Archive for the ‘Horizontal Stabilizer’ Category

Installed empennage gap fairings and horizontal stabilizer

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

The plans call for you to install nutplates along the F-709 bulkhead where the fiberglass empennage fairing and the forward end of the aluminum empennage gap fairings will attach, and then drill and tap holes in the longeron underneath the stabilizer to attach the gap fairings along the rest of their length. I decided to install nutplates everywhere instead of tapping the longeron – a tapped hole has no ability retain a screw and I remembered how one or two of these screws were always backing out on my old airplane.

Installing nutplates here took only a few extra minutes and was no big deal to accomplish. I did check with Van's before I did this, since I was wondering if the extra rivet holes would do anything structurally back there. Here's what they said:

Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2006 07:38:14 -0800
From: Van's
To: Matt
Subject: Re: Nutplates for empennage fairing

It's OK, but why would you want the extra expense and work?


I think they must have an automated process that sends that reply anytime they receive an email that starts with "Is it okay if I…"

After double checking my todo list to make sure I wasn't forgetting anything, I vacuumed out the tailcone one last time and bolted the horizontal stabilizer on for good.

Here is one of the empennage gap fairings installed. The topmost hole is left open because it's shared with the fiberglass empennage fairing. I used the hand seamer to get the forward edges of these fairings to lay down nicely on the fuselage skin. I'm not sure what to do about the forward end of the rubber channel – maybe I'll trim it at an angle to try and help keep the wind from peeling it up.

Before turning in I reattached one of the horizontal stabilizer tips and put on another coat of filler to help smooth out the forward edge where the fiberglass and alunimum come together.

Empennage fairings part VII

Sunday, March 11th, 2007

Still not too much time to work on the project lately. I did have a chance to reinforce the balsa ribs on the horizontal stabilizer tip fairings with a mixture of epoxy and flox, and to fit and install the 4-40 nutplates that will hold the fairings on.

I mixed up the usual batch of micro filler and smoothed out the transition between the tip fairings and the stabilizer, with an extra blob at the nose to allow a perfect fit after it's all sanded down later. I also put a big glob of filler on the outboard corners – a lot of this will get sanded off, but what remains will be the the first step of building up the tip fairings to match the contour of the elevator tips.

Empennage fairings part VI

Sunday, March 4th, 2007

I was either in class or studying for half the weekend, but I got a little bit done on the empennage fairings. I ground down the elevator tip fairings until I got the shape pretty much how I wanted it – they turned out not bad at all. I sanded them down to 320 grit once I got the shape right.

This is why I hate working with fiberglass – dust everywhere.

I removed the horizontal stabilizer from the airplane and laid it out on the bench to receive its fairings.

Trimmed the stabilizer tip fairings to fit and drilled and clecoed them in place:

The plans call for a minimum gap of 1/8" between the elevator counterweight and the fairing – mine is more like 3/16" in the neutral position, or slightly less when the elevator moves through its range of travel. Good enough. I did open up the other side a bit so the gap would be even on both sides of the stabilizer.

You can also see where I'll need to build up the outboard part of the stabilizer fairing to match the contour of the elevator.

I made some ribs for the stabilizer tips out of 3/16" balsa sheet. This reminded me a lot of how I used to build model airplanes as a kid. Actually balsa is really nice to work with. Maybe I'll take up model building again someday… nah.

I epoxied the ribs into the fairings and left them to dry overnight.

Since it was fairly nice outside, I decided to mask off the elevator tips and shoot a coat of primer. This will help me find the low spots and imperfections.

Not too bad. I got the look I was going for, and they turned out pretty nice. I will probably come back and do some more filling and sanding in order to work out a few minor imperfections, but overall I'm pleased.

Before I turned in, I managed to get the tail fairing nutplates riveted to the stabilizer.

All this work on fiberglass fairings, and this guy made his out of aluminum. I can't even comprehend the amount of skill that takes.

Mounted the horizontal stabilizer

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

I was going to work on the brake lines some more today, but I didn't receive all the parts I ordered earlier this week – one box of AN fittings from Wicks got shipped to the wrong address and subsequently lost. Kudos to the Wicks people, though – they were able to help me figure out what happened and get a replacement order on its way, at no charge – on a Saturday. Everybody go give Wicks some business, they deserve it. Even if you don't need any airplane parts, they're having a sale on toy gliders, and who doesn't like toy gliders? Nobody, that's who. If there are any such people I refuse to accept it.

