Welding and Sheet Metal
Designed by the late Ed Marquart of EAA Chapter 1 at
Flabob Airport in Riverside, California, the plans-built
Marquart Charger consists of wings constructed with
built-up wood ribs with wood spars, a steel tube fuselage,
aluminum formers, and screen-door channel stringers.
About 500 sets of plans have been sold for the MA- 5 Charger, with an estimated 100 completed.
Mark was comfortable working with wood, but he
had other skills to learn. He attended welding workshops at AirVenture and also learned firsthand from
Mike Finney, who coached him and welded some of the
more difficult parts of the airframe. Mark’s next challenge was learning how to work with sheet metal, the
prospect of which he found rather intimidating.
“Again, a fellow EAA chapter member, Jerry Groshong,
helped me learn the ins and outs of working with
aluminum,” said Mark, “such as how I needed to deburr
it, to Cleco, what my rivets needed to look like, how to
back rivet, and things like that,” said Mark. “I used carpet
tubes and pieces of carpet on the garage floor, rolling it
back and forth to get the curve of the aluminum just
right, and learned how to bend the aluminum in a sheet
metal brake. All the aspects of the aluminum work have
been the most gratifying part of the project.”
Dope and Fabric
The Charger is covered with Ceconite and finished with
Randolph nitrate and butyrate dope. Close inspection
reveals neatly applied pinked-edge tapes and a lustrous
finish, which was achieved by painstaking sanding after
each coating was applied. “I went through 300 sheets of
sandpaper in various grades, just on the wings alone,”
chuckled Mark. “I wore a respirator and used compressed
air for painting, and worked in a two-car garage with an
old furnace fan as an exhaust fan. I put plastic over my
tools in the garage to protect them from overspray.”
TOP: Brett claims his seat in the Charger.
Mark said working with sheet metal was
one of the most intimidating skills he had
MIDDLE: Mark’s mom, Sandy, stitched
BOTTOM: What started with Mark’s
“blind leap of faith” in 1987, soon filled
the garage and house with bits and
pieces of the sport biplane.