description of jig to secure the ribs to improve alignment and prevent shifting.

Added by Damon Brantley on August 11, 2019 at 7:47pm — No Comments

Start Drilling Left Wing Skin to Ribs / IV Video Camera Stand

After two or three months of weekends of checking and adjusting, I am finally ready to start drilling the top wingskin to the ribs.

A couple of concerns I have is holes not appearing where I expect to them and also the ribs shifting while drilling. To help catch any problems early, I have setup a video camera that I can place under the skin to watch the rib and hole.

A short video below demontrates the video setup and the drilling of my first hole into the left wing…


Added by Damon Brantley on July 28, 2019 at 12:00am — No Comments

Keeping Parts Organized

One thing that has often been a problem is trying to keep parts from getting lost as they wait to be added to larger assemblies. While I am scatchbuilding, the problem is no doubt worse for someone building from a kit because they get all their parts at once.

Something that has recently been quite useful for me is to use mini-stretch wrap.…


Added by Damon Brantley on May 11, 2019 at 9:00pm — No Comments

Panel Hacksaw

A panel hacksaw is a special type of saw for making long cuts in pieces of sheet metal. By using a piece of spring steel sheet to support the blade allows the saw to make unrestricted cuts.

A demonstration is made of trimming down a wing skin.

Added by Damon Brantley on May 6, 2019 at 5:21pm — 2 Comments

Vacuum Lifting Frame for Wing Skin

From what I have seen, moving a wing skin tends to be a two person operation. The video

below is a demonstration of a vacuum lifting frame I constructed to allow one person to

easily moving a wing skin between a worktable and the wing skeleton.

Added by Damon Brantley on February 24, 2019 at 9:05am — 2 Comments

Using Jira to help manage my aircraft build

Several months back I had posted that I was experimenting with using a project management software package called Jira to help manage tasks in my scratch build. After about 6 months of use I think I can say it has been very helpful for tracking what I have done, what I am currently doing and what still remains.

While I am building my aircraft from plans, I think Jira would also be helpful for kit builders as well.

The video below is a demonstration of how Jira…


Added by Damon Brantley on February 13, 2019 at 10:01pm — No Comments

Flexible Friction Arm Workholding

A few weeks ago in a prior blog post I had posted a picture of using a modified camera friction arm as a flexible workholder. I have added a youtube video showing some examples of its use.


Added by Damon Brantley on January 23, 2019 at 10:43am — No Comments

Starting wing skins and a few tips

It was back in June that I finally finished the wing spar. However there were numerous little details I found myself having to work through before I was able to finally start laying out the wing skins. While I wanted to  have both wings setup together, even with the size of shop I have there just was not quite enough space to have both wings plus an additional table to work on the skins. The first wing I will work on is the left side.

One issue I had to figure out was how was I going…


Added by Damon Brantley on December 21, 2018 at 2:32pm — No Comments

Using Jira for Managing My Aircraft Build

One of the problems I have run into in the course of this project is being able get an idea of how much

is left for me to do on my plane and what needs to be done next.I have various notes and spreadsheets scattered around, but nothing has ever seemed to really pull everything together for me into a coherent whole.

In my day job as a programmer I use a project management software package called Jira. I have found Jira to be a pretty flexible software package, so I…


Added by Damon Brantley on August 23, 2018 at 1:00pm — No Comments

Main and Center Spar Layout, Alignment and Drilling

I finally drill out the holes to final size for attaching the main and center spars together.

The video below describes the process I went through. Hopefully other scratch builders

will find a few useful tidbits of information when they get to a similar point.


On to assembling some airplane sized parts!

Added by Damon Brantley on June 25, 2018 at 6:17am — No Comments

Compact Drill Guide

Below is a link to a video of a small drill guide I constructed to help ensure I drill the wing bolt holes perpendicular.


Added by Damon Brantley on May 28, 2018 at 11:25pm — 4 Comments

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