Question on buying wood from Aircraft Spruce and Specialty....

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Jtrom

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In the catalog, I see there is a spar section and a "capstrip, longeron section" for spruce. Is the wood from the capstrip section aircraft grade? I see it's cheaper and the sizes are perfect for me for the "structure" (not spars) of my airplane.....
 

Lucrum

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According to their website, all their spruce is A/C grade.
I believe you're correct. Smaller pieces tend to be less expensive that larger pieces. Which seems to be what caused the OP's concern to start with.
 

TFF

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I think the grain cut is different. Spar is the best cut and straight. Cap strips, being bent, can make use of a different cut.
 

Jtrom

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I think the grain cut is different. Spar is the best cut and straight. Cap strips, being bent, can make use of a different cut.
It also says "longeron" stock along with capstrip, implying it can be used for the structure...maybe I need to call them :)
 

colinc

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Hi,

this is a subject close to my heart due to a current and ongoing issue I have with them!!

I am currently in discussion with Aircraft Spruce & Specialty about why I am not satisfied with wood I bought via their web site from the Capstrip page. I too saw that it mentioned longerons, capstrip and stringers which, as also Jtrom says, I believe are structural members - I wanted the timber for longerons and fuselage frames.

The web site offers either cap strip or spar stock and as far as my expections went, I expected spar stock to be rift sawn in plank form and the cap strip to satisfy the requirements for smaller square and rectangular sections.

What arrived was not of the quality I expected having numerous defects and so I complained to them. Their international sales manager Mike Norby replied and told me that the capstrip material was not regarded as structural and has refused to offer a replacement.

This is a direct copy from his email: "Capstrips are not a structural part. We do not even use grade "A" wood when making capstrips. All capstrips are going to have some imperfections"

If you look more closely at AS & S's cap strip web page you will see that they do say that it can be from grade C (whatever that is) and above. Unfortunately I read the bit about 'We only supply aircraft grade spruce' and 'Demand top quality' and really didn't take inthe crucial bit after that. I notice from his post that Rheuschele fell for that one too so I am perhaps not a complete idiot.

I have replied to them asking why the push these points and refer us to the Mil Spec (even providing a link to it on the very same page as a source for information), yet seem to disagree with what it says about such things as :
"The spruce covered by this specification is intended for fabrication of
aircraft structural parts which are highly stressed in bending
in compression parallel to the grain, or in tension parallel to the grain, such
as spars, spar-cap strips or flanges, cap strips and web members of
ribs, skin-stiffeners and longerons
which at the time of fabrication
will be subject to further selective inspection in accordance with ANC-19 or as
specified by the procuring agency
."

So, if Mike Norby is to be believed, it would not be advisable to expect expect aircraft grade wood to arrive if you order from the Capstrip page of Aircraft Spruce's web site. What I have at home is a large box full of wood, some of which may be aircraft grade, some not. Not being an expert, how am I to know what is any good? That makes the whole package suspect.

On reflection, I really found it hard to accept that the founders or owners of AS & S, a company who are supposed to be the experts in aircraft wood, would support the view that a lower grade of wood is acceptable in any part of an aircraft and I believe that it is their genuine intention (as defined by their mission statement Pilot Supplies, Avionics, and Homebuilt Aircraft Parts from Aircraft Spruce and Specialty Co.) to provide an excellent quality product and service. I have therefore contacted Jim Irwin the Company President and given him a detailed explanation of my complaint and why I feel that they need to look again at how we can reliably buy something of a quality that is predictable, reliable and airworthy. After all, we all benefit from a good seller/buyer relationship and their seems no need for anyone to have an experience like mine where they ship something all the way across the Atlantic Ocean that is not going to be 100% fit for purpose.

As I hoped and expected, Jim Irwin has been very quick to respond to my emails and seems genuinely interested in investigating my complaint. I am very much looking forward to getting his conclusions and will keep you informed.

For now though please do be very careful in explaining what you want in the clearest possible terms when you order material from them (or others) as at least they can then reject your order if they cannot meet the required standard. For that reason I would recommend not using the web page but instead provide a cutting list and if you need 12 foot long longerons that are defect free and comply with the requirements of the Mil Spec and ANC-19 then do specify that unambiguously when you order them. E

In closing, may I ask if people agree with the idea that capstrip should be of 'aircraft grade' or am I expecting too much?

