First Kit DONE!

Fiberglass work was actually pretty interesting and fun. I was a little bit afraid of how it was going to work, but I feel the results are good. I started by trimming the horizontal stabilizer tips and filling the rear part of them. Now after it is done, I feel I could have created a narrower gap between the tips and elevators.

Fitting the elevator and rudder tips was pretty simple. I used my heat gun to adjust them on some places, and a little bit more may be required once all parts come together on the airplane as I saw some minor misalignment once I riveted them in place.

The last piece I worked on was the rudder bottom piece. I decided to go with the flyleds DIY nav/led/landing lights kit. As a result I just bought the tailight/ strobe and fitted it in place. I also used epoxy to secure the support inside the fairing. The last thing I did was add extra fabric and epoxy inside at the join line between the too halves of each fiberglass tip fairing for a little more support.

The final result:

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Left Elevator -2

The last part I needed to work on was the trim tab. It wasn’t as hard as expected, but it did require a little bit of attention to make it right. The results are decent, just a few things that I would probably get better if I get the chance to work on another one.

Finally I installed both elevators into the horizontal stabilizer to adjust the movement as required. After some trial an error and few minor adjustments I got it to the point where it moves freely a little bit more than what asked on the plans. Next step is going to be fiberglass tips. I already started to work on fitting them and the results are quite good. Once I buy the supplies I need I’ll just get them done to do not have to work on them later.

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Left Elevator

After finishing the right elevator, work on the left was a lot easier. I got all parts prepared, and assembled it pretty fast  with good results.

All the tips I learned on the right side helped with preparing everything in a better way. Now I’m just working on the trim tab while the trailing edge epoxy cures completely.

Right Elevator

The right elevator was the hardest part to build so far. Now that I’m working on the left side things are going a lot better, and easier. Just for future reference, theseare things that I learned that makes it simpler:

  • Dimples on the skin to spar area are not nice and resulted in my worst looking rivets so far. For the second elevator I asked my wife to help by holding the skins while dimpling and results are really good.
  • It was hard to rivet the stiffeners and spars. I found that the easiest way was to open the skin at least 90 degrees, and hold it from the outside (it is not going to break). Once you do it that way, and have better dimples results are good.
  • Riveting the counterbalance ribs to the main spar is a lot easier when the skin is still open. I got all but two rivets on both skin to spar and skin to ribs done pretty easy.
  • Trailing edge came up pretty similar to the rudder. Nothing really bad, but not as good as I would like.

The elevators are pretty simple assemblies, but require a lot of attention to detail, and it is pretty easy to make mistakes. In the future I may re-do it, but overall I think is OK.

And…….

 

 

Felt pretty cool getting to test fit the elevator on the horizontal stabilizer. 🙂

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Rudder – 2

Once the trailing edge was bonded I followed the instructions on how to back rivet the trailing edge. The process was very straightforward and took arround half an hour to complete. The results are decent, but I still need to find out why I’m leaving some marks on the skins that I did not get on the stiffeners. I think that it may be related to having the epoxy under the skin, but not sure.

The last step was to get the leading edge done. I started on the smaller part towards the tip of the rudder. It took me three tries to get it right, but once I built a small tool to bend inwards the 1/4″ on the border of the top skin I got pretty nice results.

Rudder – 1

I started working on the rudder right after finishing the HS. It has been pretty straight forward until now. The first step was to trim and prepare the stiffeners. It is pretty awesome to see how the pre-punched holes only align in a specific way. It makes it really easy to get it right even for me:). Back riveting is the easiest way of getting good results no doubt about it!.

Once I had both skins ready I started to work on the structure. It took me a little bit of time to totally understand how the bottom part of the rudder goes together. Once I got it, preparation is basically the same that I’ve been doing on previous parts.

I’m done to the point where I have to start riveting the trailing edge. I bonded it with T-88 epoxy as mentioned on the instructions. I’ve been waiting for it to cure a couple of days, while I also order some rivets and an extra bucking bar to reach some pretty tight places near the trailing edge.

Last Friday I met another builder, Paul, who came from Cleburne, TX to check on my project. We had a pretty cool conversation sharing ideas and experiences. I hope to be down there visiting him pretty soon. If you want to check his work, he has a pretty cool builders blog here!.

Horizontal Stabilizer – 4

As I wrote in an earlier post, I wasn’t happy with how the horizontal stabilizer was coming along. I decided to re-order some parts and start again. I ended ordering one skin, front spars, doubler, front ribs and three main ribs. Shipping ended being the expensive part, but to be honest it was a good idea.

It took me a couple of weeks to get back to where I was when I decided to stop, but once I got all the parts prepared and primed it was actually pretty straight forward.

Learning to use the rivet gun is what takes the longest. I feel confident now that I can get decent results with it. There are a couple of things that I feel can be better, but the overall assembly came up good.

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Vertical Stabilizer

I kept working on my horizontal stabilizer for a while after my last post. The work I did was OK, but I kept getting the feeling that I could do better. Past Sunday I woke up and decided to just order the couple of parts I needed to re-do what I did not like.

While I waited for those parts to arrive I started to work on the vertical stabilizer. I read many times that this is actually a better sub-assembly to start with, and I have to say that I totally agree. It took a lot less time to complete. The VS is a pretty simple to assemble part. I matchdrilled, deburred, dimpled and primed in the same way that I did in the past.

The hardest part for me is definitely using the rivet gun. I managed to only put a couple of small smileys o the skin (but I still feel disappointed about it, even though everybody says that is normal). I’m thinking about getting a 2X gun to complement the 3X I have to test if the results are better.

Priming the parts this time went a little bit better after I got a new gun with the right size nozzle. There is still room for improvement, and definitely I’ll need to build a paint booth to help with the mess.

I’ve been using the Stewart Systems Ekoprime Primer. I really like that is not hard to deal with it as it is a water based primer. I’m sure some other products may offer better protection, but I do think that what I’m getting is enough for this project.

Next I’m planning an redoing the couple of parts in my HS and finish it. After that I think the rudder may come next.

Horizontal Stabilizer -3

After assembling and match drilling everything the steps called for dimpling the ribs and skins. I decided to use the main squezer to dimple the ribs in the same way we did back in December when we attendend the Synergy Air class. It was actually pretty straight foward and the results were as expected.

Once I started to dimple the skins, I was getting less than ideal results. After reading the DRDT-2 manual a couple more times, and running some searches on VAF, I came to the conclusion that I had the wrong setup. My holes were under dimpled, adding a little bit of pre-load fixed the issue. After re-dimpling the holes the results were pretty good and consistent.

Machine countersinking the spars and doublers was pretty easy. Just a matter of seting the stops to the right depth, and slowly making my way through every hole. I’ll probably need to add an extra battery for my drill or get anoter one.