More Work on the Left Elevator   January 28th, 2007

Last week I finally got the replacement front spar, and spent some time dimpling/countersinking the holes. Today I put everything together and started riveting the elevator.

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The Dreaded Left Elevator Tabs   January 4th, 2007

While waiting for the new parts from the factory, I decided to tackle the elevator tabs. These are two overhangs on the skin that need to be bent 90 degrees to cover the triangular gap where the trim-tab meets the elevator. Supposedly this is a pretty hard task to do without cracking the skin because of the sharp bend. Some people end up replacing the entire skin, which I REALLY don’t want to do. Another option is to just cut off the tabs and build a little rib to support he skin instead.

So, I decided to try my hand at bending some scrap sheet aluminum. What better than to try and make a little rib! I installed the little rear spar on the skin to keep the right shape, and then drew the outline of the rib on a piece of scrap 2×4. Using a miter saw, I cut a wedge out of the 2×4 with the same shape, and made sure it fit inside the skin. I then transferred the outline to one of the pieces of scrap 0.020 aluminum provided with the kit (same thickness as the skin). Then I drew two parallel lines about the same distance away from the wedge as the flanges on most ribs. Finally, I cut out the shape using tin snips and put the piece on the wood block.

I re-assembled the cut 2×4 and clamped it to the end of my table surface. I then used another piece of 2×4 to bend one of the flanges down. As you can see, it looks OK but not great.

As stated in the kit instructions I then finished up the bend by whacking it with my rivet gun and flush set. I set the pressure down to about 20psi and just ran the gun back and forth over the bent flange.

The result was actually a lot better than I had expected. Here’s a picture of the little rib after doing the other side with the same technique:

So, this wasn’t so bad. Sure, time consuming but not bad. So, I decided to go ahead and bend the real thing on the elevator. I fabricated another wood wedge to fit the constrained dimensions in the elevator and proceeded to bend the flanges. Well, I didn’t crack the skins, but honestly they turned out looking like crap. First, it was a lot harder to do the actual bends because the skin and the clamps can’t be moved out of the way like with the rib above. Second, the wood form was not cut from the ‘middle’ of a 2×4 piece like the one above. Rather, I used one of the ‘edges’ of the 2×4 for one of the bends. Needless to say, the edge on the 2×4 is rounded, and it’s impossible to get a good quality bend. So, the lesson here is to ALWAYS use wood forms with nice sharp edges.

So, considering how good my rib turned out and how crappy the actual bend ended up looking, I decided to just cut it off and use my rib! I used a dremel tool to cut off most of the flange, and then used snips to finish with a clean straight cut.

Here’s what the edges look like after a bit of filing and deburring..

Finally, I test fitted the rib, both with the web on the inside or outside. I will wait until I’m ready to install the trim tab before drilling this in.

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Rear Left Elevator Spar Screwup..   January 1st, 2007

I went ahead and dimpled both sides of the front spar (used to attach the trim tab). It turns out the top half needs to be countersunk so the piano hinge can later be match drilled. I would just dimple the piano hinge too (have done it before on a training project with no problems), but match drilling it to the already-dimpled holes of the skin and spar is going to be a major pain.

It’s not very expensive, so I just ordered another one from Van’s. I had a couple more things I needed anyway, so it’ll be (somewhat) worth the handling and shipping fee….

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I’ve decided to install electric trim in my plane. Instead of messing with a wheel and a steel cable going from the cabin to the elevator, I’ll be messing with a motor, switches, and wire going to the trim assembly. I’ll have a nice switch on the stick that I can use to trim the plane.

The plate where the servo is mounted does not come pre-punched. The plan gives some approximate measurements of where the brackets holding the servo should go.

I marked the recommended distances, but decided to offset the bracket by just a little bit to keep the servo arm centered in the slot. The picture below shows my test fitting:

After drilling the first hole with a cleco clamp holding the bracket and plate together, I just used clecoes for the rest. The second bracket’s location was determined by putting in the servo and marking the location where the bracket falls.

As you can see in the picture above, the bracket on the left protrudes slightly from the open slot. This is not an issue since it doesn’t interfere with anything. I still decided to file it down to follow the contour of the place just so it looks pretty.

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Deburring Deburring Deburring..   December 10th, 2006

I’ve spent the last few days deburring the left elevator components. This time I drilled everything before deburring the two spars, the short rib, and the counterbalance skin. After drilling, I started deburring everything (i.e., edges and holes). I think this made things go faster, but I can see how it’s easier to get cut when working with the sharp aluminum edges.

No pictures this time, as deburring is pretty boring…

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Starting the Left Elevator   December 2nd, 2006

The left elevator has been coming along. I haven’t been spending much time on this lately, but I finally got the whole assembly clecloed and drilled tonight. Drilling the lead counterweights went MUCH easier this time, using drilling lubricant and turning the drill very slow.

I also spent a lot more time fluting ribs, and using a carpenter’s square to make sure the flanges were at 90 degrees from the webs. I think this elevator will turn out cosmetically better than the left one.
This time I decided to drill everything first and deburr the spar, ribs, etc, later. So, off to deburr!
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After a business trip and some visiting family, I finally got back to working on the elevator.

Here’s a couple of pictures of the skeleton after being primed and riveted together.

Here’s the skin after riveting the strip that covers the counterbalance rib. Doing this first makes it possible to use no blind rivets.

Finally, here’s the elevator finished and ready to be stored for a couple of years 🙂

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After bending the elevator in the home-made bending brake, here it is all clecoed together.

Next I’ll prime the skeleton…

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I started to rivet the right elevator stiffeners while I wait for the chip chaser for the rudder. The only thing to note there is that the last rivets closer to the trailing edge are a major pain to set. You basically have to hold the skin open at near 90 degrees while riveting. I was wearing latex gloves mainly to keep sweat/grease/etc away from the nice white primer. As you can see in the picture below, I was holding the gun in such a way that my knuckles rested on the open skin, to prevent the gun from rubbing against it. This worked out pretty good as there were absolutely no marks on the skin when I finished. The knuckle on my middle finger, however, didn’t fare as well. The vibration against first against the skin, and then against the stiffener, basically rubbed the skin off it 🙁 . While this technique definitely works, I would use my thick rawhide gloves instead of latex gloves next time around.

Also, notice how the skin gets badly distorted as I’m riveting in the picture below. I didn’t really notice this until I saw the picture.

As you can see in the next picture, the skin turned out just fine. I think I’ll do the stiffeners for the left elevator next.

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Drilling elevator stiffeners   June 28th, 2006

All the stiffeners for the right elevator are done. The elevator skin has also been deburred. The next step is to match drill the stiffeners to the skin. Since the skin is pre-bent, drilling the last few holes closest to the trailing edge is very difficult. I found it much easier to bend the skin back if the stiffeners are clecoed on. So, I clecoed the stiffeners on one side of the skin, and match drilled the ones on the other side. I then switched sides.

The only other things to note is that the last hole on three of the stiffeners on each side are drilled in assembly with the skin. No big deal, just have to be drilled from the outside.

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