Tales of the Tail

Wow, it’s been a while since I posted here! Since my last entry, I’ve gotten my tailwheel endorsement and started skinning the horizontal stabilizer. I decided to bend the skin using the vacuum method. First, it was folded and taped. Liz was a big help here, there’s no way you can do this by yourself.

The next step is to put a pipe inside it for the leading edge to form around, and seal up the ends with plastic drop cloth. You can also see the smaller pipe with vacuum adapters on the end. This entire mess is clamped to the bench.

Let the sucking begin!

And how did it turn out? Not perfect, but good enough.

Now that the skin was formed, it was time to mark out the rivet rows and drill it for fitting to the skeleton.

The next step was to put the skeleton on the bench, shim up one spar (to clear the ribs) and level it. I used some popsicle sticks and screws to hold the spar down to the bench.

Finally, it was time to start drilling! The attach brackets are removed for the initial drilling.

The clecos are growing nicely, almost ready for harvest. 😉

Once drilled, the skin was removed and the slots for the attach brackets were cut. A nibbler worked well for this, with touch up from a file.

The final result. Not bad, a little close on the one side. Nothing a bit more filing won’t fix.

That’s all for this time! My next log entry may be a bit of a surprise to some people, but I won’t ruin it by saying anything more right now. 🙂

Skeletons In The Garage

Since my last entry I’ve been doing some flying, and also a bit of building. And yes, I’ve got pictures to show! Here’s me next to a PA-18 Super Cub. I’m working on my tailwheel endorsement in this one at Promark Aviation, and it is a blast! One more session should get my signoff, but weather and schedules have not cooperated in the last month to get that done. Soon. Hopefully!

I also took Liz flying in an Evektor SportStar from Pilot’s Choice. Compared to the Super Cub it’s more comfortable, but I really enjoy the pure “stick and rudder” flying of the Cub. Oh, who am I kidding? They’re all fun! 🙂

Now, on with the build pictures! First, a shot of all the parts I’ve created for the horizontal stabilizer. Not shown are the forward and aft main spars, which I purchased already formed from Zenith. I decided it would be too difficult to form them on my home-made 8ft bending brake, or more correctly the frustration wouldn’t be worth the modest price of the finished parts.

The assembly begins by measuring and marking all the rivet locations for the spar caps, doublers and ribs. This time I paid careful attention to the rivet spacing in relation to the ends of the caps and doublers to avoid any edge distance issues like I encountered on the fin. #40 holes were drilled in the spar first.

The spar caps, doublers, and ribs were then clamped into place and back-drilled through the spar.

Next were the front spar attach brackets:

It’s starting to look like something!

The same basic steps were then repeated on the rear spar and attach brackets.

And like magic, it’s really resembling a stabilizer now.

A concern I had was that since I was making these parts from scratch the specified skin width might not fit properly from spar flange to spar flange (wrapping around the ribs of course). Once I had it cleco’d together, I wrapped the tape measure around it to check. The plans say the skin should be 870mm wide. Guess how far that’ll go on mine? The rib flange needs a bit of a trim, but the alignment on the spar is bang on!

That made me very happy, and gives me a nice boost in confidence knowing it’s coming together just as specified. I now have to disassemble and debur everything, then cut and fit the skin. It’ll probably be a week or two before I have pictures of that, so stay tuned!

As always, you can browse all the photos in my 750 Cruzer album.