Making Aluminum Ribs

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FlyGood

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Hello,

I'm a new member, in the thinking and planning stages of designing and building a new wing out of aluminum. I'm a little familiar with Van's wings and would mimic their basic structural layout. My questions: Are there vendors out there that can stamp out (hyfroform?) ribs, forming the flange along top, bottom, front and rear, to which the skins and spars would be rivited? Is there a way for the homebuilder to manually build ribs like this? Finally, does the stamping, or other fabrication method require that the material be non heat-treated, with the heat treatment coming after the ribs are formed?

Thanks for your comments.
 

jhausch

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If you are a member of EAA I would recommend you take a look at their hints for homebuilders videos. There is an excellent series in the "Working with Metal" area that deals with this very subject.

If I recall correctly, to summarize: the ribs are rough cut with snips, put between plywood templates, routed to size, put between plywood forms, the flange is hammered into place, then single flute pliers are used to flatten the rib.
 

needswings

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Actually you don't need to be a member to view the videos.

Go EAA - Video and click on the Hints for homebuilders link on the right hand side.

You'll find a whole series of 6 videos under the sheet metal section on building a rib from scratch. I think its actually a sonex rib thats being built, but the process is pretty much the same.
 

FlyGood

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Thanks for both replies. I am an EAA member and will head over to Oshkosh365 and find the videos. I still have the question about heat treating - whether it is okay to hammer out the ribs from 2024 - T3, for example, or if the raw material needs to be softer, like 2024 - 0. Maybe that will be mentioned in the video.

Thanks again,
Ken
 

vortilon

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Hello
May I recommend metex (MDF) for your form blocks. It cuts and sands like a dream and will withstand enough hammering to build an airplanes worth of ribs. I spent the day making six ribs for a Cessna 120 wing and I made them from .020 2024-T3 alclad just as the factory did. They did not heat treat but rather formed from T-3. The ribs still have the 24ST stamp on them. That was the equivalent of T-3 in the forties. I run the flanges on my shrinker to bring them straight after they come out of the form block. The metex (MDF) (probably spelled wrong) can be bought at Home Depot or Lowes it is a medium dense particle board and I use the one inch stuff. Plywood is a pain to work with compared to this stuff.
 

FlyGood

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Thanks, everyone for all the suggestions. I watched the videos and learned a lot. One last question; anyone know if there is a technique for the homebuilder to incorporate the "flange" around the lightening holes and the "vertical indented channels" that hyfroformed ribs often have to provide improved rib stiffness?

Thanks,
Ken
 

vortilon

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Thanks, everyone for all the suggestions. I watched the videos and learned a lot. One last question; anyone know if there is a technique for the homebuilder to incorporate the "flange" around the lightening holes and the "vertical indented channels" that hyfroformed ribs often have to provide improved rib stiffness?

Thanks,
Ken
This looks cool and better than the hand roller types I have been using. Get yourself a pair of rivet shank removal pliers while your there :nervous:

FLANGING-360 TOOL from Aircraft Spruce

RIVET SHANK REMOVAL PLIERS from Aircraft Spruce

The hydroformed stiffeners will take a hefty press and some thick sheet rubber. Also you will need some thick steel plates to use to sandwich the part, form and rubber. It takes some experimenting and is pretty cool when you get it under control.

There are some old books on the subject I will try to find my copies and scan some info. They were written for the laymen not the engineer and illustrate how to fab some amazing parts. Your limiting factor will be your press but some simple stiffening bulbs are possible with the average garage press.
 
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needswings

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Some of the other videos on the eaa site show making the flanges using dies (is that the right term) as well. Have a hunt around, there is some very useful information in there.
 

BobbyZ

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there is a good write up on flanging with a die made from mdf and using a basic home style press on a bearhawk site too.I dont have the link handy here but a quick search and it should pop up.I know it answered a few questions I had
 

vortilon

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there is a good write up on flanging with a die made from mdf and using a basic home style press on a bearhawk site too.I dont have the link handy here but a quick search and it should pop up.I know it answered a few questions I had
I have been doing just that. I needed a four inch hole so I used a four inch hole saw in the rib and my form block I cut with a fly cutter a 4.600" hole and used the plug that came out of it to form the flange in the press. Really slick and does a nice job.
 

kent Ashton

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I still have the question about heat treating - whether it is okay to hammer out the ribs from 2024 - T3, for example, or if the raw material needs to be softer, like 2024 - 0.
It takes more work to make them out of 2024-T3; they don't need heat-treating when you're done but close tolerances are harder to hit and the flutes make skinning the wing a little tricker. It's less work to make ribs out of softer -T0 but you'll have to have them professionally heat-treated (not too expensive). With -T0 you get a smooth rib with no flutes and tighter tolerances. The form-blocks are easier for -T0, too.

