Learning to Weld

Welding ProjectsWith the fuselage securely attached to the rotisserie it was time to learn to weld the 4130 steel tubing.  Using a oxygen/acetylene gas rig and jewelers torch I test welded several scrap pieces together but it was’nt until I got expert instruction from Chuck & Craig Garret from my local EAA Chapter 145 that I finally gained some confidence.

I started welding on the fuselage lift handles and then the wing spar brackets, elevator bell crank assembly, floorboard mounts, rudder pedal mounts, engine mounts and landing gear and wing strut brackets.  They say the best way to test a weld is to try to tear or break it apart.  Unfortunately that destroys your weld.  Sadly, a few years later I put some of my welding to a real world test during a bad landing/ground loop event.  The good news is, the welds survived – the bad news is, the landing gear did not.

I will post more about that event in a future post including photos of the damage and the repairs made to the aircraft.

The Starting Point

Trip To Orillia, OntarioEvery Project has a starting point and N728DC started with a trip to  Orillia, Ontario to inspect a Sportsman 2+2 fuselage that was for sale.  In November of 1995 we packed up the family, rented a trailer and headed to Canada to inspect and possibly buy a former builders uncompleted project.  A set of color coded plans were used to inspect tube diameters and a thorough set of measurements were also taken to confirm if the fuselage fabrication was done correctly.

It turned out that everything was spot on.  The frame was square and true, the welds looked good, and there was no corrosion.  In fact it also turned out that the fuselage was actually fabricated by Wag-Aero and sold as a kit in their catalog for a much higher price.

There was still a lot of welding to complete but this fuselage would provide a huge head start to a long and complicated project.