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Empennage

Tried to prime…no…start rudder…wait!…start the elevators

The wifey went for a horse ride this morning so I snuck into the shed and finished dimpling the HS skins. Then I thought I’d try some priming. I dropped in to Bunnings to get some supplies and air line connections that I needed. I also got a gravity fed touch up spray paint gun. Just as I finished making myself a painting tent, the weather started to turn bad. It was getting cold and rain was forecast so I canned the idea of painting. I need warm temps and no moisture, so I’ll have to wait for a better opportunity.

If I couldn’t prime the HS and VS, I thought I’d may as well make some more parts for me to prime. Going to be one hell of a painting day when I finally get to it. So I thought I’d start on the rudder. I picked out the rudder parts and read the plans about trimming the stiffeners.

Using my snips I chopped up the long angle strips and laid out the roughy cut stiffeners onto the rudder skins. I laid out the stiffeners on the right skin first … no problem there.

However when I laid out the stiffeners on the left skin the holes in the skin didn’t line up with the pre-punched holes in the stiffeners. I tried moving the stiffeners around and in different positions but no matter what I did, none of the holes lined up. I then checked these same stiffeners on the right skin. No problems there. I then compared the stiffeners on the right skin with the left skin. Same problem. I can only deduce that the left skin has a manufacturing defect as the holes have the incorrect spacing. I doubt that 8 angle strips and the right skin all have the same error, so it must be the left skin that’s out of whack. I’ll contact Vans and see how I can get a replacement skin.


Oh well … I’m not having much luck today, so I guess I’ll start on the only parts left in the Empennage kit … the Elevators. I picked out the parts for both elevators and used my snips to cut the angle strips into the elevator stiffeners. It was a little confusing working out which stiffener went where, but the hole spacing for each different stiffener location is slightly different. I ended up trimming the strip at the pre-punched notches, then matching the hole spacings with the correct locations. I marked each stiffener’s location using a Sharpie pen so I could put these back into their correct locations.

I then fitted my special aluminium cutting blade to my band saw in preparation for cutting the long tapers on these stiffeners. I thought using snips might be a bit messy. Using a metal rule and a Sharpie I marked out the out long tapers. I then cut the long tapers using my band-saw. I was slow and careful and didn’t encounter any problems.

Action photo … with PPE!

Once I had all the long tapers cut, I used my Scotchbrite wheel to clean up the trimmed edges, removed any notches and rounded all sharp corners. Here is a shot of a stiffener before being tidied up, and one after.

It was getting late in the afternoon so I didn’t have time to edge finish all the stiffeners. I just tidied them up and will break the edges later. Here they are.

Build time 3.5 hrs – 0.5hrs dimpling HS skin, 0.5 hrs rudder, 2.5 hrs elevators.

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About gstrack

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

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