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Old 10-11-2012, 05:25 PM
azrv6's Avatar
azrv6 azrv6 is offline
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 324
Default Some metal working tips - making fairings

Not specifically RV related but hopefully useful. I had to make two complex fairings for the Monocoupe and had read and re-read Dan Horton's very useful thread on the subject and was fully prepared to pull out the fiberglassing materials and give it a go. Here is the area to be covered:

As you can see the gas tank outlet drops down out of the bottom of the wing and the gas line angles over towards the top of the fuselage and then moves forward. On some of the old 'Coupes this gas line just hangs out in the breeze. I have plenty of scrap aluminum at the hangar and decided to give hand forming a pair of fairings a try. Three hours later, here is the end result:

I started out by making a poster board pattern for the fairing - the outline on the bottom of the tank skin, this would represent the flange of the fairing. I cut that out on some 3/4" MDF, also cut out a 1/8" thick MDF matching piece. The aluminum gets sandwiched between these two pieces of MDF while hammer forming the bump in the fairing. This fairing has to meet up with the wing root fairing, so the part is longer than necessary and will be trimmed to match the wing root fairing.

Aluminum sandwiched between the two pieces of MDF using screws that go through the aluminum to assure it doesn't move around during the violence about to happen, circled area gets the most crown and needs the most hammering. I bought the hammer at Harbor Freight for $11.99 (, and made my own beater bag. Sewn from canvas (duck), double thickness, 12" diameter, filled with sand. Ready to hammer. Put the aluminum over the beater bag and have at it:

Just a few minutes and the part is really starting to take shape. You can manage the height profile (or depth) by managing the hammer blows. Used both ends of the mallet depending on where the hammering was needed.

Most of the shaping is done now, and the part was taken out of the MDF form and ready for planishing. From here on out, as you planish, you will easily move the flange around, so you want to be careful and watch it closely.

About 30 minutes of planishing and then initial trim of the flange and the part is ready to fit up to the wing root fairing.

Here are the planishing tools used. Body dolly available from a variety of sources. Wood and aluminum part in the upper right is my way of turning the hand dolly into a "post dolly" so I can clamp it in the vise. Flat body hammer with two different sized flat (no crown) heads, almost exclusively use the smaller end. Steel slapper. Wood dowl with end shaped to help work the small tapered end. Oh yeah, not pictured, but very necessary, is hearing protection.

This was the first time I tried something like this. It was a pleasant surprise that I got these two complex shapes done in aluminum with about 5 hours total time, including making the patterns and cutting the MDF. One part was made from 3003H14 0.040", annealed before hammering. The other part made from 6061-0 0.040". Decision making process on this was the MOH (material on hand).
Dave Binkley
RV-6, O-360-A1A, C/S
1932 Monocoupe 110, Warner 145 (
Sedona, AZ
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Old 10-11-2012, 05:33 PM
DeltaRomeo DeltaRomeo is offline
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Location: Highland Village, TX
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Old 10-11-2012, 05:35 PM
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Mike S Mike S is offline
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Location: Dayton Airpark, NV A34
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Dave, good looking work you have done there, Professor Horton should give you an A for that.
Mike Starkey
VAF 909

Rv-10, N210LM.

Flying as of 12/4/2010

Phase 1 done, 2/4/2011

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Old 10-11-2012, 06:31 PM
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rzbill rzbill is offline
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Location: Asheville, NC
Posts: 2,755

Well done!
Bill Pendergrass
ME/AE '82
RV-7A: Flying since April 15, 2012. 850 hrs
YIO-360-M1B, mags, CS, GRT EX and WS H1s & A/P, Navworx
Unpainted, polished....kinda'... Eyeballin' vinyl really hard.
Yeah. The boss got a Silhouette Cameo 4 Xmas 2019.
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Old 10-11-2012, 10:20 PM
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DanH DanH is offline
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Location: 08A
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Everybody ease over to Dave's Monocoupe site and take a look.....nice work in a variety of media:
Dan Horton
Barrett IO-390
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Old 10-12-2012, 09:58 AM
Rupester Rupester is offline
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Mahomet, Illinois
Posts: 2,195
Default Very impressive work ...

Thanks for sharing ... this gives me all kinds of ideas.
Terry Ruprecht
RV-9A Tip-up; IO-320 D2A
S. James cowl/plenum
(Dues paid thru Nov '18)
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Old 10-12-2012, 01:15 PM
c177tx c177tx is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Austin
Posts: 130

I read your post, just moments after watching this video. Making the press box will take a little time, then making the mold. Yours looks faster for a single piece.
Garrie Moore
Austin, Texas
177 Cardinal
-8 empennage finished
on hold for the wing order
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Old 10-12-2012, 05:39 PM
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flyboy1963 flyboy1963 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Lake Country, B.C. Canada
Posts: 2,434
Default ....& other material options?

Not to diminish the awesome metal melding skills shown here, but this size of item looks ideal for the kitchen oven plexi drape form type fairing.
My dad made a bunch very similar over a little block of wood to hide some bolt heads, and they lasted for 20 years on the top of the wing!
....these look like they're underwing, so could be lexan, or PVC, and it would probably last forever. ( nearly)
not quite the same kool factor to be sure!
Perry Y.
RV-9a - SOLD!....
Lake Country, BC
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Old 10-13-2012, 01:21 PM
David Paule David Paule is online now
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Boulder, CO
Posts: 5,126

Can you describe the planishing and smoothing, how you did that, for me?


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Old 10-13-2012, 04:56 PM
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azrv6 azrv6 is offline
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 324
Default Planishing

Dave, lots and lots of repetitive light tapping with the hammer and/or slapper while the part is backed up with a suitably shaped solid surface. That's why the dolly has a lot of different shapes to it, plus a small sand bag works also, and that little wood dowel helped -- anything you can find that will back up the shape you are trying to smooth. This guys shows how it is done (youtube search planishing copper).
Dave Binkley
RV-6, O-360-A1A, C/S
1932 Monocoupe 110, Warner 145 (
Sedona, AZ
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