Sunday, April 27, 2014

Section 11 -- Empennage Attach

Build Hours Added Since Last Post: 18.5

Up until now, the tail kit has involved the building of the individual components that make up the empennage and tail cone.  Section 11 is where it all comes together.  One of the most exciting parts of this section is that I finally have an idea of how it will look and just how big it is!  The downside is that most, if not all, of the tail components will be removed again before final construction.  If nothing else, the elevators and rudder need to be removed.  Consequently, I didn't spend a whole lot of time torquing the nuts to the proper setting.

Section 11 starts with attaching the elevators to the horizontal stabilizers so that you can (1) install the rod end bearings to the proper length and (2) drill the elevator attach horns so that they work in tandem.  It took some time to get the settings just right so that the elevator leading edges do not rub against the rear spar of the horizontal stabilizer.  In practice, this involved a lot of install and uninstall.  But after some trial and error, I finally found the sweet spot.

Next, it was time to drill the elevator horns.  There's not a whole lot to say here other than you really only get one chance to do this.  I shudder at the thought of screwing this one up!

With the holes drilled, it's time to install the components to the tail cone.  It got exciting!

One note, I didn't document the rudder stops, but I needed to modify the stops.  They simply did not stop the rudder without hitting the elevators.  Thankfully, Vans includes a fix for this in the instructions, and for me, it worked like a charm.

The final section of the tail kit is to fit the fiberglass fairings.  After that, I guess I'll need to wait for the forward fuselage kit to be released and ship.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Section 10 -- The Aft Fuselage (aka Tail Cone)

Build Hours Added Since Last Post: 55.25

If you follow my blog on any sort of regular basis, you'll notice that I've only been updating my posts every month or so.  This has been primarily due to the fact that I have tried to post only as I complete a section.  It's seemed to work out alright except for the last two sections--each of which took my about a month.  With any luck, the final two sections will not take the now average month to complete.

The tail cone section starts with fabricating the rudder stops and the horizontal stabilizer support.

Next, it's time to build the bulkheads.  I used the C-frame back-riveting technique here again.

Below you can see the finished products.  You'll note that the bulkheads are primed.  For whatever reason, Van's makes several breaks in the section for priming.  Rather than priming on a piecemeal basis, I chose to prime everything at once.  Boy, it was a pain!

After that, it was time to dimple the bottom skin.

Then it was time to rivet the bulkheads to the bottom skin.

 The end of a long day of dimpling and riveting means it's time for a break.

Next up were the side skins and rear bulkheads.

Rather than use Van's stock static port and lines, I upgraded to Cleaveland's system.  It presents a nice, clean, and sturdier design that incorporates custom-turned ports and push connections.  For the modest price of less than $40, I highly reccommend it.

With the side skins installed, it's time to temporarily fit the vertical stabilizer to final drill a few holes.  It's starting to look like an airplane!

When I went to dimple the upper side skins, I ran into a bit of trouble.  Namely, as I was using a small diameter dimple die to avoid unnecessary marks on the skins from the regular-sized dimple die hitting the curved portions of the skins, the dimple die's shaft broke inside of the C-frame's ram.  A quick call to Cleaveland Aircraft Tool shined some light on my problem.  As it were, the C-frame's bottom connection had shifted after numerous strikes such that it was just slightly out of center.  This, in turn, induced slight sideways pressure on the die with every blow.  The good people at Cleaveland kindly offered to send me a new dimple die and ram at no cost.  Their service always exceeds my expectations!

Next, it was time to finish off the tail cone by riveting the top side skins and the top skin.  Whew!

My workshop is starting to fill up, but I think I can move through the final two sections without to much worry.