I really do hope that we can resolve this as I am very keen to see more wooden aircraft built as it is a wonderful and rewarding material to work with.


regards,

Colin

ps. to explain why I want to get wood ordering right, here are my current projects:

the weekday evenings :a Chilton: Chilton Aircraft (I need the above wood for the fuselage)

and for the weekends: probably the biggest wooden aircraft project in Europe at the moment (I am just one of many volunteers working on it) www.cometracer.co.uk - we are starting to build new wings for it - 44ft span planked in multiple layers of spruce (aircraft quality definitely needed in large quantity).
 

Jtrom

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Mid- Michigan
Thanks for the detailed reply colinc. I did see that the "capstrip, longeron, and stringer" section has a disclaimer that says it can be cut from grade "C" spruce. I guess my question is should I be using grade "C" spruce for my longerons, cross members and uprights????Or do I need to order from the "spar" section and rip my own???? ( the reason I wanted to order from the "capstrip section, longeron, and stringer" section is that the wood is available in the exact sizes of my uprights and cross members so I would not have to rip it, only cross-cut to length............) Should grade "C" lumber be used for longerons, crossmembers, ect...???????
 

4trade

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Aircraft designers calculate all structural wood for aircraft quality wood. If you build some part of a plane less than A/C quality stuff, whole structure is as weak as that one part, when it need to carry high loads.

You know that expression: Chain is as strong as weakest link of a chain
 

colinc

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Thanks for the detailed reply colinc. I did see that the "capstrip, longeron, and stringer" section has a disclaimer that says it can be cut from grade "C" spruce. I guess my question is should I be using grade "C" spruce for my longerons, cross members and uprights????Or do I need to order from the "spar" section and rip my own???? ( the reason I wanted to order from the "capstrip section, longeron, and stringer" section is that the wood is available in the exact sizes of my uprights and cross members so I would not have to rip it, only cross-cut to length............) Should grade "C" lumber be used for longerons, crossmembers, ect...???????

Based on what I have been told by their Sales Manager, I don't see how anything ordered as cap strip with the qualification they have made can be assumed to be aircraft quality. If it's not aircraft quality then you cannot assume it will meet the aircraft designer's assumptions for strength.

I would suggest that you call them and ask the question to see what advise they give. I don't think that they in any way intend to mislead, it is simply that there is confusion between what we believe we need and what they think is adequate. I think that you might have to buy spar blanks and machine to size or perhaps AS & S will do that for you.


What you don't want to do is buy this 'non-structural' wood and then build it into a critical part of your airframe.

As I said - speak to a person there who knows what he is talking about, there will be someone I'm sure.

regards,

Colin
 
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Jtrom

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I guess I am confused .......why would they call it "longeron stock" and then say it's "not for structural use"....In my mind longerons are defintely structural.....
 

Natty Bumpo

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Colin;
I just wanted to recognize the pains you have taken to not smear your supplier. So often we see posters take advantage of the relative anonymity of the internet and get a little carried away in their annoyance.

In contrast you have fairly described an experience that I might have had to learn at my expense had you not posted.

Again, kudos on a notably well thought out post.


Nathan in Vt.
 
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colinc

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Colin;
I just wanted ti recognize the pains you have taken to not smear your supplier. So often we see posters take advantage of the relative anonymity of the internet and get a little carried away in their annoyance.

In contrast you have fairly described an experience that I might have had to learn at my expense had you not posted.

Again, kudos on a notably well thought out post.


Nathan in Vt.
Hi,

thank you, I gave the matter some considerable thought before replying because A S & S are without doubt a reputable supplier and I have no wish to start a smear campaign, in fact my aims are quite the opposite. I am not annoyed, simply disappointed. I am optomistic that by having an open discussion both the supplier and customers (current and future) will more clearly understand each other and that will benefit us all.