Anyway, so not enough parts to work on the brakes. The only things left in the fuselage plans are mounting the wings, which I already decided not to do yet, and mounting the tail. Okay, let's mount the horizontal stabilizer today. I dug out the HS and elevators from the storeroom and rigged them on the bench to make sure everything still fits:

Somehow, the bottom of my left elevator has developed this mysterious dent. I'm not sure what caused it. At least it's on the bottom surface – it will probably eventually be joined by more little dents as rocks and stuff hit the bottom of the tail when the tailwheel is on the ground.

I clamped both elevators exactly in trail, to align everything for the drilling of the elevator control horns.

Some people have trouble with their elevator horns not lining up very well. They're welded individually, so it's likely that there will be some misalignment when you bring the two elevators together. Mine were almost exactly identical, though, which is good.

The left horn was just a fraction of an inch forward of the right one, so the left elevator was the one to get the first hole drilled in it. I took the elevator back off the stabilizer to make sure the pilot hole for the pushrod bolt was in the right spot.

With everything back together again, I measured the distance between the two faces of the control horns at the approximate location of the bolt hole…

Then I made a simple drill jig out of a sandwich of 3/16" birch plywood squares glued together, with a hole drilled perpindicular to the face with a drill press. This got clamped between the elevator horns, and then I transferred the pilot hole across to the right elevator horn. You have to do it this way because you don't want the bolt that joins the two elevator horns to the pushrod to be crooked.

I drilled and then reamed the pilot holes up to 3/16", then trial fitted a bolt. Yep, I'd say that's straight all right.

Next I made the F-798 shims, which go between the HS mounting flange and the aft fuselage deck. This photo makes them look like they're not the right shape, but they are – must be the camera angle.

I had to rearrange the garage to let me fit the horizontal stabilizer onto the fuselage – then, I clamped it to the aft fuselage and measured, measured, measured until I got everything lined up and straight. To help make sure the stabilizer was exactly perpindicular to the long axis of the fuselage, I drilled a hole in a tape measure; by clecoing it to one particular rivet hole on either side of the firewall and pulling it tight, I was able to measure the distance from the firewall to the stabilizer tips without anyone around to hold the other end for me (important tip for those of us building mostly solo!).

I tweaked and tweaked until both sides measured exactly the same – 156 3/16" in this case. The hole in the tape measure was right at the 1" mark, by the way.

There are four bolts that hold the forward HS spar to the fuselage. The two outboard ones are a real pain – each of those bolts has to go through five or six layers of stuff, which means you have to do a ton of very careful measuring to make sure that that one hole has adequate edge distance on every part it goes through. Here's a view of the underside of one of these areas, where the bolt has to go through the longeron, a spacer, and an angle (and then the aft deck, the F-798 spacer, and the forward HS mounting flange). Of course, the quickbuilders also seem to have cut the F-710B angle a little bit short on my airplane, reducing the margin for error even further. By the way, you can't actually see any of this stuff inside the fuselage – I had to use an inspection mirror and take lots of photos like this in order to get an idea of how things were going to work out. Thank goodness I have a small camera…

After lots and lots of measuring, I got out the drill and made some pilot holes for the outer forward holes. Hooray, they both came through right where I wanted them. Here's a view of the right side – the left is similar:

I drilled and reamed the holes up to 3/16", then put some nuts and bolts in. You can see the shims in place there – I decided to ignore the part where the plans tell you to drill the stabilizer to the fuselage without the shims in place, and then put the shims in and match drill the holes. It seemed like it would be easier just to clamp the heck out of everything and drill all the parts all at once, which is what I did. Everything looks good here.

Much measuring later, the other pair of bolts are in. To properly locate these, I had to take the stabilizer off and measure, but I'll spare you the boring details.

Here's a view of the nuts on the left side:

After lots more measuring, here are the other four bolts that hold on the rear stabilizer spar. I used a 3/16" drill bit as a spacer between the rear spar and the aft deck, as suggested by the plans. This puts the stabilizer at a 0° angle of incidence with the aft deck and longerons, which I verified through careful measuring. None of the hole locations on this end of the stabilizer are marked for you either, but at least you can see what you're doing a little better.

Careful measuring pays off – the bolts are centered vertically on the stabilizer reinforcement bars, and almost exactly on the centerlines of the stabilizer mounting bars. Acres of edge distance everywhere.

It's kind of starting to look like an airplane!

Not shown in the above photos are the hours I spent getting things lined up, taking the stabilizer off to mark something, measuring another dozen times to line things up again, etc. You only get one chance at this so I wanted to make sure that everything was as precise as I could make it. Fortunately, It all seems to have turned out pretty well.

Finished Horizontal Stabilizer

Sunday, June 12th, 2005

Mary came out and helped pound in the remaining rivets on the other side of the stabilizer…

Then I spent the evening with the squeezer and got the spar attached and the remaining rivets put in. The horizontal stabilizer structure is now officially complete!