Archive for July, 2010

Installing Tail Light Adapter – 2 hrs

July 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Saturday July 31, 2010

Denise spent the whole day cleaning out the garage yesterday. I didn’t ask her to, she just decided that I could work more efficiently if the place was more organized and uncluttered.

She is right. It’s a pleasure to be out here now and I feel like I am ready to start the wings.

In the mean time I am working on dismantling one of may patio covers to replace some rotting beams. That is no fun. I can’t stay away from the airplane factory completely so I scotchbrited the tail light adapter and cleaned it. Then I sprayed on a good coat of primer and let it dry in the sun.

Then I used CS4-4 pop rivets to mount it to the rudder bottom fairing. It was a little tricky because of the counterbores in the adapter. The nose of the rivet puller won’t go down in there so I stacked up six small washers on the rivet head when I pulled it. That did the trick and all the rivets were set flush to the bottom of the counterbore. Here it is ready to receive the tail strobe light.

Categories: Rudder

Tail Light Adapter Part 1 – 1 Hr

July 29, 2010 Leave a comment

July 29, 2010

My tail light adapter and tank dimple dies arrived from Cleveland Aircraft Tools today. I’ll need the dimple dies when I get to the fuel tanks but for now I can install the tail light adapter on the rudder bottom fairing. Here is the little $17 aluminum part.

I aligned it to the fairing contour by eye (a little awkward) and match drilled the holes in the fairing. The alignment turned out OK in spite of the fact that the fairing is not perfectly symmetrical.

Then I marked the center hole on the fairing and drilled it out using a 1 inch spade bit from my woodworking supplies. That worked surprising well. Then I smoothed out the edges of the fiberglass with my rotary tool and a sanding drum.

Ready to prime the adapter and install it with CS4-4 rivets.

Categories: Fiberglass Tips, Rudder

Preparing for the Wings – 2 Hrs

July 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Sunday July 25, 2010

If it seems like there have been fewer post lately you are right. Since I finished the empennage I am now waiting on the delivery of the slow-build wing kit. I deliberately waited until the empennage was almost done before ordering the wing kit because I promised the wife there would be some non-airplane time between major kits. I also need to do some major repair work on one of my patio covers which has signs of rot so I planned an interval between empennage and wings during the dry summer weather to get that done. I started prying slats off the patio cover yesterday so I am making progress but I had a nasty case of bursitis this morning so I’ll have to let that recover before resuming the demolition work.

In the mean time I puttered in the garage cleaning up the work bench and hanging finished parts on the wall out of the way of damage. Here are the elevators which I hung on hooks on the side of the garage.

I hung the vertical stabilizer on the wall next to the work bench. Notice how nice the work bench looks now since I cleaned it off. Man that fiberglass dust gets everywhere when you are sanding.

This week I ordered a set of tank dimple dies from Cleveland Aircraft. These dies are slightly deeper than the standard set and are recommended by some builders for the rivets installed with Proseal in the fuel tanks. The standard dies will result in rivets that are not quite flush because of the thin Proseal layer. The tank dies help them sit flush. I also ordered a tail strobe light mounting plate. Some builders make this part from scratch but I don’t have any 0.25 aluminum stock so $17 for a finished part didn’t sound too bad. Those items should be here by Thursday this week.

Here is the area of the rudder bottom where the mounting plate will be installed.

Vans sent a letter stating that the wing kit should ship the week of August 8. In the mean time I am reviewing the build instructions in the Preview package and planning how I will lay out the jigs in the garage.

Categories: General

Installed Horizontal Stabilizer Tips – 1.5 hrs

July 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Sunday July 18, 2010

Today I permanently installed the horizontal stabilizer tips. I match drilled all of the holes to #30, then removed the tips and cleaned out all of the chips. Then I dimpled the holes in the skin using my pneumatic squeezer. Next I countersunk the holes in the fiberglass using a countersink head on a manual drive handle. Then I installed the tips using CS4-4 pop rivets.

The fits between the tips and the skins are quite good. The seams are tight and the leading edges line up nicely. So I am thinking about leaving these alone and not filling the seams with dry micro.  I think I’ll move on to the rubber bottom fairing and that will give me some time to think about it.

Finished Elevator and Rudder Tips – 4 hrs

July 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Saturday July 17, 2010

Big day today. I officially finished the elevator tips, rudder top tip, and vertical stabilizer top tip. The morning started with sanding out the dry micro that I applied last night on the VS tip seam. After shaping and blending it into the skin and the fiberglass there were several low areas where more filler was needed so I mixed another batch and applied that.

It was hot again today so it only took a few hours for it to kick over. Then I sanded it again to get the final clean shape I wanted. Seam gone!

Next I broke out the spray gun and sprayed on a few light coats of UV Smooth Prime, which I had learned about on the forums. It fills pin holes and small defects and sands out really smooth. It also provides UV protection to the fiberglass. I guess that’s important. It drys pretty fast too in light coats so it was only about a half hour before it was ready to sand.

Here is the finished VS tip.

