TLAC Sherwood Ranger XP build blog


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Sherwood Ranger XP


UPDATED 20.2.2015 I Paul Hendry-Smith





Flight testing the new Sherwood Ranger XP with the new D Motor flat 4 side valve water cooled fuel injected 95 hp motor have been very successful. Our initial teething problems with getting sufficient engine cooling at prolonged high engine power setting has been testing to say the least but we expect of our aircraft the same reliability and performance that the large GA aircraft companies expect, we are not prepared to accept anything else. During the extensive testing program we have made repeated best angle climbs at MTOW to 5000 feet and above, during this time the engine has performed faultlessly and the cooling system been modified to stay within operating parameters throughout.





UPDATED 21.3.2011 I Paul Hendry-Smith


Well the time has come to move forward with our Sherwood Ranger XP demonstrator build, not before time, but with the strong demand for kits we have found trying to keep all balls in the air has presented time shortages to say the least.


We are also taking this opportunity to review the build manuals, review what we call the Fig sheets and to review the main drawings. It would be fair to say that whilst Russ did an incredible job at both designing the Sherwood Ranger and documenting it there are a few area’s that despite 30+ kits being sold prior to our involvement, of which there are approximately 18 flying, there are still some issues that need time spending on them to ensure that builders have a relatively trouble free build. We are also taking the opportunity to log build time, not minute by minute, but in days and fractions of days to give builders a realistic oversight of the time taken to assemble a Sherwood Ranger kit.


To make sure we find ourselves in the same position as a builder we have started with the same component pick as any builder, same number of rivets, same number of nuts, bolts and bits of aluminium. There is no doubt that a part check off against the delivery note is crucial, we do a check off against a picking list but everybody is human and things can either get missed off or duplicated, this is the opportunity to find these errors.


The Fuselage build


Rightly or wrongly we chose to build the fuselage first, we do not advise customers to do this, we advise that they build the wings first as most builders struggle with space and the wings are more easily stored. If a builder starts with the fuselage they immediately start to block their working area, due to our available storage facilities we took a different route.


It is CRITICAL that all builders including ourselves read through the relevant section of the build manual that will be worked on and that they also relate those sections to the relevant sections of the Fig sheets. We also recommend that despite the expertise of the builder, no matter how many aircraft that they have built or worked on that they read in depth the section of the build manual that sets out the working practice of the materials, this is an invaluable section which has proven informative even to the most experienced of builders


The first item to be manufactured is the front frame, this forms part of the central fuselage structure, it is critical to get it dimensionally correct and square as along with the rear frame everything else hangs off of it. 

The process of separating all of the necessary joining plates from their CNC support plates and cleaning them up took quite a few hours, however the accuracy of their profiles and hole alignment really paid dividends during the whole build.


The next task of profiling the brackets also took a bit of time but with the help of the 3 wheel bandsaw, the 10 inch disc sander, conventional metalworking files and the tremendous 3M deburring wheel attached to a 6” off hand grinder the whole thing went very quickly with outstanding results. The process shown below is for a bracket but the same techniques apply to the other plates, channels and sections that the builder needs to shape:-


1. Marking out the bracket with a Sharpie fine marker


2. Cutting on the bandsaw


3. Sanding with the disc sander


4. Final filing to ensure squareness and removal of stress inducing marks


5. Final deburring with the 3M deburring wheel



Fuselage front frame


Approx build time including plate and bracket preparation 15 hrs

Frame taking shape, top section being assembled, note drawing to hand and square, always checking accuracy as mistakes at this early stage will have an impact later.



The front frame nearing completion and a great learning experience. the frame was pretty much self jigging throughout, the CNC machined plates created an environment where the whole frame came together with zero problems. There is so much detail on the frame Fig sheets that the utmost care must be taken to ensure the correct components rivets and fasteners are fitted.


Spray time



Spraying the frame components prior to assembly, approx time to strip down, prep and spray 8 hrs


With the front frame assembled part preparation and assembly of the rear frame occurred fairly quickly, the lessons learnt during the front frame equally applied to the rear and the building process moved on to the assembly of the center section.


Approx rear frame build time including plate and bracket preparation 10 hrs



Center section assembly


Approx center section build time including plate and bracket preparation 6 hrs


For expedience I have not included the assembly process for the center section, I can confirm that it was problem free, once again referring to the build manual and the Fig sheets is essential, Fig sheet 3-2 proved invaluable as was 3-3 and 3-4, we found 3-3 to be too busy for a single A4 sheet so we have broken it into 2 A4 drawings adding to the overall clarity.






With the center section almost complete and with the tubes zinc chromate assembly of the forward section of the front fuselage. Not too much to say other than the assembly went fairly trouble free, the trick is good fettling of all of the component parts and accuracy of assembly. When assembling the forward section please ensure that you read the fine print with regard to what rivets are used and where, also what rivets need to be left out until a later date, failure to do so could result in a bit of drilling out of rivets and a e mail request for more supplies.


Front fuse


With the front section pretty much finished off, zinc chromate and final riveted the time has come to start assembling the rear section of the fuselage. This is where the aircraft really starts to take shape and where the builder once again need to keep his eye on the fine print on each of the construction drawings.


Rear section jigged


The rear went together very well with the whole structure very much self jigging and very little tube adjustment necessary, in fact the only tube trimming that was necessary was were the angles of the tube caused the end of the tube to need a light trim to stop fouling brackets and alike. The photograph above shows the complete rear end assembled and held with clico's, not all of the brackets are mounted using their center holes on the pre drilled pilot holes, this become apparent as assembly takes place but it can cause a fair amount of head scratching. Care also needs to be taken to ensure that reinforcement inserts are placed in the right locations.



The above picture depicts both the bracket offsets, insert location and slight trimming on the tubes ensuring a precision fit. The use of a simple taught line ensures that things are being built straight and level and at the end of the day the plane will fly straight out of the box with zero rigging changes.



Following the trail assembly the rear fuselage is final drilled where necessary, stripped down, deburred, prep'd and painted with good old zinc chromate once again, final assembly can then begin.