Wing Leading Edge Skins

Here's how John Devoe skinned his wing.

John used the straps for the second skin.

From "Construction Notes" Falco Builders Letter, September 1988

John Devoe says he used a method of bending the plywood for the leading edge that worked beautifully. He got the technique from Tim Baker. You soak the forward 12" of the skin in water for 3 to 5 days, then staple it to the wing spars and ribs, right up to the leading edge strip. At each station, you make a clamping block, cut to fit against the leading edge radius. This block clamps the skin to the leading edge strip. Tim pulled the skin over, put the blocks in place, put a two-by-four over them and then clamped all this with bar clamps to the main wing spar.

John said he heated the skin with a high-powered heat gun and then let it sit for a couple of days. He was worried that the skin might pucker and buckle between the blocks at each rib, but it did not. Instead, when he removed the clamps and blocks, the skin showed no springback. John can just barely get his fingernail between the leading edge strip and the skin. And because the skin is stapled to the rib, there is no buckling or pulling up. The only problem is that you have to pull all those staples out for the final gluing of the skin, but he says the method is very easy and works beautifully.