Then I sprayed UV Smooth Prime onto the two elevator tips and the rudder top tip. I’m new to working with fiberglass so I am happy with how well these came out.

Here are the two elevator tips.

Here is the rudder top tip.

And here is how the rudder and VS tips fit together.

Here is a closeup of the gap.

I retrospect I am glad that I have time before my wing kit arrives (week of August 8 according to Vans) to finish the fiberglass on the empennage. Most builders postpone it until after the wings and fuselage are done. But I would rather get this dusty stuff done and out of the way. If the wing kit was already here I am sure I could not resist the temptation to focus on that because there is so much satisfaction in seeing the big pieces come together. But now I know how time consuming the fiberglass work can be if you have a perfectionist approach, which I sorta do. It has take a lot more hours than I ever expected and I learned a lot. Hopefully something I posted here may help someone in addition to documenting my process for the FAA.

Ah, but I get ahead of myself. Next: Filling the seams on the horizontal stabilizer tips and installing the rudder bottom tip.

Rivet On the VS Tip – 2 hrs

July 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Friday July 16, 2010

Today after work I decided it was time to permanently attach the vertical stabilizer fiberglass tip. I had already match drilled and dimpled the skin so it was just a matter of riveting it on with CS4-4 pop rivets. I want to make it as clean as possible so I mixed up a small batch of epoxy and applied a strip of deck cloth over the seam. I used a layer of peel ply over that to minimize the sanding later.

I was hot today ( in the 90s) so the epoxy kicked over really fast. It was hard and sandable in two and a half hours. So I sanded the small amount of glossy epoxy that wasn’t under peel ply and then slathered on a layer of dry micro across the seam and over the end row of rivets on the skin.

Tomorrow I’ll sand this out and see if I can get a smooth transition from the aluminum skin to the fiberglass.

Apply Primer to Rudder Tips – 1.0 hr

July 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I pulled out the spray gun yesterday and applied a coat of West Systems primer to the rudder and vertical stabilizer tips today so I could see any remaining imperfections in the finish and shape. Today after it was well dried I took these two photos.

The finish and shape are just about the best I could hope for. There are just a couple of very minor surface defects that can be fixed easily and a few pin holes. I’ll do a little bit of filling and then apply a coat if UV Smooth Prime to kill the pin holes. Then I’ll rivet on the VS tip and fill the seam between the fiberglass and the skin.Then these babies will be done until the ultimate paint job is applied.

Categories: Fiberglass Tips

Finish Tuning Rudder Tips – 2.0 hrs

July 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Thursday July 8, 2010

Last time I added filler to the rudder and VS tips to fine tune the shape at the top edge. Tonight I sanded out the filler on both parts to get to the final shape. I am pretty satisfied with the results. There is one tiny dimple that I will fill next time I mix dry micro. The edges are now almost flush with the VS tip very slightly taller than the rudder tip at the intersection. That makes sense to me because the VS tip leads in the air stream.

Here is the shape looking straight down from the top along the hinge axis. That gap is about 0.100 inch.

Here is the rudder tip leading edge with the rudder rotated for a left yaw.

This weekend I plan to spray on a coat of West Systems primer to check for any minor flaws that are hard to see right now. If all is good then I will permanently rivet the VS tip to the VS and begin the process of filling and sanding the gap between the two pieces.

Categories: Fiberglass Tips

Fine Tuning Rudder Tips Part 2 – 1.0 hr

July 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Tuesday July 6, 2010

Part 2 of this task starts with sanding the tip of the vertical stabilizer to shape the dry micro closer to the desired match with the rudder. Using 80 grit to rough sand it first then 220 grit to smooth it out this process took about 15 minutes. Here is the result. Not perfect but closer to the desired profile.

Next I decided to decrease the radius on the top trailing edge of the VS tip. I have found that making a tape dam to contain the dry micro is helpful so that is what I did.

The radius on the leading edge of the rudder tip seemed kinda large also so I made a dam there and added some filler to allow me to reduce the edge radius when I sand it out. So now these need to cure up and I will sand them tomorrow.

Categories: Fiberglass Tips

Fine Tuning the VS Tip Profile – 1.5 hrs

July 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Monday July 5, 2010

Back to work on the kit today. I wanted to fine tune the shape of the transition from the vertical stabilizer tip to the rudder tip. Here you can see that the rudder tip is a little bit taller than the vertical stabilizer tip. It may not make any difference at all to the performance of the airplane but I would prefer a more optimum transition. Since I am waiting on my wing kit to arrive I figure why not. To make this more aerodynamic I plan to build up the VS tip a little bit with dry micro to match the rudder tip. This may take several iterations to get it right.

So the first step was to sand the gel coat off of the tip and mix some dry micro for build up. I really only need about .090 inch so I laid on a smooth coat of thick filler along the edge and around the trailing edge as you see here. This has to dry before I can start shaping it into a smooth blended airfoil that will match the rudder tip profile. We will see how it looks after I sand it.

Categories: Fiberglass Tips