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Pietenpol Project

What the heck is a Pietenpol?  It's a 1930 open cockpit designed by Bernard Pietenpol.  It is a two place, wood and fabric ship that cruises about 65 to 75mph.

In 1928, Mr. Pietenpol built and flew an airplane of his own design. The airplane was a single place open cockpit monoplane made from wood obtained at the local lumberyard, fittings fabricated from a blacksmith shop, and a covering of bed sheet material painted with clear varnish. The landing gear was constructed of gas pipe and motorcycle wheels. The prop was hand-carved from black walnut and powered by an Ace four cylinder water cooled engine. The airplane flew very well accumulating over fifty hours in the first two months.

Several design modifications followed during the next five years; however, the basic design remained unchanged. During the process of modifications, the airplane became a two place with space for a passenger. The split axle landing gear with air wheels improved take-off and landing characteristics. The Ford A engine became the standard power plant turning a 78" x 42" propeller. The final design and drawings for the Air camper were completed in 1934. No further changes have been made to the original drawings.  The picture shown is the last one Bernard built and is flying today.

I'm building mine from the 1934 plans.  This will definitely be a LONG TERM project.  Take a look at some of the construction pictures.  (double click on picture to enlarge)

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Bernard Pietenpol Jack Phillip's Piet Vitalis Kapler Tom Brown's Piet
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Dan Helsper's Piet Helsper Panel Don Emch's Piet Ken Perkin's Ship
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Andy & Don Pietenpol Edison's Piet Mike Cuy's Piet Frank Pavliga's Piet
Tom Wottrung did the pre-assembly, a fantastic fellow!
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Starting assembly Original tolerances
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re-manned cam Silk thread Main bearing
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That's an aircraft engine, no snapping crank here!    Case closed
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Proud owner Fantastic Teacher!
This is what I started with, a mess, brake disk too small, uneven hub Very poor work
9" disk Cleaned up the left Coming together
  groove for grease
Silver coat Gloss 2nd coat Nice gloss  
Ken Perkins design Turned bearings to fit Design ensures less slack in cables
2 pictures on right - part is shown reverse of plans
Machined thrust washers out of .050 for each end of Bell Crank tube
Elected not to use washers, capped bearings instead. String stretches too much, will use cable
Ready for oven Need bigger oven    
Front torque bearing Aileron control horn Safety strap formed over larger diameter tube
Elevator Stop Powder Coated Elevator pulleys Plan to re-paint
Trial fit   Used 1/2" on left
Tacked only  
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.032x21"x27"x5"=13 gallons aprox, riveted and Prosealed
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Turned fuel fittings Indexing on Lathe Fuel float trial didn't use Used this one
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.090 cabane lower fittings, after fitting side ply will drill from inside out
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Soaking 1/16" ply 1/16" Okume Nice bend
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Template Belt but-outs Brace for 90 degrees
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11 stringers 375 lightening holes Helmet box
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Front seat back F-seat supports More F-seat bottom Front seat
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Seat going together Brace form 1/16 x 1/2 ply strips Thin super glue
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Done Panel test fit R-seat lap belt point Left side belt hard pt
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Access panels cuts Gluing backstops 1" panel compartment extension 1" extra allows long electric turn & bank
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1 of a 100 layouts 1/16th bit for straight cut and knife for curve 24 1/4 wide Trial fitting
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Very little glued at this point
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Gluing cowl supports Drill jig for strut fittings
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Way too many choices for panel layouts!   Which will win?
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Winner!  I think...compass will be in center section, GPS on top of cowl behind windscreen.

Faint diagonal lines depict aileron cables behind panel.

  Plan to re-cut
  Too close
May do overlay
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Using the right box Cutout w/razor knife Belt clears box Instrument access
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More trials, not sure on portable nav/com, will use transponder 
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Don't install wedge here as I did
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2nd & 3rd pics-cutting out block in the way of lower engine mounts.  I elected to NOT cut
lower cross piece to make way for mount.  Altered mounts raising mount 1/2"
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Upper mount Lowers mounts A big help for boring perfect holes, it works!
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Mounts aligned and drilled, all fittings and holes matched very well, a good day!
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Gear fitting, 110 degree bend, still cracked, may re-design with 3 pieces
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Went with .130 1018 strap across bottom, .090 4130 doublers and side plates before welding

Don't forget  

1/8" spacer for sides


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New Grizzly G1006 Gear struts Female & male ends
Scott tail-wheel, 4-1/2 pounds, 6" Before clean-up
Before powder coat Not happy with purchased hub, plan to redo, nice powder coat though
CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS (Tail Group, Spars & Ribs)
Only 2 fit T-nuts too wide, will add x-piece and move in Fit, note plugged hole
Need to move bottom bolts out so bottom straps fit, redo straps, plug holes Bottom straps won't fit Shim for fabric Some plugs to fix
Finally got the middle and rear stab fittings finished, note washer spacers for fabric & tape.  2 pictures to right-added 3/8" to rudder bottom, despite calculating for plan difference.
H-Stab Fittings Slide cable through clamp to hold sleeves 3/32nd cable
With tape Tape and shrink tube Tail cables finished
The beginning....
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Planing some spruce

About $300 of spruce

Rib jig

Rib and capstrips
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Nice fit Rib Bending cap strips Clamping gussets
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Lots of clamps Gluing tail stock  Starting horz stab H-stab, main beam
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Test fit H-stab Stab and "clamp" H-stab H-stab center, clamps
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H-stab gussets Hinge cut-out Need more practice! Rib in jig
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Right elevator Right elevator Shot weights Right elevator
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Slow but sure! 11-05 2 1/2" hole-saw Sand on drill press Cut out for hinge
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V Stab tip Getting closer Ribs H Stab and Elev
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New bench for fuselage End ribs w/uprights Ribs done!!! Web & cap stock
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1/12 scarf for web Ready to glue Top one done, nice! Pretty good joint
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Fir stock for caps Ripping & planing Many blades later Gluing
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More scarfs, 1 p/cap Trial spars, 9mm, 7 ply webs, 5/16x1"+ caps Spar drawing
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C-Section started C-Section strap Gluing 2" rib cap L-rear cabane fitting
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Starting 2nd bend Makeshift brake Front cabane fitting Cabane fitting & strap
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Ready to weld Front fitting Rear Fitting Elev & rudder horns
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Bead roller for horns Larger roller Harbor Freight 34104 is 18" 12" model would be big enough
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Aileron horns Horn braces Rudder horn brace Great weld!
Special thanks to Jerry Grogan for his expert welding on the critical parts!
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Control horn (oversized) Welded horns Remade both of these
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Sticks tacked, will leave final welds to pro Center bearings Outer bearings Wingtip braces
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C-section trial fit Drilling straps Strap ply, don't glue yet Pedals started
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Didn't use, made thicker C-section cut-out Straps done! More C-section
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Left wing started From outboard end Wingtip Glued Four fir plys
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Clamped tip Gluing root doubler Comp strut cut-outs Comp struts test fit
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Scarfing 1/16" LE Root rib cut-outs Additional brace Aileron end
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Cross brace seat Must be cut out C-section-L-wing test Test fit
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Cutout progressing Trailing edge cut out X-tra comp struts wing tip First coat varnish
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2nd wingtip formed Mounting hardware More hardware Tip brace-drag wire
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Fitting aileron hinge Nutplates Aileron hinge Wow it works
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Inboard end Need more angle on both bearings Bottom Root  rib braces-rear bay
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Inboard rear bay
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