What we as builders want is to be able to use their excellent and convenient web site to order material of a reliable quality at a price that allows the supplier to make a fair profit in order that it is worth their time and trouble to do business with us. Our interests are not served by making their lives difficult or by expecting rock-bottom prices. As they say on the web site 'Demand top quality' but please don't then expect that to come cheap.

It would be my preference not to be writing here on this subject, but when I saw the original post I felt that I should relate my experiences. Already it seems that two people who could have made the same misunderstanding as myself can now avoid it. (Perhaps if I don't get satisfaction from AS & S you will offer to send a small check as a reward for saving your money - just joking!!)

I do worry that an unwary or inexperienced builder could fail to understand the implications of using an incorrect quality/strength material. You do not have to read many posts on this site to see that people are not fully understanding the implications of buying wood from just anyone. We need people like AS & S to help them get it right.

regards,

Colin
 

colinc

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Hi again,

I am pleased to report that Jim Irwin the President of AS & S was true to his word and has responded quickly and positively to my complaint. I don't think that Jim would object to me publishing an extract from his response here. It is often said that you should judge a company by the way it acts when things go wrong rather than when they go right, and I don't feel we could expect better than his response:

Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co. was founded in
1965 supplying only one product, aircraft grade spruce. Since then we have grown
to supply all products needed to construct and maintain light aircraft, but our
committment to furnish only top quality spruce has never changed. We have obtain
all of our spruce from the same mill for many years, and their Mil-S-6073 spruce
has always been excellent. We rarely have a complaint about the quality of our
spruce, but if a customer receives a piece that is substandard, we will always
replace it at no charge. Please let me know what pieces you feel need to be
replaced and we will ship them at no charge with an upcoming shipment to
Sandelving Aircraft, from whom you ordered the spruce.


I want to assure you and everyone in the sport
aviation community that we use the same mill to source our spruce, and the same
equipment and personnel to cut it that we have for many years. We have widened
our product base, but have no intention of providing any spruce that is less
than aircraft quality.

I have asked Jim to consider the wording on their web site where they say that cap strip is non-structural as I do feel, and the above posts from others confirm my view, that a purchaser could be confused about what grade is being offered.

I am pleased to know that my confidence in AS & S is shown to be justified and I am looking forward to doing business with them again. From this experience if I may offer just one piece of advice to prospective spruce purchasers, it would still be to be very clear about what you are specifying and the standards you expect in order to give AS & S the opportunity to make an appropriate selection from their stocks.

May I also pass on my thanks to the various people who have contacted me and supported my position on this subject which has clearly created a fair amount of interest.

As they say on AS & S's web site, do 'demand top quality' because it does seem that Jim Irwin clearly doesn't just print a mission statement and ignores it, he actually works to it. That's refreshingly good news in this age of falling standards.

regards,

Colin
 

colinc

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I expect I will get answers to the questions I have raised.

My understanding is that they are reviewing the descriptions so we will see what comes from that. Now we have a dialog going I expect it will result in some clarification.

Colin
 

skeeter_ca

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The capstrips i received from AS&S was top notch. I could not find any defects. The grain slope looked very good even though i did not count them. I'm using them for built up truss ribs.
 

colinc

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The capstrips i received from AS&S was top notch. I could not find any defects. The grain slope looked very good even though i did not count them. I'm using them for built up truss ribs.
Hi Darrell,

hopefully that's the norm and my experience was the unusual one. Jim Irwin has been in touch again and is obviously very keen to resolve my problem. My enthusiasm for my project is restored, I was getting a bit cheesed-off with the problems of buying wood but I have much more confidence now despite the delay.

regards,

Colin
 

fly_boy_bc

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Agssiz BC
I have to say, after reading all of this and waiting to see how it all came out in the wash that I am terribly confused now. Capstrip material is not structural and may be cut from grade "C" wood. One builder is using it to build geodetic ribs. AS&S states that it is not structural but in their answer to the complaining buyer they insist that all they sell is aircraft quality wood.

Can I use this "capstrip material" to build the tail on my Fisher 101 or not?
 

Jtrom

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Mid- Michigan
I have decided I will buy all my wood from the "spar" section for anything structural, like longerons, and rip it myself. The extra cost is not much in the big picture of a project like this. Just my humble opinion.
 
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