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Empennage

HS skins

Hmmm…a royal wedding…a perfect opportunity to duck into the shed methinks. Congrats to Katherine and William. Loved the Spitfire, Lancaster and Hurricane formation fly past.

The plans called for the HS spars, main ribs and outer ribs to be clecoed together and the rib/spar attachments holes to be drilled to #30 (except for the main rib/aft spar union). A relatively simple exercise and nothing really exciting to report.

Next step “Cleco on skins”. SKINS!!! I’ve been looking forward to seeing skins on something. Feel like I’ve achieved something … somehow. I’ve seen lots of builders devinyl the skins in strips along the rivet lines in order to maintain most of the protection on the skins to minimise scratching. I thought I’d do the same. A few builders recommended the use of a wooden straight edge for this task instead of a metal ruler as the metal tends to take too much heat away from the soldering iron and makes it harder to melt the vinyl. Makes sense so that’s what I did. It soon became apparent that this was a loooooooong process. Much longer than I anticipated. After rounding a head on one of my soldering irons, I went to work. My first attempt didn’t work too well as I was drawing the soldering iron too fast along the skin. I had to go very slow in order for the vinyl to be removed in a straight line without tearing.

After about an hour or possibly more, I managed to get both skins looking like this…

Now it was back to the step in the instructions I read a couple of hours ago. Cleco on the skins. Sounded easy. It wasn’t. Attaching the skeleton the the first side was easy. Flipping it over and trying to do the other side was hard. The first issue was trying to get the first clecoes in. You really had to push down hard for the skin to reach the skeleton. I then found that the holes didn’t line up easily. This is how I managed to do it.

I started with the longest aft corner. Pushing down on the skin, and pulling it aft at the same time (with my hands) I managed to get a cleco in. I was concerned that the pressure from the skin trying to spring back open would tear through a single hole so I kept the skin pushed down with one arm and used my spare arm to cleco in the next hole along the aft spar. I repeated this process and “walked the skin” down the aft spar so that the next cleco brought the next holes into alignment. After about 6 clecoes, I managed to get a cleco inserted into the forward spar near the main rib. I repeated this process until I had clecoes in the inner half of the forward and main spars then I could work 2-handed. The main nose rib was a bit tricky to get the holes aligned but the same technique worked pretty well. Rinse and repeat for the other side and here is the result. Both HS skins on!

Build time 4 hrs.

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About gstrack

Husband and father of 2. Control & Instrumentation Engineer. Flying nut. Gadget geek.

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