Empennage Fairing Work

Time: 2 Hours

I got a couple hours in the shop tonight and since I’m at a standstill on the canopy waiting for parts I decided to move on to another step. The empennage fairing that Van’s sends covers the space left between the horizontal stabilizer and the vertical stabilizer creating a nice aerodynamic and clean look. The stock fairing only covers the top and a gasket filled the bottom side. The fairing is supposed to be held in place by serveral screws on the VS and the HS. I found that these tend to cause the fairing to “pucker” at each screw and doesn’t look good. I decided to follow Glenn’s lead as well as other builder and add on to the stock fairing so that it covers the top and bottom, basically creating a U shape that slides over the leading edge of the HS. I’ll get more detail on the actuall fairing later. One thing that this allows is for only a few screws to be needed to hold the fairing in place at the rear. There will be two screws on the top, one on the HS & one on the VS. The bottom will have five total screws. Tonight’s task was to drill out several of the skin rivets and replace them with nutplates. 

They went pretty smooth and the hardest part was getting my hand in between the parts with a bucking bar. The last aft screw on the lower side will be in the very aft portion of the longeron. I don’t have room to put a nutplate there and a nut was just too tight. So I tapped this hole so that a #8 screw would fit. This isn’t structural and is just helping to hold the fairing on.  The one just forward of it will allow the screw to go through the inspection plate as well. 

I received a package from SteinAir with my Dynon #2 COM radio, one back up battery (so I can drill the attach holes) and my 10″ SkyView Touch screen! I will install these tomorrow in between my fiberglass work on the fairing. 

Even just two hours in the shop is a good thing and is progress! 

Fiberglass Tasks and Engine Mount

Time: 4 Hours

The next little (relatively speaking because I hate fiberglass) task I want to finish up before getting too deep into the finish kit are the rudder bottom cap and the HS tips. The rudder bottom had one side filled but not sanded so that’s where I started today. 

I used various tools like the finish orbital sander and my new fine work sanding sticks I got from Cleaveland Tools at OshKosh. 

These tools allow me to get into the sharp corners and get a nice clean edge. 

I used them to get inside the HS tips as well. 

So once I finished that little bit of sanding, there will be tons more, I decided to venture into the finish kit. I decided to do the engine mount first since I had just taken the top skin off to work a little easier on a wire. With the skin back off I have good access to the firewall where the mounting bolts go. First up was to enlarge the holes I drilled way back when building up the firewall and forward area for the 3/8″ bolts. 

I used good drill bits and plenty of Boelubewhick helped to drill though the tough stainless steel. Even with that I had a nasty burr on the stainless. The best way to clean that up was with a Dremel and a carbide tip. Once those were done I put the engine mount in place with the bolts, washers, nuts and a temporary cotter pin. Surprisingly it fit perfect without having to tweak steel at all!

Internal Rudder Stop

Time: 3 Hours

Now that I have my finish kit I need to finish up the few little tasks I had started while waiting for the new kit. The first task was to finish the internal rudder stop I got from flyboyaccesories. The stock rudder stops are made from aluminum angle and riveted to the sides of the fuselage aft end. These are pretty ugly and I didn’t like the way they look. So the first thing to do was put it into position and drill for two AN-3 bolts to hold it into position. You can put it on the outside of the bottom rudder hinge or inside the hinge. I decided to put it inside so it looks better. Once I had the holes drilled I quickly found out that the lower rod end hits the inside V of the stop so I marked it and sanded it to fit. 

After cleaning up the center so the rod end didn’t hit I started the process of trimming the left and right ends or legs so that I could get the proper rudder deflection. 

The plans call for 30°-35° left and right and a minimum spacing of 1″ between the aft edge of the rudder and the respective elevator.

 To get the degrees I taped a plumb bob to the tail wheel spring in the center just below the leading edge of the rudder. I then taped a plumb bob to the aft end of the rudder. I then took a protractor at the point of the forward plumb bob and squared it up with the tail wheel. With the protractor in place I marked the 30° and 35° marks and extended them out towards the aft end. Now I had a line that I could swing the rudder to and get the correct measurements. 
So from this point it was just trial and error as I sanded a little bit off at a time to get the rudder to the correct deflection. After that was done I had 33° both left and right and a gap of 1 3/8″ on each side. That’s where I stopped today since I had a tooth drilled earlier and was a little sore. Tomorrow I plan on working on that last rudder task of finishing off the lower cap. 

More Fiberglass Work

Time: 8 Hours

I have been slowly working on all for the fiberglass parts on the wing tips and VS/HS. The forward peices just ahead of the elevators and rudder are proving to be a pain to fill. Getting into the areas between the flanges is a littl tough. I’m using a larg popsicle stick with sandpaper glued to it to get into these spaces. These areas will probably take a couple of try’s to get just right. Man do I hate sanding fiberglass! On a side note I did get my AeroLED taillight from Aircraft Spruce this week. I was planning on using a watertight connector for this light since it will be in the bottom of the rudder and will be exposed to water from time to time. The problem was that the area in the aft end of the rudder bottom fiberglass gets pretty tight before the flair for the light. The issue with that is this peice will be riveted on and I will have to slide the cable in from the front and make it back to the hole. With a large connector it was impossibe. So I just used a small 5 place Molex connector that is easy to slide into place. 

