Much to my chagrin, as I lowered the fuselage off of the table that was supporting the tail and onto its gear for the first time, the rear side skin of my XL snagged something on the table which left a bend and small crack.  The longeron wasn't damaged beyond a slight scuff that can be buffed out, but the skin definitely needs some sort of repair.  I don't like the thought of a patch on a brand new airplane, but can't afford the time and money necessary to replace the entire panel.  How would you fix this?  

The photos below show the damage and then a better perspective on the size and location in the second photo.  the crack is about a quarter of an inch long at the very edge. 

Views: 758


Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Hi Jon,

If it were my plane, I would punch out the 4 rivets closest to the damage. I would then put a 'L' piece over the damaged area (from the outside) and rivet the 3 parts together ( inside Longeron, skin and added outside 'L') . I would make the 'L' higher than the longeron and higher than the damaged area and rivet back the longeron rivets. I would also add rivets to the skin higher than the longeron (skin + new outside L).  The damaged skin would then be sandwiched between the 'L' longeron inside and the new outside 'L'. It may be a good idea to stopdrill the crack (hole to the top of the damage crack). Simple and tough.

Here in Canada, AC 43-13-1b and also Chapter 549 outline the proper way to repair such damages. There is most probably some standards in the US for the same purpose. 

I would not take the skin out; the damage is not large/substantial enough. 

My plane was damaged the same way when it was transported to the airport for final assembly. The outside longeron was bent so I had to unrivet it, cut it and install a new on. Such is life. Don't worry, it will still fly...and well ! 

When you fix it, share your pictures! Always good to see how it's done and get feedback . 




Thank you for the response. It was thorough and explained well enough that I understood exactly what you meant. I read the FAA repair sections but was confused about how they calculated the necessary number of rivets in a patch,whether it had to be a filler patch, and on and on. I'll look into this option.

Jon, you received some excellent advice from Normand. A testament to the incredible value of this forum to collaborate with other builders. I would take the exact same approach if I was making that repair including stop drilling the crack. Regards, Dave


... and when all is said and done, yes, there will be a patch there which will irritate you to no end, but it's 99% likely no one else will ever notice or comment about it! I once had a year-long restoration on a car with beautiful new paint, etc. Finally one day I accidentally chipped the paint and said, "Good, now I no longer have to worry about getting that first chip!" Same reasoning here!  ;>)




New from Zenith:

Zenith Planes For Sale 

Classified listing for buying or selling your Zenith building or flying related stuff...

Custom Instrument Panels
for your Zenith

Custom instrument panels are now available directly from Zenith Aircraft Company exclusively for Zenith builders and owners. Pre-cut panel, Dynon and Garmin avionics, and more.

Zenith Homecoming Tee:

Zenair Floats

Flying On Your Own Wings:
A Complete Guide to Understanding Light Airplane Design, by Chris Heintz

Builder & Pilot Supplies:

Aircraft Insurance:


West Coast USA:

Pro Builder Assistance:


Transition training:

Lavion Aero

K&S Aviation Services

Aircraft Spruce & Specialty for all your building and pilot supplies!

How to videos from

Developed specifically for Zenith builders (by a builder) these videos on DVD are a great help in building your own kit plane by providing practical hands-on construction information. Visit for the latest DVD titles.

© 2024   Created by Zenith.Aero.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service