Google "bearhawk bobstick" for another idea on how to flare lightening holes.
 

vortilon

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It takes more work to make them out of 2024-T3; they don't need heat-treating when you're done but close tolerances are harder to hit and the flutes make skinning the wing a little tricker. It's less work to make ribs out of softer -T0 but you'll have to have them professionally heat-treated (not too expensive). With -T0 you get a smooth rib with no flutes and tighter tolerances. The form-blocks are easier for -T0, too.

Google "bearhawk bobstick" for another idea on how to flare lightening holes.
I have been forming from T3 and running the flanges thru my kick shrinker and they come out beautiful. They are easier to form from O but you risk having warpage unless you have them sent back to you on dry ice so you can restrike them. It all in the quench some shops will do it without any warpage some don't.
 

N2T18S

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Evansville,IN
Here's a tool you can make out of a 1/4" bolt for your flycutter. Add a little soap or oil and spin your flange. I always thought you could use a double cutter to cut the hole and then spin the flange, but I haven't tried it. You need to sand the hole to prevent cracks.

Also, be sure to sand a radius on your form block so the rib won't crack. 2024 is harder and prone to crack. 6061 is used on the T18.

Bob

tools
 

Kmccune

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Aug 5, 2007
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The flanging tool shown works well, just be careful to adjust it a little at a time and turn a couple of revolutions before you adjust it again. It will warp the crap out of the part if you don't. But it does work, it took me 3 ruined nose ribs to come to terms with it. It is cool that the one tool works for all the sizes. Take about 5 min per hole.

Kevin


This looks cool and better than the hand roller types I have been using. Get yourself a pair of rivet shank removal pliers while your there :nervous:

FLANGING-360 TOOL from Aircraft Spruce

RIVET SHANK REMOVAL PLIERS from Aircraft Spruce

The hydroformed stiffeners will take a hefty press and some thick sheet rubber. Also you will need some thick steel plates to use to sandwich the part, form and rubber. It takes some experimenting and is pretty cool when you get it under control.

There are some old books on the subject I will try to find my copies and scan some info. They were written for the laymen not the engineer and illustrate how to fab some amazing parts. Your limiting factor will be your press but some simple stiffening bulbs are possible with the average garage press.
 

Tom Kay

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Aug 10, 2007
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398
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Ottawa Canada
Vortilon;

When you use the kick shrinker, do you get any scratch marks on the flanges, and is this a concern? If you avoid scratches, how do you do it?

I assume when you use the shrinker, you don't need any flutes pressed into the flanges?

Thanks, Tom.
 

Nickathome

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There is a time lapse video on youtube showing a man making a wing rib for a hummelbird. Simple form blocks, then he hammers the edges to make flat areas for the rivets to attach the rib to the spar, and skins to the rib, etc. He uses a screwdriver shank and a mallet to hammer the flutes into the flanges. Can't get any simpler than that.
 

Ace_Plumber

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Ukiah, California
The ribs for my project were made from 2024-T3 The blanks were cut and clbolted between plywood form blocks useing the 1/4"pilot hole for the lightening hole. Then flanges were hammered over. Flutes are hammered into the upper flange (curved)useing a 3/8 rod over the notch in the form block. Once the flanges were bent the blanks were removed from the form blocks and the lightening holes were cut useing a hole saw. After the holes were smooth and burr free i used a simple home made die to make the flange around the holes. Simply put the rib over the male die place the female die on top and whack it with a rubber mallet. The same M/F die method was used to form the stiffening beads on ribs
 

Mad MAC

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Hamilton New Zealand
Can you get away with using a drop hammer instead of a press to form ribs. Or more importantly how hard is it to get it right.


You can use 6013-T4 in place of 2024-O, with a bake to -T6 after forming it comes to within 20% of 2024-T6, not sure what the difference is in the working properties.
 
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