I will figure a way to waterproof it after the connection between the light and harness is made. Maybe a long peice of shrink tube that covers the connector will do the job. While I was letting some epoxy cure for the next day I moved on to a little task on the flaps electrical connection. There is a side panel on the left side of the passenger seat that will cover up the flap motor. This creates a space behind it that I was able to install a two place terminal block to allow easy connection of the flap wires. This block will be screwed down to the floor that will eventually be permently riveted. I located the perfect spot and drilled for two #8 screws and riveted a couple of nutplates for them. 

I removed the terminal block and crimped the terminals on the two wires for the flap motor and the two wires from the VP-X.  Then I connected them for continued use of the flaps without the floor. 

I finished up a few fiberglass filling jobs as well. 

One fill job is on the bottom of the rudder where the fiberglass cap goes around the rudder cable attach horns. 

I have a lot of filling and sanding to go but I’m just going at it one step at a time. A few more standings on the wing tips and I’ll be able to call them done and be able to remove the wings. 

Fiberglass Work Days

Time: 10 Hours

Since I’m at the stage to remove the wings from the fuselage I decided to tackle all of the fiberglass work that I can.  The rest of the aluminum work on the wings has to be finished after the wings are off and it’s easier to work on the fiberglass finish work now. To add some strength to the bottom of the wing tips I put just one foam rod in and fiberglassed it in like I did the tops. 

I’m really impressed with just how much rigidity these add and still leave plenty of room to work in if needed. I then moved on to the rudder fiberglass tips. There is one at the top and one at the bottom. I started with the bottom as it is the more difficult one as it requires a notch to go around the tailspring attach horns. 

I used my Dremel tool to cut out the notch and trial fit it. 

Onice I had the notch cut and trimmed so that the cap was even with the skin I marked a line 5/16″ from the edge to represent the river line. I used that line to drill a forward and aft hole to hold the cap in place. 

Now that I had the cap I place I put the rudder back on the vertical stabilizer to check the fitment. 

I was real happy with the alignment and fit. So I drilled the remaining holes on both sides. I then cleaned up the very aft end where the taillight will eventually be. I had bought an adapter ring from Cleaveland Tool’s a year ago or so. This allows you easily screw a taillight in with its threaded holes and not need a nut on the back of the screw as this is a very tight space to work. I needed the aft end to be flat and square so that the ring sat flat. 

The ring has six holes for blind rivets and two threaded holes for the taillight. The wiring for the taillight will run inside the cap and need to exit close to where it enters the VS. Since the rudder will be moving left and right I decided to make a racetrack shaped hole in the forward portion of the cap to allow the rudder to move left and right with the least amount of cable movement. 

I used a thin grommet to line the edge so it won’t chaff after I cut the hole. 

I stopped there with the bottom cap since I want to get my taillight and the connectors I will be using before I permanent rivet it in place. I then moved to the top cap which is much easier. 

I cleaned up the cap after drilling all the holes with sand paper. I also countersunk the skin for the blind rivets as well. 

I used the T-88 adhesive to help bond the cap and riveted it in place. I decided to fiberglass the seam on these as well so I mixed up some epoxy and micro-fill and applied a good layer on both sides. 

After that cured overnight I sanded it down to a nice smooth transition and put the rudder back on the VS. There is a forward portion cap that tops the VS and needs to be trimmed to match the rudder. 

Here you can see how much needed to be trimmed. 

So I made some marks that parallel the rudder cap and cut off the extra portion. 

It’s not required but I makes for a lot cleaner look to close up the open end of the cap. The easiest way is to cut a peice of balsa wood sheet to the shape and epoxy it in leaving it a 1/16″ short of flush. Then you can fill the rest with epoxy and micro to sand smooth. 

I did a couple of fiberglass lay ups in the inside of the cap to secure the balsa to the cap. I also filled in the forward side of the balsa with epoxy and micro as a rough start.  After that cured overnight I worked the forward edge until I got a nice clean gap between it and the forward side of the rudder. Once that was good I riveted it in place using more of the T-88 adhesive. 

I will come back to this cap after it cures to fill the seam and work the center section a little to better match the rudder cap with its alignment. While had the epoxy and micro mixed up I also added some to the leading edge of the wing tips where they didn’t quite line up with the aluminum. It was cured as well so I sanded those to a good shape. 

Now that the wingtips are getting closer to being done I riveted the tip ribs in place using more of the T-88 adhesive. 

So I will need to fill in the VS cap to make a clean look and work the horizontal stabilizer caps, they need trimming like the VS, to match up with the elevators. Other than being really dusty I don’t mind the fiberglass work. Maybe it just cause it’s a new skill, or lack there of, that makes it ok. Progress that’s all that maters to me, I’m getting close to being able to remove the wings!